Monday, February 25, 2013

Leadership Conversations

 I am just back from travel.  Too long of a story.  Suffice it to say - major delays, more expense and basically a lot of hassle. 

Interesting that while on the flight, I read a book called Empathetic Marketing that talks about empathizing with your customers.  One core emotional need they talk about is control and why this is such a frustration for travelers.  Much of the travel experience is not in our control.  Line up to get tickets, line up to make changes (or wait on hold), line up for security.  Hope to get space in the overhead bin for luggage.  All to be flown in a plane with no control. 

What I do like about travel is the reading time. 

I read a great book on transitioning from manager to leader called Leadership Conversations - Challenging High-Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders by Alan Berson and Richard Stieglitz.

I did not like the title and thought it did not do justice to the book.  It is more about "Becoming a Great Leader".  They weave in the conversations part by talking about the different conversations great leaders need to have.

It starts early on with a list of 10 ways to Practice Great Leadership Conversations including:

1 - Know your people (and I know this one can be difficult if you get a lot of new people at once)
2 - Invest in people
7 - Set priorities
9 - Mentor and coach
10 - Set expectations.

I also liked their discussion of "leadership rules" like "people skills trump technical skills" and "be clear about your values".

I particularly liked chapter 15 on Recognition - Making it all Worthwhile.  The chapter talks about how high self esteem people do a much better job than low self esteem people.  And it talks of ways to create that (without false praise).

I view business life as a continuum from doer to manager to leader and see all of us with a bit of each of these.  I know in my career, it was not clear cut if I ever transitioned from one to the next.  This is partly because I started from nothing so did everything myself then got some staff, then more, then more until eventually, the only way to get anything done effectively was to try to lead rather than just do.

It is one of the best books I have read in a long time.  I highly recommend if for anyone who works a a manager who is moved into a new position of leadership.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Leadership and the Art of Struggle

I love early mornings.  There are so many things I could do and want to do.  At my desk in the office by 6:30 after a long workout.  Perfect start to a day.

So why would I be thinking of failure?

I read a book last night Leadership and the Art of Struggle - How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity by Steven Snyder.

I love success stories.  And in a way, this book is about successes but those that are preceded by failure.  Or as he puts it - being human.  Leaders are often put on a pedestal and expected to be perfect.  Or in the case of failure, held out to be complete losers. 

We are all a bit of both.  The key is to not get depressed or swamped by the losses.

Random snippets from the book(with some of my interpretation):

Use adaptive energy.  Confront failure with proactive reinvention.   Channel adaptive energy through self awareness. Reflect.  Be centered.  Adopt a growth mindset.  Wake up smarter every day. Abilities can always improve.  We can choose positive change.  Just because we were one way does not mean we cannot be another.  Winners are resilient.  Prepare yourself.  Rethink your vision.  Have goals.  Have passion (and figure out what gives you passion).  Re-imagine.  Pivot.  Leap.

Snyder speaks of the challenges of many great leaders including one of my favourites - Anne Malcahy CEO of Xerox.  When I was CEO of SYNNEX, I found her to be responsive, approachable and just a genuinely nice person (even though I think I only ever met her on the phone and email). 

One of my expressions is "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap".  And having a failure does not make you a failure.  And someone said "You miss 100% of the balls you do not swing at". 

It is all about recovery.   Picking back up.  Learning.  But mostly trying again.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's Just Good Business

It is a long weekend so I get more time to read.

I read an awesome book on Predictive Analytics (yes I get excited by different things) and reviewed it on the General Sentiment blog.

I read a short book - It's Just Good Business - the Emergence of Conscious Capitalism and the Practice of Working for Good by Jeff Klein.

I dislike the title - It's Just Good Business implies that that only reason to do good if because it is good for business.  I like the principle - the best donation is an anonymous one that is given without expectation.  But the book is great.

It is very easy to read.  Simple enough and short enough that I suspect it would even appeal to non-readers.

The gist of Klein's message is "Do good and succeed in business".

Klein talks about why.  He talks about the power of purpose, the interdependence of business, and conscious leadership (doing good can be a choice).

It has a series of 2 page company profiles of companies that do good business.  They highlight the things the companies do and their unique cultures.  I was struck by how many of those companies profiled had written books about their culture (Zappos, Whole Foods, Motley Fool, The Container Store etc).

