How to be thoughtfully ruthless in how you manage your career

Good read from the Globe and Mail written by Harvey Schacher. I like the bullet points and the idea that 50% of scheduled meetings could be cut, and I would add that most of them could be half as long and done electronically.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016 6:00AM EDT

Are you thoughtfully ruthless?

That sounds like an oxymoron but in fact it’s just an unusual juxtaposition of two approaches to management. And Val Wright, a British-born consultant based in Los Angeles, feels from her observation of executives over the years that it’s the key to success.

“Executives who stand out are thoughtfully ruthless about time, energy and resources. If they didn’t manage all three they wouldn’t be as successful,” she says in an interview.

A starting point would be what she calls your “sensibly selfish charter” – the daily commitments you want to make to yourself, be it exercise, long walks with the dog or reading. She suggests your charter should outline what you plan to do every day, week, month and year.

Also list rituals in the following areas: self-maintenance, pampering, friendship, couple, fitness, “me” time, and development. Then consider who you need to tell and whether you need support from them to make it happen.

With respect to time, a key point she hammers home is that you are the barrier. Not somebody else. You are allowing your day to be filled with questionable meetings and trying to help everyone around you without proper consideration to available time. She routinely hears from the executives she counsels about how exhausted they are, taking red-eye flights back to the office for yet another round of back-to-back meetings. “It’s within their power to say no,” she insists.

She still recalls the occasion when, during the back-and-forth of a meeting she was leading, a colleague screaming out: “Shush!” It was a plaintive cry for silence, so the woman could think.

Ms. Wright feels you should add more silence to your life and makes the following recommendations:

  • Book silence sessions into your calendar – during working hours, not just Sunday mornings – and protect them ruthlessly from cancellation.
  • Schedule fake meetings occasionally so you have time to breathe and think. Occasionally cancel meetings with your team and grant them the gift of a few hours of sudden freedom.
  • Create silence sessions in meetings: Don’t be the first to speak, as it may lead you to miss out on what others are thinking. Amazon has a period of silence at the start of each meeting during which people can read documents pertaining to the discussion ahead. The meeting only starts when everybody has finished, allowing those who get through the reading quicker some silent contemplative time.
  • Try silence in the car: Instead of filling yourself with more information from radio or podcasts or initiating a flurry of phone calls, try some quiet time while in transit. Let your mind wander.
  • Start and end every business trip alone: Don’t take the red-eye flight home. Stay over, allowing some time to reflect on your business or immerse yourself in a culture different from your own. Similarly, when leaving allow some quiet time rather than timing it so you arrive at the airport just before takeoff.
  • Ask permission to think for a moment: Like that individual in Ms. Wright’s meeting, ask permission to think. Or grant it. She recalls a leader who would regularly say, “Let’s take a 10-minute break.”
  • Listen to the silence: If you’re not a regular practitioner of meditation or yoga, the silence may seem uncomfortable. Allow yourself to be still and embrace it. Write down the thoughts that come to you.

Control your calendar. She says schedules increasingly resemble a game of Tetris, with everyone double or triple-booked. She believes most organizations can cut 50 per cent of their meetings. And for the remaining meetings, half the people attending can be sliced. So by being thoughtfully ruthless on meetings, you can reduce the number people attending by 75 per cent.

To protect your energy, she recommends divorcing your friends and network if they aren’t inspiring or energizing you. Teenagers cut off friends they tire of and replace them. But as we age, we retain and add, and that just drains energy. “If you don’t want to spend time with people, don’t,” she advises.

The biggest challenge with resources is to build for the future. Imagine what your organization will need from your team two to five years from now. Do the people on hand have those skills? If not, you must be thoughtfully ruthless with them and in choosing newcomers. It’s never good to have a team where everyone is handling the biggest job of their lives. You want some who have done this before.

Be thoughtfully ruthless with your time, energy and resources. It will pay off.

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. E-mail Harvey Schachter

Marcus Cuomo-Another Power Edge Pro Trained Player Making His Mark in the “Q”

Here is a story of another Power Edge Pro trained player who is making his mark in the QMJHL. Marcus has trained with PEP over the last two summers at camps in his hometown of St. John’s , NL. Great kid, exceptional work ethic, who is now thriving in a positive environment with tremendous coaching.




24 OCT 2012 09:44PM

SAINT JOHN, NB – With his mane of long hair resting on his shoulders, Marcus Cuomo would look right at home playing for the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s.

The hard-nosed Newfoundlander would be a ferocious forechecker while playing helmetless with the likes of Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, Bill Barber, Don Saleski and other long-haired heroes with the Broad Street Bullies. Or maybe a ’70s version of Cuomo would play on a line with the Big Bad Bruins, digging the disc out of the corners and feeding Phil Esposito in the slot. Playing with a helmet and visor, however, makes him resemble a young Claude Lemieux or Peter Zezel. And now that Brent Sopel is playing in Russia, Cuomo could compete for the best hockey hair in North America.

But the 5-foot-9, 210-pound forward is not about style – just results. Whether it’s playing back-to-back games or two in three nights, Cuomo’s contributions are a big part of Saint John’s grit level.“I think I’m here in more of a defensive kind of role, especially as a rookie,” the 17-year-old said. “You have to take care of your own end first and then worry about offence later. I try to bring a strong work ethic and a high intensity level.”…

“We’re really happy with Marcus,” Saint John head coach and general manager Mike Kelly said. “He consistently brings energy to the rink and his game doesn’t change. He’s physical and he skates. There are aspects of his game that he needs to focus on, but he never cheats you with a lack of effort.”

That’s due in large part to Cuomo’s idol while growing up, fellow Newfoundland native and Buffalo Sabres forward Luke Adam, whose QMJHL career started with the St. John’s Fog Devils. Cuomo’s father coached Adam prior to that and the future NHLer always had time for kids.“I was always around the rink when he was there, so I admired him,” Cuomo said. “He’s a really nice guy and he’s always willing to help you out, and I think he’s a good role model to follow as an NHLer. We do like our own.”

And the fine folks from ‘The Rock’ are also known for a loyal love of their land… In Cuomo’s case, moving to Saint John didn’t make him miss home. With the Bay of Fundy and Kennebecasis River close by, the son of St. John’s is comfortable in southern New Brunswick.“It’s a good place,” Cuomo said. “It reminds me of Newfoundland – close to the water. It’s nice to be close to home, especially where we don’t have a junior team in Newfoundland.”

Cuomo’s energy on the ice is only matched by his efforts to keep things loose in the locker room. He’s known to quote one-liners from movies, especially those from comedian Will Ferrell. “Come game time, I’m ready to go, but I like to keep the personality there and bring a little Newfie flair to the team,” Cuomo said.

Coming into this season, the Sea Dogs had received a total of 21 games from their seventh-round draft picks. The honour belongs to Scott McDonald, a defenceman from Halifax who played in 2007-08.Then along came Cuomo, a mucker and grinder who’s sure to pass McDonald’s total. And while the former member of the midget AAA St. John’s Privateers was thrilled to be selected in the seventh round last summer by the defending QMJHL champions, he didn’t want to be just another face in training camp. “When you come in as a seventh-round pick, there are not a lot of expectations,” Cuomo said. “There’s not the pressure you have as a first-round pick, so I came in and just worked hard and hoped to turn a few heads. I feel like my work ethic is what got me here and that’s what I’m going to keep using.”

Kelly said that’s the way it has to be. “Everything has to start with a strong work ethic and a strong competitive fire,” the coach said. “After that, you add layers to your game.”