The Weekend Read – Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon

A present from my brother in 2012, this is a small book with a big message that punches well above its weight. 

The concept behind Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative is that we learn by copying.

The chapter titles are to the point and act as a great guide:

  1. Steal Like an Artist. (All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.)
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. (Fake it ’til you make it.)
  3. Write the book you want to read. (Don’t write what you know, write what you like.)
  4. Use your hands. (Step away from the screen – your hands are your original digital devices.)
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important. (Don’t worry about unity from piece to piece, what unifies all your work is that you made it.)
  6. The Secret: Do good work and share it with people. (Put stuff on the internet)
  7. Geography is no longer our master. (You don’t have to live anywhere other than where you are to start connecting with the world you want to be in)
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town).
  9. Be Boring. (It’s the only way to get work done).
  10. Creativity is subtraction. (Choose what to leave out)

In respect to the book (and because I am short of time) I am quoting from the review on the excellent  Actionable Books – do yourself a favour, look them up & subscribe. Weekly reviews of  interesting business books. 

What completely resonated with me, as I pondered the notion that it all has been done before, is that this idea is actually very freeing. It removes the “burden of trying to be completely original.” No pressure. Can’t come up with that new product? Pulling your hair out to develop the next best viral sensation? Trying to figure out what to write about next? No pressure. It has already been done before. So, go look at the best of what has been done before and steal from it.

Available from The Book Depository

Bad news for online advertisers – you’ve been ’ad – John Naughton

The old line was, “the trouble with advertising is that only 50% of it works and you don’t know which 50%”.

My concerns about digital marketing are not about the process per se but rather about the number of people who claim to be “experts”, I think my Linkedin connect requests have become 50% “I’m a digital marketer and I have an innovative solution for dentists” and 50% “the rest”. These new contacts usually tell me that dentists aren’t switched on enough, they don’t return their calls and don’t they want to gain “limitless” (I kid you not) new patients (that’s if they can remember to call them patients). I try to explain that as a professional marketer they really ought to take some time to research their own market, I then also tell them that no I don’t see patients myself and I’m sorry I am not going to introduce them to all my clients just because they are obviously young and oh so clever.

I am reminded of the people who were in financial services at one point selling endowment policies that messed up the financial planning for many. 

You see I’m an old fashioned “duct-tape marketing” fan who thinks that you should use as many free or ‘as low-cost as possible’ systems before putting your hands in your pocket. I’m choosing to be deliberately Luddite here but I suggest that you apply a coat of scepticism before parting with cash. (Never forget that Facebook is an advertising company with ambitions to rule the world by deciding what news it decides you will read.)

John Naughton’s piece in the Observer on Sunday hit the nail on the head as usual. I particularly like the phrase surveillance capitalism.

There is, alas, no such thing as a free lunch. The trouble with digital technology, though, is that for a long time it encouraged us to believe that this law of nature had been suspended. Take email as an example. In the old days, if you wanted to send a friend a postcard saying: “Just thinking of you”, you had to find a postcard and a pen, write the message, find a stamp and walk to a postbox. Two days later – if you were lucky – your card reached its destination. But with email you just type the message, press “send” and in an instant it is delivered to your friend’s inbox, sometimes at the other end of the world. No stamp, no expense, no hassle.

It is the same with using the cloud to store our digital photographs, browse the web, download podcasts, watch YouTube Lolcats, look up Wikipedia and check our Facebook newsfeeds. All free.

Well, up to a point. Most of us eventually tumbled to the realisation that if the service is free, we are the product. Or, rather, our personal data and the digital trails we leave on the web are the product. The data is sliced, diced and sold to advertisers in a vast, hidden – and totally unregulated – system of high-speed, computerised auctions that ensure each user can be exposed to ads that precisely match their interests, demographics and gender identity.

And this is done with amazing, fine-grained resolution: Facebook, for example, holds 98 data points on every user. Welcome to the world of “surveillance capitalism”.

Continues.

The Weekend Read – Getting Things Done by David Allen

gtdDavid Allen – Getting Things Done – the art of stress free productivity.

This is one of those “must read” books, an obligatory member of every coach’s reading list for their clients. The second edition, published in 2015, is just over 300 pages long and comes almost 15 years after the first edition which was hailed as “the business book of the decade”.

A long book but a worthwhile read and its almost philosophical approach to task and time management will provoke you to think about what, why, how and when you are doing what you do.

