November 21, 2015

Pre-Mortems How to Prepare for Stress

No one thinks well under stress. Flight or FrightCortisol which shuts down deep thinking. Survival takes precedence.

So how do you handle stressful situations? You think about, discuss and prepare for difficult decisions.

The Army prepares soldiers for ambushes as an example. Trains soldiers to attack the ambushers rather than to sit helplessly and be slaughtered.

Drivers Ed taught us what to do when common emergencies happened. Brake and Steer out of danger. Recover from a skid. How to change a flat tire.

Daniel Levitin: “How to stay calm when you know you'll be stressed” is a great primer in preparing. He gives an example of a medical decision, and how to prepare not to lose something important.

There is a good likelihood something stressful will happen in your life. Do pre-mortems on likely stressful events to make better decisions.

November 14, 2015

Advice for Parisians and Other Targets of Terror

Have experience with Centennial Park Bombing during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Was a spectator and was enjoying the park after midnight. There was a band across the street talked my friends into going over to see. They weren’t very good/interesting, and I was feeling restless. Felt like it was time to go. Really wanted to go and didn’t know why. We left to get food.

Took a half hour to go through traffic to a bar/restaurant to get food/drink, but they were shutting down. Why? Someone had blown up a bomb in Centennial Park. 2 deaths and 111 injured that night. Walked within 50 feet of where the bomb exploded.

How did we handle it? The Olympics Committee decided the games should continue. The park was closed for one day and reopened the second day. Went out of my way to be sure to walk through the park again the morning it opened. Not going to let someone keep me from living.

Terrorist want two things: Fear and government overreaction. They believe fear gives them power over you. Your government wants to protect you, but extreme invasive procedures can lead to government being overthrown. Power and no authority to stop them is the dream of terrorist/radicals.

The odds of being in a terror attack or violent events are very small in Western Civilization. Actually most countries are reasonably safe. War has actually been decreasing during the last 50 years. 

The best way to honor the victims and flaunt the terrorist is to simply live life without fear. Then terrorist have no power.

November 7, 2015

Simple Productivity

What does every company need from their employees? Productivity.

What does every business owner want for himself? Productivity.

What do superior performers desire? Productivity.

How can we get our company to be more productive? Better processes, better procedures, better quality, better throughput.

So how do we get there? Simplify.

Have you looked at your processes and procedures recently? Your co-workers have to look through pages to get what information they need. Why can’t they be written in plain English with pictures rather than legalese?

Then look at your business from your customer’s eyes. How hard do you make it to order from you? Where can you make it simple?

How did Japanese automakers grow their market share? Their customers did not choose every individual option like American automakers. They offered standard and deluxe models with options included. The customer’s main choice was color. Inventory and pricing were streamlined, and they focused on making the models that were selling. Result - increasing profits

Where can you simplify today?

October 31, 2015

Creating Something Grand


What would you like to build? A business? An empire? A charity?  It is a dream now, but how do you start to make it real?

First we need a vision. Who are you going to serve? After all there has to be a purpose to our dream.

Get to know the people you are going to help. What are they like? What are their needs? Wants? Dreams? Desires?

How will they benefit from your vision?  Will they feel better? Stronger? Happier? Healthier? What are you doing for them?

The better you understand your clients the more likely you will succeed.

Remember we asked who are you going to serve? Service will be the key to your success. Become a servant leader.

October 24, 2015

Risk is Your Business

"Risk is Our Business." - James T. Kirk

Risk is your business too. To create wealth you have to take advantage of opportunities. That involves risk, making decisions, executing plans and seeing the results.

Customer complaints, reviews and returns are obvious expectations in retail world. Have plans how to nicely handle these requests. Even Costco did have to limit returns to one year to control costs.

Quality Issues. Nothing is ever made perfectly. Have processes and procedures to repair or dispose of defective parts or units. Often cheaper to scrap and make new units than to repair.

Planning. New products, services and improvements just don’t happen. Ideas are created. Opinions sought. Market research is done. Product costs are estimated. Advertising is created. People get trained in usage and to answer customer questions.

Risk Mitigation. If you are developing new technology or software, it is common to test concepts, test prototypes, test subsystems, test systems, and test the first production units. You want to minimize surprises and maximize sales.

Savings. To invest most businesses must have saved money from operations, and borrowed more from investor’s savings. Savings are used to create growth.

Insurance. Everyone needs insurance to spread risk. Insurance companies often help with prevention, and then help when losses occur. Have you updated and expanded your coverage as your wealth grows. You will need more insurance.

Risk acceptance. Not everything can be anticipated. Surprises happen, shipments get lost, equipment breaks, people sue without reason and Murphy’s Law applies. Businesses have to accept a certain percentage of losses.

Life Risks. We fall in love, have children and grow older and wiser. Friend and family age and have illnesses. There is no life without risks.  Go out and live your life today. Live long and prosper.

October 17, 2015

New Standard of Excellence

Not often I recommend an article from 2004 to read. But this article by Dr. Atul Gawande leads to a new standard of excellence. Anyone with a basic statics education is familiar with the bell curve. Most medicine is successful in the middle of the curve. Sometimes treatment at the low end of the curve.

Dr. Warren Warwick’s example at the end of the article shows how you get off the chart medical treatment of cystic fibrosis. He made a study of what it takes to do better than everyone else. He believed that excellence came from seeing, on a daily basis, the difference between being 99.5-per-cent successful and being 99.95-per-cent successful. Warwick’s combination of focus, aggressiveness, and inventiveness is what makes him extraordinary.

“What the best may have, above all, is a capacity to learn and adapt—and to do so faster than everyone else.”

The question is why do you want to be extraordinary?

What are you doing today to get there?

Are you in Dr. Warwick’s territory?

The Bell Curve
What happens when patients find out how good their doctors really are?
The New Yorker

October 10, 2015

Are You Expecting Perfection?

Signs of this include beating yourself up for taking too long, not learning something on the first try, or horrors you make a mistake. These expectations of perfection are flawed perspectives you have chosen. Studies have shown people make more mistakes than they realize, yet we learn, survive and thrive.

Was working as an appraiser, visiting different properties and getting lost occasionally. Have an excellent sense of direction, so was really bothering me. The loss of time and daylight (to take pictures) were adding stress. Took a little time to think it through. Realized I was being unreasonable. Was always going somewhere new, and maps were not perfect. Of course I was going to get loss.

Based on that insight, realized I was getting Paid to be Lost. Still got lost occasionally, but no longer bothered me. My expectations had changed.

 “Give yourself a break, humans make mistakes and are often wrong.” – Steve Amos

Real life will be messy, customers & bosses will be demanding, spouses will not understand, and children will be children. Demanding perfection of yourself  (or worse others) will drive you crazy and make people avoid you. It is a way to be miserable.

Look around. Central bankers do not manage the economy. Leaders of nations react to events they can’t foresee. Predictions of the future are notoriously wrong. Why should you be perfect?

 “The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.” ― Tom Bodett