Focus, Simplify, Act

Beginning of this year I spoke to a colleague who, as the background on his phone (Thanks Mr. Novianto), had his personal mantra. I thought that was neat, so I made one for my desktop. 

These are the three things I try to keep in mind as I go through work and life. Focus, Simplify, and Act. Then today, by chance, I stumble upon an article by Tony Robbins titled: The 3 Decisions That Will Change Your Financial Life. In the article he talks about the importance of Focusing, Figuring it out, and Doing something with it.

I think it's important to build yourself guidelines. Worth a quick read.

On being driven

This weekend my friend Frank and I discussed what it means to be driven and realized that it is hard to define. He told me that he considered a mutual friend of ours to be driven because: "That person is able to clearly articulate their goals."

I told him that goal setting is only part of the story, and in fact, I think it is a smaller part of the story. I break down being driven into three parts. 


This is different from having a goal. Purpose can be vague. It can be as clear as: "I want to have and run my own company", or "I want to be the best father possible", or "I want to rid the world of malnutrition". Purpose comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be hard to define. And it changes. But purpose is the air that fuels your fire. 

I strongly believe everyone has a higher purpose, a meaning for their life in our society that transcends their own. 


Even if you do not have a clear grip over your purpose, you should still be able to visualize your path. What are the possible next steps? Do you create a life open to new opportunities. It doesn't mean everything has to be planned out. It just means you should plan. Try to crystalize your purpose and desires into actual steps.


The best definition I ever heard of discipline was.

"Doing what you need to do, when you have to do it, even when you do not want to."

Thanks Chris!

Being driven means you take action to follow your path guided by your purpose. You do not watch the world go by. You shape your life through actions, even if / when you do not want to.

My friend Frank spoke of another mutual friend who has their own company. And said: "Is this person driven because they started their own company and has to make it work or did they start their own company because they are driven?" 

I said, it doesn't matter. The friend made the choice, and is now gunning for it. He is doing what he has to, even when he doesn't want to.

Anything I'm missing? What does it mean to be driven to you.

Why you should start your meetings with good news

And no, I do not mean; "Do you want to hear bad news or good news first?" I mean in your daily/weekly/monthly update meetings. In the calls you have with your colleagues to recap what has been done and what you are going to tackle next week. 

It is something I learned in my first job straight out of university. We used to do daily meetings that followed the Rockefeller Habits rhythms. (If you don't know about the book, you need to read it.) Why should you start of the meeting with good news?

1.) It's an easy default and creates structure in your update. Start with good news, what have you achieved, what do you want to achieve, and what are your bottlenecks.

2.) It reminds the organization that no matter how tough everything seems and how much adversity you have to overcome, there is always something good happening

3.) It starts your meeting with positive energy that is shared with everyone. It creates a buzz of can do attitude that everyone in your organization can feed off of. 

Three reasons why you should use the power of three

I was at a management strategy meeting last week in Vietnam for our company Edge-Asia. We had all the leaders from all the different markets in one room for three days. There was energy, there was direction, there was purpose.

As I was going through my presentations someone noted that I always break down my thoughts into three pillars, or three points, or three reasons. They asked my why that was. My curiosity was peaked. Why do I do that? And why does it feel so good?

I did my research and it seems that lots of great things come in threes

Besides the fact that it feels right. Here are the three reasons why you should use the power of three.

1. You have to choose

Sticking to three forces you to choose your top three. Or distill your thoughts into three key pillars. This in itself is a good exercise in simplifying. Often when we have four or more reasons, a few of those reasons can be grouped together in one all encompassing reason.

2. You will appear structured and clear

Whether you do or not you will at least appear to know what you are talking about. People who have three reasons are often perceived to be more authoritative and knowledgable. 

3. It is easier to remember

It's easier for you to remember three points. Branded. Structured. You can rattle them off in one go. And it's easier for the audience to remember. We are all flooded with information, having more than three pillars is laziness. You need to do the thinking for your audience. Don't just dump the information on them. 

Now go out and do three things today!

Things to remember.

- Be the dumbest guy in the room. Hire people that know their domain better than you do. Give them the space to grow but the boundaries to excel into a specific direction. Trust their opinions and make sure the work fits into the strategy.

- They will have side projects. It shows an ambitious individual and is a great indicator of initiative and drive. But make sure it doesn't go too far, keep them focused on the company goal. Make sure the company goal is big enough to be exciting, and there are achievements on the way that warrant celebration.

- Weed out any talk of "I". These days nothing worth remarking on is done by one person. Give individual praise vs team praise at a ratio of 1 / 3 respectively. Keep an eye on that person who says: "I contributed this much to the bottom line." They don't understand how business work, show them how their efforts fall together with the team efforts to create great outcomes.

- Recognize team spirit, highlight someone going out of their way to help a colleague. Show the rest of your team that this is important.

- Hire for attitude. Positive, energetic, and no one that holds a grudge.

- You'll never be perfect to everyone, and as the company grows you'll say no more often. Learn how to do this quickly and fairly. Then make sure you stick to your guns.

- Get as much face time in as possible, with a clear agenda for most and a casual chat for some.

- You're the ship steering the speedboat, if you shake the boat left to right your crew will get ill and perhaps fall off. Make course changes with ample lead time and a clear new direction of where the ship's headed. Then make sure everyone know their role during and after the tack. a good tack can energize the team and speed up the boat.

- Do cool stuff. Create quirky rituals. have lots of company outings, create a private Facebook page and upload pictures. Get funny pictures up in the office.

- Foremost, enjoy the work you do and the people you work with. You see them longer, and more often than your significant other.