Category Archives: Randy’s blog entries

Entries by Randy Mayeux

Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact by Liz Wiseman – Here are my seven lessons and takeaways

Impact Players• Some people seem to know how to make themselves valuable. They pay attention. They look for the most productive places to put their capability to use. They make things work, and they get the job done, even when the job gets difficult. They not only deliver results but send ripples of positive impact throughout their team and across the organization. Managers trust them when the stakes are high and turn to them in critical situations. They find a way to break through and make an impact while others are merely going through the motions.
• Managers may be Multipliers, but the contributor is also a variable in the equation; the way they work determines their level of contribution, influence, and eventual impact.
• It is time to turn over the coin and examine what the best contributors do, how they create extraordinary value around them, and how that strengthens their voice and increases their influence in the world.
• As one manager put it, the Impact Player was “someone I would want to be trapped on a desert island with” compared to another employee, who is “someone I would have to help survive.”
Liz Wiseman, Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact


There are a lot of different ways to describe the people who work all around us.

We’ve seen too many workers that seem to have no business working at all.  They are… lazy, inattentive, doing the bare minimum, if that much.

This book is not about such workers.

Others are workers who get so very much done.  And, their impact seems to be all out of proportion to other workers.  They have a BIG IMPACT.  They are, in the words of Liz Wiseman, the Impact Players.  They make us smile with admiration and appreciation.  They seem to be other-worldly in their skills and their accomplishments.  They soar way above the rest of the crowd.  If only all were like these workers…

So, what sets these apart?  What makes them players of such great impact?  Why do they matter as much as they do?

Liz Wiseman is a clear writer, and in her two books – Multipliers, and now Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact – she seems to grab hold of a key issue and help us know more about what makes such leaders multiply their impact (Multipliers), and how some “contributors” make greater contributions than others (Impact Players).

I presented my synopsis of Impact Players at the December, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis.  It is a terrific book!

As always, I begin with the point of the book.  What is the point for this book?  Some workers (some human beings) have greater impact than others.  You should learn, and practice, the behaviors that have the most useful, lasting, greatest impact.

And I ask Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – This book helps us understand why some people at work have a greater impact than others.  (And, it’s not just work ethic, or lack of laziness).
#2 – This book is a tutorial on the way things really work, on teams and within organizations.
#3 – This book is an actionable guide, providing a clear path to follow to become an Impact Player.

I always a include a few pages of Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages.  Here are quite few of the best of the best from this book:

