Working on My Next Toastmasters Speech: One Second Everyday

This past week, I’ve been writing my rough draft for my eighth speech in the Toastmasters Competent Communication manual. The speech objective is getting comfortable with visual aids which can be a slide presentation like PowerPoint, a whiteboard, or even a bunch of physical objects that help tell your story. I’m creating a presentation using PowerPoint with the rules from Presentation Zen, a book I highly recommend for anyone interested in improving their presentations.

This week, I’ve created the rough draft of my speech. Now I need to storyboard my presentation which I hope to complete this weekend.

The main theme of the presentation will be about the wasted seconds in our life, how a second isn’t enough time to accomplish anything, and how we feel like we never have enough time. How many times have you heard one of these responses?

  • Give me a second. 
  • I’ll need one second. 
  • Do you have a second?

Do any of these statements really only take a second?  Of course not, but what if you could accomplish something meaningful a second. Would you be interested in learning how?

About two years ago, I stumbled upon this guy Cesar Kuriyama and his TED Talk, One Second Everyday, about recording one second of his life for an entire year.  At the time he was running a Kickstarter campaign and for $1 I could donate to the cause and get the app he was going to create to make it easier to make your own one second videos. I backed his kickstarter and a few months later I received the app.  Not long after, my son was born and I heard about a number of people making videos of the first year of their kids lives with one second everyday app. That’s what I set out to do and on the day my son was born I started this video. 

Once second a day for a year turned into a roughly 6 min long video that captured every major event of my son’s life.  It’s amazing and something I’ll cherish for ever, it brings me back to the question, what about all those lost seconds? What if you take those wasted seconds and use them to work on a skill or project.  A second is not a lot of time and may seem meaningless, but if you add these seconds up over 10 years.  If I recorded one second a day for the next 10 years of my life, I’d have almost an hour-long video of the past decade.

What could you do with those seconds?

  • Could you learn a new skill?
  • Write a book?
  • Clean your house?
  • Organize your finances?
  • Start a side hustle?

When ever you’re asked for a second it’s always more like a few minutes. You should treat your other tasks like you handle those just-a-second-questions. You might not want to do something (work, exercise, read, writing) for another hour but you could always do it for another second. If you want to build your skills, complete work that matters, and improve your life then you should figure out the wasted seconds in your life that could be used to improve yourself.

One second everyday might not seem like a lot of time but someday those seconds could have you speaking at TED.

Learning to Hustle

A lot of people seem to be talking about hustling. Gary Vaynerchuk has built an empire out of it. What is the hustle and how can I start concentrating on doing more of it?

I recently read A Hustler’s Mentality by Gary Vaynerchuk.  Gary talks about pouring every ounce of your day into your work.  He’s talking about 15 hour days, not having free time to do almost anything else, and ignoring a lot of the people you care about.

During my typical day, I put in about an hour or two in the morning on the side hustle, 8 hours at my regular job, around an hour during my lunch break, and then maybe an hour at night, which means I’m working roughly 11-13 hours a day.  Extending it any longer is a stretch, maybe I could add another hour in the morning or at night but I have young kids at home and they’re my number one priority. I don’t do any work not necessary to keep my regular job until they got to bed.

If I tried to add two more hours, it’s possible, but is it worth it?

Maybe I’m just not cut out to hustle.

Thinking about what it takes to be a father

It’s been almost a year since I wrote my, Are you a father? post. Since then I’ve been helping to raise son and just welcomed my daughter into this world. I’ve been tasked with one of the most important responsibilities, to raise a child.

This past week, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned during the past year. I’m hoping to write a longer post this weekend.

My 2015 Reading Goals

Ever since I read, The Catcher in the Rye, and meet my wife, I’ve been an avid reader.  I currently have two book lists that are usually my go to when I’m searching for another book.  One is the Personal MBA Reading List for business books and for fiction I refer to, the Art of Manliness 100 Must Read Books.  I usually try to alternate between a non-fiction/business/self-help & fiction.  I’ve was kepping track of the books I’ve read or currently reading on sites like Goodreads, but I’ve recently noticed that I haven’t updated my list in a while so I’ve decided to start keeping this list on my website.  I’ve created another page titled, Reading, it will be the location where I update my current progress on achieving this goal: what books I’m currently reading, what books I’ve read, and what books I’m planning to read in 2015.  This list could change as I go through the year and find new books or different interests but my main goal will be the same which is the following:

My goal for 2015 is to read and/or listen to a book a week.  I don’t want to turn this into a book skimming contest.  I want to suck up every ounce of life they have to offer, and hoping that I will be changed by the experience.

