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How To Better Manage Your Life with Paul Gallagher

TBT 59 | Time Management


Time management is an issue that plays an important part in accomplishing things that we have to accomplish, targets that we need to hit, or goals that we need to achieve. Paul Gallagher talks about proper time management and how it can help in hitting our goals right. He is creating a movement to help others better manage their life by combining project management techniques with personal development. He talks about frameworks that you need, setting your targets right, and having goals in each area of your life.

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How To Better Manage Your Life with Paul Gallagher

What I love about this show is interviewing interesting people, some people famous, some people less famous, but everybody has the same challenge. That is a challenge of how to be more productive, how to do more with less, or just get more balanced in our life, and accelerate what we’re achieving in a more efficient and effective way. Whatever it is, time management is the issue that keeps coming back over time and this goes back way into Roman times. This isn’t a new concept. It’s not just because of the internet or anything. It is an age-old topic that we’re constantly trying to get on top of. I’m super excited to have Paul Gallagher with us. Paul has The Amazing Me Project, which he has written. He’s worked in commercial operations for the majority of his career starting in live music venues and especially transitioning to higher education and charity sectors.

He’s managing events and hospitality events around the world at some of the most prestigious universities. The Amazing Me Project has allowed Paul to bring his experience in organizational project management and fuse it with his passion for personal development and learning. The Amazing Me Project is an ongoing project in itself. Paul is committed to creating additional resources and support networks so that people can use the tools and the frameworks that are set out in the book and use it for themselves and become Amazing Me Project managers themselves. Paul, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me.

Life is a project. Everything that we do can be seen as a project. I like the idea that you’re bringing project management concepts into helping us to better manage our life.

That’s how it came about. I was doing some project management courses. Even though I’m doing project management in my career, I was doing some extra courses. I was also doing quite a lot of personal development as well as I normally do and it correlated. The project management aspect, the actual defined end-product that you have in a project management system and the product that you have in your personal life when you’re setting goals. When you have a real clear destination you try to get to and you allocate your resources backwards to get to that goal in the best way possible. These two things I was doing at the same time and all of the sudden I thought, “It’s the same concept.”

It just clicks. Why is it so difficult that we run our lives differently than we run our businesses? Why is that?

TBT 59 | Time Management

Time Management: The end product that you have in your personal life, the goals that you set, and resources that you allocate enables you to do different things all at the same time.


I don’t know. This is one of the problems that I’ve had and still do have a little bit. I can be one person at work and I can be someone else at home. I have my work role and my home role. I know the work role can be ruthless. It can be determined. It can be mean just to get the job done. It isn’t my character, it’s somebody else. How do I bring those kinds of aspects to my work and allow me to do well in both roles? How can I use that in my own personal life to still get results?

It’s a really important point. I haven’t thought of it like that. We’re all with many people. We have different people that we hang out with. We have friends who we like to laugh with and then maybe you’re the funny Paul. You’re with other people and you became the intense Paul. Maybe we are accessing different parts of ourselves in terms of resources as well. If we’re not conscious and purposeful of it, we are lacking in some of the resources that make us successful in other areas of our life. That’s the key.

I did mention that in the book as well. I don’t see a problem with having different personalities or different versions of yourself as long as you’re using that version to get the result you want. There’s no point in being somebody else and not achieving anything. There’s no point to do that.

You said that the project came from your work with project management. Is there anything else that you wanted to share the background about how this book in this project came together?

It was from doing these courses and it was from having done countless different personal development. I read hundreds of books on this subject, YouTube videos, Udemy courses, and all these things because I’ve always wanted to better myself. I had a bad year in 2018, to be honest. It’s not too great. Doing these things helped me get a bit more normal in my life. It just clicked that these things could be put towards making myself better while having a redefined end-goal for myself and how I work in that project to get that. It was just crazy. It wasn’t meant to be a book, but it ended up being. I had the idea for the framework and I was just going to do a twenty-page PDF or something to give it away. As I was writing it, I morphed myself as I was writing and it just took on a life of its own.

Let’s talk about some of the concepts and frameworks that you have in there. You talked about setting goals and having goals in each area of your life. If we don’t have clear goals, then we’re setting ourselves up for failure in a way. Most people, even though they know what clear goals are, they still don’t set clear goals.

If you don't know why you're doing something, then you are destined to fail. Click To Tweet

I’m guilty of that myself in the past and maybe still guilty of it myself. I catch myself when I’m doing it wrong. Part of The Amazing Me Project is to recognize where you’re straying off the path a little bit. It’s about how to get back onto that path and how to use friends and other people to recognize when you are coming off your track and get you back on there. It wasn’t meant to be this book. It was from doing some personal development courses about goal-setting and about time management and the concept you need to be very defined. I’ve known this in my past. I’ve known this in my work. For some reason, it seemed to hit me this one time that you have to know what you do and you have to know where you’re going. You have to know how you’re going there. I use the word why a million times in the book making sure that people understand. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, then you are destined to fail over that.

You’re not connected to it. You can set a goal but some people’s goals aren’t even their own. They are goals that they think they should have. It’s so important to get connected to that and that creates passion and purpose. People know it, but it’s underutilized.

People need to do it. I knew this content. I’ve read Start With Why by Simon Sinek and Tony Robbins courses and they all say the same thing. It just hit me this one time. Another moment of clarity came to me with Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I’ve read that book. Everybody talks about that book and said, “This is the book that made me.” I was like, “I’ll read it.” I read it during my dull time. I’ve read it before, but for some reason, things came out in that book that I haven’t done before. It’s the same thing. It’s about knowing where you’re going, what you want, writing it down, and all the things that everybody teaches. Napoleon Hill says, “You will know when you’re ready for this.” That’s what it was to me. I was ready and it made sense. It’s like reading a new book.

What’s one thing that you do to connect with that “why” that works for you?

It’s about writing down. I make it my daily project. One of my objectives every day is to read all my whys. I have my why which I call the overarching goal. That’s how I describe it in the book. That’s my life. That is what I want and that’s just for me. It’s not for anyone else. It’s not written down in the book. I don’t expect other people to go with it. I made sure that I read those whys all the time to really understand why it is. I’ve got it in my Amazing Me Project planner and it’s highlighted in yellow so I can see it. I made sure that I read that every couple of days to connect to it. It’s so easy just to go off track. I do it every day. If I’m being honest, even though I wrote this, I’ve got to walk the walk and talk the talk. I sometimes find myself doing things that aren’t necessarily on my project plan for that day. Capturing that and going, “Why am I doing that? If that is the best allocation of my resources at this time, I would have put it on my planner.”

Because you’re reviewing it every day and you’re keeping it top of mind and you’re staying connected to it, it helps you to be evaluating everything that you do and saying, “Is this in line with that?” I talk about aligning your tasks and your goals and that’s the same thing. If you’re not clear on what your goals are and you’re not reviewing them on a regular basis, then you stray more often. It’s just life.

TBT 59 | Time Management

Time Management: There’s no problem with having different versions of yourself as long as you’re using that version to actually get the result you want.


You’ve got to be reviewing these objectives. Just because I’ve said, “I’m going to do this objective now.” It might take three days to complete this thing. If at some point I realized that it isn’t going to be the best outcome for me, then I’ll recognize that. I’m going to stop it now because you would spend two more days to do that. I already know I’m not going to make it to the goal, so why put any more of my resources to it? It’s aligning the resource with the outcome. If you don’t keep really what it is, then you go into autopilot so easily. That’s what I’ve tried to do and that’s what I’ve done in the past, which is why I had to make this framework anyway. I’m still learning. The book is not about me saying all the amazing things I’ve done. There are elements of that, but it’s also very honest that I say, “These are the areas I struggled with. This is why I had to be like this and I’m not there yet.” If I was there, then I wouldn’t be writing the book. There’s nothing in this book that’s going to tell you how to make a million pounds. I also say if your goal isn’t making a million pounds, then you’re not going to do it. You set the goal for what you wanted to be and adopt the framework for that.

We all are on this Me Project. We all have it. We all have a Me and we all are looking to be the best part of ourselves and achieve different things in our lives. What do you think is the biggest thing that you can advise people around the next step? After I get clear on what it is that I want to do and I’ve got those goals clear, what can help people stay consistent in their habits and behaviors? Consistency is one of the biggest challenges.

It’s about making that decision that you are going to do, you are going to check your plan every day. You are going to write your next day that evening. If you can’t commit to it, if you can’t make that decision, then you’re not going to do it anyway. If I was going to give people any advice, it’s being honest with yourself. You’ve got to be honest about where your strengths don’t lie. If you say, “My goal is going to be X.” If you already know that there’s going to be something along that way and you are not the best to do it, you’ve got to be honest and say, “I need to get some help there. I need to get someone else. I need to outsource it.”

In the book, I describe things in more of a personal development way. I always say to my staff or the managers who work with me, I’m like, “I’m not as good as you and that’s why I hired you.” I haven’t got that skill, so I bring in someone else to do this. It might be a personal trainer, it might be just a coach, or it might be some therapy that you get. You’re not going to get there if you’re not even honest with yourself. That’s the biggest piece of advice that I’d give to people, be honest. It’s one of the things that I’ve given people as a tool at the end of the book is to map out your life. Put it onto paper. It’s completely personal. It’s not online. No one sees it, but there are a lot of questions. Find which parts of your life are lacking the most.

Do you believe that there’s a life wheel where you take a look at all the different domains of your life and you set goals and objectives in each of those areas and check in with them on a regular basis? Is that part of your process?

I could explain to everybody how it works. It is similar to that because if you compare it to a wheel on a car, it’s not round. In the book, I call it my stable table. I refer to it as my overarching goal is the table top and then each area of my life. In my project, I have four and people can choose how many different areas they want. My table has four legs. Every day, I make sure that what I’m doing is contributing to each other’s legs to make sure it keeps its integrity, make sure it’s the same plan, and make sure it can hold the same goal. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about recognizing where my health, mind, and fitness table leg. Maybe that one’s okay for doing alone.

You've got to be really honest about where your strengths don't lie. Click To Tweet

I train in, I feel okay in my mind, but I’m going to put a little bit more on my career or my plans or both table leg. It’s recognizing where it is. Don’t put all your time into one that maybe doesn’t need much time or maybe you need to put a little bit more first in your relationship. That’s what the project allows you to do. It gives you that stable table and how do you mind when you’re planning your day is you can see where you might want to put a little bit more focused and prioritize as well. I have a family and friends area and I try to make sure that I do those ones first. For me, the other ones don’t make any sense if I don’t have that. That’s the key so I need to make sure that that one is a priority because I’m doing it all for my family.

When we look at health and we look at family, it doesn’t make sense, but those seem to be the ones that get put to the wayside even though we know they’re the most important things for us. We know that truly our values is our family and taking care of our health. At the same time, many people sacrifice those two areas of their life. They’re so obsessed with what they’re doing at work or stressed or whatever it is. I’m no exception. I have these times where I’m just so obsessed with what I’m doing and just want to finish it. The key is to take those areas that support your values and the things that are most important to you and do them first. When you do that and you have that planned in your calendar, they’re fixed. They’re not things that are going to get thrown off the calendar or not done, if those are your rules. You’re more likely to find that stability because you’ve already secured the things that are most important to you.

As I said, it forms my whys as well also in my career, my wealth and finance table leg because I want to create an abundance of wealth for my children so I can do things that I talked about in my family and friends. I can’t do that if these table legs are crooked. I have to get that balance. That’s the way I manage it. They can do it however they want. It’s not prescriptive. No one’s going to stop you if you do anything wrong. It’s what works for you and that’s why you’ve got to be honest with yourself about what you want to be. You got to be honest with yourself about your progress as well.

Progress is using and understanding and being honest with yourself in regular monitoring and controlling and tracking. Isn’t that the thing where people say, “I don’t have the time to reflect back and take a look at what works and what doesn’t work.” That’s the biggest mistake that people make. They move onto the next thing or they’re just constantly doing, doing, doing without reflecting that they don’t get to take advantage of the momentum factor and they don’t see what doesn’t work.

That’s one of the things from the project management side and having the lessons learned log really brings it back. If you have a friend who is good at motivating to go to the gym, write it down because later on when you’ve got a bigger goal, you might want to tap into that and get that person to play more of a role in doing these goals when you go right or when you go wrong. That’s what you do in project management. That’s how you learn. That’s how your next projects have the biggest success.

What would happen on a project when you didn’t check in with the different people on the team and you just checked in at the end when it was due?

