Friday, October 30, 2009

Growing @ The Speed of Change

I recently reread Growing @ the Speed of Change by a friend of mine, Jim Clemmer. When I say I recently reread it, I actually read it before it was published to give comments to the author. See my FTC Disclosure.

The subtitle is Your Inspir-actional How-To Guide for Leading Yourself and Others Through Constant Change.

One thing I love about Jim Clemmers' books (and he is a prolific author), is his liberal use of quotations, such as:

"knowing is not enough, we must apply, willing is not enough, meanwhile we must do.."Goeth 1749- 1832

The basic theme of the book is how to thrive in turbulent times. The first third of the book discusses and tries to convince you that change is actually happening at a great rate. One of the early chapters is even titled I Predict...More Unpredictability.

One concept that he uses is wallowing, this is complaining that it's not the good old days and wishing there was no change.

"Following" which is characterized by cynicism, skepticism, cautious and helplessness.

The ultimate goal which is leading, which includes optimism, positive outlook, courage, hopeful, proactive, gets results, etc.

This is interesting dichotomy the book I recently reviewed that said positive thinking was killing America.

I love the chapter on "I don't have authority". The gist of that message is even though people don't specifically have the authority, there are lots of things they can do to still bring about change.

The book could be characterized as a positive thinking book, but it acknowledges that it requires a lot of action to get things done. At the same time, he provides a lot of tools on how to think and be positive to your advantage.

It was an enjoyable read.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit" - Aristotle

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I am just back from a 4 day retreat with YPO. Awesome time. Good people.

I re-read "Purpose - The Starting Point of Great Companies" by Nikos Mourkogiannis. An excerpt from the book:

"Leadership is the ultimate advantage. When it's present, it makes all other advantages possible. And poor leadership can turn even the best advantage into a disaster.

If leadership is genius, then it is only effective because it is tightly linked to management. Leadership does not float in and out of an enterprise linke an inspiring butterfly coming in the window; its's not charismatic words and great deeds served up without context. Like everything else, leadership has to work on a daily basis."

I think the reason I chose to take that book from my fairly large collection is I am struggling with my personal purpose. Purpose gives meaning and drives inspiration. With inspiration, great things are possible.

Over years of running a business, I have come to identify myself as a leader. I still study leadership.

I almost find it awkward to know what to say I do when I meet people. I am a writer, speaker, investor, board member etc.

Now without a company to run, I feel that I lack purpose. So I struggle...

Monday, October 26, 2009

The 25 Hour Day and Sleep

One Success Habit that many people sent me for my book (and I need more so email me your Success Habits at jimestill at gmail) is Rise Early.

The problem is that another Success Habit is "get enough sleep" (not too much but not too little either). So if you want to wake early, you need to go to bed early.

I see a tendency among many people (myself included) to stretch the day by staying up. It seems many of us have a 25 hour clock - not 24 hours. If the sun did not tell us when we were supposed to be awake, we would continually progress an hour later every day. Shifting the whole day.

I wonder if there have been any studies done in caves to see if this is the normal cycle for people.

Tricks I use to get to bed earlier (note that I don't say early since I still usually stay up later than many people).

1 - I have no TV. TV can be mindless but still stimulating enough to keep people awake.

2 - Avoid chemical stimulants. Caffeine is the obvious one to avoid - especially later in the day.

3 - I tell myself "it is only in the last 200 years that people have had light so if it is dark out, I need to consider sleeping". And a dark room to sleep helps.

4 - Exercise early in the day. I find it hard to sleep if I am not exercising or if I work out too close to bedtime.

5 - Just do it. I find if I go to bed, I do sleep. Getting there is the first step.

6 - I plan it. Just like anything. Planning helps to keep things on track.

I am always fascinated by marketing. I saw an interesting YouTube video that has a lot of good internet stats. It caught my attention as a great use of YouTube in a marketing campaign. I have long been of the belief that marketing needs multiple media and YouTube would be just one of those. One I have not used much yet.

And some networking for some of the companies I have invested in:

Interesting to see how Postrank is rising. Great for blog importance

If you spend more then $50/month on conf calls and webex save here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Six Key Enemies of Post-Recession Performance

This is actually a hopeful title. We are going to recover.

