Great Companies Are Making All Meetings Optional

What if your company made all meetings optional? All of them. Imagine how many useless meetings go away when this rule is applied? It’s happening at a growing number of smart companies.

Atlassian’s infographic shows that the average employee spends 31 hours a month in meetings and considers at least 50 percent of them a complete waste of time. Ninety-one percent daydream, 75 percent do other work, and 39 percent sleep during at least some of them. And unnecessary meetings waste $37 billion a year.

Managers do no better. Bain & Company found that the average manager wastes nearly a full day every week in meetings, and senior executives waste a staggering 40% of their work week in endless, mind-numbing, and ineffective meetings. That doesn’t even count the time wasted getting ready and sending CYA emails afterwards.

There Is a Better Way to Get Stuff Done

Executives rooted in Industrial Age management practices respond that this is an unfortunate byproduct, and that meetings are a necessary communication vehicle. But that doesn’t hold up. There is a rapidly growing list of companies in every industry that are functioning without meetings, and some have been doing it for over thirty years. The success of this trend suggests we should consider dropping them altogether, or at least making them optional. And that’s what a lot of companies are doing.

Intel imposed a rule that no one could hold a meeting without a clear purpose. Lenovo lets its staff stop any meeting that is wandering. Many other companies have made them optional. Semco ($1billion, 3,000 Stakeholders) did that almost thirty years ago. And still others like Project eMT have abolished all meetings. They’re not allowed.

At our company, Crankset Group, people get together when they need to solve specific problems, but there is only one scheduled meeting per month. We have a great Business Transformation Center, but we all work from our homes. So we see each other sporadically at events we hold for customers. Our one meeting helps us connect without distraction.

The Law of Two Feet

Here’s a great way to encourage optional meetings. Open Space Technology, which helps conferences self-organize =after= the attendees have already arrive (yes, it works really well, even for thousands of attendees), employs The Law of Two Feet. This law simply means if you choose to attend a meeting, you must either 1) be learning, or 2) be contributing (you should work hard at making this happen). If you can’t do either, you are responsible to get up, leave, and go somewhere where one of those two things will happen. If every company adopted the Law of Two Feet, probably half of meetings would have no one show up, and a lot of others would have people leaving halfway through as the meeting degenerates into discussing minutiae.

Traditional Managers Won’t Like This

Some companies will likely never get it, because for them, meetings exist to make the managers feel important. Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer, who definitely doesn’t get it, is reported to have been late to every single meeting since she took over, and historically holds 70+ of these tardy meetings every week. She has no idea how to get out of the way and give people their brains back.

Things We Can Do To Fix It

But for those who do get it, the payoff can be big. Bain and Company says a manufacturer it studied saved the equivalent of 200 jobs just by shortening the length of meetings from sixty to thirty minutes, and limiting to seven the number of people who could attend.

Here are five ideas to streamline or eliminate meetings:

1) Make them optional. You’ll learn very quickly which ones are useless.
2) Have a written agenda and stick with it. If it wasn’t important enough to think about before the meeting, don’t let it come up. We use a shared online document—everyone can contribute for the whole month before our one meeting.
3) 15-30 minutes, with a hard-stop. Respect begins with telling people the meeting will be over at 10:30am. Make sure it happens.
4) Standup Meetings—Great for mandatory daily operational meetings. The Privy Council meets regularly with the Queen of England and these are always stand up meetings (the Queen or her surrogate stands, too), which keeps them short.
5) Never, ever solve problems in a large meeting. The solution almost never includes everyone. Instead identify the problem and an owner of it, and let them get with whoever they need to outside the meeting. At the next meeting they check in to share if it’s done.

Get stuff done. Stop meeting.

Article as seen on

Why You Should Get Out and Stay Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re doing it right, building a business, or a great life, should be an adventure. And the more open you are to adventure, the more likely you are to build a great business or life.

Last Wednesday morning, I agreed to get on an airplane to go have dinner with someone I had never met, along with his team. He had emailed me only two days before for the first time, and we never talked personally until I was on the way to the airport. I was to fly back home early the next morning.

I had exactly 21 minutes’ notice to make the flight reservation, get someone to stay overnight with my dog (my wife was out of state), find a ride, shower and get dressed, pack my bag, and leave for the airport. While my business partner Krista drove, I shaved and ate breakfast in the car (who doesn’t?). She got only 10 minutes’ notice to pick me up.

