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A quick course on personal long term planning.

A plan, a map, a course

Happy New Year!

It’s an excellent time to sit, relax and ponder the future. What do you want to be, where do you want to go, and what is critical? As a coach, I am often asked for some quick tips or an immediate plan to help people gather all their ideas and put a little structure around their goal setting.

With that in mind, I have put together a mini-course for you on personal long term planning. I think the investment of less than an hour is well worthwhile.

 

You might already be familiar with parts of it, but I think that it creates a nice overall background. Let me know what you think.

 

I’m going to borrow from Stephen Covey because much of what he did is so fundamental to personal success.

 

First, watch this classic video about Big Rocks. The image quality is poor, but stick with it:

 

 

Then this short one from Idris Elba

 

 

Some more Covey:

 

(Read through all 7)

 

Then, I think this is the best article to read:

 

 

Next step –

Start! See where it takes you!I hope you have an excellent 2017!

Why I Love Founder Institute (And You Should, Too!)

hands-people-woman-meeting

And, just like that, I’ve graduated from Founder Institute.

In the middle of September this year I, along with 24 hopeful entrepreneurs, attended orientation for the Melbourne 2016 Founder Institute course. Founder Institute “is the world’s premier startup launch program for talented entrepreneurs”.

Essentially it’s a 3-month course taking people who want to be entrepreneurs through all the steps they may fudge around in over a period of three years. Instead of directionless faffing about, attendees undertake a directed program through stages such as “vision and ideas” and “product development” through to “bootstrapping and fundraising.

The goal of the program is to take the Silicon Valley philosophy and networks and distribute them around the world.

Entrepreneurs need to work hard

There is a lot of work each week, and it’s supposed to be a hard slog. When a course is promising to launch success-ready startups, the participants can’t be of the misguided belief that entrepreneurialism is easy.

Doing coursework 50 to 60 hours a week while holding down a regular gig, as well as attempting to allocate sufficient energy to family, friends and health dispelled any thoughts that starting something significant from scratch is for everyone.

Of the 25 who started, there were nine left at the end. Better odds than most Alien movies, but an illustration that, despite the best-laid plans, things can still go wrong. Founder Institute offers participants who drop out the opportunity to come back at a later semester, so dropping out is better referred to as “deferment”.

It’s all about the team

A highlight of the course was the other participants. We were allocated workgroups at the beginning, and our workgroup (TeamBlack) quickly bonded and became a huge source of support, encouragement and ideas. The benefits to having people who were going through exactly what I was going through were immeasurable and I came to look forward to the twice-weekly Skype chats.

It was while working with my workgroup that I learned a valuable startup lesson – People Like To Help.

You need to understand that I have just spent 20 years in the freight industry. Unfortunately, at least in Australia, the industry is not the model of trust, honesty and collaboration. I believe this is due to the red ocean philosophy predominant in logistics that the only source of new business is to take it from competitors.

Startups, on the other hand, are swimming in the blue ocean. There are unlimited opportunities to expand and develop new projects. In fact, competitors are beneficial as they validate a business model or industry segment.

Another benefit of Founder Institute was the access to a whole network of mentors and advisors.

Entrepreneurs like to help people

There is a strong Australian network of entrepreneurs, startup advisors and people with enormous experience in, and understanding of, the difference between starting a small business and launching a startup. Amazingly, they make themselves available to guys like me – just a middle-aged man with an idea.

For the price of coffee, it is possible to get thousands of dollars of advice. No strings attached. However, if (when?) people ask my advice, I will be ready and willing to give freely of my own time.

And now it begins

The next step is all up to me. Founder Institute, or any launch program, can only take one so far. The real work starts now. My startup, Passel, has received some seed investment, and I’ve got a couple of months to go and find some customers and suppliers, integrate a little tech and start delivering on my promise!

If you want to follow the journey, I do have a mailing list you can subscribe to here.

If you’ve been thinking about making the jump from worker to entrepreneur, you can learn more about the Founder Institute here.

