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Prepping Your Way to Success

Prepping Your Way to Success

Author: Alli Gage, 2018

As a management consultant, I am constantly going into various workplaces of different companies to improve and optimize their working conditions and processes. Even after seeing the time and money savings implementing certain processes can accomplish in a professional setting, I had never thought to apply that same way of thinking to my day-to-day life… until now.

The nature of my job can involve long days of commuting, travel and working long hours, which often lead to me coming home mentally drained and HUNGRY.  I didn’t want to think about what to have for dinner and then the time it would take to execute on the plan.  Like many of us, I ended up eating out several times a week. Even though I convinced myself I was making “healthier” options, I began to notice the pounds packing on and a slow decline in my overall energy and effectiveness throughout my day.

I started meal prepping my dinners when training for a competition and couldn’t believe how much easier and less stressful my evenings were!  When dinners were prepped in advance I didn’t have to think about making a healthy meal after a long day or feel guilty for having take-out because the “discipline” factor was removed.

The prepped dinners were faster, cheaper and easier than take-out. Genius!

After seeing the success from prepping dinners, I decided to see what other areas of my life could be streamlined for efficiency by using the same technique.

I started with the obvious – adding meal prepping for my breakfasts, then my lunches and even the different snacks I would need for the week. Everything was measured and packed ready to go in advance.

Mastering food prep, I expanded to prepping my work clothes. Even as a minimalist, I found myself spending at least 5-10 mins thinking about an outfit for the day – and that was if everything went well. When things weren’t going so well, I could try several different outfits before leaving the house.

I applied my prepping technique and decided which clothing items I would wear in advance and hung each outfit together on a hanger in sequence – from Monday through Friday.  Each morning I simply take the next hanger and it had everything I needed for that specific day – underwear, socks, belts and any accessories needed for each outfit. I planned the days for each outfit as well to ensure I had the proper clothes available for meetings, presentations and plant visits.

By now I was prepping my meals, snacks and my outfits!

What I ate and wore became almost automated and had taken the discipline factor out of these decisions, making success a lot easier and more likely. I was on a roll and feeling good!

Next, I added prepping my “to-do” list for the next day. But not any “to-do” list. A list of the small things that I could do to move towards my long-term goals.

I prioritized the list and added 3-5 specific actions I could take per day – Monday through Saturday (Sunday is my day of rest!). Having a short and manageable list saves an incredible amount of time as it allows me to hit the ground running each day instead of spending 30-60 mins or more deciding where and how to start the day.

Ensuring my to-do list has tasks that are focused around my long-term goals is crucial to ensure I am making actual progress towards said goals as opposed to merely checking things off a list.

Breakfast, lunch, snacks, clothing and to-do lists are some of the additional areas that I have been able to streamline for increased efficiency by using the dinner prep technique. Taking the guess work out of discipline, setting yourself up for success and maximizing time are crucial elements to finding success in both personal and professional life.

There is no limit to how this technique can be applied, so get creative and enjoy the benefits of a prepped life!

 

Why Your Failures Can Lead to Success

light bulb breaking under pressure

Author: Reza Boushehri (2018)

Remember to never give up on a dream, goal or desire you have because of the time it will take to accomplish or obtain it. That time will pass by anyway, whether you do something or not. Failures have a way of teaching us things that can be more valuable than if we were to achieve immediate success. There are a couple mental traps we can fall into – which I have been guilty of falling into – when getting stuck on a task.

1.    I could be doing something much more useful than what I am doing now

This mentality would cause me to end up leaving whatever I was doing incomplete. I would end up not doing anything, but still notice that time was passing by.

2.    Thinking of everything else as more fun and exciting than the task in hand

I would not concentrate and would constantly focus on the things I could do after I am done with this boring task.

In your life, whether now or at some point in the future, you will face some failures. There is no question as to whether or not you will face failures, challenges, and obstacles, but the real question is, how will you handle it?

There will come a time when you decide to propagate all the bad feelings you have due to the failure unto your very own character. There will come a time when you are so tired of everything, so exhausted by all the work you put in and didn’t get any results.