We were just pulling into the airport when our new friend called and apologized—he had to go to the hospital with high blood pressure—a precautionary move, but necessary. So we just turned around, and I canceled the flight by phone on the drive home. I told him I could fly out the next day or Friday if his issue was a false alarm. I knew I could be making another reservation the next day on a few minutes’ notice.

All this wasn’t as big a deal as it sounds. When you live outside your comfort zone, stuff like this is just another fun adventure, and part of building a great business.

It’s all relative. The farther you live outside your comfort zone, the more semi-crazy stuff won’t seem so crazy to you.

How Far Will You Go to Achieve Your Dreams?

Last year I flew deep into central Africa, with three days’ notice, to meet a major chief who hadn’t agreed to see a Westerner for many years. I was going alone to a country where I didn’t even speak the national language, let alone the tribal language of the area I would be visiting. I had never been within 1,000 miles of where I was going. And I had no preplanned interpreter—we would just have to figure it out.

Three continents, four airplanes, and five countries later (33 hours), I landed, got on another 737, flew 90 minutes inland, got in a bush plane, and flew another couple of hours to a gravel landing strip. I was ushered into a very beat-up old Land Rover, with the local chief and seven other locals (yes, nine of us).

We got to the local chief’s remote village and found just one guy who had spent some time in an English-speaking country who could help me communicate at least a little. He didn’t speak much English at all, but good enough to break barriers.

I hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours in two days, but at 8:00 p.m. that same night, we were told we would be heading out to meet the major chief. Seven locals and I continued into the bush on four old dirt bikes. The way was pitch black, with no road, and it rained intermittently all night. The ground was very muddy. I rode for eight and a half hours, hanging on to the back of the dirt bike. We had two flats, and I fell off twice. The driver was better at this; he only fell off once. We couldn’t talk, but we built a good relationship anyway. I pushed the bike up washes and walked down embankments as much as I rode.

At 4:30 a.m., before sunup, we rolled into the Stone Age village and were ushered off to bed. Three hours later I awoke to someone who ushered me off to a big ceremonial breakfast with the chief. We communicated awkwardly for a couple of hours. Then others walked me around the tiny, thatched-hut village, meeting people for most of the day. We met back with the chief around 4 p.m., talked for another hour, and signed some papers.

An hour later, as it was getting dark, we were back on the dirt bikes. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining that night, but we went out a different way than we came in, for security reasons. Instead of being an eight and a half hour trip, it was 10. I slept for five hours in the bigger village, and then reversed back out via the Land Rover, bush plane, 737, and transcontinental flights. The whole trip took four and a half days, and in that time I probably slept 12 hours until the flight back. It was a great trip—well worth it. I’m guessing there isn’t another person alive who could tell this story—what a privilege.

Stretched Out, Not Stressed Out

I shared that trip so you can see why a last-minute flight to another U.S. city, which was canceled right before boarding, is no big deal. The more we stretch ourselves, the less we will feel stretched.
When we live safe, secure, and stable lives, where every day looks the same, all we ensure is that nothing remarkable happens. When we live stretched out (not stressed out) lives, things that otherwise might seem like a big deal are much more within our grasp. People who live stressed-out lives are always reacting to what others want them to do. People who live stretched-out lives will react quickly when it fits their goals.

Get out, and stay out, of your comfort zone. It just might allow you to do things other people think are crazy or stressful that will give you the edge in a world where nobody seems to want to take a risk anymore.

Be clear about your dreams. Look for adventure. Live stretched out. Take a risk. Have a story.

Article as seen on

Entrepreneurialism Is Dying. “Experts” Want To Fix It By Ignoring Small Business Startups

It’s an economic disaster – more businesses are closing than starting. Gallup and VCs want to fix this by making small business startups completely irrelevant. Why?

For the first time in American history, more businesses are closing than starting up, a tectonic shift, and a disaster for our economic future. The way to fix that, according to Gallup, venture capitalists and politicians, is to convince you that eighty percent of all businesses are irrelevant. To solve the crisis, they want the nation to fixate instead on finding a tiny percentage of early stage startups they call “high-growth” businesses, that no one, including them, can identify. It’s crazy, but they’re convinced that will make the crisis all go away.