The Corporate Executive Board, a company with years of experience doing research, analysis, insights and more on business strategy, operations and management put together a teleconference titled Executive Guidance for 2010., with the goal of helping companies post recession.

They came up with 6 Key Enemies of Post Recession Performance.

"Enemy #1: Changed Customer Needs - A shift in consumer buying behavior that turns top sales performers into average performers can cut channel output by more than 15 percent. Companies should actively revisit their customers' needs and adapt selling models to challenge their beliefs and educate them about their own business.

Enemy #2: Top Talent Disengagement and Flight - The average organization faces an imminent 7 percent productivity loss from the combination of departing top talent and undermanaged recruiting pipelines. Companies must carefully manage employee engagement and keep recruiting pipelines full to ensure that as economic conditions improve, key projects and efforts are not crippled when even a small segment of high performers leave. One scary statistic I heard at the World Business Forum (#WBF09) was 30% of staff are looking to leave their companies when the economy improves. Scary stuff that speaks to being close to your staff and treating them right now.

Enemy #3: Increased Risk Velocity - While there is a need for faster, more agile risk management strategies, companies that build risk response capabilities stand to gain 20 percent higher revenue growth than those that focus only on risk assessment.

Enemy #4: Higher Levels of Employee Misconduct - Organizations already lose an estimated 7 percent of annual revenues to employee fraud and CEB research shows that employee misconduct has increased at a rate of 20 percent. Organizations that take an active role in exhibiting corporate values can improve employee performance.

Enemy #5: IT Budgets Targeting a Shrinking Share of Enterprise Information - Today, 40 percent of the most valuable information created by employees is out of reach of corporate IT systems. Companies need to create policies to create productive exchanges and educate employees on the use of new mediums, particularly social media.

Enemy #6: Misplaced Leaders - Companies seeking better leaders need look no further than their own organizations. CEB has found that correct reassignment and proper support of existing leaders can improve revenue and profit by more than 10 percent. “

Today’s companies need to take a good honest look at how they are operating and adjustments accordingly. Charles Darwin is famously quoted for saying “Creatures that adapt to threats and master the evolutionary game thrive; those that don't, become extinct

Thought provoking piece.

Perhaps someone should come up with the 6 Friends of Post Recession Performance to make it more positive? You know my opinion on Being Positive. For each of these enemies there is a friend (like 2 and 4 are helped by treating people like people).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bright Sided Book Review and Time Saving Tip

My mom often acts as a personal clipping service. Saving articles she think would interest me. She clipped a Globe and Mail review of Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America".

The theory of the book is as the title suggests. Positive thinking is bad for us - not good for us as so many people promote (myself included). Her point is we deny the truth if we are too positive. We can also end up feeling guilty that "we must have thought negative thoughts to attract this to my life".

Her points are valid if positive thinking is used this way. She is not understanding how positive thinking should be used though. We can control our reaction to circumstance without denial or blaming ourselves. So I am advocating a logical "Positive Thinking" - no denial or guilt.

Positive Thinking does fail some people because they forget that it also takes doing to actually make things happen. This is the difference between goals and wishes. Wishing rarely works. Planning realistically and executing does.

And I would rather be positive because it feels better. And no one wants to be around a person who is grumpy and down. So I will keep my positive outlook.

I loved Ehrenreich's previous book - Nickel and Dimed even though many people did not. For that book, she went under cover and did a series of close to minimum wage jobs and reported on her experiences.

Critics of the book thought she was too shallow and because she allowed herself a safety net, she was falsely "representing" the poor. They felt she was not immersed in "poor". Her style was also quite political and anti business blaming the business people for most of the plights of the poor. Many people took exception to that.

I judge any book as great if it causes a permanent change in behavior and that book did for me. I never used to tip chamber maids in hotels and I have been doing that for years now as a result of reading the book.

One Time Saving Tip that ties with the personal clipping service: if you are in an industry that has lots of trade journals or want to stay up on business magazines but are finding it tough due to the number of them. Find a couple of friends in your business and each read just a few magazines and mark on the articles of interest. This makes it much faster and easier when it comes time to read. Just flip to the pages marked. This simple time saving tip can save hours.

