Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review: Creative Project Management

Creative Project Management by Michael Dobson was the latest book I plucked from the local library. It was in a similar vein to my last read in that it was all about project management and given my recent career change this should surprise no one.

The book was a solid read and although it took me quite a while to make my way through it, I think that was more attributed to buying and remodeling a home than to the quality of the read. What I really liked about the book was the manner in which it illustrated fairly classic project management concepts. Instead of focusing on a few illustrations and concept diagrams, the book focused on well known (often military) leaders and how they successfully and unsuccessfully implemented project management throughout history. These historical events, viewed through a project management lens, did a lot to show how these concepts can be applied universally to projects instead of sticking with more generic examples of project management like IT implementations.

What I didn't necessarily love about the book was the way in which it dragged out relatively straight forward concepts. It wasn't that the length was the issue it was the fact that some of the concepts went into great storytelling depth with relatively little practical explanation. It almost felt like the second half of the book was filler to get the book to a certain length. Yet, taken in totality the book was a pretty solid.

Throughout the book there were great questions that every project manager should ask themselves and others regarding the project. The author even went so far as to compile these questions as an appendix at the end of the book. These questions are an extremely helpful guide in determining what elements of the project must be developed and at what stage they should be developed in order for the project to be successful. I enjoyed the way the author built the appendix so much that I copied the pages and plan on using them to help develop each stage of the projects that I manage. If anything, the book is worth picking up for that reason alone.


Chapter 1 - Why Do 70% of Projects Fail:
- 32% of projects were delivered on time, on budget, and with the required features and functions
- 44% were finished either late, over budget, or only partially completed
- 24% failed altogether, and they were cancelled or abandoned
- Two reasons projects fail: 1. Things that nobody thought of or prepared for 2. Things everybody thought of but no one prepared for
- Four PM questions: 1. Why are we doing this? (Business Case) 2. Who has an interest & what do they want/need? (Human Being Aspect) 3. What do we have to do & how? (Project Management, Planning, Qualitative) 4. Who needs to be involved & in what way? (Top Management & Other Involvement)
- Embrace the uncertainty & fluidity of the projects you manage
- What makes this project hard? (chart pg 13) 1. Constraints - How tight are time, cost, performance? 2. Complexity - Tasks, resources, technology 3. Certainty - How much do we know about risks & issues?
- Risk = Probability X Impact
- Cognitive biases pg 18
- When work is temporary & unique the unique part guarantees the presence of uncertainty
- 2 ways of learning: 1. Have an experience and learn from it 2. Learn from someone else's experience (The second it cheaper!)

Chapter 2 - What We Know & What We Think:
- PMs are supposed to challenge assumptions whenever possible but we all have blind spots, biases, & perceptual errors that keep us from recognizing our own misjudgments
- Johari's Window test pg 28
- More PM questions: 1. What aren't we seeing correctly or at all? 2. How will people react to this project? 3. What if I'm wrong? 4. What am I not seeing?
- Ignaz Semmelweis hand washing theory pg 31
- Vietnam quote "Anybody who thinks he knows what's going on clearly doesn't understand the situation."
- Sewell Avery & General Patton project management stories
- "The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown" - Carl Sagan

Chapter 3 - The Most Dangerous Word is a Premature Yes:
- "Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of "emergency" is that it is unexpected; therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference, Washington DC 1957
- First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is a mountain." Your first understanding of the mountain is an outline, a shape in the horizon. As you get closer the mountain decomposes into a million individual details. Finally you know the mountain as a whole. Zen koan.
- No one starts a war - or rather, no on in his senses ought to do so - without being first clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it." - Clausewitz
- A project isn't the end its the means to bridge the gap
- The first step in any project is to define the gap
- Eisenhower closing the gap story pg 55
- What is the minimum that can be done now?
- Project triage: 1. Likely to survive no matter what 2. Likely to fail no matter what 3. Projects where the level of effort will make a positive impact in success

Chapter 4 - Good Enough, Barely Adequate, Failure:
- 7 Levels of project outcomes: 1. Perfect 2. Outstanding 3. Exceeds Expectations 4. Fully Satisfactory 5. Barely Adequate 6. Failure 7. Catastrophe

Chapter  5 - When The Project Appears Impossible:
- "If an elderly and distinguished scientist says something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says it is impossible, he is very probably wrong." - Arthur C. Clarke
- Just because a project appears to be impossible doesn't mean it is
- Can you adjust time, cost, performance to make it possible?
- Ways to accomplish the impossible project: 1. Change the constraints - analysis, negotiation, problem solving, requirements management 2. Get around the constraints - creativity, exploiting holes, different approaches, rethinking assumptions

Chapter 6 - Knowns & Unknowns: The Risk Factors:
- "The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men and women are not passive before nature." - Peter L. Bernstein, Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk 1998
- Risk is a proposed future even that would have a significant impact on you or something you care about should it happen. Positive or negative. Above all risk is uncertain.
- Risk -> severity and likelihood
- Pure risk is all downside
- Business risk has upside and downside
- Residual risk is leftover risk after mitigation
- Secondary risk is new risk introduced as a result of solutions to the original risk
- Risk management table & responses pg 134
- Managing knowns & unknowns pg 138
- Six dimensions of project management table pg 149
- Leverage, relax, absorb = triple constraints risk responses

Chapter 7 - Project Intelligence:
- Spies pay attention to their environment
- Intelligence process - Collection, Analysis, Packaging, Dissemination

Chapter 8 - It Takes A Village To Wreck A Project:
- "Normal people believe that if it ain't broke don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet." - Scott Adams, cartoonist, creator of Dilbert
- "Want to know if you are a leader? Look back and see if anyone is following." - Marilyn Moats Kennedy
- 4 types of managerial challenges - Martyr, Scapegoat, Hall Monitor, Peon
- 4 types of stakeholders - Positive, negative, tangential, conflicted
- 4 stages of managing stakeholders - Identify, Understand, Maximize, Manage
- There are 3 reasons to communicate: 1. You want someone to do something 2. You want someone to know something 3. You want someone to feel something or some combo of the 3
- Table page 88

Chapter 9 - Framing Change:
- I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. Two years later we ourselves made flights. This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet gave me such a shock that ever since I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions." Wilbur Wright
- Counterfactuals are examinations of what might have happened had an actual even turned out another way. A great way to analyze and cope with change

Chapter 10 - Salvaging Project Value:
- Closeout of a project is often taken for granted
- Closeout: 1. Complete 2. Turned Over 3. Closed Out 4. Value Captured

- Appendix A - Questions For The Creative Project Manager:
- Questions pg 227

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Keeps You Up At Night vs. Imagine A World...

