Saturday, August 2, 2014

Old Tree

I took a trip to Lake Tahoe and during a hike up to Hidden Lake I saw this tree.  


Sunday, April 6, 2014

My (soon to be famous) Granola

I realize this blog is all over the place.  Maybe someday I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  

One of my hobbies is cooking.  Here is my granola recipe.  Eat a cup of this in the morning with some almond milk and you'll feed healthier all day long.  

Layne’s (soon to be) Famous Granola

10 cups rolled oats
2 cups of 7 grain cereal
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup flax seed
3 cups flaked coconut
2 cups dried cranberries

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt (may be omitted if the sunflower seeds are salted) 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray 2 large baking sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine the oats, 7 grain, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut, and flax seed in a large bowl.  Stir together
  3. In a sauce pan, combine the sugar, syrup, honey, molasses, oil, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.  Bring to boil over medium heat.  
  4. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to coat evenly. Divide the mixture and spread it evenly on the two baking sheets.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir the granola.  Return it to the oven and bake it for another 20 minutes.  
  6. Allow the granola to cool then stir in the cranberries.  Store in an airtight container.  


Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Top 10 Business, Leadership and Productivity Books

Everyone has their own list of favorite books.  If you do a search for the top 10 leadership books of all time, you get variety of opinions.  To add to the noise on this topic, here are my top 10 business, leadership and productivity books.  

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  3. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  4. Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  5. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  6. The OZ principle by Hickman, Smith, and Connors
  7. What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles
  8. Winners Never Cheat by Jon M. Huntsman
  9. Linchpin by Seth Godin
  10. A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard

I know I'm missing some significant authors, so I would like to add that you should read what these authors have written as well:

- Ken Blanchard
- John Maxwell 
- Marcus Buckingham
- Tom Peters

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Interviewers: Getting the Right Person on the Bus.

Here are a few thoughts about hiring.  Having been on both sides of the hiring table over the last five years, I have gathered up the following:  

I think everyone would agree that the goal of interviewing people is to find the right person.  Any business owner will say that their people are key to their business.   Unfortunately, everyone is in too much of a hurry.  The interviewee wants to get to work quickly and the interviewer wants to get done with hiring so they can get back to work.    This fact, combined with the current structure of the human resources selection and interview process is NOT to find the right person, but to find the one person that can check the greatest number of boxes on the job description and that will work for the lowest salary. We use degrees, accreditations, licenses, certifications, and this intangible thing we call "experience" to try and find the right fit.  Is this really the best way?

Most hiring managers are not very good at getting great people and HR's only function is to pare down the list of applicants for the hiring manager.  Typically the hiring manager takes the list from HR and tries to figure out who to hire, but based on what?  Resume quality?  If the job includes resume writing, then this might be a good method.  Because hiring is not their strength, most hiring managers give up and simply hire the person suggested by someone in the company.  They figure that is safer than dealing with an unknown quantity.

Almost every task (outside of professional technical skills) can be trained.  Which would be better?  (1) To find a great person, invest a couple of weeks into training them on the specific systems you use, or (2) to find the person who knows your system, but is not a good fit for your organization.  Dumb question, easy answer.

What if there were a minimum of 3 interviews?

  1. Screening interview. (1 hour)  Sit down with HR and make sure you are not a wacko and that you have the skills and experience needed (on paper).  
  2. Technical/skills interview. (2 Hours) Demonstrate you are qualified to do the work.  
  3. Are you the right person? (4 Hours) Have the person write, create, collaborate, take a personality test.  Have them do strength finders 2.0.  Spend the time to really find out if they a a good fit for your team.   When they are done pay them $100 for their time.  
If appropriate, ask for a portfolio of past work.  Check their on-line presence.  What are they saying and what type of people are following them?  Remember people typically do what they are passionate about on the weekends.  That is also what they post about on social media.  

Maybe it is time we starting think out of the box when it comes to hiring. 

I would suggest everyone read this article called How to Get a Job at Google

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

GTD + EN: Powertools

Here are the power tools I use to make Evernote work for GTD.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Things I wish Evernote would do.

No matter how much we like a piece of software, there is always something else that could be done to improve it.  Here is a short list of what I have come up with in the last few months of using Evernote.

I realize that Evernote is not a to-do list manager and that it was not designed to do projects.  However, it would be nice if you could tie two notes together in some kind of relationship. For example, I would like to have the ability to relate one note to another in some other way than with tags.   Again, I know that it isn't project management software, but I would really like to make one note a successor/predecessor of another note.  That way, I would be prompted to look at the next note in the list when you I got done with the first note.

In premium, Evernote puts related notes at the bottom of the screen.  However, it would be nice if the user had some control over what notes are related.

Reminders are great.  how about recurring reminders?  That would be handy.

Add one more feature to the camera.  Have it so you could scan Bar codes or QR codes and Evernote would look up the product information and add it right into a note for you.  Now that would be cool!