TBT 59 | Time Management

Time Management: If we don’t have clear goals then we’re setting ourselves up for failure in a way.


The framework sets up for that to not happen. It is where the amazing new project does differ in a way where we’re playing all the roles of the project team, which is why it’s so more important to be honest with yourself. I do a big thing in the book called accountability buddies. That’s the thing that I’m trying to build like a network of people who can support people because you can’t do it on your own. Some people might struggle. Maybe they don’t feel confident telling people what their goals are. Maybe they don’t have anyone that they can rely on and that’s what I’m building on social media and email lists. I’m trying to get people to put their stories forward and put their lessons learned forward. Put them out there for people to read.

The project would fail. The truth is, that project that didn’t check in at all, it would be over budget. People would have gone in all different directions and not stayed true. Their pieces might not fit together. There are so many different things they could go wrong and that’s why you have to take that reflection time regularly. Review your goals and see how things are going, plan your weeks and things like that. That’s totally critical. Tell us what’s next for the project.

I’m working on my project. I’m building up the network of people slowly. I do have the time and try to make sure that all the goals are smart. I can measure them and they’ll be a framework around that. That’s what I’m focusing on at the moment. People can get the book. They can buy the book on Amazon or they can just go to the website and download it. This isn’t me trying to make money off this book. It is more about getting the ideas out there and create that community. That’s what I’m working on at the moment. I have a long-term plan for this, but at the moment, it is more just about getting that community built and being there and trying to do things out there. I’m having a presence online to help people and advice. That’s good for my personal life and it’s good for my mental health as well so I should be doing such things.

What’s the website that they can go to?

It’s www.TheAmazingMeProject.com. It’s on Facebook as well. There is a Facebook page and the accountability group at Facebook.com/AmazingMeProject. I do a blog as well. I do post articles twice a week or once a week to be able to get more resource there. The Facebook page is a good place for you to start.

Thank you so much for being here and for sharing your journey. It’s hard to be vulnerable and to share with people, “This is where I’ve fallen down and this is what helped me get up.” I appreciate you doing that and revealing so much of yourself in your book that people can relate and then they can see how it could work for them too. Thank you so much.

Thank you very much.

Thank you so much for being here and I hope you’ve made the connection. If you spend your life in each area of your life like a project, then you could have a structure. A framework that would support you in being more successful in getting to where you want to go faster and being happier in the process. Go on and check out the website. Check that out and download the book and get yourself a hard copy. Check out the frameworks and the approaches that Paul is giving you here because it’s worth its weight in gold. I know you have read one time management book or you’ve read two or three, but the more you read and the more you interact, that something is going to give you that a-ha moment. That moment of clarity that’s going to make all the difference for you. Keep reading and keep pursuing different ideas so that you could put together in your life what works. Thank you for being here and we’ll see you in the next episode.


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About Paul Gallagher

TBT 59 | Time ManagementPaul Gallagher is creating a movement to help others better manage their life through combining project management techniques with personal development. Having worked in commercial operations for the majority of his career, starting in live music venues and eventually transitioning to the higher education and charity sectors managing the events and hospitality areas of one of the world’s most prestigious universities. The Amazing Me Project has allowed Paul to bring his experience in organizational project management, fusing it with his passion for personal development and learning. The Amazing Me Project is an ongoing project in itself and Paul is committed to creating additional resources and support networks so that people can use the tools and framework set out in the book for their own use and become Amazing Me Project Managers themselves.


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Empty Your Inbox And Get Organized with Frank Buck

TBT 58 | Get Organized


How many of us have a thousand emails sitting in our inbox, thinking that we’re going to get back to them one of these days? If you’re like most people, there’s a fat chance that you’ll never ever get to read every one of those emails. Frank Buck, author of Get Organized!, says everybody’s two biggies are losing weight and getting organized. Frank offers organization and time management solutions through his consulting firm. He shares what makes his book different from a lot of the other time management, organization, and productivity books out there. He also touches on digital task lists, Evernote, and where to start if you have a crazy unruly inbox.

Listen to the podcast here:

Empty Your Inbox And Get Organized with Frank Buck

TBT 58 | Get Organized

Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders

We have Frank Buck with us who is a time management extraordinary. He’s a public speaker, coach and writer. He’s the author of Get Organized! Time Management For School Leaders and also for you who are reading, not just for school leaders. Dr. Buck helps busy professionals achieve their goals through organization and time management. He was named the Global Gurus Top 30 in Time Management for 2017 and 2018. Congratulations and welcome, Frank.

Thank you, Penny. I am delighted to be here with you.

We both have a keen interest in helping people to be more productive and to be more organized and think more strategically. It’s going to be fun to pick your brain a bit.

Absolutely, the same here. You have two minds of the same accord here.

Let’s talk about your book Get Organized!. First of all, the topic right there has people shivering in their boots because people don’t like the thought of having to get themselves organized. Where do you think that comes from?

The fear that it’s going to be hard, that it’s going to be totally overwhelming, “I’ve tried it before. I can’t do it.” People have that fear yet every January, “I’m going to lose weight and I’m going to get organized.” Those are your two biggies. Somehow the next January, they’re still everybody’s two biggies. The thing is it’s easy to do if you have a system to do it.

Tell us about that. Is that something that you reveal in your book, a good system that people can use to get organized?

Yes. If we look at what makes my book different from a lot of the other time management, organization, productivity books that are out there, I’m nuts and bolts. I don’t think people want more theory and people saying, “Getting organized, time management, it’s important. You need to do it.” They want to know how. “What do I do now? What’s the first thing that I do?” Another thing that makes this book different is my background in education and my Doctorate was in School Leadership. My doctoral dissertation was on time management. As I’m doing all this research, I’m finding there’s a whole lot written for the business world but not much geared toward school people. I started going the other way. Let me do a dissertation which eventually turned into the book and a full-day seminar. Let’s start with education but it can relate to everyone else. For people who were out there, if you’re a school principal, the book’s going to be right down your alley. If you’re a teacher, it’s going to be right down your alley because you’re also a school leader. If you’re an attorney, if you’re an insurance salesman, if you’re a nurse, we’re all dealing with email, voicemail, interruptions. How do I get everything done in a world of far too much to do? The vignettes, they might talk about teachers and principals but the principles that are in there apply to everybody.

They’re the same challenges. It can totally be cross-contextual. You talk about digital task lists. You’re big with Evernote. Tell us a little bit about using the digital task list and how we do that. Why Evernote?

Back before the turn of the Millennium, I was the biggest paper planner person in the world. You saw my day timer. People were amazed at how I kept everything in that one little book. I started realizing so much is coming to me digitally, especially in terms of email. When you get three emails a day, you print them out and put them on your desk. When you’re getting 103 a day, you’re going to need something more. I started realizing since so much is coming to me digitally, I need a system that’s going to allow digital stuff to stay digital. In 2001, I bought a Palm. I synced it to Outlook and set the book aside. I held my nose and jumped. Overnight, I’ve got my calendar, my task list, and my contacts all on the Palm synced to Evernote. Over the years, it was the BlackBerry, wonderful device synced to Outlook. Now, I use an Android and wanted to go to an all-cloud base. My productivity suite is Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Gmail and Evernote for my notes and Remember The Milk for my tasks. My email is empty every day and people say, “How do you do that?”

Everything is so easy to do if you have a system to do it. Click To Tweet

You’re a believer in zero inbox?

Absolutely. When I go out to the metal mailbox in front of my house, it’s got mail in it because I haven’t gone to that mailbox now. I’m going to make one trip to that mailbox and when I get done it’s going to be empty. I’m not going to that mailbox and find that today’s mail is on top of yesterday’s mail that’s on top of the mail before it, and I read the mail and stuff it back in the mailbox. That would not work. Nobody would do something like that, but that’s about how 97% of the world handles their email inbox.

I’m going to for a second play devil’s advocate because I’m not a fan of it. It’s good to have a little banter on these shows because there might be some people who can appreciate either perspective. My challenge with that and advising people on that is that it’s okay if you get five pieces of mail. If it’s three, you can print it out and have it on your desk. If you do get 103 pieces of mail, is it the wisest thing to be looking and spending time on things that aren’t appropriate for you? I am an advocate of having an admin or somebody support you and/or automation that keep things out of your inbox. That way you have fewer things that are coming in and then potentially you’re working on everything. If you’ve got a good filing system then you can take what’s in your inbox and file it. However, I know that people who have already hectic-looking inboxes that for them to get to inbox zero and with the amount that they have coming in, it creates more stress. It puts all their time, effort and focus on working their email versus working with what’s important in their goals.

That’s the fear that people have. I wish people could have been looking over my shoulder when I’m in the office of a financial person with the school system and she shows me the 52,000 emails that are in her email inbox. When I walked out of her office, she had two. Here’s what we did. We looked at her email and I asked her this question, “How many of the emails that are in that email inbox are sitting there because they’re reminders of places that you need to be?” We created calendar events. She was on Google Calendar and she was on Gmail. We clicked on the three dots. We select create an event. It’s now a calendar event and she deletes that email. I said, “How many of these things are sitting here because they’re reminders of things that you have to do?” We had set up for her a digital task list that she could forward emails to. That email that you’re sitting there and you’re looking at it every day because it’s something you need to do two weeks from now. What if it got gone and then showed up two weeks from now? We forward it. Put a date on it. It’s sitting over there on her digital task list with the entire body of the email message sitting in the little note section of that task.

What’s here? It’s good reference information. Either forward that to Evernote or forward it to Google Drive or whatever your note-taking system is. What we’re left with is all of those emails, for her thousands of emails, and I hear this over and over, “I can’t get rid of these because I might need them again.” I said, “We’re going to archive them.” I showed her how to archive and 52,000 emails in five minutes were archived. She’s sitting there with the two brand new emails that had come in. For most people, what it is in that email inbox is that I don’t want to get rid of it. I might need it again. The archive routine in Gmail or if I’m using Outlook back during those days where I have one little folder named Just in Case. I dragged things over to the Just in Case folder.

TBT 58 | Get Organized

Get Organized: Most people have a thousand things in their email inbox. They don’t want to get rid of it because they think they might need it again.


A magazine executive who had over 60,000 emails in his inbox, we created him a little Just in Case folder and dragged it all over there. Emails that are left in my email inbox represent things I have yet to make a decision of. Sometimes when it’s late afternoon, evening and one comes in you go, “I don’t even want to think about that.” Leave that in the morning, but what I’m seeing is two or three or four rather than 40,000 of which the four or five I need to do something about are the four or five sitting at the top. That my midday is now at the bottom of the first screen and by the end of the day is three screens down and I’m going, “Where’s the needle in that haystack that I need to do something about?” I know there are different camps of thoughts, but I’m definitely the empty email inbox that decisions had been made on everything. It’s not that everything’s done but everything’s now in the right place.

For the people in our audience that might have a crazy, unruly inbox. Those are some of the first places they can start. Anything is reminders of where you need to be then you can create an event. If it’s a reminder of what you need to do, you can put it in a to-do list. You can also put them in folders. There are lots of different ways. I’ve got a ton of different folders, folders for clients, folders for projects, folders for different things so that I can archive them. When I need to address or get to anything from that project, I know exactly where.

There’s another place where we do things a little bit differently. I know people especially now that they have a lot of folders and is like, “Do I put it in this folder or do I put it in that folder?” If they drag it to the wrong folder, it’s lost. I’m an advocate of you have one folder for those things that you want to hang onto just in case because then you can simply search for it by person or by subject or by date instead of having to go to the folder. With folders, something can only be in one folder at a time, but when you’re searching you can search in various ways. Let me see all the emails from John Jones, all the emails that came in during this month. Let me see all the emails that have this particular word in them.

There are lots of different searching systems. There are lots of different ways that people are comfortable working with. The main thing that I want our audience to take away is to have a process. To clearly think about it ahead of time and have a process of how you’re going to work through email or work through any of the things that you need to do and be able to set priorities. We can agree to disagree with the one way to do things or another way because there are many different ways and each of us has a different work style.

There are a lot of things that work. The important thing is to think things through and be consistent. One thing that I’ve learned over the years when people say, “Frank, you’re always organized,” and going back to senior year of high school. That’s my first recollection of having a true time management organization system that I could explain to someone else, “This is what I do.” Over the years, I’m 59 so a lot of water has gone across the dam. There have been those times where I changed the system. Every few years you change the system. I don’t care what I changed to. It would work great at first, but then that’s not working so much anymore so that changed the system again and it would work right. After a while, I realized what I was doing when I was changing the system was first I was cleaning up my stuff and the system worked because I was working with clean stuff. At some point I realized, “Frank, you don’t need to change your system anymore. You just need to keep it clean.”