Enjoy 2017,

Marshall

Passel helps retailers gain more sales by providing cheap, convenient and friendly same-day home deliveries for online orders.

Using a flexible crowd-sourcing platform, Passel manages local deliveries by people living and working in the local community.

Passel – same day online deliveries.

For more information, please visit www.passeldelivery.com or call Marshall Hughes on +61419134461.

Click and Collect needs to get better, right now.

vy1edhabtde-paul-dufour

 

There is a significant amount of worry and wringing of hands in Australian retail at the moment.

 

Amazon is coming.

 

Depending on your source, Amazon either believes “your margin is our business” or it will “destroy Australian retail”.

 

Frightening stuff. Retail is Australia’s second biggest employer. 800,000 Australians work in shopping centres and here comes the company responsible for 60% of US online sales. Amazon is about robots, drones and efficiency. Amazon has no interest in local economies and Australian jobs.

 

Some people are active. Ruslan Kogan suggests Amazon’s rising tide will lift all boats. Good, optimistic thinking. The problem is that many Australian boats are not seaworthy, and rising sea levels are going to send many of them to the bottom.

 

Home delivery services in Australia are poor. If you care to start a discussion at the dinner table on the last bad experience people had with home delivery that will take care of conversation for the evening.

 

Whether it’s missed deliveries, failure to keep to a promised time frame, five-day deliveries to Melbourne and Sydney, drivers not even bothering to knock before leaving a card, or damaged items, the list goes on.

 

A new service has arrived, usually referred to as Click and Collect. For this online service, the delivery option is “pick this up from your local store”. It’s a clever combination of the ease of ordering online and the inconvenience of having to go into a shopping centre at some stage to pick up your stuff. I have to admit; it is a better idea than parcel lockers in supermarkets.

 

It should be an edge for local retailers over Amazon. The stock has already been distributed Australia-wide to the closest point to the buyer. If a retailer has 200 stores, then they have 200 Distribution Centres within their existing footprint and thousands of staff ready to pick and pack.

 

The only way Amazon could compete would be if the Click and Collect service were a failure.

 

I’ve been testing Click and Collect over the last few months to understand the operational requirements of Passel better. And retailers have managed to muck Click and Collect up.

 

Here’s how the service should work:

 

1) Order Online.

 

2) Await “Order Ready Confirmation” within 15-20 minutes.

 

3) Go to the store, show the original order email or confirmation and some ID.

 

4) Take item home.

 

Magic. What an excellent service.

 

Here is a summary of the many ways in which Australian retailers are managing to screw Click and Collect up:

 

  • Items are not in stock, even though the website said they were.
  • Your order has to be cleared by a security team. Security clearance will take at least 24 hours.
  • Thanks for asking about the status of your security clearance. We will message you back in 24 hours.
  • The Click and Collect counter is closed.
  • Okay, you have your item, but now we need to queue up behind the people who are buying things in store before you can leave.
  • Your order placed at 13:25 on Monday was has not picked from the shelf in the store and confirmed until 10:28 on Tuesday.

 

Retailers need to value online shoppers exactly as if they were in-store purchasers. Customers, regardless of where they are, why they buy, or how they purchase are critical to the success of retail.

 

Australian brick and mortar retailers have a significant existing geographical advantage over purely online stores. They have a distributed network of beautifully designed stores that enhance the shopping experience. They have lovely, smart and friendly people working in these stores.

 

If they get their online and Click and Collect models right, then the best form of defence against Amazon will be a strong offence that leverages these key advantages.

 

I’d prefer not to speculate what will happen if they get it wrong.

My running story – how to get moving

running
Can I tell you a quick story?

I used to run a lot. Then I stopped. After awhile I decided to start running again.

I’d put all my running gear out the night before and go to bed with the alarms (545am, 547am, 550am) on my watch set and all excited about running 10km!

I can run 10km, I’ve run a marathon!

