Monkeys: LIBERATING Time Management Concept [Video]

Monkeys are the “leading cause of death” of new leaders.

Recent conversations with a few new(er) leaders about this common pitfall, prompted me to post this here. If you don’t have time (28 min) to watch this, then you probably really need to watch this. ūüėČ

This time management concept saved my professional life.

After about 7 years in operations of skilled nursing facilities at The Ensign Group, a skilled nursing, seniors housing, home health & hospice, and radiology company, I spent 5 years there as the Chief Human Capital Officer. What an exciting time. Ensign’s “First Who, Then What” approach to growth meant we had to attract and train a lot of AITs into facility-level CEOs fast. ¬†Over those 5 years, I personally participated in the training of about 100 new leaders. Week long boot camps, case studies, online tests, conference calls, assignments, analysis, etc. ¬†I saw, up close and personal, what helped new leaders succeed … and fail. ¬†

Monkeys has a lot to do with both.

I’ve trained the topic to groups in the hundreds at association conferences to 1:1. And, I wrote about monkeys years ago here:

But, this is the video that gives a thorough explanation of Monkeys and that my colleagues and friends have found most useful to understand the time management concept from theory to practical application.  While there are several healthcare operations and Ensign references, the principles are universal.

I hope it helps you or someone you know:


Love, Part 1: “Have I told you lately that I love you?”



Who knew that Rod Stewart was such a management guru? ¬†He doesn’t look like one. ¬†But let’s judge the man by his words not his appearance, huh?



“Have I told you lately that I love you?”

And with that simple question, Rod does more good in the world of “performance management”¬†consulting than most consultants ever could.

Have you ever wondered what you’re boss was thinking about you and/or your performance? ¬†I have. ¬†I’ll get to that in a second. ¬†I was speaking with a colleague the other day whose performance over the course of the last 24 months has been staggering. ¬†As a new leader in the industry he has assembled a team, collaboratively¬†defined its¬†vision, elevated care and customer service, and has achieved fantastic financial, clinical, compliance, and regulatory results. ¬†Can I paint a more successful picture?

And yet, after another record breaking month of results were posted, he was concerned that his boss wasn’t happy with him. ¬†Why? ¬†Because he hadn’t emailed him or called him to comment on his performance. ¬†It had been a few months now. ¬†No thank you. ¬†No Attaboy. ¬†Silence. ¬†So, instead of appropriately celebrating or feeling satisfaction, this top performer’s strongest emotions were¬†concern and doubt.

I experienced something similar several years ago. ¬†My boss was on the road almost all the time. ¬†Not only that but he had the weight of the organization on his shoulders and hundreds of people wanting a piece of his time. ¬†As the weeks, then months went by I tried to just give him (AND MYSELF) the benefit of the doubt …

I’m sure he would call or email me about my performance if he had any concerns.

I know he’s just really busy.

He hired me because I don’t need the supervision or direction.

But, given enough time, its natural to FILL THE VOID with the worst case scenario.

I began to do what my colleague was doing. ¬†I began to not only doubt my boss’ appreciation of my work but I began to doubt if he thought my role was even important to the organization. ¬†After all, if nobody’s talking to you about your work (good or bad), your work must not be that important to people.

The benefit of the doubt turns into the TYRANNY OF THE DOUBT.

Maybe its just me and my colleague, but I don’t think so. ¬†I’ve had people I’ve managed express similar feelings during overdue conversations with me as well.

A few months ago, I kept missing a 1:1 with one of my department heads. ¬†Things kept getting in the way. ¬†One postponement after another. ¬†Sure, we’d talk briefly in our daily department head meeting or in the hallway but we missed quality 1:1, focused time to talk about her department (employees, goals, challenges, etc.) ¬†When we finally met, I told her how impressed I had been by her improvements and resident/patient satisfaction I was seeing. ¬†She was stunned. ¬†She fought back the tears. ¬†You see, she thought I was avoiding her because I was unhappy with her. ¬†I had inadvertently created a void and she filled it with the worst case scenario. ¬†Shame on me.