• There are thousands of books about how to excel as a leader, but how does one become a top contributor? 
• The Impact Players in our study see everyday challenges as opportunities. To Impact Players, unclear direction and changing priorities are chances to add value. They are energized by the messy problems that would enervate or foil others. Lack of clarity doesn’t paralyze them; it provokes them. Invitations to make changes are intriguing, not intimidating. Perhaps most fundamentally, they don’t see problems as distractions from their job; rather, they are the job—not just their job, but everyone’s job. 
• Impact Players tend to be self-managing and offer their managers the assurance and peace of mind that they will complete the job, in full, without being told or reminded. 
• The distinction between the Impact Player and the Contributor is not a classification of individuals but of practices.  
• But when we look beyond our ideal job and do the job that needs to be done, we make ourselves useful—and much more valuable—and increase our influence. 
• The world of work is getting messier—more complex, more chaotic, and more interconnected—thanks in part to the combined effects of globalization and technology.  …Complex problems—those involving too many unknowns and interrelated factors to reduce to rules and processes—are on the rise. 
• This is one of the central problems of modern organizations: if you are doing today’s job, you are probably handling yesterday’s priorities.   
• Doesn’t every manager want people who will do what they are asked to do? Aren’t dream employees the ones who diligently do their jobs? That may have been true in the past, but today’s leaders don’t need more dependents, they need extensions—more eyes spotting opportunities, more ears listening for unmet needs, more hands solving problems.   
• CREDIBILITY KILLERS: Waiting for managers to tell you what to do; Ignoring the bigger picture;  Telling your manager that it’s not your job. CREDIBILITY BUILDERS: Doing things without being asked;  Anticipating problems and having a plan.
• The reality is that contributors at all levels need to figure out the current organizational agenda on their own—a behavior pattern seen in high-impact contributors.   
• But he had read an article in Harvard Business Review several years earlier that suggested that to be happiest, don’t follow your passion, go solve big problems. 
Impact Players work where they are most needed and get seen as utility players.
• But I’ve always had my greatest impact—and the most fun—when I was working on what was most important to the organization and making myself useful. 
• History is replete with examples of faithful followers who failed to question unethical orders and crimes committed by victims who sympathized with their captors.  …be mindful to maintain the psychological distance and independent thought needed to question the wisdom and ethics of any directive. …“Will I regret doing this when I’m no longer working for this person or organization?”   
• There’s another type of problem that might be more vexing. I call them ambient problems. …the nonglaring, low-grade issues where the status quo is suboptimal but tolerable. Most people learn to live with these problems, but ambient problems erode performance over time. They are particularly damaging because they are easy to ignore. …These problems become white noise in the organization.  …That is, until someone takes notice and decides that the organization can, and should, do better.   
• Do you settle for good enough or step up and make it better? Do you let it be or step up and lead? 
• Recreational complaining. People vent but don’t expect a resolution. 
• Not a single one of the Impact Players we learned about was a bully or even a bull in a china shop leaving messes for their bosses to clean up; rather, they were described as collaborators who were easy to work with. …They offer leadership that is confident and compelling but not overly aggressive. It’s a light but strong form of leadership.  
• “You need a lot of relationship to do big things together.” 
• Mary Parker Follett, a management philosopher in the early twentieth century, said, “Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those led. The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.”   
• The best leaders are willing to lead, but they are fluid leaders, rising up and falling back as the situation commands
• When ownership is jointly held, confusion can ensue.  …Though we often think that a leaderless situation creates anarchy (something akin to a scene from the Lord of the Flies), it is more likely to cause inaction.
• A lot of professionals play a good game. They take action and work hard but too often stop before the job is finished.  …The most influential professionals—and entire teams—make a greater impact because they finish the job and finish stronger than others.   
• Create a shared vision of the work by documenting: (1) the performance standard: what a great job looks like; (2) the finish line: what a complete job looks like; (3) the boundaries: what’s not part of the job.
• The Impact Players in our study showed greater levels of coachability, or responsiveness to guidance, than their peers did. …Those who identified as followers were consistently the least coachable.  
• Proactively asking for feedback has the same effect as offering to do something before your boss asks you to, a practice that managers appreciate most and that ranks number one on the list of credibility builders.
• You can close the loop by saying: (1) This is the guidance you gave me, (2) This is how I acted upon it, (3) This is what ensued, (4) This is how this experience benefited me and others, and (5) This is what I plan to do next.
• Further, managers want to work alongside people who are easy—easy to get along with, easy to understand, easy to engage—and people who are cooperative, moving forward with ease. …Conversely, team members who create confusion, disruption, or drama are an unwelcome tax on the manager and a liability to the team. 
• You may not have complete control over who is on your team, but by working with the talent you already have, you can build a team that thinks and acts like Impact Players, a team that is capable of winning. 
• You need to actively quell contrary behaviors, particularly the practices that cause smart, talented professionals to contribute below their capability level and the limiting beliefs that have been inured in a team culture.  
• “The three whats” of a successful operation. These are: (1) the performance standard: what a great job looks like; (2) the finish line: what a complete job looks like; and (3) the boundaries: what’s not part of the job.  
• As Marianne Williamson said, “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”  
• CREDIBILITY KILLERS Aka Fifteen Surefire Ways to Alienate Your Boss. …Give your boss problems without solutions. Wait for your boss to tell you what to do. Make your boss chase you down and remind you what to do. Don’t worry about the big picture; just do your piece. Ask your boss about your next promotion or raise. Send long, meandering emails. Bad-mouth your colleagues, create drama, and stir up conflict. Surprise your boss . . . with bad news . . . at the last minute . . . when nothing can be done. Ask to revisit decisions that have already been made. Leave out inconvenient facts and the other side of a story. Blame others for your own mistakes. Agree to your boss’s face but disagree behind his or her back. Tell your boss that something is not your job. Listen to your boss’s feedback, then ignore it. Show up late to meetings, multitask, interrupt others.
• CREDIBILITY BUILDERS. Helping teammates; Bringing good energy, having fun, and making others laugh; Cooperating with others; Getting to the point and telling it straight; Doing your homework and coming prepared.

