J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

October, 2011

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    Getting Started with Getting Results Free eBook


    Getting Results the Agile Way is a simple time management system for achievers.   Whether you are an underdog trying to make the most of what you’ve got, or you are simply somebody with a passion for more from life, you are an achiever in my book.  (After all, we are all an underdog at some point in our lives.)  This is a system to help you be YOUR best.

    As a time management system, Getting Results the Agile Ways is focused on answering two very fundamental questions about time management:

    1. What to do?
    2. How to do it?

    By figuring out what to do, you set the stage for meaningful results.  This is all about slowing down to speed up.  This also reiterates the idea that less is more.  Rather than spread yourself thin, the idea is to focus on what really matters to you, and create meaningful experiences.

    This is a very short guide to get you up and running fast with Getting Results the Agile Way …


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    Press Release for Getting Results the Agile Way on Kindle


    The press release for Getting Results the Agile Way is now live at Time Management Tips and Time Management Strategies for Achievers.   I think the message hits a sweet spot – it’s a time management system for achievers.  (One interesting tidbit along those lines is that Getting Results the Agile Way was #2 on the Amazon best sellers list in Germany for “time management”.)

    Here are the opening paragraphs:

    Some say, “Time is all we have.” To master time is to master life. The secret of time management is to have a trusted system and a collection of time management tips and time management strategies to draw from.

    Getting Results the Agile Way, by J.D. Meier, now available on Kindle, is a time management system for achievers focused on meaningful results. The power of Getting Results the Agile Way is that it combines some of the best practices for thinking, feeling, and taking action into one simple system to help achievers make the most of what they’ve got.

    You can read the rest of the press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/10/prweb8914806.htm

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    Friday Links 2011-10-28


    From the Archives
    Business Scenarios for the Cloud - While putting together lessons learned from our Enterprise Strategy cloud engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring business scenarios and themes.  You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from a business perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.

    IT Scenarios for the Cloud - While putting together lessons learned from our Cloud-related Enterprise Strategy engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring IT scenarios and themes.  You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from an IT perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.

    From the Web
    Time Management Checklist - Here is a checklist for improving your time management skills.  It includes proven practices and time-tested strategies and tactics.  You can use the checklist to inspect and evaluate your time management skills.  You can also use the checklist as a simple set of one-liner reminders to draw from when you need them.

    Leadership Checklist - I’ve created a leadership checklist that should act like a hub and spoke of effective leadership practices.  The challenge is distilling effective leadership practices into one-liner reminders that are easy to evaluate the behavior, where possible.

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    Program Management Tip - Save Time by Working on What Actually Counts


    One of the most valuable lessons I learned early on in Program Management at Microsoft, is that value is in the eye of the beholder.

    One common pitfall is throwing a lot of time and effort at things, only to find that when you’re done, nobody cares. If you keep feeling a lack of appreciation, then ask yourself, “Who was I doing it for?” If it was for yourself, was it what you most cared about, or could you have invested the same time in something else and felt like you made a more important impact. If you were doing it for somebody else, ask them whether what you’re working on is really the most important thing to them. If you’re working on a lot of low-priority items, don’t expect to get the rewards. In fact, a pattern is that the more you work on low-priority items, the more you become a dumping ground. The more you become a dumping ground, the busier you get; the busier you get, the more overloaded you will feel. Now the worst happens—you’re overworked, underappreciated, and no fun to be around. By failing to work on what’s valuable and by failing to understand and reset expectations, you’ve worked yourself into an unrewarding, high-stress scenario.

    On the flip side, working on the things that you value, inspires your passion, keeps you engaged, and builds momentum.  Balance that with things that are valued by others, and be deliberate.  Sometimes you have to choose you.  Sometimes you have to flex and bend.  Sometimes it’s “meet me in the middle.”  Sometimes it’s simply reframing what you’re doing in a way that speaks to others, or vice-versa.  Simply making mindful choices can help you dial up your passion where it counts.  It’s a force multiplier.

    To be a more effective Program Manager, start asking the question, “Who’s it for?” or “Who’s asking for that?” or “How important is that?” (and everything is always a trade-off.)

    Note -- This tip is from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, a simple time management system,  and you can find more free time management tips in the Getting Results Knowledge Base.

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    Now Available: Getting Results the Agile Way on Kindle


    imageIt’s time to rattle the cage  People have been asking me for this, and now it’s finally here.  The Kindle version of Getting Results the Agile Way is now available.   It’s a personal results system for work and life.   Whether you want to find your mojo, or take your personal effectiveness to the next level, or simply have a better day, this book is for you, or somebody you know.

    People around the world have shared with me their personal stories and wins.   I know a restaurant owner that renovated his business using Getting Results the Agile Way.  I know a teacher inspiring her peers to get their game on using Getting Results.  I know teams of consultants using Getting Results the Agile Way to achieve better, faster, simpler results and it’s contagious.  Even my Mom used it to tackle a few big projects on her house.   You can read the testimonials and success stories on Getting Results.com.

    This books puts in your hand the same system I’ve used to create high-performing teams, help individuals flourish, and coach teams to unleash their best.

    Getting Results in today’s landscape is tough.  Our world changes faster than we can keep up.  Worse, we don’t always have the best practices for managing focus, managing our time, managing our energy, or even basic productivity.  Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results that combines some of the best methods for thinking, feeling, and taking action.  To put it another way, Agile Results is a way to help you make the most of work and life.

