December 30, 2010

Year in review

In response to this #YearInReview blog post by Seth Godin, I've made a list of what I shipped in 2010.

As Seth defines it, 'shipping' is about what you make happen, what you deliver.  In particular, what scares you, that you do anyway.

Often, we have great ideas but don't take the steps to make them happen.  It is the making them happen that matters.

I took on shipping this year, because I read Seth's book Linchpin in 2010.  And I took on fear, too, and the power of the reminder on my favourite mug.
My list isn't nearly as impressive as Seth's.  For me, though, some of these things were a big stretch at the time. Now, maybe not so much.
  • public speaking - Joined toastmasters. Gave a keynote speech. Moderated a panel. 
  • blog - Published 43 blog posts.  Took on delivering short, clear messages.
  • newsletter - Shipped 12 newsletters. 
  • twitter - transitioned from awkward to useful on twitter. Now, relish its structure for concise and clear communication.
  • supplier lists and supply arrangements - 30 or so proposals written in 2010 mean I am now on a total of seven pre-qualified lists or supply arrangements to provide my services. 
  • adventure - A 5,000 km road trip to the Oregon sand dunes, San Francisco, Disney and Los Angeles with my two boys.
  • experience - Spent two weeks in small town Mexico, living simply and working remotely.
  • event - Led a team to make the first open government conference in British Columbia happen.
  • relationships - along the way, I have built a set of amazing new relationships with inspiring people.

    I have already been thinking about what I will be shipping in 2011.

    Thanks Seth, for suggesting we take on making our own list.

    Have you thought about what you shipped in 2010?  I bet it's a good list.

    creating an experience

    I have been reflecting on our trip to Disneyland this past summer.  I want to share the article I wrote for my newsletter while at the Happiest Place on Earth.

    There are two things that are really striking about the experience here. 
    First, that every person working within the gates of Disney is committed to a common purpose:  creating an extra-ordinary experience for the visitor.  Every person – they are not staff, but rather ‘cast’ or ‘crew’ members – without fail holds to that commitment.  Grumpy doesn’t exist.  There is an invitation offered everywhere to have a wonderful time.  They thank you for coming as you enter the park.  It is really quite amazing, to be in an environment where the customer experience is held above all else. 
    Second, that Walt Disney created this amazing park with only his own vision.  He is quoted as stating: "We did it in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster - closed and forgotten within the first year."  Most everyone around him believed his idea would not be successful, and told him so.  Yet he proceeded anyway.  At significant financial and personal cost. 
    Opinions are an interesting thing.  We surround ourselves with people who are important to us.  Friends, family, partners, mentors.  For the most part, we care about what the people in our lives think.  We don’t do a good job of separating our care, respect and trust for the person, from what we expect ourselves to do with the opinion they offer us.  Often, we and they both tend to have an expectation that the opinion will alter our course of action in some way. 
    What if it doesn’t, and what if that doesn’t mean anything?  Opinions are just opinions:  a particular way of thinking based on a collection of thoughts such as our own personal past experience, the past experience of others close to us, our beliefs, what we have read or heard.  They also contain our own fears.  We offer them up to others freely and sometimes, carelessly. 
    Walt Disney was surrounded by people important to him, and their freely offered opinions told him his theme park was a bad idea.  He proceeded anyway, and we have The Happiest Place on Earth as a result. 
    Disneyland is a good reminder of what’s possible. 

    December 27, 2010

    what are you creating for 2011?

    This is often the time of year for reflection.  Looking back, and looking forward.  Those who find new year's resolutions help them to focus on changes they want to make are busy thinking of resolutions for the new year.
    I am not a new year's resolution type.  However, I believe we move towards what we think about, and that having goals to steer the course is essential.  So I am spending some time thinking about what I want for the upcoming year.
    What's on my list so far? Creating 'home', not merely a house. Calm. Gratitude. Connections. Lots of writing.  Sharing. Fun. Stretching myself to do things I think I cannot do. Less second guessing, more doing. Promising that I will check in often with myself, to adjust course if necessary.
    What about you?  Are you developing goals or resolutions for the coming year?  Have you thought about what you want to make happen in 2011?
    photo from

    December 25, 2010

    the best of times

    It's Christmas Day.  I am thinking back, over the year behind me.
    Over the past couple of days, air travelers in Europe have been struggling with weather issues.  Freezing temperatures, snow, and shortages of antifreeze.  I have read the articles, including one that said (of the people stuck in the Paris airport, flights cancelled) that 'their Christmas was ruined'.
    Those travellers have a story to tell, over and over.  About the Christmas morning they spent at the airport.  And how the airport staff arranged for Father Christmas to visit, and for small gifts for all, and breakfast to be served.
    These travelers now have a story to share, for their whole lives.  About the adventure they had.  Different than what they expected.
    How anything that happens in our lives occurs - and how it lives on, in our stories - is up to us.  Some circumstances could suggest an occasion or event is ruined. Or not.
    It is completely up to us as to how we choose to view it.  And that is an amazingly powerful choice, isn't it?

