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Archive for December, 2009

A Look Backwards

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

It’s the last day of the year and I have two retrospectives for you.

The first is Many Happier Returns from Business Week’s Marc Miller.

2009? No valentine—
The landscape looks like District 9,
Though corporate corpses line the lawns
Instead of otherworldly prawns.
Among the living, those once strong
Now huff and puff and wheeze along,
Unless, of course, they got a gift
When stimulus gave them a lift.
So many deemed too big to fail
And so few deemed too big to bail,
The situation gives one pause—
Who made Tim Geithner Santa Claus?
With federal spending out of sight,
Paul Krugman says it’s still too slight.
The controversy’s fierce, but wait,
There’s still the health-care-bill debate.
The public option’s blown a fuse,
The Senate bill will lose, win, lose,
They’ll never make Olympia Snowe see
Eye to eye with Ms. Pelosi,
Lieberman says no, yes, no,
While Harry Reid—oh, let it go.
A back-and-forth on cap-and-trade
Means going green’s again delayed,
And how can joy be unalloyed
With double-digit unemployed
And upward-sailing federal debt…
Did I say Merry Christmas yet?

Well, Merry Christmas anyhow,
And first of all, the deepest bow
To those whose companies survived,
And in some cases even thrived:
At Goldman Sachs, somehow Lloyd Blankfein
Kept the profits of his bank fine;
Richard Anderson impressed
With Delta’s merger with Northwest,
While Citi’s Pandit spread some cheer
By working for a buck a year,
As did the chief of Oracle—
What, Ellison? Historical!
Bob Iger helped make Disney shine
By snapping up the Marvel line
And also made his stock price spark
Announcing that new Shanghai park,
While Microsoft made big noise revvin’
Up to market Windows 7.
Signs of life were found, they say,
By analysts of M&A,
And Jeffrey Bewkes at last was able
To unwind Time Warner’s cable.
Wal-Mart bravely soldiered on
In price wars vs. Amazon,
But happiest of all, perhaps,
Was anyone who markets apps,
From recipes for turkey scraps
To farts to Chinese take-out maps.
Such downloads, though they may be pap, ‘ll
Surely warm the hearts at Apple.

Season’s greetings, too, to those
Whose bottom lines hit thudding lows,
Or who are never coming back:
An R.I.P. for Pontiac,
And even Saturn fell to earth
(I liked the Vue, for what it’s worth),
Though GM, in a bid to cope, ‘ll
Sell, keep, sell, keep, sell, keep Opel.
Massive debt at AMR,
Six Flags and Saks are under par,
And for the umpty-umth year, Boeing
Can’t get its Dreamliner going.
NBC is finding ten o’
Clock is not prime time for Leno.
(Will its programs be more trendy
Once it’s cut off from Vivendi?)
Intel’s having not much fun
In being sued by everyone,
While Rupert Murdoch feels the sting
Of Google (his solution: Bing).
The woe extends to Donald Trump,
Who’s suffering from a gambling slump,
And layoffs even ruled the day
(And this is rare) at J&J.
Some not-too-prudent marketing
Meant sales were down at Burger King,
And though their image is aglitter,
Are they in the black at Twitter?
Little changed at CIT:
It’s barely out of bankruptcy,
While profits were a constant lack
At Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Oh, one more thing that made us freak:
When Bloomberg purchased BusinessWeek.

So for next year, here’s what I’m thinking:
Let the trade gap go on shrinking,
Let each market force allow
A solidly five-digit Dow.
In fact, let every market fly—
The DAX, the Nikkei, heck, Dubai.
Let the feds still run GM,
But once it’s healthy, fire them.
More electric cars, and please,
More cost-efficient batteries.
Let the media brass divine
A way to make a buck online,
And let that buck not plunge so low
The U.S. ends up with no dough.
Let a sluggish SEC
Resolve its Madoff misery,
And let the BLS report
Statistics of a happier sort,
With millions of well-paid new jobs,
For everyone, not just Lou Dobbs.
Let the housing market soar
Right back to where it was before,
And let consumer spending rise,
But don’t let debt metastasize.
Peace on earth, good will toward men,
And see you in 2010.

Next is an artful review of the year from the serious souls at JibJab—who never crack a smile because they’re too busy laughing.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Image credit: Business Week and JibJab

Wordless Wednesday: the Decade in Review

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Sunset Isn’t The End

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009


That’s it folks, this is the end.

Or at least it is the end of Leadership Turn, but not the end of Miki:)

Come fly with me over to MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

And don’t miss important information on how to thrive this New Year’s Eve.

Image credit: Axel-D on flickr

How to Thrive this New Year’s Eve

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

thriveDecember** 31 is a difficult night for many people.

It’s often the night when the mental filing cabinets and cupboards in which we stash all the woulda/coulda/shoulda, unhappy and plain old bad stuff of our lives pop open at the same time and we find ourselves buried.

And that means we often start the New Year depressed.

To avoid this people attend frantic parties and/or drink too much—anything to avoid having their mind start down the slippery slope.

Others hole up and just cope, counting the hours until New Year’s is gone for another year.

