First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Be Sure You Know How Your People Learn about Ethics

Before you decide upon an ethics program for your organization, consider how the facilitator conducts it, and what content he or she exposes your people to.

We don’t think training people about ethics should be from a situational or conditional perspective.   We don’t believe in excuses or promises.  We don’t believe in people sitting in a chair absorbing content.  We think participants must immerse themselves in the world of ethical behavior and then practically apply that behavior every day on the job.  We are serious about this.  However, learning about ethics does not have to be uncomfortable, dry, and a guilt trip.  We make it interesting and fun by emphasizing interaction and participant input.  Afterwards, many people want even more!

In the 2-hour program we offer at Creative Communication Network, we use the following agenda to cover these topics:

  • Traits:  A failure in ethics starts with the loss of foundational human traits.   What kind of person works in an ethical organization?
  • Danger Signs:  Most ethical failure is quite unintentional.  Discover and examine your organization’s own danger signs.
  • Prevention:  An “ounce of prevention” is good for physical health, and it is equally good for ethical health.  What preventative disciplines do you have in place in your organization?
  • Ethical Bases:  Sometimes, ethical failure is the failure to cover every ethical base.  Does your organization have all the key players, and elements, in place?
  • Scenario Discussion:  Each participant will also participate in some challenging scenarios that open up discussion for noble, ethical behavior.  We will also have time for questions and answers.

We call our program:

Ethical Undergirding in a World of Intentional, even Willful, Blindness

  • 2-HOUR INTERACTIVE, FAST-PACED TRAINING SESSION
  • CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION FOR ALL ATTENDEES
  • CERTIFIED LIST OF ATTENDEES FOR YOUR COMPANY’S RECORDS

Here are the terms:

  • $800 facilitation fee for an unlimited number of participants.
  • $3.50 per-person materials fee.
  • Discounts available for same-day, 2-sessions – $1500; same-day, 4-sessions – $2750.
  • You are responsible for any location or audio-visual equipment rental, and refreshments.
  • 50% deposit required upon booking.

We’re really excited about this program.  We are confident about what we do.

Complete information is available simply by calling (972) 980-0383.  You can also send an e-Mail to info@creativecommnet.com.

THIS COULD BE THE BEST $800 YOUR COMPANY HAS EVER SPENT!

SHIELD YOURSELF FROM DAMAGING, COSTLY LAWSUITS BY CERTIFYING YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH OUR ETHICS TRAINING

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Book on Organizing Change Features Three Key Principles

When Bill Lee and I wrote Organizing Change (San Francisco:  Pfeiffer-Jossey Bass, 2003), we did so from a large-scale perspective.  Our premise was that it is easier to consider change from a high-level such as a one that affects an entire organization, then, whittle it down to whatever level you want to use, such as a division, department, or unit.

While the magnitude of a change may differ by size, the principles do not.  As you read our book, you will find three major concerns that you want to be aware of for any change that you lead or initiate.  These are to be:

inclusive – go as deep as possible in the organizational charts of the areas affected by the change; get input from as many people as you can; it is difficult to argue against a change you helped create.  Remember what Covey said years ago – “without involvement there is not commitment.”  Make the change “our initiative” not “mine.”

systemic - consider how the change will affect all types of stakeholders; consider other departments or units in the organization, internal and external customers, consumers, and so forth.

systematic – organize the change phase by phase; decide who does what when;  get it right the first time, and you will not lose productivity while kicking off the change initiative.

When you lead change, you are in the driver’s seat, not the passenger’s seat.  You make decisions that craft and create important paths that various stakeholders take to solve a problem, correct a difficulty, or make something  that is “good” even better.  What is important, however, is to know that you never begin with the change initiative.  You always begin with the recognition of a problem, issue, or uncomfortable situation.  That principle will remind you of John Kotter’s first step in his change process, which is URGENCY.   In fact, he wrote an entire book about that step, which you can purchase a synopsis of from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.

It is amazing how many people I have taught this process to in professional workshops and courses over the last ten years.  I remember the first one for Citi so well, as if it were yesterday.  Right now, we have two weeks to go in the MBA course “Leading Change” at the University of Dallas College of Business, where I use this book and teach practical implementation of the process.  In this course, we don’t talk about change – we make change.

I know it works.  We would not have had this many interested people if the process were unsuccessful.  Fortunately, I hear back from so many individuals who implement the program in their organizations, that I am inspired to continue to share it with others.

At Creative Communication Network, we offer two paths for change.   We do this in workshops, consulting, and coaching for both paths.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Take MANAGING CHANGE

if you want to:

Cope with change you didn’t create

Work in a change-friendly environment

Reduce personal anxiety about change

Produce an environment of freedom

Look for positive changes to implement

 

Take LEADING CHANGE

if you want to:

Reduce the impact of a problem

Design an organized change initiative

Gain commitment by influencing others involved in the change

Boost the positive impact of change on those affected by it

Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the change

——————————————————————————————————————————-

We’re really excited about these programs.  We will be going into companies as well as conducting public workshops.  Complete information, including agendas, outlines, objectives, pricing, and other details are available by calling (972) 980-0383 or sending an e-Mail to:  info@creativecommnet.com

Don’t wait!  Join the fully satisfied individuals from many organizations who have benefited from these programs.

