Sunday, February 28, 2016

Organize Tomorrow Today - 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life

I recently finished reading Organize Tomorrow Today – 8 Ways to Retrain your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life by Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow. This book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. My emails have been piling up at work. Projects keep coming with more and more detail. The demand of life feels overwhelming. I have been trying to find ways to organize my world and prioritize everything in both my professional and personal life. It’s not easy.

I loved Dr. Selk and Bartow’s advice. Their advice really hit home and was not overwhelming nor did I feel like I have to run out today and change everything that I am doing.  Organize Tomorrow Today is organized into 8 critical chapters each addressing a issue that holds us back from being our best. The authors recommend initially picking one key chapter to focus on at a time to help you organize and change. Doing this will allow you to practice a new technique without becoming overwhelmed or frustrated. Humans can only process 7 concepts at time but really only juggling 3. We all think that we can juggle everything but our brains just won’t let us.

Organize Tomorrow Today speaks to making decisions, establishing priorities, lighting your own motivation, and stop multitasking. This book urged me to keep turning the pages to better learn what I can focus on to make my life more productive and less stressful. I wanted to read the entire book first and then go back to see what one key chapter that I want to begin as my focus. Each chapter offers additional insight by spelling out “The Big Why” for each concept, “The Inversion Test” and an “Act Now” idea to spurn you to get going on each concept. They take it one step further by offering real life examples of what other professionals have committed to in this process.

Here are the 8 key concepts that Dr. Selk and Tom Bartow offer in order to help the reader become more effective:

·         Organize Tomorrow Today
·         Choose Wisely
·         Maximize Your Time
·         Win Your Fight-Thrus
·         Evaluate Correctly
·         Learn How to Talk to Yourself
·         Learn How to Talk to Yourself
·         Become Abnormal

If you study these concepts chapter by chapter and pick a focus one by one, you will grow and quickly learn that they work together as a strong performance improvement plan. The key to growing with this book is acknowledging that you can’t do everything at once. If you try to do too much too soon you will fail as with anything else. This book is one to keep by the bedside or on your desk to reference often. Jot notes in it as you continue on the self improvement journey chapter by chapter. Refer to it often and make it a part of your every day routine. That’s what I’m doing. I’m picking a key chapter, stretching myself, and committing to becoming a more productive and better version of myself.

Organize Tomorrow today is a methodology and a journey, not just a book. It’s a plan that you need to commit to and be accountable to every day. It will take patience and a true interest in your own development and lifelong learning. My first focus is coincidentally the very first chapter Organize Tomorrow Today. I know that I can’t get everything done in a day and I have to plan more. The day before the next I am identifying the 3 key things that I need to get done then choosing the number one item to accomplish. I want to prioritize, not react. Once I have retrained my brain I will move onto the next concept.

If you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, cheated out of time in your day, or unorganized, I urge you to pick up Organize Tomorrow Today. The ideas that Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Barlow offer in this gem really can change the course of your life if you commit to putting in the time and effort to invest in yourself and change. Are you ready?

Monday, February 8, 2016

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Are you ready to read the truth?

"Indeed, promoting capitalism often results in a system that resembles medieval  feudal societies" - John Perkins

