This Post is About My Short Attention Sp… SQUIRREL!!!

The following is a blog I wrote last week. In honor of Labor Day, it seemed like a great subject matter: the art of NOT working. Actually, I’ve just been putting off editing it, and every time I do I get distracted. Ironic and also true.

I consider myself a hard worker (and my iCal will back me up on this) but every once in a while it feels wonderful to do nothing. In the words of Ellen Degeneres, “That is why procrastination feels so right.” We overload our schedules and expect everything to happen in real-time; subsequently, many of us have trouble focusing on the task at hand, or we simply put it off and get distracted.

I recently caught myself in the middle of an ADD-episode:

In the last 10 minutes I have returned a couple e-mails, composed a couple e-mails, checked Facebook, texted an old friend, organized my contacts, set up a dentist appointment and started this blog. Sounds like a typical workday… but I did all of these things essentially at once.

Hold on, if I’m going to tell this story I need another cup of coffee…

Let me tell you how this blog came to pass: I was typing an e-mail when a text came through. I stopped typing mid-sentence, switched “keyboards” and responded. Then I came back to the e-mail. I needed to embed a link to Facebook, so naturally I went to Facebook to copy the link. I had three notifications! (Is it just me, or is there some kind of subconscious excitement about seeing the little red notice symbol.)

Just a sec, another e-mail just came through…

As I was saying, after perusing through my Facebook homepage, I returned to the e-mail. I proofread all e-mails before I send them (because first drafts are about as legible as a blind doctor writing in hieroglyphics), but before I had a chance to send this one, another couple came through. (I don’t want to make myself appear popular, I’m just part of a couple of e-mail lists that CC everything – everyone knows these people; they must be stopped!)

After reading these interrupting e-mails, another text came through. Obviously I had to stop what I was doing to respond to that. But you know what I hadn’t done in a while? Deleted my text conversations. They have been piling up… time to delete a few. What’s the point of saving them anyway? I consciously make the decision to keep some, knowing full well I will never read them again. Anyway…

Sorry, there has been some sort of bug flying around my desk this whole time; I need to take care of this…

Where was I? Ah yes, after deleting my text history, I went to select the contacts I was going to e-mail blast… but oh, you should have seen the contact list. Totally unorganized.

It was at this point, I said to myself “Man, I’m ADDing today. I should write an article on that…” So I jotted down a few ideas.

Then I realized, “Crap! I was supposed to make a dentist appointment!” Quick call to them.

Back to this article, I realized I had left in the middle of a paragraph. I also realized as I stared at my computer screen that I have three incomplete blogs waiting on me. That means I started and got distracted three separate times, and ended up writing this fourth one.

Oh hold on, another e-mail…

Like I was saying, I needed to organize those contacts. I’ll get to it after this.

Timeout to look up statistics for the following part of the blog…

According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, around 5% of the US adult population has ADD. Statistics also show that rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 5.5% per year from 2003 to 2007.

Does that mean more people have it? Have we gotten better at diagnosing it? Or are we so inundated with information, and faster-moving communication, and modes of doing it all that more people feel as though they have it.

What I have described is probably not atypical: work on something; get distracted; get back to work on it; get distracted again…

Hold on, my friend texted me back again…

Feel free to comment on this subject. What do you think? Have we essentially developed ADD through faster moving processes and technology?

So the point is to slow down and take time for yourself. How awesome are lazy days?! Some of my favorite days are lounging around, watching a TV marathon, being totally unhealthy and not worrying! Allow yourself to procrastinate once in a while. It’s nature’s way of telling us we need to slow down. Call it ADD or ADHD or procrastination or whatever, but I don’t think it is always a horrible thing (it does, however, tend to hit at very inconvenient times). As I said, I would like to hear any opinions on this, but in all honesty, I may not get through any of the comments because I’m so easily distr




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Sunny Sweeney: A Breath of Fresh Air for Country Music

Sunny Sweeney - Concrete

Sunny Sweeney’s album “Concrete” launched Tuesday, August 30 and let me just say… it’s about time. Not just for Sweeney – who has been in the game since 2006, and originally self-released her debut album – but for country music in general. Not since Miranda Lambert’s Revolution in 2009 has an album had as much raw, genuine, country swagger.

In the era of crossover country and light-hearted overtones, Sweeney delivers songs that stay true to her Texas roots. Finally a female artist has released songs about drinkin’ and cheatin’ with real southern style. But the kicker is Sweeney does it without seeming fake. Her name may appear light and fun – as does her striking album art – but the music itself brings us back to the truthfulness of Loretta, the ferocity of Merle, and the sweet southern vocals of Dolly… all infused with what can only be described as “Sunny.”