I also find it stimulates discussion since we all have read the same articles.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time Management is Mostly About Energy Management

Time Management is more about energy management than just how time is spent. If we increase our energy, we increase our productivity. So one of the things I work on is increasing my energy.

I am a big advocate of time tracking to determine high and low energy times.

One of my readers sent me an email saying he was having problems with low energy after lunch. My response:

This is one of most common energy problems that most people have. Solve that one and you could make a fortune. Some simple ideas:

1 - Eat lightly at lunch. I am not an advocate of low carb diets but think lunch should be low carb, healthy and light.

2 - Exercise increases metabolism. When you are tired, go for a brisk 5 minute walk. I originally learned this one when trying to work the day I flew in on a red eye. It is the toughest run I ever do but I would force myself to run for an hour when I landed. Usually kept me up for most of the day. I also know that from working out too late at night. if I run at 9 PM, I cannot get to sleep until 1 or later.

3 - I try to plan to do low energy tasks during low energy periods. Things that need to get done but do not require high creativity or thought.

4 - Schedule a meeting or phone call. Keep it lively and you are likely to stay alert.

5 - Fake it until you are through it. Acting energetic is one of the best ways to be energetic.

6 - Be inspired. I find when I work on things I am inspired by, I have more energy. Find your inspiration.

Good luck with it.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Design of Business

My most recent read was The Design of Business - Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage by my friend Dr. Roger Martin (he sits on the RIM board with me).

Dr. Martin is Dean of the Rotman School of Business. One of his previous books was Opposable Minds: Winning Through Integrative Thinking. The theory of that book was that the ability to hold 2 opposing thoughts in mind often lead to a third superior view. The Design of Business has some of this "opposable" view thinking.

From The Design of Business book:

"What is Design Thinking Anyway?

Design thinking, as a concept, has been slowly evolving and coalescing over the past decade. One popular definition is that design thinking means thinking as as designer would, which is about as circular as a definition can be. More concretely, Tim Brown of IDEO has written that design thinking is "a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity." A person or organization instilled with that discipline is constantly seeking a fruitful balance between reliability and validity, between art and science, between intuition and analytics, and between exploration and exploitation. The design-thinking organization applies the designer's most crucial tool to the problems of business. That tool is abuctive reasoning."

Dr. Martin is a big advocate of strategy. I have found that good strategy in business can make successful business almost look easy. Of course you need good tacticians to execute but it is the strategy that takes a company to the next level. We had a lot of that phenomenon at SYNNEX. Good strategy with excellent underlying execution.

Design of Business suggests that we do not use enough intuition in business. The book advocates using intuition combined with analytical thinking to devise strategy. (The opposable - intuition and analytics can co-exist to the better good)

My experience is that people are more comfortable with neat and tidy analytics but often the more messy intuitive strategy and design works better. Successful business is a bit messy.

Martin suggests that Design Thinking can be learned, fostered and developed which is indeed a hopeful thought.

I found the book interesting because it uses RIM as an example (among others) and I am close to that one so can see exactly where Martin is saying when he says Design Thinking yields competitive advantage.

Dr. Martin argues that time bias - short term thinking (often caused by the public markets) can kill good decision making. I heartily agree. Long term thinking is key.

Good book. Well done Roger.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

ESPN - The Company

One of the latest books I read is ESPN The Company - The Story and Lessons Behind The Most Fanatical Brand in Sports by Anthony Smith.

I am not a sports person (there is a difference between being active which I am and loving to watch sports). I did, however, find the book interesting.

ESPN certainly created an awesome, well known brand. They deliberately set out to cater to sports fanatics(their words - not mine). They are passionate about it. They also set out to create sports fanatics.

One thing that makes ESPN unique is there is not a single person behind it. There have been a succession of owners and leadership. There is no icon behind the brand. Culture can continue to drive an organization regardless of the leader. From the book:

"It is easy to get mystical about leadership. To generate alchemical formulas to explain its wondrous power. The reason is simple. Leadership is confusing and messy as hell. It comes in many difference circumstances and personalities. So we want to distill it."

All the leader does is start minor course corrections which have impact over time if they are continuously reinforced. One thing I learned from running larger companies is culture takes time and vigilance to change. It is likely the most important aspect of a company and at the same time, the toughest. I try hard to let people make decisions but coach on culture.