    December 13, 2010

    A Time for Increased Collaboration

    Below is another an article from my newsletter, this time from vol. 1 no. 7. It seems even more timely to me now.
    As we prepare to enter a new year, that this could be the perfect time for each of us to actively seek opportunities to collaborate more with others.
    Several times lately, a passage in a book by Nathaniel Branden has popped into my mind that states, in essence, “…and what else can I do?”
     No matter how much effort we have expended on something, no matter how difficult or insurmountable a particular challenge or relationship or business problem may seem, it is always possible to do more. We are intelligent, capable, resourceful, committed individuals. We can be the ones who continue to look for solutions when others become resigned or give up.
    I think about the continued challenges faced by government friends with severely constrained budgets and expectations placed on them to continue to move good initiatives forward. I think about the forest sector, and the challenges faced by those trying to reinvent it for the future. I think about the provincial economy as a whole, and the talented and committed people who want to do their part to put B.C. on the map as a place where great things happen.
    Is it possible to do more together than we can do individually? I believe so. The old fiefdom-based, knowledge-is-power culture is fading, albeit more slowly in some areas than others. In the circles I touch, varying degrees of collaboration are in use. People working together to solve problems, sharing ideas, sharing successes so that others can benefit from what has been done already. Acknowledgement and understanding of the benefits for all if ‘the group’ – whoever that group may be in the particular instance – succeeds.
    Collaboration is possible even between businesses in a competitive environment. There are always areas where the results possible from collaboration exceed what is possible independently. Where a common effort to solve problems or raise awareness or improve relationships and reputations collectively benefits the larger group. The rewards are there. The challenge is identifying those opportunities. And that takes courage and creativity.
    What if you took on seeking more opportunities to work with others, as you head into this new year?

    Photo from stock.xchng

    December 11, 2010

    Transforming Meetings

    I will periodically be posting some articles from my newsletter on my blog.  Here is one from Vol 1 No. 6.
    How is it our concept of a ‘meeting’ is so negative?  We rarely speak of meetings with enthusiasm.   For most of us they are seen as something to be endured, time mostly wasted that gets in the way of getting ‘real work’ done.  I even looked for a quote about meetings for this article and couldn’t find a single positive one.  
    It is possible to transform meetings.  What would it be like if people came to know you as someone who called and held productive meetings that were a good use of everyone’s time?
    I googled the word ‘meeting’ and came up with this great graphic from the site,  There is no connotation of ‘waste of time’. 
    Being responsible for great meetings is an art as well as a science.  The first clue is in the phrase ‘being responsible’.  The person who calls the meeting IS responsible:  for the time to be well spent.  That means responsibility for many things, such as:
    ·    being clear about what the intentions are of the meeting (a way to harness collective intelligence?  Brainstorming?  A key decision needs to be made?);
    ·    being mindful and respectful of the cost (if you invite 5 people making $50 an hour; a two hour meeting just cost your organization $500);
    ·    ensuring the right people are invited and able to attend (how many meetings have you been to where a key player wasn’t in the room, thus requiring another meeting?);
    ·    ensuring you have only invited the people who need to be there, and limit the information to what is relevant for the people who are there;
    ·    ensuring that the objectives are communicated ahead of time to the participants.  Send out a clear agenda (people need to know how to prepare, and those with a preference for introversion may need time to think about the material beforehand);
    ·    if you want to be able to participate yourself, have someone else facilitate the meeting;
    ·    start when you said you would.  Don’t waste the time of the people who honoured you by arriving on time to wait for those who are late; and
    ·    follow up with whatever commitments you make in the meeting (notes, action lists).
    Taking responsibility for that one or two hour meeting means some prep beforehand and may mean some follow up afterwards.  But these few suggestions could make your meetings be seen as more valuable by the people who work with you.