Here is how to get the book that we use in Leading Change.  It is now a print-on-demand book directly from the publisher.  After you get it, you can contact me for the templates that are featured within the book.  This is the link to use:

 http://www.pfeiffer.com/WileyCDA/PfeifferTitle/productCd-0787964433.html
Organizing Change: An Inclusive, Systemic Approach to Maintain Productivity and Achieve Results (0787964433) cover image
Organizing Change: An Inclusive, Systemic Approach to Maintain Productivity and Achieve Results
Authors:  William W. Lee and Karl J. Krayer
ISBN: 978-0-7879-6443-6
272 pages
May 2003

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Your Ethics Are Unethical – A Lesson From History (“Restrictive Covenants,” Including from Right Here in the Heart of Wealthy Dallas)

Ethical:
Adjective
following accepted rules of behavior : morally right and good

——————–

So, here’s a question. What happens when your ethics are unethical? What happens when “following accepted rules of behavior” actually means following utterly unacceptable rules of behavior?

Try this line of thought:

Property values must be protected
Anything that threatens property values must be opposed
It is unethical to do business in a way that threatens property values

Sounds reasonable, “right,” doesn’t it?

But what if it is wrong?

Colby-Some_Of_My_Best_Friends_horizSomething I heard recently sent me combing back through my handout on the book Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby. (I presented my synopsis of this book at the Urban Engagement Book Club). I remembered the passage about Hugh Prather, who developed part of Highland Park (that’s the “Wealthy Dallas” I referred to in the title of this post) early in the last century. It was modeled after other developments across the country. So, If I lived in a different city, it would be a different developer and a different development I would have thought of. Across the country, developments put “restrictive covenants” front and center in their legal language. From the book:

Self-perpetuating restrictive covenants soon found their way into… Highland Park north of Dallas,… and many other high-end subdivisions.

The people behind these developments considered the increase of, or at least the protection of, property values to be a major ethical obligation. Nothing was to threaten the value of the property. Nothing! Which led to a code of ethics, developed by the “National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB), one of the most powerful trade associations in the country.”

A code of ethics. That is a good thing to have, right? That is a good practice, to establish a code of ethics, for all professionals to follow. Professionals would proudly would let it be known that they abided by such a code of ethics. They were safe and reliable, good folks to do business with.

So, here is what was included in their code of ethics (again, from the book):

In 1924 NAREB made racial discrimination official policy, updating its code of ethics to say, “A Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood… members of any race or nationality… whose presence will clearly be detrimental to the property values of that neighborhood. Like termites, they undermine the structure of any neighborhood in which they creep.” All of which was legal.

So, it was ethical to practice discrimination; it was unethical to not discriminate.

cover._American_Nations-576x860I am currently reading American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard. Here’s a key passage:

Wilbur Zelinsky of Pennsylvania State University formulated the key theory in 1973, which he called the Doctrine of First Effective Settlement. “Whenever an empty territory undergoes settlement, or an earlier population is dislodged by invaders, the specific characteristics of the first group able to effect a viable, self-perpetuating society are of crucial significance for the later social and cultural geography of the area, no matter how tiny the initial band of settlers may have been,” Zelinsky wrote. “Thus, in terms of lasting impact, the activities of a few hundred, or even a few score, initial colonizers can mean much more for the cultural geography of a place than the contributions of tens of thousands of new immigrants a few generations later.”

So, let’s recap.

Property values are to be protected – it is ethical to protect property values; it is unethical to lower, or even threaten, property values.

“Initial colonizers” carry a lot of weight, no matter how many different kinds of people come into a place later…

So, here’s what I ‘m saying. Racism was basically placed in the very ethical DNA in many parts of the country. To allow people from the “wrong race or nationality” to purchase property and move into the neighborhood was potentially “detrimental to the property values.” Thus, it was an unethical practice of any real estate professional to do business with such people. Because the protection of property values provides a higher ethical standard than acceptance of fellow human beings.

And, make no mistake. This had nothing to do with “meritocracy.” If a black person had the means to buy a house in a given neighborhood, they were prohibited from doing so – legally prohibited. It would threaten the property values. (Read the book Some of My Best Friends Are Black. It is a sobering read).

I would call this unethical ethics. Wouldn’t you?

(And, yes, sadly, racism is still present in too many ways in too many places).

Now, here’s the issue for today. Do you think this ethical stance, this “restrictive covenant” practice was wrong? I do. And it has certainly been outlawed. Restrictive covenants are no longer legally allowed (though some have “stayed on the books.”)

But we’re still not to the point. Here’s the point. If those who came before us – people who were smart, well-educated, “pillars of the community” – called such practices “ethical,” and were so wrong (and, they were in fact so very wrong), is it possible that some of our own stances today that we consider “acceptable rules so behavior; ethical” are equally wrong?

