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The Cluetrain Manifesto

95 Theses

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about "listening to customers." They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.

However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets.

Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.

  1. Markets are conversations.

  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

  6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

  7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

  8. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

  9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

  10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

  11. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

  12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

  13. What's happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called "The Company" is the only thing standing between the two.

  14. Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

  15. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

  16. Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.

  17. Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves.

  18. Companies that don't realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.

  19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

  20. Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

  21. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.

  22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

  23. Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.

  24. Bombastic boasts—"We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ"—do not constitute a position.

  25. Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

  26. Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

  27. By speaking in language that is distant, uninviting, arrogant, they build walls to keep markets at bay.

  28. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what's really going on inside the company.

  29. Elvis said it best: "We can't go on together with suspicious minds."

  30. Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable—and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed.

  31. Networked markets can change suppliers overnight. Networked knowledge workers can change employers over lunch. Your own "downsizing initiatives" taught us to ask the question: "Loyalty? What's that?"

  32. Smart markets will find suppliers who speak their own language.

  33. Learning to speak with a human voice is not a parlor trick. It can't be "picked up" at some tony conference.

  34. To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.

  35. But first, they must belong to a community.

  36. Companies must ask themselves where their corporate cultures end.

  37. If their cultures end before the community begins, they will have no market.

  38. Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.

  39. The community of discourse is the market.

  40. Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.

  41. Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce.

  42. As with networked markets, people are also talking to each other directly inside the company—and not just about rules and regulations, boardroom directives, bottom lines.

  43. Such conversations are taking place today on corporate intranets. But only when the conditions are right.

  44. Companies typically install intranets top-down to distribute HR policies and other corporate information that workers are doing their best to ignore.

  45. Intranets naturally tend to route around boredom. The best are built bottom-up by engaged individuals cooperating to construct something far more valuable: an intranetworked corporate conversation.

  46. A healthy intranet organizes workers in many meanings of the word. Its effect is more radical than the agenda of any union.

  47. While this scares companies witless, they also depend heavily on open intranets to generate and share critical knowledge. They need to resist the urge to "improve" or control these networked conversations.

  48. When corporate intranets are not constrained by fear and legalistic rules, the type of conversation they encourage sounds remarkably like the conversation of the networked marketplace.

  49. Org charts worked in an older economy where plans could be fully understood from atop steep management pyramids and detailed work orders could be handed down from on high.

  50. Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

  51. Command-and-control management styles both derive from and reinforce bureaucracy, power tripping and an overall culture of paranoia.

  52. Paranoia kills conversation. That's its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies.

  53. There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market.

  54. In most cases, neither conversation is going very well. Almost invariably, the cause of failure can be traced to obsolete notions of command and control.

  55. As policy, these notions are poisonous. As tools, they are broken. Command and control are met with hostility by intranetworked knowledge workers and generate distrust in internetworked markets.

  56. These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking the same language. They recognize each other's voices.

  57. Smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner.

  58. If willingness to get out of the way is taken as a measure of IQ, then very few companies have yet wised up.

  59. However subliminally at the moment, millions of people now online perceive companies as little more than quaint legal fictions that are actively preventing these conversations from intersecting.

  60. This is suicidal. Markets want to talk to companies.

  61. Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false—and often is.

  62. Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall.

  63. De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you.

  64. We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.

  65. We're also the workers who make your companies go. We want to talk to customers directly in our own voices, not in platitudes written into a script.

  66. As markets, as workers, both of us are sick to death of getting our information by remote control. Why do we need faceless annual reports and third-hand market research studies to introduce us to each other?

  67. As markets, as workers, we wonder why you're not listening. You seem to be speaking a different language.

  68. The inflated self-important jargon you sling around—in the press, at your conferences—what's that got to do with us?

  69. Maybe you're impressing your investors. Maybe you're impressing Wall Street. You're not impressing us.

  70. If you don't impress us, your investors are going to take a bath. Don't they understand this? If they did, they wouldn't let you talk that way.

  71. Your tired notions of "the market" make our eyes glaze over. We don't recognize ourselves in your projections—perhaps because we know we're already elsewhere.

  72. We like this new marketplace much better. In fact, we are creating it.

  73. You're invited, but it's our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel!

  74. We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

  75. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

  76. We've got some ideas for you too: some new tools we need, some better service. Stuff we'd be willing to pay for. Got a minute?

  77. You're too busy "doing business" to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we'll come back later. Maybe.

