About steveacho

Business Geek, Musician, Lover, Fighter, Writer, Delusional Optimist

The importance of systems

An organization I won’t name has an effective marketing system that gets me in the door.  Once I’m in though, there is no record of the appointment I made (I bring the email confirmation they sent me), and there’s total confusion when I arrive.  Great system for bringing me in – failed system when I show up.

This reminds me of the importance of systems themselves. This applies to how we manage our calendars or finances, to our individual daily habits (having a consistent place for car keys…planning tomorrow’s schedule today…)

You either deliberately create systems that serve you, or ignore them altogether and hope things work out.

Just a few things I learned from my dad

 – “Don’t confuse motion with action”– Don’t tell me how hard you worked, tell me what you accomplished.
– “If you can’t explain it you don’t understand it” 
– “Think big picture” – Forget the exact answer.  Does it make sense that 20% of a number could be larger than the number itself?  Make sense of things at a high level before obsessing over the details.
“Know your inventory” – Do you know how much cash you have access to? What your living expenses are? How long you could go with no income? How much debt you have and how you’re trending and spending? What your best chance/customer/project is that could earn more money?  If you don’t know where you are now you can’t know what’s best to focus on next.


On being assertive

Aggressive: Doing what serves you with no respect for others – “We are going to THIS movie. Why do you even want to see that one?”

Passive-aggressive: Communicating in a cynical way –  “Great, let’s go to THAT movie”

Assertive: Stating your beliefs or preferences while respecting others’ – “I’d love to see a movie with you, but not that one.  Can we pick one we both like?”

You choose how you communicate.

Validation and value

Get 100 employees in a room and you’ll be hard-pressed to reach unanimous agreement on anything other than raising salaries.  We’d all prefer to be paid more.  There’s something else we have in common: a need to feel valued, respected, and that what we do matters.  Not just in our jobs.

Some difficult people are that way because they feel unacknowledged.  You strengthen any relationship by recognizing out loud that a person’s work, input, or very presence is appreciated, and that they do in fact matter.

Take a few seconds to acknowledge someone.


What they think of me

From an evolutionary perspective, we’re wired to care deeply about what others think of us. This was a valid concern thousands of years ago when reputations among our group impacted our livelihood, and often our very lives.

But we’ve outgrown parts of evolution.  We can worry about what ‘they’ think, or ask why we care in the first place.

If you realized how little they actually do think of you, you would worry less about it, and just get on with being you.

Doing work that matters

Our education system has us focus on what will be on the test.  When we later extend that to our work, we find ourselves in a lifelong cycle of catering to a boss, or the few people who most influence our work lives.

We can choose to ask better questions than “what will be on the test?” and “what’s the least I have to do to pass?”  How about:

  • What work can I do work that matters?
  • What unique mix of skills, interests and capabilities allow me to make the most impact?

Play vs. practice

For the few skills at which I excel, I noticed that I never viewed the intense hours I devoted as “practice”. I obsessed over the activities themselves and became interested in the challenge.  There’s a reason you don’t hear: “Gimme a minute mom, I’m working on video game skill acquisition!”

The quality of hours spent mastering a skill is influenced by what we believe we’re doing during those hours.  It’s all practice of course, but doesn’t “playing” and “doing” feel like something we’ll continue long-term?

You will persevere and excel if what you’re doing is an enjoyable challenge and not an obligation.