Sand for Your Inbox – April 2009

Today – April 23rd – is my birthday. I turn 40. I’m not telling you this because I’m fishing for “happy birthday” wishes, but to let you know the background for this Sand for Your Inbox.

I currently live in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and it is the Dutch custom – on your birthday – to bring your own cake or treats. While this tradition is different from what I’m used to, it’s what they do locally. Per tip #33… when you’re a visitor somewhere, local tradition rules.

Since cake doesn’t ship well, my treat to you are slices of advice. These are bits of wisdom I’ve experienced, learned, or heard.

I hope you find a few that help you.


  1. Be nice to everyone. It’s a small world, after all.
  2. Avoid jargon.
  3. Don’t demean people.
  4. Treat people on an individual basis. Some people are jerks. They don’t represent all the people from that family, company, town, country, or religion.

    Around Work

  5. Perception is reality.
  6. Save Often. Back-Up Regularly.
  7. Don’t expect it, earn it.
  8. Turn off the microphone before heading to the restroom.
  9. Where you work, be in business for yourself.
  10. Perform at the level of the role you want.

    It’s Your Attitude

  11. Add value. Do more than is expected.
  12. Sometimes you have to fake it, until you make it – whether it is a to be in a good mood, or how to pull together that big presentation.
  13. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
  14. Know your boundaries, and make them clear.
  15. You’ve got to do what you’re passionate about.
  16. Everything matters.
  17. Be yourself.
  18. No matter how bad you think you were, there will those who thought it was great. No matter how great you were, there will be those who thought it was terrible.

    Random, But Important

  19. Use the word quash, not squash.
  20. Your tongue will stick to frozen metal, and it does hurt.

    Bigger Ideas

  21. Reading, travel, and new experiences make your brain better.
  22. Arrive with the solutions, not just the problem.
  23. Always have something with you to write with and on.
  24. Maintain a bulls-eye, a long-term goal for yourself on the horizon.

    Staying Young and Creative

  25. You never have to grow up as long as you’re childlike and not childish.
  26. Visit the Disney Theme Parks.
  27. Mix things up. Take a different route to work… to life.
  28. Maintain your sense of humor.


  29. Take time to stop and smell the roses, literally.
  30. Prepare your house as if you were getting it ready to sell it, but stay.
  31. Different doesn’t mean wrong. Just because they sound, look, talk, or act different from what you’re used to doesn’t mean they’re wrong. (Your difference probably seems wrong to them).
  32. Act like you’re moving away from your town. Do the things you’ve never done, but said you would.


  33. When you visit another country, remember YOU are the foreigner – local tradition rules.
  34. Learn how to say hello, goodbye, pardon me, please and thank you in the language of the country you’re visiting.


  35. Measure twice, cut once.
  36. Work smarter, not harder.
  37. Surround yourself with greatness.
  38. Be remarkable.
  39. Mistakes eliminate the wrong paths to doing something successfully.
  40. Be an asset-based thinker – focus on what you’ve got versus what is not.

Take care,

Paul Williams
professional problem solver
Idea Sandbox
Twitter: @IdeaSandbox