I have a banking background so I have always been a financial market and economics geek. As an avid reader, I consistently seek out action packed spy novels peppered with international intrigue and secrets that the characters die for. Little did I think that I would find a non-fiction real life book that quickly satisfied my reading appetite. Once I began reading The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins I couldn’t put it down! Not only does this book reveal bribes, murder, sex, politics, and untold violence, it brings us on a historic journey with real characters and events that we all remember.
Perkin’s book is an expanded edition of his original classic. He updated this book with political and economic events through 2015. You will quickly be chilled by his updates of recent events and the details behind recent banking scandals, economic collapses, and wars. Even if you read his first book you really need to pick up this addition to catch up on the continued antics and impact of Economic Hit Men.
Perkin’s book recants his own journey going back several decades. He tells a tale of a man who does things in the name of capitalism only to find his conscience catches up to him and he decides that he must instead have a positive impact in the world. John Perkins was an EHM – Economic Hit Man who is a person that works for no government but for private industry. The focus of the work is to convince foreign countries to accept large loans for infrastructure such as dams, electric plants, and systems. Sounds great right? Not so fast. These loans are made with inflated ROI’s knowing that the country cannot afford to pay the loan back. The country defaults on the loans after bringing in US contractors to manage the work and the US, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund win. The US uses its pull to ask for favors and control the government and economy. It’s a modern method of capitalist control and way for our CIA to overthrow leaders and allows our presidents to control debt bridled countries. No one wins but the US.
John compares the work of an EHM to a cancer that spreads more quickly with a wider reach than anyone can imagine. It’s a dark method utilized to become dominant in business while controlling others at the upper levels. History repeats itself and we have all lived through times where we are thrust into opening our eyes and seeing that whoever controls the economy controls everything. Remember that little banking crisis in 2008-2009? Just who do you think was behind the fall of some of our own powerful institutions?
Sadly for decades Americans have been proponents of spreading capitalism and democracy because we believe it is the best model. We have slyly crept into countries all over the world to exert our control in the name of democracy. Remember the Shah of Iran? An American puppet. Ever hear that we once supported Bin Laden? All in the name of democracy. Have no doubt that there were numerous EHMs at work behind the scenes bringing about forced change. John’s story is a journey through history of the US gobbling up smaller countries for our own good and self serving purpose. 
John Perkins excelled at what he did. He quickly rose to the top of his organization MAIN but he was well known as a senior economist in several circles as well. Initially, he enjoyed his power and his innate ability to move around different countries and industries with ease and comfort. He didn’t view his career as one who bribed people for the benefit of his country. He actually half convinced himself that he was making a difference. His work slowly deepened in the spy world. He introduces us to “Jackals” who are those that overthrow leaders or even kill heads of state to serve the cause. It is at this point in the book where I became uneasy. I had to face what I had always personally denied – that our government is willing to go to great lengths to control and spread their own views throughout the world. Although I love spy novels I never wanted to accept that our own leaders play games and justify immoral actions. 
The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man pulls no punches. It truly reads like an unfolding novel spanning over 80 years of real events and history. As I turned the pages I relived numerous events that I saw on TV as a child or read about throughout the years. The recounting of details of events such as the overthrow of the Shah of Iran gives the book life and credibility. As I read this book I didn’t want to believe the words that popped out at me, yet I knew they were true. Ever since the US forged into Iraq so many years ago I had doubts and suspicions about our motives. I remain jaded today about our continued “need” to butt into foreign countries. Why do we feel that we need to be the ones to “defend” the world with our military? Better yet, are we really defending them? Perkin’s book quickly answers some of these complicated questions.
John Perkins was silently discontent as his career climbed. He began looking around with new eyes at what was happening and that he was a part of the cancer. After much soul searching he decided to end his EHM career and find out what he really wanted from life. He founded and worked with several non-profits that fought against the very injustices that he had been a part of. He wanted to make a difference and help those with tiny voices to be heard. John made the difficult decision to finish the truths that he began writing years ago to expose our government, EHM, and Jackals, even if it meant harm could come to him. He gave us all an eye into what really happens under our noses in the name of democracy and capitalism. He gave us the truth.
John Perkins doesn’t stop with his tale of truths. He offers us all a way to have an impact on our world and a way to fight back against the system. He has suggestions for readers by offering 11 things that we can all do such as pick a cause to support, fight for reforms, live consciously, and make heroes out of those building a better world. He offers our retired leaders ideas that they can do as well as suggestions for students, corporations, and entrepreneurs. It takes a village folks.
I highly encourage you to read The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. As a citizen of the United States you need to learn and understand what our country does in the name of democracy and capitalism. The time to turn our heads from reality is past. Personally, I was shocked how quickly the pieces of historic events fell into place for me and I saw what I never wanted to see. I want to believe that America cares about other countries and people and that we act in their best interests. Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Now more than ever I see that I need to become more involved in speaking out or taking action with others against injustices. I can make a difference and by working with other like minded people, I can!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Out of the Question - How Curious Leaders Win Guest Post

Leading Knowers and Learners

Have you really ever considered what kind of leader that you are or aspire to be? How does your style impact your world and that of others that you interact with? To be the best leader that you can be you need to reach inside yourself. Are you a Knower or Learner Leader? I know that to my core I am a Learner and I want to bring others to a Learner Leadership mentality as well. I encourage you to pick up Guy Parsons and Allan Milham's book Out of the Question - How Curious Leaders win today. Here is a peak at what you will find in the pages of this gem!

When we think about the difference between leading Knowers and Learners, we think about skiing. Anyone who skis knows that if you lean back, which may be your natural impulse, then your skis will shoot out in front of you and you will have much less control. They key is to lean forward and stay balanced over the top of your skis, even if it feels unnatural at first. Knowers can be so eager to stay in control that they tend to lean back, to pull back to what they know, even though they understand that is not the best way to proceed. As a leader, if you have Knowers on your team, your task is to pull them forward, to get them balanced on top of their skis.

Learners often have the opposite impulse. While Knowers tend to lean too far back, Learners can lean too far forward. And if you lean too far forward, past the tips of your skis, you risk going too fast and taking a tumble. Learners can sometimes get so excited about what’s out in front of them that their ideas and plans get too far beyond others in the group or the real constraints of the organization.

As a leader, whether you have Learners or Knowers on your team, it’s important to help your people stay centered and balanced. The gift that Learner leaders have is being able to walk into a room and know who’s who. They can see who is leaning forward and curious, and who is hanging back. And when they see those differences, they can figure out how best to help each individual move forward with balance.

As a Learner leader, you should recognize that any situation requiring your attention is an opportunity to engage. It’s helpful if you can frame that engagement in your head. The first thing to do is to pause. Then, read the mindset of the people involved to understand whether they are Knowers, Learners, or somewhere in between, so you can address individually their very distinct needs in order to make progress toward your goals.

How do you recognize the Learners and Knowers on your own team?

Guy Parsons is the Founder and Managing Principal of Value Stream Solutions (VSS)Allan Milham’s work as a professional leadership and performance coach over the past 16 years has centered on using powerful questions. For Guy, 20+ years of delights and frustrations consulting with firms attempting to make operational and cultural transformations sparked an evolution in his relationship with his professional coach, Allan, and was the inspiration for Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win. Their book has sparked a new mindset and a practical approach to thriving in the competitive and evolving landscape that today’s leaders face.