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Opportunities in a crisis

I write an internal company newsletter and I took a wild departure from the content and format this week:

I woke up early this morning and the NBA is canceled. Tom Hanks has Coronavirus. Travel restrictions to China and Europe. Our friends at Exabeam are struggling with it.

Oh my.

Whenever faced with something that you genuinely don’t have control over, the only logical response is to look for opportunities that weren’t there before.

I’m NOT talking about exploiting a crisis to make a quick buck. But leading in the industry means leading in ALL situations. All Markets. In high times and in low.

What can you do now that was difficult a month ago? We’re all effectively on extended snow days. Travel and in-person contact are limited.

The opportunity is time.

Two things can happen now that couldn’t before. Deep work and long conversations.

Work deeply. You can unplug and work on that thing that takes LONG periods of uninterrupted thought and concentration. You know, more than 20 minutes. Write that article or whitepaper you’ve been thinking about. Decide on who the next market leader will be. Identify trends and write about it. Make videos. Write letters and emails. Learn new skills…

Have long conversations. We live in an amazing time where communication is cheap and reliable. So have those long conversations on the phone or video chat you never seem to have the time for. Make your customers your friends. Instead of the quick call asking how you can help them today, you now have time for long, serious work about actual problems to be solved. What can you do there that’s genuine, and has a long term impact? Call that rep that’s been hard to get ahold of and toss around ideas.

Call a work colleague and start putting things on a virtual whiteboard. Those projects that you’ve been saying “we’ll get to that next quarter” for too many quarters in a row. Do them now.

Call your mother. Or your sister. Or that friend you’ve been meaning to bury the hatchet with.

It’s an opportunity, so let’s frame it that way. Use it as a way to be closer. More deliberate. In our work and with each other.

Next week I’ll be back to my regular internal newsletter format. I’m always around for you, so text, call, email, smoke signals. Whatever.

“Calm is contagious” – Commander Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL

So keep calm and wash your hands.
Happy Thursday!
Michael

A life lesson from Ray Bradbury

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”

~ Ray Bradbury

Respect the quiet

Can’t say amen to this enough.

Effective remote CEOs understand how quality work happens: People need quiet, uninterrupted time to get things done. That’s how people get into a state of “flow,” which is crucial to thinking creatively or building something from scratch -Claire Lew

Workaholics aren’t heroes

“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way”
― Jason Fried, Rework

Taking some time off

I’m taking some time off from my day job to hit reset.

Five years ago I was a leader in Enterprise Security, speaking at conferences like SXSW and GLXP team summits, telling great stories and making a difference.

Somehow I’ve settled for working for the weekend.

And by time off I mean busting my ass. There will be no hammocks and cocktails involved.

Go first

For years I’ve been saying that I need a tattoo with the phrase

You become what you think about. – Earl Nightingale

This simple phrase has kept me on track in placing the important things in my life on the top of everything else. When you think about negative things you become negative. When you think about positive things you become positive. When I read books about aviation, outdoors and opening frontiers I can’t help but become a better aviator, outdoorsman and seeker of new frontiers. When I watch how-to videos on cooking I become a better cook. When I read articles about exercise and health it causes me to take action, exercise and be more healthy.

It’s a simple truth. I like simple truths.

Always put the big rocks in first and you’ll have plenty of time for everything else. And if you don’t have time for the little things that don’t matter then is it really a big deal?

I stumbled across another one this week which really has me fired up.

Go first. – Adam Robinson

When you want everyone to see things in a new way. Go first.

When you want to start a new adventure. Go first.

When you want to spend more time with the people you care about. Go first.

We could go on and on couldn’t we?

Love it.

Digging out after vacation is wrong

“I just got back from vacation, I need a little time to dig out of the hole I’m in now” <– I really hate this phrase.

Is it really vacation if your return to work means twice as much work for the same amount of time you were gone?

A sound strategy would include proper delegation and trust in your fellow employees. Then lean on your mindfulness practice when you feel like everyone is pouncing on you the first morning. Be well rested and mentally prepared to just make some lists. Just write things down. That’s your job the first morning.

Then resisting the temptation to work twice the hours to “catch up”. Most of this work in the product development or sysadmin worlds is just a need for feedback and a request for your expertise. It’s a sign that your unique gifts are valuable. But remember when everyone is trowing stuff over the fence at you to put a note on it with your feedback and toss it right back.

75 Years ago today

I know it’s not the correct time zone, but as 8 AM rolls around on December 7th, it’s hard not to reflect on the sacrifices of an entire generation of men and women who fought so hard for the cause of freedom. Very few of them are still with us, but to those here and gone I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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So about Star Wars…

I’m jumping off of the Star Wars bandwagon.

I don’t want to see 28 other story lines in this universe. I don’t want Han Solo’s back story movies. I don’t need explanations of how the force works, or why the Rogue squadron was so important.

I do understand that I may have to turn in my geek card but that’s a consequence I’m willing to bear.

I’m in the camp that there are 3 Star Wars movies. Two really really great ones, and one that lost it’s way trying to sell toys. They have not been edited from the theatrical versions.

For me the franchise ended in 1983.

Pulling the wool over my eyes now.