But I’m a Great Multitasker…

 

People say pot-smokers are lazy. I disagree; I’m a multitasking pot-smoker: just the other day I was walking down the street, I was putting eye drops in my eyes, I was talking on my cell phone, and I was getting hit by a car.

Doug Benson

 

I don’t want to post all the research around the absurdity of multitasking.  I’ll give you a couple of salient bullet points (everyone loves bullet points!):

 

  • Psychology Today – Neuroscience tells us that the brain does not do multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • The brain stops and then starts. This allows us to switch tasks quickly which are often disguised as simultaneously.
  • This stop and start does not save us time, in fact, it costs us time and energy.
  • Here’s why; Tasks quite often use different parts of the brain. The anterior part of the brain is goal/intent-oriented; “I want a cookie.”  The brain has to switch to the pre-frontal cortex to get your hand on that Oreo.  This takes time and energy.
  • A study at Stanford showed when testing people who described themselves as expert multitaskers that:
    • They made more mistakes
    • They remembered poorly
    • They took 50% longer to interpret the ideas presented them.

That’s enough to help you stop trying to do everything or even two things at once.  It makes your work suck!   Instead become a great Intentional Tasker.

 

 

This morning I was doing, what at Creative Ventures we call, IMAGE FARMING.  I was searching through our gigantic inventory of images to find just the right graphic to go with the idea I was working on.  This is exhausting for your eyes and imagination.  I INTENTIONALLY stop, pick up my guitar and work on a new song for a couple of minutes.  I then return to the task.  I am focused on the project in front of me, but recognize when I need an attention break.

I turn off my distractions.  NO EMAIL.  NO PHONE.  They can wait until I finish my deep work.  I’m not waiting for a kidney transplant!   T. S. Elliot said, “you’re distracted from distractions by distractions.”

 

 

We need to get some stuff done and we have short time windows.  Stop doing a bunch of things and focus on one thing.   Make it good.   The other stuff will wait.

The secret to multitasking is that it isn’t actually multitasking. It’s just extreme focus and organization.

Joss Whedon

Your Business Process Might Be Too Complex

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary can speak.

-Hans Hofmann

 

During a recent strategic planning project, we were challenged on our philosophy of Three Part Models. Why three? Why not five or ten? Why are we restricted to three in this process?

This happens quite often. Clients are looking for some sort of support beyond our “just cause you say so.” I get it. It’s is hard and challenging to develop the discipline around a limiting factor. Despite the incredible success we have had in over 30 years of applying our ELEGANT SIMPLICITY planning model, I still understand the need to have some type of reassurance before the application of the discipline. So here you go:

 

FUN

 

·     We simplify the description of our 26 letter alphabet to the ABC’s.

·     There were three blind mice.

·     The genie gave you three wishes.

·     You get three strikes and you’re out.

·     My favorite, The Three Stooges.

 

SCIENCE

 

·     Einstein’s E=MC2.

·     Newton’s enumerated the movement of the universe with the Three Laws of Motion.

·     The proton, electron, and neutron.

·     Light can be reflected, refracted or absorbed.

·     Waves all have frequency, wavelength,  and cycles.

 

As far back as the 1950’s research has been done on making visual connections. In 1953 a project at Michigan State found that the brain finds it relatively easy to grasp three items but pushed to a fourth the brain gets confused. This visual clue gave rise to the ELEMENT, FONT and COLOR formula used in graphic design to this day.

Dr.’s Baddely and Hitch, in the epic study of working memory in 1974, developed the multi-component model of working memory. They defined two “slave” systems for short-term memory and one Central Executive Function that supervises information integration and coordinates the slave systems.

In 1956 Miller worked on memory and brain capacity determining that young adults were able to process up to 7 elements or “chunks” but discovered that as you matured and gain more and more knowledge the capacity lessened to three “chunks.”

As we age, the fantastic microprocessor that is our brain starts to search for no more than three parts to find context, connections, and meaning.

So at the end of all this support material, remember one thing and one thing only – Find the disciplined thinking that when applied, will shift your strategy from the complex to the simple and watch the impact!

Table Stakes: Stick to the Basics Pt. II

 

We were with a client recently and they took us on “walkabout” of their beautiful facility. The purpose was to find a starting point, a beginning for our OLA project (One Level Above). The goal was to find a single thing to do that would improve their client experience. John and his team were talking about how to improve this thing and as their brains were working around the project, we stopped them, right at the entry door. The evening was turning to night and we asked what they noticed. They looked at each other and didn’t understand. We had them turn around and take a look at the parking lot. It was filled with cars, client/customer/member cars.

