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Ducks in a Row: Educating For The Future

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

St. John’s College

Yesterday we revisited Does Education = Thinking?; today is a look at what education actually needs to do to accomplish that.

Education focuses on developing and boosting inherent smarts for career purposes, but the definition of smarts is radically changing.

“The new smart will be determined not by what or how you know but by the quality of your thinking, listening, relating, collaborating, and learning.” –Ed Hess, Professor of Business Administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden Graduate School of Business and co-author of Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age,

The new smart will include a high degree of empathy — not a common trait in highly educated men.

A growing real-world demand for workers with empathy and a talent for making other people feel at ease requires a serious shift in perspective. (…) SEL programmes in the US explicitly teach students strategies for developing empathy, managing their own emotions and working with others.

“The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility — these three forces are the very nerve of education.” –Rudolf Steiner

Waldorf schools are private (not cheap) and based on Steiner’s ideas. The schools have no tech — no computers, no iPads, no iPhones. There’s one in San Francisco and 75% of its student body are the children of tech executives.

Three of my sister’s grand kids attended the Waldorf in Denver; according to my sister, “Waldorf kids are usually ahead of other kids when they reach regular school.  It’s a very impressive regimen they follow.”

There is no argument that education is critical, but is education about learning specifics that fit kids for jobs today or should it be more?

Shouldn’t it, in fact, fit them for the yet-to-be imagined careers of tomorrow.

Put another way, AI can be taught to code, taking programmer jobs in another kind of outsourcing, but, on its own, AI can’t conceptualize what to code.

Just as importantly, or perhaps even more so, is the need for education to offset helicopter parents, who have followed their kids from college to the workplace. From the comments…

There are many young millennials employed where I work. Many are unable to navigate the most basic work interactions and have no idea about professional or workplace etiquette. (…) These young folks typically have a very difficult time when faced with any conflict because they have never had to think for themselves or handle difficult life situations by themselves.

What does it take to educate kids to think for themselves in spite of over-involved parents and the world they live in? What is needed to live and work successfully in 2030 and beyond?

A recent Pew Research Center survey of 1,408 technology and education professionals suggested that the most valuable skills in the future will be those that machines can’t yet easily replicate, like creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, adaptability and collaboration. In short, people need to learn how to learn, because the only hedge against a fast-changing world is the ability to think, adapt and collaborate well.

Is that the secret sauce that makes the Ivies so prestigious and expensive? Not really.

Ever heard of St John’s College?

Like Waldorf, St John’s specializes in learning how to learn and has done so since 1696..

St. John’s offers only the Program; it’s prix fixe is a higher education world of a la carte. Four years of literature, language, philosophy, political science and economy, and math. Three years of laboratory science, and two of music. That’s it. No contemporary social studies. No accounting. No computer classes. No distinct majors or minors. (…)

This curriculum is carefully designed not only to build knowledge, but also to understand how knowledge is ultimately created; it is teaching students how to learn. In this respect, St. John’s students de facto major in epistemology. And for those of us who never studied Ancient Greek (a St. John’s requirement for two years), epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge, or the investigation of what distinguishes substantiated and supportable belief from mere opinion.

These are the skills that abound in true leaders, but are feared and despised by pundits, ideologues, despots. politicians, command and control bosses, and others too numerous to list.

Image credit: Preservation Maryland

Golden Oldies: Passion Unchecked

Monday, June 5th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

Passion. Everybdy talks about it; builds companies around it; it infuses cultures — personal, company, country. But, like most powerful emotions, it’s a two-edged sword.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

Last spring I wrote that passion sustains me and keeps my writing, but that even passion needs a day off now and then.

But what happens with there is no day off; when passion is continually cranked up?

When passion runs wild it can lose touch with reality.

You can see the aftermath of unchecked passion in companies whose positional leaders were so focused on their vision that they allowed nothing to stand in the way and the political leaders who are more focused on spreading their ideology than fixing their country.

Passion unchecked yields freely to fanaticism.

Fanaticism obliterates humanity.

Flickr image credit: JM3

Light Phone: The Tech Solution For A Tech-Created Problem

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

LightPhoneFloatingHIGHI, along with many others, have written about the need for mindfulness, the importance of quiet and the dangers of distraction and FOMO.  

Joe Hollier and Kai Tang sum it up nicely.

Solitude and boredom are essential to creativity or producing any sort of serious work. We are becoming scared of boredom, scared of solitude, scared of conversations with ourself.

They also believe in the value of boredom.

Capacity for boredom is at the root of observation. Observation inspires science, art, change, and opportunity. Have we become afraid of our inner lives? I think that we will find ourselves much happier when we are able to look forward to boredom, and to actually aspire for it, instead of being afraid of it.

But apparently there’s actually a market for a solution to providing the first two and reducing the dangers of the third.

