The Wisdom We Left in the Third Grade


Two things happened today that prompted this article. The first occurred during a keynote speech I was delivering at the Society of Financial Examiners annual educational conference.

The room was filled with four hundred executives who had gathered to hear some modern-day time management suggestions. I was talking about how important it is to get some down time during the day to refresh and refocus. In a moment of clarity, I blurted out, “And whatever happened to recess?” The question drew a rousing cheer and loud applause! I thought to myself, “Yeah, whatever did happen to recess?”

An hour later, I was reviewing my e-mail on the way to the airport. There was a fairly lengthy thread started by my business partner in my other business – Outdoorplay. He was congratulating our Customer Service Manager on closing a large phone order.

The conversation really took off though when our General Manager announced that tomorrow’s lunch would be pizza compliments of the company. Everyone was congratulating Stacey, thanking Brian, and debating what type of pizzas should be ordered. You can’t mandate the kind of collegiality a simple pizza party can produce.


Serving Up Productivity

Authenticity – Doing What You Do Best – Is The Essence Of Productivity

“Go stand in line!”  That’s what the diminutive overwrought 20-something hostess at Coop’s Place said to the semi-inebriated patron pestering her to seat his party in the amazingly authentic low-country tavern we were dining at in the French Quarter of New Orleans last week.  (Pic at right).

Now, before you go all customer-service on me, understand that this guest had walked past the growing line on the sidewalk outside the door with two (count them: two) very clear signs on those doors with large black arrows pointing down the sidewalk and with the following printed on them – Stand at the end of the line.  If there’s no line, stand here until you’re seated.  The message was very clear.  If you want to eat here, stand in line.


Live Simply, Work Passionately

Over the last eight months, I’ve been wrestling with a combination of Bright-Shiny-Objectisis and existential/professional angst.  The root of the problem was a sense of restlessness.  The restlessness arose from twelve years of involvement in Outdoorplay and seven years of QuietSpacing® efforts.   Done enough times, all things lose their luster. Such was the case with these two endeavors.

I kept getting distracted by new and exciting topics – simplicity, lifestyle choices, Tenkara fly fishing.  Instead of focusing on my core business of developing solid content to help my clients solve their time management struggles, I was drafting tables of contents for new books and making lists of authors to read and people to follow.


Why Would Anyone Want to be Led by You?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Trever Cartwright.  Trever is co-founder of Coraggio Group, a Portland-based strategy and organizational change firm. You can reach Trever by calling 503-493-1452 or by email at Visit his website at

The year is half over. Many leaders and executive teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans.

As part of your strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment—one that will require a different kind of examination and be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you’re progressing as a leader? It makes sense when you consider that an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the leader—and the leadership team—at the top.


149-30-6: Big Focus Meets Little Focus

I achieved a milestone this week that I never thought would happen.  The only reason it did occur was because I took the advice of a number of people who have inspired me both recently and over the longer term.  Yes, I’m going to name names, and then I’m going to tell you what was achieved and, more importantly, what I’ve learned from the experience.  First, to the list of people who immediately come to mind as people who inspired me to embark on this particular effort:

Leo Babauta, creator of Zen Habits, who focuses on the very simple (and clear) ways to get things done.

Michael Perry, author of several books, Population 485 among them, who focuses on the very precise things that matter.

Ken Ammann, my best friend for 25 years, John Trujillo, my business partner and intrepid adventurer, and Tom Nitopi, my unwitting mentor and close friend, who all only know one direction – forward.


No Snow Day For Me! The Benefits of Being Virtual

This is a guest post authored by Jessica Levin, professional speaker and principal in Seven Degrees Communication.

It snowed today. Again. Schools are closed. Offices are closed. Many, many people are losing productivity and many businesses are losing money. I, however, am toasty warm working from my office. Sure, I had a meeting canceled today, but I am still am able to get all of my other work done. Why? Because I work 100% virtually.