As leaders, we can way too easily fall victim to the illusion that silence creates. ¬†“All is well.” ¬†We can forget that even (especially) our top performers need regular feedback. Ironically, too often we spend an inordinate amount of time with under-performers at the expense of quality time grooming, coaching, rewarding, and recognizing those whose work we rely on so very much.

Let’s make the time.

–> Let’s set reoccurring appointment reminders on our calendars to reach out and fill the void with true conversation that builds loyalty and reaffirms mission.

Ready, Fire, AIM

ready fire aim

One of the most important lessons of the last 12 months for me has been the perils of firing before sufficiently aiming.  With the Myers Briggs personality preferences as context, its easy to understand why this can be a huge stumbling block for some (like me) while a no-brainer for others.

By aiming, here’s what I mean …

  • Taking the time to engage those who will be affected by the ‘fire’ in discussion, debate, persuasion, listening, reconsidering.
  • Creating a plan and …
  • Creating it WITH the people who have to implement the ‘fire.’
  • Taking the time to test, reconfigure, test some more, get a scoreboard of results to show the org. BEFORE flipping the switch to require the change.¬† This is particularly necessary when there are mixed reviews with the current state.

There’s a balancing act here.¬† On the one hand you can aim too long (analysis paralysis) and results may suffer from that inaction.¬† On the other hand (the one that I dealt with most during the last 12 months) to pull the trigger too quickly (even if the decision is logical and the right one) can lead to a botched implementation that prevents the ‘right decision’ from taking root.

Though somewhat against my nature, I’m working at ‘taking the time’ to talk with most involved parties.¬† I’m convinced this doesn’t have to be a slow process.¬† It just has to happen.¬† I’m reminded of what the book 5 Dysfunctions of a Team teaches on this topic … that without conflict/debate/dissent/discussion, real buy-in or commitment cannot take place.¬† But, with that pre-decision conflict, even those who disagree can come around and commit — knowing that their voices were heard AND having had a chance to better understand the rationale/intent of the other side.

Do you share financials w/ staff?

3 legged stool


I am all about analogies. ¬†It’s a curse. ¬†It’s my go-to. ¬†I have a problem. ¬†But, sometimes it really just works. ¬†(I’ll get to it … hang with me).

Nursing Home Administrators are easily seen by their care-giver/clinician staff as only caring about the financial aspects of the facility. ¬†Years ago I became very reluctant to share financial information with my staff out of fear that they would think that’s all I cared about. ¬†I also feared they would mishandle the information.

As though they weren’t sophisticated enough to appreciate the need for the facility to ‘make money.’

So, instead of educating staff on the financial fundamentals and enlisting their help to eliminate waste and be efficient as co-owners of the facility and their departments, we ration out just enough information to get them to do what we want. ¬†We give them a budget for hours or expenses for the month based on our projected census. ¬†They toil away under your close management, trying to hit that budget WITHOUT understanding the larger picture. ¬†I’m not saying that doesn’t ‘get the job done’ b/c in many cases it does. ¬†But, they deserve more. ¬†And with the trust you give them (along with the education), something powerful happens … they come alive and take MORE ownership of their responsibilities. ¬†They take pride in their new understanding and they become more creative problem solvers, now that they see the whole problem to solve and not just their little piece.

Here’s what I’ve concluded …

… if presented properly, sharing the financial realities (challenges and successes) are an empowering, trust-building lever administrators should pull in their management of the facility.

The key phrase, of course, is ‘if presented properly.’ ¬†I’ve been burned by sharing facility financial information. ¬†So … the best way I’ve found to empower my staff with this lever is to use the analogy of the 3 Legged Stool. ¬†Here’s how the conversation went at a recent all-staff meeting at a facility that has been losing money ….

Me: What do you think I care most about?

Them: [Thinking: I’m not stupid enough to answer that question … Suspicious smile … long pause]

Me: Really. ¬†It’s ok. ¬†What do you think I care most about in running this facility?

Them: [Still Thinking: I don’t know him well enough to be honest. ¬†He’s just like all the rest, probably. ¬†Money. ¬†The answer is money]. ¬†“Patient Care.”

Me: Yes.  What else?

Them: [Oh, there’s more than one answer. ¬†I’ll say it …] ¬†Profits.

Me: Yes.  What else?

