Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Success Secrets: Business Forecasting

One of a series of videos on business planning by Tim Berry, whose company, Palo Alto Software makes popular business planning software Business Plan Pro . This video, Develop Your Business Plan, Part 6 is a great introduction to the "educated guessing" of forecasting your business.

In this video, Tim covers:

Estimating unit sales (month-by-month/this year/future years)
Estimating average prices
Estimating costs (unit sales and total sales)
Developing the personnel plan (wages and other compensation )
Estimating Profit and Loss

He takes a very complex process and makes it look simple.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Success Secrets: The Value of Small Ideas

Great post here by innovation expert Paul Williams about the value of small ideas. He suggests that, in aggregate, the accumulation of small ideas is at least as powerful as those “Big Ideas” so many companies search for. In addition, I would add that:

Small ideas are cheap to test
Small ideas may encounter less political resistance
Small ideas create less expensive, less visible failures
Small ideas are less likely to get you fired
Small ideas can more easily be implemented by co-workers, and thus compound their value (as mentioned in an example by Williams)

So…lots of good reasons to continue to carry around a notebook or voice recorder and look for those small ideas.

Success Books - "High Visibility" Part 1

What do Judge Judy, Derek Jeter, and Oprah Winfrey have in common? They are all “highly visibles”: a marketing category where people are transformed into brands, and earn huge incomes: tens or hundreds of millions per year. In High Visibility: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand authors Rein, Kotler, et al chronicle the nature of the visibility phenomenon, and how its spread can help many of us outside the entertainment and sports arena achieve the “visibility premium”: that “excess return” over and above the amount we can earn as non-visibles.

The authors explain that visibility is now a factor in law, medicine, finance, business, and other areas far-removed from the movies and the gridiron, and that it is available to many at the local level, and on up to the national and international level.

The key methods for obtaining visibility:

Location – are you geographically located on a place where “highly visibles” in your field ar elocated?

Are you in or near a market that demands your services?

Visibility requires using all modern methods for gaining attention , from websites to advertising to PR to billboards.

Visibility requires creating a distinct image that separates yourself from others.

The visibility Industry

Far from being a disorganized, random field of accidental stardom, the visibility industry has “grown up”. While there still are avenues open to individual “aspirants” at the “cottage industry” (do-it-yourself) level, at the top of the pyramid, the visibility industry has become heavily industrialized. The “highly visibles” of the world are in the hands of professionals for every facet of their career: market research, coaching, speechwriting, booking, PR, advertising, legal services and endorsement/licensing . The “star” will be the figure onstage, but they are backed up by these highly-proficient and highly paid professionals (agents,lawyers,coaches, etc), who, in aggregate, command up to 40% of the celebrity’s earnings. A fair deal considering the massive income streams generated.

Go to Part 2

Go to Part 3

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Success Secrets: Warren Buffet Video

Warren Buffett, top investor of our generation, speaks at length to a group of MBA students (about an hour and a half!!!). Here are only a few of his success secrets from the video:

On what’s really important in a person:

People to bet on:
Excellent behavior, temperament character

People to “short” (bet against):
Self-destructive behavior patterns
Those who “turn off “people right and left

The good news about these characteristics:
We can achieve the positive characteristics!! They don’t require superhuman abilities
All are achievable- not “innate gifts”. In other words, study and behave like people you admire.

On Career choice:

Do what you love!
Taking job after job that you don’t like is ” like saving up sex for your old age” .

On Risk:

Don’t use money you need to pursue money you don’t need. You only have to get rich once. After that, pursuing high-risk growth is a crazy idea.

On picking companies to invest in:
Find companies with a “moat” around them (barriers to competition, an income stream that is “locked in” and growing ). Examples of "the moat":
Above all, simplicity/ease of understanding

There are many more brilliant insights in the video, and it is well worth watching in full.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Success Secrets: When do Clients Change Suppliers?