Successful people, those who have reached the pinnacle of what they personally define as success, have gotten there because of their failures, not their success. That’s right, I will repeat that, it is your failures which allow your success to happen.

Think of success as a huge lake you have to cross while failure being the stepping stone on which you can travel to the other end. As a huge and global society, we have come to view success as something that does not include or consist of any failure. We have come to believe that failure is something very bad. Yes, it can turn bad if you decide that you are tired, can’t take it anymore and want to quit. Yes, it’s bad if you decide to not learn anything from it.

On the other hand, failure can be your friend as well. It can come from learning from what you previously did wrong. It can be the key to making you what we call a wise man. Remember, we are all made better when faced with resistance and difficulty.

Let me put it in another way: when you go to the gym, you are demanding your body to grow, you are pushing, constantly pushing against resistance in order to achieve that. Similarly, the more you try something, the more you will fail and hence try again, until you finally master it.

The key is to “try again”, the key is to “learn from your mistakes.” Master these two keys when faced with failure, and you will realize that it is your friend.

 

An Intern’s Perspective on TPG


Author: Ilya Kreynin (2018)

Over the past 2 years, I’ve had the opportunity to intern with 4 different companies, one of them being TPG. All 4 placements were enjoyable and taught me a lot, as all of them are companies with great leaders in their fields as well as great employers. However, despite being by far the smallest of the 4, TPG has uniquely contributed to my personal and professional growth. While it’s hard to fully describe what made these 8 months so memorable and valuable, here are 3 factors that in my view distinguish TPG as a singularly great place to work. (That’s me on the left!)

1. Values Applied to Actions

The word ‘values’ is tossed around a lot in business, and with good reason: they are what separates mediocre organizations from good ones, and good from great. Almost every company will tell you that they are values-driven, and successful companies generally are. They will have a mission statement or a charter of values, and those values will be referenced during training/orientation and when discussing high level decisions.

The TPG difference? This company’s values are front and center during day to day decisions. They are discussed during meetings, they influence individual deliverables, are reflected upon after every engagement, and are frequently mentioned and reinforced during all points of problem solving. Work and life at TPG is inextricably linked to these values, and they shine through in both the work and the culture of the company.

This clarity and propensity towards principled action keeps everyone on the same page and builds an extraordinary level of trust; you cannot help but grow when working in such an environment.

2. Honest and Regular Feedback

Every company has its own approach towards performance assessment and professional development, often tailored to the function and position of the specific employee. However, the approach generally boils down to a standardized, regularly recurring assessment of job-related performance from a specific individual (often a coach or a manager). This has its advantages: the employee knows when feedback is to be given and can therefore be open to it, and a regularly recurring meeting can be useful for tracking improvement over time.

The TPG approach may not be for the faint of heart, but it’s dead simple and skyrockets improvement: honest, straightforward, in the moment feedback. This can come from anyone on the team, and can apply to anything from a deliverable, to a meeting, to a client interaction. Rather than relying on one individual for feedback, everyone is encouraged to help each other grow.

While regular feedback can be tough at first, the advantages become clear very quickly: it allows you to course-correct far more often and hone your craft at a much more detailed level. It’s the difference between doing 4 presentations in a month and then being told to “work on your pacing” in the month’s end 1 on 1, versus doing 1 presentation, having 2 teammates let you know how it went and at which points you talked too quickly, adjusting, and rocking the next 3 presentations.

The openness, honesty, and family atmosphere at TPG are not just perks of the job. In very tangible ways, the trust that exists between people at this company enhances growth and contributes to exceptional performance.

3. A True Commitment to Quality

Good companies are committed to quality and doing good work. They serve their clients well and employ effective processes to run and grow their business. However, after reaching a certain size and pace of operation, effectiveness gradually gives way to efficiency. The vital 20% of work is identified and focused on, and the details around it are either standardized into repeatable processes or fall by the wayside. A set standard of work emerges, and performance evaluation leans more heavily towards the quantity of work done at said standard than towards pushing that standard higher.