Last week was probably the most influential week of my short post Air Force career. I don't want to reveal too much about the project I am working on at Nike as we are implementing a pilot that relies heavily on specific timing and stakeholder engagement, but last week was full of meetings with company leadership from around the world. Those meetings required an immense amount of preparation but what really stood out to me was the incredible amount of truly deep thinking that took place. Not only was the process extremely engaging and exciting to be a part of, but it was also full of business and leadership lessons that I will take with me for the long haul.

In one of our meetings I pulled out a couple anecdotes that, at the time, seemed unrelated but in hindsight are definitely connected with regard to how teams tackle strategy, approach problem solving, and drive innovation. The two brainstorming approaches I am referring to are:

"What keeps you up at night," and "Imagine a world."

Both phrases were, by all intents and purposes, brought forth to organize the team's thoughts around very complex problems. Both sought to achieve results. Both phrases can actually be very useful in getting a diverse team to focus on the same critical issues of a challenge.

But what I find most interesting is what differentiates the two approaches.

"What keeps you up at night" can align a team. It can focus the group, most specifically on risk mitigation, while developing solutions to complex problems. And although framing a problem with this statement is undoubtedly better than not steering a team at all, it does have some significant drawbacks. Here are a few I thought of while reflecting on the approach over the past few days.

1. It is reactionary - Framing a problem in this manner has the team reacting to an environment instead of shaping it. Of course there is value in knowing the world you are operating in but in the long run there is only so much value to be gained in risk mitigation.
2. It is a pessimistic lens - How do you mobilize your team? I know I like to lead and to be lead with an eye on what we can possibly accomplish, not on what can possibly go wrong.
3. It doesn't drive you into the unknown - This third point is really a derivative of the first two. How innovative is your team going to be when you are focused on avoiding or minimizing what can go wrong. Sure there are some innovations that are derived from mitigating risk. But when comparing "what keeps you up at night" to "imagine a world" it is easy for me to see which one gets my heart pumping. I think what truly differentiates good enough from great is a truly passionate team and I just can't see people rallying around a focus on what we fear.

Many of the downfalls of the "what keeps you up at night scope" are the very reasons I gravitate towards the "imagine a world" approach. 

1. It is proactive - "Imagine a world"elicits goals and a unified vision from the team. It focuses the group on where we are going, not what may be coming at us. 
2. It is optimistic - It figures out what the team wants to create without the hindrances of how to get there. Setting the vision without boundaries prevents the team from self eliminating. Once the vision is locked in the team naturally accepts the accountability to get there.
3. It promotes innovative thinking - When you aren't focused on what could go 'wrong' and you are focused on what you want 'right' to look like you will naturally think more creatively. 
4. It unifies the team towards a set of goals - Enough said.

These were just a few of the many examples that reinforced to me the importance engaging teams in focused critical thinking. It is very difficult to quantify the benefit focused critical thinking. It is not the type of lesson you would read explicitly in a textbook or within the framework of a management philosophy, however anyone who as ever engaged in the activity while tackling a truly complex problem will undoubtedly see the value. The next time I start a project or a new venture I plan to start with the "imagine a world" construct. I really haven't found a more inspiring way to unify a team around what is truly important in an endeavor.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fundamentals of Project Management by James P. Lewis - One thing that I think every athlete learns at a young age is the importance of fundamentals. I have tried to take that important lesson that I learned early in my hockey career and apply it in other aspects of my life. When I found out my first consulting project would be a project management role at Nike, I went to the local library and picked up Fundamentals of Project Management.

The book is relatively short, which I actually really appreciated. Fittingly, a book on fundamentals shouldn't be extremely long and wordy. I think the book does a great job succinctly laying out an overview of the basics of project management. The book not only delved into the classic project management tools and theories but it also covered topics like team engagement, leadership, and organizational culture,

I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who wants to read a good overview of project management or to anyone who wants to learn how they can hone their skills to better deliver projects on time, within budget, and within the desired performance parameters. Below are some of the notes I took while reading this book.


Chapter 1: An Overview of Project Management:
- A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to produce a unique product, service, or result.
- Repetitive =/ project
- Definite time, cost, scope, performance requirements
- "A problem scheduled for solution"
- Rule = people who do the work should plan it
- PM role is that of an enabler
- "Leadership is the art of getting others to want to do something that you believe should be done." - Lance Packard
- C=F(P,T,S)
- Project Life Cycle: Concept, Definition, Planning, Execution, Closeout
- Projects fail at the definition phase
- Steps in managing a project: 1. Define Problem 2. Develop Solution Options 3. Plan the Project 4. Execute the Plan 5. Monitor & Control 6. Close the Project
- 9 Knowledge Areas pg 20

Chapter 2: The Role of the Project Manager:
- The primary role of all PMs is to ensure all work is completed on time, within budget & scope, and at the correct performance levels
- Must understand mission and vision of the organization
- PM is about influencing people
- Scandinavian Airlines Story
- PM has responsibility but authority. Must use leadership and management to accomplish

Chapter 3: Planning the Project:
- Two barriers to good planning: 1. Prevailing Paradigms 2. The Nature of Human Beings
- Control is exercised by comparing  where you are to where you are supposed to be so that corrective action can be taken when there is a deviation
- No plan = no control
- To plan you must have strategy, tactics, & logistics
- Project plan is: problem statement - project mission statement - project objectives - project work requirements - exit criteria - end item specifications - WBS - schedules - required resources - control system - major contributors - risk areas
- Planning tips pg 42

Chapter 4: Developing A Mission, Vision, Goals, & Objectives for the Project:
- A problem is a gap
- Vision defines done
- Mission, vision, problem statement chart pg 47
- Mission of every PM is to satisfy the customers needs
- 1. What are we going to do? 2. For whom are we going to do it?
- Objectives: what is our desired outcome? How will we know when we achieve it?
- Risk analysis pg 53

Chapter 5: Using The Work Breakdown Structure:
- WBS developed before schedule
- Break work down to a level sufficient to achieve estimating accuracy
- Assign responsibility for each part
- You cannot give a time/cost estimate without considering who will be performing the task
- Base on historical data
- Beware of Parkinson's law and variation
- List assumptions, +- numbers, things that may skew the estimate

Chapter 6: Scheduling Project Work:
- Critical pat determines the longest series of activities that can't be done in parallel
- Unless resource allocation is handled properly schedules are next to useless
- Schedule at a level you can manage
- Diagram what is possible then deal with resource constraints

Chapter 7: Producing a Workable Schedule:
- Harder to catch up than to stay on target

Chapter 8: Project Control & Evaluation:
- Having authority is no guarantee people will do your bidding. In the end people have to do it willingly
- Give people responsibility & control over what they are supposed to accomplish
- Self control needs 1. Clear definition of goal 2. Personal plan of how to do work 3. Skills & resources 4. Feedback on progress from the work 5. Clear definition of authority to take action & deviate from the plan
- If control systems do not result in action then the system is ineffective
- The simpler the status report the better