  78. You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.

  79. We want you to drop your trip, come out of your neurotic self-involvement, join the party.

  80. Don't worry, you can still make money. That is, as long as it's not the only thing on your mind.

  81. Have you noticed that, in itself, money is kind of one-dimensional and boring? What else can we talk about?

  82. Your product broke. Why? We'd like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she's not in?

  83. We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal.

  84. We know some people from your company. They're pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you're hiding? Can they come out and play?

  85. When we have questions we turn to each other for answers. If you didn't have such a tight rein on "your people" maybe they'd be among the people we'd turn to.

  86. When we're not busy being your "target market," many of us are your people. We'd rather be talking to friends online than watching the clock. That would get your name around better than your entire million dollar web site. But you tell us speaking to the market is Marketing's job.

  87. We'd like it if you got what's going on here. That'd be real nice. But it would be a big mistake to think we're holding our breath.

  88. We have better things to do than worry about whether you'll change in time to get our business. Business is only a part of our lives. It seems to be all of yours. Think about it: who needs whom?

  89. We have real power and we know it. If you don't quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that's more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

  90. Even at its worst, our newfound conversation is more interesting than most trade shows, more entertaining than any TV sitcom, and certainly more true-to-life than the corporate web sites we've been seeing.

  91. Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future.

  92. Companies are spending billions of dollars on Y2K. Why can't they hear this market timebomb ticking? The stakes are even higher.

  93. We're both inside companies and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin Wall today, but they're really just an annoyance. We know they're coming down. We're going to work from both sides to take them down.

  94. To traditional corporations, networked conversations may appear confused, may sound confusing. But we are organizing faster than they are. We have better tools, more new ideas, no rules to slow us down.

  95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How I "Do" GTD

This is the follow-up to a previous post on my GTD tools, where I'll share my process for GTD, and how I use the tools.

In the beginning there was a big pile of stuff on my desk, and a couple of drawers filled with who-knows-what. It didn't help that we had just moved and some of my reference books and papers were still in boxes. The stage was perfectly set for a thorough organizing. I picked up my copy of Getting Things Done and followed the instructions. I was inspired by the following quote from page 87, 'Much of learning how to manage workflow in a "black belt" way is about laying out the gear and practicing the moves so that the requisite thinking happens more automatically and it's a lot easier to get engaged in the game.'

So I gathered everything that I wanted to incorporate into my system, as well as all of the tools listed on page 92. Then I attacked the stacks and boxes, applying the rules to each item: Is it actionable? If no, then trash it, tickle it, or file it. If yes, then do it (if it takes less than 2 minutes), delegate it, or defer it.

After this massive purge-and-organize session, I was left with a clean home office and a stack of loose-leaf paper with ideas and notes on them. I had made my 48-folder Tickler File, and Reference Files for every topic that I had come across (utility bills, bank statements, printouts from blogs, web reference material, etc.).

Finally, I sat down with my folders and went over the list of "Triggers" on page 114 in order to clear my head of ideas, incomplete projects, what have you. I wrote down each thing on its own piece of paper, and laid them out on the floor. Categories appeared naturally ( i.e. Computer, Home, Work, etc) and I stacked like things together. The "Trigger" list was invaluable in helping to clear all of this information from the back of my mind. When this was complete I started to organize these loose papers by filing the appropriate sheets in the Tickler File, Reference File, or into a coherent system of lists in order to start the Next Actions needed to complete them. These lists were copied onto 3"x5" cards for my hPDA.

Now, with my Calendar, the hPDA, my Tickler File, and a Capture Notebook I was all set. Or so I thought. Each morning I get up and check the Tickler File for any notes, then sit down with the Calendar and hPDA to organize my day. At the end of the day, I sit down and make sure that any Next Actions that have been completed have been marked off, any notes are filed or scheduled, and everything is captured. If any of the cards need to be replaced or updated, I do it at this time, and archive the old card for the end-of-the-month review.

Of course, this routine has evolved a bit, and the notes that I generate from the Weekly Review are archived for Monthly Review also. I have also winnowed the number of categories down, as tasks have been completed and Contexts have been more clearly defined. I have also created a 3-ring binder for a Tickler File at work, and a second 3-ring binder for a Customer Tracking system that I put together. Now when I get to work, I go through a second iteration of planning for the day.

The hPDA and a Pocketmod are used to capture ideas and customer information when I am away from my desk. The Capture Notebook is split into sections where I write down ideas, books that I come across that I'd like to remember, and so on. There is also a section for jotting down interesting websites that I encounter.