The book talks about Smith's Stages of Organizational development. Startup - Survival -Ramp Up Growth - Institutional. Smith implies that different stages of companies need different leaders. What interests me currently is thinking of which phase I am best at. I have been through all of the stages although my institutional experience still involved quite a bit of growth (I am a big believer in growth as the painless way to drive efficiency).

I like the "Key Points" at the end of each chapter (all business books should do this). If you really wanted just to get the business message and not the story.

Some of the chapter summary points (and the book has a lot more detail than this):

Let insecurity drive achievement.

Deviate from the start (a version of my Fail Often, Fail fast, Fail cheap). Plans are meant to be broken.

Follow your values and challenge the rules.

Seek transformational - not transactional partnerships.

Like relationships - partnerships require work.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Paul Krugman - The Return of Depression Economics

Paul Krugman spoke at WBF on The Future of the Global Economy.

Krugman is highly accomplished (Nobel prize, author, professor) and author of "The Return of Depression Economics in 2008" and other books. I have always been interested in history compared to current times. I am hoping to "see the future by looking at the past".

Krugman is an economist and like the previous economists, many of the stats are scary (although his lead in comment was positive)


"the risk of depression has passed - all indicators are showing some recovery"

Trade has dropped dramatically "pretty much unprecedented - even more than in the great depression"

Unemployment stats still are bad.

Worst hit by this down turn is not the US but the exporters.

"We are one world in a way that has never been true before." Trade is massive. It is no longer about "very different" exporting in their strengths to technology leveling the world. This is not really the internet etc. - a lot of it is containerization (container shipping). There is now vertical fragmentation of manufacturing. Manufactured goods are often shipped from place to place for different processing steps. So oil price could change the way trade happens.

Specific processing tends to be concentrated in small geographies. Even within China, certain things "cluster". I have seen that in my travels in the computer business.

"Importing labor-intensive products is a form of indirect immigration of unskilled workers into a workforce."

"When countries suffer an economic setback, recover almost always relies on creating a trade surplus. Problem is, this is global so unless we find another planet to export to..."

Oil prices and climate change is likely to crimp trade going forward.

"We need to figure out how to live with a different world"

Gary Hamel - Competing with the Future

Gary Hamel, author of Competing with the Future is a passionate person. Passion is high among successful people.

His thesis is summarized in the diagram. Seek to increase those things above the line. This is the management challenge of our day.

Some gems:

"Management is the greatest innovation of our time."

"If you are not spending 80% of your time growing food, you can thank management"

"The management problem was to increase efficiency every year. This is just table stakes. Every company needs to do this but it is now a commodity."

"1000 years from today, people will be amazed at the high pace of rate of change." As change accelerates, so does the need for adaptation.

"Product based advantages erode faster than before."

Crisis causes innovation, renewal and change. Deep change is almost always caused by crisis.

"We are no longer in the knowledge economy, we are in the creative economy."

"Today you have to compete with everybody, everywhere for everything" (Although he said this in his talk, he says it is not his quote.)

So the goal is how do you create a company that can innovate and change. Seek creative destruction. Bottom line -EVERYONE in the company needs to be creative and innovate. How do we unleash the creative potential of everyone.

Gary is a good speaker with good insights.

World Business Forum 09 - Day 2 coverage

View from the Bloggers Gallery at World Business Forum 2009

Day 2

Dennis Nally (PWC Chairman) says "We have lost trust at all levels" "This causes investment to grind to a halt" He calls for increased transparency. "Transparency is the lifeblood of investors". Then he plugged what he called convergence of accounting standards (read IFRS). I wonder if PWC makes any money assisting companies in this. My suggestion - walk the walk. Fully disclose the conflict. Do not speak of transparency without being transparent.

Francisco Gonzales, CEO of BBVA, one of largest banks in the world, based in Spain, lots of Latin American operations. He views short term thinking as the cause of the financial crisis. On an optimistic note, he thinks the financial turnaround is coming soon. "Relationships with customers create profits." "Look at the whole person."

