Challenge Yourself

Do something hard for the sole sake of the challenge!  It will be uncomfortable, but embracing that discomfort and not the outcome that is the exact reason to do it.

Hard challenges open new learning opportunities.  You’ll likely meet new people as you gather information related to execution of the task and maybe even join a group of people who have similar objectives.  Undoubtedly, you’ll gain a skill and grow as a person.  Most importantly, you’ll get outside of your comfort zone and learn how to succeed when things are tough. 

And when you succeed, you will have earned a feeling of success but this is not the reason to do it initially.  Preparation, living through the struggle and willing your way to succeed are the rewards for this venture!

Personal Records

Yesterday I achieved a PR or Personal Record in a half marathon running the race in 1:37:57.  This is not actually a record of any real type.  In fact, 34 of the 656 entrants in this small Chicago race finished before me. 

Rewind: Last weekend there was an actual record set in distance running when Brigid Kosgei completed the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04.  This is a world record as it was an sanctioned course (by whom, I don’t know) and checked all of the official boxes needed.  This is unlike the event that happened 48 hours earlier in Vienna when Eliud Kipchoge covered the 26.2 mile marathon distance in 1:59:40.  While this did represent the fastest time to run the distance, the help of a rotating pacer team, hydration mules (not actual mules as they likely couldn’t keep up) and a pace car shooting lasers to mark the pacer spots disqualifies this from a world record. With that said, I bet Eliud is pretty proud of his accomplishment.

As am I despite the fact that nobody will talk about my accomplishment in years to come.  I own the effort and set a record that may stand for some time.


Rituals are an important aspect of life, culture and comfort.  While many rituals are deeply rooted in religion or ethnicity, some are simply acts that give us comfort due to familiarity.  This can be as simple as the food one eats before a marathon or the way you unpack your suitcase when arriving at a business hotel. 

One of the rituals that I hold closest is the morning coffee.  Over the past few years I have taken great satisfaction of getting the process right.  I have two ways of making morning coffee, one a bit more time consuming than the other.  In both cases it requires the perfect amount of coffee beans, ground to exacting tolerances and water heated to a specific temperature.  While I prefer the pour over method, I will more often than not use a French press due to efficiency.  I will however never use a Keurig or other contraption that removes the joy of the process from the experience.

Rituals are not about outcomes, they are about the process. They are comforting in the perfection of the small details that are otherwise lost in the need for efficiency that pollutes many other aspects of life.

Do Not Compromise on Hiring

Managers know the bedrock of a great team is hiring driven people who have the appropriate background, subject matter expertise and cultural fit.  Many managers also realize that finding the perfect team member is often a long process that can be fruitless for months.  I remember starting a role a few years ago where there was a VP of Marketing requisition open for the prior 12 months and the CEO had already interviewed everybody in the city for the role.  Whether the requisition was not specific enough or there was actually nobody on the entire eastern seaboard to fit the role is a discussion for a different day.

With the challenges of hiring, it is no wonder that managers sometimes take a gamble on a hire.    Sometimes they even settle when their gut says the candidate doesn’t fit. They quickly regret the hire and more often than not, realize their gut was right. This may be a self-fulfilling prophecy or they may have been clairvoyant, but either way, it won’t work out.

To avoid this, I now clearly outline the needs in advance of any interviews and then trust my gut for the final decision.

Scheduling Life with the Eisenhower Matrix

This year I implemented a prioritization tool that has proven very useful.  It is called the Eisenhower Matrix as it was either designed or made famous by US President Dwight Eisenhower. 

The purpose of the matrix is to determine which tasks you will do yourself, delegate, schedule or eliminate from your responsibility set.  This is done simply by putting items in one of four camps related to importance and urgency. 

I’ve found three elements imperative in using this matrix:

  1. Communicate when items are urgent versus important, both when you request that somebody executes them and when something is asked of you.
  2. Limit the items in each box to no more than eight.  This includes both professional and personal items.
  3. The items that are neither urgent nor important should be placed in the appropriate box only if their priority could be changed later when time frees up.  When anything is moved into the bottom right box, inform stakeholders that you have no intention of executing that deliverable so they can reframe their expectations, demonstrate why it should be in a different box or look for another path to have the task handled.

Toys R Us

Apparently Toys R Us relaunched a website.  This brand of the defunct brick and mortar store brings back so many great memories for anybody my age.  The day that Toys R Us closed was a sad day as it represented hope and imagination for so many during childhood.  Yes, the talking giraffe was a little creepy, but we take the good with the bad.

