On Saturday, Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines, causing the worst flooding in more than 40 years in the capital city Manila and other areas of the northern Philippines. As my readers know, I had the delightful opportunity to visit Manila two years ago to deliver the Beyond Planning Conference. During my stay in the Philippines, I got to know many people and to see first hand the beauty and challenges in this nation. I Skyped my friend, Pastor David Sumrall, of the Cathedral of Praise (COP), and asked how he was doing. he reported that they got 15 inches of rain in just a few hours.Today, 80% of Manila is under water and more rain is on the way. As I have written before, I've grown attached to the people of Manila. As I have written before on this blog, the people I met are resilient and have a strong sense of community and service, even in the midst of trials and storms.  My prayers are with the people of the Philippines and the COP community and those affected by this Typhoon. I'm sure that as things stabilize, Pastor Sumrall and his staff will organize opportunities to minister to those in need and I pray, too, that this will be a time of great testimony as people experience God's love through the service others in the name of Christ.

In the past, having no direct or personal connection to places such as this I would say a prayer and be about my business -- not for lack or concern or compassion, but for lack of connection. Now, with a personal connection to the people of the Philippines, this is more personal, I ask you to consider including them in your prayers and with your financial support. (I believe the Red Cross will take your donations to help survivors.)

Each of us face storms of many kinds and these can test our faith.

I know that God is in charge and our faith remains unshaken even though the storms rage around us -- Life is precious.

How's your faith?
My heart goes out to the people of the Philippines. Before I left for church today, I read about the disaster in the Philippines this weekend as a deadly Typhoon Fengshen unleashed strong winds and heavy rains that caused great destruction, leaving tens of thousands stranded on rooftops. The death toll is high and the the fate of the passengers on the ferry that capsized remains unknown.I received a text message yesterday from my friend and client, Pastor David Sumrall or the Cathedral of Praise telling me that they had been without power for the past 14 hours. Water in the streets is many feet deep.

I have grown attached to the people of Manila as I had the opportunity to serve them last year as I delivered an eProductivity conference. The people I met are resiliant and have a strong sense of community and service, even in the midst of trials and storms. (Seems like we are all in storms these days... How's your faith?). In all, I know that God is in charge and our faith remains unshaken even though the storms rage around us. Life is precious and we do not know how long our time on earth will last.

My prayers go out to the people of the Philippines and the COP community and those affected by this Typhoon. I'm sure that as things stabilize, Pastor Sumrall and his staff will organize opportunities to minister to those in need and I pray, too, that this will be a time of great testimony as people experience God's love through the service of the COP community.

How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007
If you have ever had the experience of associating a positive experience at an event with a particular song or type of music, you'll know what I'm referring to in this post.

Last month, when I went to Manila to deliver the Beyond-Planning: eProductivity conference, I also attended church services at the Cathedral of Praise. Since my conference was during the week, I had the opportunity to attend several services at each weekend.

While some of the worship experience was new for me, we worship the same God and read from the same Bible. One of the worship songs that I heard at each service was called "How can I keep from singing your praise" by songwriter Chris Tomlin. What a beautiful song of expression of love and worship for our creator.

It's become a powerful worship song for me, as well as a sweet reminder of my time of fellowship with the dear people at COP.

I was unfamiliar with this song or songwriter, but it turns out that we sing many of Chris Tomlin's songs in our worship service, too.  Chris has an amazing gift for capturing the essence in true worship in his songs. For me, Chris' songs create a sense of awe and wonder and they add to my personal worship experience.

When I returned to the states, I went to iTunes store and purchased this song and four additional worship songs by Chris.

      How Great is Our God
      Made to Worship
      How Can I Keep from Singing
      Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

These are now on my iPod for my morning quiet (well, not so quiet) time.

Continue Reading "How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise?" »
It feels good to mark off a large project like this as "completed." It's been an exhilarating 12 days in Manila, speaking to over 4,000+ attendees of the Beyond Planning: eProductivity Conference. In the course of the six day conference, I delivered over 30 sessions and even added an impromptu session on my day off. The 24 hour trip (door-to-door) home was made ever more challenging by spending it seated next to a 2 1/2 year OLD boy that screamed about his bottle all the way from the airport, onto the plane, and through U.S. Customs and baggage claim. I was delighted to help the frazzled mother with her bags and on her way. I don't know how she did it.

I enjoyed my stay in Manila; the people were most gracious and caring. On the last day, I even got a private tour of the countryside, including a trip to see the volcano. That was fun. The country and people of the Philippines are wonderful. At the same time, I'm glad to be heading home to see my family, which is why this sign was so welcoming to me...


The conference has required a lot of my attention for the past 8 weeks, time away from family, school, clients and friends. With the conference now behind me, I'm planning to unhook for a few days of R&R, then, when I've had an opportunity to review my notes and the photos from the media crew, I will blog about the conference.