I love it when people go, “I can’t wait to get my new planner,” and they hold that planner and it looks pristine. All the pages are blank. They write that first thing in that planner and they’re thinking, “This year is going to be so much different. I’ve got this brand-new planner. It’s not all ugly like last years was.” You wait a few months because if the practices don’t change, it’s going to be as ugly as the other one was. I want to see the person that goes, “I hate to get that next year’s planner because the one I’ve got right now that has served me well and it’s pristine and I can find anything in there that I want to.” That’s the person I want to talk to.

Losing weight and getting organized are everyone’s two biggies. Click To Tweet

Why Evernote?

I’m an Evernote Certified Consultant. I don’t talk about I like Evernote because I’m an Evernote Certified Consultant. I’m an Evernote Certified Consultant because I like Evernote. I wanted to learn more about it, make sure I was getting everything I could from it. I went through the training to get that certification. Back when I changed from Outlook to an all cloud-based system, back in the Outlook days I was keeping reference information in Outlook notes. There would be things in there like it might be favorite recipes or it might be back in the days before we had Google Maps that made it easy to get from point A to point B. Here was a note that had directions to my school that I could email to people. Little things that I wanted to have at hand and didn’t want to create a word document or something. I kept those in the Outlook notes.

When I went to an all cloud-based system, it was Evernote to hold what I had been doing there. At that point, I had not been using Evernote much because I didn’t understand it. It was explained to me like this. Evernote will let you organize your reference information and I said, “I don’t need it.” My information was organized. I’ve got little file folders inside file folders inside file folders on my computer. I was looking at my computer as being the center of my digital world. If people said, “You can get to it from anywhere.” I said, “Thank you very much but I have Dropbox.” Anything I want to get to from anywhere, I can put it in Dropbox.” I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand. What I wasn’t realizing were two things. First of all, our computers have nice little folder systems and our mobile devices don’t have that good file structure. It’s getting much better now. Second, we’re so dependent on our mobile devices as far as being able to not only access things from anywhere but change them from anywhere and share them from anywhere. Even if you can open a document on your phone, can you change it? Can you share it? Does it all sync back? That gets a little dicier.

With Evernote, it was like falling off a log. The thing that iced it for me was realizing that I could take a picture and we’re great about this. We use our phones differently. We use that camera much differently. We’re out somewhere and we snap a picture of something that we want to remember and it goes in the camera roll right along there with the pictures from that wild party you went to last night. With Evernote, you snap a picture and you can put a title. You can put it in a particular notebook. You can put more than one picture on that note. If there’s some audio that needs to be included in there, you hit another button, you record the audio. It’s part of the same note. You can type any text you want. It becomes part of the same note. I’m thinking, “I don’t have anything that does what this does.” That’s when I started using Evernote to its fullest.

TBT 58 | Get Organized

Get Organized: We’re so dependent now on our mobile devices as far as being able to not only access things from anywhere but change them and share them from anywhere.


It’s a powerful tool. You can even do task lists in Evernote.

Let the singers sing and the dancers dance. For me, Evernote is reference information for the most part. My digital task list is for those things that need to be done. There are a lot of things that move from one to the other. If I’m working on a project and Remember The Milk, it’s got a number of steps. I now have all those steps completed. I can print a little PDF to send right over to Evernote that here are all the notes and all the subtasks that were part of that project. It’s moved from this project is now completed. There’s no more action. This now becomes reference information. Much as during the Outlook days, I would be working on an involved project. When it was completed, I would drag it over to the notes module.

There are some people that use Evernote as their task list, but things like repeating tasks. I’m big on using repeating tasks and in Evernote, you don’t have that feature. That’s probably the biggest single thing and those things that need to be done sometime in the future. If it was simply here’s a list of all things I need to be doing now, you can do it in Evernote just as well as anything else. What about those things that I cannot do or should not do until next week, next month? Renewing my driver’s license, I’m not going to have to worry about is my driver’s license going to expire? About a month before it does a couple of years from now, a task is going to show up saying, “Driver’s license expires in a month.”

You have all your tasks in that application and not directly in your calendar? Do they sync in your calendar?

That’s another important point. My calendar is where I am. When I ask people, “Do you keep your tasks digitally?” The ones that say yes when we start to peel back that onion, most of the people come down to one or two things. I keep my tasks in my calendar because I don’t have a better place to put it or I use that little yellow legal pad looking thing in my iPhone, which is great for the grocery list for this afternoon. As far as the thing you got to do two weeks from now or the thing that you have to do on the first Tuesday of every month, that’s where it all falls apart. I’m a big one on let the singer sing, let the dancers dance. My calendar is where I am. My task list is these are the things that I need to do. I want to do this Monday morning, 9:00 is fine, 9:15 is fine, and 10:15 is fine. Sometime during that part of the day and my task list works great for everything gets a due date, it’s sorted by due date. Within that, I have a secondary priority. The things that I want to do in the morning high priority, afternoon medium, and evening low priority. If something doesn’t get done that day, I don’t have to drag it over to the next day on my calendar or constantly look back at past calendar days. It rolls over to the next day. I never have to rewrite anything. I never have to drag anything anywhere else. My calendar stays clean.

That is why you are organized and teaching people how to be organized. Tell us for the people who are out there who think, “That’s all well and good, but I don’t even know where to start. These are great suggestions but where do I start?” What would you tell them?

Let me put it in a quick plug for myself because this is going to give people things they can use. On my website, FrankBuck.org, right on the home page right under my picture, people can click to get on my mailing list. The first thing you get is chapter one of my book that shows you how to get your desk clean and then the next little gift shows you how to set up Remember The Milk. Let me give people who are going, “I got paper all over my desk.” Let me take you back to the mid-‘60s with something I learned from my dad. He was an attorney in a one-man shop. Don’t think of anything that you’ve seen on TV with a big law firm. He was his own secretary, his own bookkeeper, his own everything. I’m an eight-year-old kid. I’m hanging out at his office during the summer because in Alabama it’s hot. His office was air-conditioned, which was not ubiquitous back in the ‘60s.

You don't need to change your system more; you just need to keep it clean. Click To Tweet

The first thing he always did was open this one filing cabinet drawer and inside that drawer was simply files labeled 1 up to 31, each one representing a day of the month. If it was the 15th day of the month, he pulled out file number fifteen and in there it was his whole day was in that folder. There were papers related to all the people who were coming to see him that day. They would make notes on those packets of papers. They would set the next appointment. At the end of the day, the person coming back on the second of next month, their packets went in folder number two and so forth. His desk would be empty at the end of the day.

I thought my dad invented that system. I know it’s an old business tool called the Tickler File. For the people out there that are going, “I got to get on top of the paperwork.” That’s where I teach people to start. Get a milk crate and some hanging file folders, label them one through 31. That’ll handle anything happening the next 31 days and then behind that twelve more folders January, February, March. Label them with the names of the month. All the paper that’s lying on your desk because you’re going to need it at some time in the future, ask the question, “Where do I want to see this again?” and put it in the appropriate folder. Those tickets to the concert that is on your desk and the concerts three weeks from Tuesday, and you’ve got them lying on your desk going, “I can’t lose these.” They get stuff piled on them and then you walk out the door and with no tickets. Take them and drop them in the file for the date that concert is happening. There are many applications.

I buy birthday cards one time a year and I sit down and I address all the birthday cards at one time. I print the labels out. Put the return address stickers on there. Where the postage stamp is going to go? Put the date it needs to go in the mail. People say, “That’s not going to work. You’re going to have this big stack of cards.” I take one more step. Drop them in the tickler files. I’m watching probably one TV program handling my birthday cards for the whole year dropping them in the tickler file, and then I earned the right to forget about it. Here’s the thing. People think I’m thoughtful because I remember their birthday. I’m not any more thoughtful than anybody else. There are a whole bunch of thoughtful people out there that missed birthdays because they don’t have a system to organize them. Go into that card shop to get one card on the way home from work after you spilled coffee on yourself and the traffic is a mess and your boss got on you and this, that, and the other. You go, “Forget it.” The thing about a system is it makes it easy enough you’ll do it.

TBT 58 | Get Organized

Get Organized: There’s a whole bunch of thoughtful people out there that missed birthdays because they just don’t have a system to organize them.


Systems are important and I’ve never heard that one that people write them out at the beginning of the year for the whole year. That’s pretty cool. I do it a little differently but I like that. It’s important that we explore other people’s systems and different systems to hear what they do and try them on and see how they fit. That’s an interesting way to approach it. You don’t forget. Thanks for sharing that.

That has worked for many people.

It sounds like a great system. What is the biggest takeaway that you want somebody to walk away from this episode?

Have a system. Work the system. Stay with the system. When you want to jump the system, first clean the system up.

It’s all about the system. Thank you so much, Frank, for being here and for sharing a few nuggets out of the many that you’ve got available. I urge people to go and check out Frank’s website and get on his newsletter. That’s FrankBuck.org. Frank, thanks for being here.

Penny, it was a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Thank you all for reading because without you we wouldn’t be here. We appreciate that with every episode that you get another expert in their space who’s sharing their wisdom, their knowledge, and the systems that they’ve created that make things work. Go ahead and apply at least one thing that you learned. Start with one that’s going to make a big difference. Start with your desk. Get your desk clean and then you can tackle that email box. We’ll see you in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Frank Buck

TBT 58 | Get OrganizedFrank Buck served as a teacher, principal and central office administrator during a career in education spanning almost 30 years. He realized early that getting organized and managing time well makes life easier. Dr. Buck adopted and perfected tools which have been with him throughout his career, and for over 15 years has shared those ideas in workshops designed for those in education. His blend of content and humor has made him a favorite with audiences throughout the United States and Canada.

Dr. Buck’s books, Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders and Organization Made Easy! Tools for Today’s Teachers capture those ideas in an easy-to-read, “nuts-and-bolts” approach to time management and organization. Whether one’s preference is to organize with paper or with a digital system, Dr. Buck’s approach makes getting organized easy.


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How To Procrastinate And Still Be Productive with Dr. John Perry

TBT 57 | Productive Procrastination


Procrastination is often associated to being unproductive and inefficient. But what if you can procrastinate and still accomplish your tasks? Stanford professor Dr. John Perry celebrates his own procrastination which he believes gives him more productivity at the end of the day. He is the author of The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing. He shares helpful techniques for procrastinators to successfully achieve their goals.

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How To Procrastinate And Still Be Productive with Dr. John Perry

I’m going to play back a recording that I did from a previous interview with Dr. John Perry, who’s written The Art of Procrastination. You’ll find some of the tips that he gives interesting and also how he celebrates his own procrastination, which he believes gives him more productivity at the end of the day.

I’m joined by Dr. John Perry. He is a Stanford Professor, author, radio host and a number of other very productive things for a procrastinator. Welcome, Dr. Perry.

Thank you, Penny. I’m glad to be back.

In our last segment, I told you about my concept of championship psychology. Reframing is a very powerful tool in creating a championship psychology for yourself and also for others. That witty essay that you talked about, you talked about that it’s difficult for procrastinator such as yourself to get motivated to complete a task until it’s less important than another task. Essentially, you’re reframing the task that you’re doing so that you can feel like there’s less at stake than another task. I was wondering is it the importance that we’re reframing or the urgency?

TBT 57 | Productive Procrastination

Productive Procrastination: Structured procrastination is having this self-deceptive to-do list in which you motivate yourself to do things further down on the list as a way of not doing things further up on the list.


What I recommend is you realize somehow it’s easier to do things you’re not supposed to be doing or that I say are not at the top of your long-range priority list. Then you realize, “Often the thing that I was procrastinating about turned out not to be so important.” Look for opportunities like that. Look for things that seem important and will motivate you to do other things, but in the end aren’t all that important. People say, “This is self-deception.” I say most procrastinators have pretty good self-deceptive skills. We want to work for something beyond that or some of some of us do or some of us do some of the time. Try to get something like learn Chinese, that’s important and difficult and almost anything I’d rather do than not devote time to learning Chinese. If I could convince myself that that’s what I ought to be doing, I could do a lot of other things as a way of not doing that.