And, in my synopses, I always include the key points made in the book, along with important  lessons to learn.  Here are a number of such points I made in my synopsis:

  • Thinking about problems and solutions…
  • bring solutions to the table; and then fully implement those solutions
  • but, sometimes, it helps to bring problems to the table without solutions
  • Three kinds of people:
  • Impact Players — They are Impact Players: players who make a significant contribution individually but who also have an enormously positive effect on the entire team.
  • (Typical) Contributors — Smart, talented people who are doing solid (if not great) work
  • Under-contributors — Smart, talented people who are playing below their capability level…
  • When roles are unclear, people operating with a Contributor Mindset look to their leaders for direction. In contrast, Impact Players take charge of situations that lack leadership.
  • Impact Players:
  • Impact Players Wear Opportunity Goggles
  • Impact Players React Differently to Uncertainty
  • Impact Players do the job that needs to be done
  • Impact Players step up and lead. — Their willingness to both lead and follow creates a culture of courage, initiative, and agility inside their organization. — When you see a better way, do you step up or remain a spectator? People who make a big impact step up and lead.
  • Impact Players tend to be completion freaks
  • Impact Players Ask and Adjust — Impact Players tend to adapt to changing conditions faster than their peers because they interpret new rules and new targets as opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Impact Players Tap into Unwritten Rules — They figure out the unwritten rule book—the standards of behavior that one should follow in a particular job or organization
  • Impact Players are assets that appreciate over time. – (They keep learning)
  • Impact Players Make Work Light
  • The Impact Players we studied didn’t necessarily work any harder or any longer than their peers, but they did tend to work with greater intentionality and focus while they were working
  • Impact Players see themselves as problem solvers. They aren’t trapped by antiquated organizational structures or overly enamored with their positions. – In contract, Contributors see themselves as position holders
  • Impact Players jump in because they believe they can make a difference
  • Essential elements
  • A growth mindsetAs Carol Dweck teaches, people holding this mindset don’t necessarily think everyone’s a genius, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.
  • Resilience and Grit: requires both resilience (the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties) and grit (sustained persistence in pursuit of achievement). …“When surprises are the new normal, resilience is the new skill.”  …Grit is what keeps us moving forward.
  • Some “Pro Tips”
  • Impact Player Pro Tip: As a general rule, if you aren’t working on your boss’s top three priorities, you are not working on the agenda.
  • Impact Player Pro Tip:  Your peers will be more likely to get behind your efforts to lead if they know it’s temporary. Show them that you will step back once the work is done and are willing to follow them when they are leading.
  • (1) say it once, but say it clearly; (2) present an opposing view to add credibility; and (3) add a short preface to let people know an important idea is coming (e.g., “I have an insight that I’d like to offer.”).
  • Some big ideas:
  • hire what cannot be taught; teach what can be taught…
  • recognize and feed each person’s natural genius – but, then, they have to do other stuff also!
  • They also don’t chase after any and every need; rather, they look for a match between a real need and their own deepest capabilities—a concept I call native genius,
  • Learn to see the W.I.N. – What’s Important Now
  • Do you know what’s important now? Do you understand your organization’s top priorities? Would your leaders and colleagues say you “get it,” meaning that you can converse easily about the strategy?
  • Impact Players understand that their purpose is best discovered over time and with an outward orientation, not in endless self-reflection.
  • A great statement will communicate two messages: (1) “I get you,” meaning “I understand what is important to you,” and (2) “I’ve got you covered,” meaning “I am making this happen.”
  • Aim for low maintenance and high performance!Impact Players offer a low-maintenance, high-accountability proposition: they take ownership, anticipate and wrestle down problems, and do what it takes to complete the whole job.
  • Never make anyone worry about your performance; especially your boss/manager/leader… — If someone delivers only most of the time, the manager still has to worry all the time.
  • Add the extra — In addition to preparing a detailed report, they might add an executive summary and highlight key points.
  • Keep learning — The top contributors we studied were agile learners.
  • When the world of work is changing fast, the critical skill isn’t what you know but how fast you can learn.
  • Develop a user guide – for working with you.
  • Get better (get good) at three of the five: (1) build a strong core by getting good at three of the Impact Player practices; (2) develop one practice into a towering, visible strength—something you become known for; and (3) eliminate any signs of under-contributor behavior.
  • Especially, if you are a coach, teacher, or consultant – read this book!