But first, just a few words of thanks:

Continue Reading ""Deliver eProductivity Conference" marked completed" »
20071129MakatiHotelCoupAttempt.jpgI was speaking, full speed, in the last hour and a half of day five of the Beyond Planning: eProductivity conference in Manila, when Pastor Sumrall interrupted me to break up the conference and send everyone home due to an attempted Coup D'Etat in process in Makati (Manila). Pastor led us in a quick prayer and dismissed everyone; people wasted no time in evacuating the building. My driver packed my computer and whisked me to my hotel. I'm now safe and comfortable in my hotel, watching the tanks storm the hotel and troops with M16s and tear gas launchers. Presently, it looks like this first stage could be over soon. We'll see... Ultimately, God remains in control, so I have no worries.

Eric, presenting with his Tablet PC at the eProductivity Conference, ManilaI feel bad for all of the people at the conference, though; we got off to a late start this morning due to last night's typhoon and now this. As we left, we told everyone that they were welcome to come back for the student conference tomorrow and that I would arrive earlier to spend time with them.

What next? I've had no time to process email, blog or even look at the photos from the conference all week. I'll try to find some photos to share as time permits.

Greetings from Manila eProductivity Conference

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007
Hello from Manila, Philippines!
I am doing a live demonstration to show the audience of the Beyond Planning: eProductivity conference just how easy it can be to set up a web site. This is our first blog post and here is a picture of the audience.

I invite you to respond by posting a comment to tell me what you think.

One of the sessions I will present for each track will be a series of tips that I have collected and found useful. A few of these tips are my own invention, however, many are tips learned from colleagues, friends, bloggers and books. What I hoped to do was to tap the wisdom of the crowds to rank these. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to do this before I left.

IdeaJam to the rescue

My friend and fellow Notes enthusiast, Bruce Elgort has IdeaJam, a fantastic tool to tap the power of the social network to find out what's most important, most valuable, etc...

Before I took off for Manila, I wrote to Bruce and asked him if he would set up an IdeaJam space to allow me to share some of my favorite productivity tips that I have collected and allow folks to rank them in terms of value to them. Bruce came though and created the Beyond Planning IdeaJam site. He's created sections for all three categories of tips I plan to share: General, Advanced, and Executive.

Or not

The problem is that the internet here at my hotel is very slow (imagine using the internet on dial-up) so I won't be able to upload anything to the site. It would take me all day to do it from here.

I need your help for 5 minutes, today, if possible

Continue Reading "I need your quick help, Idea Jamming on productivity tips." »
ScottMoehringWorkflowDiagram.jpgScott Moehring, a tremendously creative and talented design/process consultant offered me his workflow diagram to distribute, free of charge, at the Beyond Planning: eProductivity conference. Some of you may recognize this diagram as Scott posted it on the various GTD groups and forums.

I've been a fan of Scott's work from many years and I will use some of his diagrams in my presentations. This workflow diagram summarizes on one page, Scott's understanding of many key workflow behaviors in David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology. I've used this, along with my own diagram and a full set of GTD templates, to help me in my weekly review and action planning process.

We've arranged to include Scott's workflow diagram, in full color, on the 4,000-5,000 CD's that we will hand out at the conference.  I'm sure that the people of Manila will benefit greatly from the diagram.  (I wish I had time to solicit others from folks I know.)


Thanks, Scott!
For various reasons, I'm choosing to keep my system in PST. So, if you are in the PST, the local time of the blog posts you read are 15 hours ahead of PST.

Musings on jet lag, conf prep, and favorite hymns

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
I crashed hard last night at about 7:30 PM local time. Now, it's 3:43 AM local time and I'm wide awake. I'd rather be on this side of jet lag. Anyway, I enjoyed a nice quiet time, reading my Bible and listening to my favorite hymns and worship songs in my hotel room. I'm normally a late night person, and while getting up early for a quiet time has long been a desire of mine, it does not happen as often as I would like. So, I'm thankful for opportunities like these when I actually get up before the clock sounds.

Focusing on the outcome
This conference has required so much work and preparation that's easy to forget the purpose of the conference itself and focus on mechanics and delivery. The purpose of this conference is about helping people. I desire to be a part of that process, by sharing some of what I have learned in the past 25 years in business with the hope that others will find some of it useful and learn from it, too. I'm really excited about the vision that Pastor Sumrall has for these conferences that he does each year to help the people of Manila and I'm honored to be invited to be this year's featured speaker. It's an awesome responsibility and opportunity.

Continue Reading "Musings on jet lag, conf prep, and favorite hymns" »

Conference preparation going well

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
After a nice shower and breakfast, my driver picked me up to take me over to COP to meet with the staff. They are in full swing for the conference. Pastor Sumrall met with me and we visited for a while. Then, he took me to the auditorium to share some speaking tips for presenting in the round. he explained that most public speakers tends to face and speak to the people on the right. I will work on moving around, both physically, and in eye contact. I want to keep the audience engaged. Just in case I forget, we agreed to ask some of the planning committee folks to scatter around the auditorium so that when I'm looking out at an ocean of faces I'll spot a few I recognize and come back to them.

