The right breakfast can boost your brainpower

1 09 2006

Got an all day meeting with the boss, attending a seminar or conference, have important negotiations with clients or suppliers, cranking out a mountain of work today? If you haven’t had the right food for breakfast, you results may be up to 20% below your capabilities.

A study by Duke University on children revealed evidence that what you eat in the morning has a definite effect on your ability to learn and concentrate. Link

This is especially relevant for the business traveller. Too often breakfast is a cup of coffee and a donut. Add up the factors of jet lag, a poor night’s sleep, change in personal routine, late night wining and dining clients, stress, and a lousy breakfast and you can quickly see how your professional results might not be at 100%.

Eat that brain boosting breakfast, protein and whole grains; including oatmeal, whole grain bread, toast or cereal, dried fruits or an egg white omelet. Turn your back on sugary and refined starches. Do yourself a favor, eat the right breakfast and let your brain work at 100% for the rest of the day.

Related Links

A better breakfast can boost a child’s brainpower

11 steps to a better brain

Long hours at work can kill you

30 08 2006

Long hours at work can lead to hypertension and death. A study of over 24,000 workers in California by reseachers at the University of California has found that working over 40 hours a week has a direct relationship to higher blood pression and hypertension. Link

The Pope announced that too much work can lead to “hardness of the heart”. He advises that more time should be spent on reflection, meditation, contemplation. Link

What’s the real message here?

Become more efficient. Get the same work done in less time.

Think and plan your work, work SMARTER not HARDER.

Slowing down does not mean being lazy. It requires planning and discipline, and these take time.

Take more time to enjoy life and family, adjust your priorities.

If you are in a leadership position, find out why your people are working consistent overtime, and intervene. You could be saving their lives and improving their health.

Related Links

Pope says don’t work too hard

Long hours lead to high blood pressure

High blood pressure statistics

What are you doing to eliminate uncertainty at your workplace?

17 07 2006

The last week in Mexico has been filled with political, economic and social uncertainty due to the recent Presidential elections and failure to declare a clear victor. As the political parties are working overtime to sell their version of the truth, the rest of Mexico is trying to function “normally”. The uncertainty is affecting the way people live and work, and work/life decisions they are making or avoiding.

It makes perfect sense that uncertainty in our lives and business environment will cause; increased stress, conflicts, delayed decisions, anxiety, and wasted time. Decision-making will be altered, and priorities shifted until “stability” is achieved or perceived.

A leader will intervene at this critical time, to provide a plan or make the required decisions to limit or eliminate the doubt and uncertainty.

Failure to address these issues on time will insure that your leadership status will be diminished, work flow reduced, conflicts created and efficiency and effectiveness lowered.
Start a list, identify the areas of uncertainty that affect you, your department, your company, your industry. Ask your people what factors of uncertainty they can identify as important.

What can be done to reduce, control or eliminate the doubt and uncertainty you have identified?

Can you create scenarios, can you change important factors and outcomes, can you actively seek new ideas and solutions?

Your people expect you, as the leader, to identify and create strategies, to eliminate or minimize doubt and uncertainty….are you doing your job?

Related Links

The business leadership crisis, are you part of the problem? (Link)

Effective Business Meetings

14 06 2006

Making Meetings Effective

It is universally recognized that most participants consider the majority of meetings to be a waste of time. I have attended 4 or 5 outstanding meetings, out of thousands, during my career. Most meetings are; without leadership, unfocused, rambling, without clear objectives, participants are not prepared or interested and 99% of meetings last too long.

Meetings have specific objectives; Information Sharing, Information Seeking, and Decision-making.

Information Sharing Meetings are designed in order to inform others of project results, economic results, corporate decisions, projects and policies.

Information Sharing Meetings are generally brief, as limited member interaction is required. This is not a meeting that seeks or promotes discussion, but often will include time for questions. An agenda is required and should include time estimates for each item on the agenda, including questions. The presentation(s) should be delivered clearly, in an orderly fashion, and if possible a copy of the presentation and key ideas given or sent to each participant after the event (not during, as it will distract their attention).

Information Seeking Meetings are designed to share and receive information from the participants, to discuss and interact, allowing members to share specific information or analysis, in order to make informed decisions.

Information Seeking Meetings, require a strong leader to maintain control of the objectives and discussions. An agenda should be shared, including time estimates for each item on the agenda. All relevant information should be shared via email or hard copy prior to the meeting, in order to reduce presentation time. It is critical that each member arrives at the meeting prepared with information, comments, analysis and questions that will be shared.

Decision-Making Meetings are for making decisions based upon information gathered independently or through a prior Information Seeking Meeting.

Decision-Making Meetings require a strong leader and all participants must be prepared to make decisions at this meeting. An agenda is required, with approximate times for each item. If the participants are not prepared or informed, or important information is incomplete or missing. Stop the meeting and re-schedule, get firm compromises and dates when the information will be available from the responsible individuals, so that the decisions can me made at the next meeting.

I believe it is an error to try and combine these three objectives in one meeting, although many times due to time and logistics constraints it is required. Information and agendas can be shared prior to any meeting, and will significantly reduce the time required to bring the participants “up to speed” on the topic(s).

The keys to any successful meeting are; the leadership, the agenda, and the preparation of each participant.