When is a client likely to change suppliers? When are they going to shift from their long-trusted friend, with whom they have a multi-year relationship, to you? Is it going to be on their biggest most important job? On that perfect day in Springtime when you have nothing better to do? Are they going to waltz in your door at 9am, with plenty of notice, having made an appointment two weeks before? Of course not. That client, who you’ve been waiting all your life for, is going to call you at the worst possible time, on the lowest budget, last-minute job that needs to be rushed through immediately.

Why? Because we cannot expect a client to change suppliers at anything approaching a “good moment” for us. It is generally going to be at a “bad moment” for them. What would cause this?

An under performing current supplier

Perhaps their current supplier has gotten lazy. Perhaps they have gradually raised their prices, or stopped “asking for the business”. Perhaps they won’t let the customer make changes as easily, or they just don’t serve as rapidly as they used to. Whatever the cause, this supplier is vulnerable: to you.

The supplier is unreachable

Perhaps it’s a holiday weekend, a late afternoon on a Friday, or even over the weekend. If you answer the phone, and your competition doesn’t, you may have a new client for life

Price Revolution

Clayton Christiansen tells us, in The Innovator's Dilemma that new solutions are always bubbling up cheaply , creating new combinations of usable capabilities that can slowly, selectively replace higher-cost existing capabilities. Down the hall from me was a guy with a $100,000+ photo retouching workstation. The Mac came along and…you know the rest. As we speak, professional video editors with huge cost bases are being supplanted by upstarts with laptops, and this is happening everywhere in many fields. If you can ride the price/performance curve better, and deliver that savings to the client, you may have just won some new business.

Ease vs Perfection

Do you get the work out fast? Do you listen? While your competition is painting the Mona Lisa are you doing 100 rough takes of all conceivable styles? Do you take direction easily, while your competitor moans and groans about everything? You may win the business because you’re just plain easier.

The question is, when the call comes…how will you respond? How many chances will you get to win over this new client? Will you cancel your vacation, or just hand the job over to your least- experienced employee? Are you willing to give a good deal on that first encounter, where the client is already strapped for cash? Or are you going to do a low-class cheap job because you’re not getting the fee you think you deserve? How about attitude? Are you ready to thank your potential new client for a “shot”, or grumble that you missed your tee-time?

Think carefully. Think of the ongoing stream of business that this one, awkward chance with a new client might give you. And hopefully… that new client will turn into an old one.

Success Secrets: Do The Numbers

One of a series of videos on business planning by Tim Berry, whose company, Palo Alto Software makes popular business planning software Business Plan Pro . This video, Develop Your Business Plan, Part 5 , is a great introduction to the financial “nuts and bolts” of any business, including:

Sales Forecast
Personnel Plan
Balance Sheet
Cash Flow projection

There's a really cool slider tool allowing you to forecast your cash balance depending on how quickly/slowly you get paid and how quickly/slowly you pay your own bills. It definitely proves, as Berry states, "Profits are not cash".

Monday, November 20, 2006

Success Books - Chuck Norris/"The Secret Power Within" Part 2

This is Part 2 of my review of Chuck Norris’ The Secret Power Within. The book deals with Norris’ understanding of Zen, and of life. . As I mentioned in Part 1, I am neither a Zen practitioner nor a martial arts adept, but Norris has been a success in two fields: as a martial arts world champion and as a successful onscreen performer so it behooves one to delve into the sources of such outstanding results.

As I understand Norris’ words, Zen is a calm, clear mind, devoid of unnecessary structures and preconceptions, meeting The World and it's events at the instant of NOW. The victorious person has prepared for NOW through meditation, training, self-mastery, and the building of confidence. If properly prepared, one’s victory will be assured. Now, these are my words, not Norris’ but, in fact, I feel his words have resonance in life far beyond the martial arts. I have seen many successful executives work in such a manner, solving problems in the blink of an eye. In fact, very few dynamic, successful people I have met have tended to “over think” matters. They are, in a sense, Zen practitioners in their engagement with reality on the instantaneous level.

