Friday, February 28, 2014

Drowned by Drops

Ever think of suing or, for that matter, going to court rather than giving in to someone’s demands? Here is a bit of advice from Charles Dickens. In his novel, The Bleak House, he warns that whatever one does they should stay away from the Chancery [Court]. “It’s being ground to bits in a slow mill; it’s being roasted at a slow fire; it’s being stung to death by single bees; it’s being drowned by drops; it’s going mad by grains.”

Even putting aside the vision of being “drowned by drops,” the cost of litigation in terms of money, time and disruption frequently outweighs the benefit—even when you are in the right. Therefore, mediation or negotiated settlement is usually the better course.
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March 11 reception to introduce my new book:
I will be having a VIP reception and book signing for the release of my fifth book,
The Language of Excellence, Tuesday, March 11 at Landmark Booksellers in Franklin. The event starts at 5:30 pm. Join me for a little wine, caviar, and other treats. Unlike my previous books, this one is not a whodunit; however, it does tackle a mystery—the mystery of leadership. The event is an opportunity for us to discuss the Two Certainties in life as well as some of the other concepts in the book for dealing with just about everything life or business can throw at you. Landmark Booksellers is located at 114 East Main St., Franklin, Tennessee.

If you are not able to join me for the March 11 event, you can purchase my books on Amazon, other online stores, or at your favorite bookstore. Books include The Language of Excellence as well as my adventure mystery series including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer, and The Claret Murders.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Color Me Creative

How do you want others to see you? Do you want others to see you or your organization as creative or trustworthy? Alternatively, should your image convey elegance, safety, or power? Color is part of the answer. Color conveys a message about who you are. In the course of millions of years, we have accumulated instinctive assumptions about color. And, they can be different across civilizations and cultures. International organizations have to be sensitive to those differences.  For example the color white, which we associate with purity, is the color of death and mourning in India.

In her book Little Black Book on Law Firm Branding and Positioning, Paula Black gives a simple summary of what particular colors covey to the general population of our country.
Red: strength, power, determination
Orange: enthusiasm, creativity, success
Green: growth, harmony, safety, money
Blue: depth, loyalty, trust, stability
Black: elegance, prestige, discretion
The Creative Blog goes into more detail and includes this more detailed chart:

I chose the color purple for the title of the book The Language of Excellence. It is the color of royalty. It belongs to that small percent of individuals or enterprises that have risen to the very top. It is the color of greatness and excellence. That is what The Language of Excellence is all about—giving readers the capacity to move from what the author Jim Collins calls Good to Great.

One of the Two Certainties of business and life is that others always judge us. We are what others see us as. The Model for Excellence, for example, makes it clear that excellence must be earned through the eyes of others. Color can no more make you than “clothes can make the man,” but color, like clothes, can help or hurt. The point is both need to be consistent with how you want to be seen. So what is your color?
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Tom Collins’ works include his book on leadership, TheLanguage of Excellence, and his mystery series including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author's
online store. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes' iBookstore.

Monday, February 10, 2014

ABCs of Priority Management

So what are your plans today? For many the answer is “to do everything I didn’t get done yesterday.” All of us have more on our plate than we can accomplish. How do you decide which items to tackle and in what order?

Most of us start by preparing a to-do-list. Some people tackle the easy items first. They get immediate gratification and quickly shorten their list. Unfortunately, the most difficult or time-consuming items are relegated to the bottom of the stack—put off day after day. Others go first for the things they enjoy doing and put off the most unpleasant. The most common approach, however, is to rank the to-do items using the ABC method. The most important items are A’s. B’s comes next, and C’s have the lowest priority.

That approach ignores a number of important management and leadership concepts. For one, not all problems (things) need to be solved (done), and of those that do, not all need to be handled by you. Then there is the Management Candy, M&Ms, concept that emphasizes the importance of focusing on the Main Things success depends on. It is the idea that effectiveness, doing the right things, is far more important than how well or efficiently you do things—especially if they are the wrong things.

After years of on-the- job training, here is my time management secret. I have a big drawer that I call my “C” drawer. I start by ranking items as either A, B, or C. Then I go back through the B’s and decide which, if any, were really A’s. I change the rest to C’s. The C’s go in my C drawer never to come out again unless they reappear down the road as A’s. Three or four times during the year, I will go through the C drawer to clean it out. It is amazing how many of the C items are no longer issues.

The desire for immediate gratification leads many to Major in Minors; whereas, the effective individual concentrates on the Main Things success depends. They have learned the importance of the powerful time management tool of saying no to the unimportant and non-essential. Rather than tackle C’s last, they just say no to them.

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Just a few more days left to submit a pre-release order for my new book. This time it not a "Who Done It"; but it does tackle the mystery of leadership. You save $20.00 and receive a signed copy. To order go to The pre-release offer ends on February 17, 2014.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

FiveThings I Wish I Had Known at Age Twenty-One

  1. Those recommended medical test are really  important: A routine colonoscopy would have caught pre-cancer changes before they developed into stage four cancer. Today I am a cancer survivor, but not without paying a big price—three major surgeries, chemo, and radiation. All three damage the body and limit downstream physical abilities. 
  2. Success comes from opportunities not solving problems: I started my career as a CPA and transitioned to business after three years with Price Waterhouse. I envisioned myself as a problem solver. The difficulty with that was that there is always another problem right behind the previous one. I discovered that most problems work themselves out. They are solved in the course of opportunity pursuits. After years of on-the-job training, my motto has become “Not all problems deserve to be solved; of those that do, not all of them need to be solved by me."
  3. Going second-class only costs a little more: That is a joke phrase, but it was intended to remind me that trying “to get by on the cheap” usually requires a do over in the end—costing more time and money than if things had been done right to start with. I wasted a lot of money and time because the people around me were always trying to save me money.
  4. You must learn to manage change: “Change” is such a constant in business and life that I wish I had understood its behavior and how to manage it from the start of my adult life and business career. Instead, I had to learn it the hard way—from my mistakes. 
  5. Every decision, action or inaction defines our future: With an earlier deep appreciation of the Opportunity Wedge, I would have made a conscious effort to elongate the wedge—make it more like a rectangle—keeping the lines, that represent who I am and who I could be, parallel as long as possible.
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My new book The Language of Excellence will be release in the next couple of weeks.  There is still time to submit a pre-release order and save $20.00 off of the release price of $39.00.  Go to