Your time in 2016

2016 New year change concept

The second major task I planned for yesterday (after the MOAS – cash flow forecast) was to review and finalise my calendar for 2016.

Again, the 20th anniversary this year of utilising The Entrepreneurial Time System created by Dan Sullivan at The Strategic Coach (see the links at the end of this post if you want to know more).

I started the 2016 planning process last August during my annual retreat but much has happened since then and so I needed to go back and review based on my current reality and vision.

In the good old days I would paste a Sasco Year Planner to my office wall and start adding coloured dots for the different types of days:

Free Days – time “off” to rejuvenate.

Buffer Days – time “on” to prepare.

Focus Days – time “in” to generate revenue from my unique abilities (speak, write, coach, network).

The arrival of iCal, synced devices and the cloud has made the wall planner unnecessary in 2015 – I can go right in there on my desktop and allocate time and that will instantly be reported to Phillippa and the rest of the 7connections team via Google Calendar.

There has been a significant change in the way in which I view time since my 60th birthday.

The distinction between Free time and Buffer time is becoming blurred.

That’s because I don’t have as many people dependent on me for their happiness, so the differences between work, rest and play are less problematic.

In fact, much of my last two years has been about targeting Tom Morris’s definition of True Success – doing what you love to do, when you love to do it, with the people you love doing it with.

Creating that environment has, in hindsight, been my biggest achievement since 60 and there is rarely a day that I don’t look forward to what I’m doing.

Consequently, I’m as happy spending a week (like this one) in The Bunker, preparing myself for work, creating content, thinking – and then popping out for a bike ride, or a dog walk, or reading a book – as I would be on vacation.

I seem to have fashioned a sweet spot where work is a pleasure and it feeds me – it no longer eats me.


So – I have allocated the usual 12 weeks of free time in 2016 but will decide on the hoof whether they become Bunker weeks like this current one or true vacations.

For those wondering where The Island spirit is, I have a month of extreme adventure booked for February 2017, about which you will learn more in the future.

The approximate breakdown of my 2016 days then, is:

Weekends 52 x 2 = 104 days (up to 20% of which will be surrendered for conferences and trade shows).

Bank Holidays = 8 days.

Free/Buffer weeks 12 x 5 = 60 days.

Monday – formal Buffer Days in a working week 40 x 1 = 40 days.

Total Free/Buffer Time = 212 days (+/- 10).

Focus Days (the balance) = 153 days.

That’s 153 days to deliver on my Unique Abilities and get paid for it.

(some of the Buffer Weeks may be about content development for which I will get paid later – what my friend Karl Hartey used to call “future profit days”).

So my 2016 calendar is done and I now have a clear idea of my income requirement for the year (MOAS) and the time I have available to hit my targets.

More importantly, I have a plan that is based on “pace not race” and will help me to avoid burn out.

Adding that to the vision mind map prepared on Monday will focus my mind on what to do next – a time activated action plan.

Add together the vision mind map, the MOAS and the calendar and the result is CONFIDENCE.

If you need a coach to facilitate you through this process – email me at

On The Entrepreneurial Time System:

Click HERE to read about it.

And HERE you can order Sullivan’s guide.


Your money in 2016

cash flow

A big day for me today (and for those who have been working their way through our Get Your Year in Gear (GYYIG) programme for the last 7 weeks).

This morning I’ll be creating my personal cash flow forecast for 2016 – estimating my personal expenses on necessities and luxuries next year and creating a worksheet on an established spreadsheet. The MOAS – mother of all spreadsheets.

This morning the GYYIG delegates will download an Excel template for their 2016 MOAS.

My MOAS celebrates its 20th anniversary this year – 1996 was the first time I sat down and meticulously reviewed my previous year’s cost of living to provide a guide to the coming year.

For 20 years I have taken a half hour each weekend (except vacations) to review my previous week’s banking and update the MOAS worksheet with actual expenses replacing budgets.

Has it made me asset rich? Definitely not.

Has it made me happy? Almost always.

80% – when I have had plenty of money, I’ve enjoyed the ability to spend without buyer’s remorse.

20% – when I haven’t had enough money, I’ve spent a few minutes feeling sorry for myself – then I’ve focused on the solutions that were necessary to make the extra money.

The MOAS has been a constant companion and friend, sometimes sharing bitter truths about inadequate earnings or excessive spending, always from a place of crushing logic.

Numbers don’t do emotions (that’s what I love about mathematics – no moods).

I still meet clients who tell me that they have no formal organisation around personal money – they just work and spend and when the going is good, enjoy themselves.

The going, however, never stays good forever.

The systems you develop whilst the going is good will save your skin when the going gets bad.

By lunchtime today I will know exactly what I intend to spend next year, then I can start thinking about how I’m going to earn it.

Peace of Mind.

Do pictures still paint a thousand words?

emoticon confused

In spite of inaccurate attribution to Confucius and other proverb-makers, the term “use a picture, it’s worth a thousand words” can first be heard in an instructional talk given by newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane to the Syracuse Advertising Men’s Club in March 1911.