Even as the ratio of work to employees climbed over my time at TPG, I never once saw a dip in the painstaking level of detail with which the work was done, or a dilution of the values mentioned previously. Going above and beyond for each and every client and project is genuinely the standard here, with the mantra of “is this my best work?” being repeated for all client interactions and deliverables, no matter how small.

This was a hard standard to live up to early on, but above all else I am grateful to everyone at TPG for supporting me in growing to reach this standard rather than lowering the bar due to my being an intern. Learning what it takes to do exceptional work on a regular basis, and getting to practice every day, greatly accelerated my personal and professional growth and made for an experience as one of a kind at TPG.

 

5 Morning Routines of Highly Successful People

Author: Allison Gage (2018)

As consultants, our work day can be unpredictable to say the least. Many days transform without notice as client needs and priorities change. It is hard to get into a routine, including establishing a morning routine. What we intend to complete rarely matches the plan. This is the case with many industries and professions.  How can we ensure optimal performance and use of time in an ever-changing environment?

Whether you’re a consultant or not, a strong morning routine can be the difference between running the day and letting the day run you.

The most successful leaders throughout time have had morning routines, and with good reason. Creating a morning routine is the best way to:

  1. Set a positive and productive tone for your day
  2. Tackle top tasks before distractions creep in
  3. Focus on your goals and the associated tasks
  4. Boost your happiness
  5. Reduce stress levels

What is also common between great leaders? The elements of said morning routine. Leaders understand that success is not isolated. How you do anything is how you do everything. So, how successful you are in your personal life is a direct correlation to success in your professional life and vice-versa.

If you’re looking to jumpstart the momentum needed for personal and professional success here are a few key elements to include in your morning routine:

1. Gratitude

First thing in the morning, before even getting out of bed, take a few minutes to stretch under the covers and express gratitude – write down or mentally go through a quick list of things you are grateful for this morning. (Bonus! Setting your intention for the day right after your gratitude allows you to set a positive foundation before you even get out of bed.)

2. Affirmations

Writing and speaking affirmations aloud is a great way to get your mindset right to start the day.  Affirmations allow us to re-program limiting thoughts or beliefs to match optimal results in our personal and professional lives.

3. Meditation / Visualization

Both only take a few minutes every day; meditation and visualization are very different but can be used individually or combined.  Mediation allows us to enhance consciousness and self-awareness while visualization allows us to concentrate on achieving goals and dreams.  These techniques can even improve health and assist in resolving issues or problems with seemingly no solution.

4. Exercise

Exercise helps clear the mind, reduce stress and ensure you start the day feeling refreshed and energized. Whether your exercise includes strength training, HIIT, a brisk walk around the neighbourhood or dancing in your living room – get your heart rate and vibration up. Taking care of your health is essential to success since success is a marathon, not a sprint.

5. Read

It can be hard to find time to read amidst the craziness of our daily schedule but we all know how important reading is to our success. Start your day with ideas that expand your mind and focus on subjects that correlate to your goals. Whether it’s 10 mins or an hour a day – focus on learning, reflecting and applying what you’ve read into your daily life.

I challenge you to create your own morning routine and be disciplined to it a habit. Discipline is critical to success as it will carry you through when you don’t “feel” like doing something. It will also bridge the gap until your morning routine becomes a habit and part of your new paradigm.

I leave you with this quote from Hal Elrod (“The Miracle Morning”):

Focused, productive successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days – which inevitably create a successful life.

8 Business Lessons Learned from Mountaineering


Author: Matt Knarsten (2018)

Check out my TEDx Talk Here!

Mountaineering is the sport of climbing mountains. It could also be known as slow walking uphill while not feeling very well, coupled with extended periods of intense boredom, often interrupted by moments of sheer terror. You might think there is very little sense in mountaineering, but there is one thing that binds this community together and what all mountaineers seek: ADVENTURE!

I began mountaineering seven years ago, through the New Zealand Alpine Club and have been climbing in North and South America, Europe and New Zealand, having just completed my most recent 19-day adventure on the highest mountain in North America, ‘Denali’ in Alaska.

So why bother listen to a guy that climbs a bunch of mountains?