    You are the author of your life.  I created this system as a way to put it all together and help you write your story forward.  By using three wins to drive your day, your week, your month, and your year, you take charge of your life and live life on your terms.  By spending your time on the right things, with the right energy, with the right approach, you unleash your best.  As you learn and respond, you build momentum.  This momentum carries you forward, supporting everything you do.

    This is the playbook I wish somebody gave me.  Now, I’m sharing it with you.

    Key Features of the Book
    The book has several compelling features for slicing and dicing the personal effectiveness body of knowledge:

    • Principles, patterns, and practices.   It’s a rich collection of proven practices, smart success patterns, and timeless principles.   Because it’s a principle-based system, you have wisdom of the ages at your finger tips.  It’s wisdom in action.
    • Meaningful results.   It’s not about getting more things done.  It’s about meaningful results.  By getting clarity on you want to accomplish, you
    • It’s a system.   It’s more than a book.  It’s a system.  With the system on your side, you automatically build better habits and practices that bring out your best.
    • It’s simple.  By simple, I do mean simple.   There is no other system like it.  If you simply write down three wins for your day, you’re doing Getting Results the Agile Way.  More importantly, if you fall off the horse, it’s easy to get back on.
    • It’s flexible.   It’s incredibly flexible and it stretches to fit your needs.  Rather than hard and fast rules, it’s a platform of principles, patterns, and practices that you can easily adapt or modify to suit your personal style.  It’s YOUR personal results system.

    Contents at a Glance
    The full Getting Results Guide is available for free on Getting Results.com in HTML.  This is the contents of the guide at a glance:


    Getting Started
    I’m a fan of making it easy to get started.  Like I said, if you simply write down three wins for your day, you’re doing Getting Results.  But to help you get started fast, here is the one-page guide on Getting Started with Getting Results.

    The Knowledge Base
    The Getting Results Knowledge Base picks up where the book leaves off.   It’s a serious collection of patterns and practices for improving your focus, motivation, time management, and more.   The knowledge base includes:

    By the way, these are no ordinary guidelines in there.  For example, somebody I know is using the focus guidelines to build coping mechanisms for ADD, as an alternative to drugs.  If you get a chance to explore the focus guidelines, you’ll see why.

    Watch a Short Video Story of Getting Results the Agile Way
    Ed Jeziersky hops around the world helping doctors and patients deal with large-scale disasters.  What does he use to lead his teams?  … You guessed it.  Here is Ed on Getting Results the Agile Way.

    I have a lot of people to thank for helping me make this book happen.   In addition to my loyal readers of Sources of Insight, I’d like to thank the following people for helping me with this book:

    Adam Grocholski, Alik Levin, Andrew Kazyrevich, Andy Eunson, Andrea Fox, Anutthara Bharadwaj, Brian Maslowski, Chaitanya Bijwe, Chenelle Bremont, Daniel Rubiolo Mendoza, David K. Stewart, David Wright, David Zinger, Dennis Groves, Don Willits, Donald Latumahina, Dr. Rick Kirschner, Eduardo Jezierski, Eileen Meier, Erin M. Karp, Ethan Zaghmut, Gloria Campbell, Gordon Meier, Janine de Nysschen, Jason Taylor, Jeremy Bostron, Jill Heron, Jimmy May, John Allen, John deVadoss, Julian Gonzalez, Juliet du Preez, Kevin Lam, Larry Brader, Loren Kohnfelder, Mark Curphey, Michael Kropp, Michael Stiefel, Mike de Libero, Mike Torres, Mohammad Al-Sabt, Molly Clark, Olivier Fontana, Patrick Lanfear, Paul Enfield, Per Vonge Nielsen, Peter Larsson, Phil Huang, Prashant Bansode, Praveen Rangarajan, Richard Diver, Rob Boucher Jr., Rohit Sharma, Rudolph Araujo, Samantha Sieverling, Sameer Tarey, Scott Hanselman, Scott Stabbert, Scott Young, Sean Platt, Srinath Vasireddy, Steve Kayser, Tom Draper, Vidya Vrat Agarwal, Wade Mascia.

    Key Links at a Glance
    Here are the key links at a glance:

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    Personal Development Books Revisited


    I’ve updated my Personal Development Books collection.   If you’ve seen it before, you’ll notice it’s a lot cleaner and easier to scan.  If you haven’t seen it before, hopefully it is one of the most complete lists of personal development books that you’ve come across.

    Personal development books hit a sweet spot for me because I’m a fan of continuous improvement and excellence.   I’ve found that books are the short-cut in today’s world.  While they don’t make up for having great mentors, they do provide a fast path to some of the best principles, patterns, and practices around.

