Are You Productive?

AreYouProductiveI remember once when one of my direct reports told me “This has been one of my most productive weeks.” He told me about all the projects he’d worked on. He was doing a lot of good work.

I’ve always worked on teams full of talented people who work hard to be productive. Good teams focused on being productive, not just busy. But, the definition of productive often is misconstrued.

(Warning – football analogy)
A “productive” football may chalk up amazing stats – tons of rushing and passing yards, passes completed, yards per carry, 1st downs and more… and yet, all of those stats don’t mean a thing if they lose the game.

Great teams focus on results!

In football, there’s only one stat that matters – the final score. That’s it. Did you win or did you lose?

To win, everyone on the team needs to focus on how their role contributes to overall success. Their focus should always be helping the team win.

The first question to ask is:


If you don’t know – that’s where you start:

  • Determine if you’re winning or losing
    • And by how much
  • Document what it will take to start willing –or- increase your lead
  • Develop strategies accordingly
  • Ensure everyone on the team understand how what they do contributes to overall success
  • Then go and do it!

Strategies, projects, marketing plans, and sales materials should all be driving results that contribute to the overall success of the team.

Do the work that drives results. Have the courage to turn down work or projects that don’t contribute to success.

Why focus on being productive, when you can focus on being GREAT!


Book Review: Think Big, Act Bigger

think-big-preview-02In 2015, I heard Jeffrey Hazlet speak at a breakout session during  Hubspot’s Inbound conference. He discussed the concepts from his book Think Big, Act Bigger.

Admittedly, it took me several months to purchase the book and several more to start reading it.

Mr. Hazlet is opinionated. That bold stubbornness makes the book interesting and more valuable.

My Top Takeaways:

Thinking and acting big feels risky. Not thinking and acting big far riskier.  

  • The idea of acting big, pushing boundaries and stepping out of your own comfort zones feels dangerous. As business accelerates so quickly, we need to be thinking about how to go BIG, what ELSE can we do, where can we PUSH the envelope. That gives us the best chance of success.

Always be evolving.

  • In a world where “change” is the new status quo, your ability to adapt and change may be the most important indication of your ability to succeed.

This is one of the better books I’ve read this year. And it’s not too lengthy. – so, you can read it over just a few days. The book gives great, real-world examples that make the concepts tangible.

My Recommendation:

Get it. Read it. Make your team read it. And re-read it often.

If you’ve read it share your thoughts?

What book(s) have you read this year that was valuable?

The Winds of Change are (Always) Upon Us

brazilian-coin-1481557-640x480In the 1989 cult classic movie UHF sing / songwriter ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic plays George Newman, an obsessive daydreamer who can’t keep a job, but ends up managing his uncle’s TV station. Throughout the movie a man in tattered clothing begs people for change.

“Change, change, mister…” he begs.

George ignores the man many times before finally reaching into his pocket and offering a handful of coins. Instead of snatching the money the man counts out enough coins to reaches 100 cents. Then he takes the change from George’s hand replacing it with a one-dollar bill.

“Gee, thanks mister” he says.

A new school year is about to start. Each year my kids exhibit feelings of excitement and nervous anticipation. My youngest son, now nine years old, reminded me of the school’s annual fundraiser called the Winter Store. The store sells homemade items by the 6th grade students. A great learning opportunity for students to learn about business, cost of goods, and profit margins

Several years ago I accompanied my two youngest sons, then six and eight years old, to the store. Each boy was given five dollars to spend on the variety of fun and unique items ranging in price from 25 cents to five dollars. When we arrived at the store it was filled with enthusiastic youngsters holding their precious money, eager to make a purchase.

My boys took quite different approaches to the shopping experience. The eight-year-old quickly snagged a couple of items he wanted asking me hold them while he socialized with friends. My six-year-old on the other hand roamed around and around the display tables, the vast options virtually overwhelming. As the time for school to start quickly approached I prodded him to make his final decision.

Only minutes before the bell rang he finally selected two items and got in line to pay. The older son had selected items worth exactly five dollars, his total budget. I noticed my younger son on the other hand had $3.75 worth of items. I brought this to his attention letting him know he had another $1.25 to spend.

“Quick, go find something else for $1.25 while I wait in line to pay” I said.

“No Dad. I want change” he replied with excitement.

Each boy arrived at the cashier’s table to pay. The cashier helping my younger son took his five-dollar bill then placed a dollar and a quarter in his small hand.

“Here’s your change” she said.

His eyes opened wide. He grinned from ear to ear. He lifted his open palm towards me showcasing his money.

“See, I got change!” he cheerily said before scampering off to class.

The idea of buying something paled in comparison to the joy of getting change.

Change evokes the strongest of human emotions – sadness, remorse, anxiety, and fear; contrarily eagerness, excitement and enthusiasm. Change is a constant. It is inevitable; often viewed as something to endure.

Sometimes we control change, often we do not.

This year I’ve changed jobs. Changed industries I work in. Had family changes with the loss of a parent. But I am reminded of the powerful example a six-year-old showed me in how to approach change.

Altering our paradigm of change is liberating. It could be time to recognize change as ‘getting back, more than giving up; moving forward, more than leaving behind’.