It’s a month designed to bring awareness to brain cancer and the horrible effects it wreaks on both patients and their families.
I thought it important to bring up, because I have a friend who’s daughter is terminal. Yet, while fighting brain cancer she is a light to those around her.
You may ask yourself, how is that related to culture? Under normal circumstances I would agree I don’t see the connection either, but I believe there is one in this case.
My friend has instilled a culture of compassion into her life and that of her little girl.
She posts constant updates on non-profits that support cancer research, updates on other child warriors fighting the good fight, and also shares messages of hope.
This may be deeper than culture, it’s character and it has the power to transform institutions and people.
I watch her and feel both a deep sadness but also respect for what she is going through and accomplishing.
I am a parent myself and I feel blessed daily that my girls are healthy and safe. I am not sure I would have the strength that this friend has shown under the same circumstances.
How can character change an institution?
There are numerous examples of one person transforming a company. Steve Jobs, when he returned to Apple, always comes to mind.
And there are cases where the leadership transformed something for the worse — Yahoo?
Character has the ability to almost be self sustaining. It burns bright and true regardless of circumstances.
How do we harness that in a culture? The first step would be, do you have a good character. In the age where there is no right or wrong it can be tough to determine, but, as a rule, I believe if you are taking the time to honor your fellow man and putting them first, you’re on the right path.
So this month I ask that you take time to examine your character, look to serve others, and learn.
Just like my friend who gives her all, we have a choice every day to make it a great day or not.
Christopher Avery of Christopher Avery and the Leadership Gift provided Relearning How to Want. Christopher summarizes, ” Freedom, power, and choice come to us when we pursue what we truly want. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know what we truly want. This post reveals how relearning how to want drives self-leadership, and how you can achieve it.” Find Christopher on Twitter at @christopheraver.
David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared Kick Email to the Curb Over Spring Break. David writes, “Why don’t we not leave email at the office when we’re on vacation? Because it’s hard. But the more we set up our teams and colleagues to be successful without us, the better we become, our colleagues become empowered, and we’re able to get some necessary R&R. Get tips and strategies today to help your next vacation be email free.” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner
Eileen McDargh of The Resiliency Group provided Three-Letter Leaders Create Clarity. Eileen recaps, ” In the age of 140 character tweets and 12-minute Ted talks, much can be gained by considering what three-letter titles can do to clarify roles and responsibilities. Everyone knows the roles and responsibilities for a CEO, CFO and CTO but change the wording and a different picture emerges. Imagine, for example, a CEO tasked as the Chief Engagement Officer.” Find Eileen on Twitter at @macdarling.
Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided “Call Me Nick!” Leadership in Running Shoes. Jim shares, “Top leaders need to connect regularly with the people who get the work done in their organizations. Putting on a pair of running shoes will keep you more nimble. Don’t believe it? Read about ‘Call me Nick’!” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.
Jon VerBeck of JonVerbeck.com submitted What’s the Score? . In his post, Jon takes the opportunity of spring (and the completion of March Madness) to suggest how you can know the score in your business. Discover Jon on Twitter at @jonverbeck1.
Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided 4 Raises That Fit Any Budget. Julie recaps, “Effective leaders understand that limits on external motivators don’t have to limit their ability to tap internal sources of employee motivation. This brief post and animated video demonstrate that while pay raises might be in short supply, there are always four ‘raises’ available to leaders… and they cost literally nothing.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.
Linda Fisher Thornton ofLeading in Context shared “Great Leaders” Find Gold Within. Linda recaps: “Great leadership is often defined based on efficiency, effectiveness or profitability, but that’s no way to define a journey of character building and authenticity. There’s much more to the story that needs to be told.” Find Linda on Twitter at @leadingincontxt.
Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided The Positive Mindset – to broaden your view. Marcella recaps, “In this blog post, I compare the conventional mental map and the positive mindset of possibilities. When you add the positive mindset you broaden your view and your repertory of responses. It is both/and rather than either/or. Highly recommended for all leaders: positive thinking and learning to see the positive potential of situations and people!” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.
Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting provided 3 Tips for Successfully Onboarding New Hires. Mary recaps, “Whether you are a company of three or a company of 30,000, onboarding can make or break employee engagement and retention even before day one. Having an onboarding strategy that is executed well starts with a plan. In this post, Mary Ila shares 3 tips for leaders to successfully onboard new hires.” Find Mary on Twitter at @maryilaward.
Molly Page of Thin Difference contributed The Power of 3 Simple Words. Molly summarizes, “It’s been said that we don’t only learn from good examples. Recently we’ve seen several public relation debacles play out in the news, these can serve as lessons for all of us about the power of 3 simple words..” Follow Thin Difference on Twitter at @thindifference and Molly at @mollypg.
Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared 4 Ways to Get Your Followers to Know You as a REAL Person. Randy writes, “Research shows that many employees don’t see their leaders as real people; they form mental images of the leader based on limited interactions and random pieces of information. Using the acronym REAL, Randy Conley provides four ways leaders can develop authentic relationships with their employees that foster trust, loyalty, and engagement.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.
Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided 9 Ways a Leader Can Earn Trust. Susan explains, “When it comes to earning trust as a leader, your actions speak far more loudly than your words. Here are 9 actions you can take on a daily basis to actively earn the trust of those you lead and greatly increase your chances of being trusted with the things that really matter.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.
Gen X wasn’t much better and in 1982 Steve Wozniak financed The US Festival. According to Glenn Aveni, director of a recently released documentary about the festival,
“Woz felt the 1970’s were The ‘Me’ Generation and that it was time for the world to embrace a less selfish credo, one of unity and togetherness.”
Great music, but little effect.
Millennials come next, slightly more of them (75.4 M to 74.9) and most happily carry on the focus on me.
Tech has driven that focus across all generations via selfies and social media to the point that for millions their experiences, meals and even their lives exist only if they constantly post them online and they are liked, shared, and retweeted.
There was a time when I allowed myself to be more than what could fit onto a 2-by-4-inch screen. When I wasn’t so self-conscious about how I was seen. When I embraced my contradictions and desires with less fear of embarrassment or rejection.
The focus on me has led to a focus on being happy — polls and articles measuring happiness, and comparing happiness.
Back in the day, the Boomers considered everything a challenge that must be overcome. Fast forward to now and Millennials, especially those in Silicon Valley, see the world as a series of problems to be “hacked” (modern times call for modern words).
Which, to put it politely, is a crock.
Andrew Taggart thinks most of this is nonsense. A PhD in philosophy, Taggart practices the art of gadfly-for-hire. He disabuses founders, executives, and others in Silicon Valley of the notion that life is a problem to be solved, and happiness awaits those who do it. Indeed, Taggart argues that optimizing one’s life and business is actually a formula for misery.
This is important, because, in many ways, it’s Silicon Valley that is shaping much of our world — even for those of us who choose not to actively participate.
But I doubt Taggart and his ilk will change that attitude or the obsessive focus on “my world.”
Scott Berkun, a former Microsoft manager and philosophy major who has written multiple business books on the subject, says philosophy’s lessons are lost on most in Silicon Valley. Many focus on aggrandizing the self, rather than pursuing a well-examined purpose. “If you put Socrates in a room during a pitch session, I think he’d be dismayed at so many young people investing their time in ways that do not make the world or themselves any better,” he said.
I never saw life as a challenge or a problem. I prefer a different mantra.
Life is a mystery to be lived — not a challenge/problem to be overcome.
Public image for both companies and people has always been important and even more so with the availability of information at our disposal. But even with these tools we are still dealing with asymmetrical information when making decisions and establishing culture.
I spoke to a friend over dinner the other night who travels overseas for work quite a bit. As a result he is not up to speed on current US events and was unaware of the string of crisis that have impacted Uber.
He was shocked to learn that they were involved in lawsuits, scandals and more. It was actually a bit like hearing it for the first time myself as I had a chance to see his emotions as he learned the news.
His opinion of Uber was shaped on asymmetrical information.
I had mentioned in a previous post that some local companies that tout their high employee reviews are not as shiny from the inside. Again, asymmetrical information.
The director of the FBI has been fired, we as the public are dealing with asymmetrical information for the reasons behind it.
I state all of this to say that we must constantly strive to learn, ingest and understand as much as we can when making decisions about the companies we deal with and people we hire.
I recently took part in a process where a new employee was terminated. It was unfortunate but they were not a good fit for the role, exaggerated a bit during the interview process and then didn’t make up for it after being hired.
This person is someone that I wouldn’t mind being friends with, but they were not suited for the role they were in. The hire was a result of asymmetrical information.
I have looked back on my own life at times when I made foolish mistakes due to my lack of information. Rash decisions that cost me time and money. How do we learn from them?
Here are a few ways I have dealt with this moving forward.
Have trusted friends or mentors to bounce ideas off of.
Take a day or two when making big decisions.
Try to remove emotion from the decisions to ensure you’re not swayed.
These all may be basic (I am not as lofty as I would like), but they can make an impact for the positive.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here.
There is much talk these days about ‘values’ and how companies need to base their cultures on them.
Many say that “cultural fit” is used to discriminate against older candidates, people of color, and women.
And that’s likely true if the company doesn’t included diversity and meritocracy as an integral part of their core values.
One recently added core value that isn’t talked about is expediency.
Here’s a great example from Facebook.
On May First, Facebook was accused of sharing information on how/when to reach “emotionally “insecure” and vulnerable teens on its network.” Naturally, the company denied doing it, but just the fact that they can should be very disturbing.
Even if Facebook hasn’t allowed advertisers to target young people based on their emotions, its sharing of related research highlights the kind of data the company collects about its nearly 2 billion users.
Also on May first Facebook announced a new effort to fight fake news — definitely expedient considering how angry people are — better late than never.
