The Leadership of John C. Maxwell and Collin Sewell

Today I want to share with my readers and inspirational story of two men I admire.  The first is John C. Maxwell.  His leadership courses, books, and training have transformed the world.  The other is Collin Sewell.  He is a fellow Odessan and a beacon of our community.  He was featured on the John Maxwell Company’s blog.  His story is both inspirational and a shining example of great leadership in a difficult time.  Enter Collin:

When I think about The John Maxwell Company I think about what I consider to be the premier leadership company for both head and heart: practical leadership training combined with a genuine love for people.

At Sewell we want to make sure we care about our employees in a way that engenders a family atmosphere. We believe that if we take care of them they will, in turn, take care of their own families and the community. The Sewell family, then, becomes a team of leaders. What could be better?

I don’t think people realize that when times get tough a simple paycheck doesn’t propel someone to put forth extra effort at work. But if they know their company cares for them, the story changes.

“People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

I’ve learned from John Maxwell that, “People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you are care.”

This concept was never more apparent then when we faced hard financial times in 2009. Like the rest of the country we faced tough decisions. We could have pursued lay-offs. But it was important for us to make sure our Sewell family knew how much we cared. The clear choices we faced were: eliminate position or keep your position but receive a pay cut. I don’t care who you are; either decision is a tough one.

But even though we were confronted with such a hard reality, not one team member left.

I think that was a testament to cultivating a caring environment. Our team trusted that things would get better and, they did.

Last year just before Thanksgiving I was able to thank our team for their trust. The same people who took a pay cut in order to stay were now the ones on the receiving end of a “bonus” check.

Times like that galvanize people. Times like that also inspire people to take on responsibility for others. What I saw was a team of leaders—caring for one another, trusting in one another and serving one another.

The John Maxwell Company plays a huge role in our team’s development. John’s training content isn’t just theoretical; it’s practical. Whether attending one of The John Maxwell Company’s workshops or Exchange each year, you leave with an action plan.

The John Maxwell Company inspires each of us to be better leaders. The result? A corporate family worth fighting for. Our mission statement says: Building a better tomorrow. This is only possible when head and heart combine for a truly dynamic leadership environment.

“The John Maxwell Company plays a huge role in our team’s development. John’s training content isn’t just theoretical; it’s practical. Whether attending one of The John Maxwell Company’s workshops or Exchange each year, you leave with an action plan.”

Republished with permission from The John Maxwell Company.

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Copyright 2013 The John Maxwell Company.  Articles accessed via http://www.johnmaxwell.com may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission from The John Maxwell Company, except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles.

Why I’m Scrapping My Excel To Do List for Nozbe

Years ago in college I finally caved in and realized a to do list might not be as evil as my middle school English teacher made it sound. So I began to use an excel to do list to track what needed to be done each day. A few years ago I switched to Nozbe and I haven’t looked back.

excel_to_do_list_nozbe

David Allen wrote a book that I’ve used for years as my go to guide on getting things done. The book is aptly named Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  At first, I tried to use my excel to do list to track everything I needed to do. I soon found excel too bulky and rigid.

That is when I found Nozbe. One time through “processing in” and I was hooked. My excel to do list was out the window. Nozbe is the perfect companion to high productivity individuals and anyone looking to implement GTD. It is a must have for leaders and a leadership tool I use daily.

Mobile – I have Nozbe downloaded on my iPhone, iPad, Macbook, and my Office PC. In a pinch, I access it on the web as well. It syncs across all my devices so no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I have my to do list with me.

Project Driven – In Nozbe everything is driven by each project you have. It allows me to seperate things I have to do at work, on my blog, and at home. This enables me to focus on what needs to be done now, where I am.

Next Actions – With every to do, there is an action that must first be accomplished. Doing the next physical action to mark something off your to do list is how you get the productivity ball rolling. Nozbe aligns this next action at the top of each project. I can look at a project and instantly know exactly what I need to do at that very instant.

Context – Context tracking in Nozbe is something I never could achieve with my excel to do list. By clumping things together by context I can “bulk process” items together. Have a phone call to make? Why not sit down and make all your phone calls in one sitting? Context tracking also allows me to remember what I’ve assigned to my employees. For instance, my awesome VA Wendy has her own context. When I send something to her to do, I track it in her context. This way I always remember what I’m waiting for from her, or most often, what she’s waiting for from me.

Intregation – Something Nozbe will do that an Excel to do list is incapable of is integrating with other softwares. When I make a note in Evernote, it can autosync to a project in Nozbe. I can also email to do items to myself. Additionally, Nozbe just announced integration with Google Calendar! The integration is seamingly endless.