These five chapters in the book capture the essence of Liz Wiseman’s argument and message.  Look carefully at the five key phrases:

Chapter 2: Make Yourself Useful
Chapter 3: Step Up, Step Back
Chapter 4: Finish Stronger
Chapter 5: Ask and Adjust
Chapter 6: Make Work Light

And, I always end with my own lessons and takeaways.  Here are my seven lessons and takeaways for this book:

#1 — Determine to be an Impact Player, in all your jobs, and in all your roles in life.
#2 – Help others have greater impact, and become impact players themselves. (Therefore, don’t be selfish).
#3 – Examine, and upskill, your own work habits.
#4 – Determine to get far more serious about that lifelong learning challenge.
#5 – Always, always, seek to be useful.
#6 – Determine to not stop until the job is finished.
#7 – Figure things out, and then maybe be a little more assertive – for the good of the team, and the organization.

I present synopses of between 36-40 books each year.  Some are both substantive and practicable; actionable books that can help you know what to do to be more effective.  This is one of the best, most practicable books I have read.  Read it.  Share it.  And then, do what it teaches.  It will help you, and all those you work with and for.  You will be more useful.  And that is a very good thing.


My synopsis, with the audio recording of my presentation, and my comprehensive, multi-page handout, will be available soon on this web site.  Click here for our newest additions.

We have many synopses available. Click on the buy synopses tab at the top of this page to search by book title.

Audio Book vs. Book Book – Passive vs. Active; Receiving vs. Pursuing – thoughts on how to learn (from books especially)

Maybe there is a difference between reading to enjoy vs. reading to learn…


A few days ago, someone asked me if I thought that listening to an audio book was as good as reading a book.

Confession:  I have never listened to an audio book.

But…I have read about the experience.  And I have listened to plenty of podcasts, and watched way more than a few TED Talks.

And, to state the obvious, I have read many, many books.

So…what I said in my answer to the question was that it depends on one’s intention.

I can imagine that listening to an audio version of a book that is a thriller would be every bit as good as reading the book.  Maybe, in some ways, better.

But, if your goal is serious study and interaction with the material, I do not see how listening to an audio book would be as useful as reading the book. – Maybe, if you took notes as you listened, it could be.

When I read a book to prepare a synopsis, I highlight many, many passages.  I write notes to myself.  (Note;  in the old days, I would write in the margins.  Now, I hit the note button on my Kindle app).  I copy and paste my many highlights into a Word document, and then go through my process of choosing the ones to include in my synopsis handout.

In other words, I carefully and thoroughly study the content of the book, and actively interact with it; I don’t simply read through it.

I consider this an active approach.  And, I suspect that just listening is more of a passive approach.  One approach is more of a “receiving” approach, the other is more of a  “pursuing” approach.

Now, I am a fan of diversity of approach.  Do whatever works for you.  Listen to a book; read a book; study a book.

But, if your goal is to learn well enough, deeply enough, to find the lessons to put into practice, it seems that some form of
note taking,
and content remembering,
and recall,
and interaction, is critical.

Those are some of my thoughts about simply reading vs. studying to learn.

Coming for the January 7, 2022 First Friday Book Synopsis – Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown, and Rule of the Robots by Martin Ford


Jan. 7, 2022 FFBS

First Friday Book Synopses
Friday, January 7, 2022
7:00 am, CST

Randy Mayeux provides thorough synopses of the content of useful, best-selling business books. He provides a comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, that concludes with his own lessons and takeaways from each book he presents.

What we know, we know because we have learned.

And, our learning begins with the thoughts we think, and the words we read and hear.  And, of course, the observations we make.

