A Tale of Two Daves

Two guys named Dave have had life-changing impact on me, and I recently noticed several similarities in their approaches to life.

David AllenDavid Allen is the Guru of GTD (or Getting Things Done), and reading his book by that name eight years ago made a huge difference in my approach to dealing with the potentially bewildering blizzard of “stuff” that knowledge workers must manage just to stay afloat. Much of the early content in this blog (in the pre-SMUG days) was about David Allen’s practical tips, and I have no doubt that the psychic space he helped me create gave me the breathing room so I could approach the opportunities presented by the social media revolution with creativity instead of just being overwhelmed.

Dave RamseyDave Ramsey, about whom I have written here , helped to give our family some financial breathing space with his old-fashioned teaching about budgets, avoiding debt and getting control of spending. You may have heard him on the radio (which is where I first encountered him), and he’s also written a best-seller called The Total Money Makeover.

Here are some of the similarities I’ve noted between the two Daves.

Start small and win little victories. With Dave Ramsey it’s his Baby Steps, creating a mini-emergency fund so the next unexpected bill doesn’t force you to get out the plastic, and using the debt snowball to build momentum. With David Allen it’s getting the email inbox to empty.

Follow some simple rules that put you ahead of 95 percent of the world. David Allen has the two-minute rule: if the needed action to get any “stuff” you’re reviewing from its current state to the desired state is less than two minutes, do it right away instead of putting it on a list for later follow-up. With Dave Ramsey it’s developing a family budget and using an envelope system for spending in various categories. Both Daves say those little things help create momentum that provides motivation to persevere.

Review Progress Periodically. David Allen says the Weekly Review is the key to winning at the game of work and the business of life. Dave Ramsey’s plan calls for a monthly assessment of how actual spending aligned with the plan…and with income.

Scream with Delight Upon Reaching Milestones. Dave Ramsey has his Debt-Free Fridays, in which his listeners who have paid off the last of their debts (or everything but their house mortgages) call to tell their story and then scream into the phone: “WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEEEE!!!!” at which time Ramsey plays Mel Gibson’s “FREEEEDOMMMMM!!!!” shout from Braveheart. David Allen doesn’t have a public ceremony like that, but GTDers feel similar euphoria when they get their email inboxes to zero.

Don’t let failures and imperfections discourage you from the journey. It’s been several years since I first encountered the two Daves, and I would have expected more progress and consistency than I’ve achieved. But even imperfect application has enabled me to accomplish much more than I otherwise would have. And just this morning, I had the opportunity to scream…

“MY INBOX IS EMPTYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!”

Are you familiar with the two Daves? How have they helped you?

 

Christmas in January

Since I began blogging in 2006, this blog has become the vehicle for my annual family Christmas letter (See the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions.) The advantages have been numerous, including the ability to add color images and video and no need to pay for postal service distribution. Sometimes I’ve even completed it during Thanksgiving.

This is the first time I’ve needed to push it significantly into the New Year, and with some good reasons beyond procrastination. With so much of our family (including grandchildren) home for Christmas, it seemed odd to consider doing this post until I could get updated photos and video featuring them. And once our grandchildren arrived the day after Christmas, it would have been odd to take time away from being with them to be writing about them. After all, they live in Michigan and we don’t get as much in-person time with them as we’d like.

Here’s a picture of me with grandson Judah and his sister Evelyn during one of our family Christmas gatherings, as we Skyped with my daughter Ruthie who was in Vienna (more on that in a bit):

Lee Judah Evie

Then the flu hit, and what had been planned as a 6-7 day visit from the Borgs stretched to two full weeks. It was nice having them here that long, although we would have preferred healthier circumstances.

So…somewhat belatedly…here is our Aase family 2012 update.

Our oldest daughter Rachel and her husband Kyle continue to live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with Evelyn, Judah and Aletta. Kyle is in his last semester of seminary and will be looking to move in May to accept a call as a pastor. They have three good options and we pray for wisdom as they try to discern the best one for them.