There were three large lighting fixtures that weren’t working. John turned to me and said, “Hmmm, we’re talking about the wrong stuff aren’t we?”

Strategy, any strategy, has a beginning. We often have a hard time figuring out where to start. Creative Ventures recently wrote about the importance of TABLE STAKES, the basics that form the backbone of your client experience. It’s a great starting point, a huge X on the thinking map. If you’re not good at the basics, there is no point in looking beyond for your next idea.

When the basics are left to a shrug of the shoulder you’re in trouble. We don’t realize how important a client’s expectations are. Before the delicious meal is served, before they are greeted, before they taste a spectacular Merlot, they’ve already begun their client experience and as boring as parking lot lights might be, for all the sex appeal they lack, they are a fundamental detail and deserve more than a glance.

It’s not just the lights, it’s how you answer the phone, it’s the condition of your uniforms (if applicable), and it’s understanding the critical nature of the meat and potatoes of your job.

The experience of surfing starts way before you belly your board and paddle out to the first break. It starts with checking the daily surf report, with the wetsuit and the right wax. It has a beginning that starts far ahead of the first wahoo! Beginnings form the spark that ignites any client experience and becomes the starting line for a deep dive into your table stakes. Beginnings form end to end connections. They complement and reinforce your efforts. They need attention.

My team and I had just arrived at our destination airport. The hotel was nearby and they made a big deal about providing a shuttle service that worked as simple as a phone call and in less than 10 minutes you would be on your way to our welcoming embrace. 30 minutes after our call we were still waiting. I called back and they said, we’re running behind but we will be there in 5 minutes. 20 minutes later, still no shuttle. I don’t care how soft your bed is, I already have become judge, jury, and executioner. I didn’t ask for them to have a shuttle, they provided it as TABLE STAKES.

Make sure you know your beginnings. They have a geography that leads to the emotional commitment I am willing to give to your business. When the focus is in the right place, your table stakes, your basics become a strategic way to differentiate you in a crowded marketplace.

 

The basics are everything!

Great Leaders Ask the Right Questions to Drive Change

 

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

-Marcel Proust

There is a simple formula that leaders follow when they put their thinking caps on. It may not be conscious in many circumstances, but it’s there.

The formula is a thoughtful question, asked of the right audience, followed by active listening. Three parts!

It’s no surprise that discovery starts with a question. It’s been that way in all the sciences from the time we first began thinking. It has followed us from the beginning to form our understandings and to leverage our opportunities.

 

 

Amber Rae is an author and artist. She was stumped as to what her next project might be and decided to leave the studio and head out to the streets with a couple of questions in her head. She approached strangers in New York and asked; “What are your greatest fears, your biggest aspirations and what kind of world would you want to live in?” She was shocked at the response. People shared everything! They laughed and they cried in their answers. The most common response; No one has ever asked me that before. 

This simple exercise led to a creative explosion and a piece of installation art on the streets of New York in 2014. It was a participatory piece and asked people to answer two questions:

·     I want to live in a world where. .. . . .

·     To create this world I will …….

It’s now a global movement. A thoughtful question asked of the right audience and actively listened to.

 

 

This is the 50th anniversary of McDonald’s stalwart burger, The Big Mac. It’s estimated they sell about 550 million every year in the US alone. The Economist, a weekly magazine/newspaper/website uses the Big Mac as an economic measuring tool as a way of measuring global purchasing power!

Its beginnings were the result of a humble question, asked of the right audience and listened to in an effort to discover an answer.

In 1968 McDonalds franchisee, Jim Delligatti, asked corporate if he could try a new burger idea. Though not in the habit of accepting new menu products from anywhere but headquarters, they listened to the research, they understood the audience, and the rest became burger history. But it’s not the only McDonald’s product that resulted from this question, audience and listen formula. You can add beloved menu items like the Filet-O-Fish, the Egg McMuffin, the Apple Pie and the Shamrock Shake to this three-part process.

