There is a Science and an Art to Every Profession

by Daniel Burrus

Every profession has both a science and an art. The science can be taught, and people can be equally good at the science of any profession. The key to differentiate yourself in your profession is to develop the art side, not just the science side.

For example, I was at a photography workshop recently, and I met people who had all of the latest equipment—cameras, lenses, tripods, everything—and they knew the science of photography very well. Many of them were on an equal footing with their knowledge of the equipment, yet their ability to take stunning photographs varied quite a bit. In other words, there is an art side to being able to capture that amazing picture.

The same is true with any profession, whether you are in sales, IT, customer service, or even medicine. After all, if healing was only a science, it wouldn’t matter who your doctor was. But you and I both know it does matter who your doctor is, and it’s not because of the science; it’s because of the art. It’s about what the individual brings to their medical practice—their uniqueness, their problem-solving ability, their diagnostic capabilities, and their way of solving problems in real time when they’re working on you.

Here’s a case in point: A number of years ago, one of my brothers was having a problem with a pain in his leg that wouldn’t go away. He went to an orthopedic surgeon. After an exam, the surgeon diagnosed the problem and decided that my brother needed surgery to repair it.

So my brother did what we all should do: He got a second opinion. This second doctor didn’t make a diagnosis, but recommended exploratory surgery. I suggested to my brother that he get one more opinion.

He then went to a third orthopedic surgeon. This doctor looked at my brother and asked, “Do you always wear your belt at the same height on your pants? Or does it vary?”

My brother replied, “No, I always wear my belt at this height every day.”

“Do you always wear a leather belt?” the doctor continued.

“Yes, I always wear a leather belt,” my brother replied.

The doctor said, “Why don’t you try a squishy belt that flexes? Just see if that works. If the problem persists, then come back.”

My brother tried a squishy belt, and it wasn’t very long before the problem went away completely.

Apparently, the problem was that a nerve was being cut off by the belt. Fortunately, this third doctor had mastered the art of medicine. He knew to go beyond the science and notice the subtleties of each patient … and to take that into account before making a diagnosis.

Which of those doctors would you rather have? I don’t know about you, but I want the squishy belt guy. I want the doctor who is more creative, who is looking at the bigger picture, who is thinking outside of the box. I want a doctor who has developed both the science and the art of his profession.

Again, every profession has an art and a science. So as we start another year, it’s important to ask yourself a number of questions, including:

  • Am I learning and maximizing the science side of my profession?
  • Am I taking the classes I need to take?
  • Am I updating and upgrading myself?
  • Am I getting training on all the new tools and capabilities that will help me do my job better?

But don’t stop there. Continue with the art-focused questions:

  • Am I reading about creativity and problem solving?
  • Am I making sure that I’m not too quick to judge?
  • Have I found a mentor who is sharing his or her knowledge and wisdom with me?
  • Am I working on the art side of my profession, or am I just working on the science side?”

When you focus on both the art and the science of your profession, you’ll find yourself at the top of your profession and have great success and prosperity for years to come.

Fraud and ethics never the twain shall meet!

by Frank Bucaro

On Tuesday night I watched  new  Frontline on PBS which had a documentary called Untouchables. This program pointed out that no CEO banker who was involved in the mortgage crisis was ever charged, prosecuted, or jailed! Not one! Certain congressmen tried to move the process along to no avail.
How can this be? England is sending another banker to jail soon. The U.S. seems to have looked the other way. I bet these banks, i.e. Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, etc. have an ethics training program. But what good does an ethics program, no matter how good it is, do if the CEOs and Senior Executives of these banks are not ethical, not that they would admit it.
Does anyone really believe that compliance and ethics are the same thing? If they do, it’s more for convenience for their agendas than it is a reality.
 What this program pointed is that nothing could be proven legally, where the buck stopped. Some CEOs were brought before Senate hearings, House hearings and grilled about their involvement in this scandal. Still, not one was charged, arrested or prosecuted.
Never mind the legal issues for those are serious enough,but what they did was unethical! Millions of people have/are suffering because of the greed at any price attitude. The CEO of Countryside had a license plate that said “FUNDIT”. No matter the credit score, or if one had a job,give ervyone a mortgage! How moral is this?
If morale filters down and not up………????
Where is  the accountability for these actions?
The sad thing is, is that people have become increasingly lethargic regarding issues like this. It’s almost permission giving!
Watching this program was informative, frustrating , and calls into question where is ethics in all of this?
Watch this program for yourself. See what you think.

