Talk Review – Tony Robbins on Financial Security

You can find my notes on this video by Tony Robbins [TR] on the topic of “Financial Freedom”.

Overall, I thought this talk was insightful and delivered with power and connection in true TR style!

ON BEING WEALTHY VS BEING FINANCIALLY FREE

  • Wealthy != Financially Free
  • Being wealthy is about your psychology – wealthy is about how grateful you feel for what you have.
  • Start from a wealthy state
  • Start from a place of abundance and not scarcity

THE MONK, THE KING AND THE MAGIC LAMP

Tony Robbins tells the following story: A poor monk had a magic lamp that rumour had it always gave double what everybody asked of it. A king, previously known for conquering kingdom after kingdom, called for the monk to appear in his presence. When the monk finally did, visually humbled by being in the presence of such great king, the king asked him about the lamp. The monk mentioned it was a gift from his family for generations, and that for that reason only, that would be the only thing the monk would not give up for the king. The king was enraged, and after the monk left, had him killed. The king got the lamp, closed the palace and asked his first wish of the lamp. “1000” gold coins – the lamp responded “why have 1000 if you can have 2000” – the king thought “YES! you’re right, 2000 gold coins!” – the lamp responded “why have 2000 if you can have 4000”. The king finally died of starvation.

Two things are important here (and I love these kind of stories!):

  • When you reach your dream, you’re likely going to replace it with another     .
  • Be wealthy in the influence you give others and with what you have

FINANCIAL FREEDOM

  • Financial freedom is about building your own money making machine.
  • Everybody’s a trader, currently you’re already are, you trade your time for money. Now you’ll trade your money for money.
  • If you can build something that is working for you (day & night) making you money then you’ve built a money making machine.
  • Individually define financial freedom for yourself, but one example that resonated is when that machine makes me enough money to cover for your cost of living, the cost of your mortgages, some money for fun, some pocket money.

THREE STEPS FOR FINANCIAL FREEDOM

  1. Spend less than you earn
  2. Invest what you save
  3. What you get out of your investment, reinvest

I like how simple this model is. There’s a lot of people not doing #1, and I’m currently still not doing #2 very well (let alone #3!).

MONTHLY MINIMUM FOR INVESTMENT

Take a minimum to invest and keep it the same over a year. Have it go out of your account into your portfolio the minute you get payed.

INVESTMENT BUCKETS – ASSET ALLOCATION

  • Security bucket: 2-6 months of home & living costs; house mortgage; saving
  • Growth bucket: where you invest either by: 1) buy and hold; 2) momentum investing
  • Dream bucket: in where you place money for whatever dream you might have

Most people start with putting money on the dream bucket and forgetting that what they end up buying (a car, a house) likely only goes down in value over time (further, it’s unlikely that “you’re going to sell out the house and eat it”). Next, most people put money on the growth bucket because that’s where the most potential is, but TR equated this to winning at the casino in Vegas (“that’s how they get you”) – once you feel like you’ve won, you end up forgetting how easy it is to loose it in a snap [TR mentioned a story about one guy being in debt -100K at 62 years old].

In the order of security, growth and dream.

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Unspoken toxic truces

The following is a real story.

(edited excerpt from “The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life/business” by Charles Duhigg)

LONDON UNDERGROUND
Philip Brickell, a forty-three-year-old employee of the London Underground, was inside the cavernous main hall of the King’s Cross subway station on a November evening in 1987 when a commuter stopped him as he was collecting tickets and said there was a burning tissue at the bottom of a nearby escalator.

More than a quarter million passengers passed through King’s Cross every day on six different train lines. During evening rush hour, the station’s ticketing hall was a sea of people hurrying beneath a ceiling repainted so many times that no one could recall its original hue.

The burning tissue, the passenger said, was at the bottom of one of the station’s longest escalators, servicing the Piccadilly line. Brickell immediately left his position, rode the escalator down to the platform, found the smoldering wad of tissue, and, with a rolled-up magazine, beat out the fire. Then he returned to his post.

