Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath


I spend a LOT of time in the car.  One way I’ve found of converting the uselessness of sitting in a car into somewhat less useless time is to listen to audio books.

The most recent read has been a book called Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. I got so much out of it I have actually gone back and begun to read it a second time and take more notes. This one introduces a lot of nifty ideas about how to initiate change in many different aspects of life, giving real-world no-nonsense examples. Good read.

Stop Belittling Change

Change happens all the time.  Unfortunately many people are resistant to change.  In Switch the authors present a few simple strategies to help guide people through change in a successful way, from simple business goals to protecting the survival of a species.

My biggest takeaway from this book was to stop trying to reduce change to something insignificant, and instead to embrace that it’s a big deal for people.  Such a big deal, in fact, that Change is likened to getting a person riding an elephant to change directions.  While not discussed such terms in the book, I think to take this view is as compassionate as it is strategic.  Once on board with the idea that — yes — change is a big deal for people.  How would we handle a big problem.  That requires a different approach altogether.

Get The People On Board

Step one is getting people to understand that this is the way we want to go.  If a guy doesn’t really see any value in changing direction, what are you going to do?  I mean, he’s riding an elephant after all.  Get this part wrong and you’ll be a squishy spot on the pavement.  People need to understand what we’re doing, why it matters, and how it will make life better.  Even then they may not like it but if they can agree that it is the right thing to do you’re headed on your way.

Change The Vision

The next step involves demonstrating the value of the change in a desirable way.  The authors call this Motivating the Elephant.  In other words, giving the elephant a reason to want to go the direction the rider is telling it to go.  This might mean changing opinion of a brand, making the change smaller or more incremental, or investing time and effort into maturing people around the change to the point they can accept it.  Once you’ve modified general opinion of the change, and made the change as palatable to the masses as possible, an often overlooked fact is that some people need special attention to mature to the point they can move in the new direction.

Make Change Suck Less

The final step toward success centers around making the change easier to achieve.  In most areas there’s a place and time when each person has to make a decision between two or more options, where one of those options reflects the change you’re trying to achieve, and the others do not.  If you can help people more easily and naturally make the right decision on their own at that specific point, the change becomes a success and everyone wins.

Let’s say you’re in a factory where people are injuring themselves on a piece of equipment.  You could simply give them instructions on how to operate it safely, but that’s not as good as making it nearly impossible to operate the machinery unsafely.  For example, perhaps the machine won’t turn on as long as people are nearby, or until everyone is wearing proper safety gear.  In nearly every case there is a way to make the right choice easier, and the wrong choice less prominent.

This book makes a lot of sense, and although very simple to understand takes real practice and savvy to follow.  I believe this is one book that will help you flip the switch for positive results.


Switch, By Chip Heath and Dan Heath (Amazon)


Four Simple Steps To Actually REACHING Your Goals

Four Simple Steps To Actually REACHING Your Goals



In this post I intend to give you my best strategy to really achieve your goals.  With this strategy you’ll reach your goals and do it more quickly than you thought was possible.  This strategy is simple, easy to remember, and costs nothing.

There are a couple of great books on the subject, and I’ll link to them at the bottom of this article. The concept is NOT new.  It’s been around a long time, and thousands of people have been successful by following this principle, yet it’s so often overlooked I just HAD to write about it. Here are the 4 Simple Steps to REALLY accomplishing your goals:

  1. Identify your roles in life
  2. Start with the end
  3. Back up into the present
  4. GO!

Identify Your Roles In Life

The first step to take is to identify what roles you play, or at least which ones you haven’t yet taken to 100% success.  It’s probably pretty easy to come up with about 5-8 really important areas of the life you want to live.  You don’t have to be there yet – that’s what goals are for.  To do the things you’re meant to do, but haven’t done yet.  Some examples might be:

  • Mother
  • Husband
  • CEO
  • Board Member
  • Community Leader
  • Faithful giver
  • Loyal friend

I found 6.  Your mileage may vary, but spending some time honestly working out what you think you were put on this earth to do is most important to your success in reaching your goals.  If you don’t have a true purpose, you’ll never have the motivation to do it well.

Start With The End

What is it that you want to accomplish?  Picture yourself doing it, being great at it, and enjoying the satisfaction of success in that area.  You’re going to repeat this for each area you mentioned in the first step.

After writing it down on paper, I found a good way to help me with this was to use a mindmapping program on a computer and connect it to my daily task list.  But that’s just for me.  I use computers every day so that was the right fit for me. Maybe you use your phone every day, maybe computers aren’t your thing, and a drawing on a piece of paper sitting on the back of your front door is right tool for you.  Whatever it is, do it.  It’s important.  You must see your goals every day right in front of your face so you can’t forget.

Back Up To The Present

Starting from the end you just envisioned, and repeating for each role you live (or want to live), back up one step to what you need to do in the next 5 years in order to accomplish that goal.  If you’re saving to buy a house with cash, maybe 5 years isn’t long enough.  Start 10 years out, whatever works for you, make the goal realistic and specific, and start from there.

Once you’ve figured out what you need to do in 5 years’ time in order to reach your goal for this area of your life, write it down, and step back to the 3 year mark.  What do you need to do in 3 years’ time in order to be ready to start on the things you need to do in 5 years to reach your goal.  Write it down.

Keep stepping backward until you’ve written down key milestones for each area of your life, all the way from the goal itself to what you need to do right now – today.


Whatever that thing is for each area, do it.  Today.  Right now.  Don’t delay, don’t hesitate.  Do it.  Now.  For real.  What are you waiting for?  You just sat down and planned out your next 5 years. You know pretty much everything you need to do in order to reach your goals.  Not only that, you pretty much know that if you don’t do those things, you won’t reach your goals. So get started, get your list done today, and repeat tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

Look at your list every day, make sure at a minimum that you do what’s on your list, without making any excuses, without accepting no for an answer… and your goals are as good as done.


The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey


Mastering The Rockefeller Habits, by Verne Harnish



XMind Free Mind Mapping Tool for Mac, PC and Linux


XMindLook for connecting XMind to Outlook


XMindSync for Online Todo managers


Great By Choice by Jim Collins

Great By Choice by Jim Collins

Books, Self-help, Technology

Winner. Good book. Worth reading more than once. Listened to it on audiobook last year and am reading back through it again now in electronic print on my Kindle app. Couple of notes on the format: I normally choose print versus audio, because it sinks in better and is easier to reference at a later time. One exception is Jim Collins. He reads his own books and does so with enthusiasm and energy that makes the book anything but dull. Collins is a safe bet in audio.

Collins goes through some down-to-earth truths about breaking through from normal to extraordinary, such as:

  • Plan meticulously.  Plan for even worse than the worst.
  • Repeat your daily must-dos with religious fervor
  • Taking risks the careful way

This is book is a fresh batch of research presented in the traditional Jim Collins voice, and is well worth a the read.