Then I would wake up in the morning and think:

  • I don’t feel 100%.
  • I don’t think I can run 10km.
  • I don’t want to run 10km.
  • It’s too cold, and it might rain.
  • I had too much creme caramel last night.

I’d kill the alarms and stay in bed for another hour.

This wasn’t an ideal thought process.

So I changed the plan. I decided that I would run 5km. I can run 5km quite quickly, even as unfit as I am.

I started getting up, and I ran a few 5kms. The running habit began to kick in. Running became part of my routine.

I structured my run, so there is a turning point. If I turned left, I would complete a 5km circuit. However, if I turned right, that opened up an 8km course or even 10km.

Some mornings I felt great and, even though I had set out only to run 5km, I’d turn right and run 8km. Sometimes (okay, rarely) 10km.

No matter what, my goal each morning was to get up and run 5km.

I was running again and that was the key.

Cool story, but how is it relevant to you?

Is there something you should do, but don’t? A task or project so big, it seems insurmountable? Or maybe you do need to exercise?

Maybe tomorrow, you could set aside 25 minutes doing something. Just start with 25 minutes.

You can find 25 minutes, right? And, surely, nothing is so distasteful that you can’t do it for 25 minutes.

So on your marks, get set, set a timer for 25 minutes, and go!

When the timer goes off, your worst case scenario is that you have accomplished 25 minutes of something. Even if you don’t do any more of that thing today, you’ve still got 25 minutes under your belt.

Then, tomorrow set yourself another 25 minutes of that task or project. C’mon. It’s only 25 minutes!

The next step is up to you. You can turn left or right, but at least you’re already running.

Quick help to get back on the productivity waggon

the productivity wagon
Sometimes, the coach needs coaching.

I had an unproductive day yesterday. I decided to work from home instead of going into my co-working space. A client call was cancelled, so I had an extra hour.

Instead of using it, I ended up watching John Butler play Ocean. More than once.

Hey, so maybe 3 or 4 different versions. It’s a beautiful piece of music. Then my morning drifted. I did finish my pitch deck, but that was probably 2 hours or real work that took 4 hours.

What I should have done was rebooted, reset, and re-energised. But I didn’t. I simply continued idling along. We all have these days. At work, we might find ourselves reading emails or checking job ads on LinkedIn. At home, we might spend a whole morning fussing over the best font for a blog post.

We all have these days. At work, we might find ourselves reading emails or checking job ads on LinkedIn. At home, we might spend a whole morning fussing over the best font for a blog post.

I asked my clients to share with me their tactics for when they realise they’ve fallen off the productivity waggon? What do they do when you need to get back to work?

I go for the low-hanging fruit. Work that doesn’t take a lot of commitment or brainpower, to build the momentum back up. Maybe it’s a quick email, or a project that I know will take less than 30 minutes. Better yet if that task is plucked from my backlog. The gratification of completing a low-stakes task shifts my mindset back to work. – Jason

I call an Ace. An ace for me is someone I know gives me business. Even though I know I got the biz, I pretend it’s a cold call even if we talked yesterday. Boom. Connection. I’m back. – Rob

2 things that work for me – one is to go for a walk or do some exercise. The other is if I’m stuck on something I’ll mindmap my thoughts – that often unblocks me really quickly. – Tim

A walk with my dogs is always great for clearing my head and I always feel refreshed and blessed afterwards.  – Dan
My mental state after blowing a few hours when I know I should have been doing something is that the whole day is a wash. My best hit rate with breaking that loop is to go running. Run, take a shower, feel good, go back to work. The whole process to reboot takes 1-2 hours in of itself, which is annoying, but I haven’t found anything else that works consistently. – Jon

 

I force myself to start with something small; like a quick email reply. A small victory that will generate traction to keep working. After this, you beat that initial inertia it gets easier to increase your output for the day.  – Phil

 

My prescription for retrieving productivity is a change of scene. If I can get as far as a cafe and just be around people, that usually re-focuses my attention. – Claudia

All good tips. I think the things that will best suit me are to pack up my gear and walk to my co-working space. That’s why I signed up to The Frankston Foundry in the first place?