Some of Chuck Norris’ other points:

Ridding oneself of negative thoughts . He has a great technique for this (which I won’t reveal here).

Turning Points . He suggests that Zen is involved in recognizing and being open to “turning points” – flashes of insight that might come from anyone, anywhere, at any time….as a Samurai swordsman must be ready day or night for battle…are we ready for that next word or event that will turn our lives on a dime? Can we accept and deal with meaningful events quickly?

Life-As-Dojo (marital arts training space): Who succeeds? Often it is the respectful, the courteous, the punctual, the healthy of mind and body, the non-addicted: lots of parallels to “real life” here, no?

The Wheel of self –development:
We are only as effective as our weakest “spoke” This too is true not just in martial arts, but in the inventory of our personality and the current of our souls.

The book is intriguing. One final note: Norris returns again and again to the turning point of achieving his black belt. It was, for him, a rite of apssage to self-realization. He says, over and over again, that after you do that “first hard thing”, success builds and builds. I wonder if today, some people are missing out on the opportunity to challenge themselves to do that first “hard thing” and thus create the "feedback loop" of achievement-begetting-confidence-begetting-achievement….I know people whose lives may have never touched on that opportunity…and so much potential has been lost.

Do that first “hard thing”. For your future’s sake.

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Success Books - New On My reading List

This book got a great review on and I look forward to reading it very soon!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Success Secrets: Developing Your Business Plan

One of a series of videos on business planning by Tim Berry, whose company, Palo Alto Software makes popular business planning software Business Plan Pro . In this video, Develop your Business Plan (Part 4), Berry Discusses:

What is your story?
What is the purpose of the plan? Loan? Investment? Internal use only?
Go beyond “recipes” to tell your own story
Details involved in Company Description, Market Analysis, etc.
Being Specific and measurable

Success Secrets: Developing Strategy

One of a series of videos on business planning by Tim Berry, whose company, Palo Alto Software makes popular business planning software Business Plan Pro . In this video, Develop Your Business Plan (Part 3), Berry discusses :

Focusing on key parts of market
Tailoring your strategy to your unique company
Consistency over time
Realism: what can you can and can't do
What does the market need?
Where is the demand?

Success Books - Chuck Norris/"The Secret Power Within" Part 1

Is there a connection between Zen and personal success in today’s world? Chuck Norris’s intriguing book The Secret Power Within presents many such connections (disclaimer: I am neither a martial arts expert nor a Zen practitioner). Of course, Chuck Norris is an international film and TV star and equally famous martial arts superstar. But his rise from obscurity in Wilson, Oklahoma involved his ability to internalize many of the Zen principles in this book. As we pursue our goals in personal and business life, Norris’s principles might be worth considering. Here are a few:

Stay with the moment. How many times in a meeting, or even a casual business lunch do we miss crucial clues, remarks, hints, etc. that might change the nature of our response? Was a new competitor’s mentioned? Did we miss the new baby’s name? What about a magazine article or new restaurant? Frequently, the best ideas for a project will come up at the last moment. Like a martial artist...can we instantaneously adjust our entire plan, or will we unconsciously fall asleep just as the crucial idea is presented, rejecting it in favor of something we are already comfortable with?

See the world as it is. Can we block preconceptions? Can we see the world as a flow, and not through the tunnel-vision of our previous plans? A good example is the famous Bill Gates “Internet Tidal Wave” memo that “turned the battleship” of Microsoft in time to catch a good portion of that wave: or Andrew Grove’s abrupt shift from low-margin RAM to microprocessors. Think of the internal organizational inertia these men had to overcome!! Certainly there was a willingness to adjust: to weight the NOW more heavily than the past

Get out of your own way. The biggest obstacles to our progress may be within. Here’s an example: that intern down the hall may be your boss someday. Do you still see him as an intern? Will you miss important information because of his low status in the organization? Will a harsh word from you now destroy your career later because of the roadblocks you yourself have erected? Is your aloofness or elitism blocking vital input from subordinates, friends, or clients?