The first step to reversing the trend is mind-boggling. It’s to convince you and politicians that over 22.7 million businesses actually don’t even exist.

You Don’t Exist

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, stunningly asserts, “20 million of the 26 million reported businesses are inactive companies that have no sales, profits, customers or workers. The only number that is useful and instructive is the 6 million current operating businesses with one or more employees.”
This is wrong on so many levels: inaccurate, twisted, and misleading, to name a few. Clifton and Gallup’s anti-small business agenda is exposed by the facts.

Nonemployer Businesses Are Alive and Well

The latest U.S. Census data available shows 22.7 million nonemployer businesses, not 20 million. These companies comprise 80% of all businesses in America. To even be counted, nonemployer firms must have a minimum of $1,000 in receipts. Not a single one is inactive. Further, the average receipts for these supposedly mythical businesses is $45,344, and they constitute over $1 trillion a year in revenue. 2.3 million of them have $100,000 to $5 million in revenue, and hundreds have well over $5 million in receipts. And most of it goes directly to salary, which makes that $1 trillion exponentially more powerful to the U.S. economy than the revenue of giant corporations sheltering their earnings offshore and every other way possible.
This is an irresponsible statement by the leader of a research company that we should be able to take at his word. Why does Clifton want to make 22.7 million business owners simply disappear? Venture capitalists have the same agenda.

You’re Just a Mom and Pop

Scott Case, former CEO of the epically failed Startup America partnership said, “Small business owners, if they fail at their first attempt, they’ll immediately go take a job in their industry. The local salon owner who doesn’t make it will go cut hair for someone else. But not a startup founder. A founder will shut down their business and just start again. And that’s the fuel that drives the market ahead.” He goes on to say “founders” are people involved with “high-growth” startups that want to become giant corporations. He describes them as “special” and different from “mom and pops”. Pejoratives like “mom and pop” rule amongst the economic elite—if you don’t want to be a giant, you’re a mom and pop.

The arrogance is palpable and the motive seems clear. VCs and cheerleaders like Clifton and Gallup are focused on high-growth startups that intend to become huge, who, in the process will enrich the venture capitalists. To get politicians to refocus, they casually claim everything from 40% of net new jobs to virtually all jobs come from these very few freaks. It’s a wonder we ever got along without focusing on them before.

You’re Not Worth The Investment

Sadly, uninformed politicians with their hand out to rich VCs are playing along. Ignoring small business startups, they are enacting bills to give the VCs tax credits and expanding regulations and funding that go directly to VCs. Billions of dollars are now funneled straight to VCs through the SBA, and small business owners aren’t even allowed to apply.

They Don’t Know What They’re Talking About

The idea that ignoring millions of small business startups every year will reverse the business failure rate is ridiculous. 400,000 to 650,000 businesses start up every year, depending on the year. Less than 00.06% of them will ever in their lifecycle become a high-growth company (there are 28.4 million businesses in America; only 17,600 have 500 or more employees). That is so rare that it is nothing more than a statistical anomaly. Even if high-growth firms do create a lot of jobs, there isn’t a venture capitalist on earth who can identify high-growth companies from “mom and pops” until long after they have already arrived, at which time they don’t need government coddling or even venture capitalists.

84% of the fastest growing companies in America never took venture capital. Almost all fast-growing firms start as zero to 1 employee startups, and nobody knows which one will actually grow. McDonalds was a hot dog stand for twelve years before they sold hamburgers and started to grow. The McDonald brothers never had a dream of becoming big, and every venture capitalist would have blown them off as a “mom and pop”. Their small business, slow-growth pattern is very typical of most high-growth companies.

Focusing on Small Business Startups is Our Best Hope

For the first time in our history, there are indeed more businesses dying in America than being born. Instead of helping grow more of every kind, VCs and anti-small business interests want to hijack this data and go running to congress for more special interest money, even attempting to make 22.7 million existing businesses disappear in the process. If we want more high-growth startups, the only sure way to do that is to focus on creating every kind of mom and pop possible, even hot dog stands, so the free market can decide which ones get to be big.

Clifton, Gallup, VCs and politicians don’t get to decide. And they shouldn’t play loose with the data to do it.

