Happy New Year !

Happy New Year... I hope you had (are having) as much fun as we plan to!


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:35 PM, ,

The End of Wall Street's Boom

A great read that I cam across whilst researching other blogs is this article titled The End of Wall Street's Boom.

What is so interesting is the dramatic illustration of herd mentality that was adopted.

If you are crying after reading this article, go back to my blog in November to try to find the humour in this. Trust me, laughing is all you can really do about it now. That, combined with applying the lessons learned to anything you participate in the future.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:24 AM, ,

Low Information Diet

Continuing from my blog about the book The 4-Hour Workweek, we are going to turn to the topic of the Low Information Diet.

I've two views on this strategy - it's both appropriate and inappropriate - and I think you need to adopt an approach that suits your circumstances.

Funnily enough, I choose to adopt a low information diet when I had just started working at JP Morgan, my first career role. I was learning so much about technology hardware, software and processes that I didn't have the capacity to retain that learning whilst simultaneously consuming all the news published about what was happening in the world. I choose to ignore most of it with the exception of the Australian Financial Review as it contained information relevant to the industry I was operating in.

Whilst I've occasionally swung to the opposite end of the spectrum, I've found the 'selective ignorance' approach really is the best way to avoid information overload. By using the 'selective ignorance' approach, I can allocate time to reading on a specific topic (or book) and avoid distractions of switching between information viands.

Life hack articulates this succinctly in the blog Go on a High Information Diet. It's kind of a Pareto's law take on the issue: cut down on the stuff masquerading as information and focus on what is real information. Fair point.

Additionally, this article (along with a raft of others - just google "low information diet 4-hour work week") makes the point of social connectivity and the role 'information' plays in that dynamic.

To be fair to Tim on this topic, he was advocating the approach specifically with respects to managing email & contact for a business that should largely run itself whilst you spend your time focusing on something you'd rather be doing. Ergo, if you like being sociable, having a little grasp on what is going on in the world I'd suggest spending a little bit of time on the headline current events of the day.

I would have put an image from Gabe’s Guide to the e-Discovery Universe to sum up this point nicely, but blogger is playing up again... so the URL is: http://gabesguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/crackberry-bart.jpg


posted by Lee Gale @ 5:54 PM, ,

BMW M5 vs Cadillac CTS-V vs Mercedes-Benz C63

For those of you who are either: a) eager to spend money wildly in the face of the economic situation; or b) in the market for a 4 door 4 seater luxo sedan - checkout this Edmund's review of the BMW M5, Cadillac CTS-V & Mercedes-Benz C63

Interestingly, the Cadillac CTS-V is one of the GM cars I think is truly exceptional. Sadly, it isn't available in Australia despite rumors that it would be made available. I'd imagine HSV did their very best to not having to compete with the Cadillac brand in our small market.

It seems the reviewers were appropriately impressed with the power all three sedans provide. :-)


posted by Lee Gale @ 7:48 PM, ,

Merry Christmas!

For those of you that celebrate Christmas: have a very Merry Christmas. For those of you that celebrate the holidays: Happy Holidays.

We'll be celebrating ours with the traditional lunch with our immediate family.


posted by Lee Gale @ 3:43 PM, ,

Hidden costs of Social Network Profiles ?

In the last few weeks, I've been reading quite a few articles on how Facebook and related sites has been impacting peoples lives negatively.

Before continuing, I should clarify that the people in question (allegedly) behaved poorly and social networking sites have helped increase/accelerate the impact.

Take for instance the case of the woman whose profile cost her a college degree. ReadWriteWeb has a pretty good analysis of the situation so I'll leave it at that.

Then take the case where Australian law firm Meyer Vandenberg convinced the Australian Capital Territory's Supreme Court to allow service of court documents on An Australian couple who defaulted on their mortgage via the couple's Facebook page. Read about it here, here and here. I love the quote that "Facebook has become less fun since it has been discovered by lawyers and bankers," from internet law expert Dr Matthew Rimmer.

But my all time favourite is Kyle Doyle's sickie that was kiboshed by a smart HR manager. Classic.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 9:12 PM, ,

To-do lists

When blogging about the book The 4-Hour Workweek, I decided to break out the topic of "To-Do" lists given the importance of daily goal setting.