A market to combat tech’s intentional effort to addict.

Being entrepreneurs, Hollier and Tang are going after that market, with a ‘back to the future’ solution.

It’s called the Light Phone and its tagline is “your phone away from phone.”

It’s beautiful, sexy and only makes calls.

And at only $150 it’s an affordable way to reenter the real world, rejoin the humane (not a typo) race and create the world in which you want to live.

Image credit: Light Phone

February 2017 Leadership Development Carnival

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

February 2017 Leadership Development Carnival

You can always tell it’s the start of a new month, because that’s when I share the newest Carnival with you. Sometimes just the link, but more often, like today, the entire post.

There’s lots of good stuff to help you grow, whether you are a positional leader or leader in the instance.

Also a good reference when you are faced with a difficult situation or just need intelligent information quickly.

So, without further ado…

leadership-carnival-5-300x134Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided How to Say No Graciously. Beth recaps, “Beth Beutler refreshes us on an important leadership skill—saying ‘no’ with grace.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: Make Values as Important as Results. In this post, Chris charges leaders to elevate values to the same level of importance as performance results. Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided 6 Essential Characteristics for Leading Simplification. Dan recaps, “This guest post by Lisa Bodell explores the concept of “simplification” and the leadership characteristics required to succeed.” Find Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed 5 Leadership Lessons From The Worst Bosses I’ve Ever Had. Dana writes, “I’ve had some pretty terrible bosses. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only did I learn a ton, but I began to claim my personal power by deciding I was done with being treated that way.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted 9 Ways to Motivate Employees When You Don’t Set the Goals. David summarizes, “Whether you are a team leader, a mid-manager, or even the President, CEO, or Executive Director there will be times in your career where you are asked to meet goals that you did not speak into or, in some cases, even disagree with. David shares how you and your team can still thrive in these situations.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared What Great Teams are Made Of (It’s Not What You Might Expect). David writes, “Google was fascinated by the question of what makes for an effective work team, and recently studied hundreds of its own teams to determine why some performed better than others. They thought the answer would be the obvious – teams made up of the best and brightest people – but it wasn’t. The answer may surprise you…” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared Do team values unite your team or divide it?. Jesse Lyn recaps, “ Identifying team values are a great way to create team cohesion. But if it’s not done right, it can actually create discord, as this short story shows. This article also includes 6 questions to ensure your team values unite your team and create a foundation of trust.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed Build Your Self-Confidence as an Anchor During Change. Jill shares, “Good leaders understand that self-confidence helps employees be more productive, but they can ignore their own confidence and its importance to personal development. Here are some easy tips to ensure you don’t get discouraged.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Be Open to Outcome: The Leaderly Approach. Jim shares, “I chose this particular post because it’s about personal leadership and ordinary people stepping up to do good for society with no expectation of any form of remuneration. The setting happens to be the United States for my post, from the perspective of a Canadian. Given all the negativity in the media, we need to reflect on the good acts that people do each and every day.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Jim Thomas of Development Dimensions International (DDI) shared The Dirty Little Secret About Expat Failure. Jim wrote, “An expat assignment can be a growth opportunity and a great adventure. But is it a smart career choice? In this post, I discuss the ways expat assignments can go wrong, and how many organizations don’t even bother to measure the ROI in their employee mobility programs.” Find Jim at @ddiworld.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted Don’t Let Your Work Speak For Itself: 3 Ways to Increase Your Visibility. Joel recaps: “Don’t just let your work speak for itself. It’s time you actively increased your visibility. Here are 3 ways to make that happen.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Cater to Customers’ Desires to Achieve Customer Delight. John summarizes, “Customer delight requires understanding your customers needs and desires. Often even your customers don’t understand these well. Businesses that have a deep appreciation for what their customers, and potential customers, desire and that create systems to deliver solutions that delight those customers benefit greatly from that effort.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Less Talk, More Action: Where Do You Fall?. Jon asks, “What have you done lately to lend a hand and lead change? We cannot afford just small talk or empty talking heads. We need more doing. It’s time to act upon the change we wish to see.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided Want to Institutionalize Career Development? Look for (or Cultivate) these Cultural Markers Julie recaps, “Does your organization have the cultural markers that enable authentic, sustainable career development? Julie’s article and the assessment it contains helps you answer this question.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed Stop this Terrible Habit You Don’t Even Know You Have. In the post, Karin points out a terrible habit many leaders have—and why you should stop it right away if you have it too. Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided How Can You Develop Your Personal Positive Power at Work?. Marcella recaps, “How can you develop your personal positive power at work? There are four levels to work on, starting with yourself: ME. Here’s the overview of the book that I am blogging! I hope you like it – in this era, we need as many positive agents as possible to make change happen.” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Are Your Goals Comfortable, Delusional or Somewhere in Between?. She recaps, “Throughout January, Mary Ila has been talking about methods for goal setting to set us all up for a successful 2017. In this post Mary Ila looks at how we should step outside our goal comfort zones to achieve peak performance in 2017. ” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Michael Lee Stallard of Connection Culture provided What Disengaged Employees Would Say to the Boss (If They Could Be Honest). Michael recaps, “What if you could hear the honest truth about things disengaged employees wish you would do? Michael Stallard shares 6 ways that leaders can boost employee engagement.” Find Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed 3 Steps to Being a Great Boss. Miki writes, “Being a great boss has a lot to do with being a great worker, then fulfilling your own desires after you are promoted.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Being an Inspired Leader. Neal recaps, “Inspired leaders know how to their employees well enough to inspire them to create and produce great work. Employees who are inspired by leaders contribute significantly than those who are not inspired.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed 5 Reasons To Keep Recruiting When Fully Staffed. Paul summarizes, “If you have a full complement of people on your team, you may want to see the wisdom in staying in recruiting mode. The reasons may surprise you, but the benefits are tremendous.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen submitted The Gift of the Present Moment: A Book Excerpt. Paula summarizes, “In this excerpt from The Five Thieves of Leadership by John Izzo, leaders are encouraged to learn how to center themselves in the present moment and, by doing so, to deter the happiness thief of control.” Follow Paula on Twitter at @biggreenpen.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared The Strategy Every Leader Can Use to Develop High-Performing Employees. Randy writes, “The performance of your employees is a reflection of your leadership. What does your team’s performance say about you? Randy shares new research from The Ken Blanchard Companies that points to the strategy any leader can use to develop high-performing employees.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Robyn McLeod of Chatsworth Consulting shared Slow It Down and Keep It Real. In this post, Robyn shares why being thoughtful, being present, focusing on the quality of our interactions not the quantity, and spending face-to-face time with others, helps us to slow down and put our relationships back in the center of our communications. Find Robyn at @ThoughtfulLdrs.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted The Number One Way to Show Respect at Work. In this piece, Shelley reminds us of “a simple, but often neglected way to show respect to one another at work.”  Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided 5 Ideas to Help You Cultivate Leadership. Susan explains, “The ultimate sign of an effective leader is that they are cultivating leadership in others. Sometimes this happens naturally. Yet, more often than not, if you want to cultivate leadership, you need to be intentional.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted How Would You Answer This Question About Your Leadership? . Tanveer explains this piece shares, “A question every leader should be asking themselves in order to figure out how successful their leadership will ultimately be.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Thom Pirone of Stronghold Training shared Thoughts on the Death of a Leader. In this memorial post to a revered mentor, Thom reflects on the three marks of a genuine leader, including how the impact they leave will be personal and profound. Follow Thom on Twitter at @strongholdthom.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted 3 Ways Excellent Leaders Keep Getting Better. Wally recaps, “Great leaders keep getting better. Here are three ways.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

