Don't trip over shiny objects

One of the modules I teach in online training courses focuses on shiny objects, the distractions that seem to stop us from being able to achieve what we truly want.

They seem disproportionately large when we first set eyes on them.

A few months ago, my colleague, Andre, and I were in New York for business meetings and visited Times Square.

Times Square embraces a high-tech, old-fashioned concept. Fancy glaring screens shout loudly at you to “buy my product." The challenge would appear to be, we never went to Times Square to buy anything.

Smart marketers know they cannot get your attention easily until you have stated a desire to look for a product. Once they know your desire, they will then present you with messaging and offers in order to speak to your desire.

This is otherwise known as responsive marketing as opposed to interruptive marketing. All the advertisers are hoping you might impulsively purchase something. It is that same impulsiveness we succumb to to get us way off course.

In the same vein, business owners can struggle with shiny objects. More than a few business owners exhibit symptoms of mild ADHD and helping them stay on task can be a real challenge when there is a job to do.

Often, when we have had our heads down for a large amount of time on a project and have invested many hours and money moving it forward, we may lack results. 

It is at the point of no results where we subconsciously start questioning our ability and looking for a shiny object. An object that can distract our attention away from failure, can fill our time with busyness, helping us to feel productive. It is an adult distraction. 

The lost opportunity comes from the fact that at the point where we became distracted we were almost over the hurdle. We all know in some way life is not easy, it takes a tenacity which sometimes seems quite rare to start a new business.

Perhaps it is why not everyone is an entrepreneur. Developing a focus on what is critical is important to you in your life and in your business. 

Now, you might be hearing all this advice from the Shiny Object King — at least until almost a year ago.

Since the election, Donald Trump has shown himself to be the master of distraction. Instead of focusing on the job at hand, he takes to Twitter to start a war with anyone who dares to respond or stand up to his ego.

There is no doubt Trump, somewhere, has some skills that helped him succeed, but since election day, he has not exhibited what it takes to lead a country, focus on critical tasks and plan strategically for success. 

Perhaps he spends too much time in Times Square or on late night TV, or Twitter. Who knows?


Don't drive like Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel: a bad example for all drivers

The classic North American driving position of the left wrist draped over the top of the wheel with a limp hand in front and then the right arm over the passenger headrest is the absolute worst position to drive in.

Yet, every time a new Vin Diesel driving movie comes out, there it is again. The most dangerous, inattentive position you could imagine. 

Next time you are at a race track or rally competition, check how the drivers are seated and holding the wheel and perhaps take some notes.

Last week, on a trip to Kelowna from Kaslo, a deer ran out into the front of my car while I was going 100 km/h. The first thing that alerted me to the deer was a massive thud as it hit the front of my car.

I never saw anything and certainly never had time to brake. Had I been in that very lazy, all too common driving position, something else may have happened.

Thankfully, as a rally driver and advanced driving instructor, I always have two hands on the wheel. 

The car was driving straight afterward, but I pulled over to check nonetheless. I had already put my hazard flashers on as soon as I heard the bang to alert traffic behind me.

I stepped out of the car, closed the door and watched as my car automatically locked me out. I was on a cold, high pass, in the middle of nowhere. My coolant had drained, but my diesel engine was still running and I did not want it to seize.

I pulled body work off the front in a frenzy to get the hood up. Thankfully a passerby, Riley, stopped and helped me open the hood.

He kindly left to call a tow truck while I pulled various fuses hoping that one would be the diesel pump. My glasses, warm clothing, wallet and cellphone were all locked in the car. 

The rest of the evening was uneventful, but certainly the incident could have been much worse if I had not been alert at the wheel.

Sadly, this bad driving habit is not restricted to the public.

Emergency services personnel are also taught to drive with two hands on the wheel — one at 3 o'clock and the other at 9 o'clock. Yet, in the past three weeks I have seen three emergency services vehicles being driven one handed - just the same way Vin Diesel does.

One fire truck on Water Street in Kelowna had the driver sunning his left arm out the window while he was driving with the sirens on.

Winter is coming and with the icy and slippy roads comes errant vehicles that are out of control and encroaching on our lane. Better to be aware and able to correct than be in the ditch waiting for a tow.

Time to get a snowflake

It is this weekend where we need to think about keeping our car on the road?

