02 Nov 2009

NaNoWriMo Time Again!

Here it is again — a chance to put a huge community of creators behind you pushing, pulling, and applauding you on!

What other benefits are people getting? A new or improved habit of producing content every day. The split between writing and editing (November is writing, editing commences no sooner than December 1st!). The beginnings of a novel (duh!) that could be the difference between being simple you and author you!

What is the first step? Public declaration!
Go to your facebook, myspace, blog, or bulletin board near the water cooler and announce your intent. You will be surprised at how much support you’ll get. What about those energy vampires who want to push themselves up by pushing you down? Turn it around and allow those comments to encourage you to write more. Remember, it is sheer quantity — not quality — and no-one can judge beyond word count!

Any other excuses? Oh yeah. “I don’t want to start because I might not finish.” Take the 50k words “destination goal” and turn it into a personal “process goal” where you are more concerned with writing something daily and/or writing more each day than you did the day before.

Post any other excuses below and I’ll help reframe them so you can start NaNoWriMo’ing today!

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 12:52 AM   No Comments Yet »
10 Oct 2009

Pacing and Feeding?

As I mentioned in the 54321 post, pacing and leading is a method for connecting with someone and then gently influencing their path. We do it all the time, whether we realize it or not!

My son is just learning to feed himself and while my wife is generous with handing him utensils and dealing with the carnage I am more reserved in this area. (Maybe I’m too antsy about the boy stabbing the table with his fork, maybe I’m rarely ambitious enough to encourage activities that lead to the full cleanup that oatmeal and honey smeared in the hair requires.)

So, I tend to keep control of the spoon and bowl and expect him to “baby bird” for a mouthful. Almost every time he closes his mouth on the spoon I notice that I’d been holding my mouth open just like him. Pacing at it’s finest.

Here’s the tricky question: who is pacing and leading whom? Am I opening my mouth because I am encouraging him to do so (which is the story I tell myself) or am I opening my mouth in response to him opening first?

Vote below and maybe I’ll take a video and we can analyze who opens first!

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 11:43 PM   No Comments Yet »
06 Oct 2009

Context, Kettlebells, and The Biggest Loser

My wife (and 4 year old daughter) love to watch The Biggest Loser. I am vaguely interested late in the season when the character transformations are really taking hold in the people I consider the “real winners” (independent of pounds lost). Until then all I get are post-hypnotic suggestions to eat. (Tonight it was ice cream when it aired and sandwiches at 10:30pm when my wife re-watched the end!)

My wife knows that I love kettlebell training so she has mentioned that they’ve used ‘bells on Biggest Loser. Now, I have never been a gym rat but kettlebell training has been the only form of strength training that I have ever stuck with beyond the learning stage. (I’ve got Heidi and Zar at Firebellz to thank for getting my momentum working out and a solid foundation in technique!) Meanwhile, back at the ranch, reality TV demonstrates less than stellar form while using ‘bells.

Normally I would shrug it off as the effects of media on the “real world” except that one of my friends, who is a new RKC (kettlebell trainer), has been venting every Tuesday night about how horrid Jillian’s kettlebell swings are, etc. Again, I agree that it shines a poor light on kettlebell training, but it wouldn’t typically stick with me for any length of time.

Enter another facebook friend who posts this evening “Tip: online trainers that mock the biggest loser or the trainers. You’re not advancing yourself/name, you just look stupid.” Ironically, I “liked” this just after “liking” the first friend’s post (“you want to see how NOT to train?  watch the Biggest Loser tonight”).

Now, it got me thinking about eating nutritious foods. Not the usual “I should eat more healthy food” that I hear from friends. No, I started thinking about my friend Scott Tousignant’s claim that it is cheaper to eat good food than not. My initial reaction was “BS!” — until I read more of what he was saying. He was taking people from eating fast food continually to cooking some lean foods at home. Okay, I concede that eating at home is less expensive than eating out while also being more health conscious. My reaction was going from cooking our primarily vegetarian meals to minimizing processed flours and sugars, eliminating high fructose corn syrup, using produce grown without pesticides, and getting fresh foods as straight from the farm as possible. From my starting point I called BS because getting organic foods at the grocery store is much more expensive than the chemical coated stuff. We both were correct, we just each had different starting points!