My bet is yes. And the pursuit of ethics is all about that quest – identifying our own unethical behavior, even behavior we have not yet realized is unethical.

Here’s my bet. The horror I feel while reading about practices in the early 1900s (practices which lingered well into my own lifetime) will be similar to the horror others feel 100 years from now as they read about some of the practices we follow today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | 1 Comment

Sam Ford: An interview by Bob Morris

Ford, SamSam Ford is Director of Audience Engagement for Peppercomm. His 2013 New York University Press book, Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, was co-authored by Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green. The book was named one of the best business books of 2013 by Booz & Co.’s Strategy+Business and was voted one of the “Top 10 Best Marketing Books You Read This Summer” in a reader poll at Advertising Age. In 2011, he co-edited the University Press of Mississippi book The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era with Abigail De Kosnik and C. Lee Harrington. Sam is a columnist with Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Inc. He is a research affiliate with the MIT Program in Comparative Media Studies/Writing, an instructor with the Western Kentucky University Popular Culture Studies Program, and co-chair of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Ethics Committee. Sam was named a 2014 Social Media MVP by PR News and was Bulldog Reporter’s 2011 Social Media Innovator of the Year. In the past two years, he has written pieces for The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, PRWeek, CMO.com, and other publications and presented at events like South by Southwest, Social Media Week NYC, Planning-ness, and the Front End of Innovation.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Spreadable Media, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Ford: It’s tough to narrow down who has had the most significant impact on my personal growth, since it really was a village. My wife’s constant feedback as a partner these past 14 years to help me figure out what it is I want to do in my life, my dad’s consistent work ethic and drive, my mother’s deep attention to detail have all been key. But one person who helped set me on the path I’m on early on is my grandmother, Beulah Hillard. One of our favorite pastimes was sitting on the front porch swing and sharing songs—trading around a mix of gospel, old country/bluegrass tunes, and anything else we could think of.

Her passion for “her story,” the soap opera As the World Turns, helped shape my interest in the intersection between immersive story worlds and the social relationships that build around them. She and my mother talked about the lives of the residents of Oakdale, Illinois, almost every day by phone, interspersed with conversations about friends and family in our little town of McHenry.

And my grandmother was also a society columnist in the local weekly newspaper, covering specifically what was happening in our little town of 400. She wrote about the babies that were born, the old man down the lane who had passed away, the church potluck next Sunday, the visitors from all the way in Michigan who had come to town last week. Her phone would ring regularly with people in the community who had something for her to share in the paper, or she was calling them because of something she’d heard that was going on. And she always had her police scanner on, to keep up with anything going on with the law enforcement, the fire department, the EMS, the school bus system, etc. When I was 12, she had some health complications and asked me to take over the column. There I was, writing alongside the blue-rinse set in The Ohio County Times-News as a pre-teen. But it invigorated my love of writing, of being part of the community, of telling human stories…and it had a really significant impact on the direction I’ve headed since.

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Ford: Again, there have been many. It’s been an honor working with Henry Jenkins, who was the most generous grad school mentor I could hope for and who has been a true partner and friend on various projects along the way. Steve Cody and others at Peppercomm provided me the opportunity to translate my work to the world of professional communication and marketing, in a way that has been greatly instructive. And Grant McCracken, the cultural anthropologist, has been a key figure throughout the past decade for me—inspiring me and challenging me to think in new ways as only he can do. But, before all that, I have to give great credit to Dr. Karen Schneider and Dr. Ted Hovet at WKU. I entered college planning to be a professional journalist. I ended up with a journalism degree but knew fairly early into my college career that my interests were in studying culture. My first semester at WKU, I had Dr. Schneider for an introductory English class—and the questions she asked of us, the intense discussions she directed, and the way in which she used studying literature to get at the heart of important questions about life inspired me. Karen and Ted Hovet were both key figures in WKU’s English Department and in launching their Film Studies program. They became great mentors for both me as well as for my wife, and remain good friends. And they were key coaches in driving me to go to graduate school and in making sure I was more than prepared when I arrived there.

Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Ford: There’s been much more serendipity than there has been epiphany for me. For me, it has been having the great opportunity meet many interesting people along the way, learn from them, and make sure that I’m listening when new career turns might pop up. At one point, I knew I was going to attend graduate school, but I didn’t know where. I thought American Studies would provide me the best way to study culture, storytelling, and active audiences in the way I wanted to. An academic named Henry Louis Gates came to WKU. I had a question I was trying to ask him, and I never could get through. Finally, I was up to him in line after his public talk, and they told him that he needed to stop and go to dinner. He looked at me and said, “Why don’t you come with us to dinner?” And my dinner with him that night inspired me to definitely attend graduate school and to consider going to Boston (as Skip is a professor at Harvard) for grad school. Then, my wife and I took a visit up to Boston. I remember passing MIT’s campus several times, and my wife would try to bring my attention to it. “That’s a science and engineering school….” I told her.