Brickell didn’t investigate further. He didn’t try to figure out why the tissue was burning or if it might have flown off of a larger fire somewhere else within the station. He didn’t mention the incident to another employee or call the fire department. A separate department handled fire safety, and Brickell, in keeping with the strict divisions that ruled the Underground, knew better than to step on anyone’s toes. Besides, even if he had investigated the possibility of a fire, he wouldn’t have known what to do with any information he learned. The tightly prescribed chain of command at the Underground prohibited him from contacting another department without a superior’s direct authorization. And the Underground’s routines—handed down from employee to employee—told him that he should never, under any circumstances, refer out loud to anything inside a station as a “fire,” lest commuters become panicked. It wasn’t how things were done.

The Underground was governed by a sort of theoretical rule book that no one had ever seen or read—and that didn’t, in fact, exist except in the unwritten rules that shaped every employee’s life. For decades, the Underground had been run by the “Four Barons”—the chiefs of civil, signal, electrical, and mechanical engineering—and within each of their departments, there were bosses and subbosses who all jealously guarded their authority. The trains ran on time because all nineteen thousand Underground employees cooperated in a delicate system that passed passengers and trains among dozens—sometimes hundreds—of hands all day long. But that cooperation depended upon a balance of power between each of the four departments and all their lieutenants that, itself, relied upon thousands of habits that employees adhered to. These habits created a truce among the Four Barons and their deputies. And from that truce arose policies that told Brickell: Looking for fires isn’t your job. Don’t overstep your bounds.

So Brickell didn’t say anything about the burning tissue. In other circumstances, it might have been an unimportant detail. In this case, the tissue was a stray warning—a bit of fuel that had escaped from a larger, hidden blaze—that would show how perilous even perfectly balanced truces can become if they aren’t designed just right.

Fifteen minutes after Brickell returned to his booth, another passenger noticed a wisp of smoke as he rode up the Piccadilly escalator; he mentioned it to an Underground employee. The King’s Cross safety inspector, Christopher Hayes, was eventually roused to investigate. A third passenger, seeing smoke and a glow from underneath the escalator’s stairs, hit an emergency stop button and began shouting at passengers to exit the escalator. A policeman saw a slight smoky haze inside the escalator’s long tunnel, and, halfway down, flames beginning to dart above the steps.

Yet the safety inspector, Hayes, didn’t call the London Fire Brigade. He hadn’t seen any smoke himself, and another of the Underground’s unwritten rules was that the fire department should never be contacted unless absolutely necessary. The policeman who had noticed the haze, however, figured he should contact headquarters. His radio didn’t work underground, so he walked up a long staircase into the outdoors and called his superiors, who eventually passed word to the fire department. At 7:36 p.m.—twenty-two minutes after Brickell was alerted to the flaming tissue—the fire brigade received a call: “Small fire at King’s Cross.”

Commuters were pushing past the policeman as he stood outside, speaking on his radio. They were rushing into the station, down into the tunnels, focused on getting home for dinner.

Within minutes, many of them would be dead.

SMALL FIRE AT KINGS CROSS
Hayes, the safety inspector, went into a passageway that led to the Piccadilly escalator’s machine room. When he reached the machine room, he was nearly overcome by heat. The fire was already too big to fight. He ran back to the main hall. There was a line of people standing at the ticket machines and hundreds of people milling about the room, walking to platforms or leaving the station. Hayes found a policeman.

At 7:42 P.M.—almost a half hour after the burning tissue—the first fireman arrived at King’s Cross. As he entered the ticketing hall he saw dense black smoke starting to snake along the ceiling. The escalator’s rubber handrails had begun to burn. As the acrid smell of burning rubber spread, commuters in the ticketing hall began to recognize that something was wrong. They moved toward the exits as firemen waded through the crowd, fighting against the tide.

Below, the fire was spreading. The entire escalator was now aflame, producing a superheated gas that rose to the top of the shaft enclosing the escalator, where it was trapped against the tunnel’s ceiling, which was covered with about twenty layers of old paint. A few years earlier, the Underground’s director of operations had suggested that all this paint might pose a fire hazard. Perhaps, he said, the old layers should be removed before a new one is applied? Painting protocols were not in his purview, however.