Them: [What a dork. ¬†He can’t care MOST about more than one thing!] Ummm … Customer Satisfaction?

Me: Yes.  But, how can I care MOST about more than one thing?  Have any of you ever seen a 3 legged stool?

Them: Yes, of course.

Me: Which leg is most important?  Which leg do you care most about when you sit on it?

Them: The one that’s going to break.

Me: Put yourself in my shoes.  If you were me, what would you say make up the 3 legs holding up our facility?

Them: Money, Patient Care … and … ?

Me: And … customer & employee satisfaction. ¬†Which one do you think I think is most important?

Them: Whichever is weakest?

Me: That’s right. ¬†That’s exactly right. ¬†You’ve heard me talk a lot lately about some our financial challenges. ¬†You’ve seen me tighten up our processes around approving overtime and tightening our belt in other ways too. ¬†We’ve had to flex staffing to appropriate levels that match our lower census. ¬†Our patient care is great. ¬†Our customer satisfaction is high. ¬†Our turnover is low. ¬†But, financially, the facility has been losing money for a few months in a row because we haven’t adjusted our spending appropriately to our low census. ¬†Right now, the leg that’s weakest … the leg’s that’s breaking is the financial one and we have to strengthen it. ¬†Here’s what we’re doing (overview of efficiencies we’re trying to regain). ¬†What else do you suggest we try? ¬†What can you do to help?

(I then asked if any of them had ever been ‘cancelled’ or sent home early from a shift. ¬†100% of their hands shot up. ¬†I asked if they understood the rationale for flexing hours. ¬†If they understood nursing hours PPD and the state minimum requirements. ¬†They did not. ¬†I explained how the hours PPD number is calculated and we calculated it for our facility). ¬†They saw – and understood – how high we were staffed. ¬†They began to ask insightful questions about staffing for acuity and skilled mix and how we derive our goals/staffing targets (which the director of nursing determines based on acuity, by the way).

The feedback from the meeting was very positive. ¬†They went to work the next day with a sounder understanding of what makes me/us tick and WHY we’re managing the financial side of things so tightly right now. ¬†I finished the meeting focusing on the other two legs. ¬†I reaffirmed to them where my heart/passion lie … in creating an environment where they are free to thrive as caregivers. ¬†An environment that creates a surprising experience for our patients and their families. ¬†I concluded with the Cab Driver story. ¬†That’s at an all staff meeting.

1:1 meetings with department heads allow for deeper education on the financial management of the facility and their departments. ¬†I recommend we stop rationing crumbs to the ‘leaders’ of the facility. ¬†Let’s let them eat at the table. ¬†(See? ¬†I had to throw in another analogy!) ¬†Let’s be more transparent with our P&Ls so they can take ownership, and eventual PRIDE in the successful operation they’re responsible for shaping.

“You Don’t Have Credibility”

Ouch.  No, really.  That hurt.

Can you hear more humbling words as a new leader? ¬†That’s what our CEO told me years ago when I passionately made the case for him to have me train anyone in the organization who would listen about creating a world-class service environment in their facilities.

I had just gotten religion and like any new convert, I was ready to evangelize.

ritz carltonAfter attending a Ritz Carlton day-long training, I was convinced that becoming the ‘Ritz Carlton’ of skilled nursing facilities would be the ultimate lever to pull to transform and turn around a facility that had failed survey 8 years in a row (under prior ownership) and lost us a lot of money out of the gate. ¬†Not only that, but I had found my voice as a young leader in long-term care. ¬†I came back to my facility after that training and, with my team, created our version of a world class service culture.

(Remind me to post on the process later b/c the process is where the magic lies, not the outcome).

After just a couple months of establishing the new culture, I made my pitch to our CEO. ¬†I can get pretty animated when I’m talking/debating/evangelizing something I’m passionate about. ¬†I knew this was the answer for my facility and, therefore, all of our operations.

One thing you got to know about him is that one of his greatest strengths, in my opinion, as a leader, is how he encourages entrepreneurship, innovation, intelligent risks. ¬†He rarely says no to the enthusiasm of his partners. ¬†So … after listening to me go on and on about world class service being the game changer for our group and my desire to hit the road to train all of our facilities in it, he said (to the effect of):

“You don’t have enough credibility — yet.”