Internet at COP is much faster than the hotel:
Pastor Sumrall showed me his shiny new Fujitsu Tablet PC. He's a big JK fan. It sure sounds like he's YABHTU but he still carries his Mac, too. Apparently viruses are a big problem in Asia, which is a big reason why he switched to a Mac, when 99% of the Filipinos use PC. I'll have to introduce him to Notes, so he can use both, in whatever way serves him best.

We talked about Michael's conference planning and the challenge of managing so many sessions.
Continue Reading "Conference preparation going well" »

Uh Oh. Broken Internet. This is not good.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
I've just checked into my hotel and purchased a 7-day internet access card. Unfortunately, the speeds are very slow to the U.S. ~70Kbps download. (Reminds me of life in the early 1990s with a leased 64Kb frame relay circuit.)  
I can live with that - Lotus Notes does a good job of shielding me from the slow network by allowing me to work local and replicate in the background. The real problem I'm having is that I cannot reach my corporate Domino or Web servers from the in-room wireless, however I can reach them just fine from the hotel lobby.

I've been trying to work with the IT people here with little success. I told them I refuse to reboot my computer, clear my cookies, or reload Windows, when I can walk downstairs with my laptop and everything works fine. I've now spoken to several people and several tell me they are working on it.

I'm sure glad I'm not sold on the concept of Office 2.0 and ubiquitous web access. At least not here, yet. Well, I can be thankful for this, as it gives me a taste of internet service here - something I need to know in order to serve effectively at the conference.

I'll just work off-line in Notes and sip high-speed internet when and where I can find it. What a disappointment.


Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
My flight arrived 3 hours early!  (Try that in the U.S!) Actually, there's an explanation. The Philippine Air 747 was not full today; apparently when that happens the plane does not have to stop in Guam to refuel. I feel bad - the people who came to pick me up missed a night's sleep. I'm thankful that they were there, however, to get me though the airport and to the hotel. I've just checked into the Manilla Pavilion hotel. Very nice and nice people, too.

Next action: hit the shower. 15 hours on a plane makes me appreciate soap and water.

Then, I'll replicate and check in with Michael to see what he's been up to. (He threatened to make some posts about a Mac or something... I won't be surprised.) Seriously, Michael's working very hard, handling the details of this conference and working tirelessly on the slide decks for the presentations. I am so very appreciative for his help that if he wants to rub in the fact that he thinks Mack should have a Mac, I'll grant that to him. Especially, after yesterday. Nice work, Michael.

My head's starting to spin a little, but I promised my children I would blog so that they can follow along. Then, I'll rest up and check in with Pastor Sumrall at COP to see how their plans are coming along.

I'm excited to be here in Manila, and I look forward to getting everything ready for the conference.

Thank you Apple iLife

Monday, November 19th, 2007
Today, as I was departing for Los Angeles International Airport, Michael called me to share that he needed to put together the CD for the conference materials. He knew that there would be little that I could contribute as I would be travelling for 24 hours. He told me not to worry and that he and his trusty sidekick, the Apple Mac would take care of everything.

By the time I arrived at LAX, Michael Skyped me to have me look at his first cut of the CD. It looked great, thanks to some clever work in iLife.

Michael and I worked together while I waited for my flight and I was pleased to see how easy it was for him to quickly make changes to the site. By the time I shutdown my laptop to board the 747 to Manila, we were almost done. As Michael put it, a Mac was about to save my bacon.

Foiled again!

Continue Reading "Thank you Apple iLife" »


Saturday, November 17th, 2007
This past week, Michael and and I have been working through the content for the Beyond Planning - eProductivity Conference in Manila later this month. I'm generating content, uploading into Notes, and Michael's generating slides and ensuring thematic consistency...  and, apparently, a whole lot more. I really have to stay on top of this, however, as Michael keeps slipping surprises into the slide decks...

Beyond Planning Conference Site

Thursday, November 15th, 2007
I've just activated the USA Mirror site for the Beyond Planning Conference.


If you click through to the site you will see a brief video commercial that is being broadcast in Manila.


Beyond Planning Conference Schedule
Beyond Planning Conference Poster

Web sites:

Beyond Planning (USA Site)
Beyond Planning (Asia-Pacific Site)

Special thanks to Vanj Real and the media team at COP. Vanj and her team created the site, the video, and all of the marketing/presentation materials for the conference. To Vanj and the team, I say, "Well done!"

Staying productive and focused with Notes

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
Michael Sampson and I are busy working on the session planning for our upcoming eProductivity Conference. There remains much to complete, but we are supported by a wonderful group of advisors and great technology. I thought I wold take a quick break during lunch to share how we are using Lotus Notes to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously, across the Pacific.
eProductivity Conference Planning Document Library
Michael and I are using a Lotus Notes document library that we have customized to allow us to track all of the session planning and content for the 36 sessions for the eProductivity conference. We've added some very basic workflow functionality. This allows us to flag any document as being in one of eight states:
eProductivity Conference Planning Document Workflow
This allows us to work together on content, synchronously and asynchronously - even though we are on opposite sides of the Pacific!