A few months later, while doing my honors thesis at WKU on the world of professional wrestling, I came across an essay that Henry Jenkins was working on but that hadn’t been published yet. In fact, it was coming out as part of an edited collection called Steel Chair to the Head that was set to be released right as my thesis was due. I didn’t know who Henry was, but I reached out to him to see if I could get an advanced copy of my essay. In the process, he told me about the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT he was running with Dr. William Uricchio. I ended up getting to know Henry a bit and found that the focus of that program completely matched what I was interested in studying. In the end, I applied to that science school—and it was the only one of 6 or 7 programs I applied to that accepted me.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Ford: My formal education has been extremely important to me. I’m a first-generation college student and product of the public school system. My life was shaped by a series of important teachers I had along the way who passed along to me less specific knowledge and more the critical thinking skills and passion for learning that drove me to seek the next level. My time at WKU fundamentally reshaped what it was I wanted to do in my career. MIT did that once again and provided me with the skill set, the peer group, the connections, and the validity I needed to move forward—and move into areas I would have never expected and into a job title and job description I wouldn’t have even understood a short time before.

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you when to work full-time for the first time? Why?

Ford: You should always be able to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re consulting, working with, or seeking to reach. Don’t underestimate their intelligence, but don’t overestimate their knowledge. Find the meeting place between what they want and need to know and what you feel it is important to tell them. And don’t just reactively respond to what they are asking you to do; trust that you are providing them with strategic guidance, not just responding to their queries. That’s been the difference in being able to be a consultative partner to the companies and colleagues I’ve worked with, rather than a vendor, executing requests.

Morris:
Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.

Ford: There are many great lessons learned from films. One that I wrote about for Fast Company a few years back was a thrilled named Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds. In it, a U.S. civilian contractor working in Iraq has been captured and wakes up buried under the ground. He’s being held for ransom. And he has a cell phone with him in this small space he’s buried alive in, in the ground. What is remarkable about the film is that the whole movie—which is quite suspenseful—takes place with the camera inside this tight box he’s buried in underground. We don’t see flashbacks. We are stuck in there with him. And we go through what is, in effect, a series of extreme “audience experience” failures as he tries to navigate communicating with a range of entities to be rescued. I found the film a great illustration to the extreme of being able to empathize with an audience member and see/feel the pain from their perspective.

Morris: From which non-business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.

Ford: Perhaps no “genre” of book is more insightful about the art of consciously building one’s character and of understanding and communicating with one’s audience than the “pro wrestling memoir” genre, of which I have read many books. Anyone looking to understand how to connect with audiences, how to tell stories that connect, and so forth might do well to read Mick Foley’s Foley Is Good…and the Real World is Faker than Wrestling, as well as Foley’s other books, as well as Ole Anderson and Scott Teal’s Inside Out, among others.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

Ford: I love this quote. Truly inspiring change within an organization, a community, or a client you’re working with is getting an idea so ingrained within that people start taking ownership of it and living it themselves…and requiring the old academic (Ford 2014) when doing that won’t make cultural shifts truly happen within an organization. The more you demand to “own” a concept or initiative, the less you allow others to really make it their own—and to take it in their own directions. To allude to the conversation that is to come about the book, content can’t become spreadable if you don’t provide ways in which people can make it their own. I’d counter with a paraphrase of fellow Kentuckian Robert Penn Warren, who once said that many of the most insightful ideas are ones that, when you read them, you realize you’ve known all along.

Morris: Next, from Voltaire: “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Ford: I can’t remember who said it, but I heard recently on the radio that someone said our time is one in which those who know the most are more uncertain than ever about their opinion, and those who are willing to state things definitively are those who know dangerously little. And it reminds me of something I once heard wrestler Shawn Michaels say to fellow wrestler Chris Masters—to extend on the pro wrestling example used above: “You don’t even know enough to know what you don’t know.”

Morris: And then, from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Ford: One of our favorite initiatives at Peppercomm is to put our teams, our clients, and other leaders through stand-up comedy training—in part because it helps them not just learn to read their audience but also to understand their own unique charisma, and how their presentation of self is so deeply determined by understanding and being true to who they are.

Morris: From Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Ford: This is a problem we run into constantly, particularly in the business world—where (to draw on work that Dr. Amanda Lotz has done in the past) industry lore and accepted logic often takes on a life of its own and where companies forget that they ever created it in the first place. One of my favorite examples are market segmentations, which create constructed profiles which people ultimately forget were fabrications of their marketing department in the first place and which, like Frankenstein’s Creature, starts terrorizing its creator.

Morris: Finally, from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Ford: A really shrewd soap opera writer once said of a television executive, “She was a very hard worker. I sure wish she didn’t work so hard.” We have to be careful to be sure that all that creative energy is going toward something that will ultimately benefit the publics a company is looking to serve. I find Carol Sanford’s “pentad” useful here—that any business decision must serve the customer, the co-creator, the earth, the community, and the shareholder…in that order. If organizations made all their decisions along those lines, I’d have to imagine their decisions would look quite a bit different.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Sam cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Spreadable Media link

Peppercomm link

Twitter link

HBR blog link

Fast Company link

Inc. link

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Horizontal Connections; Vertical Connections – What Good Networkers Can Learn from a Great Journalist (A Networking Lesson from Lawrence Wright)

This is great advice for all who what to become better at “networking.” And, who doesn’t want to become better at networking?