Willy Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts provided 8 “Whats” to Engage and Mentor. Willy explains, “Key challenges for leaders to retain the best talent are to keep their staff engaged with the enterprise and to provide effective mentoring to help them grow and develop.  This post suggest 8 key “WHAT…” questions to support your staff in each area. Discover Willy on Twitter at @coachforexecs.

January Dose Of Leadership

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The monthly Leadership Development Carnival provides you with two useful things.

First, good info on a variety of “wetware” (AKA, people) issues, such as culture, leadership, management, etc.

Second, it introduces you to solid sources on these subjects with whom you may be unfamiliar.

So dig in and garner the intel that will help make 2017 a banner year for you.

So without further ado, here is the January 2017 Leadership Development Carnival.


Art Petty submitted Leveling Up to Change is THE Issue. Art summarizes, “For all of us, the need to help our firms navigate change while doing the same in our careers defines our level-up challenge.” Follow Art on Twitter at @artpetty.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided The Day I Messed Up. Beth recaps, “This post elaborates on some thoughts about when the mistake is your own.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: The Right Culture Matters. In this post, Chris shares a real-world example of a client that did some “culture refinement” to improve employee engagement and customer service. Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed Workplace Advice-Why Should I Bother Feeling Grateful For a Crappy Boss?. Dana writes, “When you have a tough work situation, finding ways to feel gratitude and appreciation can go a long way to turning the situation around, but is it really the best strategy? Often gratitude is the last thing you feel. Here’s how effective leaders approach gratitude in tough situations.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted How to Lead When Everything Goes Crazy. David summarizes, “People act irrationally, circumstances change, and the truly unforeseeable happens. The good news is that you don’t need a specific step-by-step plan for the infinite number of problems you might face. David shares a better way to meet your leadership challenges.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared 7 Things Every Employee Wants from Their Boss. David writes, “What do employees want? While the answer varies by employee, our research and work reveals a collective ‘wish list’ every boss should know. Best of all, everything on the wish list is free.” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed Everyday Recognition Matters Most. Jill shares, “At year-end leaders often think about how to thank their teams. The best leaders weave recognition into every day so that no one feels undervalued.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared Do an Ethics Check to Navigate the Gray Zone. Jesse Lyn recaps, “It’s easy to know what’s ethical when your choices are clear-cut. But there’s a huge gray zone where the choices are not so clear. Ethical decision-making can be challenging in our personal lives. And, when you are in a role that impacts others, it becomes even more critical. Use these 3 questions to provide ethical leadership through the gray zone.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Why America is Good and Great. Jim shares, “I chose this particular post because it’s about personal leadership and ordinary people stepping up to do good for society with no expectation of any form of remuneration. The setting happens to be the United States for my post, from the perspective of a Canadian. Given all the negativity in the media, we need to reflect on the good acts that people do each and every day.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted The 16 Ways to Improve Your Work Performance in 2017. Joel recaps: “Learn the 16 ways to improve your work performance in 2017. These tips will help you start 2017 with a great year.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Podcast: Increasing the Capability of the Organization. John summarizes, “Changing how organizations are managed makes a huge difference in people’s lives. When this is done well people can go from dreading going to work to enjoying going to work, not every single day – but most days.  And it can change our lives so that most of the time we are doing things that we find valuable and we enjoy instead of just going to work to get a paycheck so we can enjoy the hours that we have away from work.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Join One20: A Day to Do Good. Jon shares, “Our country is divided. It’s time to heal our wound. On election day we need to show our good side, our good character, and do some good in our communities.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Jon Verbeck of JonVerbeck.com provided The Key is Profit. In this post, Virtual CFO Jon Verbeck helps readers get back to basics—explaining that we’re in business to make a profit (which can help us do good things). Business owners must not ignore the goal of making a profit. Find Jon on Twitter at @jonverbeck1.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided The Magic of Making an Effort Julie recaps, “In a world where perfection and achievement are the eternal standard, effort might count for a lot more than many of us realize.