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The Importance of Dates & Commitments

Being a business owner, I have a bit of a different perspective on life than most people.  For one thing, to me work is more of a passion than a job.  Owning a business is like having a child.  Even though I don't have any children (yet), I think I can imagine what it's like based on the parallels:  You have to tend to the business at all hours, things are never as easy as they seem they should be, you have to put the business before yourself, etc.

One of the perspectives I've gained is the importance of keeping everyone in the company on the same page & prioritizing the company's needs correctly.  And I've learned that there are two really, really important aspects to this:  One is setting commitments and the second is always attaching a date to those commitments.

Sounds obvious right?  It's not.  Here's the difference in interaction I'm referring to:

Bob:  Hey I have a great idea - let's create a widget! Jane: I don't know, Bob, we already have 10 different widget types. Bob: Well I'll look into it some more, but I think it's a great idea. Jane: OK let me know.

Versus:

Being a business owner, I have a bit of a different perspective on life than most people.  For one thing, to me work is more of a passion than a job.  Owning a business is like having a child.  Even though I don't have any children (yet), I think I can imagine what it's like based on the parallels:  You have to tend to the business at all hours, things are never as easy as they seem they should be, you have to put the business before yourself, etc. One of the perspectives I've gained is the importance of keeping everyone in the company on the same page & prioritizing the company's needs correctly.  And I've learned that there are two really, really important aspects to this:  One is setting commitments and the second is always attaching a date to those commitments. Sounds obvious right?  It's not.  Here's the difference in interaction I'm referring to: Bob:  Hey I have a great idea - let's create a widget! Jane: I don't know, Bob, we already have 10 different widget types. Bob: Well I'll look into it some more, but I think it's a great idea. Jane: OK let me know. Versus: Bob:  Hey I have a great idea - let's create a widget! Jane: I don't know, Bob, we already have 10 different widget types. Bob: Well I'll look into it some more, but I think it's a great idea. Jane: OK when can you let me know? Bob: I'm not sure yet, but how about this - I'll let you know by Friday when I'll know for sure if it's a good idea. Do you see the HUGE difference here?  Jane is asking Bob to give her a date by which he will give her a date.  He is telling her that on Friday, he will tell her when he will know on what date he'll be able to determine if it's a good idea.  So when Friday comes around, Bob might say, "Hey Jane, I'll know by March 31st if this is a good idea."  But the important thing here is that he is committing to a date NOW instead of leaving things hanging, even though the date he is committing to is just to give Jane another date. This is an incredibly hard habit to get into.  You have to really force yourself to always give dates by which you'll do things - even if the date is just a date by which you'll give a date, as in the example above.  I learned this when I worked at GE.  In fact, GE takes this one step further, requiring anyone who comes up with an idea to either take ownership of the idea - with a date attached, of course - or immediately relegate the idea to the "good idea, but no action" bin. In order to accurately track tasks with employees, I use a hosted task service called TasksPro.  It's an inexpensive way to track the tasks employees commit to doing, and I have a weekly review meeting to go over progress. You'll be astounded at the difference insisting on dates makes.  Just try catching yourself and those around you when an idea or action item comes up and force yourselves to commit to dates, and then track the dates.  I'd love to hear about your experiences.

The Peg System: How to Memorize Lists of Ten in Twenty Seconds

On Tynan

I first learned about the peg system through pickup. The idea was simple: rather than bore a girl with dumb stories about work and parties like every other guy, you teach her an interesting skill. The next day the one guy she remembers is the one who stood out and taught her something.

And they say romance is dead.

One such example is the peg system, a quick and dirty way to memorize lists of ten items in about twenty seconds. The way it goes is this: the girl writes down a list of ten items, you memorize it almost instantly, prove that you have it memorized, and then teach her how to do it. If you're particularly crafty, you show off the skill and then tell her you'll teach her next time you see her. (This backfires when Mystery happens to meet the same girl the next day and teaches her the same thing... but I digress...)

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