I believe The Biggest Loser is similar. Taking people from “remote control curls” to finding out how far they can push their bodies in the gym is a huge accomplishment (especially the ones that manage to do it without whining!). Taking 250-450lb people and getting strength training equipment in their hands is a good start.

That does not mean the people who are wanting to lose 20lbs are going to find Biggest Loser useful. These are people who need to learn safe, solid techniques so they can have an intense workout and be able to go to work the next day. (And sure, we can understand the trainer having issue with someone misusing their tool of choice. And it doesn’t help that it’s a public figure who is marketing a branded version of that tool. However, you don’t see Bob Vila getting upset over someone misusing a hammer. But that’s an argument for another day.)

What this is really about is knowing the context in which each of these behaviors is most appropriate. When you tie in knowing where you are now (present state/context) and knowing where you want to be (your desired state/context) then you can make informed decisions.

Where do you stand on The Biggest Loser? Share below.

P.S. You’ve got to love the opportunity we are given to analyze the changes in contestants’ language patterns as they progress in their journey. Or am I the only one tracking that?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 10:58 PM   No Comments Yet »
30 Sep 2009

54321 — Get More Done

I am a collector of information. I consume texts and audios and videos. And occasionally from all that input comes some completed output. More commonly all that info goes in and I synthesize and summarize it for my own joy of learning with no external evidence of having ”learned” anything.

This input without output goes against my own KAB model of learning. Theknowledge may be going in, some new awareness may be developing, but without the behavioral change true learning has not occured.

This week I recognized a new application for a tool/concept I’ve had access to indefinitely. The concept is called Pacing and Leading. The tool is a slight twist on the 54321 technique.

Pacing is like meeting someone else where they are at and walking with them. Leading is taking small steps to influence the destination while the other person follows. The first is a way of building rapport where the second is a way of using that rapport.

The 54321 technique was originally used by Betty Erickson as a way of shifting her focus from external to internal. This version of the 54321 technique is a way of applying pacing and leading to interactions with yourself (rather than with others) in order to shift your focus from internal to external. Effectively a person can pace their previous pattern of input then lead themselves to produce more output.

During your 5 (or 6) day work week you follow this progression:

5 input, 0 output
4 input, 1 output
3 input, 2 output
2 input, 3 output
1 input, 4 output
0 input, 5 output

The idea is to pace your current lack of output and lead to more productive behaviors. The units are up to you. If you need to start by working with indivdual tasks do that. As you get into this pattern you can work in blocks, 5 minutes or 10 minutes to start. So, mid-week you might spend 15 minutes (3*5min) on ”input” tasks and 10 minutes (2*5min) on ”output” tasks. Continue to increase the units as necessary or start later in the sequence (3I-2O or 2I-3O). You’ll soon find what increments work well for your personal work style.

What are ”input” tasks? Anything that does not produce useful work as a result. Research/reading, planning, and chatting with people are the big time consumers for me. Other people have similar lists that may include customer service, games/sports, or socializing around a particular beverage. There is no judgement on the value of these behaviors beyond the measurable output — or lack thereof.

”Output” tasks are those that produce a measureable result. My primary output tasks are writing, recording presentations, and building web sites. I know other people’s lists include producing widgets, generating TPS reports, or digging ditches. Again, no judgement of the value of the behavior, just the measurable results.

Some people make a list all the tasks that they do in a given week and identify tasks as input vs output. Once the habit of producing more output has been established the focus can shift to what output tasks produce the most *useful* output, but that is a post for another day.

My mission (and yours, should you choose to accept it) is to increase output over the next four weeks. I am starting with this 54321 method and will add more ideas here as I implement them.

Before you head off to build your new habit of producing more output — start right now and leave a comment below letting me know you’ve accepted this mission and a tip or trick you may currently use to shift from input to output modes.

