Riding The Wheel Of Life

As I come back from an EO Insignia and Quantum Leap conference in Park City, Utah, I carry with me some great experiences. This conference brings all the segregated forums together to have time to interact with each other and gain a personalized approach to the EO experience. Insignia is for people with 7 years or more in EO, and Quantum Leap is for those with $15-million or more in revenue. We get time with the large group as well as with our own forum, which includes a coach to take us through exercises.

Our coach, Phil Kristianson, incorporated some adjustments and tools worth sharing. One, the Wheel of Life, allows you to look at the key areas of your life and rate them by how satisfied you are with that area. These include family, significant other, health, career, finances, relationships, spirituality, and adventure or fun. See the form here and print it out and try it for yourself.

When you fill this out, you see the areas where you are lacking fulfillment in life and where you are fulfilled. With that awareness and some introspection, you can create goals based around the areas you should be focusing on in order to better your life. If you go around the circle and find it to be up and down like a roller coaster, your life may not be as balanced as you may optimally like. Thus, an effort can be made to balance it out.

These types of exercises help us to understand one another in the forum. We get to know each other and our areas of strength or weakness, so we can share experiences and changes to help one another in those areas. This is a key aspect of forum: to get help and see if you are being real with where you are and how you are getting where you are going.

How balanced are the areas of your life? Do you have a peer or peer group helping you strive to improve?


Energy Is Key

This past week, I set off to one of my favorite places on the planet for some recharging. I spent a week on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands with friends and had a wonderful greg1btime! One of the islands, Jost Van Dyke, is known as a top ten destination for New Year’s Eve celebrations. What an extra special experience to sail to different islands and experience different beaches and breathtaking views!

Last week, we asked the question “What are you going to do to ensure you have more energy next year than you did this year?” Sailing around those islands is one of those things that helps create energy for working in the world of the entrepreneur. Vacation and escape is not about physical rest. It is about allowing our minds to rest from all the things spinning around in there that is related to the job we do and how we are doing it.

To me, vacation is also about expanding the mind in some way that opens it up to new ideas and thinking to allow me to make better decisions in running a company. Isn’t that the most important thing we do as entrepreneurs . . . make decisions? It is the decisions we make to start this, stop that, keep something going, put more resources into a project, improve a process, and having the right people. Therefore, if our brains are all gummed up with gunk from not letting it go and recharging, we don’t seem to do as well in the decision department.

greg2bThe sunsets, the sunrises, the water and its vastness, the landscape of the islands, the beautiful beaches, so many more stars to ponder over, and the different people to meet open our minds to the possibilities and pump up our energy. Degunking and staying disconnected from my business (phone mostly was roaming) and the news of the world (what fiscal cliff?) allowed me come back more mentally energized.

In “The Power of Full Engagement,” Tony Schwartz discusses how fully engaged energy, not time, is our most precious resource. He says “Every one of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors has an energy consequence, for better or worse. The ultimate measure of our lives is not how much time we spend on the planet but rather how much energy we invest in the time we have.” His key premise affirms that the skillful management of energy determines performance, health, and happiness.

What are you doing to make sure you are fully energized to take on all that your business throws at you?

STOP Doing It!


So much of what we do in business is about the things we need to get done.  I need to write a report.  I need to send e-mails to my clients.  I need to create a budget.  I need to put a plan together for the next quarterly meeting.  On and on it goes with stuff we need to do in order to make progress in our business.  Nothing is wrong with this, especially when it creates progress.  Progress has been determined to be the number one motivator of both business owners and employees.

However, we really ought to find the things that we need to STOP doing!  It is the one thing we, myself included, often neglect to do.  What is it in my business or my world that I need to stop doing?  Business guru Jim Collins and coach to the Fortune CEO Marshall Goldsmith emphasize this topic frequently.  They ask, “What is on your STOP doing list?”

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When we want to create value, we want to DO something.  At times, we can create value by stopping the things that are wasting our time, distracting us from important work, and keeping us from clients and other people vital to our business. 

There are various things I find myself doing that I should stop.  I should stop having my e-mail open all day long because I get distracted from what I am working on every time I receive a new e-mail.  I need to stop not writing the important things on my calendar because time management is event management.  I write my blog when I happen to get around to it rather than putting it on the calendar and letting the calendar manage my events.