Michael Townsend Williams, in his excellent little book Do/Breathe, says, “No one teaches us the art of doing. We are thrown in the deep end at school, somehow avoid drowning in university or college, and end up splashing wildly through our working lives.” He goes on to suggest a form of David’s GTD to deal with what we have to do. We all have to do.

One of the great things about the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach is that it comes at things from a point of not having an overwhelming “To-Do” list that can stifle you to the point of paralysis. As the cover “blurb” says, “Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organised can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential.”

The book is divided into three sections:

  • The Art of Getting Things Done,
  • Practicing Stress-Free Productivity and
  • The Power of Key Principles.

After dabbling with all manner of organisational methods which were mostly repackaged common sense I came to this book with some reluctance, thinking, “Do I really want to be regimented by someone else’s imposed procedures?” I found it to be practical, adaptable – we all live very different lives – and effective. I was able to make improvements to the way I organised myself from the first chapter.

David starts by outlining the stages of his core process:

  1. Capture what has our attention.
  2. Clarify what each item means.
  3. Organise the results which presents the options we..
  4. Reflect on which we then…
  5. Choose to engage with.

We all have “stuff” coming into our in-basket (whatever form that takes), so start with the questions, “What is it? & Is it actionable?”

If the answer is no then bin it, put it into a someday/maybe review file or a retrievable/reference file.

If the answer is “yes” ask the next question, “What’s the next action?” from here will either go to projects (anything that will take multiple steps) or it’s for immediate action.

Next question, will it take less than 2 minutes? If yes then do it. If not either delegate or defer. Delegation is of course an art in itself. If deferring then decide either when (diary needed) or if it’s an “as soon as I can” action. (“This Two-Minute rule will free up your mind tenfold” as one reviewer put it) 

That really doesn’t do even that one page justice.

It truly is a thoroughly useful read  for an effective life – you will take lessons away that will help you each and every day.

Obtainable from The Book Depository.

Kolbe – My Decade of Success – What’s Your Kolbe?

WebIt’s nearly ten years since I completed my Kolbe Accreditation, since then I have shared the my knowledge with hundreds of individuals and helped many teams understand how instinct is so important in knowing themselves and their teams. So over the next few weeks I am revisiting some articles that I wrote back then.

What’s Your KOLBE™?

One of the biggest challenges to any clinician and small business owner is the blending of individuals together to make a team.

These are the same challenges that can afflict larger businesses and corporations too.

  • Do you recruit people then find they aren’t quite what you thought?
  • Are you beset with problems retaining staff?
  • Do have difficulties integrating the individuals into a team?
  • Is your hygienist outside the wire?
  • Do your associates fail to embrace your vision for the future?

The KOLBE Wisdom™

  • Identifies the striving instincts that drive natural behaviours.
  • Focuses on the strengths of your team.

The KOLBE A Index is a 36-question survey that reveals the individual mix of striving instincts; it measures individual energies in:

  • Fact Finder – Gathering and sharing of information.
  • Follow through – Sorting and Storing Information.
  • Quick Start – Dealing with risk and uncertainty.
  • Implementation – Handling space and intangibles.

The results are a serious of ‘scores’. Mine for instance is 6/3/8/3, this isn’t the place to give full analysis, my PA’s is 8/8/1/4 which means we work together well.

Hence the question: What’s your KOLBE?

Some background. Kathy Kolbe is a well-known and highly honoured author and theorist who has been working in the field of human behaviour for nearly 40 years. Following on from her scientific studies of learning differences between children she devised The Kolbe Wisdom™, which has been used by such businesses as Kodak, IBM and Xerox and many others around the world. It is now available for use with smaller teams.

The Kolbe Wisdom™ is based on the concept that creative instincts are the source of the mental energy that drives people to take specific actions. This mental drive is separate and distinct from passive feelings and thoughts. Creative instincts are manifested in an innate pattern (modus operandi, or MO) that determines each person’s best efforts.

These conative or instinctive traits are what make us get things done. They should be differentiated from the cognitive (knowledge) or the affective (feelings). As Kathy Kolbe has written, “The conative is the clincher in the decision making hierarchy. Intelligence helps you determine a wise choice, emotions dictate what you’d like to buy, but until the conative kicks in, you don’t make a deal – you don’t put your money where your mouth is.”

Conation doesn’t define what you can or can’t do, rather what you will and won’t do.

A person’s MO is quantifiable and observable, yet functions at the subconscious level. MOs vary across the general population with no gender, age or racial bias.

An individual’s MO governs actions, reactions and interactions. The MO also determines a person’s use of time and his or her natural form of communication. Exercising control over this mental resource gives people the freedom to be their authentic selves.