On Monday, you are required to have a snowflake logo on your tires to traverse high passes in B.C.

What does that mean? Well, frankly it leaves a lot to the consumer, which is why this weekend you want to think about what you put on your car.

First of all and most important, the right compound with less tread will typically look after you better than a brand new tire with the wrong compound.

That situation occurs from the fact that tires are inherently a conflict. 

There is such a conflict that when I am racing the rally car, we often take four sets of completely different tires to an event, because one set cannot be all tires to all situations.

We are barely able to convince people to switch over from summer to winter use tires, so there is no way we can practically keep four sets of tires for varying weather.

This weekend is pretty clear and simple in terms of decision making.

Don’t rely on your all seasons to get you through the winter. For tires to provide grip, the compound needs to be at a temperature that allows it to function. All-season tires will not function very well before we even get to negative digits on the thermometer.

Winters on the other hand have a much softer compound that will work even to extremely low temperatures. 

What are we facing ahead? Typically, we will be plagued with black ice in the early winter through to the snow season with the exception of high passes.

If that is the case, it would make sense to choose an Ice tire. Something like a Bridgestone Blizzak. 

With that being said, that is not always the best tire later in the year when we need a much more open tread to clear snow and dig in to what can be a compact layer of snow — more akin to perhaps a Hankook iPike.

The iPike doesn’t do quite as well on ice, but you can add studs to improve performance. 

So what is the best solution? You need to analyze the type of driving you expect to do and select the best compromise.

More ice, go to a tire with lots os siping, which will help with the temperature of the compound and the surface area on the ice.

If more snow, go with an open tread pattern to clear snow from your tires.

For sure, do not think that your “all seasons” will get you through this winter; you will be a danger to other drivers as well as yourself.

Remember that winter requires us to make sure our vehicle is in top shape mechanically, that we have safety gear for an overnight in a remote area if necessary and that we drive according to the conditions.

Slow down!

Stay safe.


Facts not factual

Polarized opinions and alternative facts

With a veritable war of words going on across the Pacific, Donald Trump is covfefe'd while North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un thinks he is a dotard.

What does all this mean?

Who knows, but the world we live in is populated by 140 character news clips that, in the words of the co-founder of Twitter, are making the world dumber.

Memes are doing the same in my mind and even articles that are biased and offer only polarized opinion. 

On more than one occasion in the past few weeks, I have seen articles and memes representing the business side of the tax change debate that I have to admit appear inaccurate and misleading to me. 

In more than a few instances, I heard that entrepreneurs do not get access to maternity benefits, for example.
A blanket statement like that is pretty persuasive.

“ENTREPRENEURS DO NOT GET ACCESS TO MATERNITY BENEFITS” is how you hear the polarized opinion.

Now, I am absolutely not a fan of the proposed tax changes. I think they are pre-historic and lack all semblance of balance in the society we live in.

Frankly, it is nothing but another tax grab to fund a poorly managed organization by the Liberals that are stacking debt on top of debt.

With that being said, I think we should also portray a balanced argument. It starts with defining who the entrepreneur is.

An entrepreneur can be:

  • a sole proprietor
  • owner of a small limited company or a partnership
  • the managing partner in a joint venture
  • a major shareholder in a large limited corporation. 

That does not apply to most of the classes of entrepreneurs I have listed. The owner of a limited corporation, as small as it may be will actually be employed by that corporation and will, in fact, get access to maternity benefits.

A few will not, but most will.

Similarly “ENTREPRENEURS DO NOT GET A PENSION” - that is because they put life in their own hands.

I would think with a Liberal government mismanaging the fiscal house that would be a distinct positive. However, it is not true again.

The entrepreneur who owns a small corporation, will, as a salaried employee of their corporation, be paying CPP and so they are paying into a system that will give them a state backed pension at the end of the day.

You get my point? 

There is no reason to give you a whole list of inaccuracies. The question I ask is, why do we polarize the debate.

I guess it is human nature. Is it a lack of debating ability? Is it the Donald Trump syndrome of bullying people into submission with alternative facts? 

I am not sure, but frankly this discussion is about poorly researched tax management at the federal level and jamming a badly written law through that is supposed to make us believe they are supporting the middle class, when this bill is aimed squarely at the middle class.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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