So far, the system is working, very well in fact. The only glitches that I have run into are being disciplined about the evening consolidation and keeping to the Weekly Review. I know that it can be improved, and as time goes on it will continue to evolve, and I will keep you posted.

I would appreciate your feedback, suggestions or tips in the comments.

This is Called Serendipity

I was reviewing the Ultimate GTD Index this morning, and I followed the link to this post ( Shift Happens ). You need to go there and watch the video. Then come back and finish reading.
It's okay, I'll wait.

You may have noticed a button on the right-hand sidebar of To Do or Else, all the way at the bottom, called Blidget Badge. The mission:

Wigetbox widgets make blogging better, smarter and easier.
We Make Widgets Come Alive

Once a widget is on your blog, you can reconfigure it to your heart’s content without going near HTML. Developers can fix bugs and upgrade your widget’s functionality without you having to re-install the HTML code.
We Make Your Blog Smarter

Widgetbox widgets can respond to your blog posts and website content. We call these widgets “Tag Aware”. Here’s some things you can do with it. We’ll be adding more smart blog features in the coming months.
Widget Panels

Widgetbox widget panel lets you drag and drop widgets onto a special panel in your blog. Never deal with widget installation again!

How very interesting. I took a few minutes to build a blidget, you can find it in the upper left sidebar. Check it out. Let me know what you think you can do with this. I will play with it some more, and give an update.

UPDATE: Lawrence Coburn at Sexy Widget posts a review of WidgetBox here:

Widget service provider Widgetbox (site, review) has just launched Blidgets – a tool that lets publishers convert RSS feeds into Flash widgets.

Widgetbox joins SpringWidgets and MuseStorm as providers of Flash RSS widgets, along with start pages like YourMinis and PageFlakes.

Converting your RSS feed into a widget with Widgetbox has a couple of advantages. For example, the Blidget tool makes it easy to add an image to your widget, which can be helpful for branding or presentation purposes. Publishing a widget through Widgetbox also signs you up for Widgetbox’s free stats package which tracks page views by date and page views by domain. Finally, there’s a distribution aspect as well. Publishing with Widgetbox automatically drops you into Widgetbox’s widget gallery, which in my opinion, is the most polished and well presented widget directory out there.

I had no problems finding the Blidget tool, which is located prominently on the Widgetbox home page. One very minor point that I appreciated – although I wasn’t logged in when I launched the tool, it didn’t direct me immediately to the login page. It let me build my widget, and THEN allowed me to login. Little things like this can make a big difference in adoption.

Read the whole thing, then pop over to WidgetBox and check it out.

The Weekly Review

The importance of the weekly review cannot be stressed enough. I have only been on the GTD program for a couple of months, so I am still integrating it into my life and work. I must admit that I did not do my review on Friday, as it was scheduled, and my weekend was a mess, followed by a less-than-stellar Monday. I did my review this morning and have uncovered some weaknesses. What is missing is a checklist, a 'mini-tickler' that exists for me to make sure that nothing fell through the cracks. So I did a little research and this is what I have come up with:

  1. Review Tickler file
  2. Go through Inbox
    • Pay/schedule Bills
    • Update Checkbook
    • File Receipts
    • File papers and notes
    • Clean out wallet
    • Review and Clean hPDA
  3. Calendar Review
    • Close or forward incomplete items
    • Sync Gcal and diary
    • Handle e-mail
  4. Project Review
    • Close and archive completed projects
    • Update current and forthcoming work
    • Is the project still worthwhile?
    • What is in @Waiting for?
    • Log ideas for new projects
    • Update current project list
  5. Next Action review
    • Is the project still worthwhile
    • What is being waited on?
  6. Review Someday/Maybe
  7. Review Support/Reference files
  8. Brainstorm Creative ideas

I am feeling much more centered and in control. I am sure that everything has been addressed and logged, and I look forward to a much more productive day.

How do you do the Weekly Review? Was this post helpful? Let's brainstorm-

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Is Something Missing from GTD?

So here I am, doing some research for an upcoming post and I come across an article at Steve Pavlina's blog about what is missing from the GTD system:

I love the standard GTD system, but it’s a low-level system. It is absolutely wonderful for managing projects and actions. The results for me have been amazing, and I’ve gotten really good at applying it. I still use it every single day, even for my personal projects and tasks. And I love the results. My email inbox is empty. My inbox is empty. I just never let my email inbox or my paper inbox get cluttered. I get a lot of email every day, and new papers pop into my inbox every day. But I’m always processing them down until they’re empty. And I feel very relaxed and focused, able to concentrate easily without worrying about some email I need to reply to. I have no stacks of paper anywhere in my office. Everything I need to save is neatly filed. The GTD system really does work brilliantly if you stick with it. It took me a few months to really get the hang of it, but it was definitely worth the effort.