And, one good way to keep learning – some would argue the best way to keep learning – is to learn what is in the best books.
I hope you can join us!

January 7, 2022 –

(Hybrid Meeting:  Park City Club and Zoom – Details about registration for the in-person session coming soon.  So, mark your calendar now, and more info will follow soon.

1. Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything by Martin Ford.

2. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown.

What to expect:
Two fast paced synopsis presentations. You will receive a synopsis handout to download for each of the two books, delivered the day before the event, via e-mail.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ THE BOOKS IN ADVANCE! – No pre-reading of the books required!

If you are like many, you do not have time to read all of the books you would like to read. The First Friday Book Synopsis is designed for you.

Our synopses are comprehensive, thorough, and they will give you plenty of the key content from the book. You will learn, and be able to ponder the ideas in a useful way. And, even if you have read the book, my synopsis will help you remember more of what you read.

I hope you can join us.

Download the two Synopses Handouts for the Friday, December 3, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis (over Zoom) — Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact by Liz Wiseman, and Stop Overthinking by Nick Denton

We are in Year #24 of our monthly gatherings.

 FFBS, Dec., 2021

You are invited
First Friday Book Synopsis,
Friday, December 3, 2021, 7:30 am (Central Time), on Zoom.
I hope you can join us!

Impact Players,cover

Click on image to download the two synopsis handouts


Well over 100 people have been joining us on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings. We have had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

You are invited!

This Friday, December 3, 2021 – Zoom

Two Book Synopses: 

1. Karl Krayer to present: Stop Overthinking: 23 Techniques to Relieve Stress, Stop Negative Spirals, Declutter Your Mind, and Focus on the Present (Mental and Emotional Abundance) – March 1, 2021 by Nick Trenton.

2. Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact by Liz Wiseman. Harper Business. 2021. – Randy Mayeux to present this synopsis.

Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, December 3, 7:30 am (Central Time)
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux will deliver both synopsis presentations.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 9822 0119
Passcode: 507154


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. You will arrive in the waiting room, and be let in quickly. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00, and we will begin the program right at 7:30. And, I will not “end the meeting” for a while after, if you want to continue conversations with others after we officially conclude.

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: First Friday Book Synopsis, December 3, 2021

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 9822 0119
Passcode: 507154

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Reminder: The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”

But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal. Click here for a direct link to “donate” through PayPal.

(Note: you can also send money through Zelle, at Randy’s e-mail address).

(Randy’s e-mail address for PayPal, and Zelle, is ).

Please help spread the word far and wide; help make this a success.


You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.

The Long Game: How to be a long-term thinker in a short-term world by Dorie Clark – Here are my five lessons and takeaways

The Long Game• In The Long Game, my goal is to lay the process bare and to share the unvarnished reality behind what it takes to build long-term success.
• The Long Game is intended to be a clarion call on behalf of long-term thinking.
• The truth is, none of us can predict the future. But we can certainly identify goals we want to head toward, or potential vulnerabilities we want to avoid.
• Long-term thinking protects us during downturns (of all kinds), because it keeps us moving toward our most important goals. …We need to be nimble, and adapt when circumstances change. But long-term thinking is what undergirds everything and enables us to make those adjustments.
You have to study what’s worked before and what you wish to emulate, and then determine where you want to do something different.                                                                                                                                    
• Playing the long game—eschewing short-term gratification in order to work toward an uncertain but worthy future goal—isn’t easy. But it’s the surest path to meaningful and lasting success in a world that so often prioritizes what’s easy, quick, and ultimately shallow.  
• Playing the long game means being patient enough to wade through that self-doubt and persevere.
All of us can learn to delay gratification and enhance our self-control. In other words, all of us can become long-term thinkers.
• …the foundational skills necessary to become a long-term thinker: a willingness to say no, because you’ll never achieve your own agenda if you don’t have room to set one in the first place; a willingness to “fail,” understanding that what most people call failure is simply useful data you’re gathering; and a willingness to trust in the process long enough to see results.  
• The only goal of this book has been to show you how to think, and act, for the long term, to make that possible. Now it’s up to you.
Dorie Clark, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term


I presented my synopsis of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark at the November First Friday Book Synopsis. The book provides a clear call to the long game, to being a long-term thinker in a very short-term world.  And it provides some very specific ways to become just that.

