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Derek Sivers @ TED

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Saturday I recommended spending some of your valuable time on TED, so I thought I’d offer a sample of it that I really liked.

Derek Sivers received a standing ovation for his 3 minute talk on leadership using the video below.

Too often people over focus on the moving pictures, so be sure to pay full attention to what Sivers is saying in conjunction with what is happening in the video.

Because the words are so important you can read a transcript at Siver’s site (along with other good stuff). I hope you take a moment to do so.

I’m not backing down on my contention that leadership is for all, but I completely agree that everyone can’t be leaders simultaneously and that following is just as important, if not more so.

Leadership is over-glorified.

Yes it started with the shirtless guy, and he’ll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:
It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.
There is no movement without the first follower.
We’re told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.
The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.

Image credit: dereksivers on YouTube

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

Ducks In A Row: Noticing the Obvious

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

ducks_in_a_rowMany times the solutions we seek are waltzing around in full sight, but we don’t see them.  Let me give you a personal example.

I started RampUp Solutions in 1997, but finding a simple way to describe what we did took several years.

In the show Gypsy there’s a song that says, “Ya gotta have a gimmick” to succeed and I doubt that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

I wanted one clear, concise term that gave insight to RampUp’s coaching approach, not a couple of paragraphs—no matter how well written.

When the light finally went on I had to laugh. The term I settled on was MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) and the humor comes from the fact that I’ve been talking about mindset, attitude and philosophy my whole life—even using those terms.

But formalizing it never crossed my mind, which just goes to show how blind we can be.

There’s a reason ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’ achieved the status of an adage more than a century ago.

Some people are focused on trees, while others have the opposite problem and focus strictly on the forest—neither offers optimal performance.

In my case it didn’t matter that much, sure, it would have been easier to create the company’s marketing messages, but it didn’t cripple us.

However, if your forests are made of people then it’s critical that you see them both.

It’s only by seeing your people as both individuals and collectively as a team that you can recognize the obvious solutions you miss when you focus on just one view.

Since Leadership Turn is ending December 29 I’ve been encouraging you to click over and follow me at MAPping Company Success.

Ducks in a Row will continue every Tuesday; check out Why ‘Cracked Pots’ are Good For Your Team and you’ll know why you should subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

Your comments—priceless

Image credit:  ZedBee|Zoë Power on flickr

Smoke and Mirrors

Monday, December 21st, 2009

smoke-and-mirrorsHave you noticed the efforts to diminish the compensation or banking honchos and Wall Street hotshots?

Or at least make it look that way.

Our friends at Goldman Sachs are in the forefront, which should give you lots of confidence that the effort is for real.

The bonuses are in restricted stock that has to be held at least five years, so if the stock value went down 20% the banker would receive only $8 million instead of the $10 expected—poor baby, a lousy $8 million dollars, that’s terrible! Of course, the stock goes up 20% they’ll pick up an extra two mil.

Goldman benefits because the shares don’t count as compensation until they vest, which means they don’t show as an expense and that will boost profits.

Another piece of sleight-of-hand is counting consultants and temporary workers as employees; this raises headcount and significantly lowers pay per employee making politicos and the media happy.

Does it make you happy?

Do they really think we are that stupid?

Are we?

Leadership Turn ends December 29. I hope you’ll stop over today to read Leadership Needed—By 2015. To be sure you continue to get your daily fix of Miki you should subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker on flickr

Seize Your Leadership Day: Schumpeter and Schultz

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

seize_your_dayLet us start with a question. Do you read Schumpeter in The Economist? Most of the time I really like what he says, but every now and then I disagree.

A good example of this is The cult of the faceless boss; I don’t agree that a CEO has to be flamboyant, maniacal, egotisticical and overbearing to be brilliant.

Whereas I found The three habits…of highly irritating management gurus to be right on and which has a comment that was too good not to quote here.

I’m thinking of titling my new management tome: “How I Learned My Five Most Effective Management Habits in Kindergarten, While Winning Friends and Influencing People by Using a Twelve Step Program, and All Inspired by Sun Tzu and Genghis Khan.”

Speaking of overbearing and egotistical what do you think of this CEO? One can only hope that he’s been canned—better yet, he should become a patient in his own facility.

Finally, Peter Schutz, former CEO of Porsche, sums up the two necessities for success, “People buy other people and corporate culture,” something that made Zappos what it is, but that many executives forget.

Leadership Turn is ending; its last day is December 29. I’ve enjoyed writing it and our interaction since August 16, 2007; LT may end, but I’ll keep going at my other blog.

Your favorite features will continue, along with my take on corporate culture, motivation and my quirky, somewhat jaundiced, view of leadership. Please join me at MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

Your comments—priceless

Image credit:  nono farahshila on flickr

What Do You Choose?

Friday, December 18th, 2009

feed-the-animalsLife is about choices; we make choices every day that affect not only the immediate subject, but also those around us and our future.

Sometimes we don’t even notice the choices we make, but that doesn’t change the size of their effect.

The following is a teaching fable that has been around in various forms for years.

An old man told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “The battle is between the two animals that live inside us all.

One is Evil—it is made of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good—it is joy, peace, love, authenticity, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, and compassion.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wins the battle?”

The old man replied, “The one you feed.”

It is with your choices, not just the conscious ones, but all of them, that you feed the beasts.

You can never rid yourself of all the traits that comprise either the evil or the good beast, but you can control their size, frequency and intensity.

It’s your choice.

Leadership Turn is ending; its last day is December 29. I’ve enjoyed writing it and our interaction since August 16, 2007 and I hope we can continue at my other blog.

