Word-Of-the-Week #999: Productive

September 28, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Productive – yielding favorable or useful results. 

Do you feel you are as productive as you could be? Are you working longer hours trying to get everything done? Did you know that taking breaks actually increases your productivity?

This week features “Slow Down, You’ll Go Faster” another good one from Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, and a great follow up to last week’s WOW.

“Most of us lead very busy lives — too busy in many cases — but don’t equate being busy with being productive. The two notions are not mutually exclusive, but they’re not always the same thing. 

Being busy is often just a bad habit. We put in a lot of time and effort, secretly hoping at the end of the day, something important has gotten done. If you were to really analyze it, though, about the only thing that usually happens after being busy all day is that you suddenly realize that you’ve just been busy all day! 

I’ve seen this tendency in myself … big time. Here is what struck me as a solution:

Before you head home each night, make a short list of what must absolutely be accomplished tomorrow. The shorter the list, the better. One item is perfect, three is the max. If there are more than three things on your list, delegate specific tasks to others. In the end, the items on your personal list should be things only you can do. 

When you come in the next morning, focus all your activity only on your one, two or three tasks until they’re done. Don’t take phone calls, check e-mail or tolerate any interruptions. (An open door policy doesn’t mean you must be available 24/7 to anyone who wants to interrupt you.) 


In short, get it done … then make your list for the next day. At that point, you’re free to do whatever you want for the rest of the day with a clear conscience and no time pressure. You might coach your staff, schmooze with your guests or go to your kid’s soccer game — whatever gives you pleasure. 

But resist the urge to keep working on “stuff” just because there’s still stuff to work on. There will always be stuff to work on. You’ll die with things on your To Do list. 

Slow down. Un-busy your mind. Give yourself quiet time for reflection. Read a new book. Work out. Go home early. Eat dinner with your family. In short, have a life. 

Even if you can only complete one essential task a day, I bet you’ll be far more productive and expend far less energy.” 

This week’s focus is being more productive. Do you make lists of items that you want to accomplish? How would it feel to focus all your activity on no more than three tasks until they’re done? How easy would it be for you to set aside time without having interruptions?

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Word-Of-the-Week #998: Busy

September 21, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Busy – crowded with activity. 

Is every moment of your day packed and scheduled? Are you afraid of down time, having an afternoon with no meetings, no phone calls, etc? Do you think “being busy” and deeply overcommitted makes you more important?

Once again, Neil Senturia has written a profound article “Why it’s good not to be busy, busy, busy.” He writes, “I never cease to be amazed by people. Ironically, even though I am sometimes thought of as wearing a relatively black hat, the truth is that I love people — just not all the time. 

Recently I learned a new word — a “humblebrag.” This is a person who complains about not having enough time, while also mentioning that they are doing an Ironman, publishing a second book, giving a dinner party for 12 and leaving for Nigeria next week to help build a new water supply, and on the way home stopping in New York City just long enough to be on the “Today” show.

In the social status and wealth-perception world, this person ranks much higher than if he or she said they were going to a yoga retreat for a week to think about the future of mankind. 

I have a friend whom I like a great deal. He is very, very busy. I mean every moment of the day is packed and scheduled. I recently read an article by Harvard Business School associate professor Anat Keinan, and the single line that jumps off the page is this — “some people boast the lack of spare time as a status symbol — even as an aspirational lifestyle.” In other words, I am really busy and thus I must be important and in demand — but of course, the reverse hook is maybe you are afraid of down time, having an afternoon with no meetings, no phone call, nada, zilch. What does that do to your self-esteem? Your self-belief mantra of “I am the scarce resource and therefore I am valuable” is clearly challenged. 

It used to be that leisure time was the mark of success, a round of golf, a late lunch, take the bride out to dinner etc. The way you used to show off power and wealth was to buy a luxury item (Rolex / Lamborghini). Now it seems that you show it better by being “crazy busy”— and deeply overcommitted, because everyone wants you — in fact they can’t live without you. 

I will tell you that my best ideas come when I am riding my bike or playing golf — alone. I can talk to myself and no one thinks I am crazy. I think the process of creativity needs space —room to wander. Look, we all know that Einstein took naps.

So maybe William Wordsworth was right: “The world is too much with us, late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” Pretty good stuff for 1802. 

Keinan conducted an experiment about status. One group of subjects orders food to be delivered from Peapod, and the other group goes to Whole Foods to shop. Perceived status — you guessed it. If I don’t have time to shop, I must be really valuable and I am perceived to have more status, more so than shopping at the high-end market. 

And finally, let’s take a look at happiness — which as you know, I think is highly overrated. But here comes another study, this time by Wharton professor Maurice Schweitzer. He finds that if you are really happy — and if you show it by being chipper and upbeat and optimistic – “you are perceived as naïve, not paying close attention and easily exploited.” These people can be taken advantage of, because they must not understand the reality of the basic misery of the human existence. (This last comment is courtesy of my best friend, Sigmund Freud.) Imagine the fear of being too happy. 

