Important vs. Urgent

How do you determine what’s important?

ImportantSo much has been written about how we need to be sure we select what’s important over what’s urgent. What seems to be missing is a way to determine what’s important. Urgent tends to shout at us, while important can be much quieter. That doesn’t seem like a good criteria though.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
-Dwight Eisenhower

Related article, How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”

Some of us get caught up in the evaluations: important, urgent, efficient, effective. This silly diagram, that I hate, because it so identifies me, summarizes the time was well! Thanks (a little) to my friend Keith Lowe for sending this to me.
Time Cost of Indecision

 

 

 

 

 

Two major thoughts on choosing what’s important:

  1. My loose paraphrase of a Roy Disney quote: “Decisions are easy when your values are clear.” My belief, which is yet to be proven, is that when you are extremely clear on values, all else will become easier. With a clear Moral Compass, and absolute adherence to it, all else will fall into place
  2. Rory Vaden’s book, Procrastinate on Purpose, adds the concept of time and Significance to how we determine what’s important. A highly recommended read.

Choosing what’s important, over the urgent, is still a challenge for me. I’m still looking for the book on “the easy way to know what’s important.” Anybody ready to write it? A short book would be preferred!

 

What Makes Training “Good?”

GoodTraining

What is good training? That’s almost a trick question. Which of these are true?

  1. Good training is when somebody actually learns something
  2. Good training is when somebody learns something new
  3. Good training means learning how to do something faster
  4. Good training is when the student can pass a test or certification
  5. Good training provides the student with experience

Those are all probably “true” statements, but are they right? How about this instead:

“Good training is something that makes an employee more productive to the organization”

We might even need to add in that the new productivity has a higher value than the cost of the training. If a training program costs $10,000 and the net result is that one employee saves 5 minutes a day on one task, was that a gain?

Miscellaneous thoughts on training:

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
    –Benjamin Franklin
  • Typical training: If you push this button, X will happen. Better training: if you’re trying to accomplish X, here’s what you need to do
  • The best training is self training (at least for most people)
  • Two typical attitudes about training:
    1. I don’t know how to do that, I need training
    -vs.-
    2. I bet there’s a way to do that, let me figure it out
    When a person transitions from #1 to #2, think of the possibilities! (HT to Jim LaBarr)
  • Lengthy (all day, all week) training appears to have great results, but they usually don’t last. Short, even repetitive, topic-focused training has much longer results. Consider TED talks and their 18 minute rule
  • A lot of short, single-topic, “do it yourself” training bits may work better than typical classroom
  • Classroom is still good for the dialog, and to force training to happen for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the discipline
  • Lunch-n-Learn is almost always a good thing. Most people like food
  • Good training is specific to the organization’s culture. And processes. It may focus on those processes!
  • Spend more time on the every day stuff than the once-a-year stuff. [but define the once-a-year stuff in an easy to reference KB]
  • If doing classroom training set the expectation that each person will be called on. After the question is asked, not before!
  • Good training focuses more on why than on how

Where does training end and support start? Or vice versa? Or are they deeply intertwined? What would happen if design, development, implementation, configuration, training, and support where all tightly connected with each other. Would the end-users have a better experience?

Better training reduces friction. Or …

Better training helps things go right which in turn creates better user experiences.”

Is that the same as improved productivity? Probably

The Desired Dropbox Alternative

We want to offer the simplicity of the Dropbox connectivity model to corporate storage. The Dropbox model is so very attractive: it’s moderately affordable, easy, and it works. How do we keep all the great parts of that? Counter-thought: what’s wrong with Dropbox that we all so desperately want an alternative? (possible security issues and challenge of central control are the two major things that come to mind, the lack of extending existing corporate storage might be an issue for some, a benefit for others!)

OwnCloudOwncloud, other than the issues of cost, would seem to be a solution ready for taking.

Thoughts:

  • Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android clients, with the same basic simplicity as Dropbox. Users have the control without having to ask an administrator. (Yes, there are both good and bad points to this)
  • Windows Files services assumed, but if the solution were to require Linux or other backend, shouldn’t matter! (as long as we have full control and backup)
  • Users have the ability to extend sharing of anything they have rights to, to others, on staff or not
  • Ability to administratively set and over-ride any user share settings, internal and external
  • All folders and files must fit within the corporate backup mechanism. The “master copy” is on-site
  • Administrative ability to disconnect (remote wipe) in case of lost device or abuse
  • Reporting capabilities? What files accessed by what user or device? What do we want to know about?
  • Additional thought: some way to tag files such that they cannot be shared outside staff? The “company confidential” attribute. Assumption: people can always work around such things. This is more advisory than control, but at least makes sure people are really intentional about the work around
  • Is there any value in extending the concept for ftp-style access?

