April 2010

Don’t Hog Glory, Invest It Instead

2011-04-07T17:39:27+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: , , |

Sand for Your Inbox
April 2010

There are many versions of the advice, “Surround yourself with great people – and you’ll get great things.” However, it isn’t enough just to surround yourself, you must also take care and nurture the people that surround you.

Here is a great example of nurturing, from the pages of the book, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. I hope you enjoy this month’s Sand for Your Inbox…

Don’t Hog Glory, Invest It Instead

Just recently I was a guest at an all-day sales convention. After dinner that evening the vice-president in charge of sales for the company passed out awards to the two district managers, a man and a woman, whose sales organizations had attained the best records for the year just ended. The vice president asked those district managers to take 15 minutes to tell the entire group how their organization did so exceptionally well.

The first district manager (who, I learned later, had been appointed a manager only three months before and therefore only partially responsible for his organization’s record) got up and explained how he did it.

He conveyed the impression that his efforts and his efforts alone caused the sales increase. Remarks such as, “When I took over I did such-and-such”; “Things were in a mess but I cleared them up”; “It wasn’t easy but I just grabbed hold of the situation and wouldn’t let go” characterized his talk.

As he talked, I could see the increasing resentment gathering in the faces of his salespeople. They were being ignored for the sake of the district manager’s personal glory. Their hard work, which was responsible for the sales increase, was completely unrecognized.

Then, the second district manager got up to make her short talk. But this lady used an entirely different approach. First, she explained that the reason for her organization’s success was the whole-hearted effort of her sales force. Then she asked each one to stand and paid a sincere personal compliment to each for his or her efforts.

Note this difference; the first manager squandered the vice-president’s praise entirely on himself. In doing so, he offended his own people. His sales force was demoralized. The second passed the praise on to her sales force where it could do more good. This manager knows that praise, like money, can be invested to pay dividends. She knew that the passing the credit on to her sales people would make them work even harder next year.

Remember, praise is power. Invest praise you receive from your superior. Pass praise to your team where it will encourage still greater performance. When you share praise, your team will know you sincerely appreciate their value.

One stipulation to this story – investing praise must be genuine. If the second district manager said those things without meaning it, she’s as bad as the first. I’d rather have a boss that hogs praise than insincere who pretends to share it.

When investing praise, be generous and genuine.

Take care,

Paul Williams
professional problem solver
Idea Sandbox
Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

The story “Don’t Hog Glory, Invest It Instead” is from pages 209-211 of the book, The Magic Of Thinking Big: Set Your Goals High Then Exceed Them by David J. Schwartz. © 2006 Pocket Books.

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January 2010

Get More Done With An Un-ToDo List

2011-04-07T17:39:49+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: , , |

Sand for Your Inbox
January 2010

How is your resolution season going? Mine is okay so far.

As I started to put together my “ToDo” list for 2010 – carrying over things from 2009 – I realized I’m trying to “pack for a five-day trip into a four-day suitcase.” Trying to cram in too much. Does that happen to you?

stuffed suitcaseThe frustration (and illusion) is… we think if we re-fold and rearrange our clothes just right, all of our items… just… might… FIT!?

Perhaps, with enough stretching – and someone to sit on the suitcase while you zip – you may make it work.

(But, you know when arriving the destination you’ll find undergarments strewn on the baggage carousel along side a popped suitcase).

Unfortunately, this same behavior is what many of us tend to follow when managing projects and tasks we need to accomplish at work and home. We try to pack as much as possible into our time.

The Problem

Each of the things we think and worry about use up a little bit of our brain processing power. From the small “buy milk on the way home” or “fill out TPS report” to the big “don’t forget wedding anniversary” and “marketing plan due next Wednesday.”

Even if we write things down (which is a good idea) we still drain a bit of our brain’s power. And, when you’ve got too many things rolling around up there – it can cause stress, problems concentrating, difficulty sleeping, and disorganization.

