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Dragons.

last_dragonThis post is a little different. It’s about earning self-respect. Respect from others comes from winning or being honest even when it runs against your best interests. Self-respect is earned from winning over yourself. It comes from honest introspection, recognizing your own dragons. And then slaying their asses.

This week my wife called me a ‘chronic procrastinator’ and in a sense, she’s right. I put off the shitty tasks and do the fun stuff. The brain challenging, can I figure this stuff out kind of work. The mundane, every day, boring, administrivia crap? Nope, not for me. But if you let the administrivia go long enough, you’ll die under the weight of the un-done. How did I beat it? I discovered a little book called One Small Step Can Change Your Life. The premise of the book is that your brain puts up defense mechanisms to protect you from pain. Ok, I can definitely relate to that. Unfortunately, there comes a time when the pain of not having it done overwhelms the pain of not doing it.  Then you have to put in the Herculean effort of putting all the fun stuff aside and knocking it out. Taxes are the obvious one. Going to the damn dentist is another. But there’s a trick to all of this that the book points out. Take the big-hairy-I-don’t-want-to-do-it-thing and break it down into the most minuscule of tasks. I’ll take an example we’re all familiar with: writing a term paper. For me, I wrote these the night before it was due. What I turned in sucked and was just enough to get me at the top of the class. But it was excruciatingly painful. Today I do a lot of systems analysis, a lot of research and detail work. Fun? Nope. So what I do is break it down into tiny, insignificant tasks. My brain doesn’t throw up the warning signs saying it’s going to be painful to pull this together and instead, does each tiny task. The result? Great work, delivered early. Essentially what I do it look at what needs to be delivered, decide f it requires A, B, or C level work and then break the deliverable into sub-tasks accordingly. The higher the grade of work, the more sub-tasks I create. If it’s C level work, I create a handful of quick, easily completed tasks and get that shit off my plate. If it’s A level work, I create a lot (a shit-ton actually) of low-level tasks and prioritize them. Understand a client’s systems? Identify the players and their roles, talk to them, get their perspective, take notes. From there you may come up with 150-200 follow up items. But the secret here is that each of those are miniscule. Make a call, talk about X, write down Y. All stuff that doesn’t trigger your brain into thinking that the thing you’re working on is a damn mountain. Before you know it, you’re at item 200 and you’re done. It’s ridiculously easy. Every time you catch yourself starting to procrastinate on a particular task, it’s because you’re working on to many itms all at once and you’re not thinking small enough. Break it down more. Spend an hour each morning making the smallest, most innocuous tasks imaginable. If you’re a “chronic procrastinator” you’ll have this dragon beaten before you know it. And well before your brain can throw up a barrier for you.

For me, this was my last real dragon to conquer.

Distractions.

One of the things I picked up when I worked in North Carolina was a love of barbecue. Over the past couple of months

After 12 hours...

I’ve been picking up a Boston butt when I see one with a good fat cap and putting going low and slow with it. It’s turning out so well that we no longer go out for barbecue. It’s provided a good distraction from everything else that’s been going on over the past year. Breaks are needed. New (or in this case, old) experiences are needed. And sometimes it’s just for fun. Maybe a little healthy competition now and then too. But for right now, it’s breakfast.

Idea Defending.

Be careful who you put your ideas in front of. If you can find people that are genuinely in your corner and want you to succeed, show ‘em everything. Because these people are rare. I know of maybe five people that will look at what I’m doing and give me their blunt opinion. And I come back to them time and time again. They get the early look at what I’m working on, not because their friends, not because they tell me how great the idea is or how cool the concept is. They don’t fill me with a bunch of bullshit about how the idea is innovative and game changing. Nope, I come back to them because they’ll point out things that I missed or glossed over in the business model, consumer experience, or marketing plan. Seek these people out. Relentlessly. When you find these people, don’t get defensive about your idea – you’ll risk these people shutting down and not giving you their honest opinion. If your product, service or concept can survive these people and can improve based on their feedback, you’ll have a much stronger product when you go to market. It may not even look like what you originally conceived. Be prepared for it, you’ll be much better off.