Full disclosure: Our company, Crankset Group, would be considered a high-growth startup by these guys, with well over 25% employee growth every year for over five years. I’d rather be lumped in with the 22.7 million, thank you very much.

Article as seen on

Working 9 to 5 Is Antithetical to Being Human

Work is good. It adds meaning to our lives. But work that is time-based instead of results-based is antithetical to the true nature of work, and to being human.

Dear Father,
I received your letter on Thursday the 14th with much pleasure. I am well, which is one comfort. My life and health are spared while others are cut off. Last Thursday one girl fell down and broke her neck, which caused instant death. She was going in to the mill and slipped down, it being very icy. The same day a man was killed by the railroad cars. Another had nearly all of his ribs broken. Another was nearly killed by having a bale of cotton fall on him.
Last Tuesday we were paid. In all I had six dollars and sixty cents. I paid $4.68 of it for board. With the rest I got me a pair of rubbers and a pair of 50 cent shoes. Next payment I am to have a dollar a week beside my board.
I think that the factory is the best place for me and if any girl wants employment, I advise them to come to Lowell.
Letter by Mary Paul, Lowell, Massachusetts, “mill girl,” age 16, December 21, 1845


9 to 5: A Business Disease of The Industrial Age

Working with ceaseless regularity and rigid hours is a very new thing in the history of man. It is a business disease first spread during the Industrial Age that became normalized in textile mills in the 1790s.

In 1845, Mary Paul had to report at 5 a.m., got thirty minutes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and got off at 7 p.m. She didn’t have to work Sundays. As a U.S. resident, she had the better deal—the English textile mills indentured thousands of orphan children for no pay, from 1784 through 1847.

Work Less, Accomplish More

In a survey called “Wasting Time at Work,” shows the average employee spends more than 25 percent of his or her workday, or 2.09 hours, excluding lunch and scheduled breaks, doing nothing. Much more time is wasted in meetings and “managing up” (brown-nosing). Why? Because most companies are running on an Industrial Age factory system that grades them on time spent in the office, not on productivity. It’s a system of mistrust based on management’s belief that employees are lazy. And this research shows people are living up to our worst expectations of them.

Management Is The Problem

Management makes people lazy. Expect more of them as stakeholders and they will raise their game or leave. The 9 to 5 “car in the parking lot” mindset is the root of many of the dumbest practices in business. But a tidal wave of companies are rejecting it and adopting results-based workplaces, including Project eMT, our company Crankset Group, large companies like Semco, and thousands of others.

Time Is The New Money

The lesson here is simple—give people clear deadlines for when things should be done, with the incentive that if they can get it done without you looking over their shoulder, they can have a much more flexible work life for achieving it. If someone gets their work done by 2 p.m., they should go home and play with their kids. If they are stakeholders, they will be even more productive going forward. If they are employees, they will abuse this a couple of times and you will move them along to find an office day care center where they can be children. And doing so will ensure that everyone gets the message they have to be self-managed adults.

“Where?” and “When?” Are the Wrong Questions

In the traditional time-based culture, the focus is on “where” you are (at the office) and “when” you are (specific, regular work hours). In a results-based culture, the focus is on quality results, and if you get the right results, we don’t care where you are or when you are.

The Industrial Age was an interruption in our age-old commitment to accomplish the task in the shortest time possible, and instead promoted the idea that people are inherently lazy and need to be clocked. The faster we get back to our preindustrial results-based system of work, the more productive we will be as a society.
Get your work done and go home. And be human in both places.

Article as seen on

Engagement and Empowerment Programs Are Signs of a Much Deeper Problem

Empowerment and Engagement programs are just distractions from the real issue. People want their brain back at work, but focusing on these two things will ensure that won’t happen.

Former Campbell’s Soup CEO, Doug Conant said, “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” He is right. But one recent article misinterpreted that quote to mean, “Employee engagement is the key to activating a high performing workforce.” Conant said nothing about employee engagement.


Empowerment has the same problem as engagement. Chris Matthews, Principal at Sutherlands, quotes his former CEO on empowerment, saying, “Giving the troops the permission and budget to get out there and give that extra mile of service doesn’t work.”

Empowerment and Engagement—Key Indicators?