We’re over packing our brains.

The Solution – The Un-ToDo List

Instead of trying to cram your ToDo list beyond capacity, try an Un-ToDo list? Remove things that are creating clutter, distraction, and the feeling of “Yikes! I’ll never get it all done.

I guarantee there are items listed in your task management system that you may never do… or are so far in the future aren’t relevant now.

Here are the key steps…

  1. Gather all of your tasks in some sort of list.
  2. Right off, eliminate those that:
    • aren’t necessary,
    • have been lingering and you’ll probably never do, or
    • are time fillers. Activity not necessarily productivity.

    (Feels better already, huh?)

  3. Move the things you’ll get to in the future to a “someday maybe” list. Your “someday maybe” list is a list you keep filed safely away, and review once in a while. It is a good way to store ideas out of your mind, but in a safe place.

TIP: You can use the Idea Sandbox Prioritizer (http://prioritizer.idea-sandbox.com) to help with your Un-ToDo list. This free web-based tool helps you arrange your first things first. The items that fall at the very bottom of your Prioritizer list probably could be deleted or moved to a “someday maybe” list.

I hope this idea really helps you. I think you’ll find clearing out some of your task clutter will lighten your load and help you feel that you’re accomplishing more.

I’d love to get your feedback in the comments below!

Happy Un-Doing.


Paul's Name

Paul Williams
professional problem solver
Idea Sandbox
Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

Amsterdam • Seattle

October 2009

How To Use Big Thinking In Critical Situations

2011-04-14T01:51:37+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: , |

Sand for Your Inbox
October 2009

The Magic Of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz, inspired me so much… I have to share parts of it with you.

The slides below include lessons found throughout the book. In short, the book teaches:

The size of your success is driven by the size of your thinking.

That’s a pretty powerful lesson. Dr. Schwartz offers (among other things) realistic advice to build confidence, think creatively, “think right” toward people, and how to take action.

As I mention in the presentation itself, this is easily one of my all-time favorite books

How To Use The Magic Of Thinking Big
In Life’s Most Critical Situations

You can view the presentation full-screen with by clicking “full” and use the “email” to send to friends, family, or co-workers.

Finally, I invite you to can check out the book at Amazon, Amazon UK, or your local bookstore.

Take care,

Paul's Handwritten Signature


Paul Williams
BIG thinker
Idea Sandbox

Idea Sandbox • Seattle | Amsterdam

September 2008

“Unclogging Thinker’s Block” Inbox Sand, August 08

2011-07-27T14:27:30+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , |

At times, coming up new ideas can be as frustrating as staring at a blank piece of paper… Waiting for the words to come to you. You’re experiencing the innovator’s version of writer’s block – thinker’s block.

In the August edition of “Sand for Your Inbox” (the Idea Sandbox eNewsletter) I share a super-strength brain cleaner to unclog thinker’s block. Below is the link:

Inbox Sand:
“Unclogging Thinker’s Block”

Subscribe now to “Sand for Your Inbox” for free and be the first to receive ideas to help you think and work more creatively. Each month I will send tips and tricks directly to your inbox.

April 2008

Get Yourself In Order, Idea Sandbox Prioritizer :: Inbox Sand – April ’08

2009-01-03T11:41:55+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

It’s one thing to list all the tasks, projects, and errands you need to accomplish… But it’s a whole ‘nother thing to try to organize that list, putting the most important things first… to prioritize.

As a professional problem solver, I felt it my responsibility to help solve this challenge…

I’m proud to present to you…

Idea Sandbox Prioritizer

The free, web-based tool to help you get yourself in order!

It’s a wicked simple tool to use and will help you prioritize ANY list of items.


Give it a try now… Bookmark it for later! (you’ll thank me!)

Prioritizer already has a testimonial!