I reviewed one of Klein's other books "Working for Good" on the Karma411 website.  Karma411 is one of the Canrock Ventures investments that helps causes raise more money by using social media.  I am helping Karma with some of their marketing testing.

All of Klein's books are smattered with great quotable quotes, some of which I will use for my Twitter stream.  EG - "Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional and mental states"  Carol Welch


For fun, last night, I went to the Melrose games (as a spectator).  It is a track and field event that has all the excitement of a major league sporting event.  The winning runners run almost twice as fast as I do.  I best get up from my chair and start training.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

21st Century Management

I read a book last night by Mats Lindgren - 21st Century Management - Leadership and Innovation in the Thought Economy.

It is a book about how business needs to operate in the transparent internet environment.

It speaks about the future strategist.  A high level person who knows and covers all disciplines.  Although I never thought of myself in those terms, I do know, I was very interdiscipline.  I think starting from zero means you have your hand in everything so as you grow, that still continues.

Lindgren is CEO of Kairos - a future strategist company in Norther Europe.  So he should know a bit about future strategy.

Some of his approach is "consultant" like.  He does try to frame a process around future strategy.  Clearly anything that can be done to do that, adds value.

 I like books like this one with lots of quotations throughout.  I helps me fill my Twitter stream.  


The NY Times had an interesting article on "slow down - get more done".  Interesting idea (assuming I got the gist of it from speed reading it).

And of course no Time Management Blog would be complete without a time management tip.  The best way to clear snow is to hire the sun.  And the sun is doing a good job today. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beautiful Snow Scenes

We finally got a bit of snow.  Even though it is melting today.

At least we had enough to make it feel like a real winter.  I am grateful to have enjoyed it while it lasted.  (one characteristic of happy and successful people is they are grateful)

 And I was able to get a useful workout in - shoveling snow for 2+ hours.  Beats going to the gym and yes, I am appropriately "good" sore.

Malcolm Gladwell in his famous book - Tipping Point talks about the 10,000 hour rule.  Anyone can become proficient by spending 10,000 hours on something (although one of my karate instructors said "it is not practice that makes perfect - it is perfect practice that makes perfect".

So thinking Josh will be a great pianist.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Three Simple Steps

 I have been catching up on my reading yesterday and today.

I re-read 168 Hours.  A book on time management.  What it reminded me is "the greatest impact comes from doing then things you are best at".    It also inspired me to start using my time tracker log sheets again.  My Amazon Review is here.
I read "Three Simple Steps - A Map to Success in Business and Life" by Trevor Blake.

He is highly successful and seems comfortable with himself which makes him easier to learn from.

His first step he calls mastering his mentality.  This is controlling how he thinks of the world.  Mastering his reaction to situations.

One of his steps is meditation or being still daily.  He give numerous examples of the power of this.  I believe in this step but knowing something is good and doing it are different things.  I have tried this on an off but have not made it a habit (although I am thinking about it).  Perhaps I will do that while I run or cycle.

And I could tell you the third step but it hardly seems fair to spoil the book.

Any book that can distill and simplify is a good book.    For me, I always thought success came by having daily success habits and hundreds of tiny micro things that I do.  Simplifying does make it easier to remember and therefore easy to do.  And in keeping with 168 Hours, does focus on the greatest impact.

I also read "Get Your Shift Together - How to Think, Laugh and Enjoy Your Way to Success in Business and Life" by comedian switched to motivational speaker Steve Rizzo.

His thesis is success is being happy.  So the primary goal in life is happiness according to Rizzo.  Using that philosophy, he would say the reason I like the achieve is it makes me happy.  Or the reason I like to see young entrepreneurs thrive is it makes me happy.

Much of his book is about shifting your attitude to reacting positively to what happens in life.  Hence the title - Shift.

And being a retired comedian (who worked with the who's who of comedy like Ellen DeGeneres, Eddy Murphy etc), he suggests humour is part of the key to happiness and keeping the right attitude.

Two books - different approaches but both suggesting attitude and mastering mentality is what it is all about.

I am following closely the BlackBerry 10 release on my Daily BB10 reports.  I did notice the sentiment declined a bit (and so did the stock price).  But overall sentiment seems good.

My son David with his nephew (my grandson) Josh.