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3 years in, it seems to work…

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A like-minded productivity nerd and I have been comparing notes on approaches and tools for personal organisation. It’s occurred to me that others might find my system valuable, and may have suggestions about ways in which it could be improved.

So here it is.

The fundamentals

First, to run a system like this you need a lightweight, flexible task management app (Trello, or an equivalent like Asana).

This acts as a digital kanban, a set of online post-it notes, organised in columns. …

A summary of AG Lafley and Roger Martin’s book on ‘How strategy really works’

Told through the lens of AG Lafley and Roger Martin’s journey to double P&G’s sales and quadruple its profits in the 2000s, Playing to Win is an explanation of what business strategy is and how it works.
At the book’s core is ‘the Strategic Choice Cascade’, a framework they demonstrate with case studies about brands such as Gillette, Pampers and Olay. …

A summary of Gino Wickman’s book on getting a grip on your business

Traction is essentially a framework of (not very catch-ily named) templates and meetings to clarify an SME’s vision, and execute it. Leaning heavily on the work of Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, Michael Gerber and Dan Sullivan, Gino Wickman aims his method at business leaders who:

  • Lack control over their businesses, and instead have their time controlled by their businesses; and/or
  • Are not on the same page as their customers, employees, partners, or suppliers; and/or
  • Have growth or profitability challenges, despite having ‘tried everything’; and
  • Are willing to be open minded, vulnerable and growth orientated, taking risks, discussing difficult issues and…

A summary of Eric Reis’ book on how new businesses can survive and thrive

Without proof from ‘real’ customers that business ideas have genuine potential, founders risk building a new organisation around a product or service which nobody wants or will pay enough for.

Reis pitches his approach to starting a new business as an alternative to ‘just doing it’ on the one hand and traditional, inflexible business planning on the other. It has broad applicability — he defines ‘startup’ as any human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

I don’t have time to read it — what are the book’s main messages?

Ries proposes:

A (long) summary of Daniel Priestley’s book on personal brand and entrepreneurship

Who is Daniel Priestley anyway?

A serial entrepreneur, Priestley is the founder of Dent Global, an accelerator which specialises in scaling traditional service businesses with 6–7 figure revenues, by helping founders differentiate their brand.

I don’t have time to read it, what are the main points?

  1. A Key Person of Influence is one of the ‘top 10 percent’ of their industry. These leaders make more money with less effort, get more recognition, have more enjoyment at work, and attract more opportunities that are a good fit for them, than the other 90%.
  2. Priestley claims those who follow his KPI Method can be Key People of Influence in their industry within 12 months.
  3. There is a catch —…

A summary of Greg McKeown’s book on ‘The disciplined pursuit of less, but better’

Essentialism is to your mind what Marie Kondo is to your wardrobe. McKeown’s mantra — ‘the disciplined pursuit of less, but better’ — seems apt in a modern western world full of anxiety and excess, where many of us feel ‘overworked and underutilised’.

What are the best insights and quotes from Essentialism?

  • ‘We can multi-task, but we can’t multi-focus’; concentrating on two things at once doesn’t work;
  • ‘Don’t ask ‘What do I want to give up?’ but ‘What do I want to go big on?’ — the latter makes the former fall into place;
  • ‘A graceful ‘no’ is better than a vague maybe’; ‘Trade popularity for respect’ by being…

A summary of Dr John Briffa’s book on how to boost your performance — in work and general life — by optimising your energy

Photocredit — Hero Shot

I don’t have the time to read it — what is the book’s main point?

A Great Day At The Office is based on the premise that however impressive our capability or resilience, flourishing in life and work requires energy. The amount of energy we have available impacts our willpower, physical performance, mental capacity, and mood. The book is about optimising various aspects of lifestyle for energy, in order to improve how its readers feel and function.

Who is John Briffa anyway?

A practicing doctor, a journalist, and an international speaker, Briffa’s consultancy provides wellness training services to organisations, focusing on how dietary and lifestyle factors can treat and prevent health issues that erode professional performance.

This plays out in…

A summary of Charles Duhigg’s book on how habits work and can be changed

Modern life is driven by habits — many of them cued by smartphones

Habits are important; they make up some 40% of our daily decisions. Charles Duhigg’s book aims to help readers understand these vital elements of our lives, and how to change them — within ourselves, our organisations and our society.

How habits work:

  1. Habits operate where the basal ganglia, one of the most primitive parts of our brain, runs ‘chunked’ sequences of actions almost automatically. Meanwhile, the ‘higher functions’ of the brain largely shut down to conserve energy. The more developed the habit is, the less thinking we do.
  2. Habits are triggered when the brain recognizes a cue it associates with starting to run…

A summary of John Warrillow’s ‘novel’ about creating a business that can thrive without you

A sound business built with a sale in mind — even if that option is never used — has much more value, carries significantly lower risk, and can be much more personally enjoyable to run, according to John Warrillow.

The author uses two different approaches in Built to Sell to make this point. The first is the fictional story of Alex Stapleton, design agency owner, his serial entrepreneur mentor Ted Gordon, and their quest to sell Alex’s business. …

The best bits of Stephen Covey’s classic

Few people manage to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Given they’re fundamentally ineffective, is gradual change through the cultivation of habits a viable alternative?

To that end, a new year is as good as any to take another look at an old(ish) book — Stephen Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. Awarded ‘the most influential business book of 20th century’ by The Wall Street Journal, it is by some distance Covey’s best-known work, a man whom The Economist called ‘one of the most successful management gurus ever’.

  1. Be proactive — choosing to act rather than be acted upon.
  2. Begin…

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