Yesterday, November 1st would have been my father’s 86th birthday if he was still alive.
I was always amazed as a kid that my Halloween candy lasted all the way until my father’s birthday.
Of course I thought of him all day and wondered how he would react to Sandy- the newspaper where he was the publisher was without power for 4 days- I imagine he would have slept there if that happened on his watch.
One aspect of his life that he didn’t share often was his dedication to charitable giving. We realized after he got sick that he donated $5-$15 annually to an untold amount of Catholic charities around the world. By check. He hand wrote checks nightly and mailed them every day and didn’t keep track of the amounts for deductions or anything like that. He simply couldn’t say no when asked.
So that’s the approach I’m taking with Sandy- I have no idea how to choose the most worthy recipients- the victims are too numerous. So I’m spreading myself thin, just like he did.
I miss him but this puts a smile on my face.
I was shopping at Whole Foods Columbus Circle yesterday and was looking for Borsari, my favorite rub for meats. I asked the butcher and he told me that, unfortunately, he thought they were out of it. He walked out from behind the counter to where it would be on the shelf. They were out of the orignal flavor, but had orange-ginger rub. He gave it to me.
That’s right- he was empowered to simply write on the bottle that he was giving it to me (the picture above). OK, it was only $5.99, but I tweeted about it, now I’m blogging about it- it’s a great example of a simple way to empower your team and engender good will far beyond the cost of the item.
I got the best advice on time management on the first day of my professional career: “if you take 12 hours to do what should take 8 hours, what will you do when you have 12 hours worth of work to do?”
Excellent question. As I strive to live a 100% life, this quote resonates more today that when I heard it at Macy’s 23 years ago.
Prioritizing what is important in my life everyday means making sure that I always am managing my time so that I spend the most time on what’s important. It means having a compass that I can use to guide me to what’s important; both to me personally and to anything I take on professionally.
8 hours is a lot of time, don’t make it 12.
This ridiculous pile of tools is in my cobbler’s store in Brooklyn. The store is manned by a cobbler and his wife; both are at least 80 years old. Combined they speak 100 words of English. The place is a mess, the quality of the work top notch and the store motto is “I no wanna rob the people”. That’s a direct quote from him after I asked him why he didn’t fix something I asked him to- it didn’t NEED fixing, so he wasn’t going to fix it.
I love going there.
my dog ate my chargers is the 2012 professional version of my dog ate my homework.
This awesome picture is my grandfather, S.W. Calkins, the man who, 75 years ago today, took a leap of faith, buying a failing newspaper in Fayette County, PA that grew into a media company with 7 newspapers, 3 television stations and many web properties. Full story here. I’m proud to be a part of this community business that is still going strong.
His was an amazing story- he grew up in coal-mining PA, near Wilkes Barre. He ran away from home and paid his own way through college. He invented a new accounting system for newspapers and eventually ended up buying his first newspaper from Charles Marsh, a man more famous for being a major supporter of Lyndon Johnson.
There’s a whole bunch more color to the story- ask me in person sometime if you have an hour or so to kill!
I’ve been thinking through two things recently and it dawned on me that they are actually closely related- I don’t have the entire concept grokked, but I’m going to try to write through it here in an effort to understand it better.
I’ve been fascinated for years about how to maximize effort, whether while managing people, coaching kids or in my own life. I’ve come to realize that the hardest thing to do in any activity is to give 100%. We all say that we tried our best but often we actually don’t give 100%.
Because the hardest thing to deal with is to give everything you have and then fail.
If we only give 80% and succeed, great. If we give 80% and fail, well, deep down inside, we can rationalize the failure with the thought that if we had really tried, we would have succeeded. The fear of the pain of giving 100% and failing makes it easier to not give 100%. I’m convinced that the greatest achievers, whether they be entrepreneurs or athletes or something else; can deal with the fear of pain associated with giving 100% and failing. I’ve seen this in my own recovery- if I give 100% and don’t get better, well, that’s OK- it would be way worse to give 100% and not get better.
But giving 100% is far more likely to achieve the required result- if you overcome the fear of that pain; your reward is far greater, even if you do fail. So that is my goal: give 100% as much as possible.
At the same time, I’ve been trying to figure out how to build all of my responsibilities into the correct proportions. I have a multitude of things for which i have responsibilities:
-my family business
I need to also create responsibility in my professional life outside the family business. If I commit more than 100% total out of those things, then everything suffers, and it takes a toll on all of it and especially on me. It becomes impossible to even attempt to give 100% to anything and my goals become impossible to attain. The fear of pain turns into the pain of fear and those things become a vicious cycle- dragging you down. I’ve come to believe that the number one we responsibility that we have is to ourselves. If we take care of ourselves, if we commit 100% to the effort of that, then we can effectively thrive while keeping up our other responsibilities.