Chapter 9: Project Control Using Earned Value Analysis:
- There are only 4 responses to deviation from the plan: 1. Cancel the project 2. Ignore the deviation 3. Take corrective action 4. Revise the plan
- One of the hardest things to do is actually measure progress
- Variance formulas pg 118

Chapter 10: Managing The Project Team:
- Project management tools are necessary but not sufficient
- If you can't manage people you can't manage a project
- Have the team participate in planning to promote teamwork
- Getting the team organized: 1. Define what must be done using WBS, problem definition, etc. 2. Determine staffing requirements 3. Recruit the team 4. Complete your project plan with participation of the team
- Rules for developing commitment pg 138

Chapter 11: How To Make Project Management Work In Your Company:
- Leadership must show interest
- Reward good project management
- Train the team
- Plan small wins for people

Chapter 12: Project Management For Everyone:
- Tools should only be used when they give you an advantage

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Checking For Charity 2011

Checking For Charity recently closed out our books for 2011 and in our third year of existence we continued our upward trend in charitable distributions and in the size and professionalism of our tournament. I am very proud to announce that the 3rd Annual Checking For Charity Tournament distributed nearly $28,000.00 to 20 unique charities! Below are the distributions and charities that were involved in our tournament back in August.

A Division: 
TeamCharityAmount Distributed
Team Badski's WarriorsHomes For Our Troops $1,008.00
Selects Hockey Ed Snyder Youth Hockey Foundation $1,303.40
Lubers Children's Make A Wish Foundation $1,008.00
RAI - Team Orner Alicia Rose "Victorious" Foundation $1,121.00
Macho Madness Angels On Earth Foundation $1,121.00
Pirates M.A.B. Memorial Foundation $1,008.00
Dunphy A Cole McFarland Scholarship $1,008.00
Newmania Endometriosis Foundation $1,419.20
B Division:
TeamCharityAmount Distributed
Hawks Preeclampsia Foundation $1,008.00
Dunphy B The United Way of Camden County $1,303.40
Sunday Danglers Preeclampsia Foundation $1,121.00
Mt. Laurel Moose Alicia Rose "Victorious Foundation $1,008.00
Snyder Hockey Loungers Ed Snyder Youth Hockey Foundation $1,008.00
Ice-O-Topes Greg T Dalesio Memorial Foundation $1,008.00
Team M.S. National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation $1,008.00
Dangle Pies American Cancer Society $1,419.20
L.V.I.Ed Snyder Youth Hockey Foundation $1,121.00 

C Division:
TeamCharityAmount Distributed
Toad Slam Breastfest Philly $1,121.00
Patriots CHESPA $1,419.20
N.C. Chiefs American Heart Association $1,008.00
Charros Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation $1,303.40
Aqua Corp Aqua Corps $818.00*
The Boogeymen Defending The Blueline $1,008.00
Tele-Q Children's Cancer Research Center $1,121.00
NFCA National Foundation For Celiac Awareness $1,008.00

I couldn't be happier with how our tournament turned out and with our amazing board. Our continued growth is a testament to their efforts. Our growth has ushered in some new challenges as well and has renewed my focus on making Checking For Charity the best it can be. Below are some thoughts and lessons learned from our third and best event ever.

1. Leadership Still Matters - As you can tell from the content and the frequency of my posts over the last year, my life has been through a lot of ups and downs. The adversity and transitions I endured over the past year undoubted impacted my ability to effectively lead the Checking For Charity movement. When I look at the areas of our tournament that did not go well it is very easy for me to trace those struggles back to a lack of leadership on my part. Not an easy pill to swallow but one that has ultimately renewed my commitment to optimizing and growing Checking For Charity.

2. We Raised The Bar On Everything.....Including Expenses - Growth comes with a cost, and in the last year our cost......was costs! Our tournament was bigger and better in every way. We grew and improved every major metric we track from charitable distributions to teams and divisions in the tournament. Unfortunately our expenses began to increase at a greater rate than the money we raised for charity. That fact tells me two things. First off, it tells me that our model has reached a plateau in terms of the size we can make a single event. Secondly, it tells me that we need to focus less on growing an individual event and more on optimizing what we do well. In short we need to find our sweet spot and work on getting better results with less effort invested.

3. Ethos - Our group thrives on an open and collaborative team environment. We rely on unsolicited innovative ideas from our board and more importantly on the ingenuity of the board to bring those ideas to life. While that culture is great for continuous growth and empowering everyone to come up with great ideas, it can send the efforts of the organization in a lot of different directions. The last year made me realize that we need to focus in on who we are, what we are all about, and exactly who we are serving as an organization. We need to focus on our ethos.

4. Great Ideas Need Great Execution - As I discussed briefly above, we have a culture where all ideas are welcome. Our entire concept has been formed by individuals that have brought forth great ideas that the team ultimately rallied around. This year was no exception. Our tourney was bigger and better than ever, but there were some aspects that did not go as smoothly as we all would have liked. An idea, no matter how great it is, is just an idea until it actually gets executed. That is where the value of great idea is realized.

5. Cost Benefit Analysis, Money & Effort - Next year I would really like to take a hard look at cost benefit analysis for each proposed idea. Our tournaments are centered on two main principles. We raise as much money and awareness for charity as possible while putting on the most competitive and professional hockey events. These pillars of our success are not always pulling in the same direction and we must keep focus on balancing the two. In order to do that we need to take a harder look at the impact that each part of our business model is providing towards both those goals. We could put on the best tournament in the world and use up all the funds that we raised or we could put on a bare bones event and distribute a bit more in charitable donations. Neither end state is what we are about. We need to analyze the money, and more importantly the effort, that must be invested to carry out our team's great ideas to see if those ideas are worth pursuing or not.

6. Project Centric Approach - In order to continually improve, grow, and carry out our mission we need to transition to a project centric approach to managing the implementation of our tournament. This last year our board put in more time and effort than ever before. That effort resulted in a better tournament and increased proceeds to our represented charities. However, I am not sure that the increased efforts of the board resulted in the same magnitude of returns as in years past. The numbers don't lie and our time invested and tournament expenses have started to rise at a quicker rate than the size and proceeds of our tournament. We are all volunteers and I do not view that trajectory as sustainable. I need every one of the board members we have and I want them to want to be a part of our organization for the long haul. This is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and I would hate to have anyone burn out. We need to engage more volunteers and in order to do that we must give them a tangible project to carry out, lead, and make their own. The board will then seek to take on more of an advisory role. A work breakdown of what really makes up our tournament will enable us to do that and will allow us to more effectively manage the planning and execution of the event. It will also lay out a scalable model for us to expand to the west coast and beyond. This will be my focus over the coming months.

