Taking Meaningful Action

Productivity. Priorities. Planning.

There are a lot of buzz words right now (and they all seem to start with the letter P!) that are intended to help us make the most of our time and efforts.

But in all the buzz about how to get more done, there is surprisingly little talk about what, exactly, we should be doing. Are all “to do” items created equal? Checking things off a list doesn’t guarantee that we are moving ourselves forward.

Growth Activities

Some things on our list need to get done, and you could argue that they are “important.” Many people fill their days doing client projects and customer service. After all, we have to deliver on our promises. But those are not growth activities.

Of course, we also fill a surprising amount of our time with “distractions.” Some are more obvious than others. Many of us lose hours in reading and responding to e-mails, which might feel like “work” but how productive are we really being?

How many of your activities are true “growth activities.” What things will grow your business? Expand your impact? Allow you to make a bigger difference? Really fulfill your purpose?

When you really look at it, those things happen primarily in two ways. When you create things. And when you connect with people.

Create

As a Content Creation Coach, these types of activities are dear to my heart. I see the power of creating new things. Of putting your ideas into tangible pieces. Whether you are writing a blog article or a book, creating a program, shooting a video, making a new presentation… creating things generates value.

You are increasing the assets of your business. You are putting valuable things into the marketplace (even if they don’t cost money). You are giving value that expands your worth and inevitably returns to you.

I often ask people, “What are you creating next to grow your business?”

The most powerful thing about creating content and other pieces in your business is that it gives you something new to share. Creating something new doesn’t mean anything if others don’t see it.

Which leads me to the second type of growth activity…

Connect

When you connect with other people, that is when all sorts of magical things happen. You might end up with a new client. You could find out about a fantastic opportunity. You could impact that person and create a ripple effect in their life and beyond.

The incredible web of possibilities that exists in a conversation with another person is huge. There is a real art to finding the places where your interests, needs, and capabilities intersect. That’s why it’s called “networking”!

Being able to impact someone else is at the core of our purpose. Each of us brings our own area of expertise and focus to each interaction, of course. But if we approach it openly, each conversation is an opportunity to live out our purpose.

That’s real growth.

And business growth follows real growth.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time recently connecting with others. And I often share things that I have created with the people I am connecting with. Sharing value and making a difference. Win win!

Looking at your task list, how many items involve creating something new or connecting with others?(And sitting at your computer writing e-mails doesn’t count!) Identify some real growth activities to put into your schedule.

How To Lead A More Effective Team By Disagreeing

It’s great when people agree with you, isn’t it? It’s a wonderful validation – of your thoughts, your ideas… of you. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yes, it’s great when people agree with you.

Except it doesn’t move the needle. Especially when the agreement comes too early.

There’s a great scene in the old TV series The West Wing. Leo McGarry is the Chief of Staff to liberal Democratic president Jed Bartlet. In this scene, Leo is offering a job to wickedly smart conservative Republican Ainsley Hayes. Ainsley is confused as to why a liberal president would want a conservative Republican working in the White House. Leo then says a line that I think should be committed to memory by every leader at every level:

“The president likes smart people who disagree with him.”

If you’re a leader, substitute your name for “the president” (unless you happen to be the president, in which case you should probably still substitute your name, because referring to yourself by your title is stupid and pretentious). Let’s just make it simple. Here’s the new sentence:

“I like smart people who disagree with me.”

I want you to make that one of your primary leadership mantras. “I like smart people who disagree with me.”

If you want to build your muscles, you do resistance training. The resistance can be in the form of weights, elastic bands, or your own body (for example, when doing pushups and pull-ups). Resistance makes muscles stronger.

Even the best ideas benefit from resistance. This resistance comes in the form of pushback by a smart person. Even if the smart person is just playing devil’s advocate, the challenge serves a purpose. When an idea is challenged, one of three things will happen:

The idea will be reinforced.
The idea will be reevaluated.
The idea will be abandoned.

Any of these three is preferable to the idea being blindly accepted by a team that’s either too intimidated to question, or too disengaged to care.

