Hacking Productivity (Startup Canada Webinar)

by Coach Davender on October 26, 2014

I recently enjoyed participating in a webinar hosted by Intuit Canada and Startup Canada, on the topic of Hacking Productivity.

The main points I wanted to get across were:

1. Don’t keep it all in your head.

My life planning is built around two main apps:

Evernote, where I dump all my thoughts, ideas and notes, and

- Omnifocus, where I keep track of all my to-dos and the things I want to get done.

I also use IFTTT rules to connect my e-mail to Evernote and Omnifocus. The act of “starring” a message in GMail triggers notes in both tools, to ensure that I respond appropriately.

All smartphone and laptop platforms have effective apps (Microsoft One Note, iCloud Reminders, etc) that can help you capture your thoughts as they come to you.

2. It doesn’t have to perfect, it just has to get done.

Don’t get caught up in a perfectionist loop. People will appreciate you more when you produce.

That doesn’t mean don’t do your best. It means do your best within the time and resource budget you give yourself, then move onto the next.

Here is the recording of the webinar (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDY0wP7sn-8)


For more information:

Article on the Intuit Canada blog:

Original event description (September 29, 2014)



Launching a startup is the in-thing these days. Like the #IceBucketChallenge, in a way. And that’s not good.

The virally popular #IceBucketChallenge is basically about YouTubing yourself getting a bucket of ice water dumped on your head, then challenging a couple of your buds to do the same. Somewhere there’s a charity donation to ALF, or EMP, or whatever.

I doubt that all those people who go through elaborate setups to get more views, will spend at least the same amount of time understanding the cause #IBC is supposed to help (ABC? AFL?). Even fewer have researched the charity to which they are giving their hard earned money (AMC?).

And, if the goal of the #IceBucketChallenge is to give to the cause, why is it that if you get a bucket of ice water dumped on your head you pay only 10% of what you would pay if you dediced not to do it?

#IceBucketChallenge, for all its good intentions, is not charity. It is a fundraising stunt. Granted, it appears to be successful in terms of virality and in terms of revenues for the foundation. But in terms of encouraging people to be charitable, it fails on so many levels. It is “pretend charity”.

And, unfortunately, that’s how I feel about most startups out there.

Most startups I come across are marketplaces or e-commerce sites, bolted together with pre-made modules, APIs and frameworks. There is very little innovation, be it technological, business or other.

My local newspaper breathlessly reports on the latest startups. Look for them about six months later, and most of the projects have been abandoned.

Startups are not about the launch. The hard part of entrepreneurship, which also makes it real, is about earning the trust and commitment of paying customers. This is dirty, sweaty, unglorious work. If you think Google Adwords and banner ads and growth hacks will get you loads of customers while you’re slurping a frappucino by your laptop, you’re missing the point.

A real entrepreneur goes out and gets face-to-face with the market, to understand their needs and figure out what will trigger them to choose what you’re offering. You will probably be in “soft launch” for a year or two building your product or service, figuring your problem-solution fit and product-market fit, and before you start seeing traction. Then you will spend another three years or more building the business to the point where it makes money for you, your team and your investors.

Launching a web site makes you just as much an entrepreneur as dumping a bucket of ice water on your head makes you a philanthropist. The real deal takes time, effort, commitment, and money.

Don’t get sucked into doing the popular thing because it makes for good YouTube or press coverage. Do it because you truly believe in it.

(Image via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/oNq8Zy Used under Creative Commons licence)


Leadership – The Romance vs The Reality

by Coach Davender on August 1, 2014

A Facebook Friend asked a question on her wall: What two qualities come to mind when you think of “Leadership”?

The answers came fast and furious: vision, courage, determination, accepting other people’s ideas, team-builder, big-picture thinker, authentic, empathetic, sets aside ego for the betterment of the team…

Reading these answers got me thinking about the mind-picture people have about leadership: someone who makes people feel good about themselves.

What is true leadership? Is it the one who leads the parade or the one who starts it?

The romantic image of a well-loved and respected leader who fosters a happy team spirit exists only in the movies and in media stories. The big problem of today’s society is that when we look for leadership, we tend to choose charisma and mistake it for leadership. Charisma is great until the going gets tough and tough decisions need to be made.

To me, leadership is about changing the way people think and act, the willingness to make the unpopular choices which pull people out of their comfort zone towards a better future. It is about communicating a call to action that is so compelling that it makes people uncomfortable enough to do something about it.

People are happy when they are doing things they are comfortable doing. Charismatic leadership works well in those conditions. But when people are pushed out of their comfort zone, they are no longer happy, and charisma loses its power to influence.

The true leader is at the same time feared and revered. It’s the crusty sergeant-major whom the soldiers hate, but they hate him because they know deep down he’s right – and they will follow him into battle knowing their chances of a safe return are slim at best.

The ultimate test of a leader is the ability to get people to do the hard stuff. And that takes much more than charisma – it takes a willingness to go out on a limb for the cause and also for the people who choose to join in the cause. It is about focus, discipline, integrity, grit, courage, and total, unwavering commitment.

Leadership is not romantic. If done right, it won’t win you popularity contests. It is real: risky, dirty, challenging and eventually, if all works out in the end, life-changing, for you, and for the people who choose to follow you.

Which is why true leaders are few and far between. It is also why, in this chaotic and dangerous time, we need more leaders who are willing to do the hard work of confronting the status-quo and getting people out of their comfort zone to discover what they are really capable of doing when they set their hearts and minds to it.


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