What about you? Any tips or tricks to help get back on the Productivity Waggon?

 

 

 

My Productivity Coach Services

My Productivity Coach - Identify Simplify Amplify

Business, personal and professional coaching

A great option if you’re local to me in Melbourne, Australia.

On the phone, in person and on site.

I’m not an expert in your business, but I can help direct your energy and knowledge in the right direction.

Call me on +61 419 134 461 or contact me and we can talk about the possibilities.

Phone consultations via coach.me

$USD 75 per 30 minutes

One on one calls anywhere in the world.

Focusing on daily tasks, strategy and planning. Bounce ideas, challenges, problems off me and we’ll see what happens.

Click the coach.me button below for more information.

Get coached on Coach.me

Online habit coaching via coach.me

USD$14.99 per week

One-on-one coaching via chat is a weekly subscription to personal service.

I’ll provide mentorship and accountability to assist you to achieve your goals.

Click the coach.me button below for more information.

Get coached on Coach.me

Corporate Email training with Email Handyman Australia

Email Handyman helps people more effectively deal with their daily deluge of email.

Our individual and group training sessions show people how to get and stay on top of tasks, with less time wasted on processing, tracking, and finding messages.

Each session equips participants with handy tricks to simplify and speed up daily email processing, resulting in an empty inbox, a clearer overview of to-dos, and more hours spent actually getting things done on a daily basis.

Go to emailhandyman.com.au for more information.

Email Handyman

If you’re unsure whether I’m the right coach for you, take a look at the testimonials and see if they reflect the changes you wish to make.

I have some business rules

Coffee Running and Tech

If I’m going to work, there are some guidelines

I’ve decided on some fundamental rules for how my next businesses will run. My company group is Coffee, Running & Tech, so it’s a fair bet my next venture will fall into one or all of those categories.

The rules:

We only do things that are worthwhile.

We automate tasks.

We have lots and lots of fun.

Customers must be nice people.

Suppliers must be nice people.

We only work with people we like and respect and with whom the feeling is mutual.

We help people. Our solutions are not about cheapest, they are about most beneficial.

Everyone shares in the benefits.

There will be good coffee.
There will be tech.
There will be running.

That’s pretty simple and straightforward. Did I miss anything?

Recommended reading

library

 

 

Recommended Reading

I read as much as I possibly can. Here’s a sample of non-fiction and business / personal development books I can highly recommend.

The Power of No – James and Claudia Altucher
James and Claudia don’t filter. This book is at times brutally honest and astonishingly refreshing. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the authors and burned through it – twice – in a few days.

The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday
Sometimes we avoid the difficult things in search of the easiest thing. Ryan distills thousands of years of philosophy into a book that has convinced me we should be doing the opposite. I’m trying to live by the motto – if something is hard, do it more often.

The Art of Learning – Josh Waitzkin
 Josh was the subject of the book (and movie) “Searching for Bobby Fisher” but this book is about much more than that. Josh has learned how to learn. From chess to some insane form of full contact tai chi, Josh talks about the theory – the art – of how to learn.

The 80/20 Principle – Richard Koch
Everyone “knows” the 80/20 or pareto principle. Here Richard talks about when and how to use it, both for business and personal purposes. Once you realise you are effectively wasting 80% of your time, things start to change…

Getting Things Done – David Allen
In a world where many of us are living with infinite opportunities and plenty of things to do to distract us, David’s book helps focus and do things. Although a little dated in parts – really needs to talk about Evernote – the fundamentals are strong.

The Personal MBA – Josh Kaufmann
Josh has nailed this book. Lots and lots of things you need to know to run a business for about $20. It’ll save you $50,000 in business school. 

This book is the foundation for so much of the self-help/personal development/success literature of the last 20 years. A core philosophy built on the 7 habits will help you become happier and more effective.