When an idea is challenged, it is examined. This examination will find one of three things about the idea, which correspond to the list above:

The idea is sound.
The idea is flawed but can be improved/fixed.
The idea is flawed, and cannot be improved. (Even in this case, though, the “bad” idea could be the spark that leads to the “good” idea.)
Agreement is a good thing, but not when it’s automatic; not when it’s a rubber stamp.
Agreement is a good thing when it comes at the end of smart debate. Agreement is a good thing when it rises out of disagreement.

Top Four Motivations for Canadians Working Abroad

Canadians working abroad are afforded many opportunities to grow and advance in their careers, a fact which significantly impacts their decision to go overseas. Whether you remain in the Commonwealth, go down to the states or travel to faraway lands, there several good reasons to find employment outside of the country.

1. Living abroad provided opportunities for adventure and personal growth.

At the end of their lives, very few people have regrets about traveling too much or seeing too many foreign countries. Living and working overseas provides opportunities to experience different cultures and gain a broader perspective on world events. Canadians working abroad are more versatile and attractive to future employers because their resumes display a level of self-motivation and perseverance that other job applicants may lack. People who work overseas have demonstrated a level of drive that will set them apart from other people in their field.

2. The Commonwealth makes it uncommonly easy.

While the British Empire is not what it once was, the citizens of the Commonwealth have an advantage when it comes to traveling to other member nations. A citizen of the United States may have an easy time working in one of the territories, but they have a much harder time getting the necessary paperwork to start a career in New Zealand, for example. Countries in South America and Africa are members, and so are Australia and India. In total, there are 53 member states, including several islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific. Canadians working abroad could find employers in any of these areas.

3. You gain additional skills overseas.

Canadians working abroad have opportunities to polish different language skills and learn to adapt to a diverse setting with new challenges. Depending on the country and type of industry, there can be unique regulations or a whole different cultural approach to the situations you encounter. For those who ultimately want to prepare for management roles, it helps to broaden your horizons by seeing how backgrounds and personal dispositions affect attitudes on the job. The ability to look out for yourself in a wide range of settings, even completely new parts of the world, will tell future employers that you need less handholding than your peers.

4. It’s great for family and friendships.

Sure, taking the kids out of school can mean a complicated adjustment, but those who attend school in different parts of the world experience a more inclusive education. Other families may take their kids on a week-long vacation once a year, but yours can have the chance to learn in-depth about other cultures for years at a time. Travel can be a transformative experience, especially for the young. What’s more, the friendships formed elsewhere can be lasting bonds regardless of whether the family eventually moves back to Canada. Back home, the whole family is equipped with interesting stories of life in distant lands, which can be a way to help entertain new friends.

One Bad Decision Can Cost a Hospital Millions

Things can go wrong without the right team in place

I recently read an article that was attempting to explain the cost overrun experienced by a hospital during the launch of their new EMR. The article was clear on what caused the overrun but failed to communicate why the decision was made that created the cause.

In many hospitals, emotions can run high fueled by attitudes of resistance to change. The pressures and stress associated with go-live can be a challenge to manage; however, allowing those forces to affect decision-making can have lasting adverse financial effects. When all planning, budget, constraints, and common sense that should be applied are set aside, you can almost always expect the worse. It may feel like appeasement is the right thing to do to relieve the stress, but it may not be the best thing. Sticking to the plan, and staying within the budget should always be the guiding factor that drives decisions even when the pressure is great.

It’s unfortunate, but some decisions are based on problems that may not exist at all but are only perceived based on excessive negativity. Having an experienced team in place that can help make decisions based on fact is vital.

Negotiating Skills Do Pay Off!

When doing logistics, treat it like it’s your money

Getting one of the best hotels in the city to give you the lowest rate with great concessions is excellent. In this agreement, the hotel managed the flight itineraries and provided transportation to and from the airport. They supplied one large conference room for orientation and then surprised us in the contract with a complimentary welcome reception for 120 guests with heavy hors-d’oeuvres. Provided two fifty-six seat luxury buses and several shuttles to transport consultants to the training facility and back. They also agreed to use their shuttles to take those consultants that worked within two miles of hotel to work and back each day. Everything listed above was in the price of the rooms $105.09 with tax. Note, this took a huge burden off the consulting firm, and the savings were passed on to the hospital.

