Archive for September, 2015

On Heritage Day 2015 Kirstenbosch (or like my friend Deon Viljoen likes to call it “Kirstenbosch University”) lived up to its ability to enchant and teach me.  It was windy on my side of the mountain but there it was just the sun giving energy to flowers so they opened up and shared their beauty with the world.

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In one patch there was this amazing sea of colour of different flowers – each being just who it is and not attempting to be better than any of the other flowers, trying to beat them at seeing who attracts most attention.

Why can’t we be more like these flowers?  Why do we often put others down so we can look better?  Nothing wrong with healthy competition, as long as it does not happen at the expense of others. Why can’t we just be ourselves and make our unique contribution to our families, the places we work, our communities and the world?

In 1993 Joel Birnbaum, who then ran HP Labs, asked  “Why doesn’t HP have the best industrial research lab in the world?” was the question an executive asked based on competitor success. Barbara Waugh took up the challenge to make HP “the world’s best industrial research lab”.  Good progress was made but then it lost momentum until a colleague, Laurie Mittelstadt, said to her “Being the best industrial research lab in the world doesn’t do it for me. But I’d get up in the morning to be the best for the world.”

That minute change in the question “How can HP Labs be the best industrial research labs for the world” made all the difference.  “HP For The World” became the banner uniting all of HP’s businesses.

The flowers in Kirstenbosch are not competing to be the best in the world – they happily play their part in making Kirstenbosch the best for the world.

Reflect on your business and also yourself and ask the question “How can we be the best for Cape Town?”  “How can we be the best for South Africa?”  “How can I be the best for my family?” “How can I be the best for my company?”

Whether you are a politician, business person, team leader, teacher, mother, father or whatever: Be who you are and let other people be who they are.  Then we can all work together to be the best for ourselves, our family, team, department, business, community and country rather than competing in a destructive manner to be the best in our family, team, department, community and country.

Quote: “But one of the things I learned is that when you fight for something you believe in and you tell the truth and you do your best, you can always hold your head up high and no one can take that away from you.” – Vanessa Kerry

 What’s happening?

You can join our new “Productivity Breakthrough for Outlook Users: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” public workshops in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein and Upington – information available here.

I am thinking of re-opening my Productivity Mastery Programme in January 2016. From 2012 to 2014 I conducted five intensive programmes deigned to help business owners, executives and managers to become masters of productivity and also improve the quality of their lives.   More info at this link.

Grab a fun week!


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Zeigarnik was right

I decided over the weekend to see if the Zeigarnik effect is true, This is “the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete.”

It is true.

I started to write this memo at 08:28 on Monday morning, while I’ve opened the document yesterday afternoon and wanted to chat to you then.  Since then I have experienced many “intrusive thoughts” about the opened memo – and those thoughts did not carry positive energy.

My resolve is to take a good dose of self-discipline this week and close my “open loops”. You are familiar with the definition of self-discipline: to do what you have to do or want to do when it needs to be done even if you don’t feel like doing it.

I think the reason for not doing things that need to be done has been captured by Brian Tracy: “It doesn’t seem to matter”.  And if something doesn’t seem to matter then it becomes easier and easier not to do that thing.

I invite you (and your team) to join me in a week of self-discipline.

If we don’t feel like doing something during the day, let’s do it anyway.

And let’s review and learn from every day in the last 10 minutes before we close shop for the day.  If something could not be completed, move it to tomorrow, but if it had not been done after three days it is maybe not all that important and you can delete it from your list!

Quote: “There are two types of pain you will go through in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tonnes.”  – Jim Rohn

What’s happening?  I am thinking of re-opening my Productivity Mastery Programme in January 2016. From 2012 to 2014 I conducted five intensive 13 week programmes deigned to help business owners, executives and managers to become masters of their personal productivity and also improve the overall quality of their lives.

I am thinking of re-opening the programme again for a group of no more than 10 people in January 2016 and would like to know if you would like me to keep you in the loop as things move forward.

Some of the things we will do:

  1. Two intensive one-on-one coaching sessions per month using Skype.
  2. Two group coaching sessions per month using online technology.
  3. You will get free membership for life to my new membership that will launch in January 2016.
  4. A free seat for you or anyone of your choice at my new public “Productivity Breakthrough for Outlook Users: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” workshop in Cape Town, Durban or Johannesburg.
  5. I will be available for all your questions by email, phone or instant messaging.
  6. Should you want to do any in-house work (workshops or individual tuition) in your company, we can make special arrangements for you.