As a PM [project manager] I deal with prioritizing almost constantly and enjoyed giving your new tool, Idea Sandbox Prioritizer, a test drive. I used it for my errands today and, by golly, if it didn’t help me clarify which order to execute the steps! What a cool tool for use in meetings or other settings to get down to what really matters.

Bottom line – I love it!


Quick Instructions

Visit http://prioritizer.idea-sandbox.com

  1. Enter into Prioritizer: tasks, projects, errands… anything you need to accomplish.
  2. When you’ve finished entering, select NEXT STEP at the bottom of the page.
  3. Prioritizer pairs items on your list. Click the item that is more important, or that needs to be done first.

When you have run through all the items on your list, Prioritizer presents you with an ordered, numbered list!

That’s all there is to it!

Once you’re finished, Prioritizer offers you the convenience to…
Print It – creates a snazzy format to print or save as PDF.
Change It – add, subtract, or re-word tasks on the existing list, or
Start Over – start from scratch

Prioritizer is perfect whenever you have three or more items that need to be prioritized!

The beauty of Prioritizer is its simplicity. By viewing and making a decision between only two items at a time, it’s much easier for your mind to manage than simultaneously juggling a list of 5 or 25 (or more) items.

Consider Prioritzer to…

  • …sort work or personal projects.
  • …prioritize your Netflix queue.
  • …pick your Summer vacation destination
  • …select a baby name.
  • …select a presidential candidate.

…and many more!

How will you use Prioritizer? Let me know, share your reactions.

By the way, subscribers to our eNewsletter “Sand for Your Inbox” learned about this tool first… and had the information delivered directly to their Inbox! You can be the first to learn about wicked cool tools like this too! Click… Subscribe for free, now.

March 2008

Uncover Solutions Using Idea Sandbox’s Big Dig

2010-09-22T22:27:44+00:00 Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , |

Suffering from idea block?

Like writer’s block, you know your idea or solution is just below the surface… but you can’t quite dig it out.

You need an idea shovel. Well, Idea Sandbox has help!

We present to you, the Idea Sandbox: Big Dig.

Big Dig is your free, web-based sandbox of ideas. It is chock-full of thought starters and brainstorming tools specifically crafted to help you uncover your needed solution.

Idea Sandbox Big Dig

Using it is fast, simple, and helpful.
Have your challenge in mind.

  • Click the above link. (bigdig.idea-sandbox.com)
  • Click the idea sandbox to reveal your first suggestion.
  • Use the idea offered, or click again to obtain another approach.
  • Big Dig is a one-of-a-kind resource, handcrafted exclusively for Idea Sandbox users.

Folks who were receive the Idea Sandbox eNewsletter “Sand for Your Inbox” were the first to hear about this “awesome and helpful” tool. You can join for free… simply follow this link.

January 2008

Pave Your Life Roadmap

2018-05-27T10:34:27+00:00 Categories: create, grow, Sand for Your Inbox, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , |

Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life?

What to be when you grow up?

This installment of “Sand for Your Inbox” is a special edition. I have handcrafted a proven technique that will help you answer these important questions. (No, really!)

Some years ago, I was trying to figure this out for myself. I did a bunch of reading, culled my self-help resources, and created a process to create a Life Roadmap. My Roadmap put me on course to launch Idea Sandbox and make key decisions in my personal and work life.

Outlined below is the very process I used from start-to-finish.

There is nothing more satisfying than getting in the driver’s seat of your own life and doing the things you are most passionate about.

Please share your comments in the reactions section at the end of the article.

Happy Driving,
Paul's First Name

Pave Your Life Roadmap

This process will (1) assists you in identifying what you’re most passionate about and (2) help you incorporate those passions into your daily life. By living your passions, you’ll be a happier and more fulfilled person!