What’s missing from GTD though is the high-level part of the system. It starts at the level of projects, but where are these projects coming from? I think the assumption behind GTD is that these projects are assigned by your boss or your company. Or maybe you run your own business and just have a lot of previous projects stacked up before you ever learn about GTD. But how do you know if these projects are even worth doing at all? How do you even know you’re working at the right job in the first place? Instead of getting better and better at plowing through your existing work, doesn’t it make sense to take a step back and figure out if your ladder of success is even leaning against the right building? What about using GTD in your personal life? Where do your personal projects come from?
The "higher level" thinking that Steve Pavlina is talking about are the "40,000 feet" and "50,000 feet" levels of thinking that David Allen addresses, briefly, in chapter two of his book Getting Things Done. The 40,000 foot level is your 3-to-5 year vision and the 50,000 foot level is "the Big Picture view". Pavlina's perception is that these two levels of thinking are of vital importance, yet there is not nearly as much information in the book or system on defining these modes of thinking as there is on the lower-level realms of Thinking and Next Actions.

I agree with his assesment, but I feel the need to defend the "lack" of high-level purpose definitions. I would not say that these elements are "missing" from the system, they are simply beyond the scope of the system.

GTD is a framework for accomplishing the things that need to get acomplished in a true bottom-up fashion. The essential elements of this framework work best on your immediate responsibilities and apply to nearly everyone, and can be implemented across any number of platforms (Outlook, Gmail, Stikkit, pen-and-paper, you name it). Even the moderately higher-level areas of activity such as strategic planning and 1-to-2 year goals can be defined, codified and accomplished with the basic elements of the GTD system for nearly every user.

The highest-levels of operating and thinking, however, tend to diverge quite a bit from person to person. Pavlina touches on that here:

It makes no sense to blindly apply standard GTD unless you’ve already secured the top level elements of purpose, mission, and goals. Otherwise you’re doomed to spend your life working on other people’s goals and losing yourself in the process.

The top-level elements and motivations, the values and principles of each individual vary greatly from person to person. So this is where a book like Getting Things Done must be a bit more vague. These high level values can only be defined by each individual, and a variety of other resources have to be used. When this process has been completed, then you can procede to use the excellent tools provided by GTD to accomplish the smaller tasks that will lead to the fulfillment of your highest aspirations.

Some time ago, I went through this process of self-definition, (not easy at all) and put together a statement of sorts that encompasses the highest-level of principles and values.

My own higher level statement.

My current practice, then, is to accomplish my tasks and projects and goals in a meaningful way. As Pavlina concludes:

Before you can get things done, you must consciously choose those “things” you want to be doing. Before you put yourself into a state of readiness, you must consciously define what you want to be ready for. Knowing your life’s purpose is the answer. It provides the context for readiness and for action. It turns generic readiness into “ready to speak,” “ready to write,” “ready to love,” etc. Purpose turns “getting things done” into “giving life meaning.” When you ultimately work at the level of projects and actions, they’re infused with purpose. Your purpose. Your mission. Your very reason for existence. Every paper you shuffle, every word you type, every project you complete — they now mean something. They’re a part of a larger whole, a deep expression of who you truly are. But those very same actions, blindly assigned by someone else for no great purpose, become lifeless. Just things to get done instead of a great purpose to be fulfilled.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Intellectual Property for Sale

Here is a fantastic opportunity for a Web Entrepreneur- the Odeo website is for sale:

In the last few months, we here at Obvious have been increasingly focused on Twitter. As a result, our original product, Odeo, has not gotten the attention it deserves.

It does not cost us much to run—in fact, AdSense covers the hosting—but on the web you need to constantly improve, or fade away. We've put too much into Odeo to want to see it fade away. And it still has tons of potential. But we're not improving it fast enough.

It seems likely Odeo is worth more to someone else than it is to us at this point, so we're looking for a new home for it. We've been having some conversations with potential buyers, and this is our attempt to put the word out more widely in the most expeditious way (and without involving investment bankers and the like). If we don't get any attractive offers, we'll continue to run it.

To clarify, what we're talking about is selling odeo.com and studio.odeo.com, including all code, the domain, brand, database of three million MP3s, etc. Not a company, but a site and platform that could be ramped up to something much bigger.