I also need to stop looking at things once, leaving them, and then coming back to spend more time on them.  I will read an e-mail, leave it to do something else, and continue this process by moving on to something else again instead of taking care of it right then.  This is a major waste of time, and I need to STOP it.  When something comes up, I should get it done now, move it to the calendar to do at a later time, delegate it to someone else, or delete it and move on.

What do you need to STOP doing?


Three Things Scrooge Would Say About Our Business


As we approach Christmas and get to spend more time with our family and friends in a spirited, colorful environment full of lights, we open our hearts and our pocket books to give and share what we have with others.  While I cannot speak for you, it makes me feel good to give to others.  When it is done with sincerity, I feel it has that effect similar to when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes.  It changed him.  I look to the holidays to have that growing heart experience and hope the holidays have the same effect on you.

However, in certain areas of your business, I feel it is necessary to have a Scrooge mindset.  I have experienced this in the areas of operations management, stop doing , and cash!

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For operations management, I find it useful to go through all the expenses on a periodic basis and for each ask, “is this expense necessary and does this add value to my business?”  I always do this at the end of the year and prefer to do it quarterly.  I often discover things we are paying for that no longer need to be paid or that could be modified or reduced.  For example, during this end of year review, I found that we were paying to store outdated documents off-site.  These can now be destroyed, thus stopping that expense.  My team is also reviewing our servers for potential consolidation and fee reduction. What expenses could you reduce or end?

What can we STOP doing in the true Scrooge fashion?  Many times we take on too much and have to stand up and be a scrooge and say, “No, I can’t do that at this time because it will affect my other work.”  It can be most difficult to say no to clients, but as I have experienced, it can be the most important thing you say in business.  You can read much more on this in last week’s blog.

The last and most important area I’ll discuss is cash.  We all know that not having the cash to pay our bills is a bad place to be.  Therefore, being cautious and miserly in this area is prudent in the right context.  Ask the question, “what can we do in order to get cash in faster and pay it out slower?”  Extending cash outflow for thirty days by putting some of our expenses on credit cards could be an option.  What are the opportunities to negotiate getting paid upfront or sooner from clients in exchange for some benefit to our clients?  We have lines of credit in place and credit card availability as a back-up in this area.

As we go into this holiday season and the New Year, I am shooting for balance between being a scrooge in some business areas and growing my heart three times.  Wishing you all a wonderful giving and sharing holiday season!

Cut From the Same Cloth

26 take offs and landings took my business partner April and me to the other side of the world and back for 3 weeks of cultural diversity, hard work, and once in a lifetime opportunities. What I brought back was a new perspective on people, life and business.

The focus of our trip was Saudi Arabia and India. This wasn’t my first trip to India, but this trip afforded me the experience of learning about the history and culture of both countries, to interact with their entrepreneurs on a personal level, and left me feeling connected in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

In Saudi Arabia we gathered with over a hundred entrepreneurs representing 26 different nationalities. Together we toured the isolated private oil fields of ARAMCO, the world’s largest oil company. The same day we climbed magnificent sand dunes to watch the sun set. Days later we played Elephant Polo in India with another group of entrepreneurs. We were immersed in the most diverse array of food, climate, attire, languages, and even industries.
  It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Here in the states, we’ve taken some big steps towards securing our borders, but when compared to the security measures other countries are forced to take they seem insignificant. Think of the security we pass through to get on an airplane and fly across the country. In Saudi Arabia they have care searches and security gates just to get inside a hotel. It’s normal for them to have armed soldiers keep watch around the clock. This is a lifestyle very different from what we experience at home.

Those differences, however, are on the surface. They are what we experience, not who we are. What we share amongst our cultures, is that we are all just people that are trying to make our way and find a place where we can fit in and feel valued. Our countries go to different lengths to protect their people, but the goal is the same – to protect the people. Businesses around the world strive to stay in the game, and deal with the difficulty of markets, competitors, regulators, and the finance world (which is terribly unfriendly these days!).

As business owners and as people, we all struggle to balance work and personal life. We all want to better our lives, take care of our families and children, to provide a safe environment to grow and play, and be surrounded by those that we love. On the surface, we are very different, but if you take a deeper look, you see that we are all cut from the same cloth.