As we work on content I update a field in the document to change the document state to any of the above. In the background, as I work, these changes are replicated from my Windows laptop or Tablet PC in California to my primary server in Arizona and from there to Michael's Tablet PC or Mac, in New Zealand. It does not matter who's on-line, when, or what platform we choose to use. (Michael and I have a few quiet preferences about PC or Mac) After replication, each of us will see the documents that require our attention, edit and comment and flag them for review and the cycle continues back across the Pacific.

Think of it as digital volleyball.

Thanks to Lotus Notes replication, we are able to simultaneously manage hundreds of documents in various stages of completion.

Add to this, our use of MindManager and other productivity tools and we've got a neat system for information sharing and collaboration across the miles.

For me, a powerful aspect of this approach is not only the ability to compress work into a small amount of time, but the ability to break our focus down to very next actions. Between my family, graduate studies, client work, eProductivity Beta, and preparation for this conference, about the best I can do is keep my head down and focus on the simple next actions, the things I can do in one setting.

I'm grateful to have Michael's expertise as the eProductivity conference organizer. I can't imagine doing this without his help and without a cool set of tools to make distributed work easy.

Lunch is over. Time to get back to work.

Thanks to my extended eProductivity team

Monday, November 5th, 2007
Several people have graciously offered to review the session outlines for my eProductivity conference in Manila, and to offer their input and suggestions.

It's just three weeks until the conference,  and I have much to do to prepare. I'm thrilled to have Michael to help organize the conference and plan each of the sessions. I greatly value the feedback and input from several of my clients, colleagues and fellow productivity bloggers.

Late last week Michael sent out the session overviews and content statements to these people and we have already received great feedback from:
Tanny O'Haley
Jason Womack
Wayne MacKirdy
Steve Holden
Matthew Cornell

to name just a few...
Thank you very much to each of you for your insightful and perceptive responses
. There are a couple more responses due in the next day, and then we'll shift to the next stage of getting ready.

I'll try to post some more details as I go, but as you can imagine, things are hectic around here. On top of that, I'll be presenting on knowledge worker productivity with Steve Barth at KM world today. So, while I have great hopes for blogging, the posts may be sporadic. I'll try to blog KMWorld this week, though.
I'm deep in the conference session planning process. This weekend, Michael and I worked on the draft outlines and today I met with an advisor to go over topics. The sessions are looking really good! There's still much to do, which is why blogging has been light. As I have time to surface for a break, I'll share some fun posts about other things that are going on.

eProductivity on ABS-CBN News

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007
I just received a Skype chat with a link to ABS-CBN news in Manila. I clicked on the link to see the feature article. 20071023_ABS-CBNNewsFeatureStory.jpg There, I found a Special Feature by David Chavez Dizon, Senior Editor, ABD-CBN NEWS about my recent pre-conference planning visit to Manila for my upcoming eProductivity conference in November.

It's an interesting article and the reporter did a nice job of capturing portions of my presentation at the planning meeting. (If I had known I was being recorded I might have tried to say something really profound.) At the time he was recording, I had just given a big pitch for why I thought everyone should buy David Allen's book, Getting Things Done, and  master the principles contained within.  The video jumps in near the end of my 5-minute overview of what is GTD and how it works for me. Then, the video skips into our discussion about wild success for the conference. There's a link to a YouTube video at the bottom of the page.

Michael Sampson and I are meeting daily to work on the eProductivity session planning and to select content and finalize outlines for our next eProductivity advisor's meeting. I'm looking forward to the conference.

This article was a fun way to end the day.

ABD-CBN News: The art of increased productivity through collaboration
I've been working with Vanj Real, a very talented young lady assigned to create the promotional materials, videos, and web site for my eProductivity conference. We've been sending artwork back and forth across the Pacific and things are really looking good. Vanj does nice work!


Once I receive the final copy and the link to the new web site Vanj is creating, I will post the details here.

Nice try Michael!

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
Looks like Michael Sampson's up to his buy-a-Mac, Mack tricks again...

No sooner do I praise Michael for his outstanding conference planning skills, when I discover that, included in the printed list of topics from the conference organizer, are two suspicious titles. I quickly fire off an urgent email to the marketing director:
Thank you, Vanj, for typing up this list of session titles.

Please note that my colleague, Michael Sampson, while very intelligent and helpful is also a clown and he loves to amuse me.

Continue Reading "Nice try Michael!" »

The long flight home...

Monday, October 8th, 2007
Philippine Airlines to Los Angeles from ManilaIt's been a busy few days in Manila and it's time to return. My flight from Ninoy Aquino International Airport departs at 10:00 PM. I expect to walk out of the LAX International terminal at about the same time on the same day in Los Angeles. This 15 time-zone stuff takes some getting used to.

