Work While You Sleep

Dave Ramsey is a very successful person. He is a writer, speaker and a radio show host. His books are best sellers. His radio show is heard on more than 500 stations in USA and Canada. He focuses on getting people out of debt and become wealthy. Dave is hugely popular. He is leader of his tribe (the Seth Godin version).

Dave is very eloquent and articulate too. He communicates exceptionally well. His listeners are usually in rapt attention. He completely adheres to the Communication is what the Listener does principle.


Dave does a lot of TV & radio shows and live events. But Dave also sells products. He sells books. He sells DVDs and financial tools. While the media appearances are what brands him, it is the products in his store that are interesting. In a recent interview, he said that his books are what make money for him even as he sleeps. The product (books) are out there. The sales system is set up. The brand is established. He does not have to do anything. When he gets up in the morning, the money is in his bank account.

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The (in)sanity index or how to get things done

This is a guest post by Zaki Shaheen, a former colleague, a smart knowledge worker and now a manager of many of them!

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to be suddenly different.”
– Albert Einstein

insanityProject management (or knowledge work in general) is one of the most brain-tolling exercises and it’s absolutely critical that a project manager keeps her composure. Not just in meetings, but in moving things forward and getting things done. To always have mind like water.

I have seen (read made) a lot of mess ups and delayed deliveries. Whenever I see young project managers make the same mistakes as I once did, I volunteer my two cents.

Yesterday I had a eureka moment to model what happens when a project fails (or is failing). One of the way to do that is to come up with a key performance indicator (KPI). I call this one the sanity indicator.

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10,000 Hours of Practice

Outliers is a classic book on what makes up success by Malcolm Gladwell. He argues that highly successful people – the outliers – do not succeed just by simply working harder. Being there at the right place at the right time, among other factors, is critical too.

Gladwell describes the “Rule of 10,000” which says that it takes about 10,000 hours of practicing a task for someone to achieve mastery in it. It can be music, computer programming, writing, sports – anything (and certainly for knowledge work!).

“… ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”  — “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell

ImageDoing the maths, practicing for 40-hours in a week and 180 hours in a month, it takes about 5 years to achieve mastery in it. Obviously, what it means to be a master and what the world of mastery is can vary, but in general the rule models the effort required to become really good at something. Gladwell gives examples of The Beatles, Bill Gates and Paul Allen to prove the theory. All of them put in 10,000 of practicing music or programming before they really became masters at it.

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Date Yourself

Stop reading this post and open up your calendar. Take a look at what it had for the last three weeks and what it holds for the next three.

Anything interesting?

Well, probably it looks booked and you very busy (which is true!).

However, what you probably did not notice was that your calendar is filled with meetings and commitments that are either:

1.  Added by others through an invitation
2.  Added by you by invitation to others

In essence, your calendar is most likely a journal of your commitments with others. It is a document which you refer to, to find out whom you have to meet or talk to next. It chronicles how and where your time is owned by others.

So, what’s wrong?

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‘Attractive’ Work?

This is a Guest Post from my dear friend and ex-colleague, Majd, from whom I have learnt and shared a great deal over past 10 years. An excellent manager of knowledge workers and one of the best software testing minds you can find. He maintains a blog at

It is a lesson from a barber shop approximately twelve years ago but it still sticks to my mind. I was spending my days in those years at a bachelor flats accommodation in Lahore (those flats are Pakistani equivalent of an US condo), and there were many shops around those flats. One of the barbers was my point for the haircut and beard trimming. The master of the shop had a worker boy and the two of them seemed to have good coordination but on one of my regular visits, I found out that the master had fired that worker. I asked him what was the reason as that boy seemed to be a good help for you and now you are all alone to do your work. The barber replied: “his work was not attractive” (in Urdu/Hindi: uss kay kaam main kashish naheen thee). From that day since today, I want to do work that is attractive and I go to barbers who have attraction in their work.

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Change Sucks!

Change is hard. It’s difficult. It sucks!

Well, it’s not really that hard.  It’s hard because of how we deal with the change.

We hate change. We detest it. We resist it. We procrastinate. We put it off. We do whatever we can to avoid it. We make a herculean effort to avoid the potentially small effort required to make the change.

That is how we are hardwired. If our current state has some sort of equilibrium, a sense of sanity and acceptance of where we are, we would resist change. Even a change that is for better.


It is not because we do not like to make things better. We all like to be richer, happier and more satisfied.

It’s the process of change that we hate.

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Go Figure It Out Yourself

The more I learn about child development, the more fascinated I get at the similarity of the fundamentals between adult professional growth and child development.

Consider the following advice from Baby Center on helping your child develop fast:

It’s important not to frustrate your child with toys and activities that are way beyond his abilities, but a little struggling goes a long way toward learning new skills.

When an activity doesn’t come easily to your baby, he has to figure out a new way to accomplish the task. That type of problem solving is the stuff better brains are made of. If he’s attempting to open a box, for example, resist the urge to do it for him. Let him try first. If he continues to struggle, show him how it’s done, but then give him back a closed box so he can try again on his own.

Setting a goal or target, which is not unrealistic but certainly a stretch, and letting the child figure out how to get there, is the primary premise of learning. I wrote an earlier blog post about the Creative Stretch as well.

ImageThis child development model is similar to how the knowledge professionals should be groomed, matured and trained. Give a challenging goal and let them figure it out themselves.

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