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19 Oct 2011

Cut To Chase

The book started off well and the author managed to keep it up for a little bit. Soon, he started to lose me. He began to repeat himself here and there, cloaking the same points in a different garb. How about cutting to the chase, Stuart? He does not seem to have a focal point for the book either. 'Stay on the course’ he says but does he? It’s not clear till the end whether this book is intended for general life or projects or leaders – neither the audience nor the context is apparent. So much for ‘know your audience’, ‘announce your conclusions first’, etc.
Reading the chapter headings is quicker than reading the whole book as they pretty much convey most of the message. If you insist on reading the book, I would suggest a quick skim. It isn't terrible but it's isn't good either. I came out at the other end feeling a little like I could have made better use of my time. 
I’ve noted down almost all of the points here (removed a few too-obvious duplicates) and added notes on the right, where it could be interpreted in different ways or needed some clarity. This is a long read but it’s way lesser than reading the whole book. The post is worth one read. Don’t forget to make a note of your take-away points.
Speed Up
Cut to the Chase: And 99 Other Rules to Liberate Yourself and Gain Back the Gift of Time
By Stuart R. Levine
  • Cut to the chase                        Approach everything from your next phone call to the next 5 yrs of your career with clarity & focus. Know what’s important & what’s not
  • Just Start                              Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power & magic in it – Goethe
  • Get in early & go home on time
  • I got it                                        When you’ve understood what someone’s saying, let them know & get on with it
  • The first 20 minutes                    Plan plan plan. Get organized
  • You’re killing me                       When someone doesn’t get your “I got it” & keeps talking
  • Get over it                             Acknowledge what happened and let it go. Learn what you can from it & move on
  • It’s not always about you
  • What’s keeping you up at night? Make a note, write it down & get to it the next day
  • Don’t hide your passion         Let the enthusiasm show
  • Start with an end in mind               Know what you want before you start
  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Organize yourself first
  • Assumptions kill
  • Think in bullets
  • Trust your gut
  • Predict how long things will take
  • Tailor your message to your audience
  • What’s been going better lately – and why       Analyse your successes just like your mistakes
  • Explode out of the blocks               A good start is half the race. Start the morning off right. Do something to energize yourself
  • Every second counts
  • Know how things really get done
  • Build momentum
  • Make sure your handoffs (handovers) are clean
  • Bag consensus                   Involve key players and come to a consensus. Complete consensus if often impossible – before asking anyone for their input, decide how to decide
  • Break through silos
  • Appeal to their enlightened self-interest
  • Measure twice, cut once
  • Close the loop                          When a colleague introduces you to a new contact, tell your colleague when you’ve reached out to the new person & after you’ve connected, tell them how it went
  • Call an audible                         Anticipate change before it happens and react immediately
  • Beat change to the punch                Carl Jung once said, “If there’s a fear of falling, the only safety consists in deliberately jumping”
  • To speed up, slow down          Make a note every time you circle back to fix something. Review the ‘To Do’ list & highlight anything that looks like a redo. Get it right next time & every time
  • Teach people how to use your time
  • Treat others’ time as you would your own        People don’t mind giving their time if they feel it’s valued and helpful.
  • Know what’s being asked of you
  • If you want something, ask for it       The more specific you are, the faster you’ll get it
  • Tell them if the baby is ugly          
  • Cut to the chase without drawing blood
  • Make sure everyone has the map 
  • Tell them what’s on the test            Telling people how they will be measured will help them focus on the most important things.
  • Know your work style – and theirs
  • Clear the air                           Even if the dynamic between you and your colleague drifts back to “normal,” the unspoken frustration will affect your relationships, and potentially your work.
  • Create a ‘no loiteing’ zone
  • You can’t please everyone
  • Know when you’re not needed
  • Count noses                             Even if you’re not able to win everyone’s support, you should atleast know where everyone stands
  • Stay on the course
  • Don’t grandstand                        Don’t dominate conversations. Write your thoughts down & chose the best time to share them. Never cut off people. Talk less, listen more
  • Stay in touch                           With the technology, people, etc
  • Master the graceful exit                Recognize when it’s all been said
  • Look at the big picture
  • Know your weaknesses but play to your strengths
  • Think 3 moves ahead
  • Know when you’re stuck          With work, in your career, anywhere. Recognize when things aren’t moving forward
  • Make opportunity happen
  • Delegate
  • Life is a negotiation                   Define what matters most and be willing to lose the rest
  • Know when to wait & when not to
  • If you need a drummer, hire a drummer   Get the right person to do the right job (I interpreted the title initially, as get help if you need to)
  • Don’t be afraid to hire people you’re going to lose
  • Decide what not to do                   i.e. Prioritize
  • Addition by subtraction         Lose the people who take far more from your life than contribute or minimize their impact on it
  • Use pictures, highlighters              Highlight what’s important, don’t ramble on
  • On it. Pending. Done
  • Start with a punchline                  Give your conclusions before launching into a detailed explanation. It tells your audience why they should pay attention & what to look for. Don’t make them guess
  • Weed out your reading pile              You can’t do your job well if you don’t know what’s happening in your company, your industry, in the world. Read everything you need – develop a technique
  • TMI (Too Much Information)              There is such a thing
  • Good enough is good enough              Striving for perfection when “good enough is good enough” is a waste of time. Accept your imperfection. Do great work, inspite of it
  • Your time is your life                  Figure out what’s important in your life. Don’t be afraid to pull back from the things that aren’t
  • Cut down on the fire drills             Define the steps you’ll need to take to reach your goal. Then stick to them
  • When you hear something once, pay attention. When you hear it twice, act
  • Procrastination takes years off your life. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment
  • Sweat the small stuff                   When you cut to the chase, don’t forget the small details
  • Don’t let a difficult person dominate your life
  • Renew yourself everyday         “A person should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul” – Goethe
  • Turn the page                           When you leave your work, leave the work behind

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