I especially appreciated one strong suggestion;  when you meet a new person, in any setting, but especially in any networking setting, you should ask nothing from that person for at least a year:  “no asks for a year.”  In other words, first build the relationship; slowly.  Play the long game!

As I always do, I include in my synopsis a number of elements to help us capture the key content of the book:

What is the point? Here it is for this book:  In this pandemic era, we seem to be hit hard by the short-term realities.  But, this, as always, is the time to take the long view, and plan for the long game.  Taking the long view is the only view to take.

Why is this book worth our time? Here are my three reasons for this book:
#1 – This book is a career-counseling tutorial.  It will help you map out the next chapter(s) of your career.
#2 – This book is a networking tutorial.  Knowing how to meet people, and how to build long-term (long-game) relationships, can really make a difference.
#3 – This book tells you that you may have more to discover – about yourself; about what you can do, what you can accomplish.  So, get to it.

I always include a few pages of Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages.  Here are the best of the best from this book:

• We’re stuck in permanent “execution mode,” without a moment to take stock or ask questions about what we really want from life.   
• The secret, I knew, was to find a way to earn money that didn’t depend on my physical presence—to stop  
• “Through my career, I’ve come to know hundreds of CEOs, and not one of them—I mean, zero—has ever disagreed with the concept of equality.” pg. 14
• When all the incentives point toward short-term revenue goals, that’s what executives optimize for. “The result of that,” Jonathan says, “is that you can lose by winning.” 
• There’s a great quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that goes something like: we measure ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others measure us based on what we’ve done. This makes sense, of course. But it’s awfully frustrating when there’s a gap between what we know we can accomplish and what we’ve done up to that point.   
• Everything takes longer than we want it to. Everything. … I’ve made my peace with patience, because everything meaningful I’ve done has required far more time than I wanted or anticipated.  
• Trying to do it all means nothing of substance will ever get done. 
• The first step is understanding that the key to a meaningful life is to set our own terms for it.  The other step is understanding that we can attain almost anything we want—but not instantly. If we’re methodical, if we’re persistent, and if we take small, deliberate steps, we can arrive there. The going may be slow at first, but the advantages of those actions, compounded over time, can lead to stunning results.
• You can’t pour more liquid into a glass that’s already full. …Without time to reflect, an ominous possibility looms: What if we’re optimizing for the wrong things?
• 96%—claimed they don’t have enough time to do long-term strategic thinking. Really? 
• A McKinsey study shows knowledge workers spend a full 28% of their time processing email.  …an average of sixty-two meetings per month. …it breaks down to about two or three meetings per workday.
• …Meanwhile, our real work—the work we get evaluated on, and that actually accomplishes something—is what gets sandwiched in between. 
• So why can’t we stop? …being busy, at least in the United States, signals high social status.   
• “The average person has mountains of inefficiency in their day, things that they put up with and they don’t even realize it, because they’ve given themselves permission to work as long as it takes.” 
• “You don’t need time to have a good idea,” he told me. “You need space. And you can’t think appropriately if you don’t have space in your head. It takes zero time to have an innovative idea or to make a decision, but if you don’t have psychic space, those things are not necessarily impossible, but they’re suboptimal.”   
• Saying no is the ultimate weapon in the battle to become a long-term thinker—and it is a battle. 
• If you feel anything less than ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’—then say ‘no.’” 
• If you’re going to be great at anything, it comes at a price. The trade-off that most companies refused to make was accepting that in order to be great at something, you had to be willing to be bad at something else. 
• Saying yes to everything means being average at everything. 
 • The problem isn’t saying no to terrible, boring opportunities: those are easy to dismiss. The problem—for me, and most professionals—is knowing how to balance competing priorities when the offer is quite tempting.   
• When you’re unsure of where your interests lie—or you feel like you used to know and have lost touch—go back to first principles and think about what inspired you at the beginning of your journey. Sometimes we just need to remember what got us started in the first place.   
• Too often, we tend to look at where we are right now, and say, “Where can I go from here?” But that’s asking the wrong question. If you start with your present situation, you’re limiting yourself out of the gate to what seems attainable. 
• But if you push when you’re able and you do the hard work of carving out 20% time, you’re often in rare company—and your experience has the potential to be transformative. 
• Some people suddenly become willing to experiment when things have gone badly. That’s the wrong time.  
• There’s a well-known saying: we overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. …it’s even more true that we radically underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.
• Sometimes, if the opportunity in front of you lines up perfectly with your goals, you might want to strategically overinvest.
• “It’s really hard to identify what the number one thing you should be working on is, because you can only really figure that out in hindsight.” 
• You’re more effective when you work in cycles than if you slog forward, repeating the same tasks every day.  
• You can write one hundred articles a month, but if they’re all on your own blog and no one knows who you are, it still won’t land you a book deal or a consulting contract.
• And it’s true that turning someone into a genuine friend takes a serious investment of time. …it takes about fifty hours of exposure to move someone from acquaintance to casual friend, another ninety hours to move them up to actual friend status, and more than two hundred hours to turn someone into a close friend.  
• What if someone attacks you, or doesn’t like your ideas? That’s not impossible, but the far more common problem in your first couple of years is actually the opposite: complete and total silence.
• I tell participants in my Recognized Expert course that they have to be willing to do the work of sharing their ideas publicly for at least two or three years before they start to see any results.
• If one hundred people reject your work, that’s a pretty clear message. But one or two or ten? You haven’t even gotten started.