[Dramatic Pause]

I was a combination of offended/disappointed/humbled/surprised. ¬†Initially, I thought he was stupid. ¬†I thought to myself (and out-loud to him): “how can you argue against elevating, systematically and massively, the level of customer service in our facilities?! ¬†It’s going to pay off!”

Looking back, I’m EXTREMELY fortunate to have had this lesson taught to me in such a poignant way at an early stage in my career. ¬†He was, in fact, not stupid at all. ¬†He was totally right. ¬†At the time I couldn’t see it. ¬†But, just 18 months later it was crystal clear…

The facility had transformed.  In about 12 months time it went from worst to first in the org. financially and passed survey for the first time in 9 years.  Customer satisfaction was high.  Turnover was low.  We had RESULTS.  Those results are what caused my partners throughout the org. to PULL me to their facilities to share what we had done instead of me trying to PUSH my way on to their radars.

He was right. ¬†Ideas and passion are important when it comes to bringing transformative ideas/culture to a facility or organization. ¬†But, if presented prematurely — before the results or proof to back it up — the idea or idea giver won’t take root and won’t make the difference s/he’s so passionately trying to make.

18 months later, I began each training session on world class service with the results – Before on the left side of the white board and After on the right side. ¬†I then put a big question mark in between. ¬†The stark difference in the before and after is what brings the credibility … and causes the DEMAND for you and your ideas.

The Other Day …

It’s easy now to look back and see the wisdom of my CEO’s candid rebuke. ¬†But, at the time it was devastating ego-bursting stuff. ¬†I recently interviewed someone who wanted to be a regional resource. ¬†He has a magnetic, positive personality and he knows his stuff. ¬†His problem, however, is that his on-paper results are sub-par. ¬†We talked candidly about the huge challenge he would have coaching/teaching others without being able to say, “Do this because I did and look at my superior results.” ¬†For him, like me years ago, the timing isn’t right. ¬†I’m sure he’ll get his shot … when his results match his enthusiasm.


Credibility: “the quality or power of inspiring belief” (webster)

Credibility may be the single most important thing a leader possesses in order to effectively lead. During the past 12 months I’ve learned the hard way this lesson, that on the surface seems obvious, but to those of us who suffer from inflated egos, can be a crippling blind spot ‚Ķ

Credibility is a non-transferable asset.

When you move from one group, team, division, or company to another, you start over. You start over … if you’re smart. If you’re blind to the fact that credibility is a non-transferable asset, you assume that these new people who you need to develop relationships of trust with will pick up with you where your former group, team, division, or company left off. Or, you assume that the new group, team, division, or company will quickly see in you what the former did. It doesn’t work that way.

So, what inspires belief? For me, a leader’s true intention must be made clear. Second, his/her actions must match that intention. Third, those actions must lead to the desired results.

Some questions I wish were more front and center for myself this last year …

* Am I taking the time with each individual to articulate my intention and related plans?
* Am I acting as though I already have their trust prematurely (i.e., making unilateral decisions, trusting that they will buy-in b/c the decision is coming from … me)?
* Am I holding myself accountable for the results?

The number of initials that follow your name, the resume, the references ‚Ķ they get you through the door. But, once you’re in, you START OVER at earning the credibility of those you lead and those that lead you ‚Ķ if you’re smart.

Leadership & Self-Deception

I cannot recommend a book more than this one.

leadership and self deception


I was introduced to it at work as a book that would help me be a better leader/manager. ¬†I’ve got a long way to go, but it has had a huge impact on my approach to people at work. ¬†In addition, there have been several times where my wife and I have relied on its concepts in how we see, relate to, discipline, and love our 5 children. ¬†But that’s for another entry ūüôā

80:20 Rule


The¬†Pareto principle¬†(also known as the¬†80‚Äď20 rule, the¬†law of the vital few,¬†and the¬†principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.[1][2]

Business-management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; he developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.[2]

So, what does this have to do with the book?