As my readers know, I have been seeing a shrink for close to 45 years. Not the same one, of course. One was convicted of malpractice, one left me — packed up in the dead of night and went to Oregon of all places — one died, I fired one and I have been with the last one for 24 years. So I am getting pretty familiar with this happiness thing. According to Schweitzer, the bottom line for team building in a company seems to be that it is OK to be happy, but try to avoid being “very happy” — it might adversely impact your advancement. (You don’t see many CEOs with a goofy smile and laughing out loud.) 

Rule No. 501: If you keep your head while all around are losing theirs, you have no idea what is going on.                                     – Rudyard Kipling (revised)

This week’s focus is on how busy you really are and why. You do know that the process of creativity needs space—room to wander, right? When was the last time you rode your bike or played a round of golf? You do spend time outdoors doing something, right? How would it feel to not be busy and allow yourself some down time all alone?

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Word-Of-the-Week #997: Integrity

September 14, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Integrity steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. 

Would your staff, co-workers, family, and friends say that you are an honest person? Whom do you know that you trust implicitly?  Do you have a clear sense of what is “right and wrong?”

This week features the final part from If someone displays these 8 behaviors, they have a genuine heart,” by Lachlan Brown, from HackSpirit.

To Recap: People with a genuine heart display these behaviors –

  1. Active Listening
  2. Consistent Authenticity
  3. Embracing Vulnerability
  4. Unafraid of Unpopularity
  5. Valuing Depth Over Surface
  6. Small Acts, Big Heart 
  1. A Non-Judgmental Nature

Genuine-hearted people have a remarkable quality: they refrain from quick judgments.

In a world quick to label, to box people in, and to jump to conclusions, they take a step back and seek to understand.

They realize that every individual has a story, a past, and battles that others might not be privy to.

Instead of casting stones or making assumptions, they approach situations and people with empathy and openness.

Their first instinct is not to criticize or point fingers but to lend a listening ear, to be a shoulder to lean on, and to offer a safe space for candid conversations.

This non-judgmental nature not only makes them approachable, but it also allows them to build deeper connections with those around them.

They see the human behind the mistake, the soul behind the story, and the heart behind the facade.

Their acceptance and understanding create an environment where others feel validated, heard, and valued.

  1. Unwavering Integrity

The cornerstone of a genuine heart is an unshakable sense of integrity.

These individuals stand firm in their principles, even when no one is watching.

For them, doing the right thing isn’t about external validation or recognition; it’s a deeply ingrained part of who they are.

I recall an old coworker who once found an envelope filled with a significant amount of money at a company event.

Without hesitation, she reported it and ensured it was returned to its rightful owner, despite no one having witnessed her discovery.

It wasn’t about the praise or potential reward; it was simply the right thing to do.

Such genuine-hearted people become the moral compasses in their communities.

Their actions, rooted in honesty and trustworthiness, inspire others to elevate their own standards.

With them, promises aren’t empty words, and commitments aren’t taken lightly.

Their integrity shines through their consistency, transparency, and the unwavering commitment to their values.

In a fluctuating world, their steadfast integrity is both comforting and inspiring.

This week’s focus is all about your integrity. Are you able to stand firm in your principles without fear of judgement? Can you approach situations and people with empathy and openness without making assumptions? Are your actions rooted in honesty and trustworthiness?

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Word-Of-the-Week #996: Heart

September 7, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Heart showing honesty, kindness, and compassion. 

Do you stand up for what you believe in even if others disagree or ridicule you? Do you value quality over quantity when it comes to relationships?

This week features the 2nd part from If someone displays these 8 behaviors, they have a genuine heart,” by Lachlan Brown, from HackSpirit.

To Recap: People with a genuine heart display these behaviors –

  1. Active Listening
  2. Consistent Authenticity
  3. Embracing Vulnerability
  1. Unafraid of Unpopularity

In a world that’s obsessed with likes, shares, and followers, a genuine heart often swims against the tide, even if it means being the odd one out.

These individuals don’t compromise their beliefs or values for the sake of popularity or acceptance.

They understand that being true to oneself is more important than fleeting admiration or fitting into a mold.

Now, here’s the honest truth: it’s tough.

Standing up for what you believe in, especially when those around you disagree or ridicule, requires immense courage.

There might be moments of loneliness or doubt.

But a person with a genuine heart would rather be disliked for being authentic than liked for being something they’re not.

Remember that the quest for authenticity is not about being confrontational or purposefully contrary. It’s about holding onto one’s essence even when the world tries to sway you otherwise.

And often, it’s these very people—the ones unafraid of unpopularity—who leave the most lasting impact.

Because they challenge us to be better, to be more real, and to face the world with unwavering authenticity.

  1. Valuing Depth Over Surface

In an era of fleeting Snapchat stories and 280-character tweets, those with genuine hearts yearn for depth.

