13 Ways to think differently about systems and organization

A client of mine tried to introduce me to his team recently. And he said, “I don’t know what to call you because you won’t tell me.”

I’ve had this problem for several years. It started in 2011 when I joined an accelerator group and one of the members said to me, “You’re good at systems and organization. You should really let that be your focus and what you ‘sell.’ Business owners will buy that.”

And so I did. And it worked, mostly. Except over and over I found out that what I wanted to work on had nothing to do with actual systems or technology and everything to do with communications.

This week, I had an epiphany. It hit me *POW* right between the eyes.

I teach a lot of things, but probably not what YOU think I teach based on my website and my company name.

Rather my real interests include:

  1. Integrity before productivity
  2. Self-management instead of time management
  3. Integrity and perseverance before sales and marketing planning
  4. Empathy, not efficiency (especially with people)
  5. Honest communication rather than avoidance
  6. Purpose before planning
  7. Infrastructure before systems
  8. Meaning, not materialism
  9. Awareness before organizing
  10. Letting go rather than grasping and striving
  11. Passion before planning
  12. Authentic team-building, continuously and relentlessly
  13. Technology as a tool, not the be-all/end-all solution

And then another epiphany hit me right between the eyes: I actually have a degree in communications. It’s an Organizational Communications degree and it’s about how people are as individuals and how they interact in groups, big or small. Even in college 15 years ago, I unconsciously wanted to focus on this work. Wow!

Here’s the deal: before we talk about systems and organization, I want to get deeply personal with you.

I want talk with you about your fears. About your dreams. About your wishes and hopes and what matters to you. I want you to tell me the things you don’t want me to know about you – to walk right into your terror, your shame, and your frustrations together with me.

And then we can get into productivity, time management, team-building, organization and all those other things. But I have to understand who you are right now before I can help you become who you want to be. And YOU have to understand who you are right now before you can become the person you want to be.

Does that make sense?

Because who you BE affects everything you DO.

I want to connect. I want to dive deep. I want to know what’s up. What you dream about. What scares you shitless.

After we get into that, then the magic begins.

When you’re ready, I’m ready.

Make Some Room,


Making time to plan

How long have you been in business? A few months? A few years? A few decades?

If you’ve been in business more than a few years, I have a question for you:

When was the last time you scheduled an entire day (or two) for planning, strategizing, and big thinking?

My bet is, it’s been a while, right?

And if the answer is never, brace yourself!

I was reading a great article in Inc. Magazine recently. The article’s author, Thomas Goetz, asserts in Making a Plan to Plan:  “Planning ahead is among an entrepreneur’s most essential responsibilities.”


Another smart dude, Stephen Covey (author of First Things First) and co-creator of the brilliant Franklin Covey planners (remember those?), created a matrix to help someone decide if something is urgent or important and how to prioritize effectively.

Most often, I see business owners focusing exclusively on the urgent at the expense of the important.

Planning time to plan gives you power, control, and perspective. Actually using the time you carved out is a whole other story.

Mostly what happens is a business owner says, “Okay, I’m going to carve out one day next week…maybe on Friday…to do some forecasting and strategic planning for the next year.”

And the week flies by, the urgent feels overwhelmingly urgent, and this important planning falls by the wayside. Friday comes and goes and all the owner feels she can do is shrug her shoulders (because truthfully, this isn’t the first time this has happened, right?).

Making time to plan is most successful when include at least one other person. It could be a team member who thinks strategically; it could be a business partner (if you have one); it could be a business coach (ahem…); and/or it could be a group of other business owners (like a mastermind, consortium, etc.).

The point is, when I see business owners trying to make time for planning, lots of other urgent-feeling stuff inevitably gets in the way.

And by not making time, you’re actually hurting your business – and yourself! You’re not focused on anything resembling a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). You’re not asking good questions about the business. And most importantly, you’re missing out reflecting on how YOU are being in your business.

I implore you to make the time to plan.

And treat that commitment seriously.

I’ve loved my two most recent VIP days with two very successful business owners. They now have the know-how and strategies to delegate more effectively, can begin focusing on incomplete or missing operational systems, and can strategically take their businesses to another (better or different) level which is more in alignment with how these business owners want to work.

When you’re ready to dig in, I can help.

Make Some Room,


P.S. Want to schedule a VIP Day with me? I’d be delighted. Click here to apply. I have three spots available for 2014 and will begin a waiting list for 2015.

Finding relief

In high school, I took up the very unusual hobby of wood carving. After school each Thursday, I would join about 15 men (most of them over age 60) to practice the art of making stuff out of wood.

I bought my own tools and showed up ready to learn.

The guys would give me little rough cut models to start with and I’d carve and whittle until I had a handful of something resembling an animal. Some of my end products were a dog, snake, and pig.

One afternoon, one of the guys called me over and said, “Let’s try something new today.” He plopped down a flattish bit of board on the table in front of me.

“It’s called relief carving,” he explained, and began to show me new tools and new techniques to remove wood from a flat surface in order to bring an object up out of the wood.

I was hooked. This wasn’t simply hacking. This was carefully shaving away a bit here, a bit there. Not too much, not too deeply, not too fast.

My favorite relief carving ended up being a chess piece of the Knight (a horse). The piece was about 11 inches tall and eight inches wide. I worked on it for several weeks. Different gouges (special knives for relief carving) helped me shape the horse head, mane, and the frame around it. By the time I was finished, it was soft and beautiful.

What interests me, and what made me think of relief carving after all these years, is much of the work I’m doing with clients these days is about the process of removing.

I don’t use a gouge anymore (and my many clients appreciate that) but I do wield a mean Sharpie marker on a flip chart. Especially during my VIP Days, clients and I will begin to remove what doesn’t need to be in their businesses (or lives) anymore. We cross out what doesn’t belong on their schedules. If it doesn’t serve or doesn’t excite, it goes on the “Don’t like/Don’t Do” lists.

It’s such a pleasure to help them whittle away their frustrations. To hack out obligations. To highlight their likes and loves.

And the finished product? Relieved clients who see something new for their businesses and lives which they consciously choose after spending time carving away what doesn’t serve them.

When you need relief, you know it.


It feels like:

  • Boredom
  • Restlessness
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Disease (dis-ease)
  • A major health/family crisis (or both)
  • Subtle knowing something needs to change
  • Desire for “something more”
  • Knowing there’s more (but not being sure of the what or how)
  • Feeling itchy or antsy (but not in a “I-have-poison-ivy-way, though)

If you feel this way, now’s the time to make some room to discover what’s up.

Begin identifying what’s not serving you so you can reveal what’s left. What’s important. And what’s missing! What makes your heart beat a bit faster – scared but ready? And finally, identify what you really want (and what DO you want, by the way?).

When you’re stuck, it can be difficult to do this alone (even if you do it for others). I can help.

Let’s get carving – the end result is a whole lot of relief.

Make Some Room,


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