Yet empowerment and engagement are critical missing pieces in the overwhelming majority of businesses. Gallup says a whopping 70% of people are disengaged from their work. That’s critical because the very few companies with high engagement enjoy much higher net profit margins and five times the shareholder return. And regular research also shows that empowered people make a company a special place to work.
And regular research also shows that empowered people make a company a special place to work.

So both are really important, but neither should be emphasized.

They Are Results—Not Strategies

Semco went from $4 million a year in revenue to over $1billion because they have one of the most empowered and engaged workforces on earth. And yet the CEO of Semco, Ricardo Semler doesn’t emphasize either one. Nor should he, because something else causes empowerment and engagement to spread very easily and organically throughout an organization; a great company culture.

What we miss is that empowered and engaged behavior are both results, not strategies. The driver isn’t an engagement program or emphasizing empowerment, but a Participation Age culture, where everyone has a brain (makes decisions), participates in the building of a great company and shares in the results. And culture isn’t something you create, it is simply the set of beliefs a company lives out in the world around them about the purpose of work, workplaces, people at work, and legacy. It’s so important we understand this—culture is not a program.

You don’t build a culture. You simply live out what you believe.

Live Out What You Believe

Your beliefs determine your decisions, and the long-term decision-making pattern you have as a company IS your culture. That’s it. Be wary of companies with pictures of eagles and golf courses on their walls with motivational sayings, bouncy-balls in their conference rooms instead of chairs, and ping pong tables in their break rooms. By themselves, these are nice, but too often these are signs of a company trying to “change” their culture by external means, when what really needs to change is the internal belief system of the leadership. And always run the other way when a company is working really hard at directly attacking engagement. They have missed the boat altogether.

Besides ignoring what they believe, another mistake most companies make is that they don’t understand that people are naturally empowered. You don’t have to empower them. You simply need to make consistently good decisions that create a culture, within which already-empowered people can function. Engagement is quite different. People are not naturally engaged with you; you have to motivate them to do that. But as with empowerment, culture is what motivates them, or not.

What does a great Participation Age culture look like? Very simply it is a company belief system that values meaningful work over menial jobs, people over things, workplaces that enhance the world around them, and legacy over short-term gain. These are the kinds of things that will motivate empowered people to engage with you. And all of them come from what the leadership of the company believes, not from a poster, motivational meetings or an engagement program.

What Do You Believe? The Rest Will Follow

A focus on empowerment or engagement are both signs of a much deeper issue of negative or ill-defined beliefs (culture) amongst the leadership. The way to empower and engage is not to empower and engage. Just have a very few simple, powerful beliefs on which you make every decision as a company, and your empowered people will be engaged.

What do you believe? It’s the most important question you as a leader will ever answer.

Culture eats strategy for lunch.”—Peter Drucker. Get your few business beliefs clear. Write them down. Make every decision based on them. When you do, empowered people will start showing up and engagement will follow. And you’ll never have to talk about empowerment or engagement again.

Article as seen on

Why the Hand Sanitizer Mindset Is Bad for Your Life and Your Business

Eat Dirt. Be Strong.

I walked into the bread shop and there it was—a hand sanitizer dispenser on a pedestal standing like a security guard between me and the counter. It’s job was to loudly remind me that life is full to the brim of things that just might go wrong.

As I dodged that pathetic monument to a sterile life, I realized it was symbolic of a lot of things that keep us from being successful. The hand-sanitizer mindset is a deadly germ-ridden disease for business owners. And really for everyone.

But it’s so logical. Why wouldn’t you want clean hands? Are you looking for trouble? Wouldn’t you want a business that is all cleaned up and sterilized, running without risk of sickness? Recent research on the “Nocebo Effect” gives a resounding and emphatic, “No.”

Two big problems with this mindset. When you focus all your energy on mitigating risk:

1) you also remove the opportunity for reward.
2) you can never remove it—it’s still there in spades.

Removing Reward

Outside of winning the lottery, which has the same odds as getting hit by lightning, great reward doesn’t come without risk. Living without risk means living without significant reward, and it condemns us to the great unwashed “middle”, where nothing remarkable happens.

