Friday, December 18th, 2015
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here
If you truly want to succeed it’s important not to let your ego get in the way.
Or, as Marva Collins said, “If you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make anything.”
During the first startup boom in the Nineties it was called “founder ego,” but there were those, such as me, who just called it stupid.
Perhaps there is a new term I haven’t heard or it’s gone underground, but founder ego sinks more startups than you can imagine.
The thing to remember is that you
- don’t’ know more than everybody else; and
- can’t do everything better than anybody else.
You will screw up, you’re human, but people will think more highly of you and trust you more if you admit it and move forward by unscrewing it no matter where or who the solution comes from.
Thanks to Wally Bock at Three Star Leadership for sharing Collins’ quote.
Image credit: HikingArtist
Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
There’s a lot of talk out there about the best ways to engage your people, with the dual goals of juicing creativity and innovation and hiking productivity.
As founder and CEO of Quarrio, I spend a lot of energy and time building and sustaining a culture that fosters an environment in which our people flourish.
I believe that is what produces the desired engagement results.
That is why we don’t give a damn about gender, age or alma mater; even skills and experience take a backseat to attitude when we hire.
My whole team, not just senior staff, talk about this frequently.
Recently one them shared this internet meme as a mathematical view of what we all believe.
And since it’s the time for gifts and sharing, I thought I would share it as my holiday gift to you.
This comes from 2 math teachers with a combined total of 70 yrs. experience.
What Makes 100% ?
What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?
Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have
all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.
How about achieving 103%?
What makes up 100% in life?
Here’s a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%
And look how far ass kissing will take you.
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%
So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while Hard Work and
Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there.
It’s the Bullshit and Ass Kissing that will put you over the top.
Now you know why some people are where they are!
I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled 100% with joy, family, friends, colleagues and great food.
Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
Following up on yesterday’s post about women and inequality, Adam Grant linked to a previous post about his own unwitting blindness.
In that post were some stats that should make everyone, including those who think things are improving, wake up to reality and understand just how far we are from anything actually changing.
Today, U.S. corporate boards have more men named John, Robert, William, or James than women in total. Recent coverage by Claire Cain Miller has brought more chilling data to light: in math, when graded anonymously, girls outperform boys, but when teachers know their names, boys do better. [emphasis mine] And when students rate their favorite professors, they describe men as “geniuses” and women as “nice.” This is sad and unacceptable. We may be in the 21st century, but we’re still a very long way from gender parity.
In study after study, on everything from candidate resumes to professor’s evaluations to student preference, where the only difference in identical credentials is the sex, as disclosed by the name, young and old, male and female, rated the women inferior to the men.
Look at the above statement (in bold), what chance is there that anything will change when kids are already subject to the same attitudes?
Women are overtly and covertly denigrated and sisterhood is a farce.
It’s been said change would come as older generations aged out and bosses were replaced by younger ones who grew up in a more diverse, tolerant and inclusive world.
I started hearing that 50 years ago and am still waiting.
In fact, we are moving backwards; the world was far more woman-friendly in the 80s and 90s, than it is now.
So don’t hold your breath; there is a quantum difference between political correctness and authenticity.
Flickr image credit: Anthony Easton
Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
This great leadership information from Lars Dalgaard, general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is applicable to every boss, whether startup or Fortune 50.
The biggest thing in my life is really daring to be human, and that’s the approach I take to the working world. We could all be so much more human, but we don’t allow ourselves to do it. I think it’s because we’ve been brought up thinking that when you’re in a business role, if you show any emotion, then that’s the opposite of being tough.
The funny thing is that you’re actually a stronger leader and more trustworthy if you’re able to be vulnerable and you’re able to show your real personality. It’s a trust multiplier, and people really will want to work for you and be on a mission together with you.
Dalgaard’s approach is the opposite of so many of today’s bosses, who act as if every day is a tough mudder experience.
To them, being vulnerable is the same as being weak — and weak loses.
Worse, by acting on that belief they, in turn, force the attitude on their people.
The end result often turns a workplace into a warplace, with X% of your people trying to out-tough each other and the rest running for cover.
So give them, and yourself, a break by recognizing that you’ll go further, and have more fun getting there, by being, and showing, that you are human.
Flickr image credit: BK
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
No matter your age healthcare is/should be a serious concern.
If not for yourself then for your parents and others you care about.
And not just a new app that delivers services a different way, no matter how good.
What needs to change is the culture of not only insurance companies, but medical service providers (doctors, labs, testing, hospitals, etc.), other various and sundry vendors within the ecosystem, not to mention the government in the form of Medicare and Medicaid.
When you look at the deeply entrenched interests on that list the possibility of anything actually happening in the near-term seems remote, if at all.
Not even the proverbial 500 pound gorilla, think Google or Facebook, has the clout to even dent that crowd.
But what about Aetna Insurance under CEO Mark Bertolini, a 1000 pound gorilla and long-time global player in healthcare that has the clout, since it insures two thirds of the Fortune 100 and a great number of the 500?
