Computer Guy

Computer Guy
Sunset at DoubleM Systems (, Del Mar, California

Friday, March 30, 2018

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

This article is a blatant ripoff from the neuroscience-based blog "Barking Up The Wrong Tree" which has become my new favorite after spending considerable time reading a lot of their content. Check it out, enjoy, learn, thrive!

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

How to make your life better? All you need is email.
I’ve covered a lot of research on how to make your life better but many people struggle with implementing changes because it seems like a major undertaking. It doesn’t have to be.
You can make strides in 5 fundamental areas by just sending 5 emails.


Every morning send a friend, family member or co-worker an email to say thanks for something.
Might sound silly but it’s actually excellent advice on how to make your life better.
There’s tons and tons and tons of research showing that over time, this alone – one silly email a day – can make you happier.
Via Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage:
This is why I often ask managers to write an e-mail of praise or thanks to a friend, family member, or colleague each morning before they start their day’s work—not just because it contributes to their own happiness, but because it very literally cements a relationship.


At the end of the week, send your boss an email and sum up what you’ve accomplished.
They probably have no idea what you’re doing with your time. They’re busy. They have their own problems.
For your boss, this let’s them know what you’ve been up to without having to ask and saves them from wondering and worrying. They’ll appreciate it and probably come to rely on it.
For you, it’s proactive and shows off your efforts, which Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer says is the key to success in any organization:
…you should make sure that your performance is visible to your boss and your accomplishments are visible. Your superiors in the organization have their own jobs, are managing their own careers, are busy human beings.  And you should not assume that they’re spending all their time thinking about you and worrying about you and your career.


Once a week email a potential mentor.
Doesn’t have to be related to your job. Who do you admire that you could learn from?
As I’ve blogged about before, mentors are key to success.
Any person lucky enough to have had one great teacher who inspired, advised, critiqued, and had endless faith in her student’s ability will tell you what a difference that person has made in her life. “Most students who become interested in an academic subject do so because they have met a teacher who was able to pique their interest,” write Csikszentmihályi, Rathunde, and Whalen. It is yet another great irony of the giftedness myth: in the final analysis, the true road to success lies not in a person’s molecular structure, but in his developing the most productive attitudes and identifying magnificent external resources.
This is one of those things everyone seems to know but nobody does anything about.
It’s the age of the internet, folks. If you have Google and half an ounce of resourcefulness it’s not that hard to find almost anyone’s email address. If they have a website, their email is probably listed on it.
What do you write? Try Adam’s method or Tim’s method or Ramit’s method.
(More on the power of mentors here.)


Email a good friend and make plans.
What does research say keeps friendships alive? Staying in touch every 2 weeks.
Got 14 friends? Then you need to be emailing somebody every day.
And what should you email them about? Make plans to get together.
The results were unequivocal. “The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are,” he says. “The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.” Surely, I suggest to Cacioppo, this means that Facebook and the like inevitably make people lonelier. He disagrees.Facebook is merely a tool, he says, and like any tool, its effectiveness will depend on its user. “If you use Facebook to increase face-to-face contact,” he says, “it increases social capital.” So if social media let you organize a game of football among your friends, that’s healthy. If you turn to social media instead of playing football, however, that’s unhealthy.


Send an email to someone you know (but don’t know very well) and check in.
These “weak ties” are the primary source of future career opportunities.
From Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:
In fact, in landing a job, Granovetter discovered, weak-tie acquaintances were often more important than strong-tie friends because weak ties give us access to social networks where we don’t otherwise belong. Many of the people Granovetter studied had learned about new job opportunities through weak ties, rather than from close friends, which makes sense because we talk to our closest friends all the time, or work alongside them or read the same blogs. By the time they have heard about a new opportunity, we probably know about it, as well. On the other hand, our weak-tie acquaintances— the people we bump into every six months— are the ones who tell us about jobs we would otherwise never hear about.
“But I don’t know what to say.”  Do any little thing that benefits them, not you. Try Adam Rifkin’s 5 minute favor.
Or just send them a link they might find useful.
Still stuck? Okay, send them the link to the post you’re reading right now.
If this has helped you with how to make your life better it can probably help them too.  ;)
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Saturday, March 24, 2018

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

CEO School: Streaking for Fun and Profit

The value of doing a thing one time pales in comparison to doing it consistently. Aristotle saw this clearly when he said:

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a Habit.