Peter Voser - Royal Dutch Shell. 3 billion energy consumers added to population. Greenhouse gas emissions are a huge issue. Energy demands double. "We need investments in all energy areas". "There are no easy answers or silver bullets to the energy problem.". He believes it is impossible to solve the energy problem with renewable sources. He advocates conservation and efficiency. He advocates sequestering carbon (injecting carbon dioxide is common already in the oil and gas drilling business).

Morris Chang, Founding Chairman Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. $10B in sales, 20,000 employee. $600-700M spent in R and D. In 2001, sales dropped by 25%. The current plunge is not as bad as 2001. In the downturn, R and D spending has increased by 10%. "The work ethic of Taiwan engineers is remarkable"

Roger Agnelli, CEO Cia Vale do Rio Doce S.A. ($30B sales) 2nd largest mining company in the world. Based in Brazil. Sees China as huge driver of world growth. "They have money, they have technology - I do not see them joining the recession" "I love China - I pray for them everyday"

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

George Lucas the Accidental Passionate Film Maker

The finale speaker for the first day was George Lucas. He really needs no introduction. He has been involved in a ton of blockbuster movies.

I see a theme among the speakers. Many of them are "accidental" in what they ended up doing. Lucas wanted to become an illustrator/artist but was discouraged by his father. So he went to a university with a friend who was applying. His intention was to sign up for Anthropology but this was not one of their programs. But he was told they had a photography degree which he thought sounded interesting. But when he showed up, it was cinematography - not photography.

Although it was an accident, he was passionate. He spoke of staying up many nights and living on "chocolate bars". One theme I see in all the speakers is a high passion for what they do. I see a definite link between passion and success.

His first feature was an experiment since he intended even in film school to produce documentaries.

Lucas considers himself to be an artist. He is artistically indignant if someone wants to change his work.

When he was 27 years old, he believed enough in himself to work only for a 40% royalty in the merchandise from Star Wars. He then spent 2 years marketing it before the movie was released.

He was involved in the advances in technology because he was in San Francisco and did not have the encumbrance of existing technology of the day. Part of his innovation came from necessity.

Lucas is an impressive guy. Humble. And seems like a nice person. As Rene Lewis @chiefcatalyst says Lucas is "Focused, humble and lucky"


From Yoda "be careful what you hate, for you may become it. "

"It takes as long to make a toy as it does to make a movie."

"I still only have one house"

"Enthusiasm spreads"

Marketing - Saachi

I am enjoying this speed blogging. That said, it is more like reporting than analysing and providing "deep thoughts". There is not much time to put a lot of thought into things.

Kevin Roberts was the next speaker. Saatchi, the ad agency, CEO (6000 employees in 86 countries). He is also a successful author with books including Lovemarks: the Future of Brands. Like all the speakers, he is a very impressive person. Some gems from his talk.

Power and therefore marketing has moved from Brands (Coke, Ford, etc.) to the big retailers like Walmart, Staples etc. to the consumer. And now the consumer has less money that they had a year ago.

There is a new frugality.

1 - face the truth

2 -Reframe. People still buy luxury but they buy

3 - Measure only what matters. "Much of the research is money down the toilet." Figure out how people are feeling

4 - We are in participation economy. Do people love your products and spread the word for you?

"It all comes down to value. Deliver priceless value, improve lives, bring joy."

"80% of buying is done on emotions."

"Don't yell at consumers"

"Let emotions rip"

As would be expected, he used a lot of videos - advertisements mostly. Mostly entertaining.

T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens is being interviewed at WBF. He is worth about $1.15 Billion (down from $3B a couple of years ago but up from $2 million 20 years ago). He is many things including a shareholder activist, author, investor, geologist etc.

His view is that shareholders, not management, should elect the directors. Interesting view that I agree with. He has a unique suggestion for doing this (too long to go into here).

He believes that cheap oil is part of our problem. It stifles innovation and creativity.

I like the way he thinks big. I like the way he seems to be a good old boy.

He has definite views on energy. He wants the US to be energy independent. He has spent $62 million on promoting the Pickens plan. When asked if he was an environmentalist, he said "No". He ties his interest in the environment to money and security (getting off foreign oil). I worry that his plan might be self serving.

He is a big advocate of natural gas. And to free up natural gas, he advocates solar and wind.