I had to start with one deBono book and I chose this one. Just read it. One of the things I love about deBono’s writing is he makes everything seem so simple.

I often find that reading one book sends me down the burrow. Keep exploring yourself, or start with any one of these.

 

If you click on the links above and buy the book, I may receive a small payment from amazon. Not much, but it does help offset the costs of  running the site. I only recommend books and products I genuinely believe in and have used myself.

When people ask what’s next after Myfreight

My Productivity Coach - Identify Simplify Amplify

Since announcing I am leaving Myfreight on June 30, I have been asked numerous times about my plans for the future.

Truth is, I don’t really have a concrete plan at the moment.

Most likely I’ll be doing a mix of the following:

 

1) emailhandyman – corporate email coaching. Some companies are burning thousands of hours a year with staff wasting time managing email. We aim to fix that through a simple system of triage, habits and folders.

 

2) My Productivity Coach – in person, online via coach.me, personal and business coaching. I’ve been doing this in my spare time for about 18 months and I’m interested in seeing where this goes.
Would you believe myproductivitycoach.com was available?

 

3) Consulting back to Myfreight from time to time.

 

4) Logistics/freight and IT consulting – as long as it doesn’t contravene the Myfreight non-compete agreement. There are no grey areas here!

 

5) Restaurant pockets – a solution to the lack of space on cafe tables and the overwhelming incidence of people not connecting with one another in cafes.

 

6) Beachies – kids onesies for the beach.

 

7) I’ve applied to Founder’s Institute for their August intake. I have about 50 ideas for tech startups. i enjoyed playing in this space with the development of Myfreight. I think I can repeat that success in new areas.

 

8) Drinking lots of coffee. I may switch to half decaf.

 

9) Other things I am unaware of.
Ideally, I’ll do 20-30 hours a week consulting and coaching while everything else ramps up over the next 6 months. I plan on being busy!

3 quick questions to help decide daily priorities

idea

“But how do I decide what to do right now?”

In my role as a Productivity coach at coach.me , I work with energised, high achieving individuals and the organisations they run. The biggest problem most of my clients face is maintaining focus and deciding which task is the most important out of the thousands of things that must be done immediately.

These unstoppable people don’t have reverse. They are full steam ahead on whatever task is in front of them. They’ll go without food and sleep to beat a deadline, launch a project or secure a deal.

But, what do they choose? How do they decide what to work on, right now?

I have been trying to simplify a system of prioritising, either for daily tasks or individual projects. The question is – can we distill all the productivity information flying around into something basic, fast and effective?

My clients don’t have time to spend an hour a day prioritising and sifting through the work in front of them. Shifting goalposts in their market and new developments mean they have to be agile and they need to be able to get to work on their most important tasks as soon as possible.

As a coach, being able to help these people achieve their goals is hugely satisfying. So I need a solution for them that at least starts to address the question:

“When I have 20 things I have to do right now, which one do I start with?”
 
I’m not sure I have the answer yet, but I think the following shows promise.
 

There are three key cornerstone concepts to Productivity:

 

1) This quote:
“Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
Lin Yutang, 1895 – 1976

 

Essentially, most of your output is the result of a small amount of input. Most people spend too much time on things that don’t matter.

 

3) Batching.
Quite simply, doing similar things sequentially. For example, if you have 5 phone calls to make, then make them one after the other. Check email twice a day instead of every hour.

 

Don’t confuse batching with multi-tasking. Attempting to multi-task ensures work takes longer and is of a potentially sub-optimal standard.  Science proves this.

 

To summarise:

Focus on the important/discard the non-important, apply Pareto’s rule and batch work.

 

Which brings us to three quick questions when deciding what gets done:

 
1) What can I leave undone?
 
2) What one thing will have the biggest impact?

3) When is the best time to do that?

 

As I said, it’s a start.

 

Feedback, questions, comments and criticism are all welcome.