In the latest version of TheChecklist™(version Ten) we've added a feature that calculates the number of days in a row, without a miss, that the user has done the desired action. We call this a "streak". It has also been termed the Seinfeld Strategy, named after a favorite comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Call it a habit, if you want, but we like "streak" because it sounds more fun and action oriented. Habit sounds somewhat dull and onerous.

Streaks are highly motivational. Once you get a good streak going, you are more inclined to keep it going because it feels good and you don't want to start over at zero.

Stats from the Calm meditation app
I have some personal experience with this. Regular meditation had always been something I wanted in my life, but I just couldn't seem to get into the habit. After I put it on TheChecklist™and started doing a count of the number of days in a row, I became more consistent, but with occasional missed days, still not a habit. Once I got to 56 days in a row, but then, incredibly, I missed a day, and that really bummed me out because it would take me another 56 days to get even with my previous streak. But I hung in there, and now I've achieved a streak of 469 days without a miss, as of the morning I'm writing this. Every day I look at the increasing count, I'm reminded of my increasing achievement. So it works!                                                                                                                                                               I also wanted to be a person who takes a walk every day, for the health benefits. It was only after I started counting the streak days that it started motivating me to "get out of the building" and go for a walk, usually around sunset. Now I'm up to 247 days in a row, and feeling much stronger because of it. 

Achieving goals starts with the idea, then the intention, and the commitment. But action is the absolute requirement. The goal becomes much more probable when you have a system for achieving your goals. The DBLM system is TheChecklist™ and it is a remarkably effective method for taking action to achieve Success in Life and Business.


The fire emoji at the top of this post is a modified version of the Snapchat streak emoji. A "Snapstreak" is the number of days in a row a user has communicated with another user. The idea is to improve and reward consistent behavior. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

CEO School: Board of Directors vs. Board of Advisors

Every business should have either a Board of Advisors or a Board of Directors. Period. There is no wiggle room in that statement, except for one thing: If you are running a lifestyle business, or if you're not really serious about succeeding in your business, then... save yourself some trouble and forget about it.

However, if you really want to succeed, and not waste your time, and want to take the shortest path, with the least stress, then get yourself a Board.  

What's the difference? A Board of Directors is a legal entity. The Board of Directors is there for the purpose of representing the interests of the shareholders. They hire and fire the CEO, they approve the business plan. If you are the CEO, you want a happy Board of Directors, or else you will not be CEO very long.  

A Board of Advisors is for a CEO who owns most, or all of the stock. Such a CEO is not going to be fired by his Board of Advisors, because they have no legal standing, and the CEO can do whatever he wants. His Board of Advisors is there simply for the guidance and contacts, etc.

The benefit of having a Board comes from having regularly scheduled meetings, usually once a month in young companies, but as little as once a quarter in mature, profitable, and stable companies. You want your Board to be actively involved in the challenges and plans of your company. That's why you want to meet, formally and regularly.

If you are doing a startup, and going to need some angel and/or VC capital, you have some special considerations. Check out this article for more on that.

And, finally, here's a very good article in INC magazine about some details on setting up boards of advisors/directors.

How do you pay an early stage board?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

CEO School: 1-1 Meetings

Weekly team meetings are vital to share information, make decisions, and align your team for strategy execution – but the subtleties of each individual’s particular needs cannot be fully addressed in a team meeting. In working with thousands of fast growth companies over the last sixteen years, we (at have noticed a key success discipline that great managers routinely practice. They schedule a regular weekly 1 on 1 meeting with each of their direct reports.

This 1 on 1 appointment is a brief meeting with a specific agenda. Random meetings (including casual conversations / coffees / brainstorming) that you may have with a team member during the week are all well and good, but they do not replace the consistently scheduled 1 on 1 meeting. That’s because the 1 on 1 meeting is where you are focused solely on that person and how you as a manager can best support them in the execution of their goals.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But simple does not necessarily mean easy. Be honest. Do you have the discipline to conduct 1 on 1 meetings with your team members every week? Like many habits of success, this practice falls into the “important but not urgent” category. It takes real discipline to stick to a regular 1 on 1 meeting schedule, but the payoffs for both the manager and the team member are worth the effort. Try it for 12 weeks and see how much more you actually get done. Schedule it in both of your calendars and make it happen.
Let’s go over a proven agenda for running a successful 1 on 1 meeting:

1. Establish an agenda and time limit and stick to them. Keep the meeting brief and focused.
The 1 on 1 meeting should take no longer than 30 minutes. For example, if you have 7 direct reports, you should be able to meet with your whole team in one afternoon. Block out this time in your calendar and make sure you keep these appointments every week. Don’t blow them off. As a manager, your #1 task is to support your people. You succeed only when your team succeeds.