And his quotes:

"Hell, tough times come and go"

"An economist is someone who does not have the personality to be an accountant"

WBF Economists Speak

The next 2 speakers spoke as economists. Both had a tough message for us. It was like having 2 tough love sessions right after each other.

David Rubenstein spoke quickly - too quickly to try to get everything down. I wish I had a copy of his speakers notes. He spewed tons of statistics - most depressing. Very sobering although he did have some ideas:

"If you don't love what you're doing now, do something else. You've gotta love your career"

"If I had a simple answer, I would be a politician"

"Future will be China, India, Saudi, etc. Emerging markets. You're not thinking about this, you don't have much future."

"Take Entrepreneurial risks. If you’re happy to sit at your desk and not take any risks, you’ll be sitting at your desk for the next 20 years"

"in 1969 (I might have the exact year wrong), 7% of the energy came from renewables. It is now 10%"

Rubenstein is a multi billionaire so he might know a bit about investing. He suggests investing in turn arounds, Energy, Health care, and Natural Resource (especially water)

Jeffrey Sachs, Economist, Director of the Earth Institute spoke next. He is a Columbia professor.

Although he has many claims to fame, one is the book he wrote - The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. I have not read it yet but do look forward to reading it.

Sachs, like Rubenstein, speaks of economic chaos. The current crisis is a result of a break down in the financial systems. He blames the faulty derivatives for much of the crisis. The US regulatory system has also been broken down.

The climate will be irreversibly damaged within 30-40 years at the current rate. There is a looming water shortage crisis. Our meat based diets are causing huge strains on land use.

He refers to a phenomenal bi-partisan failure. Partly due to the massive lobbying money (in the Billions) spent by the financial institutions in Washington (Health care is the second largest lobby).

His solution is to help the very poor - the developing economies. The solution needs massive action now. He suggests "the good old days" will never come back. We need a new approach.

A review by Stephen of The End of Poverty on Amazon:

Jeffrey Sachs brings incredibly persuasive arguments, backed up by intelligent reasoning and empirical evidence, to convince the reader that change really is possible.

This book should be read by everyone. Sachs goes into great detail explaining the underlying factors behind poverty in different regions of the world and outlines plans on how it can be attacked according to local circumstances. He includes frank criticisms of institutions like the IMF and gives well-deserved credit to the more than 1 billion people surviving on less than $1 a day.

He implores governments of rich countries not just to do more, but to do what they have already promised to do, and shows how it is in everyones interests to help.

This book is not a manifesto for the anti-globalization movement and neither does it unreservedly sing the praise of free trade. It highlights the struggle of the poor and shows what we can do to fix it. It is a book for optimists, but surely it is worth being optimistic if we can really end extreme poverty in the next twenty years.

The book sounds optimistic, unlike most of the message he delivered.

My views:

I always look for answers. I tend to approach challenges with optimism. I do not underestimate the power of entrepreneurism.

Patrick Lencioni - 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

The speaker now is Patrick Lencioni author of 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and many other books. I am not a big fan of the book title - seems to me, for every Dysfunction, there is a Positive Function. Why dwell on negative.

Some gems:

"People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed."

We spend most of our time making our companies Smart - Strategy, Marketing, Finance, Technology but we need to spend more time on being Healthy - Minimal Politics, High Morale, High Productivity, Low Turnover, Minimal Confusion. The problem is the former are easier to measure. Being Healthy by these measures are the best sustainable advantage.

Leaders should over communicate. People need to be told 7 times before they actually believe it. Use different mediums. Often the leader worries that they are too redundant but they should not worry about that.

"People will walk through a fire for a leader who is truly vulnerable"

"I'd rather know someones Myers-Briggs type than their age or gender"

Institutionalize culture without bureaucratizing it.

Sometimes a change of just one person can dramatically change the team dynamic.

"Not holding people accountable for their behaviors is an act of selfishness"

"Behaviors precede results." Correct behaviors now, or face poor results later

The 5 Dysfunctions:

1 - Absense of Trust. So obviously, work to gain trust. Honesty, integrity and consistency are the key. Be willing to listen to other views (and be willing to change your own view if that is the right thing to do)

2 - Fear of Conflict. Passionate debate around an issue is a good thing. Conflict is a good thing. This ties to the first Dysfunction - you need trust to thrive with healthy conflict.

