It's Worth Noting | By Levi Smith http://www.itsworthnoting.com Leadership, productivity and technology ideas worth noting. Fri, 11 Apr 2014 17:13:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 http://itsworthnoting.libsyn.com Do you have any canaries to warn you of trouble? http://www.itsworthnoting.com/productivity/do-you-have-any-canaries-to-warn-you-of-trouble/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/productivity/do-you-have-any-canaries-to-warn-you-of-trouble/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 18:04:52 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2804 http://www.flickr.com/photos/29783372@N07/5501251040
You’ve probably heard about how miners used to bring caged canaries with them deep into mine shafts. If any harmful gases emerged, the canaries would die, giving the miners sign of trouble while they still had time to get out.

Having easily observable indicators of coming trouble is really helpful, not just in mines, but in all areas of life. As we go about our days, weeks and months it’s easy to get lost in the details and fail to see trouble brewing until it hits us hard and has significant consequences. If you can identify a few leading indicators or “canaries” that you can easily keep an eye on though, you can get an early warning of coming challenges in time to make adjustments and avoid more dire consequences.

As an example, I have three key canaries I watch to make sure my schedule is in healthy balance:

  1. Do I have time to go for a 20 min walk everyday for prayer and reflection?
  2. Do I have time to exercise or work outside every other day?
  3. Can our family take a sabbatical, a day without work focused on relationships and rejuvenation, every week?

If I struggle in any of these  areas, I know my schedule needs attention. I’m either over-committed, prioritizing poorly, procrastinating or similar. It’s extraordinarily easy for me to use these three canaries, all specific and measurable, to keeps tabs on whether my schedule is in healthy balance.

Next step: Consider taking a few minutes to identify 1-3 canaries in each area of your life – e.g. finances, key relationships, schedule, etc. Try keeping an eye on the canaries for 30 days to see if focusing on a handful of indicators makes it easier to make course corrections and stay on track.

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Henry Kaestner interview – The advantage of revealing your true motivation http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/henry-kaestner-interview-the-advantage-of-revealing-your-true-motivation/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/henry-kaestner-interview-the-advantage-of-revealing-your-true-motivation/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 21:49:04 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2738 http://www.flickr.com/photos/7791881@N04/4499588339

Henry Kaestner is a man of deep faith and tremendous success. He is the Chairman, Co-Founder and former CEO of Bandwidth.com, a disruptive telecom start-up that he and his partner David Morken grew from nothing in 1999 to over $140 million a year in revenue and over 350 employees today. More importantly, Henry is a Christian, husband and father, priorities that served as the foundation for Bandwidth.com’s culture and are the focus of a venture capital fund he now leads.

In this podcast, Henry shares his perspective on how Bandwidth.com’s culture empowers employees to do amazing work, lead fulfilling lives and want to stick around.

Listen on iTunes, SoundCloud or other podcast players.

Follow-up resources:

Please take a moment to share you reactions in the comment section below!

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Lawrence “SugarBear” Reyes interview – How Can I Help? http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/lawrence-sugarbear-reyes-interview-how-can-i-help/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/lawrence-sugarbear-reyes-interview-how-can-i-help/#comments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 21:38:24 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2685 http://www.flickr.com/photos/75912427@N00/3316153398

 

Lawrence Reyes serves as the Ambassador of Culture and Global Onboarding Manager at Rackspace, a leading cloud server and hosted services company based in San Antonio, Texas. As employee #14, Lawrence has seen firsthand how the company evolved from a 90′s start-up into a global enterprise known for its innovative offerings, fanatical support and unique culture.

SugarBear, as he’s known to fellow “Rackers” inside in the company, loves inspiring other companies and new employees with the vision of what can happen when everyone is focused on how they can help. I think you’ll find his journey and experience with Rackspace inspiring and applicable.

Listen on iTunes, SoundCloud or other podcast players.

Resources:

Please take a moment to share you reactions in the comment section below!

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David Niu interview – What would you gladly pay for? http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/david-niu-interview-what-would-you-gladly-pay-for/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/david-niu-interview-what-would-you-gladly-pay-for/#comments Fri, 11 Oct 2013 14:46:10 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2657 http://www.flickr.com/photos/36764355@N00/1462639120
What if you broke up your retirement into bite-sized chunks and went on small adventures? That’s exactly what David Niu, serial entrepreneur and founder of TinyHR, did with his wife and ten month old not too long ago. Along the way, David sought to understand the biggest pain point leaders had related to managing their people and an idea was born.

I think you will enjoy David’s inspiring story and find his approach to understanding how happy employees really are intriguing. Enjoy.


Listen on iTunes, SoundCloud or other podcast players.

Resources:

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The power of 10x problem solving http://www.itsworthnoting.com/productivity/the-disruptive-power-of-10x-problem-solving/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/productivity/the-disruptive-power-of-10x-problem-solving/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 03:58:47 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2624 http://www.flickr.com/photos/49968232@N00/2455272448

 

Life in business and at home presents an endless array of problems to solve. Probably due to this relentless volume, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine of implementing solutions that will simply solve the immediate problem. It’s uncommon to routinely take the time and energy to identify good long-term solutions that will be scalable and flexible enough to handle growth and other changes.

Unfortunately, the effect of routine short-term problem solving is that problems reoccur and accumulate. As the volume of reoccurring problems increases, it gets harder to have the time and energy to work on long-term solutions. It is a vicious cycle and it’s easy to get stuck.