Now, if you want to be completely confused, Google "to-do list" and be prepared for the overwhelming amount of content on the topic. Over the years, I've heard many approaches to this time management technique and found some things work for me and others don't. So rather than approach this from an absolute position, I'm going to share my experiences and thoughts on what works for me and why.

So, the obvious (perhaps?) statement that "To-Do" lists are a tool used as part of time management.

Applying Tim's ruthless approach to what you do choose to spend your time on is great advice, which we covered with Pareto's Law (focusing on the 20% that produces 80% of the results), Parkinson's Law (work expands to fill the time we've allocated to it, so be ruthless with your time allocation), and Outsourcing Life (if it can't be automated, outsource it to the lowest cost producer possible). This leaves us with actually doing stuff ourselves, and the need for the "To-Do" list.

Already some readers will be thinking "this looks like a derivative of the 4D framework" - Do it now, Do it later, Delegate it & Dump it. Yes it is. Come on, you don't think that Tim came up with every concept in that book by himself... did you? Steve Pavlina covers all of this from his personal view point as well including batching time (also part of Tim's writing) to cut down on wasting time.

So, back to the "To-Do" list.

I liked Tim's key point here a lot. Don't write a daily list that spans pages and guarantee's you will only finish a handful of tasks. Instead, pick one or two tasks that a absolutely critical (based on your prioritisation process we've covered) and knock those out of the ball-park.

British author Mark Forster covers this in-depth in his book "Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management". He argues that the traditional never-ending to-do lists virtually guarantees that some of your work will be left undone. His approach advocates getting all your work done, every day, and if you are unable to achieve it helps you diagnose where you are going wrong and what needs to change.

Why is this important? According to Wikipedia, Jared Sandberg wrote in the WSJ, task lists "aren't the key to productivity [that] they're cracked up to be". He reported an estimated "30% of listers spend more time managing their lists than [they do] completing what's on them". Tim talks about this in terms of "crutch" activities - procrastination techniques used to prolong the planned activity. In essence, the "To-Do" lists fall prey to Parkinson's Law! As with any activity, there's a point of diminishing returns, so the point is not to get caught up in the process, but to get the tasks done.

Over the years, I've tried a number of techniques to help me. I've settled for a combination of Tim's advice (at around 6pm each evening, pick two tasks you must do the next day) and the traditional 4D techniques which include scheduling things in the future (i.e. beyond tomorrow). I use both the MS Outlook task list for longer-range or less critical tasks, as well as scheduling the important items in my calendar. Using MS Outlook for email, calendar and task list just simplifies managing time by putting it altogether. For example, being able to flag an email as something to follow up on at a certain date and time then pops up the task reminder when it is due to be reviewed again. Simple.

The diarising of key tasks also helps me manage a challenge many of you will face working in a large organisation - your co-workers can see your availability via your calendaring system. Whilst this offers some terrific benefits, it also carries the downside that people think they can just schedule stuff if you have free time in your calendar.

By blocking out your time with tasks (and marking it private so the details aren't available), I've found people then either email or call me to ask when I'm going to have time available for the meeting. This in turn provides you with the opportunity to clarify the goal of the meeting and not doing it i.e. you might already have the answer to the question and can simply email it to them, or know the information needed to make a decision won't be available until a date in the future, etc.

I started this approach of putting tasks in my calendar in the first job I worked at because the company had an Activity Based Costing system for the application development teams working for various projects & business units. I found when it came to doing the monthly time sheets, I couldn't accurately remember everything I'd done and trying to keep a time sheet open all the time meant I spent more time on the time sheet than doing stuff. So booking everything in my calendar was a great middle ground and I've used it ever since.

Interestingly, Microsoft and SAP have taken this concept and productised it with their Duet product. A great idea for large organisations!

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posted by Lee Gale @ 4:54 PM, ,

Nissan 370Z

Nissan have updated the venerable 350Z for 2009... to release the 370Z.