Thought: If we had a sufficient solution, we could ask people to quit using Dropbox, and they wouldn’t mind. Thinking about how much people love Dropbox, what would that look like?

Document Collaboration Solutions

DocumentCollaborationDocument Collaboration — is there a solution that really works?

Different organizations certainly have different needs in document collaboration. Here are the requirements that I think I am looking for. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

  1. Truly live updating. More than one person at a time can be editing without conflict
  2. Ability to know who said what
  3. Notification of changes by others
  4. Nice bonus would be routing & workflow, such as a way to approve edits, and just to know when somebody else made a change

Sadly, I do not know of any one product that does all these things well! What have I missed?

Microsoft Word‘s “mark revisions” feature is fantastic for seeing who has made what changes in a document. But two people working on the same document at the same time? Good luck with that!

Evernote is a great shared notepad concept, but again, you don’t want two people trying to make changes at the same time. And when edits are made, it’s not at all easy to see who made what changes.

OneNote may be a good bit better at simultaneous editing AND seeing who has done what. And finally, in recent months, it’s become a good cross-platform solution. Without watching and looking at each note, it’s hard to know that someone else updated something. Of course, for some people, there is also the “I won’t use anything from Microsoft” issue that makes this slightly less desirable.

Google Docs (or Google Drive, depending on your reference) let’s multiple people edit simultaneously and does an excellent job of avoiding conflicting edits. After the fact it’s difficult to know who made what changes, and notifications, although possible, are not obvious. There’s also just this strange thing that a lot of people don’t like Google Docs, and tend to lose them and not know how to find them again. For those who are biased toward the familiarity of Microsoft Office products, the different interface and the fewer features can be a negative

Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and other such technologies all create ways to share,  but don’t much help with the simultaneous editing, and actually tend to cause issues if two people attempt to work simultaneously.

So, what’s a person to do? Google Docs are my current best answer, although I use every one of the above for different situations.

THERE MUST BE A BETTER ANSWER! What am I missing?!

Update, 4:45pm: Thanks @JimMichael for the tinkering with OneDrive.Live.com. Don’t think it’s the answer yet, but like Google Docs, heading in the right direction. We shall see what happens next.

 

JST: A Few Guiding Principles

GuidingPrinciplesA few guiding principles

If these things are already obvious to you, great. If they are obvious to you, but you’re not living these principles, well, time for a gut check! Don’t let yourself get stuck being non-productive or doing unwise things.

  1. Accountability – you need it
  2. A job search is hard work
  3. Only employed people can offer you a job. Go where employed people go
  4. Get comfortable meeting people. Learn to introduce yourself
  5. Know what you’re looking for so others can help you. If you are at all confused, others will be more confused
  6. Be professional. In everything
  7. Be approachable (and be findable!)
  8. Drop any hint of pride. Be willing to ask for help

 

Last updated: 1/13/2015

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

Beginnings: Hunger-Based Learning

Hunger-Based Learning

MorePleaseMore Please

Yet another concept I picked up from Liberty Church, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t original with them. A teaching principle that some pastors have learned, and lots of motivational speakers live by: Stop talking before your audience wants you to. Leave them hungry for more. Yes, a great concept, and I need to apply that more often when I do a presentation. (I’m working on it — really!)

But this same idea can be applied to almost anything. Quit while you still want more. This is a bit like “bite-sized learning” techniques. It can be applied to memorization. Reading. Conversations. And of course, it could even be applied to eating. Quit today, so I’ll be more ready tomorrow.

This has become my theme for reading books. Especially when I’m co-reading. My expectation, which I don’t know how to prove: if I’m learning something slowly, intentionally, starting each day wanting more, then I’m likely to learn better. Ask me in a few years how this has worked out.

Last Updated: 1/12/2015

If you find these Beginnings posts of interest, you can find a full list here.

Flashback Friday: No More Tape Backups?

FlashbackFriday150The post below was from October 2007. Still using tape? (I am, but much less) Afraid I have lost the bumper sticker from below. Anybody know where I can get another?

No More Tape Backups?

Is it possible to eliminate tape and still have backups, and archives, including off-site, disaster recovery, and business continuity?  I don’t know, but I sure like the idea.  Data Domain was at a seminar I attended recently, hosted by Optimus Solutions.  They gave us each a bumper sticker, that I’m real tempted to actually put on my car!