If you enjoy my views and writing, please join me at MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: Joe Shlabotnik on flickr

Leadership's Future: Will It Work?

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

booker-t-washingtonIf you are a manager and despair at the quality of people that fill your entry level positions, not their attitude, but their skills and basic education, prepare for it to get worse.

Perhaps instead of ranting and whining about America’s loss of global leadership we should look closer to home for the real cause—US education.

The ethnic groups with the worst outcomes in school are African-Americans and Hispanics. The achievement gaps between these groups and their white and Asian-American peers are already large in kindergarten and only grow as the school years pass. These are the youngsters least ready right now to travel the 21st-century road to a successful life.

By 2050, the percentage of whites in the work force is projected to fall from today’s 67 percent to 51.4 percent. The presence of blacks and Hispanics in the work force by midcentury is expected to be huge, with the growth especially sharp among Hispanics.

No, whites and Asians aren’t smarter, but they do have socioeconomic advantages that are lacking for these minorities.

Advantages that our educational system and politicians at all levels are doing little to address.

It’s not always about money, although that is a part of it, nor is it about standardized tests that do little to improve true education, it’s about innovation and educating outside the box.

Harvard Graduate School of Education is creating a new doctoral degree to be focused on leadership in education. It’s the first new degree offered by the school in 74 years. The three-year course will be tuition-free and conducted in collaboration with faculty members from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The idea is to develop dynamic new leaders who will offer the creativity, intellectual rigor and professionalism that is needed to help transform public education in the U.S.

Creativity, intellectual rigor, professionalism; this leadership isn’t just about visions and influence, it’s about creating people who will roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty often toil in relative obscurity on the biggest problems facing this country.

Kathleen McCartney, the graduate school’s dean, explained one of the dilemmas that has hampered reform. “If you look at people who are running districts,” she said, “some come from traditional schools of education, and they understand the core business of education but perhaps are a little weak on the management side. And then you’ve got the M.B.A.-types who understand operations, let’s say, but not so much teaching and learning.”

Will it work?

Can the program make a difference quickly enough to change the current downward trajectory of our future?

Will other schools step up to the plate now or will they wait a decade or so and see how the Harvard program fares?

Does anybody care enough about what will happen in 20, 30, 40 years to accept a little discomfort now or should we just build more prisons?

Leadership Turn is ending; its last day is December 29. I’ve enjoyed writing it and our interaction since August 16, 2007 and I hope we can continue at my other blog where Leadership’s Future will carry on.

If you enjoy my views and writing, please join me at MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: dbking on flickr

Wordless Wednesday: Leadership Turn—The End

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009


To my readers: Leadership Turn is ending; its last day is December 29. I’ve enjoyed writing it and our interaction since August 16, 2007 and I hope we can continue at my other blog.

If you enjoy my views and writing, please join me at MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

The WELCOME MAT is out!

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: JJChandler.com @ Tombstone Generator

Ducks In A Row: People Are Like Bats

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

ducks_in_a_rowDid you know that as nimble as an ordinary bat is when flying it can’t take off from a level place?
If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and painfully until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then it takes off like a flash.

That’s also a good description of what happens to workers who aren’t given what they need to succeed.

Whether it’s coherent instructions, correct and complete information, additional training, viable feedback, or something else, without it they struggle to survive, let alone thrive.

If you want your people to perform and succeed then it’s your responsibility to provide the slight elevation from which they can launch themselves.

Identifying and providing that slight elevation is your responsibility, whether you consider yourself a leader or a manager.

That small height isn’t one-size-fits-all nor is it necessarily what works for you, which means you need to learn through interaction and discussion what constitutes a feasible elevation for each individual and provide it.

That’s your job, whether you are a CEO, team leader or anything in-between, that is what you are paid to do.

So if doing it doesn’t float your boat and give you an adrenalin rush every time someone takes off you’re in the wrong position. You may like the paycheck, but you’re leaving your people to shuffle in circles and setting them up to fail.

And doing so will come back and bite you at some point.

Your comments—priceless

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Image credit:  ZedBee|Zoë Power on flickr

AlwaysOn Venture Capital Summit: The Buzz

Monday, December 14th, 2009

venture-summitWhen possible I prevail on someone I know to attend the major AlwaysOn conferences, usually it’s KG Charles-Harris, but more recently it’s been Chris Blackman.

Last week Chris attended this year’s AlwaysOn Venture Capital Summit at Sand Hill Road in the heart of VCland and got a glimpse into the future investment strategies of that storied world.

From Chris Blackman

What can put venture capitalists in a frenzied state? More money—raising it or losing it.

Was the mood somber, reflecting the fact that a huge chunk of available capital was erased when university endowments closed their piggybanks? No; the mood was frenzied at the thought of being able to raise capital once again.

Going forward, who do VCs anticipate will open the spigot for them? Sovereign wealth funds.

The other depressant in the room should have been found in talk of this year’s IPO market falling without a parachute.

Instead, a second source of glee is their belief that next year will be the year of recovery for the IPO market? Why? Because it can’t get any worse than this year.

This was tempered by the keynote speaker, Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital, who reminded the audience that, “VCs are inherently an optimistic bunch.”

Anticipation and optimism are all well and good, but does anyone believe that Dubai is unique amongst the rentier states—bankrupt?

There is a real possibility that sovereign wealth funds will need to deploy them to buoy their own economies, which will kill the buzz in short order.

If not, what if the SWFs prefer to sink their teeth into physical assets as opposed to swallowing more IOUs?

And there is certainly no guarantee that the money won’t continue to hide from the markets.

Videos from the conference should be up soon.

Click for more from the Summit and a look at how culture is faring.

Your comments—priceless

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Image credit: AlwaysOn

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