Order the Combo! It’s a Better Deal

Key Point: Embrace your very hectic and busy life by considering the following two ideas. I’m suggesting you order them up as a “combo deal” for your life going forward: Deep work and essentialism.  

The formula for “Deep Work” is: High quality work produced = (time spent) x (intensity of focus). Essentialism, as I refer to it is this context, is about taking control of choices and intentionally deciding where to focus energy.  It involves learning to filter through all of life’s options and select only those that are truly essential. When we have the combo of understanding and applying BOTH concepts, you and I will get more of the results we most want in life. I see so many people who allow their life to be controlled by the many distractions around them. And FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) adds to the conundrum. I actually worry about people’s emotional well-being because the shiny baubles of unlimited opportunity populate people’s dreams and yet they allow much of their time to be dictated by default rather than intention. Time passes and little of what they have dreamed about has occurred. Their life has been dictated by the rationalization of default, (“I will think about doing it later”), and the rut of a routine that’s often meaningless to what’s really important. (“It’s so less stressful when I just do what’s in front of me”).

Adam Grant became the youngest professor to receive tenure at Wharton and within five years, became the school’s youngest full professor. Grant is also a New York Times bestselling author and prolific researcher who performs at a very high level. In his book, Deep Work, Georgetown professor and author Cal Newport notes that Grant decided early in his career that productivity was a scientific problem that could be solved, and one of the fundamental components of his solution is doing “deep work.” Grant batches hard but important, intellectual work into long, uninterrupted stretches. According to Newport, rather than continuously work on research throughout the year, Grant reserves the fall semester for his teaching responsibilities, and the effort that he puts into his classes and students has resulted in him being Wharton’s top-rated professor for four straight years. The spring semester and summer are then dedicated to research. When he’s working in his office, he’ll sometimes spend a few days working in total isolation. During these stretches, Grant will set up an email auto-reply telling people he’s not answering messages for a few days.

In his exceptional work, Essentialism, author Greg McKeown draws on the experience and insight from working with truly exceptional leaders who have achieved the disciplined pursuit of less. Essentialism according to McKeown, is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. It involves distinguishing the vital few from the trivial, recognizing that if we don’t prioritize our lives, someone else will. Sometimes what we DO NOT do is just as important as what we do! And we know that some efforts just produce exponentially better results than others. As leadership Sherpa John Maxwell has stated, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” 

Character Moves:

  1. Honestly answer the following: What are the BIG things in life you DEEPLY want to do? If you can’t write this down in less than a few minutes, you haven’t defined it. Are you able and disciplined enough to batch deep work when you want and need to focus on your essential things?
  1. To discern what is truly essential, you need space to think, time to look and listen. However, you also need to give yourself permission to play, have the wisdom to refuel, and the discipline to apply the above highly selective criteria to the choices you make. Remember that there is something self-propelling and powerful about visibly seeing progress toward a goal. You’re worth it!!

Eating the Combo in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I think some Millennials are often told that it’s ok not to be “hungry” yet. We live as if it’s 4 p.m., we’d like a “combo meal” later, but we’re not ready to eat till 8 p.m. and we haven’t really looked at the menu yet. We’re encouraged to try appetizers. But, sooner or later, our waiter is coming to take our order and if we don’t know what big things we want, they might just move on to another table. I guess it’s never too early to develop an appetite.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Become a Giving Tree

Key Point: Lets intentionally give more of ourselves. It’s that simple, and obviously hard to do for many of us. Tony Robbins is a life coach and bestselling author who has published five books in 14 languages. If you aren’t already familiar with his work, take a look at his long list of awards and accomplishments. You get the point: Robbins is very successful in many ways, not the least being financially. 

Robbins is sharing his wealth by writing a personal check that’ll feed 50 million people in 2015 through Feeding America. That’s a “wow!” Feeding America is the largest and (many consider) it the most effective hunger relief organization. It’s hard to believe 47 million people, including 17 million children in America go to bed every night unsure if they’re going to have a meal the next day. 