It's been a good, but emotional trip. I'm humbled by the need, by the opportunity to serve, and by the realization that I actually have the experience to do so. May the Lord receive the glory! I look forward to returning... After I get some sleep!
Continue Reading "The long flight home..." »

eProductivity Conference Session Titles

Monday, October 8th, 2007
It's been a very successful trip; I'm departing tired, but satisfied. Before leaving I finalized the session titles with Michael. I think Michael's done an outstanding job of capturing the theme of the conference and session topics and creating titles that work. I'm privileged to have Michael as a friend and trusted advisor. Now, what remains, is to come up with an outline and presentation for each of these sessions. Fortunately, I won't have to do all of it alone. I'm blessed to have a number of outstanding experts in their own right contributing to my research and presentation. I'll tell you more about these people and the sessions they will be contributing to in an upcoming post. Meanwhile feel free to have a look at the session titles. (If you would like to contribute to the conference, let me know; full credit and resource opportunities will be given for all contributors.)


   Beyond Planning: ePRODUCTIVITY

nformation, Communication, and Action tools to get things done.

General Track

Session 1:

eProductivity: Using Information, Communication, and Action tools to get things done

Beyond Toil: A Biblical Perspective on Work
Beyond Working Hard: The eProductivity Equation

Session 2:

Beyond Overwhelm: Methodologies for Productivity, Part I

Continue Reading "eProductivity Conference Session Titles" »
In the United States, we take our communications infrastructure for granted. Telephone Infrastructure in Manila, Philippines In Manila, where you can observe poverty on one corner and a multi-million dollar building across the street, everyone shares the same communications infrastructure. This photo, snapped on my way to the airport, shows what many of the phone poles looked like. It appears that as each customer gets connected, new wires are home-run from point to point, leading to the following situation...

Telephone Infrastructure in Manila, PhilippinesI actually drove down streets under a canopy of wires that blocked out the sunlight!  the flip side is that the Philippines boast that they are the SMS capital of the world - in Manila, a large percentage of the population has a mobile phone with broadband and SMS. From what I observed, they use SMS even more that voice, in cars, while driving, on motorcycles - anywhere.

Perhaps we should send help with the wiring plans and they can come teach us a few things in the U.S. about what it really means to be connected wirelessly with 3G and broadband.
One of the things that surprised me about coming to Manila this week was the professionalism and attention to detail exhibited by the people preparing for this conference. I was surprised to walk down the hall and see an office -- with my name on it -- being set up for the conference.

2007 COP Manila eProductivity Conference Planning Staff

The office was not for me, but for people assigned to work on planning, marketing, promoting, and preparing for the conference. in addition to the various committees, there are six people (that I know of) responsible for promotion, registration, event planning, and the print and web-site materials.
I've been doing my best to learn everyone's name and now I have several new ones to learn. I will get someone to match the names I wrote down with all of the faces in the photos I am posting to the blog so that when I return next month I can greet everyone by name.

I'm appreciative to have the support from this staff and I look forward to helping them serve the people of Manila.
Several of my mentors have often challenged me to think about what "wild success" would look like when planning a project or event. The idea is to get to the "why" of the activity to create a driving purpose. (I like to use David Allen's Natural Planning Model (NPM) to help me visualize the various areas of focus.)
COPPlanningBoardWildSuccess.jpgI decided to pose this question at several of the meetings. I expected and received the common responses such as "I will have free time as a result of being more efficient" or " "I will get a promotion when my boss sees me getting more done" but I was surprised and unprepared for some of the responses that involved bringing families back together - it's not the typical response I hear in the states.

Continue Reading "What would a wildly successful conference look like?" »
After several iterations and meetings it looks like we've agreed upon the name and theme of the eProductivity conference:


Beyond Planning: eProductivity

Using Information, Communication, and Action tools to get things done.

We want to convey the idea that we will cover topics beyond simply planning, yet we will focus on the tools and methodology of working smart.

Continue Reading "Conference title: Beyond Planning: eProductivity" »

I’m not fat, I’m building the temple!

Sunday, October 7th, 2007
I've been eating very well (too well!) during my entire stay. Per my Doctor's instructions, I stayed away from fresh salads and some fruits, but I've feasted on everything else.

Almost every meeting had food of some kind. (Think Panda Express, but 10 time better - all day) Sunday, we were treated to a delightful dinner by a new chef - a young man who I'm sure will someday earn a four star rating for his cooking and presentation.

I can't believe I ate the whole thing...

After one meal, I patted my belly and remarked at how much I would have to do to lose what I had gained during the trip, to which pastor Sumrall replied,
"You're not fat, you're building the temple."

I'm not sure I can support that statement biblically, but it made me feel better nonetheless.

Now, where's that cheesecake?

Dinner with COP Executive Committee

Sunday, October 7th, 2007
One more meeting, one more meal, and then I'm done. It's been a marathon series of meetings but each one has given me insight into the people of Manila and how I can best prepare to serve them when I return in November.

As in the other meetings, we used David Allen's Natural Planning Model (NPM), which you can see on the board behind us, to identify the areas of focus. We stayed mostly at the top levels for today. In the weeks to come, I'll distill my notes into projects and actions to carry things forward. OK, time to head back to the house to change into my travel clothes, pack, eat, Skype my family, and head to the airport for my trip home.