Slow Down to Speed up. How many individuals were on the fast track and flamed out because they moved too fast to keep good relationships with their co-workers? Or over-extended themselves financially? Or burned bridges that should have remained intact for life? How many Corporations grew too fast and refused to hire “adult supervision” to manage that growth? Or took on too many lines of business without a sober analysis of which ones were effective? A little Zen-like reflection might go a long way.

Part 2 of this review

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Success Secrets: Health Leads to Wealth

A great article in Yahoo Finance details new research linking health to wealth. For instance: good health lets you spend less on doctors and medicines, and more money for education or training, thus leading to a higher-paying job, and, presumably an interest in saving for retirement (since you expect to be around awhile).

Interestingly, the article mentions that entire countries can also get richer from better health.

My own suspicion would be that better health might also be correlated with higher energy levels, regular habits, and the ability to delay gratification, all of which would be linked with career and financial success.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Success Secrets: S.W.O.T.

One of a series of videos on business planning by Tim Berry, whose company, Palo Alto Software makes popular business planning software Business Plan Pro .

In this video, he discusses Situation Analysis , with key points relating to:

SWOT (Sthrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
Knowing your market
Market Segmentation
Positioning yourself in your market
Key Success factors
Core Competency
Competitive Advantage

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Success Secrets: The 90-Day Rule

Great post on LifeDev about a methodology he terms The 90-Day Rule. In short: do disciplined work now with an expectatin of results in 90 days. Not a day. Not a week, but a minimum of 90 days.

It's interesting to contemplate how other timeframes also seem to cluster in this area, for instance fiscal quarters and, of course, the 4 seasons of the year. The post is a great read.

Success Secrets: Resilience, Refusal to Settle

This is an inspiring video of a recent commencement address by Steve Jobs. It is a short, moving, and a rare glimpse into the soul of a man who will be regarded as one of the great entrepreneurs of the last 50 years.

In it, he demonstrates two key concepts; the refusal to settle for less than his dreams, and personal resiliency in the face of career-threatening, and even life-threatening problems.

Load time on my DSL: about 7 seconds.

Success Books - "The Introvert Advantage" Part 2

This is Part 2 of my review of Marti Olsen Laney’s The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World. In Part 1 I covered her brilliant exploration of exactly what an introvert personality is like, how we function, see the world, and manage our energy, as well as some basic tips .

Here I am going to cover a few of the wealth of strategies Laney has shared for optimizing our lives as introverts. As I went through the book I could see the “fit” that so many of her concepts had with how I live, and how I could adjust my life to make better use of my energy and abilities.

One core idea of the book is that introverts do not have unlimited energy and have to zealously guard it and renew it.

Some of her ideas:

Set your own pace and tempo. Don’t be afraid to be different in your work style, activity plans, and even the number of projects you do.

Be aware of your daily and hourly energy levels: their timing and strength. Match your work projects to these levels and times.

Be prepared to “pass” on vertain activities and save your energy for the prioritized activities. I view this as a creative, positive activity in itself. If we were to spend part of our planning time eliminating a percentage of our activities, we could generate increased efficiency and focus for the remaining ones.

Continually review your priorities so that you can focus your energy on the key goals of your life.

As I got further into the book, I realized the value of drastically "ratcheting down" the quantity of what I wanted to do. It’s not going to be as much as I thought. But what I do work on has the capacity to be rich, rewarding, unhurried, and gratifying.

Laney goes on to teach us introverts that we have to be aware of our parameters: we cannot let too much into our lives. Since we can be overwhelmed by the outside world, we have to monitor and limit our exposure. Again, the conscious limiting of stimulation should be viewed, not as a failure, but as a positive, creative act enabling accomplishment and inner serenity .

Laney also presents a wealth of strategies for renewing your energy day to day and even hour to hour, and a very helpful chapter on putting on your “extrovert” hat...for a short time.

I am already employing many of her techniques, and for anyone who may think they match the introvert profile, this book may well change your life.

