How often do you attend an event, take notes and capture great ideas, but don’t do anything about it? There is money and impact in those notes, yet most of us don’t have a discipline to transform ink on paper into personal action.

The following are 10 best practices that I have committed to implementing to help with this dilemma:

  1. Increase your discretionary time. Wealth can be defined in many ways. One could define it as discretionary time – the ability to use time as you choose. Money certainly facilitates and enables this, but the ability to take not two or three, but 12-16 weeks of vacation a year is a clear indication of wealth.
  2. Keep resources and information organized and highly accessible. Get organized. Keep your information and resources highly accessible and aim for “just in time” wisdom. If you are constantly searching for information you previously gathered, or if you are disorganized and lack the ability to put your finger on information at the time of greatest impact, what value is that information? By the way, it is critical to transform that information into knowledge and that knowledge into experience and wisdom.
  3. Increase your body of work. If you have heard any of my keynote speeches, I often point out that it is better to be known for content than to simply be known. When you are known for content, others seek you out. Even if they completely disagree with your perspective, they will forward it and build arguments against it, which will often strengthen your very position. Commit to writing something every week.
  4. Learn something every week and use it. Having come from parents who are teachers, at a very early age, I learned that education is a lifelong process. An old mentor of mine once told me that, “Readers are leaders and leaders are readers.” Don’t forget that second part. You have to wonder, what is the purpose of learning without implementation or application?
  5. Do superb work and ask for referrals or references every time. Nothing will ever trump performance. Developing and nurturing relationships and developing a legacy for execution becomes considerably easier and there is no stronger endorsement/advocacy of your ability to execute than testimonials and referrals from those who have received the very value you promise.
  6. Implement an idea. Do something different. The number one culprit to complacency is status quo. Implement an idea and do it differently. As I often mention in various keynotes, training and consulting sessions, define the difference between incrementalism and innovation. There is a difference between doing things better and doing them differently.
  7. Create or reinforce your brand consistently. Brand equity, in its simplest form, drives loyalty. It drives the desire for a repeat experience. Through execution, through delivering a brand promise, you can establish that brand equity. Similar to relationships, when it comes to branding, it is more important to be consistent than to be simply creative.
  8. Technologically simplify your life. I personally have built my professional career around technology. Having worked at companies such as ComputerLand, Silicon Graphics (SGI) and a slew of early stage technology ventures, I assure you that none of us really needs version 4.02.41b when 4.02.41a will do. Identify the required technologies to perform at your consistent optimal mode and stabilize a platform for execution. Having personally endured three crashed laptops over the past two months (primarily due to software upgrade conflicts), it is an enormous strain on your productivity to lose what provides your source of getting things done. I use computers to make a living. When they fail to function properly, it kills my time, resources, and money.
  9. Build on a strength weekly. People often point out our weaknesses, but seldom highlight our fundamental individual, team and organizational strengths – especially in this economy, where many sectors are outperforming their tasks. Isn’t it amazing that we can continue to harp on slumping housing sales and a less than desirable job market (the first in the past four quarters), but seldom highlight the fact that retail sales are through the roof and corporate performance and profitability are at record levels? Build on your personal, team-based and organizational strengths and celebrate those strengths by continuing to feed them.
  10. Fail. If you are not failing, you are not trying. Regardless of the circumstance, we all learn a more valuable lesson from situations, scenarios, and hires that don’t go as well and those that we deem as failures than from all of those we rave about as enormous successes.

Here is to your strategic business relationship success, David.