The idea and its application are simple. In our program THE IDEA FACTORY we use this exercise with our clients:

Take the issue you are working on and invite a team of 3-7 people,  to create ten questions that challenge the issue. Questions like, why now? Where will the resources come from? Is this something that will differentiate us in our market?   From their ten questions, use thoughtful reduction to narrow each team members questions to only 3 (from 10 to 3). Within that grouping, you are searching for the three most important questions that will clarify your goal.

This is the application of the thinking questions, the right audience and, in order to thoughtfully reduce to the holy grail of 3 key questions you have to actively listen.

Who knows, maybe there’s a Big Mac waiting!

The Right Way to Design Client Experiences.

We live in a world of magic. Most of it passes by us unnoticed. We are lulled to sleep by its repetitive nature. It happens just below our awareness.re on your way to Starbucks!

We sit in planes waiting to take off. No big deal, heck I do this almost every week, but it is really a magical experience. Take a look outside your window as you barrel down the runway and you will discover the application of Sir Isaac Newton’s principles still in play after 350 years. A precise combination of lift, thrust, gravity, and drag are put into action. Molecules of air are pounding on the fuselage and wings creating the wonder of flight. But to us, it’s so regular people are already taking their airplane snooze.

Turn on the facet at your home and bam, water comes out. It’s expected. It happens literally every time. But to make that happen is another magical experience. Did you know that a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs? The average shower uses +/- 18 gallons of water. That’s 144 lbs. of water that had to be moved from a source to your shower. It had to be pumped, cleaned, boosted and filtered just to give you that nice hot shower! In New Jersey, they have over 9,000 miles of pipe to make that happen. In the Twin Cities in MN they grab their water from the mighty Mississippi. In California, it comes from the Sierra Nevada snowpack. It’s a wonder of modern engineering to give you the water to brush your teeth.

 

 

Every morning many of us, without a second thought, get in our car and turn the key fully expecting the engine to start. A modern miracle of internal combustion mechanics. The key sets in motion an electrical current that draws power from your battery. It sends the current to a solenoid, which in turn sets an electromagnet on its mission to complete the circuit and vroom; you’re on your way to Starbucks!

What do these modern day miracles have in common? They all occur behind a magic door of repetitive mystery. Great client experiences share this same element. The client sees something extraordinary, but that DAZZLING interaction had a mountain of processes, elements, and training that all occur behind the magic door.

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is in the level of commitment leaders make to the client experience. For the Dazzling experience to become the norm for a car starting or a hot shower it needs to become a focal strategic imperative. These Dazzling companies open the “magic backdoor” and stare straight at the customer. They envision what would create, in that client, a level of commitment to our product or our service. They create a sense of loyalty, a quickness to comment to others that they made the right choice. They build the experience to that desired outcome. They involve teams in the development of the pieces of their Dazzling client experience. They garner promises of delivery from their employees and hold them accountable to their agreed upon outcome.

These ideas, perspectives, and commitments create something different in the market. It develops separation from the idea that what they do or make is simply a commodity available anywhere from anyone.

When you turn on your companies water tap, when you put the key in your organization’s ignition, is the result a guarantee for your client? Is it a magical experience driven by consistent delivery? IT SHOULD BE and we can help you create a truly DAZZLING BLUE experience, EVERY TIME.

The 21 Secrets of Million Dollar Sellers

The Power of You

 

Sales is a really unique profession.  It follows a delicate dance between seller and buyer.  It is often a solitary pursuit, where the sales person is building a strategy to gain a relationship, which hopefully turns into a sale.

It’s a simple fact that most sale approaches end in failure, in fact, failure might be the most common result of a sales process.  That being said, sales people need to have tough skin and an even tougher attitude.  They need to have a very powerful level of confidence and resilience that allows them to see what failure really is, just a part of the process.  Each failure is filled with lessons.  All of the million dollar producers in the study had an attitude of success and a firm belief in themselves, their processes and their skills.

In the early 1900’s the Texas Rangers were riding a legendary reputation for being the toughest lawman of the West.  Captain WJ McDonald was a legend among the legends.

He was known for his rugged individualism, leadership skills (he was made a Ranger Captain in 1891) courage and honesty.  He faced bank robbers, cattle thieves, long standing feuds and all out gun fights.  It was said that he would “charge into hell with a bucket of water”.  Despite all of that, he was famous for one incident in the early 1900’s.