    To make this list useful, while keeping it simple, I organized the personal development books into different buckets:

    • Achievement and Goals
    • Body
    • Career Development
    • Character and Attitude
    • Communication Skills
    • Decision Making and Choice
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Focus
    • Habits, Principles, and Practices
    • Happiness and Feeling Good
    • Interpersonal Skills and Relationships
    • Intuition
    • Leadership
    • Learning
    • Motivation and Self-Discipline
    • Positive Thinking and Optimism
    • Productivity
    • Purpose and Passion
    • Self-Awareness
    • Spiritual Intelligence
    • Strengths
    • Stress
    • Thinking Skills and Intelligence
    • Wealth
    • Work-Life Balance

    It’s also worth noting that I spend a few hundred dollars on books each month, so I tend to cover a lot of books.  Also note that I don’t really just books by their writing, but instead on their effectiveness for delivering prescriptive guidance.  I try to find books that solve problems and share useful insights and actions.  My main judge for a book is whether it teaches me something relevant that I can use and put into practice.

    I’m always growing my collection of personal development books, so feel free to share with me your personal favorites.

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    Stevey's Google Platforms Rant


    I’m a fan of lessons learned.   I especially like Stevey’s Google Platform Rant because it’s raw and it’s real, and it’s an insider’s lessons on what they think Amazon does right, and what Google does wrong, and how to fix it.  It’s a call to action.

    It did not strike me as a bash post (although it might feel like that if you’re on the receiving end of the rubber mallet Winking smile  )… but instead, I see it as a great wake up call by somebody with passion, conviction, and who actually cares about the great opportunity at hand …  The opportunity to build an amazing platform, and take a page out of the playbook from companies that do platforms well.  I’m a big believer that great change requires a sense of urgency, and that people are often so desensitized because of overload to what’s truly urgent (and important) … that the wake up call needs a bit of sting (and nothing stings like dabs of truth.)

    What makes this particular post truly insightful (and keep in mind it can be yanked from the Web), is that it’s from somebody who has spent six years at  Amazon and six years at Google.  (It really is an insider’s view.  In fact, the original post was not meant to be shared publicly.)  Steve has the benefit of contrast, and the benefit of seeing how strategies and tactics play out over time.  More importantly, Steve has the ability to tune in and surface the vital few surprising insights that count.

    Here is my short-list of key take aways from the post:

    1. “When software -- or idea-ware for that matter -- fails to be accessible to anyone for any reason, it is the fault of the software or of the messaging of the idea. It is an Accessibility failure.”
    2. “Amazon had transformed culturally into a company that thinks about everything in a services-first fashion. It is now fundamental to how they approach all designs, including internal designs for stuff that might never see the light of day externally.”
    3. “But they do services because they've come to understand that it's the Right Thing. There are without question pros and cons to the SOA approach, and some of the cons are pretty long. But overall it's the right thing because SOA-driven design enables Platforms.”
    4. “… the same way Amazon did it: all at once, for real, no cheating, and treating it as our top priority from now on.” (In reference to shift to a platform and service-first mindset)
    5. “a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product”
    6. “The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them.” (Regarding how very few people in the history of software do this well)
    7. “We don't get Platforms, and we don't get Accessibility. The two are basically the same thing, because platforms solve accessibility. A platform is accessibility.”  (Regarding Google’s opportunity)
    8. “Any teams that have successfully internalized the notion that they should be externally programmable platforms from the ground up are underdogs.”
    9. “But making something a platform is not going to make you an instant success. A platform needs a killer app.”
    10. “The Golden Rule of Platforms, ‘Eat Your Own Dogfood’, can be rephrased as ‘Start with a Platform, and Then Use it for Everything.’ You can't just bolt it on later”

    The meta-lesson reinforces what I’ve come to believe to be true, which is that platforms and services win in the end, and that applications are the pull-through.  It’s the applications that make the platform’s capabilities meaningful, contextual, and relevant, and it’s the platform that makes the applications sustainable for the long-haul and consistent where it counts.  And the elegance of the platform is what empowers the ecosystem to takes things well beyond what anybody originally dreamed up … as a catalyst for innovation and possibility.

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    Personal Development Hub on Sources of Insight


    Personal Development Hub

    My categories page on Sources of Insight is really a Personal Development Hub (if you think in terms of a Hub and Spoke model.)   It’s a one-stop shop for all the categories I use on Sources of Insight.   Many of you I know, focus on continuous improvement and are life-long learners, so you’ll appreciate this.

    (BTW, be sure to subscribe to Sources of Insight.   I’m going to be tackling some key challenges in today’s world including, making a living in the new economy.  I’m going to share patterns and practices, as well as stories and case studies of people that make $1,000 a day online, doing what they love as info-preneurs.   Way too many people are struggling in the “jobless” economic recovery, and I want to give you the edge and real skills you can use to change your game, or help somebody you know.  I can’t promise an easy path, but I can save you some dead-ends, and wasted time and effort, and share some of the short-cuts and methods that actually work)

    Maps Help You Find Your Way Around
    I always think it’s easier to find your way around when you have a map.  A friend suggested I create descriptions for my categories to help both humans and search engines figure out what my categories are all about.  If nothing else, it would be a great map making exercise.

    Today, I added descriptions to the categories, so that you can see the intent behind the various buckets, and I included some samples where it made sense.  When I was done writing the descriptions, which turned out to be a two-hour exercise, that I originally thought would be a twenty minute exercise -- it revealed a lot.  It revealed a better map of Sources of Insight, going well-beyond just a list of categories and links.  It forced me to re-think and rationalize why I chose the various categories that I did, and revaluate whether they are still the right ones.