While I have successfully summited several mountains, there have been plenty of unsuccessful attempts as well.  It is true what they say – you learn from your mistakes. The mountains are a real-world training ground where making wrong decisions can lead to injury or death. This makes mountaineering an effective, yet ultimately unforgiving, teacher. There are many lessons that can be learned from the mountains and some of the best examples are the parallels that mountaineering shares with the business world.

Lesson #1: Preparation is everything, the plan is nothing

Most plans are useless as soon as they are put in motion. The real value of the original plan is the preparation of defining the goal or the outcome we desire to clarify the destination. When embarking on a big trip, it’s important to break down the climb into realistic steps. This is helpful for planning the trip (i.e. food, fuel and equipment requirements) and shifting the goal from being daunting to manageable. Similarly, you would not be able to execute a project without breaking it down to tasks and assessing required and available resources.

Ambition is great for business leaders, but remember that your team needs to be able to execute the vision. Mt Rainier is the highest mountain in Washington State at 4,392m. On both occasions, we got turned around because of poor and aggressive planning on my part and not assessing the whole teams strengths and weaknesses effectively, especially with regards to fitness and comfort with exposure.

Assessing the whole team for their strengths and weaknesses should be done early, as it is vital to be aware in your team’s expertise gaps and bridge these before you set off on your adventure. Whether the gaps lie in experience, technical knowledge or fitness, having upfront open and honest conversations about this sets your team up for success.

Lesson #2: Bigger isn’t always better

Aconcagua

Expedition style is an approach to mountaineering that is very similar to the way that a lot of businesses are run today. It’s a powerful way to climb mountains, but it’s also very expensive, very inefficient and not particularly effective at adapting to changing conditions (e.g. weather). They are big teams, typically guided, and have a large reliance upon fixed infrastructure. You get told what clothing to bring by your guide, you’re provided your equipment, your food is cooked for you and water boiled, your daily activities are predetermined and any change in this schedule results in a potential failed summit attempt similar to expedition style, businesses that operate in this manner can be robust, but tend to suffer from bureaucratic processes and hierarchies, chronic inefficiencies, slow response times to change, and have a tendency to fail when significant unexpected events occur.

Another approach is alpine style or light and fast. These are small teams that carry only what is needed for the climb. The focus shifts from a siege mentality of “attacking” the mountain to a light and fast approach to the summit. Alpine style has many similarities to lean and agile project management as it is highly collaborative with no structural hierarchy and no central leader. Instead there is shared decision making responsibility; You are in a constant feedback loop because you’re the one making decisions, learning from your mistakes and 100% accountable. It’s an empowering approach to mountaineering.

Lesson #3: Surround yourself with people who are better than you

Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

  • Teamwork produces results – It’s almost impossible to climb many mountains without a team. Mountaineers need to trust their life with their team and know when to ask for help. Similarly, in business, don’t feel too proud to ask for help when you need it. It’s a team that makes an organization successful, not individuals
  • Seek people that ooze positive energy – You’re going to need optimistic people around you during the tough times when your reserves are running low
  • Like your team – You’re going to be stuck together for a long time!

In Alaska, having a strong team is crucial. It’s one of the coldest places on earth with tons of objective danger all around you. Around this point on the Kahiltna Glacier a lot of people fell into crevasses while we were on the mountain, with one chap even needing the US army to assist in his rescue. At one point when we were crossing a crevasse, the area around one team member collapsed so we were all grateful of our capable team members.

Lesson #4: Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing

Mt. Victoria

In the mountains, you are constantly exposed to danger (both objective and subjective hazards). This makes effective risk management the most important part of any trip.

It all starts with risk awareness. You’ve got to know your environment and constantly scan it. This is the same in business where your company is going to be in grave danger if you fail to identify threats and move quickly.

The next step is risk mitigation. Do the groundwork first and make sure you don’t take unnecessary risk. While you need to take risks in business, there is no point in going about it foolhardily. Before you take any risk, make sure you’ve done the homework first and have a support system to help prop you up if the risk doesn’t pay off. When you’re in the mountains, that means setting camps, having accessible emergency equipment and taking necessary precautions. Only after establishing a sound infrastructure, should you be comfortable about taking risks.