Tape

Flashback Friday: Excellence from the Ziglar Corporation

 

Flashback Friday: Excellence from the Ziglar Corporation

FlashbackFriday150Flashback Friday. The post below was from December 2010. A bittersweet memory of an interaction with Tom Ziglar regarding his dad, Zig Ziglar. Just days ago I had another opportunity to interact with Tom Ziglar, and of course, it was an excellent encounter. Tom, I miss your dad. And I appreciate you!

The Ziglar Organization – Excellence (as expected)

ZigAndTomZiglar A few weeks ago I had a good reason to contact the Zig Ziglar organization, or more specifically, to contact Tom Ziglar, the CEO. Now I need to say up front, I’ve listened to Zig’s materials for years, so I had very high expectations that Tom would respond, and even that he might respond quickly. All expectations were met, and exceeded. (actually, if I expected that he would exceed my expectations, does that mean he didn’t? Hmmm… 🙂

First, a bit of background. My dad, Harold Dye, is 93. As a veteran, and a long-time military officer, he gets a lot of chances to make speeches. In recent years, however, his presentation skills haven’t been quite as sharp (again, he’s 93). Sometimes he forgets what he wants to say, or gets distracted, or even repeats himself. Nothing too surprising for his age, but it bothers him that he’s not able to give his audience the quality of talk he was able to provide in the past. My sisters and I have been trying to think of how we might help him.

Now the Ziglar part of the story. Zig just turned 84 last month. (Trivia: Zig and my dad each have November birthdays, each were born in Alabama). A couple of years ago, Zig had an unfortunate experience with a set of stairs, and he banged his head pretty hard. As a result, sometimes he forgets what he wants to say, or gets distracted, or even repeats himself. Wait, that sounds quite familiar! But Zig is still very active as a professional speaker and still draws large audiences, who pay big money, and come away very satisfied.

It occurred to me that whatever solution the Ziglar organization is using might work for my dad. So, a simple inquiry to Tom (Tom’s blog makes it very easy to contact him, and he’s quite active on Twitter as well). Now, I didn’t actually pull out a stop watch, but I know Tom responded within a couple of hours, maybe within one, and it actually might have been even faster than that. This was no form letter response. He sincerely expressed interest in my dad’s situation, explained some of his dad’s story, and how they’ve come up with a great solution. Then he went just a bit further. He said that if I had any questions, to give him a call and he included his number. I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet that Tom would answer that phone personally, on the 2nd ring.

So here is an executive, of a successful company, who was willing to spend a few minutes helping a complete stranger. He certainly lived up to one of Zig’s most well known quotes, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Thank you Tom, you helped me. All the best to you and your dad and your company.

Pick Three, or Just One?

BookWithNotesPick One

Inspired by Seth Godin post from late 2013 (well worth the 30 seconds it will take to read), re: 3 friends, 3 books.

Seth posted this roughly a year ago. The idea, pick some books, some friends or co-workers, have everyone read the same books, and build from that a shared reference point for ideas and conversations.

If three books and three friends is too ambitious, try just 1 (of each). During this past year, I’m not sure how many books I’ve co-read with friends. I asked one friend to co-read one book with me. It was great. Then had another chance. Through the year, chances have continued popping up. I can’t begin to express the great value of this shared foundation.

Pick a friend and share this idea. It may be one of the nicest things you do for your friend. And for yourself!

 

JST: Things to Avoid

Things to Avoid (like the plague)

PleaseStopYour attitude toward your job search can be your greatest asset. Beware of things that can come across as problems. Just a few quick mentions here:

  • If you’re just starting a job search, beware of “begging.” It’s natural to want to find something and quickly. Begging for a job almost never works. Think about how you would react. Yup, same for others.
  • No badmouthing of current or previous employer or people in the company. Never! Nothing good can come from that
  • First impressions: Be professional. Have a respectable email address. A quality LinkedIn Picture. How about your voice-mail greetings?

Negativity is the great killer of many things, including most hopes of getting a new job. If you don’t like your employer, or your manager, or where the company is located, or the commute, or how expense reports are handled, then maybe those are good reasons to make a change. But telling everyone over and over about those things you don’t like will kill your search prospects! Telling about those things the first time is bad too. Keep it for yourself. Or maybe your close friends, but why would you even want to load them down?

Beware the negative news. Sure, you want to be knowledgeable of current events, but watch out for over-doing it. Worth considering: turn off the TV entirely during your search. Use the time for more productive efforts, and catch your news in a few minutes of drive-time radio or a quick, repeat quick, daily scan of Internet news.

If you have family and friends who are generally negative, limit your time with them. You need positive influences through this process. (but not flattery. That’s a subject for another time. Focus on truth!)

And sometimes, you just need to stop it!

 

Last updated: 12/22/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.