One easy way to either avoid getting into this mess or to claw your way out of it you’re already there is to start solving problems using what I call a 10X test. The next time you have a fresh problem to solve (or one of those reoccurring problems resurfaces) ask yourself how you would solve it if you had ten times (10X) whatever is the root catalyst of the problem. That could be 10X the number of staff, customers, transactions, kids – whatever.

The idea is to jar you out of your current problem solving mindset, to approach the solution from the top down (10X) instead of the bottom up. It does not mean that you need to go with a solution that is 10X more costly or complicated than what is actually needed, but simply to explore solutions from a 10X perspective.

Go ahead and give it a try and comment below if you too find that this approach leads you to more creative and longer lasting solutions.

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Mark McClain interview – “It’s a competitive advantage” http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/mark-mcclain-interview-its-a-competitive-advantage/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/mark-mcclain-interview-its-a-competitive-advantage/#comments Thu, 02 May 2013 22:05:35 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2590 http://www.flickr.com/photos/8839424@N02/2733190557

 

Mark McClain is a friend, dedicated family man and experienced leader and entrepreneur in the Austin, Texas tech scene. Mark serves as CEO of his latest co-founded venture, SailPoint Technologies, a leading enterprise identity and access management application.

During our time together, Mark shared how lessons learned as a father and leader in other organizations that were less attentive to culture have shaped his leadership philosophy. Today, Mark and his co-founder at SailPoint are committed to maintaining a healthy culture – a competitive advantage in the marketplace for talent and customers.


Listen on iTunes, SoundCloud or other podcast players.

Resources:

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Forget sitting or standing meetings. Start walking. http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/forget-sitting-or-standing-meetings-start-walking/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/forget-sitting-or-standing-meetings-start-walking/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2013 21:06:28 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2552 http://www.flickr.com/photos/48612565@N06/5195996907

 

What if the following could be said of your team meetings?

  • They help us focus
  • They help us get exercise
  • They help us think more clearly

None of these benefits could be said of a typical meeting around a desk or table, or even standing.

If you want to improve your one-on-one and small team meetings overnight, insist that they take place while going for a walk.

Walking meetings are obviously impractical for larger groups or if there is no way to avoid needing to look at a computer screen or document. Setting those two situations aside, here is how walking meetings can make a big impact:

  • Without documents, slides and the like, attendees are forced to master their material and talking points. The result is more focused and engaging conversations.
  • People are more apt to look forward to meetings that get them out of the office and moving around. Everyone could use the extra exercise and attitude boost.
  • Moving around increases blood flow and oxygen levels. The more oxygen your brain has, the better it works. Walking meetings magically sharpen everyone’s mind.

Why not give it a try for 30 days? Bring walking shoes to work and ask others you are meeting with to do the same. Come back and share your experience in the comments below!

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Ken Schiller interview – “Because of Me” http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/ken-schiller-interview-because-of-me/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/ken-schiller-interview-because-of-me/#comments Fri, 05 Apr 2013 16:13:09 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2537 img_14

Quick order and fast food restaurants are not typically known for amazing service. For a variety of reasons, including inexperienced workers, high turnover, quick pace and low profit margin, it is very difficult to operate one of these restaurants in a way that consistently puts a smile on both customers’ and employees’ faces.

Ken Schiller, along with his co-founder and co-owner Brian Nolen, have set their restaurants apart by emphasizing culture and creating an exceptional customer and employee experience. After 18 years in the business, their team is continuing to grow, innovate and delight. Enjoy the podcast!


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Resources:

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Where would you invest? http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/where-would-you-invest/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/where-would-you-invest/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:18:56 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2523 2757851927_838e959e76

 

Let’s say there are two companies you are considering investing in and that besides the differences described below they are identical:

Company X:

  • exceptional products, marketing and execution
  • unhealthy company culture, which is failing to attract and retain exceptional talent (employees)

Company Y:

  • average products, marketing and execution
  • exceptional company culture, which is attracting and retaining exceptional talent

I would put my money on Company Y. Subpar products, marketing and execution can be corrected if the company is attracting and retaining exceptional talent.

Company X’s unhealthy culture and the resulting talent drain are more difficult to correct. Without talented, motivated and engaged employees, Company X will struggle to innovate, penetrate new markets and execute in changing business climates.

Would you invest in Company X or Y? Share your answer and reason why in the comment section below.

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Donavon Roberson interview – “We believe in people and their dreams” http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/donavon-roberson-interview-we-believe-in-people-and-their-dreams/ http://www.itsworthnoting.com/leadership/donavon-roberson-interview-we-believe-in-people-and-their-dreams/#comments Wed, 13 Mar 2013 23:40:01 +0000 http://www.itsworthnoting.com/?p=2490 http://www.flickr.com/photos/33142330@N07/3715569167

 

How would your employees respond if you told them you were going to help them achieve their personal dreams? How would you respond if fulfilling a dream pulled a good employee away from your organization?

In this podcast interview with Donavon Roberson, Dream Manager at Infusionsoft (a CRM provider for small businesses), we discuss what it looks like to get behind employees’ dreams and the impact on employees, customers and the bottom-line. During the interview, Donavon references a couple of books and resources, all of which are linked to below for your convenience. Enjoy!

Listen on iTunes, SoundCloud or other podcast players.

Resources:

Please take a moment to share you reactions in the comment section below!

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