Happy Thanksgiving

Most of us–me for sure–do not reflect enough and appreciate how good we have it.

The book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons discusses how the science of practicing gratitude helps us in countless ways. We become happier, we sleep better, we have stronger immune systems, and we feel more alive.  I believe it, but I still don’t practice it hardly enough.

Life is hard.  We’ve been there this year.  I love the quote by M. Scott Peck:

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

With Thanksgiving this week I thought it was a good time to remind myself, and everyone, to recognize that life is hard, practice gratitude and gives thanks.  Originally celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 to give thanks and celebrate a successful growing season and bountiful harvest, we all need to take time to contemplate our life situations and be grateful for what we have.  Spend some time and answer positive questions like “Why am I so lucky?” And look around to see how very lucky you really are.

This week is a perfect time to take four days off to be thankful for what we’ve accomplished, what we have, our health, and to celebrate the year’s bountiful harvest.  It’s time to recognize our many hours of hard work and focus and appreciate our friends and families.

So put down your iPhone.  Spend time eating too much and enjoying your family and friends this long weekend.

So to all: I wish you well this Thanksgiving.  We certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

May the good things in life be yours in abundance not only at Thanksgiving, but throughout the coming year.

I hope to talk with you soon,


Featured image: Jennie Augusta Brownscombe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Measure This!

As we forge our 2016 business plans and solidify our monthly, quarterly, and annual goals, consider how you are going to measure results and what you are measuring.

The old saying “You can’t manage what you can’t measures” is very true, but remember, people will focus on what you choose to measure, so make sure you choose wisely.

Here are some simple tips when selecting measurements.

  • Ensure the data is unambiguous and easily attainable.  I have made the mistake of having measurements that are difficult to calculate and obtain. The results are always late and become less credible.  Easy-to-obtain may trump a better measure.
  • The fewer the measures the better. I find the simpler the better too.  Granted, sometimes making things simple is hard.  There is no right answer and it depends on what type of goal we are measuring (company, department, or individual). Less is more here.
  • Make sure you’re appraising the correct company activity. Think about the most basic purpose of the process and see if the measure is reflecting that purpose.
  • Present your measures as trended data  The meaning will be much greater with trends and ratios. Since trend data is extremely valuable, try not to change the measurement definition frequently otherwise historical trends will be interrupted.   We are just changing a measure with one of my clients to hopefully improve results.  If you must change a measure, the sooner the better, so a new trend can be started.

Also see the this checklist of potential measures–both leading and lagging measures–which may help you consider the best measures as you solidify your 2016 goals and measurements.

checklist graphic

Rabbit Rabbit Hare Hare

My grandmother used to say the phrase “Rabbit, rabbit, hare, hare” every month when she flipped her Travelers Insurance calendar from one month to the next. She would say it was for good luck. Apparently, this was adopted from an old English superstition from the 1200’s for good luck.  I’m sure others chant this expression at the beginning of a new month for good luck as well.

I still follow the superstition to this day. My family says “Rabbit, rabbit, hare, hare” 10 times in a row, first thing in the morning, for good luck.  My 84 year old mother (who lives in Chicago) and I have a contest every month: who can send the first “RRHH” email.  You would think since I get up at 5 AM every day and live in the east, I would win every time, but not even close.

I took a few minutes on Sunday morning and thought about “Rabbit, rabbit, hare, hare.”  I thought about how fast the last month went!  We had an outstanding October weatherwise in the Northeast; I just finished a four day juice cleanse;  and I purged my garage, filling a dumpster and donating several loads of household items.  I thought about the good things that happened all month and how grateful I am for it.

Now I turn to November. The beginning of a new month is always a great time to make sure you’re moving the ball down the field in the right direction.

This November 1st after my “RRHH” rituals, I was thinking about the runners at the start of the NYC marathon.  I was very happy I didn’t run it this year though it truly was one of the most remarkable experiences in my life (circa 1997).  But while watching my friends run it this year it became clear to me.  In 2016 I’m definitely signing up for one competitive event.  We need specific goals and aligned goals to take things to the next level.   For me, I want to get my fitness to the next level so I’m signing up for a race.  Simple. Aligned goal.

It’s the same way with our other goals. We need to set specific aligned goals to take things to the next level.

As a business owner there is a lot to do with only 60 days to finish 2015 strong: hammer on your Q4 goals, solidify your 2016 business plan assumptions and game plan, do your consisting weekly 13-week cash flow forecast, etc.  This week, take a look at where you are with your 100 day plan we talked about here and determine exactly where you are with your initiatives.  For me, I’m way ahead in a couple goals and behind in others.

Let’s prepare to finish strong!

Bonus: Also, this week I put together a very quick screen cast of how to use the SUMIF formula in Excel.  I use it all the time to summarize Excel data.   It’s super easy and if you use Excel you need to know how to use it.  Watch Video

Need help with your company finances? Contact me. Let’s talk!