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.

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.

Wasting time contravenes the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights

wasting time

 

Time, all the time

If you read productivity books or speak to any professional about effectiveness and efficiency, you’ll hear mention of time more frequently than is possible to count. It’s everywhere and time management is the flavour of the month. I Googled “time management blogs” and returned 2,900,000 results.

We’re spending a lot of time talking about time.

Further investigation reveals that there are a few mainstream beliefs about time management that seem to attract few arguments:

1) Planning is probably good, but not too much planning and not rigid planning;

2) You should plan to do important things first, but not always, and there is flexibility in the definition of important; and

3) Time is finite. A non-renewable resource. It is the most precious commodity.

I’m going to focus on time as a finite resource. More precisely I am going to focus on how, by wasting the time of others, you are not only committing the biggest productivity sin of all, you are also violating their fundamental human rights as outlined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But first, this

This post is 1362 words long. At an average reading speed of 200 words per minute, you are about to invest 7 minutes in reading it. I think it’s worth the investment, but is right now the best time to read? Are you supposed to be doing something else? Is there an important phone call you need to make, a report to write or a boat to build?

If so, then please, stop reading and go and put your mind and body to that other task. Reading articles (no matter how well written) should not be at the top of your priority list.

It’s okay; these words will still be here when you return.

Finite and non-renewable

Without delving into science I don’t understand, I think we can agree that time is most likely a finite resource. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. There is no undo or redo button.

Of course, Seneca said it better – “Counting even yesterday, all past time is lost time”.

It was true 2000 years ago, it’s true now, and, even if I understood the movie “Interstellar” correctly, it might be true in the future.

That second that just passed is gone. No value can be placed on an item that cannot be repackaged, rebundled, reused and resold. We can’t barter on getting that second back or change what it was used to accomplish.

Time is finite, non-renewable, and therefore infinitely valuable.

We cannot afford to waste a second

I’m with Ray Kurzweil, and others, in wanting and believing that living forever is possible. Even with that in mind, time is still too valuable to be wasted. Never, ever, should we look back at a moment, a day or a year and say “well, that was a waste of time”.

Even though I plan on living forever, I may not. Hell, I may not even survive this sentence. My heart might give up; I might choke on my espresso or a truck may drive through the front window of this café.

Every minute we survive needs to mean something. There needs to be a constant sense of the value of the activity, the choices we make and how we choose to spend the enormous wealth constantly surrounding us.

Doing nothing may not equal wasting time

I’m not proposing going hard at life 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I don’t believe we should spend every second of the day hunched over a keyboard, an engine or a patient. Time and work are not the same things. Productivity and output are totally different concepts.

There are times when sitting on the sofa for 2 hours reading a magazine is the best thing you can do. Whether it’s washing your car, or standing in line waiting for the best barista to craft you a flat white, or sitting on the beach with your toes in the warm sand, all these things are fine.

If.

If.

If you shouldn’t be doing something else. This is the key. Downtime is crucial to sustained success. Burning out isn’t a sign of Productivity, it’s a sign of a lack of foresight and prioritising. Crashing your car because you are too tired because you stayed up all night finalising a report is not the optimum outcome and does not illustrate good decision making.

So do those things that relax and recharge you. Invest time in yourself. You are worth it!

Everyone’s time has equal value

Not only can we not afford to waste our own time, but how can we be so egotistical and sociologically insane as to think it is acceptable to waste someone else’s time? What is wrong with people who believe this to be a fair exchange? My priorities over someone else’s, or my search for meaning in place of your struggle?

The person you drag into the 3-hour meeting, the co-worker you email at 10 pm because you’re stressed about the final proposal or the supplier you make wait in reception for 15 minutes so you can power frame them in an amateur display at negotiation. These are people whose time you have wasted.

Their time means something. It means the same to them as your time means to you. By definition, a commodity with an infinite value is of equal value to them as it is to you.

In fact, the sin of wasting someone else’s time might just be the worst of all. How do we, as a society grasp the concept of “acceptable” waiting and delays? Is it okay to be 5 minutes late? Maybe. What about 15 minutes? What about 30 minutes?

How do we account for stealing 15 minutes of someone’s time? Can we apply a discount or a surcharge to the next invoice, can we give them some of our time or do we just smile and make an excuse?

There is no excuse

No. There is no excuse and there is no possibility of adequate compensation. We have stolen from them something much more valuable than all the money in their pockets, their intellectual property, or their car and home. We have robbed them of the freedom to choose how to spend their time.

It’s done; it’s gone. Whatever opportunities that time held have now passed. Was there a phone call they could have made or a quick IM they may have sent? All the things that could have been accomplished. In fact, we’ll never know because we don’t get to find out.

We stole their time and we need to promise humanity we will never do that again.

Take the pledge

Commit, from this second, to never waste anyone’s time.

Please don’t ask to waste another’s time, because most often they will say yes. Most people will gladly offer you time, especially if they don’t see the true value it has. In fact, even if they are fully cognizant of the value of their time, many people will say yes so that they don’t feel terrible for rejecting your request.

It’s your responsibility to be conscious of the price others pay when you ask them for a minute, or to attend a meeting, or to read a document. Is the matter so significant that they should sacrifice a small amount of their precious time to you? Is it vital that they should place your needs, wants and desires above their own?

Let’s start a campaign to right these wrongs.

Join me, fellow anti-time wasting crusader, and take the pledge:

“I, <insert name>, armed with the knowledge that time is finite and infinitely valuable, promise never to waste anyone’s time.”

Once you’ve taken the pledge, live the promise. Be the one who cares about everyone’s time and is thoughtful, kind and generous when spending the finite resources of others. Be the change you want to see in the world!

But what about violating our fundamental human rights?

I didn’t forget. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights “sets out…fundamental human rights to be universally protected.”

I contend that wasting the time of others is a violation of Articles 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 17, 18, 20 and 23.

Feel free to leave a comment below. I will respond to all comments when I have time.