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed 5 Questions to Help You Resolve Your Conflict. In the post, Karin reflects on a conflict that happened over the holidays, and what she and David Dye learned from it. Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context submitted Ethical Leadership is a Fear-Free Zone. Linda summarizes, “Fear is the toxic ingredient in many failed leadership strategies. In a fearful mode we may ‘rule out’ positive strategies that would help us solve collective problems – including dialogue, cooperation, long-term thinking and listening to understand.” Follow Linda on Twitter at @leadingincontxt.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided The 21 Best Articles on Positive Leadership, Culture, and Change. Marcella recaps, “I support positive organizations where both people and performance thrive. Positive organizations are better at change, more innovative, competitive, profitable, and they contribute to the world – while engaged people spread their positive vibes everywhere. Here’s a list of my best liked 21 articles to date- which do you like best?” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC submitted Ten Daily Practices that Show Respect to Your Team. Mary Jo summarizes, “Showing respect for your team helps them to be motivated, dedicated and loyal. The word gets out and you become a talent magnet. Here are some great ways to show your respect on a daily basis.” Follow Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Bridging the Divide… Education for the Future. She recaps, “A country divided is what we are all hearing. I’m tired of hearing it, aren’t you? But as I examine the problem, I realize, like we all are, I am a part of it. So let’s do something about it! The solution is education!” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Mary Schaefer of Artemis Path, Inc. submitted One Way to be the Change You Want to See in Your Life. Mary summarizes, “You want to eliminate an unhelpful habit, address a hot-button issue or negotiate a change at work. You can take charge. Practice making a challenging change. There’s no substitute for firsthand experience.” Follow Mary on Twitter at @maryschaefer.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed 56 Words That Will Change Your Life. Miki writes, “The best advice isn’t complex or filled with multi-syllabic words. It is simple to understand and takes hard work to implement it consistently. However, the payoff is definitely worth the effort.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Happy New Year 2017: A Change to Be Creative in Your Business. Neal recaps, “With the New Year, change takes place. Here is your opportunity to boost your idea for creating and producing a breakthrough result of your own. These tips will help you move forward in your creativity and profit from what you create.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed 20+1 Thoughts for Reinventing Your Leadership. Paul summarizes, “Even leaders can get stuck in a rut of ineffective and stale leadership. Here are some quick thoughts to turn yourself around and reinvent your leadership impact.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen submitted Six Lessons from Six Years. Paula summarizes, “Although Rakan Stormer did not reach adulthood and become a leader in business, public service, or the arts, his life taught lessons every leader should heed.” Follow Paula on Twitter at @biggreenpen.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared Too Many Priorities? 3 Tips to Focus on What Matters Most. Randy writes, “The excitement of starting off a new year can cause us to set too many goals that we don’t have a realistic chance of completing. That leads to us feeling ‘over:’ overwhelmed, overcommitted, and overstressed. To avoid feeling “over” in 2017, Randy Conley offers 3 tips to focus on what matters most.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Russ White and Jay Anderson of Development Dimensions International (DDI) shared Agile Ready Leaders Get Their Start in Kindergarten. Russ and Jay write, “To lead a cultural transformation to Agile, leaders require a very specific mindset. In this post, we discuss the four tenets of leading in an agile environment: Be Honest, Be Kind, Be Responsible, and Work in Small Increments.” Find Russ and Jay on Twitter at @ddiworld.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted Come Out of the Closet: 4 Ways to Talk About Intuition at Work. About this piece, Shelley says, “We sometimes look down on ‘intuition’ as a reliable way to make business decisions, but intuition is an important part of the process.”  Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided How to Find a Mentor. Susan explains, “Potential mentors are all around you. You may even have one or more, and simply have not recognized them for their role as a mentor in your life. If you are in search of a mentor, often all you need to do is look around you and ask for the support you need.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted A Year-End Note Of Inspiration To Keep Pushing Ahead. Tanveer explains the post is “an end-of-year note to inspire leaders to challenge their outlook and understanding for how they will empower the best in those they lead.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted Learning to Lead. Wally recaps, “Learning to lead isn’t easy or automatic and it’s sometimes painful. But that’s the only way to get better.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