My best memory of Toys R Us was when the original Nintendo gaming system had become incredibly popular. The system cost $89.99 or an additional $10 if you selected Duck Hunt and got the required laser gun – a must have despite the fact that nobody ever played duck hunt.

My father was frugal but knowing that it was a winning hand, he bet me that if the soccer team for whom I played goalie, only allowed two or under goals in the upcoming tournament (four games), he would buy me the upgraded Nintendo system and an extra game.  By some stroke of luck and Jason Doherty’s incredible skills as sweeper, we allowed only one goal that weekend. My father kept his word and it was off to Toys R Us to buy my gaming system.

Toys R Us in the 1970s

Are You a Connector or Separator?

A connector is somebody who freely makes and takes introductions.  A separator is somebody who actively tries to drive a wedge between relationships. 

Connectors broker relationships because they intelligent discourse among smart people.

Everybody wants to view themselves as connectors as it feels magnanimous, friendly and congenial.  But how many introductions have you made this month? How many unsolicited recommendations have you written and done so without demanding credit for it ? Connectors do what they do to make the world a closer knit and open place.

Conversly, do you speak negatively about people not around to defend themselves?  Do you try to discredit people?  If so, you are likely a separator and the world needs less of your type… but the good news is you can change. 

The next time you’re asked for an intro between two people with whom you have respect, make it.  Set up a mentoring session for somebody in your organization. Make a connection between people who have a common interest.  People will remember it and will at some point repay the favor to the world.  Even if they don’t connect you to somebody, they will be more likely connect two people down the road.

If it is Worth Doing, it is Worth Overdoing.

Some people say that everything in moderation is a good thing.  I completely disagree.  Moderation does not truly test the impact of the discipline, event or food in question.  Moderation is a hedge and a fear to understand the impact of truly committing yourself to something. 

Comparing moderation to outright commitment, I’ll start with the positives for moderation.  You are less likely to get tired of the event.  You will never feel like you have failed because you never really put in 100% effort.  You will keep some sort of balance in other parts of your life.  All fair points. 

Points in favor of overdoing things are that you can put in every ounce of your energy to best understand your capabilities.  You’ll never question what would’ve or could’ve been.  You will learn when overdoing something becomes unhealthy and will have experienced it firsthand as opposed to academically.  You’ll also gain a much greater appreciation of the sport, hobby or pastime than you would if you were treating it as temporary as tourism.

So yes, if something is worth doing, I contend that it is most definitely worth overdoing! 

Perspective: A Powerful Antidote?

It’s funny to think about how much we longed for that first car that caught our eye in high school or mourned our first breakup or feared the first mile we were forced to run in gym class.  All of these firsts represented monumental events in our lives and we likely remember them with a level of humor all these years later. 

That car was nice until we made a more comfortable living and a more luxurious model caught our eye.  That first girlfriend lost likely eased into the recesses of our brains when a better fit came along.  And that first mile seems quite irrelevant after we have done many more miles through life.  In all cases, the object of our attention (apologies for being crass) stays the same but our position relative to the subject changes.  Our tastes change, expectations change and measurement of “good” become subjective measurements. 

Technologists try to future proof technology until planned obsolescence makes business sense.  How can we future proof the way we will feel about objects, relationships and drama that enters our life? Is it worth trying or will the absence of desire and loss be worse than the loss itself?

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

On Monday I attended a lecture put on by the Horological Society of New York.  The lecture was delivered by independent watchmakers Richard (formerly of IWC) and Maria Habring who traveled from Austria to share their perspective on creating a fully integrated supply chain to develop an inhouse watch movement. 


  • Originally they used movements (the guts/heartbeat of a watch) from Swatch owned ETA.
  • In 2012, ETA cut them off from all movements and even the components to fix their prior models.
  • They had two choices, give up on their business or find a way to make their own movements. If they gave up, they would never be able to service prior customers.


  • Developed a new movement and all components to not only to service prior models but also build new models.


  • Intended: Saved business, serviced prior movements and built brand and credibility.
  • Unintended: Created a separate business to sell components to small watchmakers.


  • Back to basics as Richard said with a “keep it simple stupid” approach.
  • They stayed humble and consider themselves lucky that they were in the right place at the right time.
  • This is a four person company, so if you call them you have a 50% chance of speaking with somebody who has the same name as the company (Habring).
  • When asked about Marketing budgets, they said their plan to serve customers which is the best way to develop a strong brand.

This post went a little over 200 words but had to do the Habring’s story justice.