Business Growth #318 This week: Problem solving, Time hack, Squirrels

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Naming it means claiming it. When your firm labels a problem check behind where the finger is pointing. Calling it cost overrun says the budget is right. Calling it underfunded says the work is efficient. Check the other side before fixing.
  • Rethinking failures may lead to new breakthroughs. Consider the story of Viagra. Its researchers started out trying to fix hypertension. 
  • Systems in place for a long time tend to fix themselves over time. When fixing a problem in an established system, use a light touch. Focus on finding when the problem started.
  • With enough people, money, and time most problems can be solved, or results achieved. Money is considered the most important, but game show producers will tell you time is #1.

Being Human – The ultimate time management hack

“Well begun is half done.” – Mary Poppins (or maybe Aristotle)


In these pages I’ve written about approaching new engagements with more than money on your mind. For most new opportunities the first question is whether you’re talking to the right person, but right behind that is “can they afford it?” Yes, money is important but if we work together you’ll hear me asking just as many, if not more, questions about two other resources: people and time.

You can check my focus by checking it against your life. You never seem to have enough time for everything. I just got an email from a colleague, “I’d love to chat, but I’m trying really hard not to overcommit my time right now.” His response has me thinking about time management hacks.

I’ve read dozens of books on time management. From being a disciple of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” to my friend Mark Hurst’s “Bit Literacy,” I’ve spent a lot of time on this. I’ve employed personal systems, helped teams manage their workloads, and coached individual executives on how to squeeze more out of their hours.

It’s led me to this insight. I’m happy to share it with you, my dear readers.

The number one time management hack, the best way to get more from your days, the ultimate time management hack. . .

Say no. 

Seems simple, but it’s hard to do. One reason why it’s hard to say no is because the people/organizations/devices asking for our time have come up with more ways of getting us to say yes than we have for saying no.

My advice is to start there. How many ways can you think of saying no in a polite, yet firm way? Make a list. Check it. Edit it.

It’s a good place to start.

Random stuff


“I don’t always chase squirrels. . .oh, wait. . .I do.”
– The most interesting dog in the world


I’ve mentioned the marketing battle waged between the bird feeder makers and squirrels. Making what passes as a “pretty” bird feeder that keeps the squirrels out must be big business.

Here’s the thing, it’s just easier to call it a critter feeder and leave the squirrel proof claim off. As far as I can tell even the priciest tool feeds not only the birds, but squirrels, field mice, voles, raccoons, possums, whatever else wanders through. I’ve come to terms with squirrel-proof being a suggestion rather than a prediction.

One who has not come to terms with this is Wilson the Amazing Border Collie. We have spent the last few days running in and out through the frigid cold to chase squirrels away. The little sparrows, the bluejays, the cardinals, and even the hated grackles are permitted to chow down in and around the bird feeder. However, the moment a squirrel makes their way into the yard, Wilson will bolt up from a sunbeam and stare out the door. I will let him out, the squirrel will jump into the tree, Wilson will grab something and growl/shake it, sniff around, and come back inside.

This can go on what one can only assume to be forever. None of the three parties tire of the event. When the door opens the squirrel bolts, a dozen new birds flock to the feeder, the dog runs around, dog goes inside, squirrel returns, birds disappear. On and on.

I’m telling you this because right now I am looking at Wilson on the patio stoop staring at the bird feeder. The squirrel is perched on top and has turned its back to the dog. This squirrel is fat. Savvy. Not its first rodeo. It’s been tormenting Wilson for the better part of the morning. I think Wilson is about to give up. He needs a little help.

The patio door is not silent. Pulling down on the knob/handle makes a clicking noise like a bank vault being opened, pins and rods falling into place. I open it, the squirrel jumps. I close it, the squirrel jumps again. Wilson is now re-engaged and looks at me as if to say, “did-you-see-that?-do-it-again!” in his Scottish accent. We now open and close the door over and over again, watching the squirrel go from feeder to tree to fence into the neighbors yard. I keep the door flapping, sounding the house door chime again and again, bringing the house temperature down a dozen degrees with my windmilling. The squirrel is on the run.

“What in the world are you doing?” says a voice behind me. It’s my lovely bride, wrapping herself in a blanket, looking and sounding very judgemental.

“Nothing,” I say, letting the dog in. “Just playing with Wilson.”


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