The context was that those who purchased print media would be engaged by stunning imagery more than dense text – perhaps an early 20th Century clue to the future of communication.

When we consider present day marketing, the body of thought is that product placement is advertising and doesn’t evoke emotion, whereas storytelling is marketing and evocative.

Thus, the plethora of Christmas TV adverts that are now trying to jump on the Sainsbury/John Lewis bandwagon and tweak our heart strings to access our bank accounts.

However, of some concern is the extent to which imagery is beginning to replace words in our day to day parlance.

Cue the GIF.

Do you remember CompuServe?

Back in the mid-80’s I purchased my first “laptop” computer – a Compaq house-brick that, as I recall, sported a 250Mb hard drive and probably less than 1Mb of RAM.

CompuServe was my server and I used their subscription services to access the internet.

In 1987 they introduced the GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) and we marvelled at primitive moving images on our screens.

The GIF has waited in the sidelines since, now resurfacing on our messaging applications like What’sApp and Facebook Messenger – and in a big way.

Pictorial messaging started with Emoticons and Emoji’s – those little cartoon figures with which we can respond without having to think about what we say.


and the development of sentences that depended on a sequence of such images:

😍 🏃 💋 👫👨‍❤️‍👨👍

all well and good – useful for busy times when you just want to acknowledge a message, without necessarily engaging with the sender.

The Facebook world of emoji’s has rapidly expanded, with a variety of themes constantly updated on our smartphones.

Now – we have the GIF or Giphy – which takes this method of communication to a new level by allowing moving images to impart our response.



and there are thousands of them, available free of charge on your smartphone or tablet.

So what we have now is a new and emerging method of communication:

  1. I post a selfie on social media – me with someone or in front of something;
  2. those who see the selfie respond with a GIF or Giphy, expressing how they feel about the photo
  3. bonus points for choosing an image that somehow connects with my selfie and, at the same time, introduces a famous celebrity (Homer, Clooney, J-Lo) to the thread

My friend and relationship expert Eric Schneider relates the selfie to the “dark triad” of Narcissism, Machiavellanism and Psychopathy, and considers how many of us define ourselves on social media this way (guilty!).

During a recent weekend in Berlin, my two daughters communicated with me and their siblings almost exclusively with selfies and Giphys – it was fun but I’ll have to wait and see them to find out how the trip really went.

Will pictures almost completely replace the prehensile typing thumbs of the Millennial?

If we asked Arthur Brisbane to take a look at this, would he agree that today’s Emojis and Giphys replace a thousand words?

I think not.

Working ON your business


Today is the first of 5 working days during which I will be predominantly based in my office at home (The Barrow Bunker) and investing time in preparation for 2016.

The successful habit here is to book a week in your calendar, every 3 months, where you do not have to pursue sales, productivity and your unique ability – and have some room in which to think and plan.

Depending on your circumstances, this could include meetings with your business partners, managers or support team.

In my case, the activity this week will mainly be solo.

I’m going to finalise my calendar for 2016, with 12 weeks of vacation (that’s been in my plan since 1996), a preparation day (Monday) every working week and the remaining days allocated to my clients.

My personal cash flow forecast for next year will be completed by close of play on Wednesday, so that I will have an accurate projection of expenses for the year, then to be updated with actual expenditure every Sunday morning.

This will also be an opportunity to think about who I want to show up as in 2016 – using Tom Morris’s definition of True Success, I will be asking myself what has to happen for me to love what I do, when I do it and who I do it with.

If I can get that right, the sales and profitability will follow.

In spite of my solo week, I am part of a growing team at 7connections and I’ll be asking myself how I intend to perform and behave as a partner, a leader and a manager in that team.

I’ve noticed a new addition to the thinking agenda in recent years, asking myself how technology and the IoT will assist in my development?

Finally (and by no means least) a consideration of the lives that my clients will lead next year.

For what problems will they require solutions?

How can 7connections help them to create those solutions?

In what way can our solutions be simple and elegant?

I’m excited about working ON my business and about having the space and time to THINK about a bigger future.

How many flying hours do you have?

Businessman flying super fast with data numbers left behind

Airline pilots define their experience by the number of “hours” they have in the air.

Wouldn’t that be a useful way to interview potential new team members – and also a great way to define ourselves in front of our patients and clients?

  1. “so tell me Susan – how many flying hours do you have as a dental practice manager?”
  2. “can I explain that I have 5,000 hours flying experience as an implantologist.”

Malcolm Gladwell first postulated that a genius is someone with at least 10,000 hours in their area of expertise (Outliers).

Wouldn’t it be great to be supported by a team of geniuses in your business (and life) and to be able to think of yourself as a genius at what you do (confident, not cocky)?

The first requires either careful selection or a stringent training programme for specially selected candidates (a.k.a. only recruit people who have genius potential or experience).