Looming TowerLawrence Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. His latest book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, is also an award winning work of journalism. And, this book was the selection of the Summer Points Book Club of the Dallas Morning News.

Mr. Wright spoke this past Sunday here in Dallas, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News. He gave a brief presentation, then had a terrific, lengthy question and answer session. Nicole Stockman, the leader of the Summer Points Book Club, asked him how he manages the research challenge for his books. He interviewed many hundreds of sources for his book The Looming Tower, and fewer, but still hundreds for his book Going Clear.Going Clear

Here’s his answer (paraphrased, from my memory):

First, he comes up with every name he can that could offer him information and insight. Then he talks to as many as would agree to talk to him. (As he talked about this, he described how he would fly to any city, to speak to any source for information).

Then, after each visit, he just knew when one visit would be enough, or… he would like to go back to certain folks time and again. He called these his:

Horizontal Contacts
and
Vertical Contacts

A horizontal connection was a one-time visit – valuable, but once was enough. Maybe once was enough because that was all that source had to offer. Or, maybe, once was enough because that person was not open to further conversations

Here’s a reinforcement of this idea from Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors) by Keith Ferrazzi:

Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior. But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.

A vertical connection was a person for whom one visit/interview was not enough. This person was perfect for repeat visits/interviews. Maybe they had more to offer; maybe they were willing to talk more. These were the folks he would go back to time and again.

(From somewhere back in my memory, I remember reading how David Halberstam, another Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, organized his research.  This sounds similar.  But I really like the clarity of the terms:  horizontal and vertical connections).

So, there’s your networking strategy. Practice Horizontal Networking; meet every one you can. Talk to as many people as you can. And, Practice Vertical Networking. Some of those “new connections” become repeat connections – those “we become evaluable to each other” connections.

never eat alone coverAnd here’s the challenge, again from Never Eat Alone:

The successful organization and management of the information that makes connecting flourish is vital. Tracking the people you know, the people you want to know, and doing all the homework that will help you develop intimate relationships with others can cause one heck of an information overload.

Lawrence Wright learned how to manage all of the information from all of those “sources.” In our lives, we have to learn how to manage all of our connections. Horizontal and Vertical Networking can be a good way to tackle this challenge.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

The Co-Working Trend for the Growing Working Alone Segment

For most of America, people who work still have a traditional job. They go to work; they work in a workplace alongside other workers. They have an office, or a cubicle, or work in a factory, and they have fellow workers, and get to know their fellow workers.

And, when you read all the articles about employee engagement, and employment rates, they are mostly focused on such jobs.

But, in another segment — a growing segment, it seems –  there are people who work without going to work in such a place. (I am one of them).

And, many of the benefits of traditional work are beyond our grasp. If you work in a home office, as I do, there is no break room, no water cooler conversation.

Enter the “Co-working” trend. The Dallas Morning News highlighted this trend in this article: Co-working industry exploding in North Texas by Hanah Cho. Here are some excerpts:

The co-working industry in North Texas is exploding. In the last two years, at least a dozen places have opened to cater to entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers who want to share office space.

Developers and entrepreneurs believe there is strong demand for co-working spaces in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, given the region’s economy, changing demographics and increase in startup business activity.

“As more people work remotely as contractors, solopreneurs or mobile employees, shared office space has become an appealing and more affordable option. Instead of long-term leases, co-working members typically pay fees ranging from $20 for a day pass to $1,000 a month for a private office.

Fees cover amenities such as high-speed Internet, printing, a shared kitchen, bottomless coffee and occasionally beer.

Most important, co-working spaces tend to share a similar mission: to build community and foster collaboration. Instead of tenants, there are members who share ideas, barter services and mingle outside of work. Many Dallas area co-working spaces host business workshops and other programming as well as after-work events for their members.

“When I work at home, I start to get depressed and kind of isolated,” said Amy King, founder of Nested Strategies, a branding and creative consulting firm. “When I’m sitting in a collaborative work environment, even though I don’t talk to anyone, I feel like I’m not alone. If I get stuck on something, I could walk 20 feet and [say], ‘Hey, does anyone know WordPress or could anyone help me with this?’”

It’s been a lot of years since I read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. For the vast majority of workers in America, they still work like they have for decades, by going to work, and working with others at work. They do not work alone.

But, for this growing contingent of solo folks, we are working alone, drinking water and coffee alone, and having a lot of conversations with ourselves. For people like me, this new trend could help provide one of the many pluses of a good work life – a sense of community. And co-working could help stimulate that creativity and collaboration need that breakthrough thinking requires.

It’s going to be worth watching.