Facebook has appointed a veteran from The New York Times to lead its news products division, which is responsible for stopping the spread of fake news and helping publishers make money.
Making money is the number one priority — no matter how often a company says otherwise.
I recently switched jobs to a company that is smaller than my last but where I have the ability to truly achieve success or crash and burn. It’s slightly terrifying but I try to follow Richard Branson’s example of just saying yes to things first and then figuring it out as I go along.
One thing I realized after taking the role is I am the one that must set the cultural standard. It’s not that the company doesn’t have one, but most of the employees are remote and we rarely see each other.
As a result there is not really a zeitgeist in the office that tends to guide everyone’s actions. It took me a couple of weeks to reach this conclusion, but once I did I sought out some resources on how to set a standard.
I was not blessed with an iron will. For me I must work every day at maintaining discipline and work ethic. It’s not a battle, but it’s something I am very much aware of and I take steps to ensure I set myself up for success.
One way I do this is through emulation of others. I realize this may not be groundbreaking but I think it’s important to remember.
When I was growing up I would see people at the top of their game or profession and a lot of times not think about the work it took to get there. As I have matured I realize it takes great effort to achieve success and we must make it a priority. There are several people I follow on LinkedIn that hold influence. I try to emulate what they have done to form my own identity and culture.
I have also sought out mentors throughout my career. Some of these are formal, but some are not. I reach out to them for specific needs or learning opportunities.
What do you use for guidance when setting a culture? Is it a company, ideal or person?
I believe all can benefit when creating an identity, as long as we are choosing the right example to emulate.
The company provided what has come to be a boilerplate apology.
“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post,” the company said in a statement. “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”
Within days it was Pepsi on the social media hot seat for an incredibly insensitive, incredibly white ad focusing on the Black Lives Matter protests.
The ad was pulled in hours, although, as you can see, nothing posted is ever truly deleted; here is Pepsi’s gussied up version of the boilerplate apology.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
Nivea’s story was from an agency, while Pepsi’s was developed in-house.
While I’m no fan of social media in general and its penchant for spreading fake news, in this case the lightening reactions actually did some good.
Heineken is another story (pun intended) entirely and has the awards to prove it, so it isn’t surprising that it was Heineken that successfully created the story the others screwed up so badly.
The take-away is that stories are a two-edged sword, so be sure to do them outside the echo chamber or don’t do them.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here.
Way back in 2009 I wrote Leaders Should NOT Be Cowboys. While the advice was accurate at the time, it made the basic assumption that founders were adults.
I suppose it was naïve to assume that anybody starting a company, let alone being handed millions of dollars to do it, would have a certain level of mental and emotional maturity — or at least know when to shut up.
But the world has changed drastically.
It’s now a world where nothing is private and letting it all hang out has been take to extremes; where sharing all aspects of your life is expected and the resulting personally identifiable data packaged and sold; where sex/sexism in one form or another is prevalent; where anybody can freely and anonymously critique/shame/bully/insult whomever they please; where frat boy culture/attitude/thinking is the new norm, where etc., etc., etc.
Take a look at Uber, Thinx, Tanium, or the US president; the list goes on even when the actions are well camouflaged, as they are at Google and Facebook.
These new CEOs aren’t necessarily cowboys in the previous sense.
They have moved past that and are more aligned with the back end of their horses.
A few days ago Miki sent me an article about Tanium giving prospective customers a look into their client hospital’s live network, but without permission or protecting the identity of the hospital completely.
I wrote her back today as follows.
I had not seen this on my own, but I have been reading about the company for a few days now.
Coming from the medtech industry and security specifically I will say this.
The fact that he and his company used live hospital data without their consent will be a deathblow to them.
Hospitals take this very seriously because they are the ones who are held responsible by the Office for Civil Rights under Health and Human Services.
The hospital will be shown to have a vulnerability and will be forced to pay fines, lose out on government funds and potentially face sanctions.
As a result the rest of the healthcare industry will treat Tanium like a pariah because they will not want to face repercussions.
Regardless of the industry it’s shocking to see how folks think it’s ok to manipulate or abuse customer relationships for their own profit, it always ends badly.
Sadly, I think they will find a way to smooth it over. Google, Facebook, etc sell customer data all the time. It’s how so many make their money and no one seems to care.
I know HIPPA is supposed to prevent this stuff, but I’m sure companies are getting around that, too, they just haven’t been caught, yet.
That’s the key, not being caught.
Every company that is caught, or just challenged, cries that they take their customer’s privacy seriously or that that’s not what their culture stands for, etc.
But only when they are caught.
I sincerely hope you are correct and that Tanium takes a major blow and, more importantly, that the CEO is forced out, but I’m not holding my breath. I guess I’ve finally gotten pretty cynical about this stuff.
So now I’m trying to decide if Miki’s cynicism is warranted or if I’m right and the publicized results of Tanium’s actions will have the effect they should.
I’ll keep you informed as there are more developments.