Leadership and Management books come and go, and after 22 years since it first saw the light, this book never seizes to amaze me. This past long weekend I was doing some spring cleaning, and in one of the many boxes full of books I stumbled into this treasure. I flipped through my own notes and all the things that I wrote back in 1996 when I first read the book have happened.

Wow! And I thought I had deviated from my course; maybe a few degrees, but still on the same path. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading this book, these are the seven habits

Habits 1, 2 & 3 are about knowing yourself and reaching independence; once you master these habits you’ll have what Covey describes as “Private Victory”

Habit 1: Be Proactive…Taking responsibility for your choices and the next consequences that follow, don’t wait until things happen. Make them happen!

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind…Clarify your personal values and life goals, and think of the path you need to take to make your vision a reality, if you don’t know where you’re going…How do you know you got there?

Habit 3: Put First Things first…If you don’t prioritize everything will become urgent.

Habits 4, 5, & 6 are about you working with others, once you mastered these three you’ll will be interdependent and achieve “Public Victory”

Habit 4: Think Win-Win…This concept is clear to anyone by now. Mutual beneficial outcome is way better than personal benefit.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be understood…Put yourself in the other person’s position and understand their motives. Have an open mind, this will create empathy and it’s extremely useful in solving conflict.

Habit 6: Synergize…The sum of all parts is more than each individual component. Or in simpler words: Teamwork.

The last habit relates to self-renewal

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw…Keep yourself in balance, health, family, study new skills, keep up to date in topics of your interest, seek feedback and act upon it.

In this diagram it’s easier to see how all 7 habits are related.

I guess I have sharpened my saw the past year with the completion of my MBA, and I’m now back at the endless cycle of continual renewal. If you haven’t read the book, it will be worth it. Sometimes an old dog can learn new tricks. Trust me, it’s true.

Until next time…Cheers



Death by PowerPoint

April 18, 2011

How many more PowerPoint torture sessions must we go through before the presenter realizes that 300 slides for a 2 hour presentation is too much? As I’ve gotten older my attention span for presentations has shrunken to about 5 to 10 minutes. But if the PowerPoint is all text and no images, then it’s reduced to about 30 seconds. By the second paragraph my mind is already numb.

I just happened to stumble a type of presentation that incorporates images plus storytelling; it’s called Pecha Kucha http://www.pecha-kucha.org/ and it was invented in Japan in 2003, and slowly has crept in North America. The beauty of Pecha Kucha is that you only have 20 slides and each slide can only be shown for 20 seconds, this makes the presentations very dynamic, since the presenter only has 400 seconds (6.6 minutes) to make his point across the audience.  The idea is to keep our attention to the story and the message, supported by the images. Steve Jobs has used storytelling for years in his presentations, and always uses minimalist slides with one word or one image. So next time you have to prepare a PowerPoint presentation, try this concept out; or at least think about one or two words per slide…Your audience will appreciate it…Say no to Torture by PowerPoint!



Business Intelligence

April 11, 2011

How many times do we hear a company CEO say these words: “We are customer driven/focused/oriented, or this one: “We thrive on customer satisfaction”, or “The customer is king” and then see these same companies file for bankruptcy a few years later?

Did theses companies really listened to what their customers had to say? To me what these companies failed to detect that their market was shifting right beneath their feet, while their “loyal” customers were changing their habits and tastes these companies stuck to their traditional tools like customer satisfaction surveys, customer focus groups, and paid market research studies, or even the good old “The customer doesn’t know what they want; we do”. These tools have their own merit, but are not enough to predict modern customer behavior patterns fast enough. We as customers have evolved; we are way more educated and have access to powerful tools that enable us to do our own market research in Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Forums, etc. When I need to buy something I can find where, how much, how fast, customer reviews the whole shebang in less than an hour. I can ask my friends on Facebook, or send a tweet to get direct feedback; this is what Business Intelligence (BI) should really be about. To me BI is simply listening to your customer through his buying patterns and adapt quickly to meet these needs. Some big companies are already ahead of the pack in BI, it is now that some cheaper tools are available to do this huge data crunching at a smaller scale. As more affordable these tools become, we the customers will be the real beneficiaries, since companies will go the extra mile to offer us what we want before we even know that we want it.

So when you start getting invitations to attend concerts you would die to go, discount coupons for those killer shoes, or a discount seminar to learn that skill you’ve wanted to develop; is because some companies have studied our consumer behavior using BI tools, and tailored their offerings to our particular taste. Groupon.com is one perfect example of an organization that uses BI extremely well.

Until the next time, cheers…


Poke the Box

April 8, 2011

I just finished reading the book Poke the Box from Seth Godin; first let me tell you that it’s an easy book to read, no jargon, or acronyms; plain English. I read it in just one weekend.

In a nutshell Seth wants us to Act! And the sooner the better! We wait too much expecting others to make tough decisions for us, to start innovating for us, to kick-start changes for us. We are under constant “Analysis Paralysis”. We are the royal subjects of King procrastination.

The phrase “Stop thinking about doing and start doing” is so simple, but yet so powerful. This blog is testament of how this book had a profound effect on me. I had been “thinking” about writing a blog for a very long time and always found a reason not to.

Maybe Seth will never read my blog, but I wanted to thank him anyway.

Great book, check it out!



I remember back when this slogan from AT&T came out in 1979, it made no sense to me at the time since I didn’t need to call anyone when I was 11. Now leap 32 years forward and I see how we are über connected; we text, we tweet, we update our Facebook/MySpace/Blackberry/iPhone status several times a day like cult fanatics, then we get home log in our laptops or desktops and send emails, which then we read the replies on our smart phones and start the cycle all over again.

Wow! Now everyone knows everything we do, everything we eat, everyone we meet, everyplace we go; or is this all an illusion? Do we really connect with 300+ friends in Facebook? or with 500+ in LinkedIn?, or with 1000+ Twitter followers? Really?

I realized that the more I was connected; I was farther apart from my real friends and family. So I started to use my phone again for what is was designed to do more than 100+ years ago; to speak to another person. It was so refreshing listening to real people again, listening to their voice, that their tone of voice told me what was their mood, and the most rewarding of all, listening these same people we track like zombies on the social network say to me:  “Thank you for taking the time and call me” I reached out and touched someone, and had 5 wonderful minutes of real interaction with a person; not a bunch of text characters with a profile picture.

Since I started this post with one powerful slogan, I will close with another: “Just Do It”



I have read so many articles, blogs, sites, magazines, and books lately that is hard to remember what is truly relevant and meaningful.

Accidentally I stumbled up with these rules, which are not new, they were written by Cherie Carter-Scott back in the 90’s and became famous due to Oprah. I guess I was too busy then to notice these rules, even though they would have been useful back in the day.

Once thing is for sure, that rule number 10 is absolutely true, that’s the beauty of being a Human Being, we can live, and forget.

Here are the 10 rules:

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, “life.”

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”

4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.

6. “There” is no better a place than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”

7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10. You will forget all this.