I don’t know if the ratio is really 80:20, but I’ve observed in my career and in dozens of others that how we see and treat others has more to do with our personal success than the oft-lauded ‘harder’ skill sets that are taught in MBA programs. ¬†You look at the typical coursework of an MBA and north of 80% of it focuses on business knowledge (finance, accounting, strategy, operations, statistics, etc.) ¬†Let’s put the 20% in the PEOPLE MANAGING, SELF-MANAGEMENT, LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, HR categories. ¬†Based on my experience (in healthcare management) for general managers, healthcare administrators, you spend your time and your success is determined by those weakly taught soft/people skills.

leadership and self deception

L&SD teaches, powerfully, why and how we so easily ruin important relationships.  Buy it.  Read it.  Then, like me, read it again.  Every time I do I see my warts, imperfections, and I can better repair damaged relationships that not only allow me to be more effective but also allows the other person to advance.

“It’s About Time”

“I wish I had time for that.”
“I don’t have time.”
“There’s not enough time in the day.”

The issue of time/self management plays a major in new leaders’ ability to succeed. No matter how brilliant your ideas are, if you aren’t managing yourself effectively, your results, your work, your happiness SUFFERS. I’ve written and spoke a lot about the why & how time/self management tends to be the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH in new leaders.

With his permission, let me share with you a recent email exchange between myself and a relatively new Executive Director (Administrator) to reinforce those principles with this real-life scenario and to take it from the conceptual to the nitty gritty


Email #1:

“Dave, what have you seen successful leaders do to be organized day by day? I feel I need a better skeleton than I‚Äôve had ‚Äď maybe I need to go to a franklin planner or something‚Ķ I know everyone functions, remembers, and acts differently but I‚Äôm thinking there is a wheel out there rolling somewhere that I can jump on and customize rather than sitting over here designing a new wheel.¬†

To give you an idea of where I personally fall short (big fat looks in the mirror, and many partners giving feedback ‚Äď these are some of my areas of necessary improvement).

  1. Giving assignments and forgetting to follow up.
    • For some forsaken reason my mind works really well in the present tense. When we talk about principles/concepts ‚Äď I totally get it. You want to talk strategy or theory, I‚Äôm your guy. Along those same lines, my mind does not spend much time in the past (assignments I‚Äôve given or received, things to follow up on, etc). I need a good system that won‚Äôt allow me to forget or hit ‚Äúsnooze.‚ÄĚ ¬†And not nearly enough time making specific plans for the future (Maybe I need to get checked for A.D.D.)
  2. Not setting clear expectations/Vision
    • When we talk vision I get excited and I‚Äôm able to get others excited about the big picture but when the details come into play there can be a lack of continuity on my part (or as partners may see it, Mark talks a good game but doesn‚Äôt ¬†follow through with what he said he‚Äôd do, or things never materialize according to plan because everything falls through the cracks)
  3. Justification
    • On occasion I let people off the hook with a great excuse. This goes back a bit to setting clear expectations, but If I don‚Äôt do numbers 1 and 2 above I can‚Äôt possibly hold people accountable properly.

I know that there is not a quick fix for these issues, but I would love to be able to develop a strong system that can help offset my weaknesses and give me the structure I need to be an effective transformational leader… Any ideas are welcomed.

Observation: Talk about humility/trust!? ¬†It’s a very rare leader and a very rare organization where being that vulnerable is not just OK, but expected. ¬†Usually our EGO gets way in the way and we can’t show weakness … and therefore we don’t improve. ¬†Impressive.

Email #2:
(My Response)

I feel your pain.  You sound like me at Desert Sky and the start of Victoria.  Almost word for word.

For me it took experimentation. ¬†I gave the franklin planner a good few years. ¬†I went paperless and tried everything Outlook and then the mac had to offer to get organized. ¬†Lots of trial and error. ¬†I’ll tell you where I’m at today because I’ve found a system I love. ¬†No guarantee this will work for you.¬†

There are 5 important aspects to my work that I consider ‘blocking and tackling.’ ¬†These are the organization and follow-up responsibilities that I have historically struggled with that are somewhat related but different enough in how I prefer to experience them that I haven’t found an all-in-one solution.