Please continue to check out as we will be launching a new and much improved website shortly. If you would like to get involved please do not hesitate to contact me or reach out to us on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review: A Place of Yes by Betheny Frankel

A Place of Yes by Betheny Frankel is not necessarily the first book I would grab off the shelf. In fact, I am sure I will lose some man points amongst my friends for openly admitting that I read the book. To be honest I don't really care. Betheny is awesome. She has made some of the "wifey shows" that I am dragged into watching bearable. She is the embodiment of the American dream and she is hilarious. So when my wife downloaded her book on my Kindle and I freed up some bandwidth from my reading queue I gave it a shot. 

There are a few things that drew me to reading her book and those same things are actually what allow me to relate to Betheny. I am referring to her entrepreneurial spirit and her ability/willingness to persevere through adversity. Rising from a challenging childhood and an unfulfilling early adulthood, Betheny was resilient and refused to settle. Traits I admire the older I get. She took some big risks, worked hard, and eventually sold the Skinny Girl margarita company for a reported $200+ million. People often lose sight of those accomplishments amidst her reality TV career but it is those accomplishments that gave her book credibility in my mind.

The book reads like a classic self help book, ten steps and all, which makes her life story and lessons a bit more tangible. But the real value for me wasn't necessarily realized in the ten steps. I found her personal trials and tribulations to be the most interesting and inspiring. I guess I just digest life lessons in story format a lot better than a textbook read. I think I may move on to some biographies in my next round of books as I really like the context that formula provides. 

The book isn't the best I have ever read, and to be honest I am probably not the target market either, but the book had some good lessons and I enjoyed it. If you are interested to read a real rags to riches story and to reinforce some good life lessons then check out her book. Below are some notes and quotes that I captured during my read. 


 Introduction: Who I am, what this book is about, and what you need to know before you begin:
- This book is about stop saying no and start saying yes to your own life
- Life is easier when you settle for less than your dreams, but good enough is not good enough for me
- Each chapter in the book tackles a rule
- 10 rules: Rule 1 Break the Chain, Rule 2 Find Your Truth, Rule 3 Act On It, Rule 4 Everything's Your Business, Rule 5 All Roads Lead To Rome, Rule 6 Go For Yours, Rule 7 Separate From The Pack, Rule 8 Own It, Rule 9 Come Together, and Rule 10 Celebrate
- A place of yes is not just being an optimist its an "it will happen because I will make it happen" kind of attitude
- Its not where you are all the time but its the place you go back to. Your home. The real you.
- Coming from a place of yes is about getting down to business. Its active not passive. Yes gives you something to do. A mission, a purpose, a goal.
- Noise is your inner doubt that holds you back and voice is what is good for you and what is right

Rule 1: Break The Chain:
- "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'" - Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady
- Everyone has noise that stems from childhood
- First step is breaking the link between what your family thinks of you and what you think of yourself. Who you are now doesn't have to be a product of your past.
- You must look back and recognize how your childhood has affected your life
- Don't get hung up on whether or not it was normal. There is no normal.
- Describes a rough childhood and how it impacted her

Rule 2: Find Your Truth:
-  "Accept no one's definition of your life, define yourself." - Harvey Fierstein, actor
- When you make a decision based on fear it never works out
- "We welcome passion, for the mind is briefly let off duty." - Mignon McLaughlin, journalist
- "Just because you made a mistake doesn't mean you are a mistake." - Georgette Mosbacher, cosmetics CEO and author
- "Diamonds are only chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs." Minnie Richard Smith, poet
- Every 9 year old boy wants to pitch for the yankees
- Don't give up on your dreams
- "Waiting, done at really high speeds, will frequently look like something else." - Carrie Fisher, actress and author

Rule 3: Act On It:
- "Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." - William Jennings Bryan, politician
- Focus on the general direction. You can't know how things are all going to play out but don't let that hold you back.
- Work hard, learn, do your best, and have fun!
- Action breeds confidence and courage
- "A man's errors are his portals of discovery" - James Joyce, novelist

Rule 4: Everything's Your Business:
- Treat everything you choose to do with as much importance as if your career depended on it
- "You make it to heaven, or you make it to hell, by your actions." - George Harrison, musician
- "Decide what you want, and decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work." - H.L. Hunt, entrepreneur and oil tycoon
- "A brand is a living entity and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures." - Michael Eisner, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company
- Don't let the world tell you what is or isn't a good idea
- "There are two types of people: the ones who give you 50 reasons it can't be done...and the ones who just do it." - Hoda Koth, host of the Today Show
- "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field" - Vince Lombardi, former Green Bay Packers football coach - Awesome quote!
- "The defining factor in success is never resources, it's resourcefulness." - Anthony Robbins, author and motivational speaker

Rule 5: All Roads Lead To Rome:
- "You have got to jump off cliffs, all the time, and build your wings on the way down." - Ray Bradbury, author
- The wrong thing can lead you to what is right
- "Don't make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you." - Maya Angelou, poet and author
- "The restaurant business is trying on a daily basis. You must be committed to facing challenges that seem impossible. But when its the moment of truth I just tell my team "Yes we can make this happen." That's how you separate yourself from the pack." - Bobby Flay, celebrity chef, restauranteur, Iron Chef, and cookbook author 
- "Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is everything." - Vince Lombardi. football coach
- Diamond scam story

Rule 6: Go For Yours:
- "Hell is the place for people who did not live their lives according to the best of what was in them." - Harriet Rubin, author and media consultant
-  "I don't have to be enemies with someone to be competitors with them." - Jackie Joyner Kersee, Olympic gold medalist
- There is a big difference between ambition and desperation
- Be yourself and have no regrets because something better may be right around the corner
- A great idea is worth about a nickel and making it work is hard
- "I've got a theory that if you give 100% all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end." - Larry Bird, former NBA player
- "Losing is the price we pay for living. It is also the source of much growth and pain."  - Judith Viorst, author
- "Your opponent, in the end, is never really the player on the other side of the net, or the swimmer in the next lane, or the team on the other side of the field, or even the bar you must high jump. Your opponent is yourself, your negative internal voices, your level of determination." 
- She learned that when she really goes for what she wants she wins even when she loses

Rule 7: Separate From The Pack:
- "In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different." - Coco Chanel, French Fashion designer
- "It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are." - e.e. cummings, poet 
- If you live your life trying to make others happy you will lose touch with what makes you happy
- Its not about being different it is about being yourself
- "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else." - Judy Garland, actress
- "Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new." - Brian Tracy, author and business consultant