Entrepreneurs: Post Seed with Marc

Thursday, December 8th, 2016


Vator’s Post Seed Conference last week in SF was another enormous hit for those who missed it. The consistently high level of speakers, content and relevancy of the information shared is what was perhaps the most salient take away. The open and frank candor of the discussion was also refreshing.

It’s a bit of a challenge to write this article because there is so much to communicate in a succinct way, but I’ll do what I can. While most of the content is geared to entrepreneurs, and some applies to both, I gave the info specifically for investors its own section at the end.

In the interest of brevity, most of what follows are generalized thoughts, bits and bytes summarizing points expressed during the meeting. My goal being to give you the most info succinctly as possible.

For starters, the cost of starting a business is way down. Now, it can be anywhere from 50-500K. So it’s a disruption in Venture. In the 90’s, it used to be 4 – 5M to start. In an early A round, proper sequencing of funding is important. As is being capital efficient. Be a contrarian. Because everybody bets on the consensus winner.

Raising a series A can be a crunch! 2009 was a peak. Rate of graduation from seed to A is less than 10%. It’s getting hard to get more seeding, although initial seed VC’s are plentiful. Getting to A round nevertheless remains difficult to very difficult.

Why post seed? More control. More optionality, more likely to supersize A, so stay lean to accomplish that.

Great Companies solve big problems and work at 2X the speed. Optimize processes. It’s about onboarding . The 15% of your best accounts pay for everything. Commit to winning. Great venture takes risks on non-traditional things.

Money is tightening. Less competition is good for choosing spaces. It’s going to be hard to raise the next round. Milestones are key. Corporate investing is currently very passive. In good part because in venture, you’re wrong 90% of the time.

There are 3 types of companies: 1) Bits to atoms – exp: Tesla. 2) Sticky bits – exp: Facebook. 3) Everything else is poo and a time suck.

Social media is modern feudalism. We do the work but don’t get paid. New media eliminated scarcity. There is no “Truthiness” in social media. A monetization formula dominates social media.

Hard things take time and are worthwhile. Everyone thinks everything happens in 2-4 years, it doesn’t. Be thoughtful about experimenting.

VALUATION MEANS NOTHING! Value it at zero until you go liquid. Less liquidity in last 5 years than ever.

There is more profit in hard businesses. Winning is about recruiting. It’s getting harder to be successful and get funding. Companies that produce the most with the fewest people and resources win.

Series A difficult to raise yet big successes still happen. Top 5 companies in the world are in tech. There is no certainty in raising funding.

Originality and how you tell your story is absolutely key. It is as important as anything. The product / story / solution has to sell itself. It’s a crowded angel and seed stage market.

Raising series A is hard. Seed round is much easier. Partner with seed investors who will help you with getting an A round. We’re in a tougher market. Spend as little as possible to get to market fit. Premature scaling is the main reason companies fail.

Book Recommendation written for the entrepreneur: Magic Box Paradigm A Framework for Startup Acquisitions. Startups wait too long to think about M&A. Acquisition isn’t an exit but an entrance. An entrepreneur’s narrative to a VC should be; “I’ve got everything figured out.” How do we fit into the direction of the acquiring company? Value only exists in the eyes of the buyer. Have a shared view.