Final church service and introduction

Sunday, October 7th, 2007
OK, we've just finished my last service for the weekend and I gave my last eProductivity elevator speech to this congregation. I was tired so it was a short one. Again, I was well received by the congregation and had the opportunity to speak privately with several people after the service. I'm getting comfortable moving around the auditorium and on the platform. I'm even getting used to the security guard that insists on saluting me each time I walk upstairs. :-) I like the people and I feel like I accomplished my objective in coming - to get to know the people I will serve a little better. I look forward to my return trip.
People are signing up for the eProductivity ConferenceI stepped out of the young professionals meeting into the lobby to find people crowded around one of the eProductivity conference sign-registration tables. We don;t even have posters or flyers and people are already signing up to reserve a seat at the conference. How cool is that?
eProductivity Conference RegistrationeProductivity Conference Registration Team
COP Young Professionals GroupThis evening, was invited to address the young professionals group. Unnoticed, I quietly walked into the back of a small auditorium and took a seat. There, I watched two young men present my biography, lifted entirely from my blog (careful what you blog!). it was surreal, like sitting at my own funeral.

They shared some of my successes and most embarrassing moments. Eric addresses the COP Young Professionals GroupThey also mentioned that I always remember to cook chicken before I deliver my finished work to a client.  Finally, the audience was told that I would be addressing them briefly. I thought about borrowing someone's brown shoe for my brief time on stage, but decided against it at the last moment.

Eric speaks to the COP Young Professionals GroupAs the audience applauded, I walked up onto the platform and greeted these young professionals who were so very eager to greet me. I decided to share the story of my experience cooking chicken. link. I hope it was an inspiration to the people who heard it. the two young men who did the technology presentation and presented my bio did a very nice job. (Thank you!) After a brief visit with the audience, I was whisked away to yet another meeting.

eProductivity General Track Focus Group

Sunday, October 7th, 2007
Two more meetings to go! This meeting, with the eProductivity general track focus group, is to discuss my Saturday Keynote speech and the sessions for the day. The challenge is deciding what topics to cover and which to leave out.  I will present my speech on the productivity equation along with a survey of productivity methodologies that have greatly impacted me personally, most notably David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology. I'll present a survey of some of the personal Knowledge management (PKM) concepts for self organization, inspired by my KM colleague, Steve Barth, and wrap all of that in the ICA model.

COP eProductivity Conference General Track Meeting

This is the track where we will diverge from traditional material that I'm used to presenting.
Continue Reading "eProductivity General Track Focus Group" »

Time to head up North for the next service

Sunday, October 7th, 2007
Pastor Marlan, quickly escorted me to the next service at the North Campus - the main campus - at the Cathedral of Praise in downtown Manila. This service was a little more, how shall I put it, lively, than the earlier service. At the end of the service, I was introduced and invited to greet the congregation. I tried our home church greeting of "Grace to you!" but the audience said nothing - they did not know what to say in response. (I'll have to work on that one next time I'm here.) Church was good, the Filipino people were warm and friendly to me, and I am starting to get very excited about returning to serve in November.

Eric greets and speaks at the COP Manilla Sunday service

eProductivity Executive Track Focus Group

Sunday, October 7th, 2007
We're in the lobby of the Bellevue Hotel in Alabang, meeting to discuss the executive track, to be held on Thursday. We've discussed several session topics and the general themes appear to be focused on collaboration, technology for productivity, and knowledge management.

eProductivity Executive Track Focus Group at the Bellevue hotel

With Michael's help, I plan to present a mini-version of Michael's research on  IT enabled collaboration - this is great thinking and should be required reading for any manager in the information age. I took many notes that I have yet to process, so I'm sure this track will evolve as we go along. It was interesting to meet with this group; fewer words but deeper discussion that the other meetings. Neat people and folks committed to helping the people of Manila realize their dreams through business. I look forward to working with them.
The COP congregation is so large and so spread out that there are multiple services at multiple campuses. I'll attend worship service three times before the day is over. The first service is at the south campus in the Bellevue hotel in Alabang.
Pastor Sumrall preaches the morning messageSunday morning service COP South campus

The church service was not much different from a Sunday experience in my home church: Praise & worship songs, greetings, and a sermon. At the end of the service I greeted the congregation, introduced myself and invited them to register for the eProductivity conference.
Worried that I might not have eaten enough food an any of my last 11 meals in Manila, Pastor Sumrall took me to breakfast at the Bellevue Hotel in Alabang. There, he introduced me to Larrem Panganiban, a manager of commercial accounts for Cisco and formerly of IBM/Lotus.

Bellevue Hotel Buffet BreakfastLarrem Panganiban and Eric Mack at the Bellevue hotel

We talked a lot about Lotus Notes, his days at IBM/Lotus, doing business in the Philippines (Larrem wants to me set up shop over here) and his future business plans. We had a delightful breakfast and time of fellowship together. I look forward to visiting with Larrem again. Given his interest in Lotus Notes and the eProductivity template, I know we will be meeting again, soon.
When Pastor Sumrall first contacted me to discuss coming to Manila to deliver an eProductivity conference, I was surprised. (I actually put him off, but that's a separate story to share.) I'd never heard of a church organizing a productivity conference on such a large scale (actually, on any scale), let alone, bring in a speaker from another country.