Knowledge work hinges on a leader’s capability to recognize what needs to be done next. An Excel to do list just falls short of the functionality today’s leaders need. If you’re curious to try out Nozbe, you can download the free software by clicking on the box in the right sidebar, or you can use this link: Download Nozbe Free. 

What is your default To Do List?

Best Ways to Speed up Your iPhone 5

This is how to speed up your iPhone 5 when it starts getting bogged down.  It can be super annoying when you’re trying to get things done and your iPhone takes forever to function or worse, freezes up for a few minutes.  This has happened to me too many times.

Speed up Iphone 5

Despite my best efforts, I dropped my iPhone and cracked the screen.  So as soon as my contract was up, I hurried to the store to buy a new one.  This time, I was upgrading from iPhone 4 to iPhone 5.  Although Apple tries hard to speed up the iPhone 5 in the lab, the real world was too much for my new phone and it began to slow down.

I searched the web of course for ways to speed up your iPhone 5 and found the usual tips.  Not yet satisfied, I set out on a crusade to help others learn how to speed up your iPhone 5 forever.

Let’s start with the usual ways to speed up your iPhone 5:

Close Apps – My friend first told me about this years ago and it still helps in speeding up your iPhone.  Double click the home button.  This will display on the bottom of the screen all the apps you have opened.  Hold down on one of the apps until they shake and a red “minus” symbol appears.  Click the symbol to close the app.

Turn Off Your Phone – Don’t feel bad if this sounds new to you.  I’ve helped at least 20 people figure out how to turn off their iPhone on airplanes.  Press down and hold the button on the top right of your phone for 5 seconds.  Then follow the “Slide to power off” instruction.  This has a similar effect on the iPhone as sleeping has on humans and is a sure fire way to help speed up your iPhone 5.

Update Your Apps – Navigate to the app store.

Now for the not so usual methods to speed up your iPhone 5:

Focus – To help speed up your iPhone 5, I’ve found it helpful to focus on one thing at a time.  The moments when my iPhone really slows down is when I’m downloading an app, flipping between five opened web pages, and jamming to my favorite Springsteen songs.

Sync and Delete – In the world of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, how can you not be taking pictures all the time?  Heck, the iPhone 5 has two cameras. I think this means you should take twice as many photos!  But honestly, 2,000 photos, twice that many songs, and 15 feature films can take up quite a bit of space on your phone.  To help speed up your Iphone 5, use apps like Dropbox, Shutterfly or even the iCloud to dump all your media off your phone and into the cloud.

Upload Over Wifi – Many apps can be set to upload and download only over a wifi signal.  Even with 4G and LTE, the cellular connections just aren’t as fast and require too much of your phone’s horsepower.  Use this setting to help speed up your iPhone 5 when you’re not connected to wifi.

Private Browsing – I’ll be honest, this one may just be my scepticism but I’m not a fan of cookies.  The real ones make you fat and slow.  The internet ones make your iPhone slow.  In the settings, navigate to Safari and turn on private browsing.  Stop letting those cookies jump on your phone and slow you down.

No one likes slow technology.  This is especially true of the latest and greatest technology.  Follow these few tips to help speed up your iPhone 5.

Let me know which tip seems to work best for you.

My Top 5 iPhone Apps For Travel

I recently wrote a post on how travel can be stressful and can wreck havoc on my biphasic sleep schedule.   The one thing I count on to keep me sane while I travel is my iPhone.  This list is my top 5 iPhone apps for travel.

iPhone Apps for Travel

Without these top 5 iPhone apps for travel, I’d be lost, honestly.  I’m notorious for forgetting what hotel I’m going to or what airline I’m flying on.  Thankfully, I’ve created a trusty team of iPhone apps for travel that keeps everything I need organized in one place.

I’ve created a folder on my iPhone that is dedicated to my travel apps.  They cover a wide range of information including flights, cars, foods and others that can contain everything a person would need.  This is my list of the top 5 iPhone apps for travel.

Tripit – All my itineraries go here.  Whether I’m booking for my own travel or my EA is booking it for me, the first app we use is Tripit.  Simply email your itinerary to plans@tripit.com and at an instant, all your travel information is being input into an organized and intuitive interface showing you all of the information you need.

TripAdvisor – Hungry? Bored? Looking for something to do or see?  TripAdvisor has got you covered.  The “near me now” feature can show you the best places to eat, sights to see and things to do within walking distance.  Zoom out to see the best that your current city has to offer.  This app is how my wife and I found Mission Cafe in San Diego.  It is without a doubt the go-to place for breakfast.  It’s also where our son had eggs for the first time in his life.