As a very young man, Robbins was literally broke and destitute. He recalls a day when he used $17 dollars out of his last $20 bucks to help another person. Robbins vividly remembers that moment because the next day he unexpectedly received a check in the mail from someone who owed him money. He says, “That’s the day that scarcity ended in me. And that didn’t mean I didn’t have more ups and downs financially. I had plenty of those but I never ever went back to that place of being angry with somebody else who had more or blaming other people. Whether they got what they did fairly or unfairly, who the hell am I to say? What I want to do is focus instead on being a blessing in people’s lives. That if I can find a way every day to do something to add more value for other people then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Just like you don’t worry about taking a breath whether oxygen is going to be there. You don’t ask the question, you know it’s going to be there. I figured if I left my life that way where I spontaneously did what was right consistently I wouldn’t have to worry and I haven’t another day since. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have stressful times but I haven’t gone back to that place of scarcity.” 

On another note, my seatmate on a recent flight told me about his grandparents. His grandmother had passed away and he was retuning from her funeral. His grandparents were married for 73 years. They jointly worked as school janitors until they were in their 90’s. Every year for most of their married life, they collected bottles and cans from the ditches of local Lethbridge, Alberta highways and as a result gave thousands of dollars annually to a Lethbridge charity. One might argue that as janitors they never had enough money, but as giving people there were as wealthy as a Gates or Buffett

This week our 7-year-old second grade grandson, Logan, asked his mom if they could create a giving tree for the homeless that populate his community. He had heard the story from his Auntie of someone doing something similar to this in New York. So, he and his mom collected and bought things that the homeless might need, packaged them in see through plastic bags and hung them on what Logan dubbed as the “Giving Tree” in a park near their home.

photo 1Just as Logan and his mom finished hanging their gifts, a homeless man, shivering in the wet Seattle cold, helped himself to hat and mitts that were hung on the tree. I talked to Logan about this experience and his sense of personal goodwill in helping others was palpable. What a beautiful, everlasting sense of generosity. As Robbins notes, “giving without any sense of reciprocation results in a spiritual shift.” Thank you Logan (and his mom). 

Character Moves: 

  1. Each of us is wired to be a literal “giving tree.” Although, sometimes we lose our way and we need a reminder. So just make it part of you to GIVE more. It doesn’t have to be a lot. However, the research notes that if we make sincere, intentional giving as a regular part of our life, we flat out feel better about ourselves and the world we live in.
  1. Think about five minutes of giving a day. Wharton professor, Adam Grant, encourages us to think of doing “5 minute favors,” a concept made famous by serial entrepreneur Adam Rifkin. Five minute favors could include things like making introductions, giving feedback, providing recommendations for others, etc. Grant emphasizes how spending just five minutes to help someone can go along way in building relationships too.
  1. Ask others what they’re working on, and give accordingly. Grant’s advice to people who want to become givers, and really add value to the life of others is to pay attention to what people need, what they are working on, and what keeps them up at night. We often ask people “How are you doing?” but don’t really ask them, “What are you working on?” Grant believes that the latter question is where givers should begin, because once you know this, you can easily offer to help them if it’s within your expertise, or connect them with someone you know.

Become that Giving Tree in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Sometimes charity or “giving” to organizations seems to be “out of sight, out of mind,” and something that’s easy for a millennial to put off for now. Since we’re all likely holiday shopping, a lot of cool merchandise you may buy for loved ones can also be attached to giving back to good causes, like these somewhat trendy Lokai bracelets that donate 10 percent of their profits to charitable alliances. Financial contributions aside, five-minute favors are extremely tangible… Start by thanking a vet, fire fighter, or police officer for their service… That goes a long way.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Top 2013 Abundance Blogs… Setting the Stage For 2014!

[Ed. Note: This wraps up the highlight blogs of 2013 (see the last two posts for five favored blogs in the other two Character Triangle categories: ACCOUNTABILITY and RESPECT). Thank you readers. My very capable editor Garrett Rubis, and I look forward to you joining us for another 100 or so posts through 2014; some of which will hopefully inspire valued thought and action. Please forward any blog you like and/or encourage people you care about to subscribe. The subscription is FREE and the blogs are an outcome of my daily work as ATB Financial‘s Chief People Officer, intertwined with leading research, lessons from thought leaders and/or 40 plus years of knee scrapes and high fives in the world of work].

Key Point: Thank you for the wonderful response to the many blogs related to ABUNDANCE in 2013. Here are five that touched many people.

1. “Who Will Sit in That Chair?” This blog was one of several inspired by Adam Grant‘s research and book entitled, “Give and Take.” The benefits of giving and generosity are validated by his research and a call for more of this from all of us.