Knowing this first hand I thought I’d share how I’ve handled my New Year’s Eve for the last few years.

I found the first thing is to understand that you won’t be hit with a thunderbolt if you go to bed before midnight. That may sound funny, but most of us are brainwashed from an early age that we must stay up and “see the New Year in.”

I was amazed how much easier my life got when I finally rid myself of that attitude; doing so lifted a great weight and gave me a feeling of freedom that’s very difficult to describe.

Here’s what I did that year and do now.

  1. Plan a very indulgent dinner by treating yourself to something you don’t normally have—prime rib, lobster, filet—it doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t your normal fare.
  2. Think about what you want to drink, if anything. Champagne is an automatic choice that owes itself more to marketing and brainwashing than personal preference, so think about what really turns you on, what you like to sip and savor—a special cocktail, single malt, designer beer (yes, beer).
  3. Increase the indulgence with a dessert you love, but never allow yourself to have.
  4. Tell your good friends where you’ll be and that they are free to stop by, call, IM, tweet, whatever. Don’t tell anyone who doesn’t have their act together and chooses to go the drunk and/or depressed route. It’s a lot easier to be dragged down than it is to lift up someone who chooses to go the other way—you know the difference.
  5. There are many way to spend your evening
    1. deep in a book you’ve been dying to read, but didn’t have time;
    2. soak in a hot bath until you’re well-done and wrinkled;
    3. rent a movie that you’ve been promising yourself or a long time favorite—better yet, rent two;
    4. catch up on your sleep, seriously If you are exhausted, really tired, have your dinner, soak in a hot tub or take a hot shower and go to bed. Think about it. How many times over the years have you found your eyes closing and forcing yourself to stay awake until midnight?
  6. Be kind, to yourself and to those who move through or live in your world; doing so is the best way to be kind to yourself, too.
  7. Even if ‘d’ above doesn’t apply skip the propaganda and go to sleep at your normal time.

This advice doesn’t just apply to singles, it works equally well for couples (amazing what taking a hot shower together can lead to:), especially if it’s been a year as tough as 2009.

Finally, if you are very bored and want to chat, you can reach me New Year’s Eve at 866.265.7267 or use the chat box at the right. I’m always up for good conversation.

Have a wonderful New Year’s and remember, it will be over before you know it.

**A hat tip and my thanks to David Dougherty for catching my typo of “January 31” and notifying me.

Image credit: insouciance on flickr

Apples and Oranges

Monday, December 28th, 2009

apples-and-orangesHat tip to Dan McCarthy who cites a study by Deloitte and asks whether best practices are reality or illusion.

Their research shows that luck alone can account for above average corporate performance for many years.

I haven’t read the study, but I did read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success and there is a lot to be said for luck.

Not the kind of luck that wins a lottery, but the “right time, right place” kind.

I saw it first hand during my 20+ years headhunting. When the economy was hot and talent scarce anybody could (and did) become recruiters because companies were so desperate they hired almost every warm body that even vaguely fit the opening.

During the expansion of the nineties, what percentage of a stock rising was skill and how much market serendipity? By the same token how much of the rise was leadership skill and how much a market that not only lifted all boats, but also responded with outsize euphoria to anything that sounded good?

This applies just as much to individuals.

I’m not saying that skill isn’t important or that it won’t offset many factors, but so is timing.

The problem is that you can’t choose when you are born or what the economy will be like when you reach the corner office or get that great promotion; you can only do your best with the situation in which you find yourself.

So when you do look to others for pointers and best practices, be sure that the economy and their circumstances are the same as yours or at least parallel enough to be worthwhile.

Think about it.

Image credit: TheBusyBrain on flickr

Feel younger, Have More Time

Monday, December 28th, 2009

thunder-boltDo you get a lot of spam? Mine is well filtered, but I still have to glance through the junk file to be sure that nothing important was inadvertently caught.

If spam is any guide it seems that Americans sex and meds dominate the American psyche.

Recently I noticed this subject line: Feel 10 years younger in bed today. I’m sure you can guess what product was being hyped.

However, that’s not what hit me and I’ll bet most of you will agree with my reaction—I’d much rather feel 10 years younger out of bed.

Around this time of year I hear from a lot of people looking for answers to the question: How do I keep going? And I’ve heard variations year in and year out, whether the economy is up or down.

Most of the people who ask aren’t down or depressed; rather they are in jobs they like, in line for, or just gotten, a promotion, have kids they are proud of, spouses they love, but still they ask.

They ask because they are tired, not exhausted, but tired, mentally and physically.

So much to do in too few hours; so many balls to keep in the air.

So a pill that made people feel 10 years younger would be worth billions.

There is no pill, but there is something that helps—declutter.

Not your home, but your world.

Prioritize. Decide what truly matters to you and how that fits with others in your world.

Once you have your list start eliminating everything that’s not a true priority.

I’m usually told that they’ve done all that, but it turns out they still Twitter, spend a couple of hours on Facebook and follow hundreds of blogs,

When I hear this I tell them to start again at the beginning and use the thunderbolt screening method. That means looking at each item and deciding if you’ll be struck by a thunderbolt if you stop doing whatever.

