Sunday, March 31, 2013

Victoria Ann Arrives

I am, once a again, a proud grandfather.  Last night at about 8, Victoria Ann Mitchell was born.  A sister for Josh.

Baby and mom are doing well.

People are asking me how much she weighs.  To which I reply "She is a baby, she can't weigh much". I alway thought it was rude to ask someone how much they weighed.

She did weigh 6 lbs, 15 oz or 3.14 kg.  This is more than 50% more than Josh who I expect will grow to be 6 ft tall so I expect Victoria will be 9 ft.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Likeable Social Media

Canrock had a guest speaker today as part of our ongoing training for all of our companies.

The speaker, Dave Kerpen was awesome.  Charismatic. Good story teller.  And really knew his stuff.

He has written a couple of books - Likeable Social Media - How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresitible Brand, and Be Generally Amazin on Facebook and Likeable Business - Why Today's Consumers Demand More and how Leaders can Deliver.

He started with a great slide with 3 points:

1 - Social Media is not free - it costs time.

2 - Results from Social Media are not instant.

3- Good Social Media does not make up for mediocre product.

I agree with all three of these points.

He made the point that the most important things companies can do is to have empathy - say "I am sorry" and "Thank you".

And he ended with a great analogy about social media.  It is like a cocktail party - not structured, not perfect, not totally planned etc.

If you ever have an opportunity to hear Kerpin, I recommend him.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Inspired People Produce Results

 I had an interesting conversation today about the Dunbar number.  This is the maximum number of people that you can have ongoing social interaction with.  I suspect people who have a higher number, have more business success.  So one goal should be to develop systems and process to increase that number.


Jeremy Kingsley wrote a book - Inspired People Produce Results - How Great Leaders use Passion, Purpose and Principles to Unlock Incredible Growth.

I was hooked from reading the title.  Intuitively, I know inspired people produce.

Kingsley has chapters on 10 leadership concepts that create the inspiration:

1 - What do leaders do - inspire.  Things like having a plan and being an optimist help.

2 - What Inspires - Passion (and this is contagious)

3 - Purpose.  I think this is important for people and companies.

4 - Loyalty.  I am surprised how rare this seems to be these days.

5 - Caring.  He related how Shackleton became such a great leader.  It told of Shackleton allowing one of his crew who had terrible sciatica to use his berth on the stranded ship and how Shackleton would serve that injured crew member.

7 - Understanding.  Get to know people.  Ties to the Dunbar number I mentioned earlier.

8 - Patience  - I have some of this but also a great sense of urgency.

9 - Communication.  He told the cute story of Bubba and his friend went hunting.  The friend fell down and was not moving.  Bubba thought he was dead so called 911.  The operator said "First - make sure he is dead".  So Bubba says - hold on a second.  Then there is a bang.  Bubba comes back on.  "He is - now what".

10 - Integrity.  This should not be rare but sometimes is.

I liked some of the personal stories he spread throughout.  It added interest and "personal" which added readability.

I loved it.  Short and simple and every point was valid.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to be Exceptional book review

How to be Exceptional - Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths.

This is an in depth book that is likely to make its way into the classic leadership book category.  It is research based.

I love and believe in their theory that leadership can be learned and involves a number of "learnable skills".

I have long believed focus on strengths is one of the best ways to succeed.  I am a fan of the Marcus Buckingham approach he talks about in his book Now Discover Your Strengths.  The first step is to discover them.  (I suppose CEO Time Management might be one of mine)

The book starts with study data on the correlation between how good the leader is with staff satisfaction and in turn customer satisfaction.  Good leader - happy staff - happy customers.

How to Be Exceptional spends quite  bit of time on "Fixing Fatal Weaknesses" also.  It really does not start talking about how to polish strengths until almost half way through (on page 93 of 217).  But fixing a weakness really involves much of the same skills and focus as polishing a strength.

I loved the concept of cross training which the authors use in the context of leadership traits.  They use multiple running analogies which I relate to.  Speaking of running - that is the one exercise I love doing but I do elliptical and a bit of cycling reluctantly because my body cannot take the wear of only running.  And I enjoy doing weights but find I scrimp on them if I do not push.

Although according the the book, I should not have any aches or pains yet since I am Gen X (not a baby boomer) according to their dates 1955-1976.

In cross training, they talk about companion traits that can be developed.  They use a couple of examples and I am certain you could come up with a list for almost any trait. 

One example of a strength might be "Inspires and Motivates".  Companion skills that help that might be: makes emotional connection; role model; champions change; takes initiative; fosters innovation; collaborates and is a team player; develops others; good communicator; clear vision and direction; establishes stretch goals.  These companion skills become the cross training.

One companion trait that helps leaders in almost all areas is public speaking.  I am a big advocate of Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie for all leaders.

They had a good formula for sustainability.  I think a leader can work to strengthen any of these:

Sustainability =  Motivation X Goal Clarity X support X opportunities for Practice X Measurement.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Leading with Conviction

I am woefully behind in posting my book reviews.  I was in the city today though so had train time to jot down some ideas.

I read Leading with Conviction - Mastering the Nine Pillars of Integrated Leadership by Shalom Saadar Saar.  

I like leadership books.

The author claims leadership can be learned.  I heartily agree. 

The first pillar is Self.  Self knowledge is power.  Saar has done hundreds of 360 evaluations so knows a bit about people's perception of themselves compared to self perception.  I know the better I know myself, the easier life is and the easier success comes.

The second pillar is balance.   And everything is a balance.  Home-work, work-workout, fun-maintenance, sleep-exercise etc.   Generally I think balance is overrated and think sometimes the guilt associated with the attempt at balance is less healthy than actually being balanced.  I have also often seen great results from people who lack balance. 

My favourite pillar was change.  I have long believed change allows entrepreneurs to flourish.  

The final pillar is results.  (yes, I deliberately skipped pillars figuring people who want to know can read the book themselves).  In the end, it is the results that count.

Leading with Conviction explains the pillars and the steps on how to achieve them.  Good book.

Now with some of the scandals going on like mayor of Detroit, Enron (ok so that is a bit old) etc, perhaps someone should write a book on Leading After Conviction.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Perfection vs. Speed

More companies fail from perfection than speed.

I like perfect but often good enough is good enough.

Often taking something from 90% to 100% takes as much time as taking it from 0 to 90%. 

Often the users, readers, buyers, etc do not value the extra 10% and in some cases do not even notice it.  This does not mean I believe in sloppiness, carelessness or shoddy work. 

Just do it.

I read Leading Successful Change - 8 Keys to Making Change Work by Greg Shea and Cassie Solomon.  

Of course I know change will happen.  And I generally like change because it presents opportunity.  I believe in being adaptable. 

Some points:

 - focus on behaviors
 - foster the right environment for the positive to happen
 - persist and repeat.  It take persistence to bring good change.

The book talks about the 8 levers of change:

1 - Organization.  Structure.
2 - Workplace design.  Lay things out for success.
3 - Task - have the right processes
4 - People - select properly and coach, train and mentor.
5 - Rewards - people do what is rewarded.
6 - Measure
7 - Information
8 - Decision allocation.  Who decides what.

The book is short (92 pages) and well laid out so it is more likely that non-readers would also read it.  Great little book.


This is a picture I took on my Blackberry on Feb 27 while in Canada.  Beautiful weather.  I even like shoveling snow (I call it a useful workout)