Jun 122022
 
All-in and Nothing to Lose: Risk, Commitment, and Home Runs

I have a habit of looking up people on Wikipedia while watching TV and reading their story. This includes actors, directors, producers, guests, politicians — nearly anyone who pops up on screen and strikes a chord. Over the years, I’ve found a trend that repeats all too often: little to lose. People with little or nothing to lose seem more willing to take risks and embrace opportunities with all-in 100% conviction and commitment than those with a lot of options [more…]

May 222022
 
Do you give yourself time and space to think?

It’s a busy busy life. Even when we are not busy with work, we tend to be rushing to a game, picking someone up, running an errand, or adding to our never-ending pile of stuff. When I take a full hour to sip my french roast — without looking at email, texts, Instagram, or the news — before getting started in the tornado of the day, my outlook changes for the better. I have time to think without the torrent [more…]

Apr 022022
 
Write down what are you looking forward to… asap!

COVID stole a great slice of our future outlook. We all had plans and goals and ambitions in 2019. COVID took the wind out of our sails. It’s hard to reboot once your habits change. We talk about vacations with qualifying statements like “depending on COVID surges” at the end of every idea. The same is true for career goals, personal missions, and shared family visions too. If you don’t have targets, not only will you not get there, you [more…]

Mar 302022
 
Simplification is More Important than Expertise

For every two hundred experts I meet in the information technology space, I’m lucky to meet one great simplifier, one great illuminator of the truth and what matters. This ratio must change, because people are getting absolutely overwhelmed with data and information, a tidal wave on an exponentially accelerating growth path. A simple thought for you: You can create and enjoy a great career for yourself if you decide to be the great simplifier, the one who shows people what [more…]

Feb 042022
 
COVID Two Years In - Where's the Data?

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, I observed that one of the silver linings is that the world would learn how to better handle a global pandemic. As sad and painful the number of unexpected deaths are, the world got some game-time practice with a virus that is not nearly as lethal as Ebola. What is completely unexpected, however, is the lack of public data access. Where is the app? An app where I can ask a simple human [more…]

Jan 162022
 
How to Quickly Improve Your Powerpoint Presentation: the Sakalas-Seven Checklist

If you have the time, every presentation, every topic, can be fine-tuned into a compelling, captivating, and concise masterpiece. Here is a quick link (Killer Recipe for Compelling and Captivating Presentations) to help you create your masterpiece. But that is not what this post is all about. More often than not, we have painfully little time before we must present to an audience. The world of distractions conspires to keep us juggling and fighting little fires, only to find ourselves [more…]

Oct 222021
 
What Would You Do If Money was Not a Concern?

Too many people work at a job that doesn’t fire them up. Too many people dread Mondays, love Fridays. Too many people stick to daily toil without modifying anything, trading their best daily hours simply in exchange for money which keeps their world afloat. Then, sooner than most people realize, a job vaporizes or retirement arrives. I’m not a believer in retirement as mentioned previously, so let’s just call it ‘the next chapter’ in your life. It is up to [more…]

Jul 162021
 
Are you Really a Life-Long Student?

Many aspects of life work against us living large. It is all too easy to get stuck in a rut, taking the same road to work each day, fighting the same traffic, doing the same thing day in and day out, listening to the same problems, hanging out with the same friends with all their worries and petty grievances, paying the same bills. Many people find themselves in life’s quicksand, getting the same results and facing the same outlook next [more…]

Jun 082021
 
Three Impactful Life Hacks for a College Graduate

Life moves fast after you graduate. Many become so busy that they feel like are no longer steering their own lives. They find that their “prime” time vaporizes like a rain shower hitting the sunbaked Texas interstate on an August afternoon. A college graduate recently asked me for three life-hacks that could really help him in the real world, three habits that I wished I had developed over the last decades, three disciplines that I’m 100% certain would have made [more…]

Jun 032021
 
Do You Want to Influence Someone?