Silence.

Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing. In this case, nothing getting posted is a good thing as I’ve been heads down for almost three straight weeks. No, I haven’t given up and walked away. More soon…

Where the Hell Have I Been?

Actually, I’ve been right here…

And I highly recommend it. With no real vacation for more than two years I was starting to get pretty edgy. So we hopped down to Aruba and after about five days I was ready to get back to work. I realized that I just can’t sit under a cabana all day and have drinks served to me. I was almost completely disconnected as the wifi access stopped about two rooms away from us. I cleaned up on roulette the last day we were there too. But other than that it’s great to be home. I knocked out about 30 miles on the bike this morning and I’ve put in about a full seven hours of work so far today.

If you’ve never been to Aruba, there’s two ways to really get a good “taste” of the island. One is on a TomCar from Green Zebra Adventures. The other is on the back of this guy, Jesse James. There are about 35 horses at Rancho Notorious and if you get the chance, take half a day and check them out. If you like getting your ass kicked in general, take the “galloping allowed” tour. We timed heading down there just right as the off season is just beginning. We were the only ones there for the Tom Cars as well as the horse back rides. Perfect timing because we didn’t have to wait for anybody to catch up. Also “somebody” also wrecked our Tom Car forcing me to have to drive on in a different one without a governor. But our guide didn’t tell me that and left it to me to discover. So… Tom Cars WILL drift!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work. Anybody up for starting BarCamp Aruba?

Took the Weekend Off!

Ok, not entirely. I did get some work done but more importantly we went to the Grand Prix of St. Pete and met a lot of great people there. We were guests of Andretti Autosport and ExactTarget and both companies are tremendous professionals. We arrived around 9:30 for breakfast in Andretti’s hospitality area. From there we got to tour the garage where Marco Andretti’s and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s cars were being worked on. As we were getting the tour the team pulled Marco’s transmission in about five minutes. That alone was impressive. How they could work with us within inches of us I still can’t figure out. But as some of the Andretti crew said, “If it weren’t for the fans, we’d have no jobs.” We also got a tour of the motor homes used to work on the cars. Everything was spotless, the cars, the garage, the motor homes, everything.  We headed back for lunch where I bumped into @prebynski and @MitchNeff, great seeing you guys.

Around 12:15 we headed over to pit-lane to see Marco’s, Ryan’s and Danica’s cars as they were being rolled out for the start. A lot of work to get these cars to the start of the race, how the teams make this happen with us getting in the way all the time is exceptional.

For the start of the race we were sitting almost on the start-finish line. It was tough to tell what happened at turn one but there was a collective sigh of relief when Marco walked away from the Venom car after it was flipped over. One-hundred laps later and it was over. We enjoyed every minute of it and we really appreciate the hospitality of the Andretti Autosport team. I especially want to thank the ExactTarget team of Tim Kopp and Brian Tomey for inviting us to a great weekend.

Kindle Proliferation

I have a number of books on my Kindle for iPad and while I was writing on the Mac I thought I’d refer to them for research. It was a bit clumsy to have to go back and forth to the iPad, there should be an easier way to do this. Sure enough I searched for Kindle for Mac on Amazon and found this…

It’s a little poor on features you’d expect from an application but it does have a tab for Notes & Marks. I thought this would show other readers markups as well, just as the Kindle. Not quite, apparently it’s only for my own notes and bookmarks. Still, it’s not bad and makes things much easier than using the iPad and the Mac at the same time. Through a quick sign in with Amazon I was able to sync all my books without an issue.

The presentation is a bit awkward for everyday use but works well for what I need to do. It’s still in beta and they have pc versions as well. Hopefully this will save somebody else some time.

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