For example, you are more likely to be hit with one if you miss your daughter’s soccor game than if you read your email a couple of hours later or don’t update your Facebook wall.

I’m not being fatuous, I’ve seen folks who had them reversed.

If you have trouble with ruthlessness give me a call at 866. 265.7267 or email miki@rampupsolutions.com and I’ll be happy to help.

Tomorrow is my last post and the end of Leadership Turn, so if you enjoy my views and writing don’t forget to bookmark MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

Image credit: idarknight on flickr

Quotable Quotes: Actions

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

actionsI came across the following last week,

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

and it got me thinking about cause and effect; where things start and where they go from there.

Leonardo da Vinci said, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do,” while Hemingway warns us, “Never mistake motion for action.”

Very true, ideas are all well and good, but they accomplish nothing as long as they stay in your head.

However, there is a problem we’re seeing a lot of now when thought becomes action that was best summed up by Goethe, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

Ann Radcliffe says, “One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world,” while Brian Koslow reminds us, “The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have.”

But it is Colleen C. Barrett who nails the problem we face today, “When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers.”

Don’t forget that after today you’ll need to get your Quotable Quote fix at MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: Mr_Ristoo on sxc.hu

mY generation: 2010

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

See all mY generation posts here.


Saturday Odd Bits Roundup: Potatoes and Meat

Saturday, December 26th, 2009


Today’s Odd Bits are kind of a hodgepodge, but in the twisty corridors of my mind they do fit together.

First the potatoes.

Do you believe all the experts, academicians, pundits and just-plain-people who keep talking about how the so-called Great Recession is permanently changing America’s stuff fixation? I don’t, I just think people will find a way to do the same thing covertly—call it inconspicuous consumption.

On the other side, have high-end retailers really changed their attitude towards customer service? An exec from Saks Fifth Avenue said, “Every customer is valuable and they’re even more valuable today because there are fewer of them.” Does that mean they will revert to form when there are more of them? Another little gem buried in this article shows that consumers haven’t changed all that much, after all, who really needs an $18 bottle of nail polish?

Microsoft, the company people love or hate. Since I’m in the latter camp I was delighted to see that they lost on appeal and the $290 million judgment for violating a patent stands. Their reaction is typical of today’s worst corporate MAP, since “…new versions [of Word], with the computer code in question removed, would be ready for sale when the injunction begins Jan. 11.” They stole, but that’s OK because getting caught won’t interfere with business and apparently the money is no big deal. Still more intriguing is an article at CNN wondering if Steve Ballmer will be out in 2010, “Ballmer has shepherded Microsoft to vanishing mobile market share (now just 7.9 percent of the market), a hesitant tiptoe into software as a service, and a general sense of retreat in emerging markets.” (Be sure to check the two links at the end of the story.)

And then there is Facebook, which is one of the top two time-wasters since time began (the other is Twitter). Besides providing you with a whole new set of virus to worry about, it’s obsessive (in case you hadn’t noticed) and the best defense seems to be defriending.

Enough with the potatoes, you need meat to balance your last meal here. And for that kind of substance you can’t beat Harvard.

Specifically, you can’t beat Michael C. Jensen, the Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus’ fascinating paper on integrity.

“Integrity in our model is honoring your word. As such integrity is a purely positive phenomenon. It has nothing to do with good vs. bad, right vs. wrong behavior.”

Therefore the worst villain has the same integrity as your favorite saint. Interesting premise, well worth reading.

Image credit:  nono farahshila on flickr

Seize Your Leadership Day: A Reason to Think

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

seize_your_dayI spent over an hour going through my article collection and found nothing that seems worth sharing; I seem to have used up all the good stuff on this week’s Saturday Odd Bits, check them out, especially if you’re interested in Microsoft, and be sure to subscribe via RSS or EMAIL while you’re there.

Then I remembered one item I’ve been meaning to share with you and this particular weekend seems like an appropriate time to do it.

You may have seen it, since it’s been making the round of the Internet, but even so, I still want to share it with you.

It’s called If the World Were a Village of 100 People

If we could reduce the world’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:

  • The village would have 60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 8 Latin Americans, 5 from the USA and Canada, and 1 from the South Pacific
  • 51 would be male, 49 would be female
  • 82 would be non-white; 18 white
  • 67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian
  • 80 would live in substandard housing
  • 67 would be unable to read
  • 50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation
  • 33 would be without access to a safe water supply
  • 39 would lack access to improved sanitation
  • 24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76 that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)
  • 7 people would have access to the Internet
  • 1 would have a college education
  • 1 would have HIV
  • 2 would be near birth; 1 near death
  • 5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens
  • 33 would be receiving—and attempting to live on—only 3% of the income of “the village”

Most stats about global conditions involve large numbers and are wrapped up in scholarly or, worse yet, political language that makes your eyes glaze over.

Seeing it reduced to just 100 makes it easy to grasp the implications of what’s going on.

Think about them with an open mind sans ideology and share your thoughts.

It’s a discussion that needs to happen—everywhere.

Image credit:  nono farahshila on flickr

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