Banish Busy-ness: Getting Set on a Goal

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As DAXKO grows we all have an increasing number of responsibilities (many hats). We also have an increasing number of opportunities. As a team member who has worn several hats at DAXKO, and usually two at the same time, I have become very interested in how to minimize busy-ness, senseless tasks, and distractions in order to focus on the things that really propel us forward.

Philosopher Antoine de Saint-Exupery (let’s just call him Tony) once said,

“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood
 and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

I am a firm believer that if people are committed to a greater goal that is outside themselves, they will have an uncanny ability to cut the crap, clear the clutter, and do what is most vital to achieving their goal.

At DAXKO their are many examples of goals outside of ourselves.  Here are a few that I have heard from fellow team members:

  • I want to make enough money for my spouse to be able to stay at home with our children
  • I really identify with the work that happens at the YMCA, and helping them do it better is gratifying
  • I love my team and want us to succeed together
  • I strive to live up to the potential my parents instilled in me
  • I want to buy a house for my family
  • I want to be in a position to help a family member through a difficult financial time
  • I want to see Birmingham on the national technology map, with DAXKO at the center
  • I love building software that hits the mark every time, getting rave reviews from our market and the industry alike
  • I want to learn everything I can about running this business because I have an idea for my own business one day

Whatever your motivation outside of yourself, getting there swiftly requires focus on the right things, not the quantity of things you do.

When we do not have a clear goal outside of ourselves, we rely on others to tell us what we should do and we occupy ourselves with “tasks” in the name of staying busy.  Busy feels good.  Busy feels productive.  Busy feels like a badge of honor.

Why do we feel so great when check off 30 items on a to-do list in a day?  Would one check mark beside a really meaningful thing be just as gratifying?

Maybe instead of a to-do list we should work on a “ta-dah” list. Looking back over your to-do list, how many of the tasks really contributed to achieving your highest goals?  Is there anything on your to-do list that would make your “ta-dah” list?

If you think about what you connect to outside of you,  what do you find?  If you ask yourself why you are at DAXKO, what is the answer?  If you think about the scale of success of this company, how does greater success impact your higher goals?

Mark Twain once said, “Having lost sight of our goals, we redouble our efforts.”  Without any higher goal at all, I would dare to say our busy-load quadruples.

Time Magazine: Exercise Doesn’t Help You Lose Weight

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Weight Loss has long been thought to be a calories in, calories out type of thing that was aided by exercise.  Now, Time Magazine’s throwing one of those cover articles out (titled, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”) that’s sure to make a lot of people say “A-HA!!!”

More from the Time article:

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn’t as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.

The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Earlier this year, the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE — PLoS is the nonprofit Public Library of Science — published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin’s, Dr. Timothy Church, who holds the rather grand title of chair in health wisdom at LSU. Church’s team randomly assigned into four groups 464 overweight women who didn’t regularly exercise. Women in three of the groups were asked to work out with a personal trainer for 72 min., 136 min., and 194 min. per week, respectively, for six months. Women in the fourth cluster, the control group, were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routines. All the women were asked not to change their dietary habits and to fill out monthly medical-symptom questionnaires.

The findings were surprising. On average, the women in all the groups, even the control group, lost weight, but the women who exercised — sweating it out with a trainer several days a week for six months — did not lose significantly more weight than the control subjects did. (The control-group women may have lost weight because they were filling out those regular health forms, which may have prompted them to consume fewer doughnuts.) Some of the women in each of the four groups actually gained weight, some more than 10 lb. each.

What’s going on here? Church calls it compensation, but you and I might know it as the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym. Whether because exercise made them hungry or because they wanted to reward themselves (or both), most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment. Or they compensated in another way, by moving around a lot less than usual after they got home.”

The article’s a good read, so give it a run.  The problem with mass media articles like this is that they tend to not change anything, with the exception of making those avoiding exercise feel emboldened like they are somehow doing the right thing.  I haven’t been exercising, but guess what?  Time ran that big article that said exercise doesn’t work – so there’s no reason for me to start.

Meanwhile, regardless of the reality regarding exercise’s impact on weight loss, that same group gets none of the other positive impacts of exercise in their daily lives.

Worse yet, their kids grow up with no exposure to exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks Time…

Hitting the "Reset" Button – via the DAXKO Sabbatical

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DAXKO’s always on the lookout for team members’ health and well-being.  Whether it’s nutritious snacks around the office, friendly (or not so friendly) fitness competitions, or free flu shots, DAXKO’s got our back when it comes to living healthier.  That includes our mental health, too.