Go to Part 1

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Success Secrets: 101 Ways to Save Money

Credit Cave has a superb and in-depth post on 101 Ways to Save Money. It's important to note that these excellent habits are practised by financially successful people, even millionaires. After you start saving money by reading this wonderful post, make sure you use it to pay down debt and then start a regular investment plan.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Success Secrets: Time, Talent,Treasure

I found this item some months ago on Idea Sandbox. When we get an opportunity, is it really right for us? The "Time/Talent/Treasure" filter can help sort it out.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Success Secrets: Start The Current Job Now

I was lucky to manage some brilliantly creative people in my “previous life”. I would be excited when a new job came in, and always a little disappointed when one of the first questions about the job was “When is It Due By?” The answer? YESTERDAY, OF COURSE!!!.

The best time to start or even finish a job in a client-service business is: As soon as you possibly can. Here’s why:

1. An early response can put your competitors out of the race. Even a preliminary proposal, provided it shows depth, expertise, class, and thought, might eliminate the ever-present competitors in your customers’ minds. When a client is in a hurry, your quick response can nab the job early, and you could be revising "version 2" before your competitors have even submitted!

2. Speed itself is a reputation-builder. And can guess.

3. Like a cabbie, our income as professionals will come from each “meter pull”. Especially in a job where fees are paid over and above hourly rates, it is more profitable to get the job done and invoice the fees, rather than drag it out.

4. Very important: if you delay work on a given assignment, and more assignments come in, you are effectively slowing down future work in the pipeline by delaying work on the current job. The catch: you never know when those additional jobs will come in. If you delay, it may be too late to pick up the additional income from the other jobs.

5. Speed on a job creates better work, not worse. Heightened concentration and focus creates more creativity. Mozart and Bach could write music faster than a copyist could copy the parts. The quality, apparently did not suffer.

6. Jobs tend to “bunch” together whether because of seasonality, publicity, a client needing several tasks completed at once, etc. Delaying work on job suggests the assumption that job flow is linear, and that the “next” job will always be there. It won’t.

7. In a free-market society, entrepreneurial niches are created and destroyed with the rapidity of bubbles in soda pop. Your niche will not be there forever. Enjoy being busy while the market is hot. You can sleep when your niche disappears. Which it will.

OK. Break’s over: Start the Current Job Now!!!

Success Tools: Web 2.0 Watch

Great new tools from the evolving web.

On Techcrunch :

Thinkature is a revolutionary,intuitive, and fun "drag-and drop" method to work collaboratively from any web browser. Their home page has a working example you can fool with.

Google Checkout Gets a great review on Techcrunch

On Problogger:

A favorable review of Skype 3.0 Beta, with features that will attract bloggers...especially a "click to call" icon.

Success Secrets: Focusing on Constraints

Steves Goal has an important post entitled Geometric Change. In it he suggests that personal progress can be drastically accelerated by concentrating on and analyzing the various factors holding us back. He gives an example of designing a faster car. Multiple factors: weight, shape, engine, tires, etc would all contribute to improving the speed of the car. His recommendation: make lists of your limiting factors and tackle a few at a time. Improving multiple factors, instead of just one, would make a much geater change in the car's speed.

This concept is related to the Theory of Constraints. One of the pioneers of the Theory of Constraints is Eliyahu Goldratt whose book, The Goal is a highly readable classic. Goldratt suggests that, if we are only as successful as our weakest qualities, it may make sense to concentrate our efforts on that area: face it, break it down, and work on it.

Investors know this well. In a groundbreaking book, Invest Like The Best , James O'Shaughnessy analyzed the factors that made certain mutual funds successful and then built up a list of stocks based on those factors. He found that certain numerical factors mechanically generated stock picks that produced similar results to those of the great mutual funds. The lesson: again, find the factors and you find the route to improve the outcome.

Brain Tracy has also frequently focused on Critical Success Factors: the three to five things at are the core of our jobs, that , when scrutinized, can yield the most output when optimized. A good example is his audio program Thinking Big .