On the iPhone screen real estate is precious.  Using up about 1/4 of the screen showing your last two notes in very tiny font is almost worthless.  I would rather have that room for a slightly larger "Type a quick note" section.

That's it so far.  Bottom line, it is excellent software and  much better than a to-do list manager.  A few tweaks and it would be outstanding.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Evernote Moleskine Notebook

I have been using the Evernote Moleskine Notebook for about 2 months.  Here is my review

Things I like:
  • Color,  Come on, who doesn't think the green band and the green page ribbon are cool?
  • Hard Cover.  Great for writing without a desk
  • Paper.  Excellent writing paper.  Slightly off white.  It is thick enough to use a gel pen without bleeding through.  
  • Grid lines.  It gives those of us who don't have a right brain a bit of incentive to be creative rather than follow horizontal lines.  
  • Getting 3 free months of Evernote Premium.  This was a great way to try out Premium.  Also, I got the book on Amazon for about $20.  So, it was a great bargain considering you got the book and the $15 worth of premium Evernote.  
  • Perfect size.  It is almost exactly the same size as my iPad Mini.  So they both fit in my hand very well.  
Things I don't like.  OK, there isn't much I don't like about this notebook, but here are a few items:
  • Grid lines are too dark.  I'm not the first person who has said this, but it is true.  They simply need to be lighter and thinner. The dashed lines help, but it isn't enough.
  • You can't use a sharpie or a fine point marker.  The ink bleeds through the page.  

Let's get to the real question.  Why would anyone need a notebook when they have an iPad, an iPhone, and a computer almost constantly at their disposal?  Here are my main reasons.
  1. It is still considered rude to be typing in a laptop, an iPad, or heaven forbid, a smartphone, during a meeting.  I don't know why except that almost everyone assumes you are working on something besides what is going on in the meeting.  Having a notebook allows me to quickly capture action items during a meeting.  I can certainly write faster than I can type into an iPhone.  
  2. For me, it is very cathartic to write.  I know that not many people write any more and maybe that is why there are so many emotionally constipated people.    
  3. It is difficult to brainstorm graphically on a computer or tablet.  Many will not agree with me, but when I'm trying to draw on a tablet I spend more time trying to make the software do what I want it to do and less time actually capturing my idea.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

GTD + Evernote: What's the point?

Thinking about my last dozen posts, I realized that I didn't get you started with the end in mind.  (Covey habit #2)

Why would you want to use GTD and put your life in Evernote?  

Great question.

1.  This is not for everyone.  If you haven't read GTD, then you won't get it.  If you have used GTD, then you will understand what having a mind like water will do for your life.

2.  Your mind is great at deciding and thinking.  It is not good at storing information.  I ascribe the the limited brain cell theory.  If you use up brain cells storing, then you can't use them for thinking.  

3.  If you have a system and everything is in your system, then you don't have to think about the system, you can get things done instead.  

Why Evernote?  I am not a huge Evernote fan nor am I an expert on Evernote.  I consider it a tool just like the rest of the tools in my tool chest in the garage.  I don't fret all day wondering if the screwdriver feels bad that it only gets used a few times a year.  Likewise I don't lose sleep over what I put in Evernote.  Once it is in there and processed, there is no need to worry about it any more.  It will come up at the time it needs acted upon.

To me, Evernote and GTD seem to be a great combination.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Making GTD + EN work: Inbox Zero

If you haven't heard the term "Inbox Zero" already, then you need to check out this web site.

http://inboxzero.com/

I highly recommend you watch the video.

I have been using the inbox zero mentality for many years, but I didn't have a name for it so all I could do was brag that my inbox was empty.

In my life, I've seen some strange iterations of getting an e-mail inbox empty including one guy who printed all of his e-mail out, put it in piles (by category) on his desk, and deleted the messages.  I'm not sure that is really getting your inbox to zero.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who have thousands of e-mails in their inbox and are making a futile attempt to manage their time with their inbox.  All this system leads to is acting on the latest and loudest.

Running a zero balance on your inbox takes the discipline to set up.  But it takes more discipline to use a system so you can generate trust in that system.

I use the GTD workflow.  I have a copy posted next to my computer.  See below.

There are two key steps that are easy to say, but hard to make yourself do.
1. As you read the e-mail, you have to answer the "Is it actionable?" question.
2.  You have to have the discipline to implement the 2 minute rule.

If it is actionable (this includes my Someday/Maybe) AND it will take more than 2 minutes, then immediately forward the e-mail to your Evernote e-mail account, file that e-mail in the appropriate reference folder and go to the next e-mail.

If you do that one thing, then there are only two other scenarios.
1. It is not actionable, so it gets trashed or filed.
2. If it is actionable and it takes less than 2 minutes, then I immediately do it.

Even if you get a several dozen e-mails a day, you can quickly get through your inbox if you make yourself answer the "Is it Actionable?" question and then apply the 2 minute rule.

The bottom line is stop trying to do processing inside your e-mail inbox.  ALL of my processing and project planning takes place in Evernote, not in Outlook or G-mail.