Aside from the marketing team's hard work on the name, it appears to be evolution rather than revolution for this Z car. That's a good thing as the tree-fiddy was one of the 'greats', up there with the MX5 for focus on it's purpose and price.

Autospies provide some commentary on the 0-100km/h times (0-60mph for those of you so inclined) here.

There appears to be a bit of Bangle (BMW) treatment on the headlights and taillights, but overall it looks quite 'now' without offending anyone. For the love of all things holy, I do hope they improve the looks of the convertible. The outgoing 350Z in convertible guise looks truly abominable and does everything possible to ruin the edgy looks of the coupe.

Below is the new promotional video for the all new Z car the Nissan 370Z. The video itself give you some nice shots of the interior and the exterior of the 370Z all to the tune to some Japanese techno:

The best news here is not necessarily this new car itself, but rather the buying opportunities for well looked after tree-fiddy's. No pressure James (you know who you are), but I expect one in the car park in 2009.

For a reminder of how good the tree-fiddy is/was, check out the Fifth Gear review:


posted by Lee Gale @ 8:35 PM, ,

Obama & Clinton Sarcasm

It is funny to see the 'before' moments now that Obama has announced Clinton's role in the incoming administration.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 6:01 PM, ,

Top Gear drives the Tesla & Honda FCX

Back in November, I blogged about the Tesla Roadster.

Well, now Top Gear have driven it and whilst the reliability issues are to be expected of early production vehicles, the battery life is slightly disappointing - along with the price!

Later in the episode, James reviews the Honda Hydrogen fuel-cell concept.

Updated 20th June 2009

Since at the time of writing this entry, Top Gear episodes on You Tube went from being 'less' copyright friendly to 'more', with BBC posting their content on You Tube. They've also now enabled embedding - yay! As such, I've updated the originally posted videos that were removed, with the ones below. Enjoy.

"Top Gear reviews the Tesla Roadster"

"Honda FCX Clarity: The Car of the Future"


posted by Lee Gale @ 10:20 PM, ,

Andreas is blogging!

Back in September, I blogged about the training program that I had embarked upon and the choice of trainer as part of that process.

The choice of trainer and the insight he has provided, especially about nutrition, has been a massive factor in the changes I am in the process of bringing about. In fact, without a good trainer, I'm not sure how people do this!

Well, now Andreas is blogging so you too can get he benefits of his insight... and giggle at the Swedish to English language nuances. :-)


posted by Lee Gale @ 5:03 AM, ,

End Times Countdown - Bush Exit Interviews

Will Jon be able to continue once Bush leaves office? I'm sure he'll keep being handed material in this current climate and the shine comes off the Obama yet-to-be administration.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 5:26 PM, ,

San Francisco & the Kensington Park Hotel

Well, I love San Francisco, so I'll separate our SF experience this time from the hotel choice.

Let me set the scene: we're coming from Las Vegas and we want to spend the weekend someone other than Vegas (we don't gamble). We have to be in San Jose on the Sunday for Adobe's annual World-Wide Sales Conference. So we decide to spend the Thursday-Saturday nights in SF.

Problem: conference in town on the Friday and Saturday at the Moscone Center (the 50th Annual ASH Meeting & Expo is sponsored by the American Society of Hematology in case you were wondering) which means finding a hotel room around Union Square is next to impossible.

After some research by my trusty Virtual Assistant found us a room at the Kensington Park Hotel. The hotel is okay, nothing outstanding, nothing terrible... but the room rate changed how we rated it.

For US$400 per night, I expect quite a bit and it doesn't deliver. The rooms and the experience couldn't be further from the one we had at the London West Hollywood in LA.

Oh well, at least we were in town which cut down on our travel times and costs... the glass half-full, right?

PS - the room picture below must have been taken with a very wide-angle lens!


posted by Lee Gale @ 6:49 AM, ,

Virgin America

Well, I must say, I went into the flight from Vegas to San Francisco with mixed feelings.

I have such a low opinion of American airlines (not AA specifically, but all airlines) so that weighed down on expectations, but at the same time I really bought into Virgin America's (VA) marketing so that lifted my expectations a little.

And you know what? They really delivered!