Here are a number of the key points I made from this book:

  • About Dorie Clark
  • especially known for and respected for her “Respected Expert” course
  • published in many top business publications
  • Prelude: Long-term, in a pandemic-survival era?
  • The real issue, he said, was “what’s likely to change unexpectedly and bite any long-term thinking in the ass.” Was long-term thinking even relevant anymore?
  • Randy’s Observation:
  • This is a book about making money while keeping your sanity and your health.
  • This book is part inspiration and motivation, and part tutorial…
  • Grasp this difference:
  • The secret is understanding the crucial difference between failure and experimentation—because if you’re learning, you’re not actually failing. 
  • Where is your focus?
  • In other words, we have to get smart about what we focus on.
  • To become a better, sharper, and more strategic thinker, the first step is clearing away the nonessentials.
  • Say no to terrible offers; say no to middling offers/opportunities; say yes only to the great, very best offers… (Anything less than a nine out of ten on your excitement scale, or even a ten out of ten, becomes a “no”).
  • But the question remains: in a world of choices, what should we focus on?
  • Who do you admire?
  • But I’ve met a few super-successful people that are calm, collected, unbothered, and give you their full attention. …Changing our perspective on whom we admire is a powerful first step.
  • But, of course, even if we respect people who have total discretion over their schedule and plenty of time for what’s most important, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to become them. 
  • Tips
  • Just work from your calendar; don’t develop and use a to-do list that will overwhelm you…
  • Whatever is not important at all, you don’t schedule it at all.
  • Decide where you will spend your time; and with whom…
  • Give yourself a deadline – set a firm date!
  • “Whatever it is,” says Sam, “whether someone wants to write a book, launch their own business, travel on their own, or whatever, I’ll just say almost unequivocally: if you do not have a date on the calendar, it is not getting done.” — “A precommitment needs to have metrics if it’s going to succeed.”
  • Think in Decades
  • Think in Waves…
  • Experiment when you are strong; not when you are desperate
  • Keep learning — Remember: don’t stop learning. Soon, it’ll be time to start the cycle over again so you don’t stagnate.
  • You need (lots of) at bats!
  • Just begin!
  • For any activity where you feel nervous or averse, find one small way to begin.
  • A big step to take
  • Decide what to be bad at – in other words, decide to be good at only what you want to be really good at.
  • the most successful companies were the ones who were unafraid to choose what to be bad at. — “Choosing to be bad is your only shot at achieving greatness. And resisting it is a recipe for mediocrity.” 
  • So, how to decide (what to do with your time)? — Four questions can help you determine whether something is worth doing:
  • What is the total time commitment?
  • What is the opportunity cost?
  • What’s the physical and emotional cost?
  • Would I feel bad in a year if I didn’t do this?
  • Optimize for meaning (not for money)
  • One possible alternative—a great one, if you feel clear about pursuing it—is to optimize for meaning.
  • Then…if you don’t (yet) know – optimize for interesting
  • “Whenever you have a choice of what to do, choose the more interesting path.”
  • When it comes to optimizing for interesting, what’s really interesting isn’t a goal that feels manageable. It’s working toward a goal that’s remarkable.
  • “optimize for interesting” and follow your curiosity.
  • Maybe optimize for extreme goals
  • we need to choose extreme goals—
  • So…
  • Embrace 20% time – personally. – (Google News and Gmail were products of 20% time experimentation).
  • The truth is, it’s challenging to carve out 20% time. — You have to make the extra effort, fight against other pressures on your schedule, and create your own openings. 
  • Four key Career Waves in becoming a recognized expert in your field:
  • Learning
  • Creating — The key is to make yourself “findable” by the people you’d most like to do business with.
  • Connecting
  • Reaping.
  • Three types of networking:
  • short term, long term, and infinite horizon.
  • It’s short-term, transactional networking that gives the whole enterprise a bad name, and I’m going to suggest we avoid it whenever humanly possible.
  • When we network for the long term or with an infinite horizon—that is, when we set out to make friends and build relationships, rather than simply get something—it feels entirely different.
  • The strategy I follow personally, and recommend to others, is no asks for a year.
  • Networking done right isn’t about what it can get you today or tomorrow. It’s about what kind of life you want to live and surrounding yourself with the kind of people you want coming along on that journey.