As the superheated gases pooled along the ceiling of the escalator shaft, all those old layers of paint began absorbing the warmth. As each new train arrived, it pushed a fresh gust of oxygen into the station, feeding the fire like a bellows.

At 7:43 P.M., a train arrived and a salesman named Mark Silver exited. He knew immediately that something was wrong. The air was hazy, the platform packed with people. Smoke wafted around where he was standing, curling around the train cars as they sat on the tracks. He turned to reenter the train, but the doors had closed. He hammered on the windows, but there was an unofficial policy to avoid tardiness: Once the doors were sealed, they did not open again. Up and down the platform, Silver and other passengers screamed at the driver to open the doors. The signal light changed to green, and the train pulled away. One woman jumped on the tracks, running after the train as it moved into the tunnel. “Let me in!” she screamed.

Silver walked down the platform, to where a policeman was directing everyone away from the Piccadilly escalator and to another stairway. There were crowds of panicked people waiting to get upstairs. They could all smell the smoke, and everyone was packed together. It felt hot—either from the fire or the crush of people, Silver wasn’t sure. He finally got to the bottom of an escalator that had been turned off. As he climbed toward the ticketing hall, he could feel his legs burning from heat coming through a fifteen-foot wall separating him from the Piccadilly shaft. “I looked up and saw the walls and ceiling sizzling,” he later said.

BOOOM
At 7:45 P.M., an arriving train forced a large gust of air into the station. As the oxygen fed the fire, the blaze in the Piccadilly escalator roared. The superheated gases along the ceiling of the shaft, fueled by fire below and sizzling paint above, reached a combustion temperature, known as a “flashover point.” At that moment, everything inside the shaft—the paint, the wooden escalator stairs, and any other available fuel—ignited in a fiery blast. The force of the sudden incineration acted the explosion of gunpowder at the base of a rifle barrel. It began pushing the fire upward through the long shaft, absorbing more heat and velocity as the blaze expanded until it shot out of the tunnel and into the ticketing hall in a wall of flames that set metal, tile, and flesh on fire. The temperature inside the hall shot up 150 degrees in half a second. A policeman riding one of the side escalators later told investigators that he saw “a jet of flame that shot up and then collected into a kind of ball.” There were nearly fifty people inside the hall at the time.

Shortly after the explosion, dozens of fire trucks arrived. But because the fire department’s rules instructed them to connect their hoses to street-level hydrants, rather than those installed by the Underground inside the station, and because none of the subway employees had blueprints showing the station’s layout—all the plans were in an office that was locked, and none of the ticketing agents or the station manager had keys—it took hours to extinguish the flames.

When the blaze was finally put out at 1:46 A.M.—six hours after the burning tissue was noticed—the toll stood at thirty-one dead and dozens injured.

“Why did they send me straight into the fire?” a twenty-year-old music teacher asked the next day from a hospital bed. “I could see them burning. I could hear them screaming. Why didn’t someone take charge?”

UNSPOKEN TOXIC TRUCES
To answer those questions, consider a few of the truces the London Underground relied upon to function:

  • Ticketing clerks were warned that their jurisdiction was strictly limited to selling tickets, so if they saw a burning tissue, they didn’t warn anyone for fear of overstepping their bounds.
  • Station employees weren’t trained how to use the sprinkler system or extinguishers, because that equipment was overseen by a different division.
  • The station’s safety inspector never saw a letter from the London Fire Brigade warning about fire risks because it was sent to the operations director, and information like that wasn’t shared across divisions.
  • Employees were instructed only to contact the fire brigade as a last resort, so as not to panic commuters unnecessarily.
  • The fire brigade insisted on using its own street-level hydrants, ignoring pipes in the ticketing hall that could have delivered water, because they had been ordered not to use equipment installed by other agencies.