There’s another kind of to-do list that’s very important and that’s a completely different kind of thing. We’re talking about people who like me have difficulty getting out of bed. You said you just pop out of bed. I have vague memories when I was younger of popping out of bed. I have a feeling you’re a lot younger than I am. When you pop out of bed, that’s a foreign way of life to many of us. We might aspire to be like you, but we’re not like you. How do I get out of bed? That’s what I use to-do list for. Not necessarily written down, but sometimes written down. You need to break your day up into very small, easily satisfiable tasks and then give yourself a pat on the back for doing them. “I’m out of bed,” pat on the back. “I started the coffee,” pat on the back. “I had a shower,” pat on the back. “I drank a cup of coffee,” that’s important, two pats on the back.

By the time I sit down on my desk to start grading papers or whatever I have to do that day, I’ve got ahead of steam. I’m looking at myself, “What a productive, take-charge kind of guy I am. I’ve already done ten things on my to-do list.” The fact that I get out of bed, go to the bathroom, make a cup of coffee, that’s not so important as the idea that, “Check, check, check,” because there had been in mornings when I haven’t gotten any of those things done. You probably never had an experience like that, but many of us do. There’s a Japanese term for this breaking things up into small tasks, which I should have jotted down somewhere, but it’s in the book. It’s a good idea. Break tasks into smaller tasks and this has to do with not setting the bar too high. I know that you spent some time in Switzerland and so you knew German and maybe you had to learn German.

If you just put, “Learn German” on there, that’s pretty hard to say learn ten vocabulary words or learn five vocabulary words. Over a year’s time, you’ve learned quite a bit. There are two kinds of to-do lists. First is this big, maybe self-deceptive to-do list in which you motivate yourself to do things further down on the list as a way of not doing things further up on the list. That’s structured procrastination. Then this kind of break each task into easy subtasks and give yourself credit each time you do any of them. For many of us, that’s an important feature of a productive day, plus music. You’ve got to have the right music. If you love classical music and see you play the Eroica Symphony, you probably spend the whole day getting more and more depressed. If you play Neil Diamond, you’ll get perky. That’s going to offend a lot of people. You can compromise on Leonard Cohen, who’s got pessimistic thoughts but a good beat.

Most procrastinators have pretty good self-deceptive skills. Click To Tweet

It’s that beat and that rhythm that helps us create a certain emotional state, which in that emotional state is what I’m talking about with championship psychology is what elements do we need to help us to get to that emotional state? I completely agree that music is a wonderful way to help us to change our state whenever we see that it’s not working the way that we want it to work. I’m sure anybody has probably had this experience where you’re in a bad mood and something happened and then something comes on the radio and it just totally shifts your entire mental state because you’re hearing something that’s got that beat or brings you back to a particular time that was in your life that was great or whatever. Music is very powerful. We need to change things in our environment. That’s what helps us also to get in that psychological state and more productive. For instance, to get you out of bed, the first thing that came on the radio after your alarm goes up is Start Me Up and a couple of things that get you in a positive state, that’s going to have an influence of getting you out of bed. If the coffee machine starts itself and you can smell the coffee downstairs, that doesn’t hurt either.

If you had a teenager, how would you get him up? You put on music, it wouldn’t be his choice but your choice. You get the bacon going. You have to do the same thing with yourself. The self who does the manipulating has to be the self the night before. Just when you set an alarm clock, that’s self-manipulation. That’s the self the night before creating a situation that the self in the morning wouldn’t choose. I wouldn’t choose to set an alarm for myself, but the self the night before did. The successful life is full of self-manipulation. Although, I suppose if you’re successful enough, it doesn’t even seem like that.

You planned ahead.

William James is a great philosopher and he distinguished between two kinds of people. One of them he called healthy minded. I don’t know what he called the other one, maybe sick-minded, but I don’t like that. Let’s just say gloomy-minded. I have a feeling people like you wake up and say, “Here’s another bright day in this bright, wonderful world and I’m a bright, accomplished person. I’m going to make contributions to making the world better.” That’s great. Then there’s gloomy people like me who wake up and say, “The world has taken one more step closer to climatology for catastrophe, overpopulation, erosion of rights, all young pretty girls having tattoos and all young men wearing their pants around their knees. Who wants to wake up into such a world?” The gloomy-minded person needs all the artificial help it can get. The alarm clock, The Rolling Stones, the coffee and the bacon.

It would be interesting to think about what would you be without all of those automatic negative thoughts? What would you be without those thoughts and without procrastination?

I would be unrecognizable as a human being, but I would probably be a very happy human being.

You said you think you’d be happy, what will be different in your life? I’m just curious. If you saw yourself as free from that and from those thoughts.

It would be like being a lot younger than I am because I used to have a more optimistic view about the world. It’s not that I have a well-thought-out, pessimistic view about the world. Life is like walking down the street and you’re accosted by different things. You walk by a bakery, you’re accosted by the smell of fresh rolls. Then your desires take over and you want a fresh roll. Then your desires incorporate beliefs, your desire for a fresh roll looks around your psyche and find something you read that says, “Rolls are good for you,” or something like that. You’d say, “I’m only going to pass this bakery once this week so having a roll is not so bad.” Then your executive function takes over and says, “You’re fooling yourself. The only way you can maintain a weight that’s anywhere near reasonable is consistently pass up such opportunities.” Your life is shaped by the streets you’re walking down. Although in the end, if you’re a rational human being, there’s this executive thing which is relatively unaffected by those things that keeps charge of everything.

The successful life is full of self-manipulation. Click To Tweet

As you get older, depending on your life, you see more worthwhile people who work things that don’t turn out. You see more problems and so forth. You have children and they have problems. You have grandchildren and they have problems. On the other hand, on certain days you see your children, they’re happy, your grandchildren are happy. There’s a lot of input and that’s what percolates up from your psychology. It may be happy, it may not be happy. If you have this executive function, that is the thing at the top that says, “My job is to keep control of these desires and not be swayed so much by a particular mood or input at the moment.” You have to develop that. If you’re like me, if you’re a gloomy-minded, you have to develop that and says, “Come on, Perry, the world’s not coming to an end. Just because boys like to wear their pants down around their butt doesn’t mean that things are hopeless and so forth and so on.” What would it be like to not need that? I imagine these healthy-minded people that just get up and they don’t think about all these negative things. It would be far different. That’s about all I can say. I like to be around such people. If you’re one of them, I’d like to be around you. I like to talk to you on the phone.

That sounds good and that says something because the way we develop and the way we grow is shaped by the people that we spend our life with. I forget who it was that said, “Show me your life and I’ll show you the people that you hang out with.” Tell our listeners out there where they can learn more about you, your books, your programs, and your radio show. Give us some URLs in places that we can find out more about you.

TBT 57 | Productive Procrastination

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing

You can go read the book, steal it, you can borrow it or best, buy it. It’s called The Art of Procrastination. You can find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and hopefully your local bookstore where it’s the best place to buy it. You can find out more about me at the website, PhilosophyTalk.org. That’s the website for a radio program I do with my dear friend, Ken Taylor, where we contrary to what the public radio people thought have made success of a show based on philosophy and philosophical topics. If you’re interested in digging deep into the various stuff I’ve written, you can go to John.JPerry.net, where you find all kinds of stuff. There’s also a structured procrastination website, StructuredProcrastination.org.

Thank you so much for being here. This was a great discussion and thought-provoking for many of our audience.

Thank you, Penny. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot from you.

I know that you have a book around identity, so we’ll have to have you back when we talk about purpose and identity again. To close out this session of Take Charge of Your Productivity, I like you to imagine at the end of each day connecting to what’s important to you, that greater purpose. Visualize yourself already having achieved it and how great it feels and how things would be different now that you’ve reached those goals. How much more focus would you have? Make a point that the first two hours in the morning that you get up, that you focus on something that advances you towards those ultimate goals that you’ve set for yourself. After all, you still have 1,320 minutes left in the day to do whatever is urgent or to procrastinate if that’s what you want to do. Set up your environment. We talked in the show also intertwined about how important the environment is to set up and support you in getting the biggest items done first and to eliminate distractions.

Priorities need to be set around the critical success factors in doing what you need to do to maintain that championship psychology. By setting clear priorities based on those factors, then you’re able to support yourself with critical, tactical planning and scheduling. It can be difficult to distinguish what’s important from what’s urgent, especially when many of us are taught from an early age to place an urgency on low priority tasks. The secret sauce that will let you quickly and consistently prioritize is by asking quality questions. That’s what’s going to address those automatic negative thoughts that we’ve talked about. It’s also going to help you get clarity on what to prioritize and what needs to be done in your urgent and in your important sector. Nearly 100% of the time for prioritization can be cleared up by simply asking questions about the task. This has had amazing effects for my clients. For instance, why does it have the deadline that it does? Is that deadline feasible or appropriate or necessary? Will it bring you closer to your goals? What results need to be achieved? Is that result worth your time and energy?

Keep control of your desires and don’t be swayed so much by a particular mood or input at the moment. Click To Tweet

Don’t ask only yourself these questions, but also ask the others who were involved in setting these goals and these deadlines. I want to work with an organizer who would help people to decide what to keep in their office and what to box up. They would do that by asking them to look at each item that was cluttering the room and say, “Do I need it? Do I love it? Does it make me money?” You can approach your tasks in the exact same way. Things that you need to include, for instance, paying the electric bill or buying paper for the printer and things that you love or the tasks that bring you joy and fulfillment. They give you that energy so that you can be better focused and appreciate what you achieve more. Finally, will the task result in financial gain, energy gain or some time gain that’s going to feed either of the financial of the energy gain? You can usually eliminate the tasks that don’t fit into those categories and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Thanks for reading to our interview with Dr. John Perry. Talking about procrastination, it’s something that I’ve written about in my best-selling book, The Productivity Zone: Stop the Tug of War with Time. I talk about it in what I call the Productivity Curve. On one side of the curve, we have procrastination. On the other side, we have perfectionism. In the middle, that’s where we have the productivity zone. It happens, we procrastinate from time-to-time, but we’ve got to be aware of it, conscious of when we’re procrastinating so that we can shift quickly into the productivity zone. Dr. John Perry has some interesting thoughts about that in terms of breaking things down. It’s also about getting into action. He breaks things down so that he can get into action.

If you want to break the cycle of procrastination, you want to get as quickly as possible of getting into action, taking that next bold step. You can do that through asking yourself quality questions that are going to help you to do that. You can even have a mantra like Mel Robbins talks about 5-4-3-2-1. It’s extremely effective. Break it down and just set clear priorities so that you can know what you want to be focusing on and what you need to be focusing on. I never said it was easy, but when you can put some strategies in place and have a couple of brain hacks, you can see yourself shifting from procrastination into the productivity zone. The quicker you recognize it, the quicker you can make that shift. When you practice it like any type of sports move or any type of skill, you’re going to get better at it. You’re going to get faster. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even start to teach other people. Thank you so much for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Dr. John Perry

TBT 57 | Productive ProcrastinationJohn Perry is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford. His office is Cordura 127 at CSLI, Stanford University, where he conducts several research projects. He is also a professor of philosophy (half-time) at the University of California, Riverside, on leave 2012–13.



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Positive Thinking Doesn’t Always Work with David Corbin

TBT 56 | Power In Negativity


Have you ever thought that there is power in negative thinking? More than positive thinking, illuminating the negative is equally essential in fixing problems. It lets you see what’s in the way. Sadly, people would often eliminate the negative rather than illuminate it which gets them into more troublesome situations. David Corbin, author of the book Illuminate: Harnessing the Positive Power of Negative Thinking, shares his unique techniques to confront, examine, and fix problems. Learn how facing the problem works along positive thinking, because that simple step that you often choose to ignore is mostly what can save you.

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Positive Thinking Doesn’t Always Work with David Corbin

TBT 56 | Power In Negativity

Illuminate: Harnessing the Positive Power of Negative Thinking

Our guest is David Corbin. He’s going to share his unique techniques to confront, examine and fix a problem. He is an author, speaker, mentor and advisor who’s coined the phrase “Illuminating the negative” as the best approach to resolve challenges. He’s been referred to as the “Robin Williams with an MBA,” because of his high content speeches coupled with entertaining and sometimes side-splitting stories and applications. He is a funny guy. He’s a former psychotherapist with a background in healthcare. He served as a management and leadership consultant to businesses, organizations of all sizes and Fortune 20 companies to businesses with less than $1 million. He enjoys the challenges of all of them. He’s worked directly with presidents of companies such as AT&T, Hallmark, Sprint, as well as the Hon. Secretary of Veterans Administration, and many others. David’s latest book Illuminate-Harnessing the Power of Negative Thinking has reached number two in the Amazon category of business life. I’d like to welcome David Corbin. David, it’s great to have you here.

