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The Necessity Of Fools

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/francescaromanacorreale/8162774877/

Yesterday’s Golden Oldie provided links to a variety of fools, most of which you can do without.

That said, there is one variety of fool that every company should have — and that is the wise fool, as described in King Lear.

Cloaked in the form of discourteous comments or unfiltered remarks, King Lear’s fool was able to express the thoughts that others were reluctant to express. Through the mask of comedy, he would remind the monarch of his own folly and humanity. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “every despot must have one disloyal subject to keep him sane.

Look around; does your company have at least one fool? Or, better yet, one fool in each department?

As Manfred Kets De Vries, the Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development & Organizational Change at INSEAD, points out.

All in all, fools are honest and loyal protectors, who allow society to reflect on and laugh at its own complex power relations. They can act as our “conscience” by helping us question our perceptions of wisdom and truth and their relationship to everyday experience. Through humor and frank communication, the “fool” and the “king” or “queen” engage in a form of deep play that deals with fundamental issues of human nature, such as control, rivalry, passivity, and action.

As such, fools contribute to group cohesion and an atmosphere of trust by providing an opportunity to humorously and critically review our values and judgments as the powerful socio-cultural structures of power pull, push, and shape our identity.

And, beyond all that, fools are a repository of wisdom — based on strong critical thinking coupled with extensive experience — which makes them excellent role models and a great source from which to learn.

Finally, whether a boss can hire, let alone keep, a fool is an accurate reflection of their MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) and a good indicator of the prevailing culture.

Flickr image credit: Francesca Romana Correale

John Wooden On Stars

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Wooden

In spite of being severely overloaded, KG still finds time to send me stuff he finds interesting and/or inspirational.

Over the years, we’ve had many discussions about culture and its importance in hiring.

He recently mentioned a quote from basketball player and Coach John Wooden.

“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”

KG: In any high performing organization, there are lots of systems and processes that make the organization successful.

When you look at people considered stars, they are almost never part of second or third rate teams; they are almost always in organizations performing at the highest levels.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t truly high performing people in lesser teams, it’s just that they are not defined as stars in general (sometimes they may be local stars, but generally don’t get the full recognition).

So a star, per definition, is a member of an organization that performs at the top.

Me: So true. I’d add that in most cases people become stars as a result of the culture and their manager, or so I’ve found.

KG: Exactly. Look at all the people who leave Goldman Sachs or Google who were stars there (e.g. Marissa Meyer) but are unable to maintain their level of performance outside the culture & systems of that environment.

That’s why it’s always dangerous to hire stars — more than anything else they are a product of their environment.

Me: Absolutely, and the poster child is GE’s Bob Nardelli!

(Click for more Wooden wisdom. For more information about stars and Nardelli use use the tags below.)

Image credit: Wikipedia

Ducks in a Row: Assumptions Result in Bad Hires.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rainbowy/15498377216/Even after working decades with bosses at all levels, from CEOs to team leaders and first-time supervisors, their ability to make inaccurate, let alone stupid, assumptions based on nothing solid still astounds me.

The smartest/most creative people only attend top tier universities. No they don’t. The wealthiest/most indebted, unless they were on scholarship, attend those schools.

I can spot instantly talent, even with just a casual conversation. No you can’t. What you can spot are people like yourself.

Hiring/poaching top talent always pays off. Not hardly. Consider JC Penny, Bob Nardelli, Marissa Mayer and thousands more at every level and in every field.

Or that a birdbrain, even the smartest, could figure out the eight steps it took to get a reward, with no coaching?

As opposed to the wisdom of crowds, assumptions are more often the bias of crowds.

Video credit: The Kat on the BBC
Image credit:  Holly on Flickr

The Ultimate Hack

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fryandtricky/4010900364/

A colleague commented that he feared tackling a major project he had never done before. He said the challenge was exciting, but it was still scary.

I told him to think about all the stuff he does now that at some point he hadn’t done before.

This is just one more new thing that would soon become old.

Old and comfortable.

It’s how one gains experience and, occasionally, wisdom.

I reminded him that anyone who figures out how to do something the second time without doing it the first, could sell the hack and be a billionaire.

Flickr image credit: fry_theonly

If the Shoe Fits: a Question for Founders

Friday, July 15th, 2016

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

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mActually, it’s not just a question for founders, but for everybody.

1800 years ago the Babylonian Talmud quoted a favorite saying of the sage Ben Zoma.

“Who is wise?
One who learns from everyone.”

Which brings us to the question: How wise are you?