You’re going downhill when they’re coming to you and uphill when you’re going to them.

Entrepreneur’s need passion to get through the tough times. You’ve got to love the customers you’re serving.

Remove friction to innovation. In biz, create more at-bats for yourself. When investments work, double down on them. Convince your customers who will then convince investors. Tell people what you’re going to do, then go do it. It’s the best way to get people on board. The #1 thing you’re selling is trust. Values and culture matter. Why do people continue to walk through the door? Add meaning to your company.

Bits for investors

The idea of 10 – 15 great co’s a year is not consistent with the data. There were a lot of great companies in a little period of time. 38% made greater than 10X in last 10 years. Market fit and momentum work together. Post seed is about data. Look at a company’s value creation. Listen, ask difficult questions. How do you define success?

Figure out what people are all about. It’s more about how a company is performing rather than a funding round. Do you really click with the founder?

Liking the CEO is of paramount importance. Do they have high EQ? Empathy is critical. The ability to see forward from multiple perspectives. Are they ambitious and bold? Are they willing to try at what has been failed many times before. On the other end is founder drama which is a huge killer.

Look for problems when thinking about what company to invest in. What’s on demand? Realize 6 – 10 years equals how long until a market gets created.

The above is just a smattering of the shared wisdom from the conference and proof positive why attending future Vator events is well worth while. Not only for the insights, but also for an incredible networking opportunity that is far above most others, not to mention engaging, fun time well spent.

November Leadership Development Carnival

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Here we are; a third of the way through the fourth quarter and two great things are happening today.

  1. We can all celebrate: no more political ads. Hooray!
  2. I’m sharing some great information from some of the best thinkers on all the subjects it takes to be a great boss/leader/manager these days.

So dig in, enjoy, and learn.

leadership-carnival-5-300x134Anne Perschel of Germane Coaching and Consulting submitted How Real Leaders Apologize and Mean It. Anne summarizes, “Real leaders don’t apologize AS IF they mean it. They actually mean it because they are empathetic. Empathy is the first of four elements in a genuine apology.” Follow Anne on Twitter at @bizshrink.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided How to Get Along with the Colleague Who is Faster Than You. Beth recaps, “Do you sometimes have to work with a colleague whose pace is faster than yours? Beth Beutler gives some techniques for navigating swift waters in business relationships.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: Be Present. In this post, Chris charges leaders with the importance of being fully present, so they don’t send a message of “you’re not that important.” Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided Leaders Should Define More Than the Mountain Top, but Less Than the Whole Plan. Dan recaps, “When it comes to defining their vision, leaders tend to fall into two camps. Camp one can clearly articulate a mountain top they want to reach, but create zero clarity on how they’re going to get to that mountain top. Camp two has their mountain top defined and they also have a step-by-step guide to get from where they are today (base camp) to their mountain top. Both camps fail to create sustained motivation in their people. Guest author Hamish Knox explains why.” Locate Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed Dear Dana Workplace Advice: New To the Team And Dealing With Workplace Bullying By A Colleague. Dana writes, “Dear Dana, I recently joined a new team and one of my colleagues is treating me like the hired help! I’m not sure what to do since I am new on the team and don’t want to get a reputation early on for being difficult or refusing to do work. Help! — Signed, Between a rock and a hard place in Iowa.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted How to Lead When It Looks Impossible. David summarizes, “Every leader faces challenges that look impossible. David offers encouragement and practical next steps based on a recent mountain he and Karin Hurt climbed.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared 7 Requirements of a Strategic Messaging Methodology. David writes, “What is a Strategic Messaging Methodology, and what can it do for you, your leaders, and your organization? Simply put, it’s a process that helps you think strategically about how you develop your story, drive alignment, and tell it powerfully—whether it’s a large organizational story or whether you want to communicate change inside your organization. ” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner.