There was an illegal prizefight scheduled in frontier Dallas, TX.  The fight had drawn an unruly crowd just ready to turn the entire scene into a bloody riot.  The mayor contacted the Texas Rangers for help and hurried down to the train station to meet the Rangers he was hoping would quell the unrest.  At the train station, Captain McDonald got off and looked around.  The mayor hurried to him and asked; “where are the rest of the Rangers?”  McDonald uttered; “Hell aint I enough?  There’s only one riot isn’t there?  One riot, one ranger.”

Captain McDonald stared down the crowd and stopped the riot.

CONFIDENCE.

In the 21 Secrets of Million Dollar Sellers, you will find the steps used to build this attitude, to discover confidence in the face of failure and to develop a personal plan to join the ranks of the elite salespeople featured in the book!

 

A New Blog Series from Creative Ventures

 

Creative Ventures will be refocusing our strategy as it applies to our blog. We want to give our readers more of what they want. We want to share more of our ideas and what inspires us to do what we do. To that end, we are focusing on creating content in three core areas.

First, to supplement the content from our upcoming book and share the results of our research, we are creating content to help move your sales model forward. The 21 Secrets of Million Dollar Sellers Series will focus on the key behaviors of top salespeople, what they mean, and how you can implement each one to make you a better salesperson.

Extraordinary People will be filled with profiles, stories, and actionable items from the many people that inspire us and are often found in our strategic platforms. Everyone profiled has done amazing things. Whether it’s business, science, tech, or history these people all have something to teach us. We find inspiration in the often little-known people who have had a dramatic impact in their field and we hope you do too.

The Power of Things is focused on how we communicate big ideas. We often use unusual things in our stage presentations. There is power in the use of things and that power drives our understanding of their impact. From tulips to telescopes, from Big Mac’s to the Big Bang we will profile how ideas became the things that drive progress.

Keep an eye out for our new content and, as always, drop us line to let us know what you think.

 

On Simplicity and the Mystery of Throw Pillows

We’re having family drop in for a visit to enjoy the beautiful pollen-filled spring time in the Southwest.  This, of course, requires a special level of house cleaning.  Both guest rooms will be occupied and since these rooms don’t receive a lot of use during our regular life routines, they need some sprucing up for the level of hospitality you want your guests to experience.

One of the guest rooms, the “Green Room” (you guessed it), yep, its color theme (did I just write “color theme”?) is green, is my sports room and music room.  All my tennis, golf, and training stuff is stored here and all of my guitars and assorted music stuff is there too.  The Green Room gets a little more attention than the “Black Room”.  This is Laura’s domain and is where all her gift wrapping stuff is.  When Laura wraps ANY gift is it a museum-worthy piece of art.  I kid you not.  Whereas, after 40 years of wrapping various treasures mine resemble the result of an exercise for any creature without opposable thumbs.

Laura came back from our marathon road trip really sick, so I wanted to jump in and get these rooms in GOOD TO GO condition.  Simple stuff, like new linens on the beds, dusting, vacuum, and the general once over.  It was during these housekeeping exercises that I once again stumbled upon one of the great mysteries of the human condition –  the abundance of pillows.

There are pillows of all sizes and shapes.  There are pillows of all colors and textures.  There are sleeping pillows, decorative pillows, and pillows that escape a description of function.  There are pillows EVERYWHERE!

They seem to multiply in some bizarre genetic methodology that would stump even Francis Crick and James Watson (go ahead, Google them, I’ll wait…………).

I am befuddled by these pillows.  I thought I understood the function of a pillow.  I use two to sleep on and take three off our bed every night and then proceed to put them back on every morning.  That’s just MY side of our bed.  Now I’m good with the idea of design and the roll a pillow would play in bedroom creative decorum, but COME ON.  What’s the appropriate number?  I’m pretty sure that a combined 21 is a little high, like 106 degrees is a little high for the Jacuzzi.   Is there some theorem that could be applied like the Pythagorean Theory or the Mean Value Theory?

I have made a living helping organizations understand and apply the principles of simplification and yet our pillows seem to expand like the Universe.  Forget about comparing the grains of sand on our planet to the number of stars in the sky, I’m switching to a throw pillow scale.

I know this is a losing battle and in reality outside of driving me nuts, has little impact on the spinning of our globe, but come on . . . . .

The Competitive Advantage 

This is the eve before I head out on one of the most challenging road trips in recent memory.  Composed of eight cities in about four weeks with only a few hours in Austin to repack, it is a testament to the value of our ideas.

