Down at Beeline's conference this week, I had the chance to catch 40 minutes of a much longer presentation by the world's guru on customer service, Ron Kaufman. While a very good self-promoter down to the personable business cards left at everyone's place at the event -- Google him and check out his site -- Ron is one of the best business speakers I've heard. His shtick on enhancing customer intimacy and service is anything but rocket science when compared to procurement, but man, is he good at communicating his ideas.
Ron's presentation got me thinking about how useful it can be to simplify ideas and frameworks down to bare bones rather than the long prose and complicated charts we typically lean upon. There's one idea I've been toying with for the past few months, and at the risk of sounding corny, I'll share it here today. It's Friday, after all, and if Ron can build a huge franchise with a simple -- if not highly valuable -- idea, why shouldn't I take a stab at it?
I call it the 3Fs. The three 3Fs are nothing like the 4Ps (for you marketing geeks in the audience). No, the 3FS are personal. The 3Fs came about when I started to look at how to better segment my life and balance things more effectively. With the 3Fs in balance, I hope to achieve greater harmony (as measured by stress levels and general personal and work happiness). And by focusing on them so far, I think I have. Of course by now, you're wondering what they are. Quite simply: Finances, Fitness, Family (though not in any specific order). Think of them as three slices in the pie of life.
As I look at the 3Fs, my goal each week is to balance all three and for each to improve the others. The important thing here is to not downgrade or emphasize one at the expense of the others. For example, make time in the day to work out. It's something you do, just as you would tuck in your kids or go to meetings. Again, understanding how all three impact each other is essential. I've stopped overly strenuous early morning workouts before the kids wake up when I have work tasks (or before a big presentation or speech on the road) because I've learned if I go hard before the sun comes up, my zapped energy deprives the other two Fs of oxygen and balance.
For me, Family is the gluten that holds the pie together. For those who are in a relationship and/or with kids, it's key to balance. Making the time -- whatever time you have -- to be better as a partner, spouse, parent or kid for that matter, is what counts. Going through the motions if you're tired or distracted benefits no one. Moreover, I've found attempting to explain to my older kids what I do for a living (and giving them examples to make it real) brings us closer and also causes some friction from time to time -- but that's also an integral aspect of family.
For example, my eight-year-old likes to download apps on his iPod Touch (an iPhone without a cellular signal) and pay me a buck in cash every time he gets something (with my permission). I recently started to ask him for $3 per download, explaining that need to cover the total cost (not just the unit cost) associated with the acquisition: feeding him, energy costs, cost of the bus or gas to go to the Apple store every month or two, etc. This has taught him a basic lesson of procurement: the true costs of acquisition aren't necessarily what you pay on a unit basis! I use tactics like this to explain what I write about and lecture on for a living.
Moving onto another F, Financials for an entrepreneur represent a combination of their business and their investments. For someone working for an organization, it's their job and their investments. I find not only making the time to think about both on a daily basis, including documenting on a hard dollar basis how I'm impacting both through my own actions, a really valuable exercise. At least once a week, I try and measure both and have some quantitative idea (based on the numbers) where I actually stand on what I've done, (or not done, as the case may be).
Fitness deserves a whole post by itself. When I pause to stop and take a look at how fitness has become part of my life and how it's improved everything else -- from better sleeping to better concentration at my desk to being a better parent -- I'm amazed. But as with the rest, it's a question of balance, thinking of each F in large part to improve the other two. When one detracts from the others (and surprisingly, this goes for the Family "F" as well), it's time to immediately stop and reevaluate what you're up to.
So there you have it. Self help from a procurement geek. Of course these are my 3Fs -- let us know if you have others. Maybe we'll even grow this concept into a clever acronym.