The second requires focus on an area of expertise, whether it’s your chosen niche market or clinical speciality.

I have 28,000 hours as a dental business coach. I’m confident that I can help you.

How many hours do you have at what you do?

Here’s another interesting thought.

The average commercial pilot puts in 900 flight hours each year (inside 1800 duty hours)

Half their time working “in” their business and half working “on” their business.


Don’t ride your own rickshaw

alternative ecological clean transport

I finished the New York marathon in 2011 so exhausted that I hired a rickshaw owner to take me back to my hotel – this gave me the opportunity to realise just how hard these people work.

Then again…..

I meet many small business owners (dentistry included) who find a variety of reasons to ride their own rickshaw.

Here are some common explanations for that:

  • I haven’t got the money to hire riders
  • I can’t find decent riders – they are mostly lazy
  • My riders aren’t as fast as I am
  • I can’t trust a rider to know the route as well as I do
  • My passengers expect me at the front and if they don’t see me they will look elsewhere
  • I know more about rickshaws than anyone
  • The bank own the rickshaw and I have to keep paying them
  • I’m fascinated by rickshaws

Chatting to a client the other day.

He told me that he was signing up for a digital marketing course because he wanted to learn all about Facebook marketing and had lost confidence in his existing marketing agency.

I asked him to call me when he has become a certified digital marketer – and I would pay him £15 an hour to freelance for me.

He told me to get lost because he makes £450 an hour as a dentist.

Is it me?


The Outgoing Personality



Not everybody has one.

Four Seasons Hotels suggest that you cannot train someone to have an outgoing personality – that it’s about the “way they are brought up”.

Certainly nothing to do with education or qualification.

Here’s the thing.

If you run a small business – you need people in your team with outgoing personalities.

Not just customer-facing but everyone-facing.

In a small business there is nowhere for the introvert to hide, no back-stage – everywhere is on stage.

If you recruit and/or tolerate people who don’t have an outgoing personality then you are planning to fail.

There is a downside.

People with outgoing personalities require LOTS of appreciation – approval addicts.

If you don’t take the time out to appreciate – they will naturally gravitate towards places where they do feel appreciated.

I’ll back a person with an outgoing personality who needs training any day against a well-qualified person with no charisma.

When I’ve chosen to back them, I’ll make sure they know I love them – frequently.

Championship teams are tough to lead and manage but they ooze charisma.

Please do not smile

CB not smiling!

So I’m off to India in February to deliver a 2-day Intensive on the business of dentistry for my friend Dr. Manish Chitnis.

To get an Indian visa I have to send some 50x50cm photographs, so it was off to big Tesco at lunchtime on Monday to part with £7.00 for the privilege.


…said the accompanying instructions.

I’m wondering what would happen if I ignored the instructions?

If we all did?

Would immigration officials succumb to some kind of mental torture if all they had to do all day was look at smiling photographs and then ask us to smile at them in order to be recognised?

Imagine, if you will, droves of smiling people entering your country and you having to see that 8-hours a day – how awful.

If we implemented a global “smile at your immigration official day”, would we all be refused entry and cause a huge log-jam in airports around the world?

Do immigration officers smile?

Do they have children who lighten their lives?

Do they see the sun set into the ocean at the end of a perfect day?

Do they cry when they hear a beautiful vocal?

Do they fall in love?

Those photographs above – that’s not me.

To my forthcoming Indian friends – you’ll be meeting the smiley guy.


The Usual Suspects

line up

Visiting the BACD conference on Saturday was the equivalent of an alumni meeting – the usual suspects were in attendance.

Which had me thinking.

Around 24,000 dentists in the UK.

Of whom 20% take notice of what’s going on in the clinical and business world of dentistry.

Of whom 20% regularly attend conferences, trade shows, post-graduate courses and dinners.

Of whom 20% actively volunteer, not just for BACD but for dentistry.

They don’t just join, they join in.

That’s about 200 people innovating and making a positive difference.

Thank you.

Make your patient newsletters earn a living



Here are some top tips:

  1. Send by email – print media is dead.
  2. Send monthly – less frequently and you will not get noticed.
  3. Avoid jargon and clinical stuff – people don’t care how much you know.
  4. Talk about your team – include examples of what they are up to, professionally and personally.
  5. Talk about your patients (with consent) – include examples of how your treatment has changed patients’ lives for the better.
  6. Talk about your CSR – if you do raise money for charity or volunteer – make a fuss.
  7. Include downloadable information (white papers) – make sure that you feature a free download in every issue.
  8. Include links to your web site.
  9. Make the newsletter share-able – make it easy for readers to send copies or share on their social channels.
  10. Talk about more than just dentistry – highlight interesting news about your post code.
  11. Get the graphics right – make the design something you are proud of.

Here are some examples of newsletters that we have helped our clients to produce in the last few days.

The Smile Spa – Stockton on Tees

Metamorphosis Orthodontics – Fulham

Marquess Dental – Anglesey