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March 2010

Defining moments

Capitol washington dc Today will be a defining moment for our nation and for small business.  Tonight the House will undertake one of the biggest votes in the history of our country.  They will vote on a health care bill that is over 2,000 pages long.  It is also likely that no one voting on it has read it in full. 

Representatives will negotiate and horse trade up to the last second.  Some will give their yes vote for promises backed by executive orders, others will trade their votes for deals that benefit only their constituents, others will vote the party line and some will actually vote their consciences. They will vote on a bill that currently is estimated to cost almost a trillion dollars.  Let's be honest, the number will surely grow from there and in the end will cost significantly more.  Who is going to pay for it?

As business owners, we all agree that rising health care costs are killing us and something needs to be done.  As American's we all agree that some type of reform is needed.  So the question becomes, is this the right reform?  Health care reform should not increase the cost of doing business, it should lower costs.  Will this bill do that?  Many experts don't think so, but time will tell.  Agree or disagree we will surely look back on today as a defining moment.  Let's hope the moment is positive and it doesn't negatively impact our ability to be successful business men and women going forward.  Only time will tell.


The Checklist Manifesto - How to Get Things Done Right

Admittedly, I read lots of books.  And those of you that know me can attest to the fact that I have a ChecklistManifestovery bad habit of collecting books.  Collecting to the point of having a minor library everywhere I tend to spend time.  That wouldn't just be one library, no that would be too simple.  Instead I have three.  One at my "work cave" at home, one at my business office in Alden and still another at my office at the university. 

That being said, I don't often get overly excited about another new business book.  The vast majority are the same principles presented in a slightly different matter.  The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is a rare exception.  This is a must read book in my opinion. 

I picked it up on a friends recommendation and couldn't put it down.  It is written by a surgeon and traces the history of checklists and their ability to prevent failure by helping us to catch the mental flaws that we all experience.  Explore how checklists help improve processes in everything from airplanes to operating room procedures.  An easy and inspiring read.  Enjoy!


Senseless distractions - Focusing on what is important

DartboartcloseupHow often are we distracted by troubles or the thought of troubles that are totally beyond our control?  Only a very few business owners have the discipline to consistently focus on those few things that can make a difference in moving them forward.  We are constantly inundated with "troubles".  The economy is bad, our elected officials don't get it, the weather is horrible...you name it, the list of distractions that are beyond our control is endless.  These "beyond our control" distractions often paralyze even the best entrepreneur.  True success is found when we are able to put these items out of our mind and instead focus on the areas that we can control.  Things like hiring the best people, identifying profitable market segments, differentiating our product or service and  having a solid strategy to move our business forward are really the important things that we need to spend our time on.  Success lies in focusing on what is important, NOT on "troubles" outside our control.  Calvin Coolidge once said..."If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you."  Don't get caught up in the distractions...focus on what you can control and you will be well on you way to both business and personal success.