When a hospital hires a consulting firm, that consulting company should put forth all effort to save money, not spend money. Creating a positive cost variance (CV) indicates the consulting firm is in fact on your team. Negotiating for the best price is good, but getting the most value for the lowest price is better.

Consultants Saved the Day!

Good consultants can mean the difference between success and failure

I sat in an auditorium with over three hundred consultants when the speaker invited to the podium the senior implementation project manager. “Dr. So and So has overseen the EMR implementation of nineteen plus hospitals please give him a round of applause.” Wow, nineteen projects that’s impressive. However, it turned out to be a challenging project in many areas but mainly with significant workflow issues.

Although it is confusing why this happens, it is clear the leadership was out of touch. Seeking someone with excellent qualifications can be attractive for any hospital, but having someone with the insight that can eliminate problems before they exist is priceless. I am not sure why this project manager didn’t know this.

Fortunate for everyone the consultants came with the experience and knowledge necessary to handle these types of issues. Jumping into action and based on past experiences they began the process of educating the staff and leadership on what works. This go-live would have never survived without the tremendous efforts of the consultant.

Comic Book Industry Blunders

What includes turned out badly inside the business and would it be able to be settled? The assault and loot, according to

a few, may have left the comic book industry panting forever bolster. It appears that for an

industry that has seen so much achievement, the historical backdrop of comic books, has evidently been

jumbled by apparently imbecilic oversights.

The first could have exceptionally well been the begetting of the name “comic books”. The soonest forms

of the purported half-tab (for half newspaper) reprints of the Sunday funnies (the funnies) moved toward becoming

known as “funny books”. This prompted the reasoning as a rule, that comic books contained comic

or on the other hand entertaining material, which we as a whole know, is a far stretch from the real world. Comic books can be extremely

serious, dim or audacious magazines. It has regularly been proposed that there ought to be another

term begat to more readily depict this abstract bundle we as a whole know as comic books. To date, no

other client companion term has been proposed for use in the comic book industry.

A second confusion came when magazine costs began to rise. Rather than expanding comic

book costs, as other effective magazines did, the comic book industry chose to slice pages to

keep the then current sticker price of 10 pennies. This expedited the feeling that comic books

were “shabby” by definition, and ignored the way that a dime was a considerable measure of cash at one time

(steak and eggs cost 35 pennies). This displayed the picture that comic books were only for kids. It

additionally made the item progressively less reasonable for retail vendors to stock. Why take up the

same rack space, when a higher evaluated magazine would accomplish all the more pleasantly. Again the apparent

estimation of the comic book was losing validity.

At that point as the 1950s moved around, a person by the name of Dr. Frederick Wertham, distributed

a book entitled “Temptation of the Innocents”. Using informal research and

suppositions, he expressed that all the country’s ills were specifically identified with kids perusing comic books

(ok well, what?). Fundamental to his proposition, was the misassumption that comic books were entirely for

kids. The more grown-up material, it was nonsensically accepted, was gone for our sweet, guileless

blameless kids. Truly, we do need to secure our youngsters, yet despite everything it disturbs me forever, that

certain vainglorious people trust their present situation is to influence whatever remains of the planet to follow

to their very own convictions. On the off chance that this were the situation, at that point our extraordinary nation would have never been

established.

With this fiercely silly assault on the comic book industry and numerous congressional pioneers

bouncing on the temporary fad, comic books were picking up an awful notoriety. The comic book

industry distributers now, could have united together and proclaimed that comic books, as

films, were not “only for kids”. It ought to have been expressed that the extensive variety of comic book

kinds spoke to was focus to as wide a scope of perusers. Everything except one of the distributers

(William Gaines, distributer of EC Comics) clasped under to this Congressional Investigation and

the Comic Code Authority was made. This represented the substance of comic books and guaranteed

that for the following 15 years or somewhere in the vicinity, the scholarly substance would not transcend that of pablum for

the psyche. Along these lines another slide into extraordinariness for the comic book industry occurred.

Can the comic book industry be spared? Possibly, however when the people accountable for the

sparing are as energetic as ever to commit similar errors once more, what will the result be?

They don’t have all the earmarks of being blade enough to commit new errors.