Lesson #5: S**t happens, deal with it

The distinguishing mark of true adventures, is that it is often no fun at all while you’re on one. The example that springs to mind in this instance is a crevasse fall I had while crossing the Bonar Glacier when attempting to climb Mt Aspiring in New Zealand in 2010. It had snowed a lot the night before and my climbing mate and I were inexperienced. We were roped up with me leading and all of the crevasses were covered over when I was swallowed by a crevasse. I ended up falling about 10 metres before landing on a ledge, which saved us from both disappearing into the crevasse. It took us about 3 hours to get me out and then we ran out of time to get back to the hut so we ended up sleeping out that night.

  • Don’t let go – You typically find that your mind gives up before your body does
  • When things go wrong – stay positive. See it as character building and an opportunity to develop your resilience. It’s how you handle yourself after something goes wrong that counts
  • “Just keep going” – When something doesn’t go to plan, pick yourself up, remove yourself from danger, regroup and then keep moving forward

It’s the same in business. You will experience all sorts of setbacks, but you should not let it get you down. Stagnancy is not an option. Keep working hard and moving towards your destination. Even baby steps count towards achieving your vision.

Lesson #6: Seize the day and put the least possible trust in tomorrow

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take” – Lewis Carroll

Aoraki Mount Cook

Seizing opportunities before they are gone is the only way you can reach the summit of some mountains. You have to take advantage of weather windows, particularly on mountain ranges that experience severe weather conditions, there may only be a few days a year that you can feasibly have a crack at the summit. The same is in business where if you don’t take up an opportunity, a competitor will and you’ll be left in their wake.

Commit – Reaching the top is a collection of steps. Sometimes the first step is the hardest when you know there are thousands of steps to go and it’s dark and freezing outside your tent. That’s why it’s so important to break your trip and days down into small, manageable increments and it’s the same in business with any large project. It would be daunting to embark on a business transformation project looking at it holistically, but broken down into small projects or functional groups and then further into project steps and milestones, makes it achievable and easier to commit and take that first step.

Pico de Orizaba, Mexico

Lesson #7: It’s not about the summit, it’s about the journey to get there

The most fulfilling moments I have had when climbing, is not reaching the summit. It is when you are faced with some unforeseen challenge and you turn to your climbing partner with one of the most important of management questions: Now what?

Sometimes you must go backwards to go forwards – acclimatizing to big mountains thin air is a long and frustrating but necessary process to have a shot at reaching the summit. Climbers will typically climb from Basecamp up to Camp 1 and then come back down to Basecamp to sleep, before moving up to Camp 1.

“Failure” is always an option – know when to step back. Sometimes you’re turned around by weather, insufficient preparation, accidents or a team member unable to continue. It is simply not safe for you to continue climbing. Recently, Everest has a success rate of roughly 50%. So out of approximately 1,300 people that spend 2 months trying to climb Everest this year, only 641 people made it to the top. While we tend to reward people with perfect track records, sometimes it’s the people who stumbled and have taken risks that have the most to offer an organization. It’s important to give yourself and others room to fail. Often, those who have never failed have not pushed themselves enough.

Learn from your mistakes and enjoy the journey – Good judgment comes from experience.

Experience comes from bad judgment. 

Lesson #8: If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough

Denali, AlaskaDream big – It’s a cliche, but it’s true. You are going to need a deep level of commitment to reach the summit of

your mountain and overcome the obstacles you face in business.

Passion wins – Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. Your business needs passionate employees to be successful.

Focus on the “why” – Focus on forging a path that will take you to where you really want to go instead of chasing someone else’s goal.

Believe in your mission – You need to believe in the value of your mission and fiercely embrace it. It is the strength of your belief that generates the unshakable commitment you will possess to achieving these missions.

Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy

Now before you head out to the hills for your business education, it is important for you to know the three rules of mountaineering to prepare you for what lies ahead:

  1. It’s always further than it looks
  2. It’s always taller than it looks
  3. And it’s always harder than it looks

But that’s what makes it so rewarding!

Happy climbing!