It’s great to be here. The song says you’ve got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. I’m totally into accentuating the positive. I’m a pretty positive guy. When it comes to reading the books, I can read them all. I’m honored to be in Think and Grow Rich. I’m in that book. I’m around that. We also need to not eliminate the negative. We need to illuminate it and see what’s in the way. What are these obstacles? We can’t stick our head in the sand. Thank you for that cool intro. You and I are philosophically aligned that we’ve got to get real and see what these things are.

I know so many people who don’t allow themselves to be negative because they think that’s taboo. That it’s not allowed to think negative, but they forget that we’re human. In order to get to the crux of a problem, we need to be real. We need to understand what’s going on.

I had a problem. I wasn’t doing my morning meditation. From a productivity point of view, I try to have as much regularity and routine in my schedule. In the morning, I’d wake up and do my morning ablutions. I clean my tongue, brush my teeth and drink this powder that helps to cleanse the body of heavy metals and toxins and all that stuff. I get back in bed. I would do a half-hour meditation using something called Holosync, which is an audio bi-hemispheric training thing. I will do that. Sometimes I would get on Facebook and spiral out on Facebook.

You’re caught in that rabbit hole.

When I realized that I had to accentuate the positive. Facebook is great. It keeps me in touch with my friends from high school, junior high school, Hebrew school. I’ve met all these friends. They’re still in my life over 50 years because Facebook put us back together. That’s accentuating the positive, that’s cool and groovy. If I illuminate the negative, I’d go, “Whoa.” I sometimes get spiraled and whatnot. A lot of people would go, “The positive is so good. I’m going to focus it on that because I’m in touch with these people and that people.” They don’t look and allowed themselves to illuminate the negatives. When I did that I went, “I’m going to limit myself to two times a day to go on Facebook. One of those times a day is not going to be in the morning so that I don’t spiral away.” That’s an example of illuminating and going, “Where is this getting in the way?” The model is quite simple. You got to face it. If I faced the problem that I’m not doing my morning meditation and I follow that out into the future. Let’s face it is step number one. What’s causing it? Let’s look backwards.

What’s causing it is I’m doing Facebook. If I follow it into the future, if I don’t do my meditation, it’s not going to go smoothly. I’m not going to be productive. I’m not going to be as present. I’m not going to be as healthy. There’s going to be cortisol, weight gain, and all that crap. Face it, follow it and then fix it. The third step is to fix it. Fix it is modify the times at which I’ll allow myself to use Facebook. That’s a simple example of the illuminate model. Penny, as you know, people have gotten profound results from Fortune 20 CEOs and Cabinet Members to people who run very small businesses applying this simple model, being aware of it and being attentive to it, you get great results.

Awareness is power. Many times people are stuck in their excuses. That’s one of the biggest time wasters that exist is excuses because people get so caught up in it. It’s important to take a look at it for what it is. As you said, accentuate the positive. I liked the way that you said that. It’s recognized both the pros and the grows. Here, you were able to still utilize Facebook in the positive way that it brings you. You’ve set some boundaries around it and making sure that you’re doing the activities that are right for you at the right time. Those are some real key learnings for people to be able to take because so many times we don’t have boundaries and rules for the way that we do things. By bringing in a few boundaries and rules would help us to be that much more efficient and effective.

We need to not eliminate the negative but illuminate it and see what's in the way. Click To Tweet

I love the concept, pros and grows. It’s like in that song, “Win some and learn some,” instead of win some and lose some. One thing is awareness is important. I’m pretty sure, however, that every obese person in America knows that they’re obese. I’m pretty sure that every smoker knows that they’re smoking. Awareness is not enough. As one of my colleagues, Mitch Axelrod, talks about in axiology is it’s attentiveness. It’s not knowledge. It’s action. It’s not awareness. It’s attentiveness in action. You could be aware of issues in your life. I was totally aware that before I went to sleep or after dinner, I’d have a couple of glasses of wine. I was aware of that. I was also aware that after I’d have a couple of glasses of wine, I’d be like voraciously hungry. It would adjust my blood sugar. I’d eat anything. It was like in the ‘60s and ‘70s having the munchies. I’d go, “Let’s see what we have. We have sardines. We have chocolate syrup. Let’s eat that.” I get so hungry. I’ll eat anything.

I was aware that I would drink the wine at night and be hungry. I wasn’t attentive to it. When I became attentive to it was when I said, “I either have to have some carrots or cut up celery or cucumber or something that I’ll want to munch on, but it’s going to be okay for me to eat before I go to sleep. Selling things like that are examples of the illuminate model and action. You’ve got to face it. You’ve got to follow it. Take action and fix it. It’s so simple. I’m almost embarrassed that the model is as simple as it is. When you get the number of results that we get from huge companies that they blend in Chief Illumination Officers into their corporation. People who are going around facilitating open, loving, vulnerable, authentic dialogue on people being able to illuminate the negative in a positive light saying, “We might have a problem here and I’m not complaining. I want to bring it up so we might be able to brainstorm how we could follow it and fix it.” That creates a culture of growth and development.

I don’t watch the news or read the news, but I got something on my email about General Motors and some ignition crazy situation where another car blew up. They’re going to have another gazillion dollar settlement and it’s all because they didn’t allow for a culture to illuminate because they did have people that know what was going on. They did have people who said, “We’ve got problems,” but their culture said, “Go back to work. We don’t need that right now. We’ve got things we need to do. We’ll take care of this sometime.” They went into denial. They didn’t illuminate. They didn’t face it. Follow it and see what was causing this initial problem. How might we be able to engage some resources to fix it? It would have saved not only money, but it would have saved freaking lives because they didn’t have the culture of illuminate.

I’m glad you brought that up because this is what I was thinking too. The first part is the hardest, which is the facing it. What are some of the challenges that you’ve seen and how do you help people to face it? That’s probably the biggest hurdle.

TBT 56 | Power In Negativity

Power In Negativity: Win some and learn some instead of win some, lose some.


Jot down two things that you’re not facing in your business or life that if and when you do and that you’re aware of it, you get parking on, it’s going to shift your productivity, profitability, success, happiness or whatever. What are two things you’re not facing? Most people go, “I don’t know.” I say, “If you did know, write down those two.” They always find two. One of those two I can assure you because they leverage points to their accomplishments of success, happiness, freedom, health, ego, peace of mind or whatever it is. I begin with the question, “What is it that I’m not facing that’s holding me back?” That is the starting point to greatness. It changes it almost like from objectivity to subjectivity and subjectivity to objectivity. It automatically goes, “That’s right.”

Often, they’ll go right back to sleep at the wheel and not think about it. I take it the next step and say, “Let’s look at that and let’s follow that into the future. If you keep living that way, what’s going to happen?” People start getting a visceral experience of, “I don’t want that to happen.” Two years ago, I weighed 189 pounds. That’s obese for a guy who is 5’5.5″. I knew it but until I followed it into the future and realized, “I’m not going to have the retirement I want with health. I’m not going to be able to continue to play tennis. I’m not going to have this. I’m probably going to get that,” until you look at the implications. Number one is you ask yourself, “What am I not facing it?” The next step is follow it into the future. Carry that into the future, “What’s your life going to be like?” People go, “Crap,” and then follow it back. “What’s causing it?” “I’m drinking wine late at night or maybe I’m going out to dinner with friends, meetings and speaking at events and they have all this great free food. I go crazy with it.” An answer to your question, they asked themselves, “What am I not facing?”

Whatever way works best for you is to, “What do you need to face?” This is very powerful stuff, David. I love the fact that you say you’re almost embarrassed that it’s too simple. It needs to be simple. It helps us when we have a simple three-step process to follow that you can use anywhere at any level of complexity and it works.

It is simple but what motivates people when I’m speaking with them is stories and examples of how individuals and organizations have used the illumination model and generated literally hundreds of millions of dollars, probably collectively over $1 billion. It’s all about if you face, for example, lack of profitability in an organization and then you follow it and you go, “It’s probably because there’s no loyalty from our clients. They buy whoever is going to be the price preferable and there’s no loyalty. They follow it and go, “Why don’t we have that loyalty?” They go, “We don’t treat them in a way that’s going to give them any a connection or a bond or any Mojo connection ready or any loyalty. You say, “What if you could change that?” They go about fixing it. You see companies literally quadrupling their profits by using that model.

Asking yourself, What is it that I'm not facing that's holding me back? is the starting point. Click To Tweet

You go, “Yes, it’s simple,” but we’re grateful that it’s simple because the results are outstanding. The takeaway for any reader is to make that short list. Once you have that short list, look at the ramifications of not taking action. Look at the ramifications of not taking action. Look at the situation, look at the problem, and look at the implications of that. If you looked at the implications of that, then you’re motivated to move away from that. I showed the Challenger Explorer blow up in the sky and it didn’t have to happen. I showed pictures of the astronauts who died, sons and daughters and mothers and children and fathers and sisters and they all died and they didn’t have to. It’s because the culture at NASA wouldn’t allow for the illumination process.

I showed the papers that show that indeed they knew what the problems were, but instead of illuminating the negative, they decided to eliminate the negative and ignore it. It doesn’t have to be that way. If I were a reader I would say, “I got it. I am motivated. I am now going to make a list of some of the things that I’ve been denying or that I’ve been suppressing or that I’ve been hiding and eliminating. I’m going to put them up there and I’m going to commit myself to illuminate. I ask myself, “What is it that I’m not facing? I’m going to face it. I’m going to follow it. To the extent that I can, I’m going to fix it.”

I want to point out, not everything could be fixed. It might be mitigated, modified or contained but it can all be fixed. I may not have any of the resources of time and money and even know how to fix it, but I don’t want it to get lost. I want to keep it on the grease board. Put it on the flip chart for when we do create those resources, we get our butts to work and do that. I’m not breeding a community that says only bring me problems that you have a solution for. I think about some of the interviews that I’ve had because I love talking with people like yourself. You’re the real deal. You not only believe in what you do, you do what you do and you create tools for other people to have that level of productivity that you have. That’s the sign of greatness. I was interviewed by a great interviewer at Oprah Radio. They said, “This sounds cool but how does this model apply to the family?” They thought it stumped me. I said it’s simple. Picture this, here’s a family and they’ve got a fourteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old daughter and she is doing pretty good in school. She’s good on the soccer team. The kid comes home on a Friday night and she’s acting a little strange, not herself. A little moody and her breath smells a little bit. I don’t know what it smells like.

What I’m going to do is I’m going to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. She’s doing well in school. She’s good at soccer. I’ll let it slide. The same thing happens on Saturday night. She doesn’t seem to be herself, but she’s doing well. They accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative instead of illuminating it. It turns out that what happens is the kid ends up drinking, maybe going into drugs or whatever, all because the parents kept their head in the sand. They went crazy. It’s a perfect example. What we want to do is we would accentuate the positive. She’s doing well in school, doing well in soccer but let’s eliminate the negative. I don’t think she’s herself. What’s going on? Sit down, talk to us and now you’re confronting. You’re facing it for crying out loud. They got it. I know you get it too.

Everybody gets it because what’s important to understand is the strategies are cross-contextual. What works in one area of your life very often you may not apply it in another area of your life but it works. This is a framework, a process that is going to work in any context.

It’s cross-contextual, is that what you’re saying?


That’s some fancy terminology. Years ago, my business partner, Brian Tracy, a wonderful speaker, and thought leader. We developed a program. Instead of it being time management, it was called life management, which then was profound because it was in the words of the great philosopher, Penny Zenker, cross-contextual. I love that term. I put my pinky out when I say that because that’s pretty perfect. I would remind everyone, in an organization or otherwise, if there is an issue or a challenge, ask yourself, “Is this a challenge that’s worth looking at?” Asking yourself what are the ramifications? That’s part of the part of the following it. They say, “Choose your poison and choose your battles.”

We all suck until we don't. Click To Tweet

Some issues or problems aren’t worth fixing and putting your time and attention to. Just like certain businesses aren’t big enough to do. I believe we suck until we don’t. Our job is to remove the sucky factor from our lives and reveal the genius, brilliance and the magnificence that is us. My book is called From WTF to OMG (W A Bit of LOL). How many of us have gone from WTF, “What the Fahrvergnügen is that about?” to OMG, “Oh, my God. That is perfect. I can’t believe I missed that.” There are so many people we meet that we don’t like, situations that happened and we go, “What the ford is going on here?” Then we realize, “That’s why. How perfect is that? Oh, my God.”

