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Mar 15, 2010


by fivesimplethings

Have you already filled your bracket out?  Come on. How much time did you spend this morning choosing which Goliaths would be slain on the court this weekend?  As I perused newspapers this morning, I thought a lot about how much ink had been used to create the penultimate guide to what the next three weekends would bring.

I had always heard that the Monday after the selection show ranked right next to Black Monday for the least productive day in the office.  After all, it takes time to create pools and then figure out the administration of them. As an avid Dukie, I really don’t have a problem with this.  I just want to use it to ask a question.

Think about the time you spent on your bracket this morning.  What could you have crossed off your “do” list in the same amount of time?  Don’t feel guilty about it.  Just set aside the same amount of time tomorrow to work your list in a more focused way.

Get it done and Go Duke.

Let me know what items are in your “do” list and who you’re pulling for in the comments sections or on twitter with the hashtag #fivesimplethings.

-John Tolsma

Mar 9, 2010

What is your destination?

by fivesimplethings

Monday morning, I was scheduled on the 5:30a flight to Charlotte (Yes. There are actually flights that early in the AM).

When I travel that early, I follow one simple rule. I try to board as early as possible and to get a window seat so that I can fall asleep again before we even take off.  After I boarded, I was just about to doze off when I heard the forward cabin door shut as well as the door to the luggage compartment.  About two minutes later the captain came on and sheepishly told us that he and the co-pilot got on the wrong plane when they got to the airport. Therefore, all of the passengers and all of the luggage needed to be unloaded and transferred to the plane at the gate next to us. The plane we were on was going to Philadelphia.

He had misread the tail number.

I grumbled.  Then, I laughed.  Then, I started to think about the fact that if this guy couldn’t read the tail number, he might not be able to find the right runway.

He did.  I made it to my connection and on to my appointment.  I also had a great story to tell throughout the day.

Here’s the question.  Are you sitting on the wrong plane?  Where should you be headed in your life?

-John Tolsma

Mar 5, 2010

Inspired by Innovation

by fivesimplethings

I just finished devouring the latest issue of Fast Company where they profile the 50 most innovative companies in the world. I am always inspired and challenged by what I can do better in my own Firm.

As someone who runs a media company, you’d think that I’d find the most relevant insights from companies included like Disney or Glam Media.  However, it was in some of the profiles about technology providers like HTC and retailers like Gilt Groupe that I found some great approaches to trying something completely different to move the ball forward.

Go out and buy a copy. Underline and mark up all the ways that you can be more innovative in accomplishing your professional and personal goals.

Who or what’s inspired your innovation and creativity lately? Let us know in the comments or reply on twitter with the hashtag #fivesimplethings.

-John Tolsma

Mar 3, 2010

Staying Focused

by fivesimplethings

Of all the scenes coming out of the Winter Olympics, I can’t shake the one of Sven Kramer. Kramer, a Dutch speed skater, listened to his coach’s erroneous instructions and ended up disqualified from the gold for failing to switch lanes properly.  What an incredible blow!

I wonder how many times I listen to really well-intentioned people who give me advice that keeps me from realizing the “gold”. Do I let the noise of other’s ideas keep me from focusing on the goals in my life?

As I think about what I need to accomplish, I want to be open to listening and suggestions.  However, I don’t want to become distracted in a way that forces me to lose sight of the prize.

-John Tolsma

Feb 19, 2010

Learning Simplicity from Others

by fivesimplethings

Some email forwards are worth reading. A co-worker recently passed an email along to me about a 92 year old woman who continues to find satisfaction in life by sticking to simple rules. In spite of the recent loss of her husband and her impaired mobility, she finds lasting happiness by focusing on the important small things–among them are simplicity, generosity and love. I had to share this thought with you because it gets at the heart of what we’re trying to do as we focus on 5 Simple Things.

We lose so much of what truly matters in life’s tumult. There will always be distractions and disappointments. We can’t wish those away. But for ultimate success, it is essential that we boil down our priorities to the simple things that bring the most value. I hope thinking about her “rules” helps you flesh out how you can simplify and focus on that which is most valuable. What are your simple rules?

Feb 17, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness Week

by fivesimplethings

I just found out this week is Random Acts of Kindness Week—a great idea put forth by the folks at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation . I started thinking about chapter 5, Love. Is there one person you’ve been hoping to show a random act of kindness? If so, this is the week to do it. Often, the simplest actions make the largest difference. Let us know how you showed kindness this week.

Sometimes though, we’re the recipients of others’ random kindness. Has anyone surprised you with something special this week?

Feb 10, 2010

Gladwell on "Doing"

by fivesimplethings

I read Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw over the weekend and loved the first chapter on Ron Popeil. Talk about “doing”. Ron focuses on a project or product and then figures out a way to bring it to life. His process and pageantry deserve our attention. Read more here. How does this impact your Do list?

-John Tolsma

Feb 5, 2010

Super Bowl Simplicity

by fivesimplethings

Okay – even the Super Bowl party has become too complex. Lee Ann is talking about making seven kinds of Super Bowldishes that all require hours to get done.
Here’s my thinking – bring on the cheese balls, pretzels and hot dogs.

What are the simple things that you like to eat on Super Bowl Sunday?

-John Tolsma

Feb 3, 2010

Blank Slates

by fivesimplethings

Snow came to the southeast this weekend and I couldn’t help but think that the blanket of white expressed a blank slate. Whenever we start a new job or a new school year or any fresh opportunity, we start with a clean beginning. That’s freeing.

Before my kids started sledding and adding their footprint to the pristine image, I wanted to ask:

Where could I use that fresh start in my life? Is there a relationship or a project that would benefit from a do-over? What’s one area of my life where I could use a blank slate?

How about you?

-John Tolsma