  1. Calendar/Appointments/Follow-Ups
  2. Ideas/Creative
  3. Journal
  4. Calls to return
  5. Tasks (Long-term & short-term)

¬†Here’s how I manage each …

 1 РCalendar/Appointments/Follow-Ups

I use iCal on my mac and iphone. ¬†Here’s what I love about this. ¬†My wife’s computer is also a mac. ¬†We have a mobileme account that syncs all of our contacts and calendar items. ¬†I can make different calendars that I can click on/off depending on what I want to see. ¬†The homerun is that Jess can see my work calendar which helps catch things (travel/meetings) that I failed to communicate. ¬†I can also flip on the kids’ calendar for sports, practices, activities, etc. when I make my plans so I can arrange to be there more if possible. ¬†The calendar syncs with Ensign’s Outlook server so I can send/accept meeting invites from it too which is clutch. ¬†Having the reminders/alarms on my computer and phone is necessary for me. ¬†If this were paper based like it has been in the past, I’d miss half my appointments and conference calls. ¬†The image below is of my calendar for this week. ¬†You’ll notice the checked and unchecked calendars on the far left panel. ¬†The blue is family stuff and that is basically Jessica’s calendar.

Regarding the related item of ‘following up’ … I’ve learned to take a page out of the Monkey doctrine for this. ¬†And, it has made a HUGE difference for me. ¬†Anytime I can assign my responsibility of following up to someone else, it gets done. ¬†For example, I asked “Virginia” (name changed for the blog) here at the service center for help in setting up CEO-in-Training (CIT) weekly call guest speakers. ¬†I spent 30 minutes with her mapping out who I wanted to talk on the next dozen weekly calls. ¬†I then gave her the task to contact all those people, send them the calendar invite (and to copy me) and to send us both reminders on the Friday before. ¬†What used to sneak up on me each week has turned into something much more meaningful for the CITs. ¬†No dropped balls. No “dangit, I forgot about the call.” ¬†Just another little example … during yesterday’s CIT call, I decided to have the closest to the pin competition again. ¬†Whoever gets closest to their projected EBT wins a dinner for two. ¬†The old me would have taken the responsibility on myself to take note of everyone’s projections on the 31st (I would have to put a reminder on the calendar to do that) and then check the actual EBT results when financials came out. ¬†But, yesterday I said to Mike in CO, “Mike would you run the competition for us this month?” ¬†He said, “Sure.” ¬†Will it get done? ¬†Yes. ¬†He already sent the email to everyone requesting them to send their projections to him at the end of the month — passing the monkey down the row!! ¬†I love it. ¬†Off my plate. ¬†Assigned to someone else. ¬†Bingo. ¬†

Remember the 2 rules for monkeys: 

1) anything you assign yourself or accept from a subordinate that you don’t do is PROCRASTINATION. ¬†Anything your supervisor (and you could make the argument, your cluster partners) gives you that you don’t do is called INSUBORDINATION. ¬†

2) An inferior job done by a subordinate is infinitely better than a superior job procrastinated and never done by you. 

Therefore, I also give the responsibility to follow up on things my subordinates. ¬†Meaning, if I give an assignment that I need to follow up on I will also assign the subordinate the time and place for them to account for their work. ¬†“Great. ¬†Thank you so much. ¬†Will you let me know on Thursday by the end of the day how it went?” ¬†I then put a reminder on my calendar at 3:00pm to call/email F/U the issue. ¬†I can’t talk about Assigning work/To-do’s (below) without talking about monkeys. ¬†The more you have time to just work on your stuff, the more effective you’ll be. ¬†If you find your subordinates checking on your commitments, you’re working backwards. ¬†Whoever says, “How’s it coming?” is the supervisor!¬†

I handle the next 4 in a bit of an unconventional way …¬†

2 – Ideas/Creative

3 – Journal

4 – Calls to return

5 – Tasks (Long-term & short-term)

I love my Moleskine.  Pictured below at Amazon.  I use it for all 4 of these parts of my work.


4th Quarter Projects/To-Dos/Monkeys I’ve accepted, given myself, or been given on the left page. ¬†Calls to return on the right page. ¬†I will recreate this several times per book.


Idea, brainstorming generation … In a previous moleskine I have the notes, drawings, etc. that formed the eprize. ¬†I treasure some of these a-ha moments and I’m stoked I have them all in one place.