2. The blog, “What is Your Positive Intelligence Quotient?” introduces the positive intelligence quotient (PQ) and is foundational to understanding how a positive and growth mindset contributes to our personal leadership and success. Shirzad Chamine adds some very practical work to underscore positive psychology. What’s your PQ?

3. A reminder to consciously add laughter and humor in our daily work was the essence of the “Laugh Your %#$ Off! For Real.” It generated a lot of thumbs up from readers and reinforced our need to laugh out loud and often each day.

4 “Tug on Superman’s Cape” reminded us to question the reason some people become “go to people.” This blog caused people to sit back and go, “hmm…” Counter-intuitively, superman jobs are often most vulnerable for elimination. When we look deeper they can be based on scarcity rather than abundance.

5. Perhaps the blog with the most referenced phrase in 2013 was the “pickle face” post? The credit for the phrase belongs to non other than Pope Francis. Regardless of religious affiliation or not, this message really seemed to resonate with people. Don’t be a pickle face in 2014.

Character Moves:

  1. Read one or more of the above “favorites,” or go to lornerubis.com and tour the 2013 “Be Abundant” section. You may find others that are more meaningful to you.
  2. If you haven’t had the opportunity, please read my gift to you blog published Dec. 24. It nicely wraps up the blogs over the year.
  3. Join us, read and pass on our blogs through 2014… Hopefully we can become more self aware, and act with clearer, more targeted intent as we continue to grow our personal leadership skills.

ABUNDANCE Favorites in The Triangle,

Happy New Year,

Lorne and Garrett Rubis


My Personal Gift to You This Christmas Season

Key Point: I have been searching my “brain shelves” to find and wrap up the best Christmas gift I could for you; my wonderful readers. My fondest wish is that this blog becomes very meaningful for YOU through 2014 and beyond. I also hope that this message really connects at a deeper level… Maybe it resonates during a quiet walk or sitting in front of a warm fire? You are so deserving of it. It does however require increased self-awareness and daily ratio self-leadership. Will you unwrap it and find it valuable?

Dr. Richard Boyatzis, a professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, has used brain imaging to analyze how coaching affects the brain differently when you focus on DREAMS instead of FAILURES. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, finds that POSITIVE FEELINGS enlarge the aperture of our attention to embrace a wider range of possibility and motivates us to work toward a better future. She finds that people who do well in their private and work lives alike, generally have a higher ratio of positivity during their day. Being in the positive mood range activates brain circuits that remind us of how good we will feel when we reach a goal, according to research by Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin. That’s the circuit that keeps us working away at the small steps we need to take toward a larger goal – whether finishing a major project or a change in our own behavior. Daniel Goleman’s research reinforces that emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness—getting in touch with your inner voice. This is a matter of paying careful attention to internal physiological signals. These subtle cues are monitored by the insula, which is tucked behind the frontal lobes of the brain. Wharton’s Adam Grant and other scientists have documented the benefits of giving and research shows that we can see the brain acting differently when we are generous in spirit and action.

This science and research noted above is the backdrop to my gift to you and fully resonates with my experience.

Character Gifts/Moves:

  1. Allow yourself to spend more time dreaming about what you will do and become, than self-criticizing and being so hard on yourself for what you are not. While I’m a fan of continuous improvement to get better, my personal experience (and the science) reinforces our need to aspire to really THRIVE. Dream and aspire more than criticize every day.
  2. Be aware of the degree of positive feelings you have and impart to others. It is not a matter of being positive all the time, but having the right balance of positive to negative. There is strong evidence that the minimum positive to negative ratio to keep us moving forward is four to one.
  3. Think of giving of yourself as adding value in all your daily interactions with others. Give yourself an opportunity to reflect each day on who you brought positive value to and in what way. It may be a simple door opening for a stranger, cleaning up your coffee cup after a meeting, or something more impactful like providing thoughtful feedback, or contributing during a meeting. Give more than you take every day.
  4. So my gift to YOU is increased self-awareness and attention to your personal ratio leadership every day through 2014: The ASPIRATION DREAMS versus SELF-CRITICISM ratio; the POSITIVE PERSONAL THINKING versus NEGATIVE THINKING ratio, and finally the GIVING versus TAKING ratio.

Positive Ratio Leadership in The Triangle,



Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

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