I didn’t set out to be virtual. It started when I worked in NYC and would occasionally work from home. It then turned into Fridays. When our office was closing and we needed to move buildings, it didn’t make sense for me to get another office. When I think back to that commute and how unproductive it was, working virtually was one of the best decisions I could have made.

A lot of companies don’t want employees working from home for various reasons. I think trust has a lot to do with it. I also understand that this structure doesn’t work for all job types and not everyone has the discipline to “go to work” while they are in their home.

Here is a little glimpse of how I operate. I hope it helps you to understand how easy it can be.


The New Frontier – 2010 In Review

With our holiday travel over, I find myself working on 2011 projects – finalizing my second book, revising my first book into its third edition, and working on my 2011 business plan.  Today, though, I’m not feeling the rush to get to the future.  Rather, I’m feeling the tug of the past, specifically the last year. 

One of the best things about the week between Christmas and New Years is the retrospective programs that are aired on TV and published by print and web content publishers.  There’s something visceral and substantive about reviewing what has happened in the last twelve months.  Our day-to-day lives tend to be all-consuming, causing us to focus on the right-now and the immediate future.  Retrospectives give us an opportunity to pause and consider what has been and how and why it mattered. 

A personal favorite of mine is the review of those who have passed away since the ball last dropped.  Remembering those people and all that they accomplished during their lives forces me to look at time in the broadest and most relevant of senses – the lifetime.  Somehow that perspective is settling and reassuring to me.

With that introduction, then, let me say that for me and mine, 2010 was a year of some pretty dramatic changes and a number of pretty amazing events.  Here are some that come to mind.


The Year in Gratitude – A New Perspective on the Retrospective

2010 was a long and arduous year for most people, including me.  Entering December, I found myself thinking back over the last twelve months and wanting to write a retrospective of things that were significant to me.   But then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”  Next, I thought about doing a New Year’s Resolution piece about how we should set goals for ourselves in 2011.  But then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone do that?” 

Finding myself in this quandary about what I wanted to say about 2010 or 2011 or something, I went for a run. 

During my trudging (a more apt description of what I’m actually doing out there), I reflected on what occurred over the last year.  It was not an easy year for me.  Our online kayaking business – Outdoorplay – was taking shots to the head because the retail customer was cutting back on non-essential purchases.  My consulting business – QuietSpacing® – was dramatically affected by the elimination of training and retreat funding from most 2010 budgets. 

Both ships started the year near the shoals with unfavorable wind conditions!  But with an extra large helping of spit and vigor, we clawed and dug our way through the dark months (January through July) until a shimmer of light began to appear on the horizon at mid-year.  Since then, things have steadily improved for both companies and we appear to have survived the worst of the economic storm known as the Great Recession.

As I rounded the corner at the far end of my running route, I realized that, in fact, I had a lot to be thankful for in this second decade as an entrepreneur.  The epiphany that occurred right there on Fiore Bella was that I would craft a thank you of sorts to all the people and things that inspired gratitude in me over the last year.  And, so, this is The Year in Gratitude.


I Wanna Be Like George Clooney – Traveling Productively

I recently found myself on the C Concourse at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas (LAS) waiting to board a flight to Phoenix (PHX).  Thousands of my fellow travelers milled about getting some lunch, playing the slots, or grabbing a magazine to read on their flight.  Accompanying them was all manner of luggage – roll-aboards, shoulder bags, backpacks, purses, laptop cases, shopping bags, etc.

Because it was LAS, most of these people were tourists, but there were a fair number of business travelers, identifiable both by their behaviors and dress.  Many of the business travelers sported logo-wear having just left one convention or another.  Moreover, though the casual traveler now employs many of the same electronic devices (laptops, tablets and smartphones), the business traveler’s demeanor is generally more focused and intense – trying to get that last e-mail sent before the boarding call starts.


The Most Important Non-Renewable Resource: Keeping Your Eye on the Prize

We spend every day in the trenches. Putting out today’s fire.  Rising to the next occasion.  We focus on moving the proverbial ball down the field.  Little thought is given to what it means to cross the goal line. I recently had occasion to enjoy a cup of coffee with a client towards the end of the[…]