Pastor David Sumrall of the Cathredal of Praise, Manila, Philippines

Pastor Sumrall explained that this conference was being organized by the Kasaganaan business fellowship and the School of Christian Entrepreneurial Studies (SCES). This business group and school focus on equipping Christians in the Philippines to do "business by the Book" and to help members who are so inclined to find new opportunities by becoming entrepreneurs, better employees, managers, and business owners.

I was intrigued, so I asked why they do this. I even asked if this was a way to get people into church for group evangelism. Would there be an altar call, I wondered?

Pastor Sumrall replied...
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eProductivity Organizing Committee Meeting

Saturday, October 6th, 2007
eProductivity Organizing Committee Meeting

A delightful meeting with the eProductivity conference organizing committee to discuss a number of topics related to the audience, venue and logistics. (It never occurred to me that if you bring 5,000-8,000 into a building for a day-long conference they have to have some place to eat!) We have a great group of people on the organizing committee and I'm sure that they will do a wonderful job of handling the conference.

A Barong Tagalog for Eric Mack

Saturday, October 6th, 2007
I came to Manila with slacks, a few eProductivity polo shirts, and a shirt, tie, and jacket for my television interview. These are not common attire here. It's far too hot and humid to spend much time outside in a suit or jacket. So, on Friday night, Pastor Marlan drove me into town to Tesoro's to be fitted for a Barong Tagalog.  This evening, they presented me with a blue and brown Barong, which I will wear proudly for the remainder of my stay here.

Eric Mack with Pastor David Sumrall

I'm told that the Barong is considered formal attire for Filipino men - similar to wearing a coat or a dress shirt. It's lightweight, very comfortable, and covers my temple well (LINK)
At the close church service this evening, Pastor Sumrall spoke about the eProductivity conference and his vision; he then introduced me and invited me up to the platform to greet the congregation. This was my first time up on the platform with an audience and it takes some getting use to. The auditorium is huge! The people were very kind with their applause and quickly made me feel welcome there. It was a great feeling to be among brothers and sisters in Christ and to feel just as welcome as I would in my own church. God is good.

That's one big auditorium

I extended greetings to the congregation from myself and my family and I spoke briefly about the conference to invite people to sign up. Speaking on an open platform took some getting used to -- especially the acoustics and the fact that the screens are high overhead where I cannot see them.
Continue Reading "It's time to promote the eProductivity conference" »

AVP Shoot for Conference Promotion

Saturday, October 6th, 2007
The eProductivity advanced track focus group ran long (my fault) so I did not have must time to catch my breath or prepare for a video shoot in the media center. Apparently, Vanj has plans to put a video commercial on TV, on the eProductivity web site and to push out to the mobile phones via MMS.

eProductivity TV Commercial Storyboard for COP

I have no idea how well the video came out, but I'm sure I'll find out soon enough. I don't feel like this was a terrific recording session. I was tired, had a five o'clock shadow, and felt a little disoriented due to mild jet lag. Vanj assured me that the recording went well. Of course there's always Adobe Premier to clean things up. (Michael will love that: It will take a Mac to clean up a Mack.)

I may use SMS in my presentations

Saturday, October 6th, 2007
One of the challenges of presenting to such a large audience (~5,000-~8,000 people expected) is that I won't be able to interact with the audience in the same way that I would do in a smaller setting. Of course, I could try something I've never done in a seminar before - get the folks to stretch and to a wave around the auditorium. (I wonder if they would go for that?) Anyway, I want to find a way to interact with the audience. One of the ideas that came up during a planning meeting was to give the audience multicolored cards so that I could call for a show of hands and quickly determine the audience response by color. (e.g. "Hold up the green card if you use a PC or a blue card of you use a Mac.)

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eProductivity Advanced Track Focus Group

Saturday, October 6th, 2007
There are three target tracks for the conference: general, advanced (technical), and executive. This meeting, with the advanced track focus group was to discuss the demographics, challenges and needs of the people that will come to the advanced sessions. In addition to the general session on Saturday, we will have four breakout sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

So far, it looks like I will cover technology for mobile workers, technology for groups and teams, a show-and-tell session on the productivity tools I use, and a mini version of the 100 productivity tips in 100 minutes that I wrote for a client last year. We'll see how all of this plays out. We are still working on the session titles for this track.
The auditorium/worship center at the Cathedral of Praise (COP), Manila, seats 8,000 people. (And I thought that my church auditorium was huge.) Here's a photo from a recent concert, showing what the venue looks like when it's full.

A recent event at the Cathedral of Praise, Manila

My hosts tell me that they expect to fill it to capacity. Wow!

I decided to check out the facility for myself. Here are some photos...