3 - Lack of Commitment. Healthy discussion (including conflict) builds buy in. Get everyone to weigh in. Consensus is a bad thing.

4 - Avoidance of Accountability. The team needs to hold themselves accountable. The leader need to hold people accountable ("the technical term for this is "don't be a wuss"")

5 - Inattention to Results. Leaders have to focus on the collective good. Stand up for what is right.

Lencioni is an entertaining speaker.

Bill George - Live from World Business Forum

Blogging live from New York Radio City Music Hall. WBF. There are about 5000 people attending. There are about 40 bloggers and twitterers in the press area with me. Powerful group.

First Speaker is Bill George. I met him last night and blogged about his book "7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis". He sits on the Goldman Sachs board so was on the front row in seeing how the financial crisis unfolded.

His speech is based on his book. He reiterates the 7 Lessons.

Gems from his speech:

"Get down on the playing field. " Get involved.

Crisis is when true leaders emerge.

The aftermath of the financial crisis may be worse than the storm. His message is less optimistic than the way I feel. I, personally, feel the crisis is passing and as with most challenges we will emerge stronger. Bill George does have some optimism that entrepreneurship can solve the challenges we now face.

He is highly worried about the lack of jobs. He thinks we need longer term thinking to solve this. We both agree that we need innovation to solve this. "saving jobs is less important than creating new jobs".

"Think Long Term". Much of the root cause (especially on Wall Street) is called by thinking too short term.

Learn from Crisis.

Be authentic and lead with integrity.

Invest during downturns.

Don't be a victim - change. We may not be able to control what happens to us but we can control our response.

"There is no substitute for good execution plans."

His final words were "we can all make a difference". (reminds me of and article I wrote about Being Galvanized - not Paralysed)

He is a good speaker. His energy and passion is inspiring. I like his belief in free enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship.


I am seated already in the Bloggers Hub area at WBF. The excitement is palpable. Most importantly, wireless is working. Looking forward to great and inspiring day.

WBF and 7 Lessons for Leading In Crisis

There will be lots of blog posts today. I am a featured blogger at World Business Forum (WBF). What this means is I have been given press credentials and a free pass. WBF is a star studded lineup of speakers including such people as Bill Clinton, Patrick Lencioni, George Lucas, T. Boone Pickens etc.

The venue is Radio City Music hall. The format is a huge auditorium with thousands of attendees (I have been to previous ones). Each speaker gets about an hour to speak and answer questions.

This will be 2 days of live coverage of the event.

For me, the event started last night with a reception put on by Bill George, author of "7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis". Bill is a very accomplished leader. He was CEO at Medtronics. He is now a Harvard Business School professor. He is also an accomplished author with his previous books - Authentic Leadership and Finding Your True North.

In person he seems bright, witty, and personable.

He did give me an autographed copy of his new book. As the title implies, it is 7 short lessons on leading in crisis. The lessons:

1 - Face Reality -starting with yourself. The gist of the message is "take full responsibility". Wishing it was somehow different will not make it so.

2 - Don't be Atlas - get the world off your shoulders. Despite facing reality, you have resources that can help in any crisis. Use them. Worry is not productive but creative thinking can be. Be willing to be vulnerable.

3 - Dig deep for the root cause. It can be easy to mistake symptoms for cause. You cannot devise a solution if you do not have the right problem.

4 - Get ready for the long haul. It is tempting to think of crisis as something the weather until things get better. I know in this economy, I see some companies calling this strategy. And of course he says, cash is king.

5 - Never waste a good crisis. The implication is there is always good in bad situations. In many cases it is the learning.

6 - You're in the spotlight - follow true north. In this section he plays on his earlier books. Be authenitic, be genuine. Be yourself - and choose to be good.

7 - Go on offense - Focus on winning now. Half the crisis is defense and getting through it. Now is the time to learn and grow through the crisis.

And of course, I have only just scratched the surface in this review.