——————–

The Grove is one such co-working space in Dallas highlighted in the article.  I have never visited The Grove – but here’s the link to their site.  They have photos and prices on their site.

Monday, July 21, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Bill Gates asked Warren Buffett What His Favorite Business Book Was; Mr. Buffett Had an Answer – Do You Have an Answer to that Question?

Bill Gates reading Business AdventuresRead this paragraph, from Bill Gates, carefully:

Not long after I first met Warren Buffett back in 1991, I asked him to recommend his favorite book about business. He didn’t miss a beat: “It’s ‘Business Adventures,’ by John Brooks, ” he said. “I’ll send you my copy.” I was intrigued: I had never heard of “Business Adventures” or John Brooks.

It begins this essay by Bill Gates, Bill Gates’s Favorite Business Book: John Brooks’s 1960s collection ‘Business Adventures’ still offers many insights into running a strong business.

Now, did you notice the key element? Bill Gates asked Warren Buffett to recommend his favorite book about business. Warren Buffett had an answer, and in fact loaned him the book.

This is not unimportant.

Warren Buffett did not say “Oh, there are so many good ones. I can’t recommend just one.”  Nor did he say “I don’t read business books.” He has read enough business books that he has a favorite.

This reveals that Bill Gates reads business books. It reveals that Warren Buffett reads business books. It means that books are important enough to Bill Gates that he asks people he admires to name their favorite business book. It means that Warren Buffett had an answer to the question – he could in fact recommend a favorite business book.

That’s the big point!

Now, a little more. The rest of Gates’s essay describes why this book is so valuable. Again, from his essay:

As the journalist Michael Lewis wrote in his foreword to Brooks’s book “The Go-Go Years,” even when Brooks got things wrong, “at least he got them wrong in an interesting way.” Unlike a lot of today’s business writers, Brooks didn’t boil his work down into pat how-to lessons or simplistic explanations for success. (How many times have you read that some company is taking off because they give their employees free lunch?) You won’t find any listicles in his work. Brooks wrote long articles that frame an issue, explore it in depth, introduce a few compelling characters and show how things went for them…
Brooks was also a masterful storyteller.

So, the lessons (yes, in a five point list… sorry about that):

#1 – Read good books
#2 – Talk about the books you have read
#3 – Ask people you respect what their favorite business books are
#4 – Read the “favorite books” that you learn about from people you respect
#5 – Have an answer ready to the question when someone asks you what your favorite business book is

Here's the cover for the reissued edition

Here’s the cover for the reissued edition

And, for the record, I am reading their favorite book now: Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks (just reissued). Ask me later, and I’ll let you know if I move it into my “favorite business book” spot personally.

Sunday, July 20, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

The Most Popular McKinsey Quarterly Articles: Second Quarter (2014)

q_cover_2014_no2According to mckinsey.com readers, these were the most popular articles during the Second Quarter of 2014. Here’s a direct link to reading any/all of them. 1. Change leader, change thyself: Anyone who pulls the organization in new directions must look inward as well as outward. [More to follow each, 1-10] 2. The seven traits of effective digital enterprises: To stay competitive, companies must stop experimenting with digital and commit to transforming themselves into full digital businesses. Here are seven traits that successful digital enterprises share. 3. Strategic principles for competing in the digital age: Digitization is rewriting the rules of competition, with incumbent companies most at risk of being left behind. Read about six critical decisions CEOs must make to address the strategic challenge posed by the digital revolution. 4. Lead at your best: Five simple exercises can help you recognize, and start to shift, the mind-sets that limit your potential as a leader. 5. Digitizing the consumer decision journey: In a world where physical and virtual environments are rapidly converging, companies need to meet customer needs anytime, anywhere. Here’s how. 6. High-performing boards: What’s on their agenda? Directors report that they have a greater impact as they move beyond the basics. 7. Can strategic planning pay off?: In this classic McKinsey Quarterly article, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., proposes four guidelines to help strategic planners make the crucial leap from plans to decisions. 8. Grow fast or die slow: Software and online-services companies can quickly become billion-dollar giants, but the recipe for sustained growth remains elusive. 9. Disruptive entrepreneurs: An interview with Eric Ries: Companies are all too aware of the disruptive power of technology. In this video interview, the author of The Lean Startup argues that the competitive reaction of many organizations remains fatally flawed. 10. Global flows in a digital age: The movement of goods and services, finance, and people has reached previously unimagined levels, and a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute says they could double or even triple in the next decade. A related slideshow tracks the expanding network of global flows. * * * To check out other resources, learn more about McKinsey & Company, obtain subscription information, and register to receive email alerts, please click here. To learn more about the McKinsey Quarterly, please click here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Book to Help Men Get Less Angry

I am an angry man.  You do not deserve to know why.  It would exceed the allowable word count for our blog.

Are you angry also?

You can great comfort from a book by Bill Perkins entitled When Good Men Get Angry (Carole Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2009).  I have found this book useful, although ultimately, I will likely need more than this.  But, itWhenGoodMenGetAngryCover is a push in the right direction.  Maybe it will be that for you also.

