This week, I am going to take a swipe at answering the questions from the book Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. These are questions distilled and honed from his interviewing many peak performers on his podcast. JUST TO BE CLEAR Tim Ferriss did not ask me these questions. But hopefully my responses give you some insight into my thought processes.
Clint Galliano started this ball rolling on his blog - it was interesting and I wanted to follow his lead.
What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
The books I've given most are Innovation Games by Luke Hohmann, The 4-Hour Work-Week by Tim Ferriss, and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. In that order. The first provides amazing tools to drive group understanding and prioritization. The second is thought-provoking for anyone that wants to start or run a business. The last changed my perspective.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.
I got a Samsung Gear S3 watch last month on a special offer from AT&T. It was subsidized by the data plan, so technically it was under $100. This was an unusual purchase for me in that I haven't worn a watch in over 20 years. I like having access to data and phone calls without necessarily having to carry my phone.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
I flunked out of college my first time through. There were a bunch of mitigating factors but the bottom line I wasn't focused, motivated, or hard working. And that's on me, no one else. I went on active duty for the next six years. A lot of that time sucked but I developed the discipline and drive to select the right major, finish my degree, and go to grad school. Beyond the education, the experience shaped who I am.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
"Don't create extra work for others because you're stupid, lazy, or entitled"
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
My family. Relationships require work, money, time, energy, attention. And that requires making choices.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Bad Sci Fi complete with gaping plot holes, bad effects, atrocious acting.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
New experiences are better than more possessions.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
A degree is great but has less impact on your success than does hard work, empathy, manners, curiosity, timing, or a host of other factors. Ignore advice that says anyone or anything else is responsible for your ultimate outcomes.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Oh my gosh. Where to I start?
Bad messaging, presenting, speaking recommendations:
- Number of bullets per slide
- Number of words per bullet
- Number of minutes per slide
- Ensure consistent font, color (form beats function)
- Save questions until the end
- Imagine the audience in their underwear
- Never, ever, EVER put your hands in your pocket
Bad innovation recommendations:
- More ideas are better
- It's all about patents
- Everyone is (or should be) an innovator
In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
More. Like saying no to a potential job that was a bad fit because it paid more. Or buying more stuff I don't really need. I recognized I can trade more stuff for better experiences.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)
Talking it out with my daughter. She offer no-holds-barred feedback and unexpected ideas. It isn't always actionable but it gets me thinking about critical tasks and alternate approaches to getting the job done.