Rule 8: Own It:
- "Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people." - Spencer Johnson, business author
- "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end there it is." - Winston Churchill, former prime minister of the UK
- "I believe in me. If I don't nobody else will." - Charles Barkley, former NBA basketball player
- "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." - William Shakespeare, playwright
- "True love stories never have endings." - Richard Bach, author

Rule 9: Come Together:
- To come together with others you have to know who you are
- "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stats in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." - Babe Ruth, Major League baseball player
- You don't have to understand others you just have to respect that their normal is different than yours
- "I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion." - Mia Hamm - professional soccer player

Rule 10: Celebrate:
- Celebrate what you want to see more of
- Celebrate your life. If you're not happy then what's the point?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Transition, The Status Quo, & An Ever-Present Enemy

It has been a long time since I have posted. A very long time. I almost feel guilty about it. But a lot has transpired since my last post on sacrifice. I have separated from the Air Force, travelled across country to settle back in Portland, OR, gone through one hell of a job search process, accepted a new position, started my new job, started searching for a house, not to mention the living my life part! It has been a roller coaster ride with many highs and lows, it has taught me some lessons, but most of all it has taught me about myself.

Transition is an interesting thing. There are very few moments in our lives where we really cross over into a new chapter. Most transitions are just slight iterations or developments of where we already are. And although those minor forks in the road are very important and defining in the aggregate, they are not nearly as beneficial introspectively as a major life changing transition like the one I am currently navigating.

My transition out of the military has forced me to really evaluate what I value, what I want my life to look like, and how I am going to make it happen. As I have discussed in many a post, happiness is always the ultimate goal for me and for my family. As evident by my last post on sacrifice, that doesn't mean that there aren't things or periods of happiness that you sacrifice in the name of long term fulfillment. But this transition has really been an amazing challenge in the sense that I had to make a lot of tough decisions regarding whether an option is worth it or not. Worth it in the short term, the long term, and in the entirety of the life I want to live.

Which leads to the next insight derived from my transition experience, that of the status quo. People are social beings. Undisputed. I believe that people are inherently good. Often disputed. With those contexts in mind I think that people are naturally inclined to default in some sense to the status quo, to push others to do the same, and at times to inadvertently give others horrible advice. I don't think that people want to offer poor advice they just innately find comfort in giving advice that is shared by others. Below are some real life examples and anecdotes that not only relevant to my situation but also illustrate my theory above.

"It is a tough economy out there."
"Aren't you scared to not get a job?"
"Why don't you stay in Boston and get a government civilian job?"
"You can't be too picky. People nowadays are just lucky to have a job."
"You might have to take a job you hate until you find something else that you really want."

Did some of these comments piss me off? Yeah, a little bit. Especially when I heard them 500 times. But going back to my initial thoughts, none of these comments were made with any ill intent. I was never mad at the person making the comment it was just the questioning in the aggregate that became frustrating. People give advice based on their own frame of reference and set of life values and as a whole many of those values align to a common theme. The challenge, when following your gut, is to keep a tight watch on what is best for YOU and not to let the constant pressure of the status quo influence your decision making. This was an enormous challenge for me especially when things got tough, when I was rejected, when I hit dead ends, or when nothing was happening at all. It was during times like these that I became all too familiar with the ever-present enemy.

My ever present-enemy is an enemy shared by all....self doubt. My parents gave me and my younger brother an incredible upbringing. I look back and feel like they raised us the 'right' way. They instilled within us a sense of humility and taught us to treat everyone with dignity and respect. They kept me grounded while encouraging me to achieve whatever I wanted. I attribute much of my long term success to those maxims being ingrained into who I am. I think being humble has not only helped me to get along with a wide variety of people throughout my life, but it has also kept me hungry and striving for more. But being humble can open you up to self doubt in the short term. Whether it has been in school, sports, the military, business, or life in general I have always battled self doubt as I am sure most people do. I have witnessed kids in hockey who are anything but humble, to the point that it negatively affects their team relationships, consistently reach heights beyond their ability just because they aren't paralyzed by self doubt. There are a lot of successful people out there who are successful because they attack life with a relentless self assurance. Although I wouldn't trade places with those people, I have taken notice at how they have overcome (or bypassed) fear to achieve their goals. In my case, overcoming fear or self doubt must be a much more conscious decision based on who I am. It is a challenge and one that I continually face at every stage of my life.

My transition to corporate life has been no exception and with the numerous ups and downs throughout the process I frequently faced self doubt and wondered if my goals and dreams were actually attainable. As the old cliche goes, hindsight is always 20/20, and looking back over the last few months I can start to see that my focus on my goals, refusal to accept the status quo, and my ability to overcome the ever-present enemy were all critical in my successful transition. It wasn't always easy but I can look back at this chapter as an embodiment of how to be resilient in pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Last Thursday was my last 'working' day in the Air Force. I look back and I cannot believe it has been nine years since I set foot on the Air Force Academy campus. Since I knew my departure was coming for quite some time I didn't have a very dramatic emotional experience on my last day, however I did welcome a feeling that everyone experiences throughout the course of their lives. I felt the familiar feeling you get when you know you have reached a crossroads. Last Thursday was the ending of an era for me and although I am extremely excited for the next chapter I will definitely miss many aspects of my Air Force life.

While reflecting on my time both as a cadet and as a member of the active duty Air Force I could not help but to think about sacrifice. The sacrifices I made, the ones my wife made, and how they have impacted our lives. I started thinking about the greater sacrifices that many members of the armed forces make. My reflection led me to another realization, one that I revealed during my departure speech in my unit.

While I was giving my departure speech to friends and coworkers I stated that "my military service gave me far more that I ever gave back. I imagine that statement will become even more true as time goes on and as I embark on new endeavors in the civilian world."

I truly believe that statement. That is not to say that I was bum who took all he could from the military and left, because I didn't, and I am very proud of what I contributed during my service. I was merely expressing my awe at how far I have come since the day I stepped into the dorms of the Air Force Academy.

So were those "sacrifices" really sacrifices if ultimately they benefited me and contributed to my growth and happiness? Maybe I am being naive or romanticizing in hindsight but actions that ultimately benefit you greatly don't really seem to embody what sacrifice stands for. It almost seems more like delayed gratification. Or better yet, an investment in the future. Was the bypassing of a traditional college experience for a regimented character building leadership laboratory really a sacrifice for me? Was the lack of control over where I lived and when a sacrifice, or did it merely expose me to new parts of the world that I never would have otherwise been privileged to? Did the nearly seven months I spent in Iraq away from my family and friends set me back forever or set me apart forever?