Lombardi Time

by Don Yaeger

As the NFL Playoffs continue to take us further from the regular season routine and closer to Super Bowl dreams, I can’t help but tap into my appreciation for the iconic figure who won the very first Super Bowl in NFL history.  Back in January of 1967, Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi captured the trophy (which would eventually bear his name) in a 35-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.  The endless wit and wisdom he displayed over the course of his career fueled my desire to learn more about the man who is, arguably, the league’s Greatest coach.  His quotes were memorable to say the least.

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, then you will be fired with enthusiasm,” is one of the nuggets that always brings a smile to my face.  That line alone encourages me to approach my daily life—both at work and at home–with passion.

When it comes to the green and gold, there’s no shortage of football passion.  The current Packers are flirting with winning their fifth Super Bowl title in franchise history, and their star players have become household names with TV commercials and product endorsement deals.  But no matter the popularity of fan favorites like Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, or Greg Jennings, historic Lambeau Field will always spark stories of Coach Lombardi ahead of anyone else.  In fact, the philosophy of the Hall of Fame coach is part of the very structure of the stadium–literally.

This past summer, the franchise christened the Vince Lombardi clock tower on the north side of Lambeau Field.  But as reporter Michelle Tafoya pointed out in a recent game broadcast, the Packers set the time on the clock tower ahead 15 minutes.

“We felt it was a unique and fitting tribute to Coach Lombardi,” said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy.

While it went unnoticed to many outside of the franchise, true “Cheese Heads”  appreciated the constant reminder of Coach Lombardi.  You see, from 1959-1967 the Packers went by “Lombardi Time,” wherein the legendary coach demanded all players and staff members to show up 15 minutes early for everything.  To him, punctuality poured the foundation for Greatness.

“I remember we had a rookie show up seven minutes early and Coach Lombardi said to him ‘You are eight minutes late’,” remembered Murphy.

Lombardi placed such value on time that players were disciplined if they were tardy.  At the time, Lombardi’s level of authority allowed him to distinguish himself from his peers.  It’s a philosophy that has been adopted by current coaching Greats, like Tom Coughlin, who has won two Super Bowl titles with the New York Giants.  (Although I should note that Coughlin only demanded his players to arrive five minutes prior to scheduled events, meetings and practices.)

As fan after fan enters the Green Bay stadium, they either acknowledge the constant tribute to Coach Lombardi, or they arrive at their seats ahead of schedule—sometimes, they do both.  It’s amazing how the Packers have managed to honor their history by allowing it to tick-tock so visibly in front of their organization.

The lesson here is in the habit:  The Great leaders develop a discipline for achieving success.  Just as Lombardi placed a high value on time, we must find a discipline for Greatness and then make it an emphasis in our daily, weekly, monthly routines.  A simple change in how you manage your time can help you clock in with top results.

Do you have any clock tower-like habits that effect your organization?  Have you ever seen a leader with a habit like Lombardi’s 15-minute rule?  What pattern can you develop or adopt today that could—in time—make you Great?

Debunking Productivity Myths: An Answer to Lifehacker’s Alan Henry

by Laura Stack

“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” — Will Rogers, American humorist.

“We must not be hampered by yesterday’s myths in concentrating on today’s needs.” — Harold S. Geneen, American businessman and former president of ITT Corporation.

If you haven’t already heard the expression, “lifehacking” refers to the practice of developing little ways of making your daily activities more efficient. The term derives from the practices of computer hackers, who crack open commercial code and rewrite it for their own purposes.

Lifehacks focus mostly on improving personal life, so they don’t always lend themselves to workplace application, but sometimes they hit the nail on the head. Such was the case with an article by Alan Henry posted on December 5, 2012 at, titled “Seven Productivity Myths Debunked by Science (and Common Sense).” As it happens, I agree with Henry in several key areas, though I have to take a “yes, but…” attitude on his points.

In this vein, let’s take a look at the “myths” he explores.

1. You have to get up early to accomplish anything. This statement is a bit misleading. The original claim hinges on the argument that getting up early lets you accomplish more than most people—not that you’ll never accomplish anything important if you rise later in the day. Some people hit their energy peaks mid-morning, yes, and they should indeed rise early and get cracking. Yet others start slowly in the morning, and yet others have high energy in the evening or late at night. It can be counterproductive for night owls to attempt to do work requiring heavy brainpower in the morning. The reason I’m a fan of getting up early is to get your workout in and arriving early enough at work to enjoy a brief distraction-free period before everyone else arrives.

2. Power Through Your Slumps. Henry points out that trying to bull through low points doesn’t always work—a point well taken. But that doesn’t invalidate this piece of advice, because you can often power through slumps. Set an alarm to go off in 15 minutes and then jump into the task. By the time the alarm sounds, you may be able to continue easily. Sometimes I find I just needed to get some momentum. If you do nothing but pull your hair out, take a break or move on to another task you find easier to accomplish.