We all suck until we don’t. That’s the whole process of measuring where you’re at on the core functions of your business and your life. Getting really serious, rating yourself on a scale of one to ten where you’re a three. Acknowledge that. You’re not so good. One is you suck and ten is mastery where you’re a three, four, or five and where you’re at eight, nine, and ten. You accentuate the positive goal and you pat yourself on the back. We’re three, four or five, you illuminate the negative and say, “I’m going to close the gap and I’m going to be a six.” It feels so good to do that, to close the gap and to get better incrementally. It feels so good. Your self-esteem is so tied into that performance gap closure. It’s great.

Where they could find out more information about you? If you’ve got any other programs that you’d like to let people be aware of? I know they’d like to hear more from you and about you.

The book is called Preventing Brand Slaughter because they don’t know what their brand is, but I want to say whether they know or don’t know what their brand is, they don’t always live in accordance with it. They’re either building their brand or they’re killing it. Brand Slaughter is a book. I’m going to be doing a new mastermind program. It’s tele and in person mastermind and mentoring program where they’ll meet at my personal home in San Diego for a full day. We meet on the phone beforehand. I’m only taking eighteen people into that program. I’ll be telling people about it at CEO Space where I’m on faculty and which is where I know you attend. That will probably fill up, but if anybody’s interested, they can reach me at David@DavidCorbin.com. Other than that, I don’t promote anything. I will just be who I will be. I track people happily and mentor magnificent people. I live a good life.

TBT 56 | Power In Negativity

Power In Negativity: If there is an issue or a challenge, ask yourself, “Is this a challenge that’s worth looking at?”


If there are any of those spaces left, you’re going to want to grab those because I mentioned earlier a comment from one of my mentors. I have many mentors. You’ve mentored me in the past at CEO Space. I love that coming back to the real is I always knew that any feedback that you would give me in any of our discussions we’re going to be real. You were going to go to the core and serve me. I know that anybody in this program is going to be well-served to be mentored and coaching together with you. Definitely contact David. He’s awesome. You’ve heard it here. He’s funny. He’s fun to be with and also very productive. David, thank you so much for being here and illuminating the audience on your program and the process because it was valuable for the people who are reading.

It’s my pleasure, Penny. Keep doing the good work.

Important Links:

About David Corbin

TBT 56 | Power In NegativityDavid has been known as the “mentor to mentors”. His view is that the mentor comes into the life of the protégé a the right time and for the right reasons- usually for the purpose of sharing from a deep well which is filled with experiences, ideas, principles and associations, which are being transferred to the protégé through the mentor for the purpose of their achieving their greatness.


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From Big Goals To Small Steps with Emi Kirschner

TBT 55 | Big Goals


We dream of big things. However, along the way we may feel like they are too much for us that we tend to get discouraged and shy away from them. Eventually, we lose sight of those big goals and force ourselves back to our little caves. Emi Kirschner – speaker, coach, author, and creator of the Tribe of Leaders Membership Community – talks about big goals and how we can keep ourselves on track and away from getting overwhelmed with them. Emi speaks about the barrier that is instant gratification and the need to see results fast which keep us further away from what we want to achieve. Find the value of taking small steps and being resilient in realizing our goals as Emi shares her own goals and some questions we can ask ourselves to start.

Listen to the podcast here:

From Big Goals To Small Steps with Emi Kirschner

I am excited to have a show to talk about big goals and how to keep yourself on track and keep yourself from getting overwhelmed with those big goals. I have Emi Kirschner and I’m so excited to have her. We have been interviewing back and forth for the last couple of years because we have similar mindsets and ways of looking at things. I am excited to get your perspective on this. I’m going to allow you to introduce yourself. Tells us little bit about your background and why this topic is important to you?

I’m so excited to be here too mostly because you’re my friend and we totally have aligning mindsets. We think and achieved things very similarly. I’m honored to be here. Thank you. I am a speaker, a coach, author and Creator of the Tribe of Leaders Membership Community. It’s a place for entrepreneurs to come together and have support, accountability and achieve big goals. Why that’s important to me is that I know there are so many people out there who have these big dreams and big visions. As soon as they start to map out or even think about, “How do I achieve that?” they freeze. One of the things I love doing with my clients is helping them get clarity around that big vision and then back it all the way out to what they can start doing right now without feeling overwhelmed, confused or that it’s too much and how to help them move forward with ease so that their vision and their big dream can be reality.

It comes from you being a big thinker that you can help others to not think big but to act in accordance. Let’s start there. Let’s say somebody is afraid to think big. That they’ve always set the bar where it’s relatively easy. They don’t have to stretch themselves. How do you help somebody to think bigger?

For the audience, you can continue to ask yourself questions, “What’s next?” When you start to feel like you’re going to throw up, that’s a great indicator of you’ve reached a place where not only are you stretched but it’s a big goal or a big dream. I’m going to use those words interchangeably. That’s not a bad thing. Having that feeling, “What if I accomplished this? What if this happened?” Being a little uncomfortable with that is a great thing. I love being in that space not all the time but it creates a fascination and a curiosity of like, “What can I do to get there?”

If you don’t think to the point where it’s uncomfortable, then it’s not big enough. It has to be uncomfortable for it to be big. Somebody once asked me the question, “What would you like to achieve, but you would fear the most?” It was something along that line. The question was, “What would scare you to death?” That’s an interesting way to think about it. It’s about asking questions to see what that could look like. If money didn’t matter and you weren’t worried about what you were going to earn from it, what would you do? How big would you go if you took fear out of it? There was no such thing as failure or fear. What would be your ultimate-ultimate?

One of the questions you can ask yourself is, “What would be the next bigger thing? What would be even bigger?” At some point, you’re getting at world-changing stuff. It’s huge and it’s so much fun to play with.

If you don’t mind me asking, what’s a big goal for you?

I have a couple of big goals. I’m taking on a physical challenge. My intention and goal will be to ride at the City to Shore MS 150. I’m mapping out what I need to do now to start with that. I have a Peloton bike and my goal is to ride 30 miles and do it in three ten-mile increments.

It’s working your way backwards. If you work your way back, what do you need to do to get there? That’s what marathon runners do and whatnot. That makes a lot of sense.

I have plenty of time. Some of the research I did was you could train for it in three or four months. I know my schedule is busy. I also have an old knee injury that I’m not sure how that’s going to play into my training. I’m going to have to take that into account and build more slowly than somebody who does not have an old knee injury. That’s one of them. The second one is with my membership community. It’s growing and expanding that. My intention is to have 600 members in it and then always just contributing. I haven’t figured out quite how to measure this but contributing to moving, helping and motivating a million entrepreneurs in the next four and a half years. Those are my three big things and move to Philly. For those of you who don’t follow me or don’t know me, I live out in the suburbs about an hour outside of Philly. It’s been my intention for the last three years to move. My son’s finally graduating.

Let’s talk about overwhelm because that can set in for a lot of people. They set these big goals and they’re excited about it. When they think about doing something, they don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to do it. They go into that freak out mode.

What I see happen with all of my clients and people, in general, is you set this gigantic goal. You’re comfortable with being uncomfortable and then you don’t think about how you’re going to achieve it. Maybe you start taking some action. You do something and the perfect analogy is the person who must lose 50 pounds for instance. They’re like, “I’m going to lose weight this year. I’m going to get healthy.” When it doesn’t happen in three weeks, they get frustrated.

That is so huge because we’re such instant gratification freaks like, “Show me now or else it’s not going to happen.”

To set big goals, ask what is even bigger. Click To Tweet

They lost a little bit and then they gained a pound back because they’re weighing themselves all the time. They’re not factoring in that it can change on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. Having an increase isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s some point with weight loss if you’re working out where the weights becoming muscle and you may have some fluctuation and an increase. Overall, you’ve lost inches and you’re feeling better so it’s how you are measuring too.

It’s how are you measuring because some measurements are not going to be as effective as others.

The two big things here are start breaking things down into small little pieces. It doesn’t have to be every day but put it and do it week over week, then allow there to be some ups and downs. That’s where growth comes from. If we were all succeeding every moment of the day, we get dull.

Who wants to go see that movie where everything’s great?

As much as we all want to have only positive, amazing experiences all of the time, some of my best learning experiences, the things that I’ve gained the most out of, have been the failures. The places that I haven’t done well and I’ve made mistakes. I don’t look at anything anymore as failure. They’re learning experiences.

I call it feedback.

I’m taking in information.

TBT 55 | Big Goals

Big Goals: If we were all succeeding every moment of the day, we’d get dull.


There are studies that have proven that going through difficult times and big challenges create greater resiliency. It’s making us stronger mentally because we’ve found our way through it.

That’s so important because the more resilient that you are, the more you can take on, create and achieve even bigger goals.

Your fear factor isn’t there because you can bounce back if things don’t go your way.

The interesting thing about fear and failure is it’s only what you’re defining in your mind. It’s how you’re measuring it and you’re assigning some meaning to it.

I believe that too but there are a lot of people listening who go, “That’s a bunch of BS. That’s just positive, positive, positive. I don’t believe that.” What do you say to those people?

Try practicing it and that may sound silly but you have nothing to lose by trying to shift the dialogue that’s in your head.

What do I do when it comes up and goes, “Penny, you don’t have the authority, the skills, the power. You’re too young, too old or whatever.”

“It’s the end of the world. Everything has now blown up.”

What do you tell the person? How do I manage all of those voices? If those voices are strong for me and tell me that I’m not good enough and I’m not worthy, how do I manage that? I have this big goal but I feel inside I’m not worthy for it.

One of the exercises I love to have my clients do is called my I Am list. I start with having them write fifteen to twenty different things that they are or they like about themselves. It’s amazing what comes out of those lists. They’re all very different and very personal. It is a great way to help you reframe what’s going on in your head of all the amazing things that you are. If you write this list and you get to that fifteen to twenty, add to it every six months. I rewrote mine and I’m up to 55 or 60 and I hadn’t done it in a while. I usually do a lot of this stuff quarterly and it had been longer than that. I was like, “I’m really cool.” It’s that reframing that helps you train your brain into having and experiencing more positivity. At some point, it’s that place where you’re shifting a little bit where the positivity is becoming more natural to you. You’re experiencing things in a different way so the want-want becomes lesser. The other pieces are just acknowledged that the want-want part is going to be there and it’s not accurate.

Going through difficult times and big challenges create greater resiliency. Click To Tweet

You accept it and let it roll over you like in meditation when noise comes around. You hear it and you let it go. I like that I Am list especially we’re looking at a New Year and being able to remind ourselves. We’re so quick to say what’s in the gap, what we don’t have, what we didn’t do or what’s missing? How great is that when we could take a moment and remind ourselves of all that we do have, all the blessings that are in our lives, all the wonderful characteristics that we do have about us and so forth. That is powerful to start the year that way. As to setting the frame for the New Year so that you can then link into why you’re worthy of that big vision, big goal and how come you’re going to achieve it.

If you’re feeling stuck with that like you don’t have anything coming to you, go ask five of your friends what they like about you or how they see you. It is always amazing to have that feedback because their perception of you is very different than the want-want in your head. We were talking about hair and how different people see us, it’s the same thing. I cut my hair short and I’m still getting used to it. Everybody loves it. The perception is people have loved the change that I’ve made, which is great and eventually I’ll get used to it too. It’s the same thing in quieting that noise.

We talked about big goals. We talked about overwhelm and confusion. Once I have this plan and this map, the last point that we could talk about is consistency. Lots of people set a plan and they do get that far but the day-to-day comes in and they don’t follow through with the plan that they set. What’s one powerful tip that you could offer to help around consistency?

TBT 55 | Big Goals

Big Goals: Regardless of who you are and what you’re doing, it’s your life and you got to make choices.


One is set priorities. What are your real priorities for the year, month, week and for the day? Regardless of who you are and what you’re doing, it’s your life and you get to make choices. You get to prioritize what’s important to you. That may sound like, “No, I have a job and a boss and all these obligations. I have kids.” You have a choice about how much time you spend on Facebook, Instagram or the minutes that you’re waiting in line in the grocery store just as much as you do at your job or with your kids and what are you doing with that time. “Is it effective? Is it helping you perform better? Are you feeling satisfied?” If you’re not, where can we make some of those shifts? My second piece is put everything in your calendar. The story of overwhelm and confusion is just that. We don’t take steps to eliminate the confusion and the overwhelm by putting things on our calendar, by seeing how much time we have available to us to do certain things. When you do that, it’s amazing how free it is.