Without delving into the Back To The Future-esque arguments that compare what your life would have been like had an event not occurred, I think the point of my riff is that sacrifice is not as straight forward a concept as we may think. I can confidently say that the sacrifices my wife and I have made over the years had shaped us, improved us, and have given us a hell of a ride that we never would have experienced had we not had the foresight, and/or ignorance, to embrace.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review: Poke The Box

Poke The Box by Seth Godin was pretty much exactly what I was awesome. Seth has an uncanny ability to write short, hard hitting, meaningful statements that transcend profession or background and provide the reader with real life, actionable knowledge. Poke The Box is a self proclaimed manifesto about initiative. In short, the book is all about the importance of starting and failing, and how both contribute to doing something meaningful.

We send our kids to school and obsess about their test scores, their behavior and their ability to fit in. We post a help wanted ad and look for experience, famous colleges and a history of avoiding failure. We invest in companies based on how they did last quarter, not on what they’re going to do tomorrow. So why are we surprised when it all falls apart? Our economy is not static, but we act as if it is. Your position in the world is defined by what you instigate, how you provoke, and what you learn from the events you cause. In a world filled with change, that’s what matters — your ability to create and learn from change. Poke the Box is a manifesto about producing something that’s scarce, and thus valuable. It demands that you stop waiting for a road map and start drawing one instead. You know how to do this, you’ve done it before, but along the way, someone talked you out of it. We need your insight and your dreams and your contributions. Hurry.

The book is definitely a great read that I would recommend to a wide range of readers, however I think it resonates best with business and entrepreneurial minded people. Not only does the book help to shape your outlook towards initiating and failure, but it also inspires you to go out and start something.

I will keep my review relatively short since I have already partially reviewed the book on a previous post, and since I took notes that equate to about half the book! Typically I take notes on my books to singe particular lessons and important concepts into my mind. I only write when I feel it is an important passage or concept. As you can see my notes speak for themselves on the quality of Seth's latest work. Although the book is a fairly short read it took me forever to get through it because I spent the entire time taking notes! I guess that shows the quality and importance Seth places on each individual riff and rant. Below are my notes.

Poke The Box:
- The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.

The Initiator:
- Annie story page 41
- para pg 44-48
- This is a manifesto about starting

The Seventh Imperative:
- The world is changing too fast. Without the spark of initiative, you have no choice but to simply react to the world.
- 6 imperatives page 63
- The seventh imperative is to have the guts and the heart and the passion to ship

The difference of Go:
- Passage pg 78

The buzzer box:
- Uncle is an MIT PHD built a buzzer box for kid with lights and buzzers. To a child it is exciting to poke this and see what happens. Life is a buzzer box. Poke it.

The Elements of Production:
- Elements pg 100
- “All these elements are cheaper and easier to find than ever. Which makes the motive force so critical”

Walking in Circles:
- Study shows that lost people walk in circles. Don’t trust your senses because they’re not good enough. People need a map.
- If you’re brave enough to draw one, people will follow

Who Says Yes?:
- What do you do here?
- Almost no one says I start stuff
- Where is the VP of Starting? How many no’s have to be summated before you get to yes? Who is in charge of yes?

Poke the Box:
- How do programmers learn?
- The great ones all learn the same way. They code and see what happens, change it and see what happens, repeat until they figure out how it works.
- The box may be a computer, a market, a customer. It’s a puzzle that can be solved in one way – by poking!

What Can You Start?:
- You don’t have to be a famous entrepreneur to be an initiator
- People have come to the erroneous conclusion that if they’re not willing to start something separate, world changing, and risky they have no business starting anything.
- Somehow we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that the project has to have a name, a building, a stock symbol to matter

When Can You Start?:
- Soon is not as good as now

Kinds of Capital:
- What can you invest? What can your company invest?: 1. Financial capital 2. Network capital 3. Intellectual capital 4. Physical capital 5. Prestige capital 6. INSTIGATION CAPITAL

Double Double:
- In the old world innovation was sufficient to double profits
- In the Google world the competition is essentially infinite and innovation alone isn’t sufficient
- The only way to thrive is to double and then double again. Innovate on the way to innovating.

Is flux the same as risk?:
- Risk involves winning and losing
- Risk to some is bad because risk brings the possibility of failure
- People confuse flux and risk
- 2 mistakes: Risk is a bad thing and movement is bad as well
- These people are stuck
- Now the whole world is in flux
- If your project doesn’t have movement then compared to the rest of the world you are actually moving backward.
- Like a rock in a river, you might be still but given the movement around you collisions are inevitable. There is less turbulence around the log floating down the same river.
- The economy demands flux. Flux isn’t risky.

The trail of failure:
- List of people who have made a career out of starting on page 209

The epidemic:
- We are hardwired with fear in our lizard brain

The first rule of doing work that matters:
- Making a difference is hard
- Make your schedule before you start or your lizard brain will find ways to escape
- Show up

- What separates Google from just about every other startup?
- Google ignored Wall St and continued to invest in the new. Most initiatives fail. That’s fine. At least Google isn’t napping.

Your ego and your project:
- Somewhere ego became a dirty word. It’s not otherwise all great work would be anonymous and it’s not. Let it motivate you to initiate.

Redefining quality:
- Quality used to be “good enough”. Then “zero defect”. Now we expect it.
- Now we are beyond quality to remarkable which demands initiative.

Brainwashed by the pit boss:
- You can trust judgment of employees to improve or settle on the certainty of compliance. Most choose compliance.
- This causes organizations to be unable to innovate and promotes the bare minimum.

Why is this mediocre:
- We love to point out broken systems but rarely look at mediocre products and wonder why they aren’t great
- There is never a problem of getting a posse together to fix the broken. The upside and the challenge for you is to find the will and the energy to challenge the mediocre.

When in doubt:
- Quote page 285

Where did curious go?:
- Initiative is a little like creativity in that both require curiosity
- Not a search for the “right” answer but an understanding of how something works and how it can work better

Pick me! Pick me!:
- There is brainwashing that creative people or people with something to say must wait to be chosen
- Pick me mentality acknowledges the power of the system and passes the responsibility to someone else to initiate
- Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself!

The promoter and the organizer:
- Every organizer gets picked and the promoter does the picking. Why not be the promoter?

Entrepreneurship is merely a special case:
- Even entrepreneurs understand that a thriving organization needs more than one person creating change.

The seasons pass:
- Ski resorts sell a year long pass for the cost of a week.
- People who buy it realize it’s easier and cheaper to decide once than it is to decide over and over
- Initiation is like that
- Why not sell your boss and colleagues on being the initiator. It’s your job. You start things. Ask once. Do many.

No free lunch:
- Of course the challenge is you’ll be wrong. You will pick the wrong thing. You will waste time. You will be blamed.
- This is why being an initiator is valuable.
- Most people shy away from the challenge
- Initiative is scarce…..hence valuable.
- The fact is doesn’t work every time should give you confidence because it means you’re doing something that frightens others

Check In Chicken:
- 2 things you’re afraid of at every meeting: Things that might fail and things that might work

The lizard misunderstands the economics of poking:
- When the cost of poking the box is less than the cost of doing nothing you should poke the box
- You don’t shut down a steel mill to use untested technology
- Most of us don’t run steel mills. The cost of being boring is high.
- Our lizard brain exaggerates the cost of being wrong.