Evan Sinar of Development Dimensions International (DDI) provided LeaderPulse: The 5 Most Valuable Gifts Most Leaders Aren’t Getting. Evan recaps, “If you missed Boss’s Day last month, it’s never too late for employees to recognize their life-changing leaders. We looked to our research to come up with five less common, but more valuable gifts.” Find Evan on Twitter at @evansinar.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed They Told You What They Think of You, Now What?. Jill shares, “Getting 360 degree feedback anonymously can be overwhelming and cause anxiety. Jill explains how you can pluck out the meaningful messages and take positive action.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared  7 Fail-Safe Steps to Increase Responsibility and Develop Your Team . Jesse Lyn recaps, “If you’re not offering your people the opportunity to grow – to increase their responsibility and learn new skills – you are going to lose them. But increasing responsibility without also delegating authority is a recipe for disaster. And simply delegating is not always the answer either.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Samsung’s Failed Executive Leadership. Jim shares, “Being the top leader of an organization, whether in the public or private sphere, is no easy task. What’s more appropriately called executive managerial leadership (as opposed to the overused, feel good term “leadership”), those at the helm of companies or government agencies have huge responsibilities.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted 5-Step Plan to Developing Your Personal Brand. Joel recaps: “Have you developed your personal brand? No? Then it’s no surprise that you’re not moving up in your career. Implement this 5-step plan for career advancement.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Bell Labs Designing a New Phone System Using Idealized Design. John summarizes, “The basic idea of idealized design is to create a new design for a product, service or the organization based on what is feasible today (but without being limited by the constraints of the existing state). Then, use that ideal to guide you as you figure out a plan to move from the existing state to that idealized design.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Discontentment: A Great Leadership Challenge. Jon shares, “Discontentment seems to be reaching epidemic proportions. What can we do as leaders to begin to unravel it? ” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Jon Verbeck of JonVerbeck.com provided The Dashboard May be the Most Important Part of Your Company Vehicle. In this post, Virtual CFO Jon Verbeck explains the important parts of a financial dashboard for your company. Find Jon on Twitter at @jonverbeck1.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided Whoa! What are today’s most common leadership mistakes? Julie recaps, “As counterintuitive as it may seem, well-meaning leaders undermine staff development – and ultimately results – not because they are doing too little but because they are doing too much.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed 7 Things Your High-Performance Employees Long to Hear You Say. Karin recaps, “Your high-performing employees never seem like the MIT (Most Important Thing), but the truth is, when I meet with them and ask what they need, I hear about things they long for from their boss.” Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders contributed Four Key Steps to Being, and Getting More Done. Lisa shares why we need to spend at least as much time “being” as “doing,” and how to do this in our too-busy world. Follow Lisa on Twitter at @thoughtfulldrs.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided The Power of Less: Get More Done. Marcella recaps, “I love Leo Babauta’s message from The Power Of Less. It sounds so simple, but it’s easier said than done: Identify the essential and eliminate the rest. If you spread yourself too thin; it dilutes your power and effectiveness. Do you do little of too many things? Or do you focus on just one big goal?” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC submitted Do Less and Be More of a Leader. Mary Jo summarizes, “Being a people leader requires you to shift your mindset into knowing who you are and developing yourself within that framework.” Follow Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Leaders and Runners, Don’t Run the Race Alone. She recaps, “In ‘Leaders and Runners, Don’t Run the Race Alone,’ Mary Ila encourages leaders to arm themselves with a wingman or wingwoman and provides tips on how leaders can gain ‘wing strength,’ emphasizing that ‘All runners, and leaders, especially those out for the long haul, need a wingman.’” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Michael Lee Stallard of Michael Lee Stallard submitted Finish 2016 Strong: Refocus, Reconnect, Reenergize . Michael shares, “With 2016 rapidly drawing to a close, now is the time to establish your plan to finish the year strong. Michael Stallard shares advice for leaders on meeting year-end goals.” Follow Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed Golden Oldie: Customer Service Week 2016. Miki writes, “There is much talk, and even some action, about “enhancing customer experience,” but, when you’re a line manager, who exactly are your customers?” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Leaders, Start Viewing Setbacks as Opportunities. Neal recaps, “Too many leaders get flustered when a business setback occurs. You need to take a step back and look at what happened and take action to move forward.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed How To Lead With A Sandbox Culture. Paul summarizes, “Striking a balance between cultural and operational parameters that allows your employees room to innovate is always a challenge. Thinking of it as a sandbox in a playground will help that balance.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared 10 Ways Leaders Can Easily Build Trust with Their New Teams. Randy writes, “Trust doesn’t ‘just happen’ by accident. It takes intentional effort and leaders need to have a specific game plan to establish and nurture trust in relationships. Randy Conley offers advice from the trenches in this post.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted Pushing a Wheel Chair: Lessons in Servant Leadership. In this piece, Shelley shared lessons learned about servant leadership as she took on caregiving responsibilities for her husband.” Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided I Choose to Honor You. Susan explains, “If we truly want to be constructive participants and collaborators in our democracy, we need to bring a better spirit to our conversations with each other. We need to start talking with one another about the things that are hard to talk about, to engage in conversations with people who do not look or think like us, so we can learn. We need to be far more curious and much more discerning about what we believe and what we think we know, and seek truth rather than assume we are being told the truth.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted Why Expressing Gratitude Through Our Leadership Matters. Tanveer explains the post is, “A look at how expressing gratitude can help leaders bring out the best in those they lead and drive their organizations to succeed.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted Thoughts on Retirement and Purpose. Wally recaps, “People need a purpose. Without purpose, there’s not much reason to get up in the morning.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

Golden Oldies: The Story Behind a Great Interview Question

Monday, October 24th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back at more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I’ve written a lot over the years about hiring, but it’s a subject that never gets old. We’re going to be looking at the subject again this week and I thought this Golden Oldie would be a good way to kick off the conversation.