My personal life and work life interact all the time. ¬†I use the moleskine for both. ¬†Below is a song I wrote Jess. ¬†Here’s what I love about mixing work, personal, and church note-taking, brainstorming, tasks, etc. all in one. ¬†This is the ultimate journal. ¬†Yes, I write formal journal entries about my life in here too. ¬†But, it will show my kids/grandkids more than just what I wrote about my life. ¬†It will show them what I did. ¬†What I worked on. ¬†Who I supervised and who supervised me. ¬†It will show what I dedicated my time to. ¬†It will show them a creative/professional side to me that they don’t see as just their dad. ¬†And, it is an awesome record for me to keep of my life for all aspects of my life as well. ¬†At the end of the year, I look back page by page and reflect and lift my sights and set goals. ¬†Having one notebook like this also makes it easy to not forget it. ¬†I take it with me everywhere. ¬†And, it’s way skinnier and lighter than a franklin planner. ¬†Also, the free-form vs. day by day approach is better suited to me. ¬†I never liked the day by day franklin format b/c there would always be some days where I would need to take 7 pages of notes and then weeks without needing the notes section at all.


I really hope this helps in some way for numbers 1 and sort of for number 2. ¬†Unfortunately, I’m an expert at #3 as well …

This one is more personal. ¬†It’s less about tools and more about a shifting of mental/emotional/leadership gears that I was forced to learn the hard way. ¬†The reason I let people off the hook was, looking back, more about me than about them or results. ¬†I wanted to be liked. ¬†Very much. ¬†Not wanting to hurt feelings b/c I wanted to be liked. ¬†Not holding people accountable b/c I feared I would lose their admiration or lose them altogether. ¬†Ironically, that philosophy/practice is incredibly undermining and ineffective at getting people to like me. ¬†With each subsequent facility I ran I became more and more rigorous with my standards and expectations and accountability. ¬†And, again ironically, I would venture to say that each subsequent facility ‘liked’ me more than the last. ¬†I stopped worrying about myself and whether or not people liked me and instead focused as much as possible on results. ¬†That creates an environment that people really appreciate and respect. ¬†Letting people off the hook isn’t for them, it’s for me. ¬†I stopped doing that b/c I realized that I was hurting them and myself as a leader. ¬†It’s not easy, but it’s become very natural now for me to be frank, direct (you can still be kind and encouraging), and¬†quick¬†in my feedback and/or correction. ¬†

These aren’t quick fixes like you said. ¬†I’m stoked you’re looking hard in the mirror on these things though because I believe that these make up the ingredients needed to fill the gap between new leader and game changing CEO. ¬†I’ve see it in myself and countless others here at Ensign. ¬†Good luck hermano. ¬†Let me know if I can help with anything.


Email #3


Worth the wait. Thank you. As you can imagine, I didn‚Äôt wait in taking action on these issues as I have really felt the pain and want to bring relief asap. I am attaching my first attempt at being able to keep myself more organized and structured on a day to day basis. In reading up on time management techniques recently (including re-listening to Monkeys) I determined that I am only going to focus on quadrant I and III with the things that I even allow to get to my list. So I start each day by bringing forward my quadrant I and III from the previous day and new additions. I type in the new items from yesterday and remove items that I accomplished yesterday. I print this out and put it in a binder that I have labeled with days 1-31 so I can track day by day what I‚Äôm accomplishing as well as when something that was supposedly urgent AND important hit my quadrant I and why it is still there. I have a column for assignments/monkeys so I can follow up on assignments I have made as well. I keep this binder open on my desk and hand write in new additions and check off accomplishments. It has been a little slow going since my initial list of Q I and QIII have accumulated for quite some time. I find that I am having much more success making assignments and avoiding ‚ÄúProcrastination‚ÄĚ then I have done in the past. This is not a perfect system, but so far it is really helping me know where I am and where I need to be.

I LOVE the idea of integrating the home/work calendar. My wife uses the Mac and this could help me both at work and at home.