…Bertolini called the sector “too bloated and accountable to no one.” The system — which will cost US$4.6 trillion, or 20 percent of U.S. GDP, by 2020 — “charges patients and rewards care providers on services delivered, not patient outcomes,”…
Aetna is taking a three prong approach that includes, paying for positive outcomes, as opposed to fees for services; changing corporate health offerings in order to tap into positive consumer behavior and eating its own dog food — as every good startup does.
The big question is whether Aetna will walk its talk.
Based on the comments it’s questionable.
Flickr image credit: Aetna
Thursday, August 6th, 2015
The only people who aren’t aware of the importance of culture in today’s working world must have been living off planet for the last few decades.
“…a toxic culture can trigger actions that ultimately lead to business failure. When money is viewed as the singular motivator, leaders will not be able to engage the hearts and minds and to get the best out of their people.”
Further, they are aware of what research shows people feel is most important.
For most people what really counts (apart from fair compensation) is respect, recognition, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of purpose.
Manfred Kets De Vries, the Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development & Organizational Change at INSEAD has an simple, one-word solution.
The first and most basic thing is to respect people who work in the organisation. As gratitude evokes cooperative responses, so too it creates mutually supportive relationships, helps neutralise conflict, generates positive energy and fosters a collective “we’re in this together” mentality. It gives people due recognition, fair treatment, a sense of belonging, and a voice.
If gratitude, as displayed in authentic thanks from bosses at whatever levels works, why are there still so many toxic cultures around?
The answer to that is also found in one simple word.
Your take-away is also simple.
If you have trouble walking gratitude, as opposed to just talking it, the it’s time to have a real heart-to-heart with the person in your mirror.
Flickr image credit: Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes
Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
It’s been proven that the happier the workers the higher the productivity and creativeness.
So what really makes people happy?
Lawyers provide a good example, in spite of all the jokes.
Researchers who surveyed 6,200 lawyers about their jobs and health found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost zero correlation with happiness and well-being. However, lawyers in public-service jobs who made the least money, like public defenders or Legal Aid attorneys, were most likely to report being happy.
I wrote What People Want one week short of nine years ago and after rereading it see no reason to update it.
As research continually proves, the basic human operating system doesn’t really change.
Flickr image credit: tico_24
Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
Last Thursday we looked at the importance of using your culture as a screening tool to be sure the people hired are, at the least, synergistic with it.
Note that being culturally synergistic has nothing to do with either age or gender.
Friday warned against confusing perks with culture.
But with culture, what you see may not be what you get.
More important than the company’s overall culture is the culture that develops under any given manager, based on individual MAP, and the individual’s management approach.
To ensure a successful hire the culture and management style described must actually exist as opposed to an idealized or misleading version created for interviews.
Strange as it sounds, managers often describe their style more as it ought to be, i.e., what they think it is or what they think the candidate wants to hear.
Obviously, managers aren’t about to tell candidates that they micromanage or don’t believe in helping their people grow, because they might leave.
But today’s workforce is the savviest in history.
Mix that savvy with the uncontrolled and unfiltered information provided by social media and you have a situation that demands authenticity and honesty.
At the least, it requires sins of omission.
Lies, AKA, sins of commission, such as describing the opposite — a boss who encourages growth, provides complete information, then gets out of the way, etc. — as reality pretty much guarantees a turned-down offer or fast turnover — in other words, an unsuccessful hire.
And in case you’ve forgotten exactly what a successful hire is, it’s hiring the right person into the right position at the right time and for the right reasons.
Flickr image credit: Susanne Nilsson
Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
Considering all the hand-wringing and diverse efforts to attract women to tech, it turns out that it’s relatively simple.
Lina Nilsson is a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and director of innovation at the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, noticed a quaint factoid.
…if the content of the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves. That applies not only to computer engineering but also to more traditional, equally male-dominated fields like mechanical and chemical engineering.
This held true at dozens of universities, such as D-Lab at MIT, Arizona State University, University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University and Santa Clara University.
And it’s important to recognize that the primary, or even secondary, intent was not to attract women, but to solve problems.
None of the programs, clubs and classes were designed with the main goal of appealing to female engineers, and perhaps this is exactly why they are drawing us in. At the core of each of the programs is a focus on engineering that is cutting edge, with an explicit social context and mission.
The problem, of course, is that most existing companies and current startups are focused on money, while “women seem to be drawn to engineering projects that attempt to achieve societal good.”
Higher purpose vs. greed says it all.
Image credit: Kurt Bauschardt
Monday, April 27th, 2015
Having trouble getting people to do things differently or do something new?
According to Henry Thoreau, “Things don’t change, people do.”
Over the years, I’ve watched managers and companies try to change the outcome without changing the input.
They’ve talked/explained/begged/pleaded/threatened, but nothing changes.
They are suffering from Einstein’s version of insanity.
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
If change is the goal, it’s best to start with yourself.
“To change what they do, change how you think.”
You need to change because the way you think, what you think, how you think, and what you believe — in other words your MAP — dictates the authenticity of what you do and the responses you get.
No matter what great ideas you read, hear or talk, no matter what great leader you try and channel, you will always walk your own MAP.
Image credit: Newtown graffiti
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