Read other Golden Oldies here

https://www.flickr.com/photos/warrenski/4300670672Michael Cascio, a former executive at the National Geographic Channel, A&E and Animal Planet, who now runs M&C Media, has a favorite interview question.

Early on he asks, “What did you do in the summers during college and high school?”

Not a question most candidates are expecting, but one that stems from Cascio’s personal experience.

He worked two summers as a janitor at the Wolf Trap event venue while he was getting his MBA.

You might not expect that would be a defining experience for a “middle-class college kid headed for a white-collar life,” but it was.

Cascio says it was in that job that he learned the basics of a great career and it was his janitorial boss who gave him the best career advice.

The basics:

You have to show up every day, and on time. You have to appreciate everyone who works around you. You should acknowledge — and learn to deal with — the pecking order in the working world. You have to exert yourself in ways you may not have learned in school. And you often have to do things that have nothing — and everything — to do with your career and your life ahead.

The best advice:

“Never turn down a chance to take on more responsibility.”

The point is that it’s not just about what candidates have done, but what they learned from the experience that matters—no matter what it was.

Flickr image credit: warrenski

If the Shoe Fits: the Empathy of Jack Dorsey

Friday, October 14th, 2016

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mA few weeks ago I wrote about three ways to close a company — the right way, the wrong way and the (allegedly) crooked way — and years ago referenced Guy Kawasaki’s guide to laying people off.

The common thread that runs through them, both the to-do and not-to-do, is the need for honesty with employees and the speed with which rumors will spread and kill moral.

A year ago Twitter laid off over 300 people — most by by email, but some by more of a lockout.

We’re hearing that at least a handful of employees who weren’t remote also woke up to seeing that they were laid off via the fact that their emails and Hipchat, a messaging product, had been turned off overnight.

These days, continuing rumors of more layoffs to come, combined with chaotic reports that the company may be sold, has sent morale spiraling downward at an alarming rate.

Rank-and-file staff members are frustrated about being in the dark on the company’s future, and a handful of employees have stopped showing up for work entirely, several insiders said.

Dorsey’s response to the turmoil is garbage.

“I empathize with the feelings that come from the constant critique, the constant negativity, and the constant doubt.”

There is no way a guy worth more than a billion dollars can put himself in the shoes of someone who depends on their paycheck to feed their kids and pay the mortgage/rent.

And that lack of empathy shines clearly through the rest of his comment.

“But hey, that’s life in the arena. All we control is how we choose to react to it.”

I sincerely hope that his global workforce is choosing to update their resumes and react with their feet.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Ducks in a Row: John Stumpf — Abdicating Leadership/Passing the Buck

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

“Corporation, n. an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.” — Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

Truman_pass-the-buckBierce’s words ring truer today than any time since he first wrote them; as shown most recently by Wells Fargo CEO John G. Stumpf.

But Mr. Stumpf — whom the members of the House committee personally blamed for the persistent and widespread misdeeds — stuck to the same script he has used throughout the crisis. The problem, he explained, was an ethical lapse among the 5,300 employees, most of them low-level bankers and tellers, who had been fired for their actions since 2011.
But he again rejected lawmakers’ attempts to cast the scandal as a consequence of broader failings in Wells Fargo’s leadership and corporate culture.

A rejection that is the purest bull poop I’ve heard recently.

Having been a customer long before Norwest acquired it in 1998 (acquired, although it was called a merger) I can honestly say that Wells attitude towards customers hasn’t changed — they are a necessary evil with no other purpose than to enrich Wells coffers.

At that time, Wells was known for its cutting-edge technology and lousy customer relations, while Norwest was famous for its customer-centric culture. Analysts predicted that as the acquirer Norwest’s culture would be ascendant.

So much for those predictions.

In case you think I’m exaggerating, there are $10 billion  in recent fines to prove I’m not.

As Mr. Stumpf testified, a video screen on the hearing room’s wall displayed a scroll of more than a dozen fines Wells Fargo has paid in recent years, totaling more than $10 billion. The list included penalties for subprime loan abuses, discriminating against African-American and Hispanic mortgage borrowers, and foreclosure violations, among others.

Mr. Hensarling asked whether such fines are simply the “cost of doing business.”

Mr. Stumpf answered no, adding, “I don’t want our culture to be defined by these mistakes.”

Then how else should the culture for which Stumpf is responsible be defined?

Obviously, Stumpf doesn’t have the same sign on his desk as President Truman had on his, let alone buy into its meaning.

Wells Fargo — where the buck stops at the bottom.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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