So I need to correctly proportion my responsibilities to 100%, so that I can give 100% to all of them. That’s what I’m trying to do: construct a 100% life.
More on this as I figure it out!
Would love to hear from you on this (or any) topic: smithc at gmail
Thanks for reading.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
The first time I was ever asked to invest in something, my college roommate wanted $300 from me to buy Elvis posters at the dollar store, mark them up to $10, advertise them in the back of some weird magazine and make $200. Of which I would get $20.
Interestingly, I ran through all of the same filters then that I have learned to do now when considering whether or not to invest:
-Proximity. I want to be close to the team so that I can help in person whenever necessary. Could I have helped him? Sure- we lived in the same apartment.
-Team. I knew him really well- love him to this day. I knew he was just as likely to buy beer with the money.
-Deal Terms. hmm, 10% of the profits. Not exactly what I was looking for.
-Vision. Could this lead to a huge business where I would rake in cash every month? Nope. It was a very small vision.
I said no.
I started angel investing roughly a year ago and have made 7 investments and am on the verge of making a few more. One cratered and the rest are going strong and I’ve learned a ton in making the investments. The biggest mistake that I’ve made is not getting to know the entrepreneurs enough prior to making the investment- not because I have some great ability to discern whether or not they will be successful; rather that I need to understand the commitment to the Big Vision of the entrepreneur. Vision trumps team for me- if it isn’t huge, then the entrepreneur likely lacks the confidence to
pull it off regardless of what the vision is. It is also unlikely to get huge if the vision isn’t huge! Of course I need to believe that the team in place can execute that vision, but that really is secondary to me.
I’m happy to say that the investments I’ve made that are still “alive” all have huge visions of changing their particular world. I think they will. I’ll try to help.
I’ve posted this before, but my daughter just came home from he first U-7 soccer game so I thought I’d post it again for this year. It is a list of the things I hear most at games that I absolutely HATE:
1. ”Spread Out”- The number one thing yelled at young soccer players- parents hate it when their kids all run to the ball. As a coach, I NEVER tell my players to spread out and would fine the parents who yell it if I could.
Why not? well, kids have no idea what it means and it is way more fun to play with the ball, but most importantly, it’s bad coaching. Great players learn to play in tight spaces and come out of the bunch with the ball.
Space is a luxury;
Get used to playing in the bunch and emerge with the ball.
2. ”Pass the ball”- Ugh. I hate it when parents yell this at kids. It’s borne of good intentions, but giving up the ball before you have to is always a bad idea. If you can score without passing, DON’T PASS.
Keep the ball.
3. ”Stay in Position” Not sure if I hate this one worse than “pass the ball” or not. Great players know where to go on the field regardless of the position they play. Derek Jeter has done some great things being out of position. Being great means stopping the ball where it needs to be stopped- not worrying about what position you’re in.
4. ”Get back on Defense” Certainly related to number 3, but in soccer, you attack when you have the ball (wherever you are on the field) and defend when you don’t have the ball.
What do I instruct my players? One thing only: ”Help your teammates.”
That covers just about every situation on the field.
auditioning a guest blogger.
A lot of the work I have done for startups has been directly related to hiring and I constantly go back to a quadrant that I learned about from a former boss of my wife’s at Coach. It divides potential hires/employees into four quadrants. I’ve listed them here in order of hiring preference:
1. Intelligent and hard working. Very, very rare. Think Michael Jordan. Steve Jobs. (and you of course).
2. Intelligent and lazy. They don’t always work, but when they do, the produce quality.
3. Dumb and lazy. They don’t always work, but when they do, it sucks.
4. Dumb and hardworking. Uh-Oh. Bad work and lots of it.
My goal in both hiring and evaluation is to determine the quality of the work the potential hire/current employee is capable of producing- then I can worry about how to motivate them to produce maximum output.
Agent Zigzag A True Story of Nazi Espionage Love and Betrayal
Ok, the following is sacrilege.
I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame with my son and, gulp, I didn’t love it. We had a great time; but I left with a nagging feeling that it could have been way better.
It hit me a few days later- we saw lots of old baseball stuff, but there was hardly any baseball to watch.
Where was the video archive that I could search?
Why couldn’t I buy an app to queue videos for later by scanning something?
Why can’t I access video by hall of famer?
Why wasn’t there a wall of tv’s with the games currently happening that I could watch while I waited in line?
I wanted to see baseball, even more so after I saw so much baseball stuff. Heck, after the hall, we spent 30 minutes watching 50 year old men playing a game in Doubleday field.
We’ll be back, but next time want to watch some Roberto Clemente highlights.