Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Your LIfe is Precious

Speech I gave at the Telecom Park Toastmasters on 2-21-2013 and at the Area 41 Contest on 3-15 and won second place.

An old man in a hospital bed mournfully crying out, "I wasted it, I wasted my life." In the movie In Time, Justin Timberlake's character lived in a world where everyone had a digital clock displaying the number years, days, minutes and seconds remaining for their life. If you had a digital display of your minutes ticking away, would you use them differently?

How precious is your life? Don't come to the end of it and realize you've wasted it.

Today, I'll be covering two strategies for managing your time and two tactics for managing your time.

Stephen R. Covey said, "The key is in not spending time, but in investing it." Let’s take the metaphor of investing time, we can think about creating a balanced portfolio. Just like we wouldn't want to put all our money into one stock, we also need to invest in a balanced portfolio.

Think about the moment you lay on your death bed. Will you have family and loved ones around you because you invested in relationships with them? Or will you be alone but have millions in your bank account? We all know the PhD student who min maxed and lost his family, his job, and his health. Min Max is when you focus everything on only one goal. To create a balanced portfolio you need to step back and really think about what memories you want to think back on from your death bed. What will you have accomplished? Take your balanced portfolio as seriously as you do your financial investments, becuase actually its probably worth more.

Second strategy is being intentional. Does this sound familiar? At the beginning of the week I intend to save money, but then in my actions I don't. I go to Wal-Mart and buy three things I absolutely do not need. Another day I go to a cloths store and buy an outfit that when I get home I realize I will never wear. At the end of the week I wonder what happened to my savings plan. I am not matching my intentions with my goals. When you created your balanced portfolio, you created your goals. Do you ever get to Saturday and wonder what happened? We need to be intentional in our time usage to match our goals. That means using our calendars and todo lists to ensure we don't lose track of time. I used to have my watch set to go off three times a day. When it went off I'd check if I was doing something effective with my time. Your minutes are ticking away. Don't let timewasters take over your precious time. Be intentional how you spend your time to match our goals.

Next we will move into two tactics for managing your time.
The First tactic is used by CEOs and is very effective. It is called Time Boxing. They create a pie chart of time based on the priority of the area. Then they create time boxes on their calendar where they will schedule tasks or appointments for each area. They slot tasks as they come in into the appropriate time box, and when it fills up, they slot it into the next available time box for that area. This allows them to stay focused on what’s important.

The second tactic is Pomodoro time management. With this technique you set a timer for 25 minutes. You keep working on the current task for 25 minutes. Then if your not done, you set it again for 25 minutes. At that time you can take a 5 minute break before setting it again for 25 minutes and so on. I use this to keep focused on tasks because my mind is all over the place. When I am reading I think of so many ideas and I want to write them down and google things, but when I look at the clock ticking away, I go back to my task and focus. I find it works very well for me.

If you could see your minutes ticking away on your arm like they did in In Time, would you live differently? Would you create a balanced portfolio to ensure that on your death bed you can look over your life and feel like you didn't waste it? Would you be more intentional about your time usage and be sure that your intentions match your actions? Using the tactics of Pomodoro and Time Boxing you can manage your time and make sure you meet your goals.

It’s your life, make it count.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Make your small business successful! Tips from Michael Gerber's great book EMyth

By Michael Gerber is written for small business owners. He explains that customers want consistency when they visit your business. Your business is a shelter against the disorderly world. They come to you to always get their coffee the same way, or always get their software programs done on time.

There are three types of people in each of us:
1. Technician who wants to do tasks the best they can. Their motto, "If you want it to be done right, you've got to do it yourself"
2. Managers who want to take a group of tasks and make them into a process. They want to create a schedule and organize the work.
3. The entrepreneur who come up with ideas and visions for the future. A better way of doing things. Solving tomorrow's problems causing chaos and confusion for Technicians and Managers.

The problem is that a Technician decides to open a business then only focuses on the tasks they love to do instead of using their internal manager and entrepreneur selves to build a business. They end up burning themselves out and quit.

The solution is that all three personalities must be involved in business development. The entrepreneur must come up with a vision and the mission. The manager must develop processes and manuals around each area and hire people to work in each area when the business can afford it.
The mindset going into any business must be to make a franchise. Everything must be documented and systematized so that it will be repeatable process and consistent results are created.

I really enjoyed this book and found the ideas applicable for any sized business and am currently using them at my own job in a large company.
I highly recommend anyone thinking of starting their own business to read this book and learn how to create business processes to make their business successful and avoid burnout.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Three Charts Are all I Need

I just read this article on and really thought it summarized which charts should be used for presentations. Three Charts is all I need The author makes some great points like "Spend time on the message not the medium." Unfortunately, I've often spent hours in meetings re doing the medium over and over to try to "please" some executives but never even really understood what they were looking for. Whenever making a presenation if you don't know what your message or objective is, then just stop right there and spend some time thinking about that.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tips for winning a pitch competition

After watching 25 pitches at the SEEC and seeing some amazing pitches I wanted to share the top tips that you need to know to win a pitch competition.

Pre-game day
Structure your speech. Big opening. Use your story. Use vivid language. Close big. Know your pitch 100%. Don't rely on notes.

Game day morning
Get enough sleep, eat protein, avoid sugar, avoid caffeine, get some exercise, dress your absolute best.

10 minutes before
Warm up your vocal cords by taking a deep breath and let it out slowly in a hum. Warm up your body by stretching out and limbering up.
Get a hug from a friend.

Game time
Make eye contact the whole time. Let your full energy flow through your voice. Don't allow your self to say filler words like 'um' and 'uh'.

Remember that the audience is probably tired and bored. Wake them up! Don't bore them. Good luck!!!