3. Multiple Monitors Increase/Decrease Productivity. Henry comes down solidly on both sides of this argument—a logical choice, because there’s no simple answer. Sometimes multiple monitors help you, sometimes they don’t. Personally, I love my huge dual monitors, because it allows me to put a document on one screen, while I type an email and refer to it. In any case, studies suggest the amount of monitor space matters more than the number of monitors…so one 30-incher can be just as productive as two fifteen-inchers.

4. The Internet/Information Overload Is Making Us Stupid, So Disconnect to Get Things Done. Some observers point out that our dependence on the ‘Net means we don’t keep everything in our heads the way we used to. But why should we, when we literally have every fact in the world at our fingertips? There’s only so much core memory to spare. The real issue here lies in the fact that constant connectivity distracts us from reality. According to a recent British study, overconnected people suffer temporary IQ drops equivalent to losing a full night’s sleep or taking too many hits of marijuana. So electronic overload really does make us stupid, but not by taking away facts learned by rote.

5. It’s Impossible to Get Real Work Done at Home/a Coffee Shop/Library/Away from the Office. Another multiple-choice “myth.” Ofcourse you can get real work done away from the office. The real issue is the noise level. Some open-plan offices result in endless distractions and noise, more so than an outside location, so you may prefer to set up on a park bench or at a local Starbucks. A quiet buzz might even prove beneficial. But I’ve also experienced cases where external “hideaways” proved so noisy I accomplished nothing. The real answer here? “It depends.” I write my books in 3-day marathons, sequestered in a hotel, disconnected from email. I get more done than I ever would in my office.

6. Sorting and Organizing Is the Solution to Email Overload. I have to take issue with Henry labeling this a myth. No matter how much email you get, organizing it makes more sense than dumping it into one big pile. I think it’s an excuse for not having a good workflow system (such as my 6-D System™: Discard, Delegate, Do, Date, Drawer, Deter) or not understanding how to use your email software. Around 95% of my corporate clients still use Microsoft Outlook. When I’m brought onsite to teach workflow seminars, I’m still amazed that 99% of attendees don’t know how to convert an email automatically to a task, turn an email into a task request that can be tracked by person assigned, or pull up a daily to-do list. They are using the inbox like a giant to-do list, not knowing where to “put” an email that requires a future response. If you need more fundamental training on processing your email, see

7. [Insert Productivity Technique] Will Fix Everything and Make You a Happy, Productive Person with More Free Time. This isn’t a myth as such, though I admit that nothing works for everyone. On the other hand, everything works for someone. Time management/productivity plans just provide options for you to try. You may discover that the first method you test works fine; but you may not find your productivity key until you’ve tried dozens. Typically, we cobble together whatever time management system works for us, so most personal productivity schemas represent mutant hybrids other people might run screaming from. I know people who never use a scrap of paper for time management; others use nothing but, while still others use hybrid systems including notebooks, handhelds, organizers, email, and even whiteboards. It’s not right/wrong/good/bad—whatever works for you works. If it doesn’t, experiment with something new. Stop trying to be “hip” if it makes you more disorganized.

Reduce, Reduce, Reduce!

In the final analysis, take any declaration labeled “Truth” or “Myth” with a big grain of salt. You can’t condense human beings to simple numbers; we’re too random for that. The productivity and performance management fields don’t always attain the “hard science” status of physics or chemistry.

Make your own decisions as to what represents Myth for you, and what does not. Any productivity system acts mostly as a mnemonic guide to help you activate the few constants in the productivity equation. You’ll have to take in a lot more than you’ll ever use and then reduce it in the culinary sense: by boiling away the excess until you have a productivity “sauce” you’re happy with. No one else may like the taste at all, but the result will be delicious for you.

Can I Afford to Be Optimistic?

by Jay Goltz

It is time to complete the budget for 2013. I now have the final numbers from 2012 to help in the planning/forecasting/guessing game that I have been playing for 35 years. My comptroller reminds me that every year, for as long as she can remember, she has had to reduce my projections by midyear. Great. Is it a shortcoming to be optimistic if you own a company? The answer is yes, and no. At the moment, more yes.

This year did not turn out as I had planned, or perhaps as I had hoped. There was no big recovery in either the economy or in my industry (home furnishings). We did make some progress, but I had budgeted and spent money as if we were going to be in a recovery or growth mode: more people, more inventory, more advertising.

I have lived and navigated through many recessions, and I can tell you that this has not been a normal one. In the good, old recessions, you would have a down year and then recuperate slowly over the next one or two. We are now in year five, and while things have clearly gotten better, we are hardly back to where we were in 2008. The unemployment rate is still high, and most small-business owners I know are still struggling.