    While there’s more time ahead of Sources of Insight, than behind it … it was good to take a look at the map, which was like taking a look from the balcony, or taking a look from the mountain top.  It was easier for me to see where I have a lot more work to do, and where I haven’t done enough to equip you with the right tools and skills for the tough stuff at work, or the challenges in life.  I also noticed where some information is a bit too buried and needs to be surfaced and cross-linked in a better way.

    The Sources of Insight “Treasure Map” at Your Disposal
    I’ve created brief descriptions to help you understand the thinking behind each category I use on Sources of Insight.  Here is a map to help you find your way around Sources of Insight and to know where to look for key personal development resources at your finger tips:

    • Body – Body is anything related to shaping your body or improving your physical prowess.
    • Book Nuggets – “Book Nuggets” are key insights and actions from books.  When I read a book, I look for the actionable or insight parts, and then write about how to turn the insight into action.  I also share any relevant personal experience of applying the idea.
    • Business – Business is anything related to business skills, business strategy, etc.  Where possible, I try to show how business skills can be applied to life to improve your personal effectiveness.
    • Career – Career is anything related to finding jobs, thinking through career paths, making a living, etc.  I also try to work in cornerstone concepts like work-life balance, living your values, and driving from your life style.  The goal of my career posts is to empower you to be YOUR best, while growing on the job, doing work that makes your soul sing, and playing to your strengths.  I think of it as giving you skills to pay the bills and lead a better life.
    • Communication – Communication is anything related to communicating, whether that’s writing, or creating presentations, or speaking.  I’m a fan of continuously improving skills to write, speak, and share ideas visually, in a more effective way.
    • Confidence – Confidence is anything related to improving your self-confidence.  Confidence is one of the most important attributes for making the most of what you’ve got, and for living life to the fullest.  To improve confidence, I find patterns and practices based on both science and real-world experience.
    • Conflict – Conflict is anything related to interpersonal conflict, negotiations, and arguments.  With these posts, I equip you with skills to be more effective in identifying, addressing, and resolving conflict.  Conflict is a common part of every day life, and by improving your skills and coping mechanisms, you can turn conflict from a painful experience to something you look forward to as a way to challenge yourself to be more collaborative, create more effective solutions, and improve the greater good.  On the flip side, you can grow your skills to avoid getting stepped on or taken advantage of, and be more assertive.
    • Creativity – Creativity is anything related to improving your creativity, ideas, and ability to find creative solutions.  I treat creativity as an art and science, and I regularly explore techniques and methods for improving creativity.  There are many books with great ideas for improving your creativity, so what I do is find, organize, and share the best of the best that I can find.  I also try to put the insights into plain English, as well as make the skills easier to turn into action.
    • Decision-Making – Decision making is anything related to making decisions.  Your ability to make decisions and choose wisely is a way to express judgment.  Peter Drucker was a fan of judgment as skill, but something you very much learn from experience.  I focus on both personal decisions, as well as decisions in the workplace, including making team-based decisions.  While, I share decision frameworks and methods, I keep them simple and pragmatic.  The true keys to effective decision making are knowing the criteria, limiting the options, setting boundaries, and satisficing where you can.  One of the best skills you can grow through life is decisive action.
    • Effectiveness – Effectiveness is anything related to improving your personal effectiveness.  I like to think of effectiveness, the same way Covey thinks about success: “The response meets the challenge.”  One of the best questions you can ask yourself is, “Is it effective?”  I make it a point to find the best principles, patterns, and practices for improving your thinking, feeling, and taking action.  My posts on personal effectiveness and some of my most popular posts.  After all, who doesn’t want to improve their personal effectiveness.
    • Emotional-Intelligence – Emotional intelligence is anything related to improving your emotional intelligence skills.  You can think of emotional intelligence as the ability to perceive, evaluate, and control emotions.   It’s one of the most useful skills to help you think better and make better choices, by using emotions as input.  It’s also especially important as a leader to help you improve your empathy and build rapport.  By improving your emotional intelligence, you can use your rational-mind to make better choices, and either avoid going into ‘fight or flight” mode, or break yourself out of it, faster and easier.
    • Fear – Fear is anything related to dealing with fear.  Fear can hold you back in so many ways.  Whether your fear is based on real or perceived threats, the problem is when it cripples you from taking action.  To bring out your best, conquer your fears, and live life to the fullest, I share key strategies and tactics for dealing with fear.
    • Featured – Featured is anything that gets featured on the Home page.
    • Finance – Finance is anything related to making money, investing, building wealth, the economy, and personal finance. 
    • Fun – Fun is anything related to having fun, finding the lighter side, or sharing humor.
    • Getting-Results – Getting Results is anything related to my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.  Getting Results the Agile Way is a personal results system for work and life.  The book is a playbook for making things happen at work and in life.  In the book I share key principles, patterns, and practices for goals, motivation, time management,  personal effective, productivity, etc.  It’s all about making the most of what you’ve got, and it draws from software, positive psychology, project management, etc.  It puts science and proven practices on your side, and helps you bridge the gap between the “state of the art” and the “state of the practice.”
    • Goals – Goals is anything related to setting and achieving your goals.  While I do share classic methods and techniques for goal setting, I do put special emphasis on finding goals that inspire you and connect to your “why” in life.  I’m a fan of meaningful results and inspired action.  As Tony Robbins says, “ People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals.”
    • Guest Posts – Guest Posts is any post by a featured guest.  While I tend to focus on guest posts by best-selling authors, I really open the door to anybody who has a super skill to share with the world.   I especially enjoy sharing insightful authors, and people with expertise or interesting experience that helps people grow their skills to pay the bills or lead a better life.  That’s a common theme.
    • Happiness – Happiness is anything related to improving your happiness.  With these posts, I help you avoid the “If-then” trap of always putting happiness somewhere into the future, and instead grow it right under your feet.   There is a lot of science on happiness that you can use everyday.  For example,Stumbling on Happiness teaches us that we aren’t very good at predicting our own happiness.  We also know that happiness can be measured in two ways: 1) How happy are you? and 2) How happy are you with your life?  One focuses on how you feel in the moment, while the other focuses on fulfillment.  We also know that people have different temperaments and levels of happiness, and that you can work against your own happiness by expecting yourself to feel happy all the time or by having a low-frustration tolerance.  By building your happiness skills, you can choose happiness, and you can improve your enjoyment along the way, as you embark on your personal pursuit of happiness.