Polish this:
- Polishing loses benefit quickly and turns to stalling
- What if your reminder wasn’t to polish but to create

The Semmelweis Imperative:
- Poking also requires tact. You want change not anger/fear
- Semmelweis devoted his life to showing that lack of Drs hand washing was the cause of much of the death and disease
- He died alone and a failure
- He never explained why!
- He was a jerk and never tried to persuade

Welcome to project world:
- Most companies have been around for a decade or more and are based on scalability (Ford model T)
- The system is the system. Don’t mess with it.
- The new companies making an impact are shipping projects. Apple, Google, etc..
- After a project is shipped there is no useful work unless someone starts a new project!

The Ford system is dead. Long live the Ford system:
- You can’t cut prices forever
- The new Ford system is a stable and productive business platform that develops projects

What happened to excellence:
- Tom Peters changed the world with In Search of Excellence
- Excellence is about taking the initiative to do work you decide is worth doing
- Quote page 420

Business Development:
- Some orgs have business development teams. Most are horrible at it.
- This initiation capability is what every org needs but most are too scared

What’s next?:
- What differentiates humans from every other creature is our willingness to go places and explore. The factory has programmed the adventurous out of us.
- What's next is now the driving force for individuals and organizations. Ever onward. Ever faster.

If you see something say something:
- Examples where society will actually dampen our instinct to speak up on page 450

Allowed (not allowed):
- Most employees can give you a long list of things you aren’t allowed to do
- Allowed lists are harder to remember and write down
- Were afraid of how much freedom we actually have and how much we are expected to do with it

The death of idealism:
- Sooner or later many idealists transform themselves into disheartened realists who mistakenly believe that giving up is the same as being realistic

Don’t tell Woodie:
- Seth’s dog was trained with a shock collar in their yard. It broke a year ago but the dog can only leave the yard when he takes the collar off. The boundary is in his head not the system

I wonder what would happen:
- None of this works without curiosity
- Success minded people can follow instructions
- We’d all be happy to follow a map if it came with a guarantee
- There is no guarantee there are no maps
- The opportunity lies in pursuing curiosity instead

3000 TED Talks:
- TED conference morphed into TEDx with independent conferences and speakers
- 3000 talks later and it’s pretty clear that big ideas and unsettling concepts were not just the work of people who get paid to think that way
- That’s your opportunity. To approach your work in a way that generates unique learning and interactions that are worth sharing

The joy of wrong:
- Original Starbucks founder Jerry Baldwin just sold beans not coffee. Howard Schultz turned Starbucks into Starbucks.
- But what if the “wrong” Starbucks was never built?
- One led to the other but the usual route which is never a straight line
- The hardest part is the first one, the wrong one
- Poking doesn’t mean right. It means action.

The world is a lot more complicated than it appears:
- Google finds your answer, blogger tells you what to do, a book gives you steps to achieve, the company has a policy manual
- It’s enough to persuade you that all the answers are here and all we need from you is compliance
- Two forces driving this: Industrial age where we must make immediate decisions or the system is waiting or digital age where computers like only on or off not a maybe
- Initiative and starting are neither of these. They are about let’s see and try.
- Something new is often the right path when the world is complicated

- Quote page 524

“This might not work”:
- It’s ok to say those four words
- Change is powerful but always comes with failure as its partner

- The circus says the performers will attempt not perform. Attempt is something new, something risky, something interesting.
- Yoda was wrong when he said “Do or do not. There is no try.” There is a try and it’s the opposite of hiding

Take a lid off it:
- You already have good ideas, something to say, a vivid internal dialogue about what you could do and how you might make things better.
- There’s an engine running on better but often lies low

Starting implies (demands) finishing:
- What's the distinction between carrying around a great idea, being a brainstormer, and tinkering, and starting something?
- Starting means you are going to finish!
- At some point your work has to intersect the market. Otherwise it is merely a hobby.

Notions belong in the sewing store not in your work:
- We all have notions, inklings, hunches. This isn’t the same as poking the box.
- If you don’t finish it doesn’t really count as starting. And if you don’t start you aren’t poking.

Shipping and fear:
- As you get better at shipping your ability to instigate starts to fade as the fear that others will actually see it makes you scrutinize yourself more.

The initiator as outsider:
- Society isn’t nice to those who don’t fit in
- Great organizations have figured out how to turn the standard or status quo on its head
- The best way to become an insider, leader, someone who matters is to initiate

Winning the Halloween contest (now vs. later)
- Easiest way to win is to tell your kid what to do
- Easiest way to lose is to let him sit there
- The easy way may be the best in the short run
- In the long run though all you’ve done is taught conformity and punished initiation
- Quote page 590

The kid who made a ruckus:
- Kids initiate. They create situations. They start ruckuses. All of them. The essence of being human is to initiate.
- But we aren’t left to our own devices and cease troublesome behavior. Most of us.
- Those who don’t are still busy starting things big and small.
- We can unbrainwash ourselves while there’s still time

The best thing I ever done:
- Don opened up a pizza joint in NYC
- What would his life have been like had he spent more time thinking about and evaluating whether his handcrafted life’s work was a good idea?

How did you end up with this job?:
- Typically a few unlikely breaks and unadorned initiative
- People get good gigs because they stand up
- Annie Duke the poker player set out to fail often enough to get good

The person who fails the most usually wins:
- Once and big is not the most
- Never and you’re lucky or you’ve never shipped anything
- Fail, succeed, fail, fail, succeed, - you get the idea

Juggling is about throwing not catching:
- That’s why juggling is so difficult. Were conditioned to make the catch. To not drop the ball.
- If you get better at throwing the catches take care of themselves
- The only way to get better at throwing is to throw again and again

A paradox of success:
- People with credibility and resources are so busy trying to hold on to them they fail to bring ideas to market.
- The greatest challenge is finding the guts to risk that success in order to accomplish something great

How to walk to Cleveland:
- Shipping is an event. Life before you ship. The moment you ship. Then life after.
- Starting isn’t like that. It is a series of events.
- You start walking to Cleveland. The next day you have to start again.
- Keep starting until you finish.

The go of science:
- One company invented the laser printer, mouse, onscreen windows, and a frame buffer for special effects in movies in 24 months.
- The team had the expectation of initiation and you couldn’t be a star unless you started something audacious
- Al great science works that way. An individual does something audacious, counters the status quo, pursuing a dream that seems ridiculous at first.