The plan isn’t complete until it’s scheduled.

I used to be a chronic over-planner. I was the worst-case scenario and I thought I could do probably six months’ worth of stuff in a day. I was very resistant to scheduling stuff. I love seeing the open space in my calendar but then it pretty much got eaten up with a little bit of something over here, something over there and whatever. I wasn’t using it effectively to get the things that were most important to be done and then I feel overwhelmed because it’s last second. I don’t want to be all jammed up. I presume most people don’t.

That is what ends up happening. There’s more stress because you’re keeping it in your head or you’ve got this big to-do list that you’re looking at. By planning and scheduling it in your calendar, it’s creating more accountability. It’s making sure that your priorities are clearly scheduled and everything else that needs to get done will get done. It always does and if it doesn’t, then it wasn’t a priority and you didn’t make time for it. That’s the way that it goes.

We make time for the things that are important to us.

I was at an event and I remember somebody saying in realization that I said, “If I were to offer you concert tickets right now to your favorite concert, your favorite musician but you already had a fully booked day, what would you do?” They’re like, “I’ll reschedule. I’ll find a way to move everything around,” so they can go to their favorite concert or whatever. That could be a football game or whatever it is that matters to somebody. They’ll figure it out.

A plan isn't complete until it's scheduled. Click To Tweet

I would too and then I book in the travel time.

Those are the tips for success, thinking big, dealing with overwhelm and then also staying consistent. Is there anything else that you wanted to share with the audience?

Just a little bit about tracking, measuring and more detail. It’s so important to do that because that can help you be more consistent. If you know what you have done, you know how long it takes and how many times you need to do whatever activity it is, then you can make smarter decisions. You can pivot more quickly because there are going to be bumps in the road. Life is not a flat line. I wish sometimes it was but it isn’t. If you know how long things take and you’re estimating and you’re giving yourself time to do that and measure any goal with how far along are you? Is it taking longer for you to get to that place than not? Don’t judge yourself around whether you’re succeeding or not. Look at it as that information, that feedback that we talked about, move forward and make adjustments. I like to think about it like a train when you’ve got all these cars and somewhere along the train, there’s a kink in between one of the trains and it’s keeping you from moving forward. As you unkink everything, you get to move forward faster.

People don’t like to track. I hear this from a lot of salespeople is they want to be out with the people. They don’t want to be tracking the information, but it’s in that information that tells you what’s working and what’s not working. We think in our head that we’re making a certain level of progress but until we look at the facts and figures, a lot of times there’s a mismatch to what the tracking is telling us and to what we think in our head. That’s an important point. I’m glad that you brought that up.

A lot of my people to say that tracking takes so long and they don’t like doing the data entry. The time that you invest in that is going to save you so much more time with everything else that you’re doing. You’ll close more sales, have more progress, make more money, lose more weight or whatever it is you want to insert as the end goal when you’re tracking.

How can people get in touch with you? How can they learn more about your community?

The best way is to reach out to me through the TribeofLeaders.com. That shares everything about the membership community. Then you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram @Emi.Kirschner. I look forward to connecting with everybody.

Thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom.

You’re welcome. Thank you for having me. It was great to be with you.

Thank you all for being here because without you, we wouldn’t have a show. You were given some tips that you can put immediately into practice. We heard from Emi that you can ask yourself some simple questions or whatever goals that you’ve set for this year. Ask yourself that question of, “What’s even bigger?” Push yourself until you’re outside of your comfort zone. Secondly, get yourself in a state of mind with that I Am list. Write down at least fifteen things that, “I am,” and what comes after that. You can realize all the different facets of you and all that you bring to the table in accomplishing your goals whatever they might be and many more things that were discussed. At the minimum, do those things to start out and then see where that takes you. Getting yourself then into a plan, getting it scheduled and making sure that you’ve got some means of tracking and measuring your success. Thank you all and we’ll see you in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Emi Kirschner

TBT 55 | Big GoalsEmi Kirschner, speaker, coach, and author masterfully combines her deep intuitive abilities with her analytical sense to help creative entrepreneurs double and triple their revenue.

Committed to impacting 1 million entrepreneurs over the next 5 years, Emi shares the leadership skills necessary to help you to confidently step into the CEO role in your business. She is known for giving meaningful tools, not just theory, to implement marketing, sales and operational strategies that result in increased profitability and more freedom in the rest of their lives.

She is the co-author of Get Results: Learn the Fast Track to Success in Life and Business, a handy guide for anyone who wants to increase their performance.

Emi lives outside of Philadelphia with her two teenage boys and two dogs. A foodie and beach lover, Emi plans her extensive travel around where she will eat and can wear flip flops.


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Chris Danilo: Overcome Procrastination, Increase Productivity

TBT 54 | Productivity


Businesses are made upon big goals. Sometimes, thinking about these big goals tend to become so overwhelming that we end up being paralyzed by it. A self-confessed autodidact who has been helping education companies become more productive, Chris Danilo, helps people overcome procrastination and increase productivity in our business and life. He gives great advice on what we can do to tackle something that seems so big, sharing methods that are lean, agile, bite-sized, and actionable. Chris also offers ways that will open us up to move past the things that are blocking us from doing something great.

Listen to the podcast here:

Chris Danilo: Overcome Procrastination, Increase Productivity

I am super excited to have Chris Danilo on with us. I ran into Chris by my need to learn more and to hear what other people are talking about around productivity. I found him on Medium and I liked what he had to say. It was an article that I was reading around procrastination so perhaps we will talk a little bit about that. You’re saying, “Who is Chris Danilo?” Let me tell you, he is obsessed with education. He helps education companies be more productive and he uses lean, agile and empirically-based learning and industrial models to make that happen. Maybe we’ll hear a little bit more about that from him. He says he’s an autodidact who likes to build, scheme, goof and burn a lot of energy. I’m sure there’s a lot more than Chris can tell us himself. Chris, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Penny. I’m super pumped to be here.

What is an autodidact?

It means somebody who likes to teach themselves stuff.

What do you do when you’re goofing?

I tend to have an incredible amount of energy. I’m a person who needs a lot of movement. My mother loved this when I was a child. Goofing is part of that. It is one of this fun and can be educational and useful too, like playtime for small animals. The same thing with playtime with small humans. Goofing off, adventures, and all these kinds of things help me maintain my sanity and feel that I can have fun and be a super productive human being at the same time.

It seems like you are a super productive human being. A lot of those terms that you use lean and agile, how did that come to be part of the way that you think and do things?

Some people know lean, some people know agile, so I will break it down as quickly as I can. I discovered these kinds of methods. I didn’t invent all of this. I’m a person who finds things that work and then implements them. I’m good at stealing other people’s stuff. I wrote a blog post on why people should steal stuff. The way that I got into this was a big problem. I was running a multimillion-dollar pediatric neuroscience lab at Penn State University. It’s one of the top research institutions in the country. It’s one of the best neuroscience programs. I had a bunch of people who were reporting to me and I hired them because I had a lot of work to do. I was like, “I have all this work to do.” I’m going to hire a bunch of people and then it will go away. I quickly learned my first management lesson, which was management bottleneck.

When you have a lot of stuff to do and you have a lot of people to do it, if you don’t give them the skills and the knowledge to do this work, you can quickly become a bottleneck and a problem for getting all this stuff done by the deadline. By failing projects, I was forced to understand how people work together and how I can create systems that help people work more efficiently with their time. This was the birth for me into my career into making people more efficient and systems and operations and the nuts and bolts of how we build important stuff for other people. I discovered after getting more into the private sector, agile is used for software development. It’s focused on small iterative cycles. You’re building, you’re constantly releasing software instead of these long waterfall methods on projects where people are building this huge thing for a long amount of time.

I’ll give you an example. I used to consult for a government client and we were building a piece of software for them and without doing an agile project where you’re constantly putting it in front of stakeholders, you can have an issue where, “We built everything to spec. All this stuff is great. We have all your features built in there. It looks great. It does exactly what you wanted.” The government client says, “This is great, but we can’t use it.” What do you mean? We just spent $600,000. It’s everything you asked for it and then they say, “We are the government. We can’t use this software because we use Internet Explorer 5 and none of this is going to work with that software. You’re like, “How did we lose all this money?” You learn a lot when you jump into these kinds of projects but agile is very focused on short iterative cycles that involve stakeholders. Lean is very much a model that focuses on minimizing waste to keep productivity margins high. That’s just a quick example of some of them and why they’re useful.

Let’s talk about small iterative cycles. You don’t have to be in application development, which was my background as well and I learned a lot as well from that process. How does that apply to every person in the way that they approach anything that they do to be more productive?

You have to be able to start without seeing the ending. Click To Tweet

I tend to use this myself and I said this once. I was sitting on a panel at Penn State and it was an Entrepreneur Week or something. I said this to an audience of people and my jaw dropped because I realized that no one is thought to use it in their day-to-day lives. I was surprised. I was like, “We’re always using this thing. How come no one’s using it in their day-to-day lives?” A software deliverable is a clear example of a project and a deadline and a thing that needs to be built. Other stuff like your wedding or a birthday party you’re throwing or other day-to-day life stuff, for some reason, we don’t put those projects or tasks through the same framework. For whatever reason, our brain doesn’t consider going there.

Maybe because most people aren’t application developers. They don’t think like that anyway.

That could be true. That’s one thing that’s an issue that I see with new employees. They’re not always trained to think about management. They’re not trained to think about the project as a whole. You’re hitting on something that’s important which is having the management skills or chops to think about the overarching project and maybe what method might be more effective for it. Maybe they’re not thinking about it holistically.

It brings up two things because I was thinking of small iterative cycles. One of your blogs was around procrastination and sometimes we get held up because whatever we’re doing seems so big and we don’t break it down into smaller pieces. That’s what small iterative cycles are. It’s taking a bigger development project and it’s breaking it down into smaller deliverables.

It’s exactly what it is. I feel like I’m telling business owners this. I’m telling people this. I’m telling kids this. One of my big projects right now, I’m operationalizing the largest Lego Minecraft, science tech expos for families. I’m processing all of these events on how we operate. I’m on the floor working with kids a lot. Lego is a great example. Here’s this giant thing that an adult built. It’s so unapproachable because an adult built it and it’s huge. You can’t even think about it. It’s three-dimensional. How do you even approach that problem as a seven-year-old? They don’t know that there is a software out there that they can use to help design. They don’t know that there are other people who have done it before. They could show them the way. They just know that it’s huge, it’s cool and they could never do it themselves. I focus on one small part of it and I was like, “How would you build this?”

TBT 54 | Productivity

Productivity: Sometimes we get held up because whatever we’re doing just seems so big.


We get these pieces then I have to find those and then I have to put them together but then I had to make sure that they were the right color. They try to explain like, “How about this piece over here?” then they can usually approach it. That’s the lesson, which is big hairy audacious goals are surprised, made up of small, actionable, achievable goals. This lesson is so important to teach at all levels of humanity. To kids, to adults, to parents, to teachers, to business owners, to everybody. I feel like I need to constantly hit people in the head with this to remind them of these things because the procrastination thing is huge. It is not always a motivation. Sometimes it’s a morale issue. Breaking things up into small achievable things can create momentum and increased morale. If you’re curious about success on your project, you’ll consider breaking big things into small things.

It puts it within your control. Many people get overwhelmed with these big tasks that they’re doing or projects. One of the things that I always do is I tell them to focus on what’s next. Break it down into that next component and look at what’s next. What’s your approach when they’re overwhelmed when they look at it? How do you handle that?

Before any tactical stuff, the first step always is recognizing that you’re overwhelmed. Labeling it with a word, understanding the physical feelings of what’s happening and the biology of what that feels like. What your brain does is it goes into panic mode. What’s happening on the inside, which is scary because you’re like, “What is this?” You might be experiencing the fight-or-flight response. In this modern world, we don’t have lions jumping out to trigger this, we have deadlines and budgets and all the other things that are triggering the same ancient biological response. How do you deal with it? That’s usually the starting point. Let’s confront this. This is a normal thing that people experience is being overwhelmed with a project this size. It’s totally okay. The next thing we’re going to do is talk about what’s happening in your body. Your blood flow is moving into your arms and your legs. Your digestion stops. Your metabolism stops. All of these things are happening. Understand that it’s okay. You’re going to have to feel the feeling and then after you feel the feeling, now you get to make the choice.