Speaking of options, as our six kids were growing up we had a family tradition called “The Option Play.” I would pretend I was a quarterback and they were the football and would call out the signals before faking handoff and then pitching. Because I always called out the same numbers in the pre-snap count, this tradition became known as “9-87.” Until they all got too big for me, one of the favorite things I’d hear my kids say was, “Daddy, let’s do 9-87!”

During their Christmas visit I got to continue the tradition with a new generation:

Our oldest son Jacob lives with his wife Alexi in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where he is in the second year of the Physical Therapy program. He got to do an internship in Rochester during August, so it was nice to have him staying with us. We got to ride into work together several times, which was really special. He’ll be doing internships in the Phoenix area this Summer and in Atlanta next Fall. Alexi is working full-time while Jacob devotes himself to studies. He’s halfway through and should be well set for employment prospects a year from May.

Bekah Ruthie Nurses

Rebekah is in the second year of the two-year RN program at Riverland Community College in Austin. She’s also a member of the Riverland women’s basketball team, and twice has been named NJCAA Division III national player of the week. She also works part time at a local nursing home as an LPN, where Ruthie, who is now back from her seven-month stint in Bulgaria, is working as an RN. It was fun one day recently when I got to bring them lunch at work.

Speaking of Ruthie, she arrived home on Jan. 7 from her mission trip to Bulgaria (another good reason to delay writing this post). She was there with Mission to the World, our Presbyterian Church in America world mission. It was a great experience for her made more bearable for us by Skype and other communications technology. We’re glad to have her back in the U.S.A.

Joe has had quite a year, starting with being a co-captain with our nephew Tom of the Austin High School basketball team that was the first Austin boys team to win the section title and make the state tournament since 1982. It was a fun family night to celebrate the section win together:

Section win

Joe and Tom played AAU basketball together with the Minnesota Magic Elite last Spring and Summer, traveling to Pittsburgh, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas and Milwaukee (twice) to play against some of the top teams in the country.

Joe had several college scholarship offers, and so we spent much of the Summer and Fall sorting out options. We visited Nebraska-Omaha, Winona State and Minnesota State-Mankato unofficially since they were within driving distance. Here’s a picture of Lisa as we stood in the rain in Mankato watching the Vikings (on Adrian Peterson’s first day of practice):

Lisa at MSU

We took official visits to two Division I schools, Davidson College and Boston University, in September. Jacob came with us on the Boston visit, where we got to (among other things) tour Fenway Park:

Joe Jake Fenway

It was a happy and proud day in November when Joe and Tom signed their National Letters of Intent to accept scholarship offers: Joe to attend Davidson and Tom to go to Division II University of Sioux Falls.

Joe Tom Signing

Joe and Tom were glad to get the college decisions out of the way before their senior season, and it’s been a great year so far. The Packers are 15-0 and currently ranked #2 in the state in Class AAA. We’re hoping for a return trip to Minneapolis for the state tournament in March. Follow the Packers on Twitter, Facebook or on the blog.

John, our youngest, is 14 and in eighth grade. He’s home schooled but is in the middle school orchestra, and also participates in Bible Bowl. Lisa’s home schooling is definitely much simpler now with only John among her students. With Joe’s high school and AAU basketball finishing in March, we will be able to focus more on John’s pursuits. Here’s John with his brothers engrossed in a computer game at Christmas:

John and brothers

As a family, we’re glad to be members of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Rochester, where I am an elder. The congregation has been a great blessing to us, and we’re looking forward to completion of our new church facility, likely in May. The construction is proceeding nicely:

Church Building

My work also has been going well at Mayo Clinic, where I am the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. It’s been great having Dr. Farris Timimi as our medical director, and we have a fantastic team. Between our Social Media Summit in October in Rochester, our New York City event in May and many other travels, it’s been gratifying to meet so many people interested in using social media to make health care better.