Leadership and the Agenda

  • A great meeting will always have a great leader or facilitator who plans, directs and efficiently moves the meeting in a specific direction.
  • All meetings should be announced, and all participants invited, as far in advance as possible.
  • Provide a specific agenda for the meeting, and let each participant know what is expected from him or her during the meeting.
  • Follow-up with each participant and determine if they understand what is required, and confirm their participation.
  • A great meeting leader or facilitator will not allow the event to get bogged down or deviate from the agenda.
  • When faced with a situation that cannot be resolved during the meeting, seek specific compromises with the members about who, when, and what is required in order to move proceed.
  • When the agenda has been completed, the meeting is over. There nothing wrong with a 5 or 10 minute meeting, if that is what the agenda calls for.

Every participant in the meeting should be prepared before they walk in the room.

  • Every meeting participant should understand the objective of the meeting, understand why their participation is requested, and should be prepared to participate.
  • Invite only those individuals that are required to reach the objective of the meeting, if others need to be informed of the meeting results, send them a summary of the meeting. By limiting the participation to essential participants, this will guarantee higher attention levels and higher levels of compromise.
  • If it is apparent that the participants are not prepared for the meeting, cancel it and re-schedule it. Continuing a meeting under these circumstances is a waste of time.
  • Meetings that last longer than 60 minutes will not hold the participants attention, and the information presented is not relevant, or could have been shared prior to the meeting. If there is no reason for every member to be present during certain presentations or discussions, let them leave the meeting.

Business meetings are NOT the place to:

  • Discuss the weather, politics, sports, fashion, cars, television shows or movie stars lives. (Unless you are involved in government or the media, fashion, or automotive industries.)
  • Criticize and discipline participants or presenters
  • Take cellular phone calls
  • Work or send emails on your laptop
  • Clean your nails, teeth, apply make-up, or indulge in any other personal hygiene activity
  • Sleep

When it shouldn’t be a meeting

Many time meetings are called with the intention of forming teams, for developing or strengthening inter-personal relationships, and to discuss a business idea (seek group consensus). These are conversations, and not meetings. These “social gatherings” (albeit a business social gathering) should take place outside of the meeting room and meeting process. These “conversations” are best for the cafeteria, the water cooler or better yet in a neutral or off-site location. Want to kick around an idea? Take everyone out to lunch or for a drink after work. Don’t schedule a meeting for this type of activity, it wastes everyone’s time, and contaminates the real meeting process.

Does your company like new ideas?

13 06 2006

How receptive to new ideas, re-invention and creativity are you and your company?  

Are you “Pro-Ideas” or “Anti-Ideas”? 

The first reaction is to say “we are always looking for new ideas” or “we must have new ideas in order to survive”…”we love new ideas”….” we work hard to generate new ideas all the time”…. but is it really true? 

How do you react initially to new ideas and re-invention?  Are you threatened, refreshed, challenged or exhausted?

How do you compensate (reward) the employee or group that generates a new idea?   I’m talking about rewarding idea generation.  This is very different from rewarding ideas that are implemented. 

Does your company encourage idea generation…

Do you have a reward system for ideas that come from suppliers or customers?  Why not? 

Who are the “evaluators” of new ideas in your company?   Who says, “this is a good idea” or “this is a bad idea” and has the final say whether or not to implement it?

Are these individuals or committees powerful within the organization?  Are they also the people responsible for the implementation of the ideas?  Are these the right people for the job of idea evaluation? 

Does your company embrace speakers, seminars, retreats, conferences, or other off-site activities in order to promote idea generation and creativity?  Who in the organization goes to these events, only top executives?  Are middle managers, administrative and front line workers included in this type of activity…why not? 

How does your organization first react to new ideas?  Criticism (“it won’t work because”, “it will cost too much”), or Supportive (“tell me what problem this solves”, “why do you think we should implement this”).

Most new ideas generated will not work, it’s well known that only a tiny percentage of new ideas will be implemented and actually function, but that is NOT the reason to squash all new ideas.   A company that promotes idea generation will have more opportunities at finding these “winning ideas” and survive and prosper.

International Business Trip Planning, Part 4

11 06 2006

Flying there and back

Book your flight as early as possible, it will give you the best rate and  seat assignments.  It also reduces the chances for security checks, last minute ticket buyers come under more scruntiny from government and airline security. – Your Enlightened Guide to Airplane Seating

A website for information on airplane seats featuring the best seat, legroom, recline information.

Airline Contact Information

Need airline information? Get web site, email, phone, address details and more here.

WebFlyer :: The Frequent Flyer Authority

The leading source on the web for travelers interested in learning about the best travel deals on the web and managing reward miles. has consistently been named a Top 100 website by PC Magazine.

International Business Trip Planning, Part 3

10 06 2006

What to pack, what to wear?

  1. What type of clothing will you need?  Formal or semi-formal, business casual, outdoors or work clothing, travel clothing, for sleeping?
  2. What type of shoes will you absolutely need for work and travel?
  3. Count on using hotel laundry for trips that last more than 1 week. This is not a fashion show, it's business.
  4. Use synthetic and synthetic/natural fabrics that don't wrinkle easily.
  5. You should be able to mix and match your clothes, bring basic colors and not too many patterns.
  6. Before packing, lay out your complete outfit for each day of your trip, where can you eliminate items?
  7. Always bring one extra shirt/blouse and a light jacket or sweater, preferably in your carry-on bag..
  8. Spend the money on a great carry-on or suit bag, trust me, it’s worth every penny.
  9. Medicines.  Bring a supply of your daily medications, and 4 or 5 extra doses (in case of flight cancellations, extended trips, etc.).  This should be in your carry-on luggage.
  10. Personal grooming items.  Buy small travel sized items.  Use ziplock bags for liquids.  Keep these in your carry-on bag.