The next thing is, what are you going to do about it? That’s the part where people can be a little bit more empowered and they feel like, “I got through it.” The problem is when people make decisions either in that moment or before that moment because they don’t want to experience that. They have to know that it’s not going to feel good. “Yes, it’s going to feel weird. It’s going feel impossible, but you have to be able to start without seeing the ending.” That’s this huge realization that people have to have. If you can get people to start, it’s usually easier to get them to keep going and take that second step and the third step and fourth step.

The starting is the hardest part. Be careful about making any decisions in that heightened state of overwhelm without recognizing what it is. We don’t make good decisions when we’re emotional. A lot of people get caught up in that and then they make mistakes, so they waste time. That’s why we decided to procrastinate because it’s so much easier to procrastinate than it is to start that thing that seems so hairy, big, or annoying or whatever it might be.

It’s easy to get caught in the habit of “Tomorrow.” Tomorrow is the best day to do it, always. It’s the most bizarre thing. I use exercise as an example a lot because it relates to a lot of people. Most people are fine. They know that they could be more in shape or they have a goal in mind that they want to approach. It’s like losing a lot of weight or gaining a lot of muscle or they have some cardio goal. Most people have an idea of what they want, but they don’t know how to approach it because they haven’t defined it. It seems like, “I don’t know how I would get there,” or “I don’t trust myself to get to that place where I can be consistent about it.” This is a totally different conversation. This is about motivation and about putting your shorts on every day. The hardest part of going into the gym is putting your shorts on. If you make yourself make the decision on whether or not you’re going to go.

Big, hairy, and audacious goals are made up of small, actionable, and achievable goals. Click To Tweet

When it’s cold and you got to get out of bed. That’s the time you left it to make the decision of like, “Am I going to go to the gym?” Forget it. You’re never going to win. You got to trick yourself. You have to beat yourself. You have to make it make sense. That means going and finding a gym buddy who’s going to keep you accountable. There are other stuff that are external to your brain that you have to employ, that you have to do, in order to get yourself through the difficult decisions. You know in that moment you’re not going to be able to do it. Many people have a track record of this. If you have lost all trust in yourself, that’s a problem. We got to address it and we got to rebuild trust with yourself. To rebuild the trust you have with your ability to execute. If you have a history of not being able to execute, that’s going to be tough. We got to talk about that. We’re going to be real about it.

It comes back to starting. You got to remove the space, the activities, the actions and all the things that happened between now and starting it. It’s putting on the shorts. It’s getting in the car. It’s all of those things that then make it more and more difficult. The more space and energy that you have to undertake in order to start something, the less likely you are to start it.

It’s all about removing excuses. That’s an exercise that I ask people to do all the time which is, “Write all the reasons why this isn’t going to happen.”

I do that too. I was reading your stuff and talking to you. I feel like I’m on the same wavelength. That’s important that people identify and recognize. That we not only recognize when we’re overwhelmed but we recognize what our excuses are so that we can go, “I caught myself. That’s an excuse.”

One of these exercises that I do is put together all excuses. If you have multiple people in the room, it’s great because if you have all this diversity of excuses, you will see the same excuse but the inverted reasoning. You’ll see somebody who says, “I’m too young,” or “I’m too old,” or “I’m too fat,” or “I’m too skinny.” You see it all there together and you’re like, “These are clearly excuses.” They’re all contradicting. No one would be able to get out of that mess. You’ve designed your way out of it. You’ve excused your way out of it. No one could start if you keep these things up. It’s a fun exercise to have and it’s also a nice piece of art. If you create your list of excuses and then cross them all out and then put it on your wall, there you go. It’s a nice little reminder every single day like, “This is the thing I just told myself. That’s an excuse.”

How do you help people? What’s a tip that you help people to get past those excuses?

TBT 54 | Productivity

Productivity: If you’ve been living certain behavior patterns, you got to break it before you can start a new one.


The first thing is recognizing that it’s an excuse and then figuring out, “What’s the mechanics? How did you get to this?” One of my favorite things to do is to bring other people. If you have a buddy, it’s easier to get through it together because you’re accountable to somebody else. A lot of people have already built that relationship of lack of trust with themselves so if they have somebody else that they’re accountable to, it’s more likely that they’ll do it. I call it an accountability buddy. This is your person, your partner for helping you execute, which is huge. That would be your first step. The most critical part is understanding that you’ve built this relationship with yourself and taking these smaller steps. Maybe breaking big things down into small things to help build your motivational momentum.

You got to break the pattern. If you’ve been living certain behavior patterns, you got to break it before you can start a new one.

The other part that’s helpful about having somebody else is they can call you out.

Anyone that you have in your life isn’t going to necessarily work as an accountability buddy. You got to make sure that you pick somebody who’s willing to call you out.

If you’re picking a person that maybe you don’t trust to do that, you’re just enabling the same behavior. It’s up to you. The thing that I continue to tell people is you’ve got a choice and it’s okay if you mess up. That’s another huge part of this is you have built this relationship with yourself of not being able to execute. After you admit that, the next thing you do is understand that you’re not going to able to fix it tomorrow. You’re going to have to record the data. This is like bricks in the wall. Every time you do something that you wanted to do, it’s a brick in this wall and over time you will have this strong brick wall.

If you can get people to start, it's easier to get them to keep going and take that next step. Click To Tweet

You could say, “I’m sure. Look how strong it is. I’m confident in my ability to execute.” The more gaps you have, more sick days that you miss your training, the weaker that wall is, the less confident you are going to be in your own ability. It’s small everyday daily actions. How do you break it down to be actionable and achievable? The most critical part of that is feeling the momentum of like, “I have been doing this and look at this and look at my calendar. I crossed off every day for 200 days. This is totally unlike me. I’m a new person now.” It takes a little while, but you have to be able to do it and you have to be able to see it.

That’s key. That’s why people do it and they make the crosses on the physical calendar that they can look at. It is important to be able to see the progress and then also to celebrate it. Recognize yourself for it. That’s another thing people that have trouble doing because there are a lot of overachievers. We’re on the next thing versus taking some time to pat yourself on the back and recognize the progress that you are making.

I can’t even stress enough how important measuring stuff is in every field. In science, in software, in anything. I’ll take agile because we were talking about it. You don’t measure projects on time. If you’re talking about how much stuff you’re going to do, we use these points. There are a couple ways to do it. One way to do it is what’s called planning poker. The development team says, “This task is worth one point. It’s worth three points. It’s worth ten points.” We use a modified Fibonacci sequence to do this and it means it’s exponential. It’s based on uncertainty. Have we done this before? Have we not done this before? Do we know how long it’s supposed to take? Do we have people in the team that can execute it or do we have to learn a new skill to do it? How much uncertainty is around this task? If there’s a lot of uncertainty, there tends to be an incredible amount of uncertainty because of all the things we didn’t know that we did know. As the scale goes up, you’re not moving one, two, three, four, five. You’re moving, one, three, five, ten. It goes like that. When I’m building a new agile team, I don’t start with actual points because the point is not to do that yet. The point is to get them into the habit of scoring and whatnot.

The first thing I’d do is use t-shirt sizes. Small, medium, large, extra-large and then they get the habit and then from there, you can talk about points. The idea is you’re not measuring on time. If you think that it’s can take you an hour to do something, it almost never takes an hour so why are we still measuring on time? Humans, in general, are terrible at this. If we measured by points, I can then see at the end of a sprint. We’re saying, “We’re going to work for two weeks on this project, on this deliverable. At the end of the two weeks, we’re going to have this thing that we can put it in front of a customer. We’re going to have a product that’s shippable.” We get to that point and we say, “Look at this. We scored 150 points and we have a metric.” We have a baseline, and over the next couple of weeks what happens? Every single time the score goes up. Same people, the same amount of time, the points go up every single time. They almost double and then they almost doubled again. It’s crazy how fast it happens. Once you start measuring stuff, you can see your velocity, you can how fast you’re going, and it’s encouraging. It’s helpful.

People know what they’re working on and what everybody else is working on. They know how to help. They know what’s the most important and they’re measuring their output and it becomes a goal. If you have these never-ending projects, impossible is not motivating. It’s discouraging. It’s demoralizing but just hard enough, that’s motivating. That’s challenging. Challenging is motivating. You want to be breaking stuff into pieces and setting goals that are attainable and then slowly increasing them and not getting big eyes and saying, “We’re going to take the whole thing because that can be damaging for the momentum and morality.” Even if you’re just working on a project yourself.

It’s interesting to think about that in terms of not measuring by time and the tracking. I’m a believer in tracking too because that’s what creates awareness and sometimes unless we track, we have a skewed sense of awareness. I try to help people like, “Let’s track what you’re doing with the time that you have. Let’s see what you’re using your time for.” Mostly you get people who don’t want to track things because they say they don’t have the time to track it. They feel like it takes more time to track. Do you ever get that?

TBT 54 | Productivity

Productivity: Discipline costs time but it pays dividends.


This is common because agile requires a certain level of discipline. It’s easy to get into the flow and then say like, “We’re going to skip this meeting. We don’t need to because we know what to do.” It’s easy to fall into that trap. It’s difficult because it requires discipline, but the discipline puts you on track. Maybe it does cost you a little bit more. Look at it realistically. Maybe it does cost you an extra hour of your life and it costs you an extra hour of your entire team’s life. When you’re running a software company, you probably paying these developers $100 an hour. $100 an hour times five developers, that’s $500 an hour. That was a $500 meeting plus your manager. That’s tough to justify. I get it but understand that over the next couple of weeks, the next couple of months, your performance is going to go up and it’s going to pay off later. That’s the tricky part. You’re pushing, you’re spinning the flywheel and it’s heavy right now, but in a couple of weeks, you’re going to be like, “It’s not even close. It’s worth the meeting.”

Discipline costs time, but it pays dividends.

It pays later and that’s what people aren’t happy with. They want to see it now.

You want things now. We don’t like to wait for things. We’re an impatient culture.

You have to be able to start without seeing the finish. You have to be able to trust that it’s going to work. My reasoning or rationale is like, “Let’s pick the amount you’re willing to risk.” Let’s pick up a small project that you’re willing to say like, “If it doesn’t go perfectly, it’s not the end of the world.” Let’s test it and we’ll do it my way. Full blur, discipline, everything’s going to work the way that I want it to and if I’m wrong, I’ll go away. You never have to talk to me again and you can write me a bad review somewhere on the internet. “If I’m right, we get to a bigger project. Not all of your projects because that would be scary for you and I get that you’re a person who has a lot of responsibilities you’re answering to a lot of costs and other things that are associated with work. How about this? We start small and then we go and build a little bit more. We’ll figure the same method.”

The starting is the hardest part. Click To Tweet

Tell us what do you have that is coming up and how can people reach you?

The fastest way to figure out what I’m doing is ChrisDanilo.com and you could go to my slash now page. That’s a descriptor of what I’m doing as you may be able to tell I’m a Derek Sivers’ follower. That’s exactly what I’m doing and then all my projects are there. The front page of my website is my blog so if you’re trying to hear more stuff about this, that’s the place to go.

I see that you’re in the process of calibrating your BS filter here. It’s what it says on the Now page because I had to check it out and see what’s on there.

The reason with that is the information age. There is so much stuff going around. The new skill isn’t being able to recall stuff or execute, the new skill is being able to tell what’s true or not. What’s real data, what’s not real data?

What’s real and what’s important? What’s noise and what’s essential? What is it that you need to be listening to and what’s the noise that gets interrupting you? Chris, it was fantastic to have you here and talk about some of the tips and tricks. Are there any parting words that you’d like to leave the audience with?

I’m going off to piggybacking off of your comment about of centralism. The main thing about productivity is don’t do so much. Do less, do simple things. Fewer, more impactful, more important things and tell me about them because I would love to hear about your success.

Thank you so much for being here.

Thank you for having me. This is a total pleasure.

For all of you, do check out what Chris is up to. Also, follow him on Medium. He has got some good articles there that you’ll enjoy. We will see you in the next episode.


Important Links:

About Chris Danilo

TBT 54 | ProductivityChris Danilo has the following highlights:

  • Taught Psych 494 and 294 (hands-on lab experience) at Penn State (Univ. Park)
  • Managed a multi-million dollar pediatric neuroscience lab at Penn State (Univ. Park)
  • Managed Agile software team building artificial intelligence (multi-objective evolutionary) algorithm for government clients
  • Published in child psychology and decision theory literature
  • Professionally trained Public Speaker, Actor, and Copywriter.

…and he helps education companies be more productive. He uses Lean, Agile, Empirically-Based Learning, and Industrial models to make it happen.


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