The key steps to crafting your Roadmap are…

  1. List Your Passions – Make a list of all the things you are passionate about.
  2. Identify Values – Group your passions into themes.
  3. Set the Situation – Determine what conditions should exist for you to feel you’re fulfilling your Values.
  4. Reveal Action Steps – Identify what daily activities you should be doing to fulfill your Values.
  5. Visual Report Card – Draw a graph to visualize and assess your current status. (Don’t worry, no drafting tools required).
  6. Take Action / Follow Your Roadmap – Now that you have the keys. Get behind the wheel and follow this plan to drive your life.

Tips as you start…

  • Get yourself a stack of small sized note cards, or a notebook, or a journal… Whatever works for you to have something can come back to.
  • Take your time with this project, but give yourself a deadline. You should give yourself time to reflect, but not so much time you forget and don’t follow-up and complete your plan.
  • Don’t try to do this in one sitting. Plan on starting and coming back to each step. Letting each stage incubate in the back of your brain will provide you with better results.

Find a comfortable chair… here we go!

Step 1. List Your Passions

Objective: Create a list of things you are passionate about.

Make a list the things you are passionate about. If you’re using index cards, put one passion per card. Keep going until you’ve reached 100 passions.

Ask yourself…

  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What excites me?
  • What would I love to spend more time doing if I only had the time?
  • If I could only do one thing for the rest of my life, what would that be?

Forget your responsibilities at work, home, or with family. This isn’t a ‘have to do’ list, this is a ‘wish I could do’ and ‘love to do’ list. There are no right or wrong answers – these are all you.

If you know how and like to ideamap, they are very helpful for this step.

Step 2. Identify Values

Objective: Discover commonalities and group passions into recurring themes.

Next, review your passions and group them into common themes. Look for recurring topics and lump these together. (This is where index cards come in handy).

The book To Do, Doing Done by Snead & Wycoff has a great list of values, including:

Achievement Adventure Beauty
Career Growth Community Family
Financial Security Freedom Friends
Frugality Fun Generosity
Growth Health & Fitness Honesty
Inner Peace Joy Leadership
Learning Love Music
Nature Organization Personal Development
Productivity Spirituality Travel

While you may have loads of interests and passions, combining into value groups helps you narrow your focus on what truly matters most.

Don’t worry if it seems you have too many themes for your VALUES. After you’ve created the first round, you can pare down and combine. I had 19 different themes and finally ended up with 10.

My key values are Security, Relationships, Organization, Personal Growth, Fun & Entertainment, Contribution, Entrepreneur, Passion, Creativity, and Health.

Here is an ideamap I created to view and group my own Values.


Handwritten Map


Using Template

Identifying values is key. They represent activities that you care about most. If you do things that match your values, you will feel more fulfilled.

Step 3. Set the Situation

Objective: Determine what circumstances (new and existing) will allow you to fulfill your Values.

Now we’ll figure out what situation or circumstances you should find yourself that will make you feel like you’re fulfilling your Values. These are performance indicators. Their existence indicates you’re performing in your Values.

Answer this question:
If I had a life filled with [your theme here], I would: _____________.

The last part of the sentence will reveal these performance indicators.

For example, for my theme “CREATIVITY” my five performance indicators are:

If I had a life filled with CREATIVITY, I would:

  1. Think up new ideas
  2. Solve problems
  3. Create neat ideas that work
  4. Create new ways of doing things
  5. Express myself with art, music, and/or writing.

I recommend coming up with at least five (5) answers. It is okay if these match up with your original list of passions… But push yourself. There may be a big difference between what you are doing and what you should be doing.

Step 4. Visual Report Card

Objective: Gauge how we’ll you’re currently satisfying your Values. Determine which values you should focus on first.

Now we want to compare your values and see which you’re fulfilling and which need focus.

For each value, you’re going to ask yourself…
“Self, on a scale from 1 to 5, (5 being the best, 1 being the least), how am I currently doing in fulfilling these performance indicators?”

Repeat for each value and mark your scores on a radar diagram. A radar diagram is a round graph with spokes that measure each piece of information. (It looks like a radar screen). It is helpful to see how consistent or balanced your information is.