Odeo is (from the website): "3,001,268 mp3s from all over the web, which have been played from Odeo 12,775,375 times.

You can download or play them straight from here for free. (You can also put them on your web site.)

And like 252,684 other people, you can create an account, so you can subscribe to things and save the stuff you like."

And it is not just music. In fact the tags for productivity and technology led me to be able to install the nifty widget you see to the right, with Merlin Mann's interview of David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done.

In fact, with 3 million MP3s from "all over the web" , Odeo has the potential to be a vast resource that Web Entrepreneurs can leverage for their own sites, or a time-eating nightmare if you aren't careful about the surfing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My GTD System

Here is a description of the tools I use for Getting Things Done:

48 Folders for a Tickler File: Numbered 1-31 for the current month, and 1-5 for the first week of the next month, and then January thru December. In the same file are all of my Reference folders for every topic imaginable.

Three-Ring Binder for a Tickler File: I keep this at work for tracking future events.

Three-Ring Binder for Daily Activities: In my capacity as a Sales Consultant I track my customers, appointments, and current sales activity.

Zipper Case: I picked up a nice leather planner that zips closed for $10 at Target. I got tired of printing my Outlook pages and punching them for the planner, so I went out and bought a pre-printed planner that fits inside the planner cover. I pulled the rivets that held the ring-binder in the cover and removed the rings. It is now a mini-briefcase that I use to carry my essentials. I keep a Pilot .5 G2 in the pen loop, and a PaperMate .5 Mega Lead mechanical pencil loose inside. I tuck a few blank 3”x5” cards into the front pocket, along with some business cards. In addition to a pad of 3”x3” Post-Its I keep my calendar and a small notebook in the case.

Yearly Calendar: A 5.5” x 8.5” calendar with a leather cover and stitched spine. I took a razor and cut out the pages from the front that I did not need. Then I glued in a couple of pages that had personal reference information, and a divider tab that I cut down from a manila folder. Because I had removed about 10 sheets there was room for me to clip a handful of 3”x5” cards to the tab without making the cover bulge out.
I only write appointments, my work schedule, and time-specific Next Actions in the calendar. These are all color-coded: green ink for appointments, black ink for the schedule, and red ink for Next Actions. On the top margin of the right-hand page I write an inspirational quote from Jeff Gitomer's Red Book of Selling.

At the back of the book, I cut out the Area Code pages and glued in some more of my own material, including the Bootstrapper's Manifesto for more inspiration. After this were about 30 pages for Notes, so I added a blank sheet for an Index and a self-adhesive tab to mark the Notes section. This is where I put some more Sales Techniques, a list of the 7 Habits, and the GTD workflow process, GTD Natural Planning and so on. As I come across other information that I 'd like to keep handy, I will write it in.

In order to add some more storage space, I made my own accordion pocket and glued it to the inside of the back cover. In here I keep (more) blank 3”x5” cards, a short stack of 3”x3” Post-its, a spare PocketMod, and my business cards.

Capture Notebook: I picked up a 3-pack of 3”x5” notebooks (much cheaper than Moleskines) that I use for capturing information. I added 4 self-adhesive tabs to break the book into sections:

Section 1 is for Next Actions.

Section 2 is for books that I may want to purchase.

Section 3 is for websites to review, software to check out, or any other computer-related information.

Section 4 is for copying down interesting quotes, pictures, or other media that I find interesting.

Section 5 is for Someday/Maybe stuff, and Project notes or Brainstorming ideas.

There is a pocket at the back (like a Moleskine), where I keep blank 3”x5” cards, filled out Project cards, and some of my business cards.

And this is what it looks like, all packed up and ready to go:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

People You Should Know

Remarkably, from CNN.com:

By David E. Williams

(CNN) -- Management consultant David Allen is a best-selling author, runs a multimillion dollar company and travels the country teaching executives to be more productive.

Allen, 61, is best known for his book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity." The book, published in 2001, was the 46th most popular book on Amazon.com on Thursday.

He may seem like an unlikely Internet hero, but legions of bloggers have embraced his timesaving methods. A quick Google search for David Allen and "Getting Things Done" turned up more than 1.3 million hits.

Allen said "Getting Things Done," or GTD, is "just advanced common sense," but he said it took him about 20 years to figure it out.

Getting Things Done and the Seven Habits

I have been thinking of writing a post on the relationship between the GTD philosophy and Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People".