    • Health – Health is anything related to improving your health.  Your body is your temple, and hopefully we can make it last for the long haul.  As the joke goes, we spend our younger years trading our health for wealth, and then our later years we trade our wealth for our health.  Hopefully, with the right patterns and practices, we can get the best of both worlds.
    • Influence – Influence is anything related to improving your influence or understanding the impact of influence on you.  My dictionary defines influence as, “The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself”, and that sounds reasonable to me.  To make it real, think of it as the ability for you to shape behaviors and change.  You can shape yourself, others, teams, organizations, etc.  In fact, influence is one of the most important skills in today’s world.  You can do it all, so your influence is how you can get it done through other people.  One of the specific skills I write about is influence without authority, which is a common scenario, where you need to influence people that don’t report to you.
    • Innovation – Innovation is anything related to the art and science of innovation.   Innovation is derived from the Latin word innovatus, which is the noun form of innovare, which means, "to renew or change.”  I’m a fan of innovation as a way to experiment and learn, and change the game on multiple levels.  I’ve tested multiple ways to innovate under extreme conditions, and one of my strengths is bringing ideas to life, and making things happen.  It’s been a long and winding road, but I think the road gets easier when you know the key patterns and practices that work.  I also share key ideas and wisdom on innovation from several leading thinkers including Peter Drucker, Edward de Bono, and Michael Michalko, who is a former Disney imagineer and author of the book, ThinkerToys.
    • Intellectual-Horsepower – Intellectual Horsepower is anything related to thinking and improving your mind.  I treat thinking as a skill and I focus on finding methods and techniques you can use to improve your thinking.  One of the best ways you can improve your thinking is by asking better questions.  I regularly share powerful questions you can use to improve your work and life.  For example, here is my post on, 101 Questions that Empower You, which is one of my most popular posts of all time.
    • Interpersonal-Skills – Interpersonal Skills is anything related to interacting with other people.  This is all about building the “people skills”  Whether it’s dealing with people you can’t stand, or building rapport, having crucial conversations, dealing with conflict, or influencing without authority  (Crucial Conversations, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand,  and Influence without Authority are great books, BTW).
    • Leadership – Leadership is anything related to leadership.  John Maxwell says it precisely, “leadership is influence”, and I think that’s true.   I’m a fan of distinguishing thought-leadership from people-leadership.  Although they are related, there is power in understanding your strength as a leader, as well as your passion, and how to use this insight to shape your journey and career path.  I think it also helps to think of leadership as a progression, from self-leadership to leading teams, to leading organizations, etc.  As you grow your capability, you expand your sphere of influence, and you can think globally, but act locally.  Another important concept in leadership is the idea of “servant leadership” and doing things for the greater good, which can be a sharp contrast from an authority-based or command-and-control leadership style, which works well in some specific contexts and environments, but not in many or most others.
    • Learning – Learning is anything related to learning.  I’m a fan of continuous improvement and I’m a life-long learner.  That said, I also believe that learning is a by-product of chasing your passion, and diving deep into what you love.  I also think learning is a skill we can use every day to deal with setbacks, fail fast, find the way forward, and carry forward the lessons learned.  In the age of information, learning is one of the super skills to have under your belt.   In my posts, I share techniques you can use to learn faster, simpler, and better, so that you spend less time down dead-ends, and more time figuring out what’s important and using what you know.  Learning and thinking skills go hand in hand, as well as reading skills.
    • Lessons-Learned – Lessons Learned is anything related to sharing lessons from work and life.  Many of my lessons learned posts summarize key patterns and practices from inspiring people.  For example, two of my most popular posts in this category are Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee and Lessons Learned from Seth Godin.   In each case, I think of it as “greatness distilled” as I attempt to share and scale their best insights and actions for work and life.  I use their quotes, books, and anything else that might be useful as a way to reverse-engineer their thought patterns and principles that we can use to expand our abilities and gain perspectives.
    • Life – Life is anything related to the topic of life.  It’s a broad bucket but that’s the beauty.  If there’s one thing we all share in common it’s the human experience, and this little journey we call life.  As each of us finds our way in the world, my hope is that we get better at living life, and making the journey the destination.  The key is that life is not a face, and the trick is to figure out who you want to be and what experiences you want to create … and embracing the ups and downs along the way.  I’ve found that life gets better with the right words, which is why I share a lot of quotes.  I’ve also found that life gets better with skills, and that we can improve our life by applying business skills, project management skills, and other skills that we tend to just use at work.  I’m also a big believer in driving a path of fulfillment and making meaning.   One of the people I know that’s very effective at this is Dr. K (Richard Kirschner), and he wrote a guest post for me on just this topic.  It’s How To Design a Fulfilling Life.  It’s a real gem.
    • Management – Management is anything related to management.  Peter Drucker teaches us that,“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”   In this category, I tend to put posts about managing the innovation, managing the business, and managing people. 
    • Marketing – Marketing is anything related to marketing.  In this topic, I focus on things like branding, positioning, market sizing, market evaluation, strategic marketing, and value propositions.
    • Motivation –  Motivation is anything to do with motivation.  I’m a fan of inspired action, and I write a lot of posts about how to make the most of your motivation.  All motivation is really self-motivation, and the key is to know how to push your own buttons.  I think it’s also important to understand the difference between motivation, drivers, wants, needs, self-discipline, and other concepts that help you know how to find your mojo.  At the end of the day, your most powerful tool for motivation is self-awareness and knowing yourself.  To fill your motivation bag of tricks, I include many skills, principles, and patterns for motivation, as well as inspiring people, inspirational quotes, and meaningful metaphors to help you get your groove on.
    • Movies – Movies is anything related to movies.  I watch a lot of movies, and it’s where I get some of my best insights.
    • NLP – NLP is anything related to Neuro-Linguistic Programming.  NLP is a set of principles, patterns, and practices to program your mind, body, and emotions to think, act, and feel your best.  Many executives, use NLP as a way to change their game.  The beauty is NLP is available to anybody who wants to use its methods and techniques, and there are many books on the topic.  My favorite book on NLP, is the book, Brilliant NLP: What the Most Successful People Know, Say, and Do.  I like this particular book because it’s simple to read and it focuses on the big ideas and keeps things both insightful and actionable.