Moleskine: I‚Äôve been using disposable notebooks and transferring the info that I accumulate, but I can see real value in preserving and reviewing from all aspects of life. I think I will find myself incorporating that one as well ‚Äď dig it.¬†

#3 ‚Äď Work in progress still. I relate very much to your statement on this one. Not holding my team accountable is a ‚Äúme thing.‚ÄĚ ¬†I‚Äôm resolved to change ‚Äď some of my team have already commented about a few little things with me. Its encouraging. There will be more pain I think, maybe even some rebellion. I‚Äôm getting kind of excited and looking forward to it ‚Äď that might sound kind of sick, but I‚Äôm ready to take it on and stop running in circles.

Thanks for this ‚Äď I‚Äôll be touching base on it. I‚Äôd love some follow up ‚Äď you can put it on your people to email list for a few weeks/months down the road.

Several takeaways for me from this exchange …

  1. Without humility and vulnerability on the leader’s part, his growth is stunted.

  2. Without a culture that makes it safe to be vulnerable and reach out for help, the leader’s and organization’s growth is stunted.

  3. Self awareness & humility is often the differentiator between those who get second and third chances and those who don’t.

  4. Managing time is impossible.  It marches on no matter what you try.  We can only manage ourselves.  We need to take it seriously and experiment until we find what works with our unique personality.

I hope this helps you get a better grip on how you organize and manage yourself.

Idaho Healthcare Association Annual Meeting

What a great, warm, friendly group! ¬†I love the providers in Idaho. ¬†This was my second time I got to speak to this group. ¬†Last year I spoke on creating a unique culture within your facility/company. ¬†This time it was about the ‘Leading Cause of Death’ of new leaders … monkeys. ¬†It was a fun 60 minutes. ¬†I really enjoy sharing the {monkey business} time management¬†philosophy¬†that completely saved my career. ¬†And, I’m happy to speak to individual companies too.

I’m on my way home from Iowa & Nebraska. ¬†I was there for a couple weeks to assist with the cultural integration of our organization with the acquisition of 9 facilities. ¬†Our approach is not to come in and say ‘you will all be like us and do things the same way.’ ¬†Rather, we empower facility leaders to create their own goals, strategy, and vision. ¬†It was a blast to see lights turn on in their faces as the realization hit them that they are more empowered than they have ever been in their careers.

We talk in terms of the three-legged stool: quality product or service, happy customers & employees, and financial stewardship. ¬†Instead of ‘corporate’ people pulling puppet strings, we empower all of our local leaders to totally own their operation. ¬†These guys will do great!

What I wasn’t prepared for was the staggering amount of corn! ¬†Amazing. ¬†Plus, the flooding of the Missouri River. ¬†Crazy. ¬†Some other great discoveries. ¬†I truly loved the heartland. ¬†Looking forward to coming back soon. ¬†Great people.

Which is more complex?

Which is more complex?

One of the most stubborn paradigms we have to shatter as new leaders is illustrated above. ¬†Which is more complex? ¬†I admit it’s a bit of a trick question. ¬†Almost everyone instinctively picks B. ¬†But A is infinitely more complex.

Here’s what I mean …

With B you see relationships. ¬†You could even possibly infer cause and effect depending on how those dots were organized and labeled. ¬†As new leaders we tend to see the problems we deal with in isolation. ¬†That’s how A is portrayed. ¬†The trouble (and complexity) with A is that you don’t know relationships between dots/issues/problems/ideas/etc. ¬†If you don’t know relationships, particularly cause/effect relationships how can you correctly prioritize and assign resources best?


During my Theory of Constraints and 6 sigma training by Dr. Tony LaTurner I learned a powerful way to visualize the problems or challenges an operation is experiencing.  Take ALL (I mean ALL) the things you wish were different about your operation and write them in short phrases onto index cards.  Then tape them up on a wall in the order of cause and effect with the cause being below the effect.  What is produced is the shape of a tree with the core problem or root cause at the bottom.  The research says that if you solve that core problem 70% of the other UDEs (undesirable effects) will be eliminated or reversed.


So, how are you allocating your resources?  That is essentially what you are paid to do as the Executive Director of a facility or like operation.  How much time do we spend on our most important, least urgent issues as opposed to the urgent, less important/strategic issues that fight for our attention?

What is your core problem? ¬†Chances are that you’re not spending nearly enough time fixing it because all of the¬†undesirable¬†effects of it are drowning you.