The Nocebo Effect is the opposite of the Placebo Effect. The Nocebo Effect shows that patients who believe a drug won’t work, are likely to truly experience that it won’t, even though it is proven scientifically that it will. Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” If you believe all risk is bad and won’t help you grow as a human being or as a business owner, your sanitizer mindset will make that come true and you will have removed reward.

Removing Risk

The fact is, you can’t, no matter how hard you try. A friend of mine told me of a couple who were looking for the safest place in the world to retire to in 1980. After a year of research, in 1981 they moved from the U.S. to a peaceful, bucolic set of islands. Six months later war broke out all around them and 1,000 people died in the Falkland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain.

No matter how much you sanitize your life and business, you can’t completely remove risk, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. I know someone who used skin sanitizers so much that it affected their immune system. The only cure was to go cold turkey for many months with no sanitizers so the good germs (reward) could grow again. They were much sicker than if they had never used the stuff.

The hand-sanitizer mindset in business has at least the following negative results, along with some you’ll come up with on your own:

1) It kills the good germs (reward) as well as the bad (risk). When we remove risk, we remove reward.

2) It reminds us to live defensively and reactively, not proactively and with forward movement.

3) It dries things up—destroys the creative, innovative part of us.

4) It creates co-dependency. When the good germs are gone, the need for the sanitizer increases.

It Creates Victims, Not Strong Fighters

A 10 year study found that one of the biggest causes of the recent epidemic of allergies and asthma among young children was that we were keeping our babies too clean. Another study showed kids regularly exposed to rodent, roach, and cat allergens are exponentially less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma.
Our kids need to eat dirt in order to become strong! Your business is no different. If your business is set up to run without risk, you’re going to experience a forty year run on the treadmill.

Change Your Pain
The irony of it all—You are the hand sanitizer that holds you back. Fear keeps us from building great companies or pursuing life-changing innovations. It makes us willing to spend forty years doing something we hate, all for the perceived benefit of a secure job. The unhelpful mindset here is, “The pain I know is better than the pain I have yet to experience.” I hate my life, but I’ve learned to live with the dull, aching pain of it, and I don’t know what pain I would encounter if I tried to change. The same mindset keeps us paralyzed in business.

The Fourth S—Significance

Why do we crave the hand sanitizer approach in business? Because we were all taught to pursue the three S’s of the Industrial Age, safety, security and stability. But sadly, attaining them ensures we will achieve nothing remarkable. The highest value in your life should be pursuing the fourth S of the Participation Age, a life of Significance. Intend to be the creative business owner you were meant to be, and be fully committed to building a business in support of your ideal lifestyle. You won’t get that without risk.

Don’t sanitize your business or your life. Eat Dirt. Be Strong.

Article as seen on

This Year Resolve to Never Make Another New Year’s Resolution

I hereby resolve…blah…blah…blah… The best New Year’s resolution is to never make another one. They rarely work, and tying them to the New Year ensures they never will.

One researcher says eighty-eight percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Solid research on dieting shows that only five percent of dieters keep their weight off. Even worse, up to eighty-three percent gain back more weight than they lose.

So what’s going on here? What do the five percent who are successful know that we don’t? Why do we keep making resolutions that have almost no chance of success?


Later, Dude…

A New Year’s Resolution is focused on putting things off we know need to change, until that special day called “New Years Day”. Somehow waiting to do it until then make us think we can make it stick, when in fact, the act of putting it off until New Year’s Day tells us up front we’re not serious, or we would take action today.

Even worse, now that you’ve announced you will quit “later”, your self-destructive behavior is actually permissible to “get it out of your system”. Get your glutton on or smoke like a chimney for another week, because soon you’ll be in the forsaken and tortured desert of Good Living.

Getting Ready to Get Ready to…

Here’s a clue—the more you need to point to January 1 as the day “I will absolutely start or stop doing x”, the less you probably mean it. If it’s important, change now. If you have to walk on coals or chant at your vision board to prepare for the big day, you can save yourself some self-imposed guilt and just keep going with what’s not working.

My mother used to tell me, “Chuck, there’s no such thing as excuses, there’s not even reasons, there are just priorities.” She lived that out well, making no excuses and simply doing the things she found important. She didn’t live to make decisions on special days; she just did what she valued.