Only God knows what we have in store for 2013, but it’s likely our house will be a lot quieter this time next year, with Joe going to Davidson and Rebekah and Ruth possibly moving to the Twin Cities. Rachel, Kyle and the kids will likely either be in Kansas or Indiana, and Jacob and Alexi will be far away for his internships.

So as we anticipate lots of changes in the coming year, Lisa and I wish you and yours many blessings in 2013.

If you don’t shoot, you can’t score

Yesterday I did a post about the Riverland Community College 70-foot buzzer beater to defeat North Iowa Area Community College.

I also tweeted the link from my account …

…and from the @PackerFastBreak Club account.

Then I went to bed. I had, after all, gotten up at 3:30 a.m. CT in Cleveland, and it had been a long day. So I was startled when my daughter Rebekah burst into our room a couple of hours later and said, “Dad! Vic’s shot is #2 on SportsCenter!”

I thought that was cool, but didn’t know I had anything to do with it. Since Riverland Community College had uploaded the video in the first place, I thought they must have tweeted it to #SCTop10. But when I got home tonight, Rebekah told me, “Dad! Did you know it was your tweet that got Vic on SportsCenter?!”

Sure enough:

So what did I learn from this?

The main lesson is the title of this post, and it has a double meaning. Obviously, if Victoria didn’t take the shot, they couldn’t have won, and if I hadn’t tweeted using the #SCTop10 tag, SportsCenter wouldn’t have seen it.

But a few other lessons come to mind, too:

Keep tweets short and simple to accomplish your purpose. In the tweet from my personal account, I included @ mentions of various Minnesota sports journalists. That did lead to one of them retweeting and passing along to colleagues:

 

But while I had included the #SCTop10 hashtag in that tweet, having so many @ mentions probably cluttered the tweet too much for the SportsCenter gang.

Keep Shooting. If I had just left it at the first tweet, SportsCenter would likely have missed it. In basketball nobody shoots 100 percent, so don’t stop just because your first tweet doesn’t “hit.”

Provide context. I could have just tweeted the YouTube link, but by putting the video within a blog post I could give the story behind the video. I think that made it easier for SportsCenter to include the clip in its nightly highlights.

There’s no substitute for great content. This was a great shot, captured on video.

All in all, it’s a fun case study. The @SportsCenter (4.1 million followers) tweet has been retweeted 238 times, and as of right now the original video has 7,700 views on YouTube.

What lessons would you take from this experience?

A Happy Week for the Aase Family

This was a week that will be long remembered for the Aase family and for the Austin High School basketball program, as my son Joe and nephew Tom, both two-time all-conference players returning this year for their senior seasons, accepted scholarship offers to play college basketball.

Austin hasn’t had a scholarship basketball player since 1999, so having two players accept offers in one week is quite a milestone. And it’s pretty cool that I’m related to both of them!

Joe committed to Davidson College (read about it here and here), while Tom is going to the University of Sioux Falls.

It’s great to have these decisions made, so the boys can focus on their high school season. With three starters returning from last year’s state tournament team, Austin is hoping to make some noise.

Not that I deserve a medal for this or anything…

…but tonight as I fly to Tampa to be on a panel sponsored by The Atlantic and National Journal in conjunction with the Republican National Convention, I am experiencing a level of relief that I haven’t had for several months.

Last Monday, after a summer full of travel both for work and for my son Joe’s AAU basketball, I hit an unbelievable six-year high-water mark for unresolved emails, and took this screen shot:

Lots of reasons, but no good excuses.

After six days of dedicated effort during breaks in my daily routine (and several evenings of just plowing through messages), tonight I finally reached my GTD goal:

 

Since I first read Getting Things Done by David Allen in 2005, I have found its principles extremely helpful. When I started this blog, GTD was one of the main topics. I would particularly recommend this post I wrote in November 2006. which links to some of the important lessons I learned.

I’m glad to be on the right side of the email tsunami again.

Now I hope a literal hurricane, Isaac,  doesn’t cause too many  problems in the coming week.