In some ways, each of these informal rules, on its own, makes a certain amount of sense. For instance, the habits that kept ticketing clerks focused on selling tickets instead of doing anything else—including keeping an eye out for warning signs of fire—existed because, years earlier, the Underground had problems with understaffed kiosks. Clerks kept leaving their posts to pick up trash or point tourists toward their trains, and as a result, long lines would form. So clerks were ordered to stay in their booths, sell tickets, and not worry about anything else. It worked. Lines disappeared. If clerks saw something amiss outside their kiosks—beyond their scope of responsibility—they minded their own business.

And the fire brigade’s habit of insisting on their own equipment? That was a result of an incident, a decade earlier, when a fire had raged in another station as firemen wasted precious minutes trying to hook up their hoses to unfamiliar pipes. Afterward, everyone decided it was best to stick with what they knew.

None of these routines, in other words, were arbitrary. Each was designed for a reason. The Underground was so vast and complicated that it could operate smoothly only if truces smoothed over potential obstacles. Unlike at Rhode Island Hospital, each truce created a genuine balance of power. No department had the upper hand.

Yet thirty-one people died.

The London Underground’s routines and truces all seemed logical until a fire erupted. At which point, an awful truth emerged: No one person, department, or baron had ultimate responsibility for passengers’ safety.

Sometimes, one priority—or one department or one person or one goal—needs to overshadow everything else, though it might be unpopular or threaten the balance of power that keeps trains running on time. Sometimes, a truce can create dangers that outweigh any peace.

There’s a paradox in this observation, of course. How can an organization implement habits that balance authority and, at the same time, choose a person or goal that rises above everyone else? How do nurses and doctors share authority while still making it clear who is in charge? How does a subway system avoid becoming bogged down in turf battles while making sure safety is still a priority, even if that means lines of authority must be redrawn?

The answer:

Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits. NASA administrators, for instance, tried for years to improve the agency’s safety habits, but those efforts were unsuccessful until the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. In the wake of that tragedy, the organization was able to overhaul how it enforced quality standards. Airline pilots, too, spent years trying to convince plane manufacturers and air traffic controllers to redesign how cockpits were laid out and traffic controllers communicated. Then, a runway error on the Spanish island of Tenerife in 1977 killed 583 people and, within five years, cockpit design, runway procedures, and air traffic controller communication routines were overhauled.

In fact, crises are such valuable opportunities that a wise leader often prolongs a sense of emergency on purpose.

That’s exactly what occurred after the King’s Cross station fire. Five days after the blaze, the British secretary of state appointed a special investigator, Desmond Fennell, to study the incident. Fennell began by interviewing the Underground’s leadership, and quickly discovered that everyone had known—for years—that fire safety was a serious problem, and yet nothing had changed. Some administrators had proposed new hierarchies that would have clarified responsibility for fire prevention. Others had proposed giving station managers more power so that they could bridge departmental divides. None of those reforms had been implemented.

When Fennell began suggesting changes of his own, he saw the same kinds of roadblocks—department chiefs refusing to take responsibility or undercutting him with whispered threats to their subordinates—start to emerge. So he decided to turn his inquiry into a media circus.

The response was instantaneous and overwhelming. Commuters picketed the Underground’s offices. The organization’s leadership was fired. A slew of new laws were passed and the culture of the Underground was overhauled. Today, every station has a manager whose primary responsibility is passenger safety, and every employee has an obligation to communicate at the smallest hint of risk. All the trains still run on time. But the Underground’s habits and truces have adjusted just enough to make it clear who has ultimate responsibility for fire prevention, and everyone is empowered to act, regardless of whose toes they might step on.

CONCLUSION

The same kinds of shifts are possible at any company where institutional habits—through thoughtlessness or neglect—have created toxic truces.

A company with dysfunctional habits can’t turn around simply because a leader orders it. Rather, wise executives seek out moments of crisis—or create the perception of crisis—and cultivate the sense that something must change, until everyone is finally ready to overhaul the patterns they live with each day.

How do you chunk your work?

Say you have two hundred shirts to fold and put in drawers:

Do you:

  • start by separating them over the type of shirt, color, size, and follow that by putting them away in their respective drawers.
  • Or, in alternative, you pick up the first shirt, proceed to put it away, and then come back and repeat, one by one, for the remainder of all shirts.