In his own words, Perkins explains why he wrote this book.  Click the link on this line to read more.

The purpose of the book is to provide men with the insight needed to process and express their anger as Jesus would. With that in mind I read every book I could find on anger. I then identified the six key anger issues and provide the reader with an understanding of each of them. By using real life counseling/coaching sessions I provide the practical insight needed to understand the source of anger and how to successfully deal with it. While it’s a short book, every word is important and I think the reader will glean life-changing insights.

The book features numerous “Stories of Anger,” each with a chapter devoted to it.  The major themes of the book are:

  • identity
  • respect
  • control
  • pride
  • forgiveness
  • blessing
  • responding

One of these, on respect, is entitled “The Man Who Withheld Sex From His Wife.”  Interesting.  I really never thought about that, but I suppose it happens.  A later book he wrote is called Why Naked Women Look So Good:  Understanding a Woman’s Deepest Needs(New York:  AudioInk, 2013).  I have no idea how many copies that one has sold, but I will add it to my “read someday” list.  Should I put a book cover over it?  If you’re curious, here’s why he wrote that one, taken from Amazon.com:

By identifying eight vital needs of a woman, and showing a husband how to meet them, Perkins provides guidance to help a man become irresistible to his wife and for living more creatively and sensitively. Chapters are organized into three parts for easy reference. The first part provides one reason why naked women look so good. The second part identifies what need this reveals in a man’s wife. And in the third part, simple steps are provided to help a man love his wife in a way that strengthens her self-image, builds her confidence and allows her to more freely give herself to her husband—both emotionally and sexually.”NakedWomenCover

Who is Bill Perkins?  I found this biography from his web site (www.billperkins.com).

BillPerkinsPictureBill Perkins’s wit, insight, and penetrating stories make him a sought-after speaker for corporate and Christian groups. He has conducted business and leadership seminars across the country for companies such as Alaska Airlines and McDonald’s. Bill has appeared on nationally broadcast radio and television shows, including “The O’Reilly Factor.” He addresses men’s groups around the world and has conducted chapels for major league baseball teams.

Bill served as a senior pastor for 24 years and is the founder and CEO of Million Mighty Men. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and Dallas Theological Seminary.

Bill has authored or collaborated on 22 books, including the best selling Six Battles Every Man Must Win and When Good Men Are Tempted. He also wrote 6 Rules Every Man Must Break, the Jesus experiment, and When Good Men Get Angry. Bill coauthored the business book Give ‘Em the Pickle!,and the Handbook to Leadership.

He and his wife, Cindy, live near Portland, Oregon. They have three adult sons and two grandchildren.

Perkins sounds like a fine guy.  And, the book I am reading is neither ultra-religious, nor ultra-psychiatrist or counselor.

You will just see yourself in the stories.  Sometimes, being angry is pretty silly.

Let’s hope all of us afflicted with anger get over it.  I hope I do.  The world will be a better place.

Saturday, July 19, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuart Woods’ Latest Gem in a Political Context

I have read Stuart Woods‘ novels for many years.  He publishes three new books a year, rotating major characters and themes.  Thirty-nine of his books have made the New York Times fiction best-seller list.

His last few, however, have focused upon Stone Barrington.  Barrington is a former cop, and an attorney of counsel in a New York firm, who is also wealthy and a playboy.  One lesson from his adventures is that money Cut and Thrust Coversometimes winds you up in some pretty difficult places.

Woods is a great writer, and his strength is dialogue among characters.  In most cases,  you feel as  if you are standing with them, observing, reacting, and taking it all in.  Rarely do the sexual escapades reach the level of what you would call salacious, but they do present just enough to pique your interest.  Surprisingly, only two of the books have been made into television mini-series.

The newest book is called Cut and Thrust (New York:  Putnam, 2014).   This is a book set in the context of a political convention in Los Angeles, with most of the action at Barrington’s hotel, The Arrington, named after his ex-wife who was murdered in a previous book.  In addition to Barrington, the other major characters are the outgoing U.S. President, Will Lee, and his wife, Katharine Lee, who is running for President.  Barrington is dating her deputy campaign manager, Ann Keaton.

Frankly, I would love to fly on the airplanes that Barrington flies and travels on, and also, stay at The Arrington.  I would not love to see the room service bill for all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, late night buffets, and bar orders.  My favorite book of  his was called L.A. Dead, which you would have to find in garage sales.

If you have never heard of Stuart Woods, here is his biography from his web site (www.stuartwoods.com):

Stuart Woods was born in the small southern town of Manchester, Georgia and attended the local public schools, then graduated from the University of Georgia, with a BA in sociology. He doesn’t remember why.