Sweeney co-wrote seven out of ten songs on the album (which, if I were giving albums scores out of 10, that automatically bumps her up about…oh, 8 notches). Each has elements of her East Texas upbringing and some even give us a glimpse into her comedic roots.

The album kicks off with the girls-night-out, honkey-tonkin’ anthem Drink Myself Single, an ode to spiting an ex by going out and having a rip-roaring night on the town.

It then segues into her two singles, From A Table Away and Staying’s Worse Than Leaving, both having reached the top 40 on the US Country Charts, and both permeated with their own brand of “Sunny.”

Amy is a first-hand account of someone a man is cheating with, taking an angle and delivering an emotional element reminiscent of Sugarland’s smash hit Stay.

Sprinkled in are fast-paced numbers such as The Old Me about Sweeney’s hell-raising alter ego, and Helluva Heart, a heartbreak song with a catchy, fist-pumping melody.

Missing from the album is a song that made me fall in love with Sweeney when I saw her live in Nashville: Everybody Else Can Kiss My Ass. (That’s the kind of song you’d be hard-pressed to find on Carrie Underwood’s next album!) Here’s hoping that song finds its way onto the deluxe edition. Or maybe it was written too late to make it onto the album… who knows, but that’s the kind of stuff country music has been lacking from its female artists.

With Republic Nashville’s promotional power and Sweeney’s talent, personality and song repertoire, she is positioned to be the next big female country act. Every couple of years an album needs to come around to give country music (and especially female artists) a rejuvenation. “Concrete” is it. Everybody else can kiss my ass.

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Quantifying Intuition: Starting a Business After Business School

Quantifying Intuition

Congratulations to me, I am now $50,000 in debt and have three letters after my name. That’s right, I did what many underemployed undergraduate graduates have done: I got a leg up by getting my MBA.

The experience allowed me to grow on so many levels and in ways that I could have never done otherwise. On an academic front I learned valuable material; however, hindsight vision being sharper than Reese Witherspoon’s chin, I now notice that there was something missing.

For a while I didn’t know what it was. Then one day I had to read a chapter for coursework that was talking about dealing with employees. The chapter outlined a person’s mood changes throughout the day… by using a graph.

At this point I realized that everything I was learning throughout the program was based in analytics, statistics, formulas, quantifying measures, etc. After all, that’s the way business programs are designed, and that’s the way business professors know how to teach.

So I can confidently say that I can quote you theory and formula (and also improv a presentation like I was on Who’s Line Is It Anyway?); but now I’m beginning to go through the motions of starting my own business and I realized something: I don’t know the intricacies of how to actually start a business.

Sure, I have a business plan, a logo, a website… that’s not what I’m talking about. Of course a business plan is where you start. I have even done a SWOT Analysis, something that I vowed if I ever had to do post-graduation, I would Jason Bourne it out the nearest window.

(SWOT is analyzing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of a business, for those of you who didn’t go to business school – or if you did, if you were sick the day they taught business.)

But the question is, after all that… now what do I do with it? What’s the next step? Where was the class, Starting a Business 101?

We had an entrepreneurship class, as any MBA program should, but it was more theory, graphs, charts and analytics. Granted, in an academic program you need some of this structure and basic theory, and in the business world it is also vital. But…

If I were teaching an entrepreneurship class I would do one thing on the first day: “Class, you will be starting your own business over the next 10 weeks… ready? Go!”

Where was that kind of practicality?

So as much as I did learn from this program, towards the end I started to think a little differently. When someone asks me what my key takeaways were from business school I won’t point at a book. I will tell them that I learned to question things. I will say that I now know it’s not about the time value of money, discounted cash flows or the statistical valuation of a company. It’s about taking calculated risks… but without sitting down and actually calculating the risk itself! It’s about taking chances, intuition and – most importantly – hard work.

Business school is a box. You learn from a book, with a syllabus, in a curriculum, in a school system. After that you enter the job box: resumes, cover letters, interviews and climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. I knew I didn’t fully subscribe to all that noise in undergrad, but it took me a higher education to learn how to take what I needed from within the box, and combine it with my risk-taking, intuitive, creative ideas from outside of the box. And voilà! I have made it as far as this blog.

So here we go. This is the new class. The new Matt Williams School of Business. Scratch that…

The Matt Williams Art of Industry Less Restricted.

This is about business-savvy out-of-the-box thinking, questioning status quo and being successful at it! And I promise there will not be one graph or chart trying to quantify what should otherwise be intuition.

Ready? Go!

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