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 4:00 PM   No Comments Yet »
12 Aug 2009

Think, Write & Retire Book Prompt

Quick note prompted by my friend Dr.Mani’s new book Think, Write & Retire launching August 25th.

Today’s prompt was to answer “What three areas would you most like to create an information business around — and why?”

Practicing my speed composition and building off of the “three” I am lead to answer with mind, body, and spirit. Literally, mind|NLP and coaching, body|kettlebells and tai chi, and spirit|Jesus as marketer.

The why is just as easy. Each of these areas are ones where I have some amount of talent and expertise while at the same time having plenty of room (and desire) to grow. Taking my coaching, kettlebell, or exegetical analysis skills beyond their current nascent state while also sharing my current and future knowledge immediately resounds with my teaching and learning nature.

How quickly can you answer the prompt? Please share in the comments below.
(And if you struggle with the answer you’ll want to get a copy of Dr.Mani’s book. If you pick one up today then be sure to get a copy of Aug. 25 — give the book to that person that comes to mind who really could use it and get Dr.Mani’s bonuses for yourself while helping push his book up the charts! Gotta love a win-win-win, especially when it costs under $20.)

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 11:56 PM   No Comments Yet »
21 May 2009

Stop Waiting for Your Ideal Life

Do something.

This is important enough for your future that I need to shout it.


No, it doesn’t matter what you do at first. The mere fact that
you’ve taken action and started moving is the important thing.
Once you’re moving then you can adjust where you’re headed.
Yes, that may be contrary to what other people have told you.
Focused action is important, but if you aren’t taking any action
then focusing isn’t the issue.

Today’s message is about breaking free of whatever is keeping
you stuck. Too many people focus on “doing things right” and
never get around to doing anything let alone doing the “right

I don’t know whether your first action needs to be …

  • Setting your goals and making a plan.
  • Or maybe you have a goal and are just having trouble staying on task and being productive.
  • Or maybe you work better when you’ve fully committed and invested enough that you have to make it work.
  • Or maybe you need to change the conversation going on in your head and the way you interact with other people.
  • Or maybe you just don’t know what the steps need to be to get where you want to go.

Only you know what needs to happen.
Or maybe you don’t — and that’s why you’re still stuck.

So here is my suggestion:

Invest in something. It is amazing the difference it makes in commitment when you are investing “skin in the game.” Most people devalue information that they get for free. However, investing thousands of dollars has a way of prompting action and with a wise investment you’ll also be learning more “right” actions.

Do you know who you want to be? What you want to do? What you want to have in your ideal life?  And do you have a plan laid out for getting that ideal life? Walking through the Six Steps for Change process will allow you to answer these questions.

And what about communicating? All that junk that happens in your head and all that junk you let happen in conversation can go away. All it takes is some specialized knowledge. If you want to improve your communications sign up on the right to be in the know when my latest project comes to fruition. I’ll make it worth your time. I promise.

Whatever your situation and goals you need to take action now. I recommend taking some action, investing in your ideal life, then hanging on for the wild ride! What will you create with your actions today?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 2:24 PM   1 Comment »
02 Apr 2009

Contests – External Motivation at Its Finest

As you may know I’m a huge fan of National Novel Writing Month (November is NaNoWriMo to those in the know!). What I only recently discovered is that April has similar contests for two other genres: April Poem-a-Day Challenge and Script Frenzy . While I am not participating in either of those this year I have decided to play along with the 100 Articles in 100 Days Marathon that runs through the end of June. The bulk of my writing lately has been dissertation related so doing the hundred articles will be a nice daily break before diving back into my dissertation.

One of the reasons I love these sorts of events is that they provide that bump in the form of external motivation that some of us use to gain momentum. I also love that it allows that daily habit to be built up. It has been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Since most of these contests are a month long even if you drag your feet the first few days you can still get that habit built within the month.

The other aspect of these contests that I love is that it is also a support system. The combination of community, accountability, and collective hive-mind gives multiple aspects of support that are each important.

Community: By bringing together other like minded people we have a chance to embrace our more-or-less anti-social behavior in a way that shows we are not alone.  There is also the "power" (for lack of a better word) that comes from knowing other people are working along side you and pushing just as hard as you are even if you can’t see them. It’s one main reason I go to the gym rather than throw kettlebells at home.