To let me know if you want to be kept in the loop (no commitment!), just click here to send me an email – please put “PMP EOM” in the subject line (that’s for Productivity Mastery Programme) and End Of Message  Thanks!

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I am so glad that I met Kevin Horsley, international grandmaster of memory and author of  Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive, a few years ago and that we could catch up over a cup of coffee on Friday.

I mentioned our new “8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Productivity” workshop to him.  He asked me what the habits were and I named them.  “That’s only seven”, Kevin said when I was “finished”.  I forgot “Finish what you start”!

In the next 5 minutes he helped me to use a method (“number-shape pegs”) to remember the habits very easily by associating information I already know well (the numbers 1 to 8) with new things I want to remember, e.g. the names of the habits by associating it with the numbers using a very vivid picture of what the number represents.

Check it out below. 

Number (of habit) Shape See the shape as vividly as possible (weird and wacky imagery allowed!) Description of habit
1 Pencil Pencil writing in a brain Think Productive
2 Swan Swan on misty lake, wearing glasses with wipers so it can see clearly Clarity: Make your work visible and actionable
3 Camel (Two humps on its back in the shape of a 3) Camel walking on a red line Alignment: All actions must be aligned with one’s priorities
4 Boat sail People on a boat all looking at a whale while all the time focusing their  binoculars Focus: Stay focused on the task at hand and avoid distractions and interruptions
5 Snake Snake sliding through an electric adaptor plug Adapt when priorities change
6 Elephant (with trunk above its head) Elephant storming through the finish line Completion: Finish what you start
7 Fishing rod and line Lazy guy relaxes and takes time out fishing and just very slowly reels in the catch Slow down to speed up
8 Snowman Snowman reading a book Learn and improve


This method is particularly useful to remember lists of things, and here is how I will use it to help people in our workshops remember the 8 basic work habits very easily:




Here are the associations (pardon my handwriting!):



Thanks, Kevin!   Oops, what is habit 6 again…ah, the elephant finishing!

If you have to/want to remember any list, try this method – it works.

Quote: “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” – Albert Schweitzer

What’s happening: “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” public workshops for Outlook users in Bloemfontein (7 October), Johannesburg (14 October, 8 December), Durban (4 November), Upington (11 November) Cape Town (18 November), or invite us in-house.

Remember to have fun this week!

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Yesterday morning I enjoyed an extraordinary and spectacular display of pre-sunrise cloud formations and the amazing display of colours – kind of the Southern Lights!

This is one of the moments I was given during the “show” – you can see more (duplicates and not edited!) at this page.  I hope you enjoy!

While I was enjoying this experience, cars drove by below me on De Waal Drive, a few joggers were doing their thing (hats off to them) and somewhere in the city a motor cyclist decided to do the sunrise run at maximum revs.

They were on the move.  I was stationary, give or take 5 meters.

Maybe they saw some of the beauty, but they were probably more focused on the road and getting to their destination – and missed the “show”.

One has to be still and observe – and allow magic to happen.

Basic Work Habit 8 in our new “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” workshop is “Learn and improve” and what one needs to do here is very simple.  At the end of every day take 5 or 10 minutes, become still and “observe” the day you are leaving behind.  Learn from it and make tomorrow better.

Many people say that they “don’t have the time” at the end of the day to become still and reflect on what’s happened and learn and enjoy – they are focused on being “on the move” and getting home.

They will miss the magic of seeing and enjoying what is going on, and improving their lives.

I invite you to do the following: For the rest of this week, at the end of every work day, don’t rush home but become still and “observe” your day. Take just 5 – 10 minutes to reflect on the day and enjoy the picture and learn from it.  And here is the kicker – even if you don’t feel like doing it. You may even want to do this with your team.

Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • What happened?
  • What worked?
  • What did not work?
  • What can I learn from today to make tomorrow better?
  • Who did I interact with today – any closing calls or emails required?
  • Am I ready and prepared for tomorrow’s commitments?

Drop me an email on Friday to let me know how it went?

Quote:  “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley

What’s happening: Our new “Productivity Breakthrough: 8 Basic Work Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity” workshop!


Enjoy your week!

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