We all want to make an impact. We all want to not only be heard, but we want to influence people to see things our way, to do things that we would like them to do. Scientists, in a number of independent studies, have come to the conclusion that more than 80% of people follow a very predictable pattern of positivity, energy, and attention. Four out of five people are more receptive and optimistic during the morning, turning far more [more…]

May 272021
 
A Convenient Mirage: Income Inequality

Almost every news agency, almost every professor, almost every politician, and every Bernie supporter declares in no uncertain terms that income inequality in America is worse than it has ever been and it is getting much worse each year in recent decades. The rich are getting richer and it is an absolute travesty: the hidden message is that capitalism is bad and socialism should be seriously considered. I have argued that the wise question everything, but on the topic of [more…]

Apr 022021
 
Hidden Benefits and Silver Linings of Covid

If there is one good thing that will come out of Covid, it’s that we recognize the need to use our time wisely, to make the most of each day. Before Covid, we often heard someone say ‘just wasting time…’ when asked what they are doing right now. I now understand, more than ever before, that each day is precious, each hour is precious, and making the most of moments matters. I’ve argued in past articles about how important it [more…]

Mar 172021
 
Win the Battle with your Procrastination Dragon

Many of the most successful people focus and make progress, a first down, on their #1 top priority goal each and every week. There is an underlying dragon hiding in the back of our minds that tries to sabotage this all important life habit: Almost everyone struggles with procrastination. If a person learns the right disciplines and builds the habits to overcome procrastination, his or her chances of escaping average skyrocket. Understanding this dragon and how it is becoming stronger [more…]

Mar 142021
 
Find Mistakes Quickly - An Easy Hack

Most of us write emails on a daily basis. Some of us write more lasting stuff, such as project briefs, white papers, blog posts, and even books. The more we write, the harder it becomes to spot tiny mistakes such as using a properly spelled word like “in” when it should have been “is” within the sentence. I have discovered an easy-to-use hack that makes short work of finding 95% of your mistakes. Simply take your text and copy / [more…]

Feb 172021
 
Technology, Quicksand, and Cicero

In a knowledge-based society, in knowledge-based work, effective communication is paramount to success. I work within the enterprise software business where concepts, technology, ideas, architecture, and roadmaps are my world 24 / 7, 365 days each year. Not only is it crucial to communicate with clarity, it is important that the communication is remarkable and memorable. If you have what felt like a great meeting, but people don’t remember the key ideas one week later, your efforts have failed and [more…]

Jan 132021
 
SAKALAS 13: Recalibrate your Focus and Efforts @ Work

If you work in a large knowledge-work corporation, your life is often complex, the cloud of internal politics never dissipates, and there is always more to do than time in the day. Over the years, I have found that quotes can really help you think through the clutter and make better decisions. This is not an all encompassing list, but reviewing this baker’s dozen of quotes once each month helps recalibrate your efforts and focus on what matters. When in [more…]

Dec 142020
 
Tell a Story, Don't Just Present the Facts

Every topic worth discussing, deserves a good story. Yet, usually, in the world of business, most people just present the facts, the what something is, the what it does, and the how it does it. When I ask the presenter why, he or she often says that its hard to come up with a relevant story and the story is not that important anyway. Nothing can be further from the truth. Imagine that you are a product manager who has [more…]

Nov 132020
 
Your Expectations Determine Your Destiny

We alone determine our own expectations. They often seem harmless, a simple and mostly inconsequential guess at the future, most often a short-term future. They are not harmless. Expectations are incredibly important, more crucial than anyone talks about. They matter, not only in small personal ways but also in organization defining, championship winning, even life-and-death ways. Imagine you are going to see a movie tonight. You have seen the teaser previews and it looks pretty good. You text your friend [more…]

Oct 192020
 
Killer Recipe for Compelling and Captivating Presentations

Many of us have jobs where we “sell” our ideas to others, even though lots of people are not in professional sales per se. Everyone has to sell, even if you are just selling ideas to your teammates, your boss, your kids, or the really big boss, your spouse. The better you become at being persuasive, the more likely you are to make a positive impact, to be memorable, to help others, and, if the planets align, to advance to [more…]

Oct 052020
 
Creativity, Initiative, and the Quest for Greatness

I have often talked about looking for, and then embracing prudent risks. I truly believe making the right decision when faced with risk separates winning and losing, but my observations have not often enough addressed the need for creativity. An important difference between good success and great success is found in taking the initiative and creating something novel and exciting. This plays out at every level, from advancing quickly as an employee to starting a new company to creating new [more…]