Image credit: HikingArtist

Golden Oldies: A Simple Productivity Secret for Managers

Monday, June 20th, 2016

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

We all know change is the only constant, but is change linear? Does everyone see changes the same way? Does it even matter? And if it does matter, how does it affect your work as a manager? Read other Golden Oldies here

jump_vectorsThe other day I said to a friend that I’ve turned into a real wimp. He thought I was kidding and said that I was the last person he associated with wimping out on anything.

I was surprised, but as we discussed it I realized that what I saw as wimpiness he saw as strength.

That got me to thinking how often what one person calls wimping out may be another person’s greatest act of courage. Likewise, what moves one person can leave another cold.

It’s all relative depending on your MAP, the circumstances and even the mood you’re in.

Sounds obvious, but it’s important knowledge, not information, but knowledge—maybe even wisdom—for any person responsible for motivating others, whether at work or in everyday life.

Image credit: nookiez CC license

To Be — or Not

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

We live in a time of peril.

Not from the outside, but from within.

Politicians pander to our fears.

Trolls threaten, bully and abuse freely and anonymously.

Speech is free only if you are one of “us” and not one of “them.”

Hate and bigotry thrive.

Fear runs rampant.

What should/can you do?

Live the words of a true thought leader.

638x624x129.jpg.pagespeed.ic.m_2vUE7lhv

Image credit: Quotation Box

A Bit of Miki Wisdom

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/b_lumenkraft/8347201742/From now through November 8 you will be inundated with political ads, tweets, postings, robo-calls, etc.

It’s worse for me. I live on the Washington/Oregon border, so I have the displeasure of being snowed by two of everything, both states, local (Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR) and, of course, Federal.

Of course, my area’s not alone; I’m sure the same thing happens to others in similar geographical areas.

So, in honor of the season, I thought I’d share something I wrote that is worth keeping uppermost in your mind at least through November 9 — and probably all year long.

“Once there was a talking horse named Mr. Ed on TV. These days there are dozens of talking asses on all kinds of media.”

Flickr image credit: #mr_ed

Golden Oldies: Quotable Quotes: Universal Russian Proverbs

Monday, May 16th, 2016

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

It’s been seven years since I met Nick face-to-face and 16 since I met him online. Much has changed in our lives, our businesses and each of our worlds, but our friendship has only gotten stronger. But the applicability of these Russian proverbs, and proverbs in general, never changes, but the wisdom they encompass grows more meaningful. Read other Golden Oldies here.

RussiaToday was a super cool day for me. I met my Russian business partner Nick Mikhailovsky, CEO of NTR Lab, for the first time, although we’ve worked together for a decade.

So when I started thinking about today’s quotes Russia was on my mind. And when I think of Russia I think of proverbs.

I find proverbs to be fascinating proof that no matter the color, culture or time there really is only one race on this planet—human.

The basic concepts of human action and interaction span the globe. In fact, I’ll bet that your culture has a saying that embodies the same concepts as these do.

War has been around as long as the human race as has the desire for peace, which only proves the truth of this proverb, “Eternal peace lasts only until the next war.”

Common sense underlies this proverb, “as long as the sun shines one does not ask for the moon,” but people rarely follow it.

Real Estate people are fond of saying that the there are only three things that matter, location, location, location, but I’ll bet that this proverb predates that by decades, if not longer. “Don’t buy the house, buy the neighborhood.”

It is well know that age is no guarantee of wisdom, knowledge or smarts, but “long whiskers cannot take the place of brains” is a more elegant way of saying it.

My next offering is one that has always been true, but has been proven in spades over the last couple of decades. “With lies you may go ahead in the world – but you can never go back.” Bernie Madoff has decades to think that one over.

“There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.” This is one that all of us need to take to heart. We need to find out about our politicians, financial managers, corporate chieftains, religious leaders and any others we choose to trust.

Speaking of politicians, we should never forget that “when money speaks, the truth is silent” and we have condoned a culture of political silence.

There is a universal applicability and truth in this proverb, “When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart.”

Maybe the reason for the universality of these thoughts is found in my final offering, “Proverbs are the people’s wisdom.”

Flickr image credit: Ed Yourdon

 

Balance and Common Sense

Monday, October 27th, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesjordan/3423905967

I was reading Oscar de la Renta’s obituary (fascinating guy) and a quote from him caught my eye.

“Being well dressed hasn’t much to do with having good clothes. It’s a question of good balance and good common sense.”

What grabbed me was the second sentence.

Because it doesn’t matter what you set out to do or how much money you spend on accouterments.

It doesn’t matter who you know, where you went to school, how many hours you work or how brilliant your vision.

It doesn’t matter because without balance and common sense you will fail.

Because balance and common sense are the foundation of anything you choose to accomplish.

Flickr image credit: James Jordan

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