Success and failure are not a “lump”. They can be broken down, accelerated, fixed, and focused on. The more of these factors we can optimize, the better our outputs will be.

Success Books - New on my Reading List

Some books about hugely successful people I look forward to reading and reviewing soon:

Greg Norman has achieved fame and fortune in both golf and business:

Sandy Weill worked his way back from mid-career obscurity to head the world's largest bank: Citigroup.

Andrew Grove, one of the last of a remarkable line of geniuses educated in Budapest, was the guiding force behind chipmaker Intel.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Success Secrets: 12 Negotiation Tips

My Wealth Matters is a site devoted to creating wealth on your curent income. Posted in their Podcast today is a pdf file you can download with 12 negotiation tips. The site also has a selection of excellent financial tools, debt reduction calculator, etc. Well worth a look.

Their podcast is a "must-listen" for me: there is a lot of great financial info as well as humor and a lighhearted approach to what can be a "heavy" and emotional subject.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Success Books - "The Introvert Advantage" Part 1

Are you a “deep” person? Do you like to spend long hours pondering a problem? Does small talk irritate you? Do large gatherings deplete you? Are you not as “fast on your feet” verbally as others? Take heart! You’re in good company: Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Steve Martin, and Harrison Ford are all introverts, and you probably are too.

For those of us who feel “at sea” in world that values extroverts highly, Marti Olsen Laney has written a guide for surviving and even prospering in a world that is, to us introverts, often disorienting and overly stimulating.

In The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, Ms. Laney patiently explains that, indeed, introverts are different: there is more blood flow to the brain. Introverts live longer, protect themselves better, and are particularly adept at planning and reflecting on new ways of doing things.

While extroverts like variety, activity, and experience, and often even conflict, introverts thrive on complexity, depth, and “richness”.

A very important point for introverts to know is that we recharge our batteries by quiet reflection and retreat to our inner world, and deplete ourselves when we have to focus outward, on external people, events and ideas.

This is a key piece of information. Laney gives us a host of strategies which can enable an introvert to navigate the world. A few nuggets:

Regarding events and gatherings:
You don’t need to go to every one of them and you don’t have to stay long. If you have multiple events, you can schedule a few hours break between them.

Regarding work:
If you need time to ponder a problem more thoroughly than most, you can ask your boss to give you some materials early, so you have extra time to “get into" your work.

Regarding your (extroverted) associates:
You can use body language and friendly greetings and good-bye’s to “let them know you’re there” instead of clamming up so they think you are avoiding them.

The point is: we introverts have to realize we are hugely valuable as deep and creative thinkers, but we must also face up to the fact that we are outnumbered 2 to 1 by extroverts: we have to learn to communicate effectively, especially because we have so much to offer.

Go to Part 2

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Success Secrets: Talk by a brilliant educator

Not Always On Presents Tina Seelig , a major educator at Stanford with some of the best tips on success I have seen lately. This talk is directed particularly to young entrepreneurs.

Success Books - "How To Attract Good Luck" Part 3

Here are a few other points from How to Attract Good Luck which I hope will inspire you to explore this book.

Carr repeatedly notes that luck is our reaction to chance based an a host of internal qualities we might have. For instance:

Luck can turn from bad to good in a moment so we have to keep our morale up. If we allow circumstances to beat us down, our optimism, and thus our ability to realize that our luck has turned, will be compromised

Another point Carr makes is that we have to know what we want in life. Otherwise we would not know what a “lucky” event is. You are a lot more likely to spot that used Mercedes-Benz if you know owning one is your dream.

So...what might affect our luck for the worse? Carr can give us some guidance here too. If we are obsessive about the wrong things, we are liable to suffer from a “tunnel vision” effect, and thus miss out on luck. Other might see us as a little unbalanced and not offer us the same kind of chances that they might offer to others. For instance, a workaholic might find himself less “lucky” in interpersonal areas because of his obsession wth his work.

