One of my most important guiding principles...


I suppose there are some people who travel the roads of life without any guiding principles but I don't know any of them — these are the "rules and character" that regulate our thoughts and actions in everything that we do. I know many of us may not have them well defined or articulated but we know there is something that guides us. These principles are at the core of who we are, and although they evolve, rarely change in my opinion (except maybe because of dramatic events).

This is what I think about just after Christmas and before the New Year presents itself — it's always an important seven days for me. I don't necessarily reflect on all of my guiding principles (although I might), but I definitely focus in on one. This line of thinking actually has me wondering if I've ever articulated my guiding principles (even to myself) — an oversight I will correct here and now:

  • "Be Curious"
  • "Be loyal and generous to my friends and family"
  • "Work hard"
  • "If you are knocked down seven times, you get up eight"
  • And the fifth, the one that started these 400 words, is "Reflect and Plan".

This time of the year (after all the Christmas presents are opened) is a natural time to reflect on the past year, review how it measured up to what you wanted to accomplish, and contemplate the "good and bad" of it all — it is figuratively the time to prepare for the next step of your journey.

This is the time to plan what you will do next, what you want to accomplish over the next 365 days, and what the next step of your journey will be.

I'm a big advocate of getting it down on paper because it just seems more tangible and carries the weight of something that is important to get done; in a small way this blog is the start of that process for me. By many measures this has been a successful year, and as I reflect on my guiding principles, they have served me well — and as I say farewell to 2017, I will say I am very excited about the year to come. I plan to make it a great one.

As you prepare to ring in 2018, I wish you a very Happy New Year. 

With great appreciation,


PS: Don't forget to write something down.

The messaging of an idea... working with feedback — PART 5

I thought I would stay with the theme of feedback a little longer for a couple of reasons — I received some "solid feedback" on my last blog, and more importantly, the topic of feedback is so important for an idea to flourish and develop, and that of course supports the evolution of the messaging for said idea.

Feedback will impact the idea, the message, and the messenger. 

feedback 2.jpeg

I think I will begin with the "messenger" because more often than not it's her idea or at least she has drank the "Kool-Aid", and I want to kick this off with some feedback I received at an annual performance review a long time ago — "Graham," the person said, "You get very defensive when you are given feedback". To that, I got defensive. 

I have come along way since then, and although I'm not perfect, I believe I have developed a valid perspective on receiving feedback as the messenger:

  • When receiving feedback check your ego at the door and listen to it.
  • Do not categorize feedback as good or bad, or right or wrong, or relevant or non-relevant — again just listen to it and capture it for later.
  • We are still human and sometimes the first two points are difficult, so let some time pass before you constructively review the feedback.
  • You should never dismiss any feedback until you have constructively reviewed it.
  • When you are ready to constructively review the feedback revisit the goals, objectives, and strategies of your idea, your message, and your messaging — this ensures alignment and helps measure validity, efficacy, and relevance of the feedback.
  • Not all feedback is created equal — not only because of its relevance but also because of where it is coming from. This is the reason we search out domain experts and experience.
  • It is very dangerous not to accept feedback because it doesn't align with your current thinking.
  • If you keep getting similar feedback from credible sources there is a very high probability they are right, and you, maybe not so much.

With regard to the idea and the message, well that's simple... just adopt the feedback to make your idea and the messaging better. And if you don't, then you are either not finding the right feedback to develop your idea, or you just aren't willing to accept it — either way, your idea is destined to never go a far as you would like (if anywhere at all).

And regarding the feedback on that presentation in my last blog, I reviewed it with the Principal of Takota Asset Management using the same lens as above, and he's incorporated the feedback into future videos where the alignment makes sense with his strategy, objectives, and resources. 


The feedback (and the process) was greatly appreciated I was told,




Moments — what made today great(?)

I am still not sure if "what made today great" should be followed by a question mark.


Why do I even bring this up?

Well... mostly it's because I am part of a book club where the membership is younger than me, most definitely smarter, and I've taken on the role of "token old guy"* — now I find myself half way through the book The Beauty of Discomfort by Amanda Lang. 

As you may have gleaned from the title, this book offers a perspective on how discomfort can be a benefit for personal and professional growth. One of the points that has come out of the book thus far is that people are happier when they are grateful — it is pointed out that by actively recognizing what made your day great, you will better understand why you should be grateful (and from there be happier).

And this is where the "questionable" question mark comes into play. The author suggests you should ask —

What made today great?

It is a fine question to be sure; it is a nice reflection and does force you to search for even the smallest event to be grateful for.

I will have to say though, it just doesn't seem right. It just comes across as more consideration than action — something to ponder passively instead of identifying your actions for the day "straight up" (which hopefully align with the grand goals of your life). I believe the issue I'm dealing with is that it should be a statement and not a question.

What made today great was...

This is more deliberate, more conscious, and reflects mindfulness by design — there is a greater sense of action and movement. By no means do I believe using a statement compromises the concept of being grateful and the benefits that come from it. I actually think it makes everything much more concrete — a tangibly that offers up the day by day progress of moving forward. I'd like to offer up an example to celebrate the season if I may:

"What made the weekend great was..."

  • I worked out, and flipped a truck tire 300 times
  • I helped decorate the family Christmas tree with my father and daughter
  • I kissed a beautiful woman in the snow
  • I had dinner with my oldest friends to celebrate the season and our friendship
  • I watched the latest Star Wars movie with my daughter 

I am very grateful, and I am very happy.

Why wouldn't I be — it was a great weekend (full stop).


* Every club or team needs a token old guy — we are sage, opinionated, and if you ask nicely we'll probably buy drinks.