Lucky for me, searching4arcadia has beat me to it:

Bringing it all together:

Ok, so to bring it all together. Covey helps you to understand the major areas of your life you wish to do things in, and helps you to think about what you want to accomplish in them in the long run. He explains the concept of important, unimportant, urgent, not-urgent tasks, and which areas to work in. He helps you to see that you should only be concerned ultimately with your circle of influence (which includes yourself and your emotional responses to things that are outside your influence), and helps you to see that you need to keep the important things (first things) first. David Allen helps you to take those things that you are trying to get done, organize them in such a way that you have actual actions to work on, and know when and where to work on them, or what to do with them if you don’t know where they should go. He helps you to get them the heck out of your mind, so they stop bugging you all the time while you’re trying to do your work. He is your day-to-day trust it like a rock, system. And finally, M.Scott Peck highlights the fact that you aren’t an idiot, if you spend time on the item at hand that’s difficult, you can and will get it done. As well, you should realize if you are putting your problems onto someone/something else. Stay true to the reality of the world. The world includes pain.. you can’t ignore the pain, or the tasks that are painful… hoping they’ll go away on their own. If they stay neglected, you’ll have long-term pain (urgent and important tasks burning holes in your desk). So, best get it done in the short term, and delay your gratification until you’ve got that short term pain out of your way. This way your mind will be free to relax and enjoy that well-deserved pleasure.

Read the whole thing!

Check out the other GTD tagged posts here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Marissa Mayer gave a talk at Stanford on Entrepreneurial Thought at Google, and what has made Google so successful. You can listen to the podcast here.

The major points are summarized below:

  1. Ideas come from everywhere: Some are generated from the top, others come from outside as acqusitions or in competition. Some ideas arise from strategic concerns or simply to solve a problem, whether these are user-generated or come from internal inspiration.
  2. Share everything that you can.
  3. "You're brilliant. We are hiring."
  4. License to pursue your dreams: Google has a policy that provides for "20% time", time that is set aside for each employee to work on whatever they want to. 50% of the products released for 2005 came from the pool of personal projects enabled by 20% time.
  5. Innovation, not instant perfection.
  6. Data is apolitical: projects live or die on their own merits, actual hard numbers, not intra-company politics.
  7. Creativity loves constraint.
  8. Users, not money.
  9. Don't kill projects, morph them: find the real "kernel of truth" that makes the project worthwhile and build on that.
There is also a Q&A session at the end, which is worth listening to. The first question is about Mayer's own personal characteristics that have made her successful. The answer is interesting in that it shows an entrepreneurial mindset, in a person who has been with Google for seven years. The main points of her answer are based on the decisions that brought her the most success in the past:
"I like to surround myself with smart people...
I like to do things that I am not quite ready for..."
Very telling answers to what can be a dificult question to answer, even if only to yourself.

Mayer hits the nail on the head with an example from earlier in the presentation, where she describes a friend of hers who made an unusual choice regarding which High School volleyball team to join:

During tryouts, this friend did well enough to make the Varsity team (but likely to sit on the bench all season), or she could stay on the JV team and be a starter.
The friend chose the Varsity team, and when her Senior year came around, she was a starter, while those who had stayed back to play JV were on the bench.
Making a short-term sacrifice in order to improve her skill set, paid off big in a long-term gain.

There is a lesson there for all of us.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bringing Your Business to the Next Level

There is a post at the Atlasphere regarding skills needed and steps to be taken in order to bring your business to the next level in its growth.

There is also a link to a seminar that the author is holding "February 23rd and 24th in Orlando, Florida, and will feature a wide range of highly-respect business speakers — including Hall of Fame Quarterback Fran Tarkenton — each of whom is an expert in one or more of these skill areas." (Clicking on the link allows free registration, and allows the download of two free PDF books.)

The skills and steps are described as:

...real entrepreneurial skills. These are time-proven, principle-based skills that will help you attain a greater level of success now as well as in the future.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a small business, a “serial entrepreneur” with numerous businesses to your credit, or even a young person who wants to start off with a huge advantage over your peers. These highly-effective skills — which help you to decide what you want, create a plan to attain it, then overcome every conceivable obstacle along the way — are just about all you need to earn a mountain of money and gain the true freedom that real entrepreneurship delivers.

In researching over 250 business owners, professors and notable experts on the subject, my business partner and I compiled a list twenty-seven distinct areas of business skills that were mentioned as important for maximum entrepreneurial success. However, there are ten particular business and life skills that were noted by the vast majority of those we studied.

These are the skill areas that, when developed by themselves, all produce solid gains in performance. However, when they are developed — even slightly — in combination with one other, the synergistic effect produces tremendous increases in success.