    • People – People is anything related to people.  I use this category to make it easy to browse my posts about key people, some of which are personal heroes, and others are mentors or role models, or simply people I find insightful or inspiring.
    • Personal-Development – Personal Development is anything related to personal development.   I don’t really focus on the “self-help” niche of personal development.  Instead, I focus on the idea of continuous improvement and expanding your personal capabilities.  Basically, bringing out your best and making the most of what you’ve got.  I spend a lot of energy on creating, finding, sharing, and organizing techniques to be YOUR best.  One of my most important personal development guides is my free eBook, You 2.0.   Many people have shared their stories with me how this simple and short guide helped them build a firm foundation and unleash a better version of themselves, and get back on path, while the world changes under their feet.
    • Problem-Solving – Problem Solving is anything related to solving problems.  In this category, I share skills and techniques that help you make mince-meat out of your problems.  No matter what the problem is there are some key ways to improve your ability to solve them.  Some of the keys include reframing problems as challenges, clarifying the problem, modeling the solution by finding examples to learn from, asking better questions, and testing your solutions, and testing your assumptions.   One of my favorite quotes on solving problems is by Voltaire, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”  I find that’s true, and the real key is writing your problem down in a way that you can share it, and others can team up with you … because no problem can withstand the assault of collective thinking.
    • Productivity – Productivity is anything related to personal productivity or getting things done.  Personally, I’m not a fan of output or productivity for productivity’s sake.  That’s why I was very specific in one of the taglines for Getting Results the Agile Way … it’s “a simple system for meaningful results.”    I’m a fan of slowing down to speed up.  I’m also a fan of having compelling outcomes, and clarity of the end in mind.  If the *why* isn’t strong enough, then why do it.  At the end of the day, I believe the key to productivity, where you are both efficient and effective, is working on the right things, at the right time, with the right energy, the right way.  If you are a fan of making things happen, I think you’ll enjoy one of my posts from this category – Rituals for Results.  In the post, I share some of my favorite habits and practices for getting results.
    • Quotes – Quotes is anything related to quotes.  I have a lot of quotes, and I’m an avid collector.  I’m a big believer that quotes are one of the best ways to hare the wisdom of the ages and modern day sages.  You can browse my collection of Great Quotes.   I have a large garden of quotes you can waltz through so if you only choose to read one set, read my Inspirational Quotes.   If you’re having a bad day, chances are, these quotes will give you a new lease on life, or at least a fighting chance.
    • Relationships – Relationships is anything related to building, healing, or dealing with relationships.  While interpersonal skill is more focus simply on “people skills”,  Relationships is more focused on the relationships aspect of people in your life, including friends, colleagues, family, and love interests or loved ones. 
    • Strengths – Strengths is anything related to character strengths and talents.  I think of strengths as your natural thinking, feeling, and doing patterns, not necessarily what you are good at (since you can get good at things, but they go against your grain.)  I’m a fan of playing to strengths, while reducing liabilities.  I’m also a fan of spending way more time in your strengths than in weaknesses, and using your strengths as your force multiplier.  I’ve found this is the key to sustainable energy and amplifying your impact.  It’s also a way to differentiate in a Darwin world, and either compete more effectively, or better yet, stand out so uniquely that there is no competition … and unleash your unique combination of strengths, talents, skills, and experience to the world.  The challenge with finding your strengths is having a vocabulary to frame and label them, but lucky for you, there is a lot of research and books on just this topic.  In my post, The Language of Personal Strengths, you can explore some of the labels people use to identify, classify, and share their strengths.
    • Stress – Stress is anything related to stress.  Stress and anxiety are related but often confused.  I find skills, techniques, and coping mechanisms to help you Use Stress to Be Your Best.    Here are the keys:  If you can distinguish between stress and anxiety, and if you can master the relaxation response, and you can develop your emotional intelligence, then you can do wonders for stress management.  By default, “fight or flight” is easy, and it’s what gets us into trouble.  Learning how to deal with stress and use it to get our game on takes skill, but it’s worth the extra effort and it’s something you can use on a daily basis (unless you just happened to find that magical place where the unicorns run free and the rainbows shine bright, and the sun is always smiling.)
    • Time-Management – Time Management is anything related to managing your time.  Some way time is all you’ve got and it’s your most precious resource.  One of the most important questions you can answer in this life is, “What do you want to spend your time on?”, or “What do you want to spend more time doing?”    There are a lot of tricks to time management including managing energy, not time, and finding your flow.  There are basics to master, like prioritizing what’s important, making time for things, and actually scheduling things you want to have time for.  One of the most fundamental rules to know is Parkinson’s Law, which teaches us that “time expands to fill its container.”  One of your best weapons against time bandits in your bag of time management tricks is timeboxing.   Just that one method can help you suddenly find time for the things you’ve wanted, and help you keep your energy strong.
    • Values – Value is anything related to values.  One of the best ways you can live the good life is to spend more time in your values.  You can also use your values as a compass as you navigate your way through life.  You can also use your values as a way to motivate yourself, by connecting everything you do, back to your values.   For example, I value adventure.  So at work, I don’t do projects … I lead epic adventures.  The difference might seem small, but it’s powerful when every job I take on is a chance to make impact and make the journey an adventure the team can look back on and be proud of, while enjoying the journey, challenges and all, along the way.  Of course, the trick to living your values is you have to know what they are.  I have a post on Finding Your Values, but I’m going to have to elaborate on this topic more, because there are a lot of nuances to finding your values that matter the most.  The challenge, of course with values, is that they all seem “valuable”, so the trick is finding the vital few.
    • Videos – Videos is anything related to videos.  I share videos I find that are insightful, and I do plan to create videos too.
    • Writing – Writing is anything related to writing.  Writing is a skill you can use in so many ways whether at work or in life.  One of my favorite ways to think is to “think on paper.”  I also use writing as a way to share and scale expertise.  A big part of my life has been about writing guides to change the world, and my strength is writing prescriptive guidance.  I share what I learn, but I also share the wisdom and insight from others to help you write with might and improve your writing skills.