Uber – Tim Ferriss used and approved this app and its services are the best alternative to public transportation.  Uber offers black sedans and SUVs to chauffeur you around town.  Simply launch the app and request a pick up.  Your iPhone will tell the driver where you are.  In just a few minutes, your very own sedan arrives to take you around town.  What’s more, everything is electronic.  No need to pay cash, they’ll just charge you credit card on file.

FlightAware – I use this app to track our company plane.  It also comes in very handy to check the flight status of any aircraft in America.  I use it to make sure my flight is on time, check connecting flight status and find out when my colleagues will arrive.

Maps – This is very likely the most popular iPhone app for travel.  Never get lost again, that is unless Apple steers you in the wrong direction or down a road that doesn’t actually exist.  Both have happened to me.  But above all, this app makes it easy to find your way around even in the most complex cities.

Google Now (a bonus app) – In my opinion, this is more intuitive than Siri. I use Google to find things as well as keep track of what’s going on.  Thanks to Google Now. My flights, hotel address, car rental confirmation (if I’m renting, otherwise I use Uber) and even tips on what’s around you come up on the cards.  Google Now also tracks events on my calendar, tells me the weather and helps me plan my day.

Traveling is a breeze with the iPhone apps for travel.  Keeping everything you need at your fingertips will help you to relax and navigate a foreign city as if it’s your own neighborhood.  Pretty soon, people will think you’re a local until you speak, that is, especially if you’re a Texan like me.

What other apps for travel do you use to help you stay on top of things?

How to Come up with Business Concepts

I’m asked frequently how I come up with business concepts.  Currently, I’m the sole owner of three businesses.  I’m also a partner in five others.  These are the ones that meet my criteria for investment.

Business Concepts

Investment in a new company can come by means of advising, financial investment, time investment, or a combination of all of the above.  Great business concepts are all around us.  But just as a watched pot never boils, for the starving entrepreneur, legitimate business concepts seem unthinkable.

This is how I come up with business concepts. Trust me. I’ve come up with thousands.  Not all are keepers.  In fact, most aren’t keepers.  But just as Babe Ruth swung more than any other player, a few of those swings turned out to be home runs.

Finding good business concepts is fairly simple once you trigger your reticular activation system.  The first time my dad rolled down the driveway in his new jeep, I was in awe.  I’d never seen anything like it.  Then, after that week, I saw hundreds.  It’s just the way we’re wired.  You won’t see good business concepts unless you know what you’re looking for.

These are the questions I asked to determine if an idea is a good business concepts:

Do I Need This? – The first thing I ask myself is “Do I need this service/product/idea?”.  If the answer is yes, I keep developing the idea.  If not, it is very likely that other people won’t need it either.  Most good business concepts come from someone looking for something they can’t find.  If they can’t find it and they need it, they just create it.  I keep these ideas in my Evernote while they marinate.

Does this exist? – If the business concepts already exist, can you do it better than all the rest? If it doesn’t exist, ask why not?  These can give you clues to help you better develop your idea.

Am I passionate about this? – You’ve heard the saying that you should do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.  Well that’s not entirely true.  You’ll always have to do tasks you don’t enjoy but if you are passionate about your business concepts, you’ll gladly sacrifice the time and effort to make it a reality.

What’s The Return Period? – What you should really ask yourself is “Are you ready to wait for the return period?”  I’m impatient.  I want results or at least to see that we’re on the right track.  I don’t invest in businesses that require years of financial investment and thousands of hours of work before they show any signs of a return on investment.  I want to know right away if there is any chance of this thing floating or not.

Who Do I Know? – The Winklevoss brothers may very well have come up with the idea of Facebook, I don’t know.  What I do know is ConnectU and Facebook were very bad business concepts.  That is, until Mark Zuckerberg got involved.  It is true what they say, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”  I say this is true because in my experience, a business is dependent on who knows what.  A good leader brings the right people together to execute a vision.

There are literally millions of business concepts created every day.  The ability to decipher between the bad concepts and the good business concepts is where the successful entrepreneur is made.  Follow these few questions to know if your idea is a good business concept or a looming disaster.

Share your good business concepts with us in the comments below.

Weathering the Storms of Life

Whew! That was all I could say when the clouds finally broke and the sunshine hit my face for the first time in months.  We weren’t at the end but it was visible.  The storm was still on the move but the worst had already passed.

The Storms of Life

I enjoy lying my head down at night completely exhausted.  It only means that I’ve lived the day to the fullest.  However lately, I’ve felt this overwhelming feeling.  I lie down each night completely exhausted but not to the thought of living life to its fullest.  Lately, life has been like a hamster wheel spinning out of control.  You have to keep running as fast as you can.  The second you stop, the wheel will move out from underneath you and you’ll land flat on your face.