Stuart Woods PhotoAfter college, he spent a year in Atlanta and two months in basic training for what he calls “the draft-dodger program” of the Air National Guard. Then, in the autumn of 1960, he moved to New York, in search of a writing job. The magazines and newspapers weren’t hiring, so he got a job in a training program at an advertising agency, earning seventy dollars a week. “It is a measure of my value to the company,” he says, “that my secretary was earning eighty dollars a week.” He spent the whole of the nineteen-sixties in New York, with the exception of ten months, which he spent in Mannheim, Germany, at the request of John F. Kennedy. The Soviets had built the Berlin Wall, and Woods, along with a lot of other national guardsmen, was sent to Germany, “. . . to do God knows what,” as he puts it. What he did, he says, was ” . . . fly a two-and-a-half-ton truck up and down the autobahn.” He notes that the truck was all he ever flew in the Air Force.

At the end of the sixties, he moved to London and worked there for three years in various advertising agencies. In early 1973, he decided that the time had come for him to write the novel he had been thinking about since the age of ten. He moved to Ireland, where some friends found him a small flat in the stableyard of a castle in south County Galway, and he supported himself by working two days a week for a Dublin ad agency, while he worked on the novel. Then, about a hundred pages into the book, he discovered sailing, and “. . . everything went to hell. All I did was sail.”

After a couple of years of this his grandfather died, leaving him, “. . . just enough money to get into debt for a boat,” and he decided to compete in the 1976 Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR). Since his previous sailing experience consisted of, “. . . racing a ten-foot plywood dinghy on Sunday afternoons against small children, losing regularly,” he spent eighteen months learning more about sailing and celestial navigation while his new 30-foot yacht, a Ron Holland design called Golden Harp, was being built at a yard in Cork. He moved to a nearby gamekeeper’s cottage on a big estate, on the Owenboy River, above Cork Harbor, to be near the boatyard.

The race began at Plymouth England in June of ’76. He completed his passage to Newport, Rhode Island in forty-five days, finishing in the middle of the fleet, which was not bad since his boat was one of the smallest. How did he manage being entirely alone for six weeks at sea? “The company was good,” he says.

The next couple of years were spent in Georgia, writing two non-fiction books: Blue Water, Green Skipper was an account of his Irish experience and the transatlantic race, and A Romantic’s Guide to the Country Inns of Britain and Ireland, which was a travel book, done on a whim. He also did some more sailing. In August of 1979 he competed, on a friend’s yacht, in the tragic Fastnet Race of 1979, which was struck by a huge storm. Fifteen competitors and four observers lost their lives, but Stuart and his host crew finished in good order, with little damage. (The story of the ’79 Fastnet Race was told in the book, Fastnet Force 10, written by a fellow crewmember of Stuart, John Rousmaniere.) That October and November, he spent skippering his friend’s yacht back across the Atlantic, with a crew of six, calling at the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands and finishing at Antigua, in the Caribbean.

In the meantime, the British publisher of Blue Water, Green Skipper, had sold the American rights to W.W. Norton, a New York publishing house, who also contracted to publish his novel, on the basis of two hundred pages and an outline, for an advance of $7500. “I was out of excuses to not finish it, and I had taken their money, so I finally had to get to work.” He finished the book and it was published in March of 1981, eight years after he had begun it. The novel was called Chiefs.

Though only 20,000 copies were printed in hardback, the book achieved a large paperback sale and was made into a six-hour television drama for CBS-TV, starring Charlton Heston, at the head of an all-star cast that included Danny Glover, Billy Dee Williams and John Goodman. The 25th anniversary of Chiefs came in March, 2006, and W.W. Norton published a special commemorative replica edition of the hardcover first edition, which can still be ordered from any bookstore.

Chiefs established Woods as a novelist. The book won the Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America, and he was later nominated again for Palindrome. More recently he was awarded France’s Prix de Literature Policiere, for Imperfect Strangers. He has since been prolific, having published his fiftieth novel, Severe Clear in September 2012.   Next summer, at a date to be determined, Paris Match will be released.

After publishing fifteen novels before appearing on the New York Times bestseller list, he has since had thirty-nine straight bestsellers on the the Times hardcover list.

He is a licensed, instrument-rated private pilot, with 3,400 hours total time, and he currently flies a Cessna Citation Mustang jet (see photo below,) and in September, 2013, moved up to the new Citation M-2, and his wife, Jeanmarie, who has recently earned her private pilot, instrument and multi-engine ratings, will train for the copilot’s seat in the new jet.  Stuart sails on other peoples’ boats, owns a Hinckley T38 power boat (hinckleyyachts.com) and is a partner in a 85-foot 1935 Trumpy motor yacht,Enticer, (which can be seen atwww.woodenyachts.com and on the cover ofLoitering With Intent). The yacht has been recently restored to like-new condition.

Stuart Woods is no longer a born-again bachelor, having married the former Jeanmarie Cooper of Key West in January, 2013 and they live with a Labrador Retriever named Fred in Key West, Florida, on Mount Desert Island, in Maine, and, occasionally,  in a New York City pied a terre. (Of a warm nature, he says he’s always looking for 70 degrees Fahrenheit.)

If this post inspires you to read Stuart Woods’ books, go back as far as you can, and just start reading.  Many of the titles are available in paperback, and through secondary sellers available from Amazon.com.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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