The values marked with lower scores need focus. A score of “5” represent values you are fulfilling. Theoretically, when you mark scores of all 5’s you’re at the height of following your passions.

You can download a blank template here (PDF), or create your own.

Here’s my completed radar diagram. My personal assessment is shaded in orange. The green area represents all 5s. So you can see I feel pretty good about my Entrepreneur, Relationships, Personal Growth, and Fun Values, but want to work on my Contribution and Organization Values.

Step 5. Reveal Action Steps

Objective: Determine what you should be doing on a daily basis – enabling activities – to satisfy your values.

If this life plan were a business plan, your values would be your objectives and performance indicators your strategies. Now we need to figure out the tactics, the enabling activities. Tasks to do on a daily basis.

Using your radar diagram as your guide, start with the value you indicated most needs improvement and the corresponding performance indicators.

Figure out what tasks you need to do to bring to life the performance indicator.

Take a look at my value of CREATIVITY as the example.

As I listed earlier, the performance indicators I have identified for this value are:

  1. Think up new ideas
  2. Solve problems
  3. Create neat ideas that work
  4. Create new ways of doing things
  5. Express myself with art, music, and/or writing.

The last one is the one I want to work on: “Express myself with art, music, and/or writing.”

I’ve narrowed the focus of this one to art and writing. I’m able to exercise my passion for writing through this newsletter, in my blog posts, and other writings. But, I want to be a better writer. So enabling activities could include one or all of the following:

  • Sign up for a writing class,
  • Get feedback from my English teacher friend,
  • Buy a book on how to improve my grammar.

The art part? I majored in art in college and love drawing and painting. However, I haven’t painted in years. For Christmas, I asked Santa for art supplies. I received an art easel and new supplies to do pen & ink drawings and watercolor. I’ve already started to enjoy using them and feel better.

When I brainstorm with clients, I often draw images instead of simply using words. Also known as graphic facilitation. This helps make topics easier to understand AND feeds my passion for drawing… This also influenced how I built Idea Sandbox, and is part of what makes my job so much fun. See how this all comes together?

To help work this step out, I created a document. In fact, the below document along with your radar diagram constitutes your entire Life Roadmap.

This document along with the radar diagram serves as my daily guide.

This link, Life Roadmap Plan, will allow you to download this as a Word template. Enjoy.

Step 6. Take Action / Follow Your Roadmap.

Objective: Perform enabling activities. Use your LifeMap as a guide.

Incorporate these enabling activities into your daily life. Put them on your calendar, to-do lists, whatever. (If you don’t have a system, start one now!)

Use your LifeMap as a guide for making life decisions and see how your choices affect the ability for you to engage in your performance indicators. When you’re faced with life choices that give you angst, it is because they affect your passion areas, your values.

Radar Diagram

Be Your Own Career Counselor

What I’ve provided so far will help you do the “things” that will fulfill you… But what if you’re trying to figure out what a fulfilling job or career could be?

That list of passions you built-in Step 1 contains all the specifications you need in finding a job you’ll find rewarding.

The hard part is to ignore whom you “think” you are today and dig into what you’ve written. Your passions outline your job description, you just need to translate

For example, my list of passions includes that I enjoy…

  • helping people, serving as a leader, passing knowledge onto others, finding inventive ways to simplify complex ideas…

What types of jobs would allow me to do these activities? I can come up with…

  • Teacher, Politics, Counselor, Sports Coach, Life Coach, Corporate Trainer…

If I take a look at my other passions and other factors… I don’t think I’d like to deal with bureaucracy, so politics may not be the role for me… I’m not a huge sports fan so sports coach probably won’t suit me. But, I’d have a blast teaching kids or helping them make better choices, and life coach and corporate trainer are worth looking into.