    Call to Action
    Share Sources of Insight with anybody you know that needs patterns and practices for improving effectiveness.   Send them to this page to subscribe to Sources of Insight.  There are already several hundred articles on Sources of Insight to help anybody you know get skills to pay the bills and lead a better life … and the best is yet to come.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Steve Jobs Lessons Learned


    What a terrible loss for the world.  Steve Jobs was one of my personal heroes.  He was an amazing blend of engineer, entrepreneur, and designer.  He knew how to bring ideas to life, and he lived with zest.  In fact, that’s what I liked most … he had a crazy drive to live life to the max, and push people to new heights.

    I’m always a fan of people that take life to a new level, and raise the bar on what’s possible.  I have to respect how Steve Jobs made design a first class citizen and baked beauty into the user experience. 

    Even though he is gone, he has left an amazing legacy and there is much that I will continue to learn from him and the examples he’s set.

    It’s old post, but I’ll be reading through my Steve Jobs Lessons Learned.  There’s no way I can do the legend justice, but I tried to capture some of the key insights that Steve Jobs shared with the world.  I’ll be reading through the post and remembering his contributions, his ideas, and how he influenced our little world in big ways.  Most of all, I’ll be reflecting on how he influenced me.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Personal Development Lessons Learned from Jariek Robbins


    Jariek Robbins, son of Tony Robbins, shares his personal development lessons learned.   I asked Jariek to write a guest post for me on his best lessons learned in personal development, and he slammed it home.  In his article, “How to Take the Ordinary and Turn it into EXTRAORDINARY!”, he shares how to deal with mundane, boring, and routine tasks, as well as draining activities, and turn them into sources of power and strength.

    I’ve long been a fan of Tony Robbins and his ability to “design” life and shape destiny with hard-core thinking skills.  I actually first learned about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) from Tony Robbins which is basically a methodology for modeling excellence.   If you’re a developer, you’ll appreciate the idea of programming your mind by design, and changing your thoughts, feelings, and actions for your best results.  A lot of the Microsoft execs use NLP skills to improve their interpersonal effectiveness, from building rapport, to changing their inner-game, and reframing problems into compelling challenges.

    The other thing that Tony Robbins excels at his ability to ask the right questions.  Many people can just ask questions.  But there’s an art to asking the right questions, and getting deep insights with precision and accuracy.

    Jariek Robbins learned many of these skills from his father and uses them to shape his path forward, as well as to coach people and businesses to bring out their best.  By asking better questions and modeling success he can speed up results.