The boarding process was on time and the planes are new Airbus A319's - which means the seats are wider than the Boeing 737's used by other airlines - and VA has put together a great product. I'm tall and usually wedge my knees between the seats in front for the duration of the flight. Not here - the seats had a decent amount of leg-room, so I can forgive VA for charging more for the exit row seats (a trick I usually try at check-in to get economy class seats with more room).

I'm not sure if our experience was limited to the short Vegas to San Francisco leg. Write to me if you've got feedback from another sector. I guess the true test would be flights from/to Los Angeles - possibly the worst airport in the world.

Another point: one example doesn't make a trend, so I suppose more sampling would need to take place before I would make any firm recommendations, but so far, they are looking good.

Give them a go yourself - I will for my next trip on routes they service.


posted by Lee Gale @ 6:32 AM, ,

Team America

Funny! Jon takes a look at Obama's bogey men. Not sure if there is much 'change' from politics as usual.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:17 PM, ,

Grand Canyon Helicopter tour

After a few hiccups with one tour company, we got our Grand Canyon tour sorted out and it was awesome!

We went with Maverick and they were great. The tour took us over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, over and into the Canyon and back over Vegas at night.


posted by Lee Gale @ 9:29 AM, ,

Las Vegas & The Bellagio Hotel

After having spent 5 days in LA catching up with friends and generally lounging around, we drove to Las Vegas where we stayed at the Bellagio hotel. I will say that if you want a great deal on accommodation, the first week of December is a good time to be here (ie right after Thanksgiving), but the current economic situation has probably also had an impact.

Andreas will not be as happy about this hotel choice... the gym is run separately to the hotel and US$25 per person per visit is a bit steep in my books. :-(

Now, neither my partner or I are big gamblers, so we were here for the atmosphere and the Grand Canyon tour (more on that later).

The dining experience was interesting. The food was good to great in most places we went, but the service is what really distinguishes one place from another. We seemed to have a bias for classic French cuisine this week. For a view of the fountains show whilst enjoying a good meal, try Mon Ami Gabi's which is out front of the Paris Hotel or Eiffel Tower Restaurant which is above it.


posted by Lee Gale @ 10:46 AM, ,

Los Angeles & The London West Hollywood

Sorry for the gap in posting - we've been travelling on holidays since the 27th of November.

We flew from Sydney to Los Angeles with Qantas (thank you for the upgrade Qantas!) and stayed at The London West Hollywood. Normally we'd stay with friends, but everyone is completely flat-out with work at the moment so we felt checking into a hotel was the fairest decision for everyone (our friends would never say no, even if they really should!).

Let me say, the hotel was great. Aside from being located right near all our friends, which made catching up easy, the hotel room was brilliant, the gym had enough of the equipment we needed, the service was great, the rooftop pool was magnificent and the restaurant was great value.

I'd thoroughly recommend the hotel if you are visiting LA.


posted by Lee Gale @ 10:31 AM, ,

All Marketers Are Liars

I was first introduced to Seth Godin's views and style on his regular "Change Agent" posting on Fast Company. The article that hooked me was his amusing views on business schools.

So, on a rare occasion when we were dashing through the airport on our way to a holiday (not work), I quickly grabbed his book All Marketers Are Liars from the shelf.

Seth offers his views on how marketers can discover and tell authentic stories that are believed by those who tell them and listen to them.

It appealed to me as pretty much the whole book is relevant in my work in software sales.

Note, there are extensive references to:
I'd recommend checking these out first in order to get more value out of "All Marketers Are Liars".

Essentially, the key take-away I saw in All Markets Are Liars, was the concept of appealing to people's worldviews and developing marketing (messaging) around that, rather than trying to buck the system.

As Seth proposes, people’s worldviews are different and we don’t all want the same thing. People can see the same data and make a totally different decision - so don’t try and change someone’s worldview. Seth contents that marketing succeeds when enough people with similar worldviews come together in a way that allows marketers to reach them cost-effectively, and therefore your opportunity lies in finding a neglected worldview, framing your story in a way that this audience will focus on and going from there.

But one caveat: a worldview is not forever - it’s what the consumer believes right now.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:09 AM, ,