They’re the kind of people who’d prefer an intimate, hours-long conversation over coffee than a quick chat amidst the noise of a party.

Instead of asking, “How was your day?”, they delve deeper with questions like, “What made you feel alive today?” or “What’s been weighing on your mind?”

These individuals aren’t impressed by superficial glitz or the veneer of perfection.

They see beyond the glossy Instagram feed or the rehearsed answers.

They seek realness, raw emotions, stories with grit, and conversations that stretch into the wee hours of the morning.

To them, relationships aren’t about quantity but quality.

They might not have a ‘squad’ of hundreds, but the friendships they nurture are deep, meaningful, and built on mutual respect and understanding.

With them, you’ll find a safe space to shed the layers, to be vulnerable, and to dive into the profound depths of life and all its intricacies.

  1. Small Acts, Big Heart

People with genuine hearts often shine brightest in the smallest of moments.

They don’t need grand gestures or a spotlight to make a difference.

Instead, they find fulfillment in the little things: holding the door open for someone, leaving a kind note for a colleague, or offering a comforting word to a stranger in distress.

It’s these seemingly minor acts of kindness that often have the most significant impact.

These people understand that sometimes the smallest gesture can turn around someone’s day or even change their perspective on life.

They operate on the belief that every act of kindness, no matter how trivial it may seem, contributes to a larger tapestry of compassion and goodwill in the world.

While their actions might go unnoticed or uncelebrated, the ripple effects of their genuine kindness can be profound and far-reaching.

This week’s focus is all about showing heart. Have you experienced fulfillment by doing minor acts of kindness for others?  Are your friendships deep, meaningful, and built on mutual respect and understanding? Do you seek realness, raw emotions, stories with grit, and conversations that stretch into the wee hours of the morning?

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Word-Of-the-Week #995: Genuine

August 31, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #995: Genuine 

Genuine not pretended; sincerely felt or expressed. 

How good are you at engaging in active listening? Do you give your undivided attention and show genuine interest?

This week features the first part from If someone displays these 8 behaviors, they have a genuine heart,” by Lachlan Brown, from HackSpirit.

In a world full of filters and online personas, spotting someone who’s genuinely real can feel like a challenge.

But genuine people are out there, and they stand out not just by what they say, but how they behave.

They aren’t always just smiles and kind words; genuine hearts combine honesty with kindness, strength with openness.

Wondering how to recognize such people?

Or maybe curious if you’re one of them?

I’m going to break down the 8 behaviors that highlight a truly genuine heart.

Read on and see how simplicity and authenticity can shine even in today’s complex world.

  1. Active Listening

One of the most telltale signs of a genuine heart is the ability to truly listen.

We’re not just talking about nodding along or hearing words.

Genuine individuals engage in active listening.

They give their undivided attention, making eye contact, responding appropriately, and showing genuine interest in what’s being said.

In an era of constant distractions, where everyone’s in a hurry to put forth their viewpoint, someone who takes the time to really hear you out is like a breath of fresh air.

These individuals don’t just wait for their turn to speak; they immerse themselves in your words, seeking to understand rather than to reply.

And in that act of genuine listening, they show that they value and respect you.

  1. Consistent Authenticity

I remember an old friend from my school days, Jamie.

Whether he was around the popular group or just hanging out with a couple of us on the fringes, Jamie was always… well, Jamie.

There was no shift in persona depending on his audience.

He would crack the same goofy jokes, share his genuine thoughts, and never felt the need to put on a facade just to fit in.

This behavior, my dear readers, is the mark of someone with a genuine heart.

They don’t have a “social mask” they wear in one setting and a different one for another.

They are consistent in their authenticity. It’s a refreshing quality, isn’t it?

In a world where many people contort themselves to fit various molds, genuine-hearted folks remain steadfast in being true to who they are, no matter where they are or who they’re with.

Their authenticity is their signature, and it’s as reliable as a favorite old tune.

  1. Embracing Vulnerability

Now, this one might catch you off guard. In a society that often equates strength with stoicism and unflappability, here’s a twist: genuine-hearted people aren’t afraid to show their vulnerable side.

It sounds counterintuitive, right? We’re taught to wear armor, to be invincible, and to never let ’em see you sweat.

But those with genuine hearts understand something profound: there’s immense strength in vulnerability.

They know that admitting when they’re wrong, asking for help, or sharing their fears doesn’t make them weak.

On the contrary, it takes guts to say, “I don’t know,” “I’m scared,” or “I messed up.”

By doing so, they not only build authentic connections but also pave the way for others to be real, too.

After all, it’s in our shared vulnerabilities that some of the most genuine human connections are formed.

So next time you see someone openly wearing their heart on their sleeve, know that it’s not a sign of weakness, but a testament to their genuine strength.

This week’s focus is all about being genuine. Do you display consistent authenticity? Are you comfortable being who you are at home and at work? Can you embrace vulnerability and ask for help when needed?

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