The first approach is more organised, more effective. After all, you first start by organising the “work items” completely with the end in mind. The second one in comparison looks like you’re spending most of your time walking around between the pile of clothes and the drawers, wasting resources such as time and energy to accomplish the same end goal.

Here’s the catch: going one by one allows you to pause the work you have to do at any time, while always showing demonstrable progress towards your target. The first one IS more effective and more organised, but it’s also less progress centered. In other words, given 10 minutes of folding, using the second approach you’d have done much more packing than using the first approach. Maybe the same is true for 20 minutes of work. 30?

So, when chunking work, it’s worth asking yourself: If an interruption causes me to go do something else for 2 hours and then come back:

  1. would I be able to pick up where I left?
  2. would I have demonstrable progress towards my target?
  3. how many interruptions need to happen for it to be worth going one by one?

(tip: for longer time-spans, progress centered is almost always worth it, one glaring example: cleaning your inbox)

Hope this helps!

 

Crucial conversations

In his book “Crucial Conversations”, Kerry Patterson presents a great model for dialog when stakes are high and emotions run strong. I use the concepts of this book almost daily in business and life, and want to condense the main ideas (and my own thoughts) behind the book here, so I can have an easy reference to go back to.

That said, go ahead and buy this book from Amazon, it’s definitely worth it.

The book focuses on three main ideas, and four very useful models:

  • Start with heart
  • Master your stories
  • Step out, make it safe, step in
  • STATE  (Share facts, Tell a story, Ask for others paths, Talk tentatively, Encourage testing)
  • CRIB (Commit to seek mutual purpose, recognise the purpose behind the strategy, invent a mutual purpose, brainstorm new strategies)
  • AMPP (ask to get things rolling, mirror to confirm feelings, paraphrase to acknowledge the story, prime when you’re getting nowhere)
  • ABC (agree, build, compare)

START WITH HEART

The big thing here is to pause before you even utter a word and get clear on what you want out of the interaction. Move blood flow from the fight or flight areas of your brain to your cognitive ones because believe me, you’re going to need them to work this out. Asking questions refocuses the brain and works as a pattern interrupt for what would otherwise be a downward spiral of results you don’t want.

Start by asking these four questions:

  • What do I want for myself?
  • What do I want for others?
  • What do I want for the relationship?
  • How would I behave if I really wanted those results?

The last question specifically checks for congruence and really is, for me, what makes it work. I routinely find myself identifying a behaviour I should change as a result of asking these questions.

Granted, doing this mid-flight on the conversation is not easy, so I find it preferable to prepare these questions in advance of the conversation.

One more metaphor this book presents is to see the space between you and the other person as a “pool of shared meaning“, a pool you both should work to feed with information. I love how that sounds! It focuses it back on sharing and transparency as opposed to secrecy and more aggressive debate and negotiation techniques. It focuses you back on wearing your conversations white-hat.

MASTER MY STORIES

Others don’t make you mad, you make you mad. In particular, the stories we tell ourselves make us mad. Between stimulus and response there’s a space, and in that space you’re allowed to retrace your path, tell yourself a different story and derive different actions from the same stimulus. Others don’t push your buttons, only you do.

The flow isn’t see->feel->act, but see->tellastory->feel->act.

Telling yourself bad stories will lead to feeling bad feelings and acting in a way that’s unproductive.

There’s three ways to break this cycle:

  • Retrace your path, get back to facts. What really happened in terms of things you can see, hear? Replace “you looked at me angry” by “your face frowned and you started using with your phone”
  • Spot the 3 clever stories. Learn how to spot a Victim story (it always happens to me), a Villain story (i know he’s out to get me) or a Helpless story (there’s nothing i can do to change this)
  • Tell the rest of the story. Turn victims into actors (change your strategies), villiains into humans (what’s the positive intention) and the helpless into the able (what is the best next thing to do)

A good way to share your own story with others is to use the STATE model (Share your facts, Tell your story, Ask for others paths, Talk tentatively, Encourage testing of the findings).