Accountability: The other reason I go to the gym is that I have to look the trainer in the eye and have some response when they push me beyond my comfort zone and help me do things I never knew were possible. However I choose to respond I have the other person there to encourage or call B.S. on me. That is how I use accountability. The other reason for accountability is to keep track of what you have or have not done. For a great script check out Donna Fox’s post on accountability in 5 minutes a day (it leverages emotion better than any other plan I’ve seen). If you feel your life is too random for such scheduled daily check-ins and you’re more interested in periods of intense productivity then check out Stever Robbins’s "Action Day " model.

Hive-Mind: Pooling resources in these contests creates a new entity in the form of a mailing list, a forum, a wiki, or whatever technology is chosen. Napoleon Hill might call this a "mastermind". Others might call it a "collective". I just call it cool. When I picutre the hive-mind I see beyond any neophytes leeching off of veterans. The veterans get the joy of sharing their experiences and expertise. Everyone benefits from the new perspectives. There is also the clarity of thought that comes from the process of asking or answering questions. Last, but not least, there is the facility that comes from "focusing on the basics" — which all skill levels will do well to be reminded.

No matter what your "genre" I suggest getting involved with an event like these. And if you can’t find one create one yourself! All it takes is a decisive declaration and a bit of publicity to recruit more people. I’m sure that’s how they started 48 hour film projects.

Which event sounds best to you? Which of the benefits?
What are you using to gain momentum?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 12:12 AM   1 Comment »
16 Feb 2009

Rituals versus Routines

I mentioned that I was putting effort into a new morning routine lately and someone asked what it involved. Considering that I have not historically functioned well in the morning the first step is merely consciousness earlier in the day.

I was reminded that I had put together a blueprint for an average "ideal" day. (When I wrote this a few months ago the kids were not sleeping well through the nights so it quickly felt more like fiction than anything attainable at the time.)

As I prepared to post this I realized that part of my previous struggles with establishing a routine or a schedule is that it felt so constraining and rigid — which is antipathetic to how I live and work.

The distinction I’d like to introduce is that of ritual rather than routine. For me the idea of a ritual brings up a quick flash of OCD quickly replaced by those sequences typically associated with mysticism. Whatever your particular beliefs they almost certainly include a set of prescribed actions that prepare you to receive miracles or epiphanies. I don’t know about you, but that really energizes me — by performing these rituals in my daily life I am inviting and preparing space for things bigger than myself! Of course, this all starts with regular sleep as a foundation on which the rest of my day, and therefore my lfie, is built.

What rituals do you have in your life that lead to things bigger than yourself?
What routines do you perform now that could be turned into rituals by a quick shift of intent?
What miracles and epiphanies can you imagine coming from these rituals?

With that in mind, here is my draft of an ideal work day.

Ultimate Scenario | Personal Ritual(s)

0600 wake, water in/out, "on ramp"
0610 8 brocades, reeling silk, breathing, stances
0625 kettlebell heavy swings, snatches
0640 water, crudus, vitamins, shower

0700 review editorial calendar, create content piece
0720 review daily/weekly calendar, MIT, Big Rocks
0725 "off ramp"

0745 kids up, ablutions, dressed, play
0815 family worship
0830 leave house (plow, etc)

0930 at desk writing
1120 water in/out, kb GTG snatches
1130 email, voicemail

1230 at desk writing or in lab
1400 water in/out, kb GTG clean/press
1410 at desk writing or in lab
1545 water in/out, walkabout

1630 email, voicemail
1730 head home

1830 family time
2000 pickup, put away w/kids
2010 kids bedtime ritual
2050 pickup, put away
2100 dinner
2200 read, review, revise calendars/tasks

2300 review calendars, tasks, prep (food, etc) for tomorrow
2320 wind down
2330 in bed, inducing sleep

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 3:00 PM   No Comments Yet »
01 Nov 2008

NaNoWriMo in 20 Minutes a Day

One interesting thing about NaNoWriMo is that it is the embodiment of a common technique — separating creation from editing. There is very little room for editing if you are going to generate a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The emphasis here is on quantity with the explicit removal of any expectations for quality. (If you are thinking quality while writing you are doomed. If you are thinking while writing you’re pretty much doomed. This is one place where the myth of writers block comes from.)