Unfortunately, that kind of pace is unsustainable for the long term.  A grueling schedule void of rest and reflection is a pathway to burnout, heart disease and increased stress levels.  All hope is not lost.  However, there is a way to navigate through the storms of life without losing your sanity.

Delegate – Delegation is the only way to do more with your time than you can possibly do on your own.  Learning to trust others and allow them to help you is a key to keeping your sanity.  Follow these steps to delegate without fear and start lightening your load.

Prioritize – I’ve heard of many soldiers alive that they are eating only one huge meal per day.  This is because at dinner time, you can’t call your enemy and tell them you’re halting the fight for an hour to eat.  You must learn to quickly recognize the most important thing to do right this instant.  Block everything else out of your mind.

Focus – What do you do when you’ve got a thousand things to do?  You focus on the most important thing and forget about the rest.  This is the only way I’ve found to keep calm during a storm.  I’ve missed blog posts which I hated to do but for the moment, the blog wasn’t as important as other things I really had to do.

Acceptance – The situation isn’t ideal but life rarely is.  In the famous Marshmallow experiment, researchers placed a marshmallow in front of kids and told them if they don’t eat the marshmallow, the researchers would return bringing more of it.  The kids who focused on the marshmallow almost ate it.  The kids who found something else to think about never ate it.  The point is to accept the situation for what it is and shift your focus to the task at hand.  If you find yourself dwelling on all the other things you’d rather be doing, you’ll grow to hate your current situation.

Life rarely goes to plan.  Oftentimes, something we thought was a great idea when we set out to accomplish it turns into a daunting and all consuming chore.  New York Times Bestseller Andy Andrews says “I hate to write but I love to be published.”  Few souls find their way through the storm but when the clouds become clear, life is more beautiful than you can imagine.  Learn to weather the storms of life and you’ll find yourself in abundance of joy.

What storms are in your life right now?

The Best Google Reader Alternative – Feedly

Millions of procrastinators will be scrambling to find a Google Reader alternative.  Today marks the end of Google Reader.  Luckily, the industry has stepped up to create quality Google Reader alternatives.  My top choice is Feedly.

Feedly Google Reader Alternative

Google Reader, launched in late 2005, has been the industry standard for fans looking to organize their blog and website feeds.  I fell in love with Google Reader many years ago.  It has served as my newspaper of choice and has also been a great way for me to keep tabs on my favorite bloggers.

Unfortunately, usage has declined in recent years and since the service does not align well with Google’s other services, the internet giant has decided to close its doors.  Thankfully, they gave us all plenty of notice.  This heads up allowed many Google Reader Alternatives around the web ample time to improve their services and also create easy methods of migration.

I’ve waited until last week to choose my Google Reader alternative.  I did this for several reasons.

 

  1. I wanted to give the industry a chance to adapt.
  2. I allowed others to migrate first, then read their reviews.
  3. I like Google Reader and didn’t want to change until I had to.

 

Fortunately, Feedly has made itself the simple Google Reader alternative.  I’ve chosen Feedly as my Google Reader alternative for several reasons.

 

  1. Simple Migration – Feedly has made a one button migration process.  As you can see in the image above, there is one button to push and Feedly will automatically import all your Google Reader feeds.  This is a big time save over some of the other Google Reader alternatives.
  2. Style – Feedly has replicated the same style and feel to your feed that Google had.  Users of Google Reader will feel right at home with Feedly.  In fact, I think they have actually been able to improve the look and intuitive interaction of Google Reader.
  3. Ifttt Integration – Feedly plays well with ifttt.com, a service I use frequently.  Here are some recipes:  Using ifttt along with Feedly, as your Google Reader alternative, you can do all the same time saving automation I used to do with Google Reader.  Examples include, saving articles directly to Evernote, Tweeting interesting content, and most important for me, sending links to Bufferapp.com with one click.  Try it Here.  Another recipe I use quite often is the save for later to email.  This recipe changes Feedly’s “save for later” button into a quick way to email top content to yourself.
  4. Automation – Feedly makes it easy to share your favorite content across your platform. The Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and Buffer buttons are located conveniently on the top of each article you read.

 

Anyone trying to build a platform will enjoy all the robust features of Feedly.  I primarily used Google Reader as a way for me to go foraging for my tribe.  I would set out every morning to find quality content that my followers will find valuable and share it with them throughout the day.  Feedly makes this even easier than it was with Google Reader.  This is why I’ve chosen Feedly as my Google Reader alternative.

 

Did you make the switch from Google Reader in time?