But what about when other people are using a Silence strategy and are unwilling to share their stories (the “ask for other’s paths” part of the STATE model)? In this case use the AMPP model to help feed the pool of knowledge with details of the interaction (ask to get things rolling, mirror to confirm feelings, paraphrase to acknowledge the story, prime when you’re getting nowhere).

STEP OUT, MAKE IT SAFE, STEP IN

Dialogue is only available when both parties have a sense of security. The book makes a case for engaging a conversation in dual-watch mode: watching the conversation for content while also watching it for conditions.

Engaging the conversation in both content and form is important because it allows you to spot early signs of lack of safety. If you’ve worked with body language, mirroring and pacing, dual-watch conversations (content and form) are something you’re already doing so take a look into the additional distinctions below.

When either party feels like safety is lacking, they usually result into one of two opposite strategies: Silence [masking, avoiding, withdrawing] or Violence [controlling, labelling, attacking].

Once safety is broken, it’s usually due to one of two things:

  • Lack of mutual purpose. When one or both parties are not working towards the same goal, the same purpose.
  • Lack of mutual respect. When one or both parties feel like the other one doesn’t respect the interests being presented (or worse, the people presenting them!). Respect is like air, if it’s not there, that’s all people think about – yet if it’s there, the purpose of living is not to keep breathing.

The book makes a case for “stepping out of the conversation”, “making it safe” and then “stepping back in”. This is a tool I use almost everyday with great results. Four things are helpful to do this:

  • Apologise. Just genuinely say you’re sorry – you don’t have to win always, pick your battles. Marshall Goldsmith has gold in his hands when he says: “When it’s sports you want to… win! – when it’s important you want to… win! – when it’s not important you want to … win?”
  • Contrast. This technique is a golden-nugget! The concept is very simple: start with a [don’t] followed by a [do] statement, followed by the [gap]. This is best used when you spot an early sign of lack of safety and want to course correct before the other person jumps to the wrong conclusions. Example: [don’t] I don’t mean to imply you’re not a trust-worthy developer, [do] just last week we worked together on the X feature and you proven to be autonomous and dependable. [gap] What I am saying is that you need to communicate more often on your progress.
  • The CRIB model. (Commit to seek mutual purpose, recognise the purpose behind the strategy, invent a mutual purpose, brainstorm new strategies). This is a similar model to what you find in books like “Getting to Yes”. Again, super useful!

One thing that is not on the book, but that I find useful, is to use a pattern interrupt. Once any of the early signs of lack of safety appear, I usually use a pattern interrupt of smiling and saying “it looks like we don’t share the same goals on this one. I’m sure there’s space for us to work together in a way that looks good for both of us. So before we move any further, help me understand what would you like to get out of this?”.

WHAT IF YOU DISAGREE?

This is one of my favourite parts of the book: If you disagree remember your ABCs (Agree, Build, Compare).

First, make sure you’re not in violent agreement. How many times have you find yourself in the middle of a discussion in where emotions run strong, but you’re all agreeing to the same thing? In here, I use a pattern interrupt as well like “well, it looks like we’re all here in violent agreement on this one [chuckles] – Here’s what I heard: we’re moving on by doing [X] followed by [Y] and that [Z] is the owner of the work stream – does that sound fair to everyone – great let’s tackle the next one“. The essence here is agree when you’re agreeing, don’t turn an argument into an agreement.

Second, it’s acknowledging we’re wired to look for points of disagreement. Instead, setup an attitude of curiosity (like if you’re a scientist observing something that’s happening, or a police officer trying to find out what’s going on). Look for points of agreement and build-on instead of pointing-out the gaps that you see. Say “in addition to what you said […]” instead of “you forgot […]“.

Third, compare how the situation was presented to how you see it by using tentatively language such as “I see things slightly differently“.

Doing it in this order, these disagreements really do turn out in relationship and idea enhancers. Again, I find myself using this model everyday.

And there you have it, the main ideas (and my comments) from the book “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson. 

This was one of the first books I read on the topic and most of the learnings still apply – it’s presented in a super practical way and the quotes & models stay with you as tools you’ll use everyday.