Here are those ten business and life skills:

1. Vision and Perseverance. Much has been written about Vision, yet some of what has been said is so overly complicated and daunting that very few have actually taken the time to write out what the vision for their business really is.

For maximum business success, you simply have to hold in your mind a clear picture of what you want your business to become. This type of vision keeps the potter from making an ashtray while working on an urn. Likewise, it will ensure that you grow your business into one that gives you deep satisfaction and financial rewards, instead of one that taxes your time and energy. Having a clear vision will also help you to develop your will and responses to overcome any challenge and come back from any setback — stronger than ever.

2. Wealth Mindset and Attraction. Unfortunately, many still consider mindset and attraction principles to be a sort of spiritual “hocus pocus.” However, the more we study Quantum Physics and the power of the mind, the more society is beginning to recognize this as real science with a solid set of “how-to” principles. The more you get to know the mind you have been endowed with and how it has been wired to work, the more you will be able to accomplish even your most lofty goals without striving and working around the clock to make things happen.

3. Business Systems.

4. Energy and Fitness.

5. Tax Reduction and Asset Protection.

6. Motivation.

7. Leadership and Influence.

8. Networking and Referrals.

9. Marketing.

And the most important skill for a small-businessman:

10. Entrepreneurship. There’s a big difference between selling your skills, talents or specialized knowledge and being a real entrepreneur — one who can consistently create profits from different ventures time after time. Real entrepreneurs have learned how to recognize, evaluate and act on opportunities. When you learn these skills you will be able to build businesses to be assets that deliver passive profits or can be sold for huge gains. You’ll also have the freedom that comes with knowing you could start over and do it from scratch if you ever needed or wanted to.

Admittedly, a list of ten different entrepreneurial skill areas like this can be overwhelming to think about. There are several that I know I could use some work on. Being created for growth, the learning and improvement will never end. That thought can be both empowering and exhausting at the same time.

All of these are powerful tools and necessary skills for anyone in business, and as anyone who is familiar with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People knows, Synergy (the 6th Habit) is a very powerful method of creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My Inspiration - A Review of The Cluetrain Manifesto

Let's begin with a quote from the Introduction: "Because the Internet is so technically efficient, it has also been adopted by companies seeking to become more productive. They too are hungry for knowledge, for the intellectual capital that has become more valuable than bricks and mortar or any tangible asset. What they didn't count on were the other effects of web technology. Hypertext is inherently non-hierarchical and anti-bureaucratic. It does not reinforce loyalty and obedience; encourages idle speculation and loose talk. It encourages stories.

These new conversations online - whether on the wild and woolly Internet or on (slightly) more sedate corporate intranets - are generating new ways of looking at problems. They are spawning new perspectives, new tools, and a new kind of intellectual bravery more comfortable with risk than with regulation. The result is not just new things learned but a vastly enhanced ability to learn things. And the pace of this learning is accelerating. In the networked marketplace it is reflected in the joy of play. On company intranets it is reflected in the joy of knowledge. But it's getting difficult to tell the two apart. Employees go home and get online. They bring new attitudes back to work the next day. Enthusiastic surfers get hired and bring strange new views into corporations that, until now, have successfully protected themselves from everything else. The World Wide Web reinforces freedom. The Internet routes around obstacles. The confluence of these conversations is not only inevitable, it has largely already occurred".1

The Cluetrain Manifesto is one of the concepts that inspired me to start this project late last year. I was already interested in blogs, mainly as a source for news that I wasn't able to get from the MSM. In the process I discovered that there were blogs and websites for every conceivable interest. I used it as a resource for my own hobbies, information on authors and books that I like to read, research for my work, and so on.
Eventually I started posting my own blog and began to get ideas about starting a web-based business in order to break free of the shackles of the 9 to 5 world: ties, Suits, and Corporate Dictatorships.

I am, of course, still working on that part. I first attempted to use the Internet as a sort of soapbox or billboard, and it didn't work the way I expected. Then again, I really didn't know what to expect. After I found The Cluetrain Manifesto, I understood some of what to expect, and why the billboard idea didn't work. The future of Internet-based business (and soon there will not be any business without an Internet component) is in two-way communication, a conversation: provider to customer, customer to provider.