How to Change Something

We do what is a priority, not what we say is a priority. Here’s a better way to change something you don’t like about yourself:

1) Don’t “get motivated” Most of this walk-on-coals stuff is emotion-based and has no lasting power. You’re either committed or you aren’t. I don’t get motivated to brush my teeth. I either do it or I don’t.

2) Run toward something, not away from something. This is the most important thing you can do to change something. Over 90% of severe heart attack victims return to their previous lifestyle within two years, no matter how much “fear of death” the doctors put in front of them. But Dr. Dean Ornish designed a program for them focused solely on the “joy of living” and fully 77% of his heart attack patients permanently changed their lifestyles!

“I want to stop being fat,” is running away from being fat. “I see myself living a great lifestyle,” is running toward something. Run toward a great life, not away from being fat.

3) Make decisions through a new lens. See yourself and/or your business AS IF YOU WERE ALREADY THERE. Read my Inc. column on The Two Most Important Business Words You’ve Never Heard to see how Peter Arnell went from 406 lbs. to 150 lbs. and stayed there permanently. He saw himself at 150lbs and made every decision with that mindset. If you can’t already clearly envision yourself exercising three times a week (or whatever you think you are “resolving”), don’t even start.

4) Diligence, not Discipline—Anybody can have the discipline to do something for 30 days. But few people will have the diligence to continue for the rest of the year. Diligence is a drip system. Do the right thing a little bit every day—it will add up to something big down the road. Diligence rules; discipline drools.

The above four steps are all about intentionality vs. hope. Intention is the key because:

You get what you intend, not what you hope for.

New Year’s Resolutions are full of emotion-based “hope”. Real decisions are full of intention and don’t need a special day or audience to be walked out into the open.

Don’t get there. Be there.

Don’t gin up the motivation to do something on a special day. Just start living the way you know will make you more successful. Today. It’s OK to cheat on your New Year’s Resolution and start it a few days before January 1. Especially if you actually want to change.

Where do you want to be in 2015? Tell the world here, be there inside today, and then let’s go do it on the outside for the whole year. Carpe Diem—seize TODAY and enjoy doing or changing something that will make your life, and maybe even your checking account, a lot richer.

Article as seen on

To Make 2015 A Successful Year, Don’t Be a Mosquito In a Nudist Colony

Why Lifetime Goals are so important to what I do tomorrow, and why tomorrow is so important to my Lifetime Goals.

The mosquito in the nudist colony looks around and says, “I know what to do, I just don’t know where to begin.” So much opportunity, what should I do first?

Prioritizing what to do daily is critical to our success. Our destiny for 2015 will be the accumulation of 365 days, one day at a time.


Begin With the End in Mind

How do we understand the importance of tying the actions of each day to our future? Stephen Covey quoted me in his final book, The 3rd Alternative regarding living a mission-based, meaningful life. I was just starting to connect with him when he died tragically in a bicycling accident. He understood why choices we make every day are so important to where we end up, saying, “Until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’”

We must tie every day to the long haul. If we focus on just today, we claim victories that are only imposters. If we focus too much on the future, we get fogged or discouraged by the lack of measurable progress today. The actions of every day must be connected to where we want to end up.

Here’s a progression that clearly gives us that connection:

1. Lifetime Goals—what are the things I want to do the rest of my life that I can never check off as completed—the big, continuous stuff? This is why I’m alive. Get clarity on your Lifetime Goals—it is foundational to understanding how today matters. As Covey encourages, “Begin with the end in mind.”

2. Ideal Lifestyle—How much time and money do I need in order to create the Ideal Lifestyle for living out my Lifetime Goals? I can’t answer this until I know my Lifetime Goals. Most people are aiming for an Ideal Lifestyle that isn’t connected to any deep motivation for having it. It’s no wonder most people never reach their Ideal Lifestyle. They don’t know why they want it.

3. Pick a “When” – Critical to escaping the Mosquito/Nudist Colony problem is knowing when I want to arrive at my Ideal Lifestyle? He who aims at nothing hits it every time. Pick an exact date and work toward it. You might decide that in 2015 you will achieve 20% of your Ideal Lifestyle, and get there in five years. If you begin with the end in mind, you can know exactly where you want to be December 31, 2015.