Continue Reading "A tour of the eProductivity conference venue in Manila" »

Children’s Tower at COP

Saturday, October 6th, 2007
COP Children's TowerI walked over to the new children's ministry building, next to the COP auditorium. Since space is at a premium in the city, COP decided to build up rather than out. The new children's ministry building is five stories tall. I'm certain that if Amy and Wendy were here they would be volunteering to serve the children. I hope to bring them on a future visit to Manila. Tomorrow, this building will be packed.
This eProductivity conference in Manila would not have happened were it not for the vision and persistence of Pastor David Sumrall. You see, I politely blew off the first few emails I received from him. Here's how it all began for me, with a query from my blog:
I just thought I would tell you how much I enjoyed your sites in the last few years. If you are ever in Asia and want to do a seminar please let me know. We have a lot of business people in the church that would enjoy you. David Sumrall
Life was very busy at that time, I was preoccupied with an offer to join the staff The David Allen Company on a full-time basis, rather than as a consultant as I had been for the past 15 years. I responded with a polite turn-down email...
David, Thank you so much for your kind words and for your encouragement. [I have] no immediate plans for Asia, although it's a tempting idea. Grace to you, Eric
Pastor Sumrall wrote back:
Let us know. I have a large group of business owners in the church that would enjoy a GTD seminar and your eProductivity seminars.  David Sumrall
Still not interested, I politely responded NO, yet again.
Thanks. Should I have a business opportunity that would bring me to Asia, I'll keep you in mind. Best regards, Eric
This exchange went on a few more times, each time with Pastor Sumrall expressing his desire to hold a productivity conference in Manila. I even referred him to my client, David Allen, who also turned him down due to the fact that they were booked through the end of the year.

So, Pastor Sumrall contacted me again.

I agreed to talk with him and I'm very glad that I did.

We hit it off well. He's been a long-time reader of my blog and we found much in common in our love for cool gadgets, church, and serving others. I agreed to explore the idea of delivering an eProductivity seminar in Manila. That was seven months ago. Fast-forward to today and I'm busy meeting with the pastor and his staff and various conference planning committees. This is sure to be one fun conference.

I'm inspired, and very glad that Pastor Sumrall was persistent in getting my attention.

I now look forward to serving the people of Manila, next Month.

eProductivity in Manila - Day One

Friday, October 5th, 2007
Today, I met my host and the conference organizing committee for my upcoming eProductivity conference in Manila, Philippines.
Some of the eProductivity conference organizating committeeeProductivity Conference Planning Meeting #1

The people of Manila are gracious hosts and hospitality ranks high on their list of traits. From the moment I stepped off the plane, when a government official met me to escort me through customs, to meeting my hosts, to seeing the office and staff that have been assembled to help organize the conference, I have been treated with great kindness and respect. Everyone is so friendly. This is going to be a fun conference to plan and deliver.

Apparently, in the city of Manila, 75% of the population is age 25 or less. There is energy everywhere, and people are anxious to work, to learn, to grow. It's exciting to plan for this event. I plan to share not only good information about the technologies and methodologies of productivity, but I also plan to share some key lessons learned about starting my business  (I celebrate 25 years this month) and the ups and downs along the way. The motivation behind this conference is to reach out and help people learn valuable skills that will help them in work and in life. I'm taking pages of notes and I hope to share the full story, soon.

Continue Reading "eProductivity in Manila - Day One" »

The Manila Adventure Begins - Day one

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
I'm getting ready to leave for Manila, Philippines, to plan for my upcoming conference on eProductivity in November.
Travel post card for daddy's trip to Manila, by Emily Mack
Emily gave me this card as a reminder - that's the Mack family on the tarmac in front of the plane.

I figure it will take me 23-24 hours door-to-door to get from my house to the home of my host, in Manila. A perfect time to catch up on some sleep. Many thanks to those of you who wrote to offer travel tips and advice. I'm sure it will all come in handy.

UPDATE: Oh dear, LAX doesn't do windows well

Continue Reading "The Manila Adventure Begins - Day one" »
I've been invited to keynote and present an eProductivity conference, in Manila, Philippines, in late November. With an expected attendance of 7,000-10,000 people, the conference will be presented as a service to the people of Manila and will take place at the The Cathedral of Praise, a very large church in Manila with a building large enough to seat everyone.  The Cathedral of Praise has a history of outreach and service to the people of the Philippines, both spiritually and physically, and I'm delighted to be a part of their service to the people of Manila.

This conference will be a wonderful opportunity to share thoughts and ideas on how to use information, communication, and action tools and technologies as well as best practices in productivity methodologies and workplace effectiveness with the audience. I'm most excited to be able to present not only some of my eProductivity tools and tips but also to introduce the audience to work by other business and productivity experts that have greatly influenced my own learning and work. My colleague, Michael Sampson, has agreed to help me coordinate the conference tracks. I've seen Michael's work at other conferences (e.g. Enterprise 2.0) and I'm honored to have him on my advance planning team.

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Why I’m not afraid to speak in public

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
A potential client called me this week and asked if I would be interested in delivering an eProductivity seminar to a very large audience in Asia. I told him I was. He seemed most interested to know if I was comfortable speaking to a very large audience - like 5,000-8,000 people. I said that I was and I shared that I had a life-changing event many many years ago that gave me great comfort speaking in front of large audiences. Here's what happened...

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