Problem solving questions

The following are 6 great problem solving questions: 

  1. What can I learn from this?
  2. What’s great about this problem?
  3. What is not perfect yet?
  4. What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
  5. What am I NOT willing to do to make it the way I want it?

What I love about this structure is how it only focuses 5% on the problem (the past and the blame) and puts 95% of the focus on what’s great about what happened and what are the options we can pursue to push it to where we’d like to be. 

Additionally, I’d add a sort-of step zero to all those and that is to [0. Identify which problem are we trying to solve]. Without making sure everybody is addressing the same problem (at the same level) there’s really no point starting a joint search for answers.

The real nugget is this: when faced with “I have a problem” ask “What is your question”.

Credit: Tony Robbins (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6ajFtYkLAw)

Three useful one-liner anchors to use on e-mail

I remember reading in a blog post by Seth Godin (a long time ago) that:

  • the bullet points
  • are not
  • the point

They’re might not be the point, but what they are is great attention grabbers. I refer to them as anchors because (as bullet points also do), they tend grab your attention on a first eye scan of the e-mail.

I also find that starting text with a “> [Keyword]” combination works great, as in:

  • > Agreed: text
  • > Follow-up: text
  • > Action: text

Granted, these anchors are not immediately useful, but once people get the gist of your style and if you maintain consistency, they pay off.

I find them useful because:

  • they’re easy to remember and re-use for automated search queries
  • they’re easy to quote back on replies
  • they force you to separate action from reference
  • they force you to ask yourself the questions 1) “what were the agreements” and 2) “what do we do to make sure we follow-up”

For the below example, glance at the text as if it was a blob, and see what pops out:

[EXAMPLE – OLD VS NEW]

 OLD (without anchors)

  • The team presented the draft they prepared over the last week (the first two sections were reviewed earlier)
  • John presented the challenges with the proposed solution but agreed with cost items 1-5
    • Julia will arrange a meeting between herself, John, Peter to review cost items 6-10
  • A meeting will be scheduled by Ricardo on [15/02] as a checkpoint for progress.

Did you find yourself looking at the numbers first? In here, most likely the numbers were the anchors (they popped at first glance).

NEW (with anchors)

  • The team presented the draft they prepared over the last week
    • > Agreed: Sections 1-2 were reviewed earlier
  • John presented the challenges with the proposed solution
    • > Agreed: John agreed with cost items 1-5
    • > Action: Julia to setup a meeting between Julia, John, Peter to review cost items 6-10
  • A meeting on [15/02] will be setup as a checkpoint for progress.
    • > Action: Ricardo will setup the meeting

Hopefully here, on a first scan you were able to more easily 1) extract what was agreed 2) what actions were taken by whom 3) and what will be done as follow-up.

Did you find yourself browsing on the “> keywords” + text combinations? If so, the anchors worked their magic.

Hope this helps,

RC

Short list of effective metaphors

I find metaphors to be very effective tools for communication. They are a powerful way to relate concepts you’re trying to explain with concepts that already exist in the receiver’s head.

Here are some metaphors that I re-use when explaining ideas:

  • Radio: “Let’s pause this discussion here” ; “Can you press pause there for a second, I have this concern I’d like to share” ; “Fast forward 3 months” ; “Let’s backtrack a couple of steps”
  • Iceberg: “What I’m showing is just the tip of a very big iceberg of work that happened over the last 3 months”
  • Empty House: “We build the house, you provide the furniture”
  • Camera & Photography: “Zoom out of this point with me for a second… is this really as important as it looks like to both of us right now?” ; “Let’s zoom into this topic” ; “This is just a snapshot of the information” ; “Providing a panoramic view of the business” ; “Landscape of changes coming up”
  • Food: “Mix like oil and water” ; “Feels like a choice between two poison drinks – doesn’t matter which I choose, it’ll never end well”
  • Internet: “Maybe we can take this topic offline?” ;
  • Football: “You’ve got the ball”; “Eyes on the ball” 
  • Cartoon: “It’s no time to push the panic button now”

I use  these regularly on my communication to great effect! I also find that doing this often promotes a shared vocabulary for the team which is an invaluable tool to communicate effectively.

Hope this helps!