While working on this piece there are two other resources you should consider checking out…

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – You may find Myers-Briggs helpful, the MBTI tool is online. For a $60 investment in yourself take the assessment. The feedback will also help you gauge what you may enjoy.
  • Now, Discover Your Strengths by Clifton & Buckingham – This book focuses on maximizing your strengths rather than trying to “fix” your weaknesses. When you buy the book, a code printed on the front cover gives you access to their Strength Finder website. (They have a new, updated book called Strengths Finder 2.0)


That’s the program! It is intense, but your return on investment is colossal. Follow these steps, be honest with yourself, and I can guarantee you will have results.

Send me an e-mail if you have questions.

I wish you the best!

Your Life Roadmap is paved with a series of VALUES formed by groups of PASSIONS that manifest themselves through PERFORMANCE INDICATORS and are brought to life through your ENABLING ACTIVITIES.

Here are resources I originally used to build this process…

  • The Franklin-Covey method of defining Values, Roles, and Goals.
  • To Do, Doing, Done by G. Lynne Snead and Joyce Wycoff
  • First Things First by Stephen Covey
  • Franklin-Covey Mission Statement Builder
  • Ben Franklin 13 Virtues – Ben Franklin was one of the first self-improvement gurus (although he didn’t know it yet). In 1726 Ben Franklin created a list of thirteen virtues to guide his life. He used to keep a daily journal to note how he performed in keeping to virtues. (He openly admitted challenges with keeping to them).

November 2007

Inbox Sand – November ’07 – Grains of Wisdom

2010-12-03T10:45:11+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox, SandBlog|Tags: |

The November issue of our eNewsletter, Sand for Your Inbox, is now available for viewing.

November Inbox Sand

Last month I spoke to students finishing up their pubic relations program at my alma mater, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

I provided the advice I wish I had when leaving school and entering the “real” world. What’s interesting about the tips… is that they’re just as relevant for a recent graduate as they are a work-place veteran.

The advice included…

  • Keep an Idea Journal
  • Add Knowledge
  • Arrive With A Solution
  • Jerks Are Everywhere, Learn from Them
  • Avoid Jargon
  • Expand Your Field of Knowledge, and
  • You Are Your Brand

Read on for the details…

NEW Membership Perk :: Join Now!

In addition to the jealousy of family, friends, and co-workers another perk of any membership is the official membership card.

From this point on, new members receive this spiffy, official membership card.

Sample Membership Card[click for larger image]

Membership is free. Click to Join!

Existing Members
Wish to have a membership card issued? Please e-mail and I’ll be happy to get the folks at the Idea Sandbox Institute to issue you an official card including your member date and number.

September 2007

Inbox Sand : September ’07 : Bricks. Walls. Cathedral.

2011-04-07T21:12:30+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

I don’t know if you already receive it, but on Friday I sent out the September installment of our eNewsletter, “Sand for Your Inbox.”

This month I provided a technique to help you be a better problem solver – specifically a way to ensure you’re solving the right problem. (The last thing you want to do is spend time fixing the wrong thing).

Click the link below to read the entire story.

“Bricks. Walls. Cathedral” – September Inbox Sand

By the way, if you want to have future issues of Sand for Your Inbox delivered directly to you, you should become a member of the Idea Sandbox exclusive mailing list. (It’s free!)

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.


August 2007

Inbox Sand – August ’07 – Fail Intelligently

2012-02-18T18:29:13+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

This month’s installment of the Idea Sandbox eNewsletter “Sand for Your Inbox” was inspired by James Dale’s book book: “The Obvious: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed“. He has a chapter where he talks about “failing intelligently.”

My grandfather used to say – something along these lines

Both the fool and the wise person have erasers on the end of the pencils. The difference is that the fool uses the eraser to keep correcting the same mistakes.

It’s the same with failure. We need to learn how to fail intelligently.

But wait… why am I keeping you here?! The link below takes you to the complete installment.

August Inbox Sand
If you’d like to have tips like these delivered directly to your inbox each month, click to join now – it’s free!

Take care,