Here’s what I read or currently reading:

2015 (Currently Reading)

  1. (Current) All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
  2. (Current) The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
  3. (Current) Walden by Thoreau [DailyLit]

What I’m planning to read in 2015:

  1. How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
  2. Think & Grow Rich
  3. Rules of Order
  4. Lords of Finance
  5. Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
  6. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt
  7. Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits by Greg Crabtree
  8. How to Read a Financial Report by John A. Tracy
  9. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  10. Accidental Genius by Mark Levy
  11. Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions by Gary Klein
  12. Smart Choices by John S. Hammond et al
  13. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  14. The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly
  15. Bargaining For Advantage by G. Richard Shell
  16. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman
  17. Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun
  18. Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows
  19. Turning Numbers Into Knowledge by Jonathan Koomey
  20. How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff
  21. Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter
  22. Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun
  23. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
  24. Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell et al
  25. Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss
  26. Your Money or Your Life by Joel Dominguez & Vicki Robin
  27. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley & William Danko
  28. Fail-Safe Investing by Harry Browne
  29. A Guide to the Good Life by William Braxton Irvine
  30. Marketing Metrics by Paul W. Farris et al
  31. The
  32. Brothers
  33. The Wealth of Nations
  34. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  35. The Grapes of Wrath
  36. Brave New World
  37. The Call of the Wild
  38. Swiss Family Robinson
  39. The Dharma Bums
  40. The Iliad and Odyssey
  41. The Master & the Margarita
  42. Bluebeard
  43. Atlas Shrugged
  44. Another Roadside Attraction
  45. White Noise
  46. Ulysses
  47. Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
  48. Crime & Punishment
  49. Steppenwolf
  50. Don Quixote
  51. Moby Dick
  52. Into Thin Air

2014 (Here’s the books I can remember from 2014)

  1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich — Ramit Sethi
  2. Presentation Zen — Garr Reynolds
  3. Born Standing Up — Steve Martin
  4. Read This Before Our Next Meeting — Al Pittampalli
  5. Catch -22 — Joseph 
  6. A Farewell To Arms — Ernest Hemingway
  7. For Whom The Bell Tolls — Ernest Hemingway
  8. Deep Survival — Laurence Gonzales
  9. Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs — Karen Berman and Joe Knight
  10. Accounting Made Simple by Mike Piper
  11. Brain Rules by John Medina
  12. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  13. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  14. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
  15. Thinking Statistically by Uri Bram
  16. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegu
  17. Zen
  18. The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown
  19. Don’t Bite the Hook by Pema Chodron
  20. The Art of Exceptional Living by Jim Rohn
  21. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin
  22. Lead the Field by Earl Nightengale
  23. See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar

You can check out some of the other books I’ve read in past years on Goodreads.

This post was inspired by Will Gibbons’ LinkedIn post, “The Cheapest, Easiest Master’s Degree of 2015.”

The Modern Meeting Principle 7: Works Alongside a Culture of Brainstorming

Today is the seventh and final day of my week long series about the 7 Principles of Modern Meetings, which come from Al Pittampalli’s excellent book on the topic, “Read This Before Our Next Meeting.”

One of the main points of the Modern Meeting is show you what is or isn’t a meeting.  Brainstorming is not a meeting.  Brainstorming works alongside the Modern Meeting.  It works alongside a decision. The Modern Meeting focuses on the decision.  Brainstorming focuses the creation of possibilities, which is something that is killed during a meeting.  The goal is to go to place place where people are free to show their creativity, a place where there everyday combativeness of most corporate meeting is put to rest and people feel safe.

A problem with brainstorming is that if the topic deals directly with you’re work, the less effective you’ll be at creativity around the problem.  It’s good to have some outside or new people involved with the sessions because they won’t be restrained by their prior knowledge or ownership on the matter.

Check out IDEO, which Al refers to as one of the most creative and innovative firms in the world.  They also believe that brainstorming is a completely different task then most of the things that normally take place inside conference rooms.

Here are the ground rules for brainstorming from, Read This Before Our Next Meeting:

  1. Let’s invite people who are passionate about the idea. A passionate intern is better than a disinterested executive.
  2. Let’s praise liberally. No criticism, not even evaluation. This is not a regular meeting. If it turns into one, then we have failed. Let’s make sure that the measured output of the meeting is the breadth and quantity of ideas.
  3. Let’s number our ideas. IDEO head Tom Kelly recommends deciding how many ideas you want to have and then shooting for that number. This method forces people to let go of their filters in service of meeting the target number of ideas.
  4. Let’s use a timer. It’s toward the very end that people start flinging up last-minute ideas to meet the mark. Perversely, tension helps us overcome fear.
  5. Let’s have fun. (Most of us have forgotten how to have fun at work.)
  6. Let’s get active. Encourage people to stand up, walk around the room. In fact, get out of the room. Brainstorming always works better in a place reserved for just that. If the room is the very same place where you got excoriated for a lousy quarter, it’s hard to feel confident.
  7. Let’s have a clear focus. Make sure the brainstorm is free, but not a free-for-all. The ideas should be targeted in the direction of the problem at hand. Create a clear problem statement and make sure people are on task.
  8. Let’s have a strong facilitator (or an expert). The cost of even the best brainstorming expert is tiny compared to the benefit you’ll get and the time you’ll save. In addition, an external voice can change the tone in the room more easily than you can.
  9. Let’s not invite the boss or the VP of No into the room. You have to make the environment feel safe for people to suggest ideas that are risky, even controversial. If there is a key leader who is clearly holding the session back, that person needs to go.
  10. Let’s write it all down. A non-participant should chronicle everything, even the silly stuff.

This blog post is from the Seven Principles of Modern Meetings which can be found in this great book:

Pittampalli, Al (2011-08-03). Read This Before Our Next Meeting (p. 40). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.

The Modern Meeting Principle 6: Refuses to be Informational. Reading Memos is Mandatory

Today is the sixth day of my week long series about the 7 Principles of Modern Meetings, which come from Al Pittampalli’s excellent book on the topic, “Read This Before Our Next Meeting.”

The day your company institutes the Principles of the Modern Meeting is the death of the informational meeting.  The key to the Modern Meeting is that it is about a decision.  All the work to make a decision needs to be done beforehand.  This means that leaders need to meet with potential attendees to hash out decisions and then communicate those decisions, information, and pre-work to the other potential attendees.  This process all hinges on the people involved to actually read the memos.

As Seth Godin writes about in his great blog about PowerPoint, Really Bad Powerpoint, “Yes, you could send a memo, but no one reads anymore.” The Modern Meeting can not survive without people reading memos.  It’s a key area of the corporate culture that needs to change.  Ask yourself, “What would you be willing to do to save yourself a lot of time and money?” Isn’t a little reading worth the time and effort you’ll save by not having informational meetings.   That’s the agreement leaders and attendees need to make.

This agreement needs to be taken seriously because the agreement is fragile and can be easily undone by a few individuals.

The last part of this principle is probably the most important.  It’s about how you should send out a memo.   The leader needs to give the attendees something worth reading.  The memo needs to effectively share your complete thoughts to the attendees.  The memo needs to be worth the attendees time.  It’s really no different then the purpose of the Modern Meeting.  We’re trying to do all this work to save time in unproductive meetings.  The memo needs to be worth your attendees time to read and respond.  Needs to tell everyone that this memo needs extra attention without ruining their trust.

Tomorrow will be my final post of the Seven Principles of Modern Meetings: Works Alongside a Culture of Brainstorming.

This blog post is from the Seven Principles of Modern Meetings which can be found in this great book:

Pittampalli, Al (2011-08-03). Read This Before Our Next Meeting (p. 40). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.

The Modern Meeting Principle 5: Produces Committed Action Plans

The more you express gratitude for what you have the more you will have to express gratitude for.

Zig Ziglar, PICK FOUR (Week 5 / Day 5)

Today is the fifth day of my week long series about the 7 Principles of Modern Meetings, which come from Al Pittampalli’s excellent book on the topic, “Read This Before Our Next Meeting.”

The Modern Meeting makes minutes a thing of the past.  There is no reason to have a description of everything that happened at the meeting because we will already know what happens at Modern Meetings: conflict and coordination.  The only two things people need to know is the decision and the resulting action plan.

If an attendee does not receive an action plan from the meeting then they can choose not to attend the next meeting.

A major part of the Modern Meeting Philosophy is the idea of reciprocation.  If the leader wants attendance to their meeting then they need to give an action plan to the attendees. Here is what an action plan should look like:

  • What actions are we committing to?
  • Who is responsible for each actions?
  • When will those actions be completed?

One person in the Modern Meeting should have the position of the scribe.  The scribes role is to record the main decision and the record and restate the action items to the group to make sure everyone understands what they need to accomplish. Action items need to be clear because this is the whole reason the meeting was scheduled.

After the Meeting

The leader is responsible for making sure attendees are completing the agreed upon action plans in the time frame they agreed upon and holding them accountable.

The Modern Meeting is about justifying the time spent together.  It’s all about putting pressure on action owners to complete their tasks and completing the cycle.  These action plans are a way of showing your attendees that the meeting worked.

Tomorrow, I’ll write about the Sixth Principle of Modern Meetings: Refuses to be Informational. Reading Memos is Mandatory.

This blog post is from the Seven Principles of Modern Meetings which can be found in this great book:

Pittampalli, Al (2011-08-03). Read This Before Our Next Meeting (p. 40). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.