This 50k task translates into 2000 words per day assuming you work six days and rest on the seventh (there are exactly 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays in November 2008 so whether you choose the Sabbath as originally observed or the Pope’s sabbath you’re covered).  The funny thing is that if you approach it as writing 2000 words per day it is much less daunting. As an added bonus it will also develop a habit that you can maintain for the rest of your life. [Why choose that habit? In MJ’s Bestseller Blueprint he interviews an author who has produced nearly a hundred books with, you guessed it, 2000 words per day!]

Let’s go really extremist! (Will power and self control are highly over rated.) How can we enforce that separation of creation and editing? I have done this by typing on a manual typewriter. While fun, this did not feel very environmentally friendly, especially when it would take a ream of paper per draft! So being a geek I considered writing a program that did not let me edit while writing. Then the first of the programmer’s virtues (laziness, impatience, and hubris) kicked in.

What about not typing it in the first place!

So I asked myself “Self, how do we communicate that does not allow any editing?”

How about talking? There is no way to edit the words coming out of our mouths (as often as we would like there to be!). And as a bonus most people can talk faster than they type. Then we just need to get what we talk into a form we can edit later.  That sounds a lot like dictation or transcription. Getting your voice transcribed lets you paste together all the text to get your word count for NaNoWriMo and it lets you edit it (after November 30).

So now we need someone to follow us around and type up our every word. Sounds convenient, right?

Fortunately we live in a wonderful age and there are tons of ways to record your voice and at least as many places to get audio transcribed. If you have access to a phone I suggest using a service such as Drop.io where you call a specific number and leave your message straight into an MP3 in your “drop”. Then you can use a service like PodClerk to have the audio transcribed. The upside is that you can automate the whole thing so when you call you automagically get your transcripts the next day. The downside to this method is that PodClerk costs $0.75 per minute to transcribe. While this is one of the cheapest transcription rates I’ve seen it can add up quickly if you are using this method extensively. 50,000 words spoken at about 100 words per minute means 500 minutes which would overflow a free drop (if you kept all the audio files) and would cost you $375 just for November/NaNoWriMo!

The alternative that I recommend is a service called CopyTalk. CopyTalk gives you a phone number and pin like Drop.io, but rather than just storing an unlimited length recording CopyTalk lets you leave up to 4 minutes of message at a time (limit 5 per call) and emails you the transcripts of each of those 4 minute messages. Back to our 2000 words per day spoken at 100 words per minute means you need to talk for about 20 minutes a day to hit your NaNoWriMo goal. Coincidentally that means it could be done in a single call to CopyTalk (4 min/mesg * 5 mesg/call = 20 min/call). Did I mention that CopyTalk costs about $50-80 per month for unlimited messages?! The folks there do expect that their users are business people leaving memos or notes. If you are approaching your book as a business (which you should) and you are taking notes about each point in your outline (you do have an outline, right?) then this poses no problems. I have found that certain technical terms are best skipped or given a euphemism. (In one message I mentioned “die-in-package” and got “Diane ???” back.) One solution is as simple as using an abbreviation, ie QP instead of quilt packaging or DIP instead of die-in-package.

With a solid outline, a little ingenuity, and a few added constraints NaNoWriMo can be as simple as 20-30 minutes a day of “writing”.

What extreme measures do you need to take to hit your goals — NaNoWriMo or otherwise?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 10:03 PM   2 Comments »
28 Oct 2008

The Age is Upon Us Once Again

‘Tis a very literate season.

My first co-authored book is being released for sale tomorrow morning at 8:00am.

Go check it out at Lulu.com and support Variety The Children’s Charity by making your purchase.

Which do you prefer: 200+ co-authors each writing 400 words or one author writing 50,000 words?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan at 10:44 PM   2 Comments »