Everyone needs a break every now and again.  DAXKO understands that and offers a 4-week paid sabbatical for team members who’ve put in 7
years with the company.  Jealous, huh?  The intent… unplug from work and recharge your battery.  The rule… NO WORK!  That means no email and no phone calls into the office.  We don’t want to hear from you for one whole month.  Period.

Here’s the experience of our CFO, who recently returned from his first sabbatical…

“I used my sabbatical to hit the ‘reset’ button.  After 9 years of intense work at DAXKO, I was fairly wound up.  The first part of my sabbatical, my wife and I just headed south by car along the eastern shore of Florida.  After a restful break in Key West, we headed back up the western shore of Florida.  We spent the second part of my sabbatical in Isla Mujeres, Mexico gobbling up fresh seafood.  Here’s what we experienced:

  • Snorkeling and kayaking in the Caribbean Sea
  • Seeing wildlife ranging from wild boars and iguanas to manatees and barracudas
  • Exploring the Kennedy Space Center
  • Watching a fireworks show over Disney World
  • Exploring the island of Isla Mujeres via a gas-powered golf cart
  • Feeding an iguana
  • Waking up at sunrise without an alarm clock for a whole month
  • Watching numerous sunsets
  • Visiting with friends and family in Florida
  • Visiting our parents and grandparents who we don’t see nearly enough
  • Eating more fresh seafood than I have ever  had in my life (octopus carpaccio with habanero slices, anyone?)
  • And even knocking out some long overdue projects at home

Commonplace at DAXKO – from Supporting to Managing the Product

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Remember ‘The Jeffersons’ theme song ‘Movin on Up’?  Well that’s a recurring theme for DAXKO as well – people taking on new challenges and moving into bigger roles, that is.  In fact, over half of our team members aren’t in the same role as when they started.  We’re big believers in giving folks opportunities to grow, take on more responsibility, find a role they love… and rock at!  There’s lot of those kinds of stories here at DAXKO.  Here’s one…

Saranda, Product Manager
DAXKO Claim toFame: Moved from supporting DAXKO’s products to driving the direction of DAXKO Accounting – DAXKO’s answer to accounting for nonprofits.

Q: Where did you start out at DAXKO?

A: I started as an intern on the Support Services Team, providing front line support for our products.

Q: What did you learn during your time on that team?

A: I believe Support at DAXKO teaches you ownership and self reliance. There are some issues that you face that no one else can help you with. Once you get through those issues and determine the best solution for the customer, everyone – you, DAXKO, and the customer – is better off.

Q: What did you love about your time on that team?

A: My favorite thing about Support was the constant interaction with customers. DAXKO’s customers, for the most part, are in their jobs because they genuinely care about their cause and mission. To get to interact with these people on a daily basis makes you feel like you are contributing to their mission as well.

Q: What prompted you to move into a Product Manager role?

A: Let’s face it…not all issues in Support can be resolved. As a support services team member, it is very hard to tell a customer this. While in Support, I helped manage what we then called the “Hot List.” It was basically a list of maintenance items that needed to be updated in a product release. I helped prioritize this list and give the customer’s perspective on outstanding issues. It was while working on this project that I realized how much I love the excitement of resolving big pain points for our customers.

Q: What skill did you learn in Support that have come in handy in Product Management?

A: My time in Support was an opportunity to gain extensive knowledge of our market, our customers, and the problems they face. I also learned the importance of truly listening to what each customer says and asking questions. One simple detail can make a big difference in a resolution or development project.

Q: What have you learned about Product Management?

A: I have been a Product Manager at DAXKO for about three years. During this time, I have learned that Product Management or whatever role you are in is whatever you make it. At the end of the day, Product Management is about leading our products, our services and our company to another level and always striving to do more. I have also learned that you have to truly love your products. Product Management is similar to parenting; you have to continuously consider the daily health and well being, but also future long-term strategy.

Q: What do you love about Product Management?

A: I still sincerely love when I can call a customer and say, “Do you remember when you told me you had X problem? Well we fixed it!”

Q: What does the future hold for you?

A: Now that the task of launching a new product is behind me, it’s my goal to take this new product and make it extremely successful! The more customers benefiting from all the hard work we have put in to DAXKO Accounting the better.