    Check out Jariek’s article and learn how to turn the ordinary into extraordinary.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Life Quotes


    If you are an avid quote collector, as many continuous learners are, check out my collection of Life Quotes.

    I grouped the life quotes into key categories for easy browsing.  I used the following categories for my life quotes:

    • Challenges
    • Choices and Plans
    • Day to Day
    • Fun
    • Joy and Passion
    • How To Live
    • Learning and Growth
    • Life Is …
    • Mistakes and Regrets
    • Purpose and the Meaning of Life
    • The Good Life
    • The Value of Life

    I selected quotes from a variety of sources including Charles Shulz, Confucius, Emerson, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and more.  I’ll need to make another pass and find some life quotes from folks like Bruce Lee. 

    While there is always the idea of work and life, and the idea of work-life balance, I think that life is pervasive, and it permeates who we are and how we show up at work.  The line is a blur and I find the happiest people are those that can express their values on the job, and drive from their life style.  The opposite is also true.

    I rounded up the life quotes in a way that I think you will find to be very easy to scan and choose your favorites.  I do recommend first reading the the top 10, but then hopping around to find three that light your fire or wrinkle your brain in some way.  The best quotes hit a problem like a nail on the head.  The real beauty of life quotes though is that they take on meaning based on the meaning you give them.  It’s like when three people hear the same song, all have a different take away.  Quotes are like that.

    So please stop by, check out my Life Quotes collection, and share with me your favorite life quotes.  I’m always looking to fill my toolkit for life, and life really is better with the right words.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    What is the Meaning of Life


    I don’t know that I answered it for you, but you can check out my take on what is the meaning of life in my interview on Evolving Beings.

    The simple answer is – you make the meaning.

    The longer answer is that’s what the journey of life is all about.

    What is the meaning of life is a question that has plagued sages and fools and every one in between for a long time.  Some people find their answer too little, too late.  Some people never find their answer at all.  Don’t let that be you, and you can start right here, and start right now, if you haven’t figured it out already.

    At the end of the day, you are the author of your life and you write your story forward.  The truth is, you even re-write the stories of your past, as you learn more about yourself and as you gain perspective and insight on things.  Your lens on life, and your lens on YOU are two ways you actively unfold your story.  As you grow, your stories change, and that’s why fate can’t hold a candle to you.

    For me, I found that to answer the question to “What is the meaning of life?”, you actually have to ask a different set of questions.  In fact, that’s one of the secrets of life, the first or obvious question isn’t always the right question, and the trick is finding the right question to ask.  Our brains are powerful and resourceful things … we just have to put the right challenge or question in front of it.

    I’ll warn you up front that the interview is long, but I will tell you this that if you want to jump to the punch line, you can hop to the end of the article, and the answers are my gift to you.   They may not help you figure out what is the meaning of life, but they can help you figure out what is the meaning of YOUR life, and that my friends, is what life is really all about.

    Enjoy my long and winding tail of trials, tribulations, and triumphs as I write my story forward, and continue to explore, What is the Meaning of Life.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Sources of Insight is Available on the Kindle



    I’ve made Sources of Insight available on the Kindle.  You can find the sign up on Amazon at:

    * Note that UK customers can purchase blog subscriptions only from the UK Kindle Store.

    If you haven’t taken Sources of Insight for a test-drive, it’s my blog for sharing insight and action for work and life.  It’s all about how to make you great, and growing your own personal garden of greatness. 

    Here are a few of the things you will find …

    Cross-Cutting Skills for Life
    As far as key topics, I cover the following hot spots:

    • Mind
    • Body
    • Emotions
    • Career
    • Financial
    • Relationships
    • Fun

    Deep Dives on Skills to Solve Real Problems and Improve Your Abilities
    I do dive deeps on key topics in a pragmatic way.  I basically used what I’ve learned from building prescriptive guidance on the Microsoft patterns & practices team to create a knowledge-based of cross-cutting skills for life.  For example, here’s an article on How To Think Like Bill Gates, where I share the non-obvious ways to improve your intellectual horsepower.

    Book Nuggets
    I use books as my short-cut to the latest and greatest thinking and ideas (aside from people and mentors.)  I also use books to learn fundamental skills and techniques I can apply on the job.  One of my favorite blog posts to write is what I call a “book nugget” where I write about a specific insight or technique from a book, and show how I apply it on the job, or how you might immediately test it in your life.  Here are a few of my favorite book nuggets I think you’ll find useful:

    Best-Selling Authors
    Periodically, I feature best-selling authors.  They write articles for Sources of Insight about their top lessons or their “ah-ha” surprises in life.  Here are a few of my favorite examples:

    Great Books
    I created an extensive book recommendations collection.    For many months (well, years now I guess), I’ve spent ~ $300 on books.  As you can imagine, I go through a lot of books.  Here are a few of my key book recommendation lists:

    Great People
    One of my favorite sources of insight is people.  I share and distill lessons learned from a variety of key people.  Here are some of my favorites I think you’ll enjoy:

    Great Quotes
    Quotes are one of the simplest ways to share wisdom of the ages and modern sages.  The right words really can light up insight or inspire action in new ways.  Here are some of my favorite quote lists:

    If you find it useful, please share the link with others and write a review on Amazon so others can benefit from your experience.

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