Any interference with the use of this energy reduces a person’s effectiveness and the joy of accomplishment. Stress inevitably results from the prolonged disruption of the flow of this energy. Others can nurture this natural ability but block it by attempting to alter it.

Individual performance can be predicted with great accuracy by comparing instinctive realities, self-expectations and requirements. It will fluctuate based on the appropriateness of expectations and requirements.

When groups of people with the right mix of MOs function interactively, the combined mental energy produces synergy. Such a team can perform at a higher level than is possible for the same group functioning independently.

Team performance is accurately predicted by a set of algorithms that determine the appropriate balance and make up of MOs.

Leaders can optimise individual and group performance by:

  • Giving people the freedom to be themselves.
  • Assigning jobs suited to individual strengths.
  • Building synergistic teams.
  • Reducing obstacles that cause debilitating stress.
  • Rewarding committed use of instinctive energy.
  • Allowing for the appropriate use of time.
  • Communicating in ways that trigger the effective use of the natural, universal and unbiased energy of creative instincts.

Any  team is as good as:

  • The conative fit each individual has with his or her individual role.
  • The members are, in accurately predicting the differences between each other.
  • The management of the team is, in using the talent available.

In dentistry the use of Kolbe does not only help build the right teams. When the concepts are understood and applied to clinical situations or ones of patient choice and treatment planning then resistance can be handled and the correct way of presentation used.

There are only two fully trained and currently accredited KOLBE Consultants in the UK.

There is only one experienced in working with Dentists and their teams. 

Take YOUR Kolbe A analysis here

If you would like to find out more about using these fantastic tools in your practice or if you would be interested in a presentation to your study group or society get in touch via the contact form below or call me on 0044 7778 148583.

The Monday Morning Quote #408

“Productivity isn’t  everything but in the long run it is almost everything”.

Paul Krugman (Nobel prize winning economist)

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The Weekend Read – What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark H McCormack

9781781253397First published in 1984, I see that it is still one of the top sellers in the Business sections of airport book shops. Its very longevity proves that it either must have something going for it or because it has always been popular it must be good. Well you pays your money and you takes your choice. I find it a well written, easily digestible book with plenty to offer anyone in any business.

I read it when it was first released by Collins in 1984 (so yet another thank you to my Dad)  thinking that the lessons of “big business” which at the time were a million miles away from my life as a peripatetic associate in dental practices would not apply to my life. In this as in many other things I was wrong – the fundamentals of business large or small are the same. I have re-read it a couple of times since and although the landscape may have changed the fundamentals have not – nor will they.

The book is split into three sections People, Sales & Negotiations, and Running a Business. The opening four chapters should be compulsory reading for all new dental graduates including as they do with getting on with people, making an impression and getting ahead. The Sales and Negotiations isn’t as high blown as you may think and has plenty of nitty gritty advice.

The last four chapters on running a business are invaluable to anyone thinking about getting into business on their own or wanting to be a first class employee. There is a lot of B***S*** spoken these days about being an entrepreneur; those people who say they want to be an entrepreneur, especially in dentistry, would do well to read the last chapter of the book where he states that 99% of people should work for somebody. Start by examining your motives and if they are dreams, if you are running away from things or you ‘want to make a lot of money’ then McCormack writes, “forget it”.

In case you don’t know who Mark McCormack was (he died in 2003) here’s the blurb, “dubbed ‘the most powerful man in sport’, founded IMG (International Management Group) on a handshake. It was the first and is the most successful sports management company in the world, becoming a multi-million dollar, worldwide corporation whose activities in the business and marketing spheres are so diverse as to defy classification. Here, Mark McCormack reveals the secret of his success to key business issues such as analysing yourself and others, sales, negotiation, time management, decision-making and communication. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School fills the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. It shares the business skills, techniques and wisdom gleaned from twenty-five years of experience.”

Available from The Book Depository.

30 years on…thanks for the lessons Dad.

dad-stn-1

My father retired from work 30 years ago and, had he lived, would have been 95 today.

He left school in 1938 aged 16 and started work for WH Smith & Son leaving them in 1954 to join the publishers and stationers William Collins where he finally became sales director.  

I keep a framed copy of this profile on my workroom wall and re-read it last week for the first time in a decade or more. The two paragraphs below leapt out at me; I had not realised how much his core beliefs, values and experience coincided with mine.

These say a a lot about him and, I would like to think, about me too.

dad-stn-honesty

dad-stn-goodwill

Thanks for the lessons Dad – even if I didn’t realise what I was learning at the time.