4. Determine Quarterly and Monthly Actions—Decide what you need to do in the first three months of 2015, and then what you think you can accomplish in January toward that quarterly objective. Be realistic—create success. We regularly overestimate what we can do in a month, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. That’s one reason New Year’s resolutions fail.

5. Chose One Big Thing a WeekCovey told a story about a speaker doing a demonstration with a large glass jar seemingly full with big rocks. But then the speaker poured small pebbles in between the rocks, then sand and finally water.

One Big Thing First, Every Week

The point? When you start with the small stuff, there’s no room for the big stuff. Most of us wake up every Monday morning consumed with the small stuff. Is it any wonder we end up where we are a year later? Pick one big rock a week—one strategic thing that will help you get to your Lifetime Goals—and make sure you put that in your schedule first. If you do, there will be plenty of time for the pebbles, sand and water of daily life. But if you pick the small stuff first, you’ll never get to the big stuff.

If we know our Lifetime Goals, we can then back into what we need to be doing tomorrow. If you don’t know what the end game looks like, how will you ever know what to do today? The Random Hope strategy of life is not a strategy.

Don’t be a mosquito in a nudist colony. Know what to do, where to begin, and what to do next. Connect your daily activity to your Lifetime Goals and watch the fireworks begin. Happy 2015!

Article as seen on

Why You Should Never Use the Term “Human Resources” Again

The most common ways we refer to people at work are possibly the most destructive business terms ever devised. It’s time to purge them from our terminology.

A few years ago, Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry Wehmiller, asked a military general, “How do you train or condition people to kill other people?” His answer was, “We don’t. We teach them to take out targets that make bad decisions.” Chapman went on to rightly observe, “The military uses language to dehumanize the taking of lives. We do the same thing in business.” When we refer to people as “head count”, “human capital”, and a “human resource” we unintentionally dehumanize them as well.


How Did We Get Here?

In his 1909 groundbreaking paper titled, “The Principles of Scientific Management” Frederick Taylor developed the idea of “task allocation”, which broke work down into the simplest, most mundane tasks (“put this nut on that bolt”). This intentionally took all the thinking out of work, turned it into a rote “task”, and in the process, fully dehumanized the worker. Charlie Chaplin described the result as, “Machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts.”

Slave, Stiff, Cog, Hand…

The very concept of an employee came from the Factory System period of 1850-1970, which not so subtly turned employees into “stuff”. The factory system needed people to run the machines, but the less human they acted and the more they resembled machines, the better the system worked. We’ve left the machines behind, but it’s still convenient to see people as “stuff”, as extensions of machines. When you search the thesaurus for synonyms for “employee”, some of the more disturbing synonyms listed are things like “slave”, “cog”, “hand”, “hired gun”, “desk jockey”, “hireling”, and “working stiff.” What we call people at work doesn’t have a respectable history. With that legacy in hand, it’s very easy to see how we got here.

Things That Dehumanize

A common definition of racism is, “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” When we refer to people at work as “head count”, “cogs”, “work force”, “capital”, or as a “resource”, we conveniently reduce them to something inferior and less human. We did this to people for centuries to enslave them. Doing it to people to dehumanize them at work is nowhere near as egregious, but it is built on the same principles of false superiority and inferiority. If we don’t have to see people as fully human, it makes it easier to make decisions that negatively impact them.

There are a number of ways we refer to people at work that are deconstructive. All of them should be as off-limits as any racial slur, not because they are on the same level, but because both are dehumanizing. Here are some of the worst:

Head count
Work force
Human capital

…And the most subtle and insidious of all, “human resources”, which reduces people to the level of a chair, computer, forklift, or other business resource.

All of these terms make it easier to see people as “cogs in a wheel”, allowing us to make decisions without as much regard for the individual human beings involved.

As with most legacy terminology, we don’t think about the roots of such terms and usually don’t mean to use them pejoratively. But words are powerful and communicate; or with repetition, actually determine what we really believe. So let’s ban terms like these that make people seem less human, and that are worn out in exhaustion in our time. We can do better.

If you have a Human Resources department, it’s time to change the name to something that emphasizes humanity and deemphasizes people as a resource. The very existence of such a department might be a related problem we can talk about in another post.

I’m not human capital, or a human resource. I’m a human being. Going forward, please refer to me that way at work.

Article as seen on