The fear of wrong:
- It’s not surprising we hesitate. Starting maximizes the chances of ending up wrong.
- The boss hassles, disciplines, humiliates, fires people who are wrong
- If you’re not wrong that’s not going to happen
- On the other hand, the boss finds someone who never starts, criticizes and plays devil’s advocate and hassles, disciplines, humiliates, fires them
- Wait that never happens in a factory centric organization
- In the new network focused economy the innovation focused organization has no choice but to obsess on those who don’t start
- Today not starting is far far worse than ending up wrong.

10000 hours of hard work and an overnight success:
- Hollerado band used to show up to shows far away from home and say their show down the street got cancelled then they would ask to play and it worked. They would sell burned cds at the local hot topic.
- Released their first cd free online
- Booked a residency tour playing the same bar on the same night during each week 7 nights a week
- Started a label and released a cd in a bag
- 4 years of doing something new, seeing what works, and doing it again

The market is obsessed with novelty:
- So go make some. Were tired of your old stuff.

Organizing for joy:
- Orgs and corporations are organized for efficiency and consistency not for joy
- Joy comes from surprise and connection and humanity and transparency and new
- McDonalds, Hertz, Dell, and others crank it out by lowering costs and measuring output
- The problem is that when you approach the asymptote of maximum efficiency there’s not a lot of room for improvement. Making your nuggets for .0000001 cents less doesn’t boost profit much
- Worse the nature of the work is unremarkable
- The alternative is to organize for joy
- The relentless act of invention, innovation, and initiative is the best marketing asset

To be really clear:
- Quote page 723

How to do vs. what to do:
- Often we turn to authors and experts for what to do
- There’s no shortage of to do knowledge
- There’s a shortage of people willing to do it

There is no just in just do it:
- The problem with the Nike slogan is the implication that all you have to do to take the initiative is to take initiative, that it’s a matter of will
- You’re not a starter because you haven’t been sold on the idea, haven’t been trained, or rewarded consistently enough to get into habit
- Now you know what's at stake the rest is up to you

The adventures of Andre and Wally B:
- Movie for son with digital animation. It freaked him out and wasn’t made into a feature film
- Was starting a mistake? How bad did he fail?
- John has won 6 academy awards and key in the evolution of Pixar, the most successful film company of all time. No one else comes close.
- John starts things

The space between the frames:
- The secret to comics is the space between the frames
- This between the frames actions is what makes poking the box so powerful. Action is easy once you have a plan. Formatting a plan is a rare and powerful skill

Why growth happens early:
- Almost all real job growth occurs in the first days
- Once they hit stability they replace workers not invent new jobs
- In the early days no one is sure what needs to be done. It’s not a job it’s a passion, mission, experiment
- Companies that grow after 5 years embrace the discipline of poking

The right thing to do:
- There’s a moral obligation to start. If you’ve got the ability to make a difference you must
- You owe it to others to start. To initiate. To be the one who makes something happen. To do less is to steal from them.

A lunch meeting:
- Boss at Yahoo told Seth to sit in cube and await instructions
- His advice if this sounds familiar: 1. Ignore this book (for now) 2. Start looking for a new gig ASAP
- Or ignore your boss if you’re really bold and allow everything to work out in the end.

When it falls apart:
- XFL was a total failure
- “So?” It wasn’t so bad. Everyone came out alright and probably better compared to those who didn’t have the guts to start.
- It’s impossible to have a success only policy. That policy itself guarantees no successes.

Not what I expected to find:
- Part of initiating is being willing to discover that what you end up with is different than what you set out to do.
- Starting doesn’t mean controlling. It means initiating. Managing means controlling but that’s an entirely different skill

What could you build?:
- So many doors are open, so much leverage available. If you could build anything (you can) what would it be?
- If you are afraid to start maybe you haven’t fully understood the cost of not starting

Poking Twitter:
- Watch people new to Facebook or Twitter. They post something and people respond
- That’s not the starting I am talking about. It’s not a real poke, real shipping, real change.
- If you can’t fail it doesn’t count!

Initiating is an intentional act:
- No one answers the phone, goes to a meeting, or reads an email by mistake. Most of what we do is intentional with preparation
- Starting is like that
- We can schedule for it, train for it, plan for it, announce it, and even hire for it.
- Why not invest in starting?

When public school forbids the act of starting:
- It’s not in the curriculum is it?
- How much time do we spend challenging our kids to initiate?
- Is it any wonder why we don’t teach this mindset? Factories and managers don’t want spunk or even innovation they generally seek compliance.
- We rely on the disobedient few for innovation but today innovation is our only option

The expensive act of planning on late:
- When you’re late there’s not a lot of choice, decision, initiative
- Run down the path you’ve taken before
- Late gives us cover. It permits us to trample forward without creativity or panache
Late might be useful but it’s expensive to avoid choice.

Dandelion Mind:
- Humans protect our offspring for to lose one would be a great tragedy
- Dandelions spout out thousands of seeds into the air and many end up on a sidewalk somewhere
- The important thing is every spring every crack in every sidewalk is filled with dandelions
- That is how you should treat your ideas, innovations, and creativity
- When was the last time you were promiscuous with your failures?

Riding a bike and being an adult:
- Helping a kid ride a bike and he had a ton of reasons he didn’t want to learn. Turns out the main reason was that he was afraid
- Were extremely adept at hiding our fear
- The point of this manifesto is not to magically extinguish your fear. It’s to call its bluff. Identifying the fear is the first step to making it go away

What to do with good ideas:
- Are you one of those people? Too busy inventing to actually instigate
- 2 things fix this: 1. Start 2. Ship

Fear on the left fear on the right:
- Many fear the start but some do the opposite. Start and then drop it
- The center is where we resonate with the market

It doesn’t hurt to ask:
- Actually it does if you don’t ask in the right way
- Instead of propositioning everyone invest some time in building relationships

Buzzer management:
- The best way to lose at Jeopardy has nothing to do with preparation or smarts. It’s not being good at using the buzzer
- Like most things that matter starting is not a black and white process. If you aren’t making an impact think about how you use the buzzer

Fear of hubris:
- Lesson of Icarus is burned into all of us
- Were trained to fit in not to stand out
- We spend most of our days waiting for permission to start
- It’s not hubris its essential

Starting as a way of life:
- It gets easier. The simple act of initiating is actually profoundly transformative
- Forward motion is a defensible business asset

- Halloween is not safe, flying is not safe, selling is not safe
- Innovation is not safe. You’ll fail. Perhaps badly.
- What are you going to do about it? Hide? Work as hard as you can to fit in? That’s not safe either.
- Might as well do something that matters instead

GO! GO! GO!:
- para 974
- "There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth. Not going all the way, and not starting." - Siddhartha Gautama