This is not rocket science, but I found this feature in Apple Mail about a year ago and it has saved me a lot of frustration by grouping email threads together. I’m not sure if Outlook has this feature or not, but it should. Anyway, just something that has made my life a little easier and wanted to pass it along. In Apple Mail, just go to View –> Organize By Thread.
Our team is testing a new way to work.
Most people know that I hate meetings. It’s become a running joke around the office actually.
I don’t just hate meetings to hate them. I hate them because most of the time they are unproductive, poorly run, and just a waste of valuable time.
With that in mind, you will probably be surprised that this new way to work involves several people in a room all day. Sounds like a meeting, right?
Here’s the thing: We’re not together to meet. We’re together to work. Big difference. And, we’re only working on one thing. Just one.
So when someone says, “We need to write a script for that video” or “Hey, we need an outline for that,” it doesn’t get assigned as a follow-up item. Instead, I fire up a Google doc and start writing. Clayton joins in and begins to edit in real time. Simultaneously, Christy is designing a mock-up of our new resource, Pablo is tweaking part of the webpage that this new video will live on, and Zac is…well, Zac had to leave early.
Last week was the first time we tried it, but the results were very encouraging. Solid productivity. We accomplished a lot by intentionally focusing our combined effort on one thing.
David Glass has a way of cutting through the bull. He speaks in no uncertain terms about what he thinks.
I’m glad he does, he has a lot to say.
Retired CEO of Walmart, David arguably accomplished more than any other CEO in history.
Yesterday I got to hear him speak at the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s ‘Forty Under 40′ event. (The Soderquist Center is a sponsor)
He talked about some things that I believe most organizations today fail miserably at.
1. Just make a dang decision already.
And if you screw something up, fix it. David admittedly “hates” decision by committee. His rule at Walmart was never to leave a meeting with something undecided. He didn’t wait for people to go do research. He didn’t allow people to put things off. They just made decisions and moved ahead. “There are two ways to climb an oak tree. 1. Start climbing. 2. Stand on an acorn and wait for the tree to grow.”
2. Keep it simple.
David’s people would send him 2-page, single spaced memos to update him on important issues. Eventually he stopped reading the second page. He thought the reports were too cumbersome. If he missed something on the second page, oh well. Once people realized he was only reading the first page, they started condensing the reports to one page. Obviously the reports were more complicated than they needed to be.
3. You don’t have all the best ideas
“Most of the ideas we had at Walmart were copied from our competitors. We just figured out how to improve on them.” David’s advice is to see what others are doing around you. Don’t get enamored with yourself or you will miss the best ideas.
You can watch part of an interview I filmed with David Glass and Don Soderquist here.
People sometime ask how I get so much done.
In addition to my full time job at The Soderquist Center, I do a lot of freelance video projects, I helped start and run a website called WorshipVue, I co-founded Transparent Ministries, I write this blog, try to be a good husband, and I’m working on another little startup you’ll be hearing about soon.
Am I a workaholic? Um, maybe.
Do I have superhuman powers? Not that I know of.
Have I figured out how to clone myself? Creepy.
My secret is this: I start early in the morning. Really early. Like 5:00AM early.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m not a morning person!” Well, I’m not a morning person either. Really, I’m not.
About a year ago, my wife Mandy started getting up really early to work on her doctoral courses and to prep for class. She was carrying a full load of both at the time (Just FYI, she does have superhuman powers). I started getting up when she got up and using those early morning hours to work.
My usual routine is to get up, take the dogs out, eat something, and be sitting at my desk in our study no later than 5:30AM. I work until about 7:30 and then get ready for the day.
What I discovered, crazy as it sounds, is that I’m more productive at 5:30AM than any other time during the day. My head is clear, everything is quiet, and the distractions of the day haven’t infiltrated my thoughts.
Now contrast 5:30AM to 10:30AM. I’m at work in my office. A constant stream of people walk by my window. I hear two or three conversations going on outside my door. Someone sends me an email and then comes by to make sure I got it. On average (I’ve timed it) someone pops into my office at least every 15 minutes. Some days it’s more like every 5 minutes.
I don’t say all that because it’s bad. I want to be available to people. They need me to be available. So I just reserve my “in the zone” work for the wee hours of the morning.
I accomplish more meaningful work in those two hours than I will the entire remainder of the day.
It’s not easy to drag myself out of bed that early. But I guess if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Maybe you should try it.
Our Soderquist Fellows are an awesome bunch of incredibly talented young people. I have the humbling privilege of leading the Fellowship program at The Soderquist Center. We went out on campus to take some photos of them the other day. Here are a couple of my favorites (click to enlarge).
He helped build Walmart from a regional retail chain into the largest company in the world. I’m blessed to get to work with him at The Soderquist Center.
He said something the other day that threw me for a loop. He said, “Great leaders really don’t do much.”
That’s a weird thing to say.
These were not easy words for me to hear. As a creative person at heart, my passion is to create, to “do.”
Creating is like a drug to me. The more I create, the more fulfilled I am. I’ve been this way my entire life.
But as our team grows, and as my role on the team shifts more from “doer” to “leader,” I’m beginning to understand what Don meant.
Great leaders learn how to “do” through others. They learn how to multiply their efforts by surrounding themselves with a team of people who are much smarter and more talented than they are.
I’m learning that being a great leader requires:
1. Casting an inspiring vision, something people want to accomplish
2. Making sure people have the resources they need
3. Getting out of the way for a while
4. Following up to make sure things are on track
5. Developing people to “do” well, and then to lead others well
The cool thing that I’m starting to realize is with good leadership people can do amazing things. They can do things I could never do. And they can do more of it because there are more of them than there are of me.
I don’t have it all figured out yet, but it’s one more step in the right direction. Thanks Don.
Here are some fun commercials we just finished at The Soderquist Center. One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that humor tears down walls and presents opportunities to build new relationships. Everyone, even corporate types, like to laugh. “The shortest distance between two brains is laughter.” -Daniel Goleman
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