Four of the projects are training sessions where we get to teach specific strategies and forge a link to the success found in their direct application.  Companies that invest in their people, that look to take advantage of learning new ideas, give themselves a tremendous market advantage.  I know that training budgets are the first thing that gets slashed when companies start to pull in their heads, turtle style, when the business climate toughens.  It’s the exact wrong thing to do.  When times get tough, that’s when training becomes critical.  It is an ancient strategy.

In the early days of the Roman Empire they really didn’t have an army.  They would conscript farmers and call them into service.  Not exactly a martial strategy.  In 90 BC the Gaul’s came a callin’ and gave the Romans a good thumping.  They pillaged Rome and its surrounding villages for over six months.  In fact, the Romans dug deep into their coffers and paid the Gaul’s to leave.  It was a good lesson.  Training was about to become the Roman advantage.

For the next century Rome became the Mecca of military training.  They began a process of perfecting their Legions.  No more farmers, Rome began training a professional army.  They built a military machine.

They trained in the use of all kinds of weapons.  They worked hard on stamina with long marches and runs.  They created strategies and taught them to every single soldier.  They had fierce discipline creating a sense of accountability so that every soldier was accountable to the soldiers on their right or left.

Rome went from the plaything of the Gaul’s to the Roman Empire.

It’s a great example of the value of training:

  • They trained every soldier. Every single one.
  • They knew what the basics were weapons, stamina, and strategy. They built their curriculum around three key pieces.
  • They had their generals partake in the training to create a sense of connection.
  • They held everyone accountable for the application of what they learned.

Training often seems like a luxury and in almost any form, it ain’t cheap, but when it becomes a cultural pillar, a strategy as necessary as accounting, you get The Ritz-Carlton , Apple, British Airways and GE.

Knowledge and skills are expanding qualities and it’s incumbent on companies to be the creator of the opportunities that will make their people the most valuable asset in the company

https://www.creativeventures.com/2017/04/25/2718/

Your Sacred Time

Lately, we have been doing a lot of time or project management workshops for our clients. It seems that the constant demand for more has people scurrying to figure out how to stretch the unforgiving minute into more productivity. That’s not what this posting is about. Instead, I want to introduce the idea of sacred time.In the constant demand for pieces of you, for their need of a pound of time, you need some sacred moments, moments that are yours and yours alone.

I learned this years ago and created my sacred time, time that I revere, time that is critical to my success. It’s about time to rest, to focus on awareness. Mine happens on Sunday’s.

Sunday’s are my sacred days. It is the only day that I’m not up at 4:00 AM to attack the day. I sleep a little longer. I don’t train or follow the insanity of my workout schedule during this time that I hold precious. I share the morning with Laura in our ritual, fresh scones and coffee, the Sunday paper and a conservative news show followed by a liberal news show. I head down to the office for a couple of hours of quiet writing. We head out to the movies or maybe a round of golf. The evening is spent on my learning cycle of Sunday blogs and newsletters. I study the ideas contained therein and usually end up with 10 notecards full of images and stuff I want to save. Here are a few of the resources that come my way:

 

 

I allocate time to myself. It’s alright. It’s not selfish. You should do this.  In fact, it may be imperative for your sanity.

There’s so much to appreciate about my life every single day, and I make a big point of taking time to smell the roses and noticing how lucky I am. I never want to take that for granted.

Josie Maran

If this time falls in the “sacred” category, it is worthy of a plan. Maybe it’s not an entire day, but instead time early in the morning ahead of the magnetic pull of your day. Perhaps it is found in the quiet of the evening, just before bed. It might be in a deep stretch from your yoga class. Maybe it’s a long walk.  Believe me, it’s out there and it’s calling to you through the chaos of your endless demands. It takes courage and commitment to carve out its place in your life, mostly because it is YOURS. No one takes it from you.

 

The basic thing is that I want to do the best work possible, and I can only do that if I’m relaxed and have a lot of energy. And that can only come from taking time off.

Jason Scott Lee

We look at our resources and allocate value to a wide variety of things. Often we miss the most important. Look for your sacred time. It’s out there and once you find it, once you make it important, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

 

We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size to make it comprehensible. We’ve created a scale so that we can forget its unfathomable scale. Time is the only true unit of measure. It gives proof to the existence of matter. Without time, we don’t exist.

Scarlett Johansson – The Movie LUCY