Are you making something? – Seth Godin

Making something is work. Let’s define work, for a moment, as something you create that has a lasting value in the market.

Twenty years ago, my friend Jill discovered Tetris. Unfortunately, she was working on her Ph.D. thesis at the time. On any given day the attention she spent on the game felt right to her. It was a choice, and she made it. It was more fun to move blocks than it was to write her thesis. Day by day this adds up… she wasted so much time that she had to stay in school and pay for another six months to finish her doctorate.

Two weeks ago, I took a five-hour plane ride. That’s enough time for me to get a huge amount of productive writing done. Instead, I turned on the wifi connection and accomplished precisely no new measurable work between New York and Los Angeles.

More and more, we’re finding it easy to get engaged with activities that feel like work, but aren’t. I can appear just as engaged (and probably enjoy some of the same endorphins) when I beat someone in Words With Friends as I do when I’m writing the chapter for a new book. The challenge is that the pleasure from winning a game fades fast, but writing a book contributes to readers (and to me) for years to come.

One reason for this confusion is that we’re often using precisely the same device to do our work as we are to distract ourselves from our work. The distractions come along with the productivity. The boss (and even our honest selves) would probably freak out if we took hours of ping pong breaks while at the office, but spending the same amount of time engaged with others online is easier to rationalize. Hence this proposal:

The two-device solution

Simple but bold: Only use your computer for work. Real work. The work of making something.

Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking… anything that doesn’t directly create valued output (no need to have an argument here about which is which, which is work and which is not… draw a line, any line, and separate the two of them. If you don’t like the results from that line, draw a new line).

Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, “break time.” And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you’ve just learned something important.

Go, make something. We need it!

Another Godin masterclass. Time I give this a shot.

Using momentum to our advantage

I am learning a thing or two about momentum of late, particularly as I’m beginning to pay attention to it. It is most obvious in sport, of course. An average team can be unstoppable for a period of time and one defeat (and an accompanying loss of momentum) can result in a slew of bad results.

We experience momentum on a daily basis. If we wake up in the morning with a positive sense for the day, follow it up with a good breakfast and whatever else constitutes a good start, there is a good chance that our day will only get better. I’m sure we all remember days when sleep felt like a waste of time because the momentum was just SO good!
On the other hand, it is equally easy to experience the opposite. Lack of sleep coupled with meeting a jerk on the bus/train and a frowning colleague or a bad meeting to start the day can absolutely kill it as well.
Now, this post is not so much about what to do to turn things around when things are not going your way but to simply take a step back and view things differently. (even if slightly differently)
My analysis on my own productivity over the past year via my patented scoring system has been that I have typically 2 productive days in a week. And 3 in a good one. And I am beginning to use this information to my advantage. Yesterday, for instance, was a statue day and nothing seemed to be going wrong.
When I apply the law of momentum on this problem, the solution was simple – stop doing stuff and just go to sleep i.e. break the momentum.
I did.. Slept 8 hours, got off to a good start and I don’t quite feel like going to bed today. I will, of course, so I have a shot at ensuring tomorrow is a better day..
Something to think about, maybe?
Please note that this post takes a day-to-day perspective. We can of course zoom out and study these things week by week or month by month.. I just prefer breaking the problem down.

NOT about time, ALL about energy

Whenever we are presented with/think of a new challenge, the first question we inevitably ask is ‘Do I have the time for this?’

I just think it is never about the time, always about the energy. I have a couple of hours now to do something productive but thanks to today being a bit of a ‘statue’ day, I’m not in the mood.

Lots of time, no energy.

So, how about asking ourselves the ‘Do I have energy question?’. That may just be way more indicative of whether we can, or can’t do something.

Because if we can get ourselves up and running, time is just an indicator for food and rest.. not for capacity.

‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the world and everything that’s in it..’

Celebrating the world, diversity and life..

What better video to cap the weekend and look ahead at a wonderful week..

There are very few videos that are truly unifying. And this is one.
I’ve found it so positive that this one is now on my sidebar as a reminder to myself – never to forget.. and never to stop celebrating this life!
Wishing everyone a great week ahead!
Oh, and of course.. ‘Boom de ya da boom de ya da…’ :D

On Mojo’s

Have you noticed that star athletes always tend to have unique pre-match habits/mojo’s? Some examples are –

– Michael Jordan always wore his North Carolina Tar Heels shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform for good luck
– Wade Boggs (Baseball) believed he played best when he ate chicken before a game and earned the nickname “Chicken Man.”
– Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar always wears his batting gloves only after stepping onto the field and never in the dressing room
– Chelsea and England football defender John Terry has a whole host of habits including his insistence to sit in the same seat in the team bus and listening to the same pre- match music.

Robin Sharma (in ‘The Greatness Guide’) suggests we create our own ‘Mojo’/ our set of habits that help boost our performance.

Inspired by this, I began writing my daily list of learnings, blessings, goals, big dreams, ‘die by midnight’ and commitment to myself followed by signing off on the commitment with a flourish. And I have indeed found this a very positive way to start my day.

Do you have any mojo’s yourself? :)

The Tale of 3 Restaurants

I have 3 restaurants closest to my place –

1. Al Arez (Lebanese):
I assume the staff training manual here must say –
a) Never smile at a customer
b) Always pretend to be busy.. ALWAYS
c) Always behave like you’re doing the customer a big favor
2. Slemani (Iraqi Kurdish – yes, I’m near Edgware Road for those who recognize it)
Here the manual is slightly different –
a) Look down upon customers
b) Make them feel stupid
c) Don’t just look down.. be arrogant while you can
3. Mahal (Bangladeshi owned Indian)
Here, we have..
a) DON’T make eye contact with your customer. IF you smile, look elsewhere (see below)
b) Don’t smile.
c) Be disinterested
I have abandoned 2 but I still get food from 1 and 3.
Why? Because of proximity.
It’s amazing how my threshold to take crap increases thanks to convenience. Unfortunately, thanks to many customers like me, these service providers forget how far simple courtesies go.

The big learning here – Whenever you build a business, make sure you are easily accessible and score high on the proximity scale. That’s why businesses with top notch and easily accessible customer service always run out winners!