Business is just a word for buying and selling things. In one way or another, we all rely on this commerce, both to get the things we want or need, and to afford them. We are alternately the workers who create products and services, and the customers who purchase them. There is nothing inherently wrong with this setup. Except when it becomes all of life. Except when life becomes secondary and subordinate. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, business so dominates all other aspects of our existence that it's hard to imagine it was ever otherwise.2

The original marketplace was a "commerce-zone" set as the central part, the essential heart of every village, town, and city. The larger the population, the greater the variety of goods available. Yet there was always one common "product" in every market, sought out by everyone, everywhere in the world.

Conversation. News. Gossip. Stories. Human interaction. Call it what you will. This marketplace is where information was exchanged.

Information - frequently more valuable than any commodity or trade good.

Commerce is a natural part of human life, but it has become increasingly unnatural over the intervening centuries, incrementally divorcing itself from the people on whom it most depends, whether workers or customers. While this change is in many ways understandable - huge factories took the place of village shops; the marketplace moved from the center of the town and came to depend on far-flung mercantile trade - the result has been to interpose a vast chasm between buyers and sellers.3
No more conversations. The sales clerks in the retail stores of today's shopping malls have no idea what is happening in the places where the products they sell come from, nor do they know who made them, or why.

Once an intrinsic part of the local community, commerce has evolved to the primary force shaping the community of nations on a global scale. But because of its increasing divorce from the day-to-day concerns of real people, commerce has come to ignore the natural conversation that defines communities as human.4
Globalization and Mass-production - creation of any & every product by a virtually unskilled and possibly even illiterate worker - have silenced the conversation and destroyed the niche worker, the skilled specialist, the cottage industry.
For a very long time industry was based on the scale and scope of the cottage. The Industrial Revolution changed everything about manufacturing, and then about selling, and finally the marketplace itself.

These changes were gradual at first. Even early on, "economies of scope" began to be perceived. General Motors broke Ford's run on the Model T - an impossibly long product cycle by today's standards - by offering cars that were not black, and even came in different styles to suit different tastes and pocketbooks. [...] Consumers began to have a wider range of choice, and they warmed quickly to their new options.5

Suddenly, the consumers began to drive the market, supporting some options, rejecting others. The "scope", or the perceptions, of both producers and consumers changed, and now businesses all over the world were competing with each other.

Competition is healthy, we'd been told from birth, because it breeds greater choice. But now competition was out of control and old-guard notions of brand allegiance evaporated like mist in the rising-sun onslaught for Japan, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Choice and quality ruled the day, and consumer enthusiasm for the resulting array of new product options forever undermined the foundations of yesterday's mass-market economy.6

Now these remarkable (for some, earth-shattering) changes that came to manufacturing and the marketplace have come to the Service Providers and Information Workers. Choices and competition are nearly beyond comprehension.

However, most "e-commerce" plays today look a lot like General Motors circa 1969 - looking for that next lucrative mass market just when markets have shattered into a million mirror-shard constituencies, many asking for something altogether different from the mindless razzle-dazzle of the tube. Marketers still drool at the prospect of the Net replicating the top-down broadcast model wherein glitzy "content" is developed at great cost in remote studios and jammed down a one-way pipe into millions of living rooms. TV with a buy button! Wowee!7

Today's consumer has the power to re-direct the direction of the content, to stop the one-way flow of "content" from the provider. Then they can turn and have a conversation with the entire world, discussing, critiquing, and mocking the content force-fed to them. Similarly, today's worker has the power to communicate with everyone else in the world, without going through the filter of the "official" PR line. In addition, both consumers and workers have access to information that would have been unimaginable only a generation ago.

So, where do this take us? Where does it leave the information worker, the service provider, with this sea-change in the marketplace of ideas?

Knowledge worth having comes from turned-on volitional attention, not from slavishly following someone else's orders. Innovation based on such knowledge is exciting, inflammatory, even "dangerous", because it tends to challenge fixed procedures and inflexible policies. While collaboration has been paid much lip service within corporations, few have attempted it beyond their own boundaries.


...the future business of businesses that have a future
will be about subtle differences, not wholesale conformity; about diversity, not homogeneity; about breaking rules, not enforcing them; about pushing the envelope, not punching the clock; about invitation, not protection; about doing it first, not doing it "right"; about making it better, not making it perfect; about telling the truth, not spinning bigger lies; about turning people on, not "packaging" them; and perhaps above all, about building convivial communities and knowledge ecologies, not leveraging demographic sectors.8

This is to be the ultimate purpose of this blog and web suite, to join/create a new community, where Internet entrepreneurs and enthusiasts can gather to share ideas, participate in the new revolution in the virtual marketplace. Welcome to the Future. I look forward to building it together.

(All Notes: The Cluetrain Manifesto)