From Zach Clayton's Amazon review:

Decades ago, my grandmother explained to me that "character" is who we are and what we do "when no one's looking." There are also times, such as the situation George describes, when we aren't "looking" either and lose our way. Crises have a way of attracting, often commanding our attention but, when doing so, they can also bring out the best or worst in us. In this context, I am reminded of a U.S. Open golf championship years ago (perhaps at Shinnecock or Oakmont) when many of the players angrily complained about the severe conditions (the fairways were too narrow, the greens too fast, the pin placements "impossible," etc.). In response, the U.S.G.A. official who supervised the course conditions replied, "We're not trying the embarrass the world's best golfers, we're trying to identify them." I think this is one of George's key points in this book. Those in leadership positions who possess and rely upon their True North are more likely to "stay on track" and make the right decisions when under severe stress. The importance of those decisions is compounded by the fact that others trust and depend upon these leaders to do what is difficult but necessary (e.g. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill) rather than what is easy or at least expedient.

The book is targeted at a business audience and uses business examples. I think much of it would apply to crisis in other areas.

It is a good book. Although it is short (139 pages), there is a lot of value in the 7 Lessons. It is a meaty book for its size.

Success Habits - The Book

We are the product of what we repeatedly do - Aristotle.

I am writing a book about Success Habits. The format of the book would be to have the success habit with details on exactly what it is and variations on it. I would follow this by a short profile of someone who successfully uses the habit.

It has in intro chapter on why habits work and one on how to create habits.

I am asking for your input - either by commenting or emailing me at jimestill at gmail with some of your success habits and how they have helped you. If you are commenting and want credit, include your name and email address please.

And to get your creative juices flowing, some of my success habits include:

1 - Do the worst thing first thing. This technique is great for solving procrastination.

2 - I talk to myself or I have mantras. Things I repeat often. Some of mine are:

Successful people do tough things (When I am baulking at doing something)
What is the best use of my time right now (from Alan Lakein to keep me on the right task)
What the heck - go for it anyways (used whenever I have cold feet)
What would I like to have accomplished by the time I go to bed
Back to work (used to help me regain focus)

3 - I rise early

4 - I do not go to bed without learning one new thing

5 - I read 2-3 books per week minimum.

6 - I keep a great contact list and I try to reach out to as many as I can (even passively like this blog)

7 - I do not watch TV


So get me your success habits and comments please.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Total Leadership

I went to a YPO seminar yesterday morning by Stewart Friedman. He is the Wharton professor who wrote Total Leadership - Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life.

The book proposes looking for 4 way wins. Things you can do in your life that can improve your satisfaction (how much you enjoy it) and performance (how successful other people perceive you to be) in the areas of Work, Home/relationship, Community and Self.

The thesis is that some things can improve all areas so those are what should be focused on. It is about handling multiple priorities in different areas of life.

An Amazon review by M. Henderson describes it well.

What makes this book especially effective are the exercises the author puts the reader through. The reader is asked to define the issue, starting with the multiple responsibilities and challenges s/he faces, then it moves on to defining your domains, where is it that you spend your time? Most of the readers (including myself) would find four areas: self, family, work and community. Then, with domains defined, you can identify stakeholders in each domain and begin the process of finding ways "to live your life in accord with what really matters to you." The reader is asked to discuss his/her vision for a future life (post-change) with trusted individuals s/he has previously identified. A particularly effective step is then speaking with others about living your life differently, such as: your boss, significant other and friends, and getting their opinion and feedback on your plan, and as difficult and challenging as this may be it ends up providing the most powerful incentive to change through accountability and stakeholder buy-in. In many cases, I found that as much as I was building bridges between domains in my life, I was also creating boundaries (for example, no longer do I check my blackberry or the Internet between the hours of 6pm - 9pm.) But some of the biggest changes are personal ones that are for me and my family, other readers will likely find similar decisions they make without necessarily sharing them.

The one area that many people can gain 4 way wins would be through being healthy - exercising and eating right. It improves all areas. (over 4 years ago, I talked about workout inspiration)

The only part of the theory I did not like was the assumption that work is bad and we all want to work less. I see this a a huge groundswell in society. I tend to look at work as inspirational so do not share the current world view.

I do not really believe in balance. Or perhaps I believe only in enough balance to support primary goals. When I am truly inspired, it is a 4 way win for me but during those times I tend to then have very high focus on jut one area.