And it’s not just the economy. The whole business environment is constantly changing, and it can be especially difficult for a small business to keep up. It is harder to borrow money, Web sites demand attention and dollars to keep them up, inexpensive imports continue to change the dynamics of the marketplace, and the government sideshow of perpetual crises – election, fiscal cliff, debt ceiling — continues to make people nervous. And none of it helps the unemployment rate, which should be of concern to everyone.

Still, it is hard to get anywhere as an entrepreneur without being optimistic. If you’re like me, you eventually begin to develop something of a split personality. When I am playing sales manager, I have to encourage my employees to shoot for ambitious but realistic numbers. I told one of my managers that I feel good about our prospects for next year, and she reminded me that I say that every year. Oops. Another colleague has seen through my rosy glasses. But what am I supposed to do? Ask people to strive mightily for mediocre results? On the other hand, it is also my responsibility to sign off on budgets and then make sure that the numbers are reached. That job is not nearly as much fun, and that’s where the split personality comes in.

So here is my conclusion. We need to make two budgets: one that is reasonably optimistic and another that is reasonably pessimistic. The optimistic one is for sales meetings. But, human nature being what it is, it is important not to surround yourself with yes-men who will sign off on whatever you say when you are feeling good. Send in the accountants! The second budget is the one to use for financial planning and spending.

This year, in my reality-based budget, I’m not factoring in any big turnaround in the economy, and I have reduced expenses in an attempt to ensure an acceptable profit. To me, this represents one of the most important things I have learned from the many ups and downs of building small businesses: the difference between setting goals and making a plan. Goals mean nothing without a plan.

I have also learned that whining and pity parties have no place in entrepreneurship. Misery might like company, but it does nothing to help build a company. Yes, the business environment has gotten more difficult for many small businesses, but that just means that we all need to pay more attention. In sports, when you finish a disappointing season and go home, you have six months or so to ruminate about what went wrong.

When you run a small business, you don’t get time off to think, but you also don’t go home a loser. Instead, you get to hit a reset button on Jan. 1. You get to start the new year with new wisdom, a clean slate, a new plan, perhaps even a new sense of optimism (but mostly a new plan!).

So, my fellow entrepreneurs, I encourage you to do a 360-degree analysis of what you could and should be doing better — and then make a plan to do it. No goals. A plan.

Happy New Year and Good Riddance to a Bad Congress!

by Terry Savage

Happy New Year and Good Riddance to a Bad Congress!

The actions of Congress over the past two years, and especially the past two weeks should be an embarassment to all Americans, no matter what political party.

The last-minute “deal” was no deal at all — when it comes to preserving America’s future.  And the process destroyed respect for our country around the world.  We now look much like the governments of Greece and Italy and Spain — taking laughable baby steps toward the resolution of a huge and overwhelming debt problem.

Here’s a link to my comments on CNN yesterday.

(Either click on the link or cut and past it into your browser.  You will also find a link to this, and several other recent CNN commentaries, on my website.)

I called it an “Alice in Wonderland” moment — the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.”  This is what we have come to — and historians will look back on this moment with dismay.

The overwhelming issue is that the deal does absolutely NOTHING to change our annual budget deficits, which keep creating a larger national debt.  And the term “budget deficit” is more than an oxymoron — because while we have had trillion dollar deficits for each of the past three years, we have not even had a Federal budget!

The Congressional Budget Office just announced that this “deal” will actually add$4 Trillion to our national debt over the next 10 years!

And now that we have had so much ado about nothing, the new Congress will have to start out by dealing with the debt ceiling.  That’s a much more significant fight because it will call into question our legal ability to pay our bills and refinance our debt.

Will the next Congress be any more sensible?

Markets React

Don’t be fooled by the reaction of global markets and rising stock prices.  Markets think short term – -and in the short term the entire world is glad the United States didn’t destroy its economy with huge tax increases and spending cuts.  After all, if America doesn’t keep producing and buying, the rest of the world is in deep trouble.  So of course the global markets are cheering.

But keep your eye on gold, which though down recently from its highs for last year, responded to the “deal” by jumping nearly $20 per ounce to $1690, while the dollar fell on global markets.  Our lack of real fiscal discipline means that big bets are being placed against the future value of the dollar — even if it is the “least worst” place to hold assets globally.

What can and should you do?  Get back to work, and keep on investing.  And speak up! This kind of Congressional confrontation is only possible because so many in Congress find themselves in “safe” seats, because of redistricting.  Maybe if they understand they are vulnerable to our votes, they will get something done for America in the next Congress and in the New Year.  And that’s The Savage Truth.