Another factor inhibiting good luck is a misunderstanding of our own abilities: the would-be U.S. Open tennis competitor might not understand that she could be a better coach than a player, and miss such an opportunity. A great programmer at Microsoft might not anticipate potential trouble as a manager. Or a newbie trader might overestimate his investment savvy and lose a lot of money.

Finally, Carr encourages to examine our faculty of judgment. Our judgment, he tells us, can be clouded by our emotional state. Are you too anxious? You might perceive risks as greater than they are. Are you too overconfident..." riding high”? You might lose it all through a misplaced assumption that you can never lose.

These points are only a few in this true gem of a book. A true classic, How to Attract Good Luck should be on every bookshelf. And... good luck!

Go to Part 1

Go to Part 2

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Podcast Review: Interviews with David ("Getting Things Done") Allen

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders interviews author David Allen here in a series of podcasts. Allen is the author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity It is fascinating to hear how Allen views his own process. He has a very "human" perspective on getting organized. He tells us that everybody procrastinates, even the most organized executive. And he brilliantly encapsulates his process by explaining that we can move forward in all of our life's tasks by distilling these tasks to a focus on the absolute "next action" ("cranking a widget").

I've been a Franklin Planner user for years, but I must say that Allen's deeply-thought-out methods of organization have had a major effect on my productivity.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Success Tools: Quickstart, Eyespot

Modern technology is drastically accelerating the pace at which a business can grow, as well as drastically decreasing the startup funds necessary to get a business off the ground.

Charles River Ventures Quickstart program is a great example. They are soliciting entrepreneurs to send them ideas which they will fund in a highly efficient loan format instead of the slower-moving and regulation-heavy VC investment format. They want to fund dozens of startups in a hurry with a minimum of formality. Part of the reason they can do this is that modern ventures can be started with a lot less cash than even a few years ago. Today, a two-man shop started on a shoestring can pull in millions of users or subscribers. The Quickstart program got 1000 emails on its first day.

And that money can buy a lot more: 1980 it cost around $1,000,000 to buy a suite of video editing gear. By 2001, Macs could do it for under $2,000. And the next price reduction: how about free? Eyespot has put a complete video toolkit online. Trim your video, add effects, mix audio, insert titles...and they're only in beta!

And, of course, Google Docs and Spreadsheets can repleace a lot of what that $300+ office suite used to do.

We are clearly living in an age where all barriers to human aspiration and human creativity are falling away at an exponential rate. The world is hungry for new ideas. That leaves us (you and me) with the hard part: for no startup can allow us to download entrepreneurial spirit, determination, audacity, vision, or will.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Succes Books - "How To Attract Good Luck" Part 2

This is part 2 of a review of Carr’s How to Attract Good Luck. Carr uses the term “Zest” to describe an attitude: an outgoing, curious engagement with the world around us: people, activities, and ideas. Luck, basically is going to come out of an encounter with something new: a new person, a new possibility, a new thought...and the only way to get those things is to look beyond oneself, with a positive frame of mind.

Carr calls Zest “The Short Cut to Luck”. He reminds us that, to truly take an interest in the world around us, we must get past our own fears, anxieties, and self-centeredness.

Zest means being curious about other people, because you never know how another person might help you. Zest means curiosity about ideas: exposing yourself to new books and new concepts.

Carr also cites generosity as a key to good luck. Why does generosity lead to luck? Carr explains:

The concentrated favorable attention of others increases the probability that they will remember a fact or conceive an idea beneficial to your interests.

There are ways to be generous to almost anyone you meet, beyond merely financial generosity. Do you know a website they might like? An article or book that would help? Do you have a friend or acquaintance they might like to know? A store they don’t know about? Even a word of encouragement or understanding is an act of generosity. Would you go out of your way for someone? Take a call from them if they need someone to talk to?

Carr tells might be a very lucky thing to do. He recounts case after case of strings of lucky events flowing from simple acts of human generosity. A lucky habit to acquire.

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