Dorie Clark’s top five ideas from this book (chosen by Dorie Clark herself):

  • Decide what to be bad at.
  • Adopt 20% time.
  • Embrace “Heads Up” and “Heads Down” modes.
  • No asks for a year.
  • Understand the deception phase. (no progress; no progress; no progress; then, boom progress! – Doubling; exponential growth. Thanks to Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler)

And here are my Five Lessons and Takeaways

#1 – We all need to spend time just thinking about the long haul.
#2 – Do get very good at something.
#3 – We will need to develop deep expertise, but then experiment again – think in waves.
#4 – Do not take advantage of others; you will feel dirty; they will feel resentful. (No asks for a year).
#5 – Be patient; keep at it; be patient.

I read this book, presented my synopsis, and realized, I’ve got some work to do.  I need to adjust my thinking.  And, I need to get more serious about working on and in my “plan.”

Not only do I have to take the long view; I have to work the long view.

This is quite a helpful, useful book.  I highly recommend it.


  • a footnote – Google Derek Thompson’s article (in The Atlantic) on “Hot Streaks in Your Career Don’t Happen by Accident: First Explore, then Exploit.” And, revisit Range: How Generalist Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.


My synopsis, with the audio recording of my presentation, and my comprehensive, multi-page handout, will be available soon on this web site.  Click here for our newest additions.

We have many synopses available. Click on the buy synopses tab at the top of this page to search by book title.

My synopsis of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is Today, Thursday, November 18, 12:30 pm, over Zoom – Come Join Us – (And, here is the synopsis handout)

Click on image to download handout

Click on image to download handout

If you have an open lunch time window Today, Thursday, November 18, 12:30 pm (CST), I am presenting my synopsis of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 12:30 (CST) for the Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by CitySquare, on Zoom.

This is an important book on gender equality. It is clear; to the point. I think you will find this a learning experience. You will learn!

I encourage you to download my synopsis handout, print it out, and follow along.

Come join us on Zoom.

Urban Engagement Book Club
Thursday, November 18, 2021 – 12:30 pm (CST)
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Synopsis presented by Randy Mayeux
We conclude shortly after 1:30.
(This event is free).

And, here is the Zoom link to join our gathering. 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 871 8581 2415
Passcode: 539416

{Note: click here to see the line-up of books for our gatherings throughout the year.}


Here is the more complete Zoom info.

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: UEBC, third Thursdays, 2021
Time: November 18, 12:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 871 8581 2415
Passcode: 539416

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UEBC, 11,2021