2. Both parties must come to the meeting prepared with the updated information you need to discuss the current reality.
Briefly discuss each project the individual is accountable for and get a status update. Is the staff member on schedule to have it completed by the due date? If not, why not? Briefly discuss each Key Performance Indicator the worker is accountable for and get a status update. The score doesn’t lie. Are the numbers where they need to be? If not, why not? This is not a blame session; rather it is a consultation to make sure both parties are fully aware of the current situation.

3. Ask the person what tangible action they will “complete” this week to move each goal forward (or address any issues that have been identified above).
Agree on the chosen action(s) and capture them in writing in your task management tool of choice. Be specific about each task that needs to be done and the due date for each task. Writing down each task clearly signals to the team member what is important to you, and it helps to focus their efforts on the right things each week.

4. Follow up to make sure each task gets checked off as done.
You get what you inspect. Holding people firmly accountable for honoring their commitments to you is crucial if you want to create a high performance culture. This is not micro-managing – you give the person the freedom and autonomy to go away and determine how best to achieve each task, but you definitely follow up each week to close the loop and make sure it got done.

5. Ask what support or resources they need from you to help them succeed?
As a manager, you need to put the right people together and clear the obstacles from their paths to enable the most important tasks to be completed. You also need to keep out of their way and not overwhelm them with too many demands or conflicting priorities. Shield them from distractions to create the time and space for the most important tasks to get done every week.

6. Ask if there are any other issues that they would like to raise?
How are they feeling? Are there any minor grievances that are bugging them? What’s going on in their life right now? Take a sincere interest in them and their life outside of work.

7. Share any issues or feelings you would like to raise.
Performance reviews are not an annual thing. Let your people know every week how they are performing both in terms of the data and what you have personally observed. Let them know that you are on their side. Demonstrate your commitment to helping them succeed.

8. Finish on a high note.
Find something they are doing well and acknowledge it. Praise is most effective if you commend the specific behaviors you want to see reinforced; for example, “I was impressed with the detailed research you did on this project and the long hours you put in to get the report done on time.”

Are you ready to try conducting weekly 1 on 1 meetings with each of your direct reports? I guarantee that if you make it happen, it will make you a better manager. It will enable both parties to understand each other better and stay focused on the important issues. And it will greatly improve your business execution success!


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Freshly baked startup wisdom

CBinsights is one of my favorite resources for what's happening, and going to happen, in the world of business, especially startups getting traction, VC funding, etc

The above quote is from a series of slides presented to a conference put on by CBinsights. The entire slide deck is very well done and highly recommended. Get it here.

Like data? There's a lot to like!


“The problem is not information overload. It’s filter failure.”   Clay Shirky

Friday, March 2, 2018

CEO School: Know Thyself

On the subject of Knowing vs. Doing, we typically Know what we should be Doing, but we seldom Do what we Know we should Do. One reason for this is that we seldom truly Know what we Do! 

(You might want to read that again.)

And this leads us to that other thing that we know so well: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." Therefore, if you are going to manage what you Do, you must measure it.

Here's a comparison of what I have been Doing for the last 10 days and comparing it to what I have been Doing Year to Date.

One thing that stands out is that I've been doing a lot more Reading (yellow slice) and a lot less "Negative Pursuits" (red). In my world Negative pursuits means TV. It's negative because it's passive, a plug-in drug, whereas Reading is active and educational. Another thing that leaps out from these charts is that I have spent ZERO time in my hammock in the last 10 days and only 2.6% Year to Date (orange slice). This is inexcusable and I will correct this as soon as humanly possible...

These very revealing charts are an automatic by-product of the Daily Checklist which I recommend for my clients, many of whom find it to be truly life changing. Of course, the categories of activities are completely customizable for each person who uses the Daily Checklist; not everyone likes hammock time as much as I do!


Update 3/7/18:

Less than a week after the above post was made, revealing just too much red, I decided to get serious, and while I still don't have any hammock time on the charts, I like the chart below a lot better. Negative time is almost eliminated, and Product Development shows some excellent improvement.

Could you benefit from Knowing what you Do?  Ask me how!