First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Eric Siegel: An interview by Bob Morris

Siegel, EEric Siegel, PhD, founder of Predictive Analytics World and Text Analytics World, and Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics Times.com, makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating. In addition to being the author of Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, he is a former Columbia University professor who used to sing educational songs to his students, and a renowned speaker, educator and leader in the field. He has appeared on Bloomberg TV and Radio, Fox News, BNN (Canada), Israel National Radio, Radio National (Australia), The Street, Newsmax TV, and NPR affiliates. Eric and his book have been featured in BusinessWeek, CBS MoneyWatch, The Financial Times, Forbes, Forrester, Fortune, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and MarketWatch.

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

* * *

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

Siegel: Yes, it was in 1991, my summer between college and Columbia’s doctoral program, when I realized I wanted to pursue machine learning: the ability for computers to learn from experience/examples (aka, data!), which is at the heart of predictive analytics. With this technology, the computer pours through examples to learn how to PREDICT. (A big contribution that summer was touring Vancouver with my old buddy Alex Chaffee, who whispered into my ear some magic words he’d learned at Reed College on the topic.)

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?

Siegel: Innovative technology doesn’t sell itself, and its sale is dependent more on a gradual social process (or “social experiment?”) than on a perfectly-written speech or white paper, no matter how well put together the pitch is.

Morris: First, who has had the greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Siegel: I’m so rarely asked that question! I like to think my main strength is the ability to explain a technology to any audience (specifically, with the most passion, topics within my very favorite field: predictive analytics). Looking back, I can truly see how so many enthusiastic teachers in technical fields as well as various humanities – from high school on up – contagiously infected me with what it means to effectively 1) understand, 2) find excitement in, and 3) communicate. It’s kind of a particular socialization process.

So, in answering your question, instead of deifying one person, I’ll deify the education system! This includes public schools in Vermont, Brandeis University, and Columbia University (where I was later on the faculty), where I was lucky enough to have too many strong mentors to count (see my book’s acknowledgements for a few of them).

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.”

Siegel: Yes – a consultant’s job is often to make his assistance seem only supportive of the client’s successful execution.

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

Siegel: Ah, yes, humility is important. In fact, I’ve been working on my humility and I think I’ve got it down better than anyone I know. (That is meant to be humorous.)

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

Siegel: Checks and balances before triggering a project!

Morris: In Tom Davenport’s latest book, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” What do you think?

Siegel: Beyond again invoking “checks and balances,” I’ll also tie this to predictive analytics specifically: There are too many tactical decisions to manage manually, so it is the collective capacity of DATA that will inform each one, thus tweaking the aggregate effectiveness of so many tactical decisions.

Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?

Siegel: Nice point. Change comes of monitoring and managing a gradual social shift. Each such cycle could be a novel.

Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

Siegel: Yes, you see the social process, as people are ambivalently shepherded through change — change that they fear so greatly and have build walls of rationalization against.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Predictive Analytics link

Predictive Analytics World link

Eric’s Amazon page link

Friday, March 28, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel Roberts: An interview by Bob Morris

Roberts, DanielDaniel Roberts is a writer-reporter at Fortune, where he has worked since 2010. He is the lead reporter on the magazine’s 40 Under 40 franchise. He has also written for a wide range of other publications, in print and online, including Sports Illustrated, Salon, and The Daily Beast. He has reported news for the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, and New York Post. Roberts is a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

His book, ZOOM: Surprising Ways to Supercharge Your Career, was published by Time Home Entertainment (September 2013).

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

* * *

Morris: Before discussing ZOOM, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Roberts: I’ve had a lot of great mentors along the way, from college until now, but two that jump out, just professionally, have been David Hajdu, a writer and professor who inspired me in grad school, and now, at my current job, Jen Reingold, one of the editors at Fortune.

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

Roberts: Write shorter emails. In the journalism world, editors don’t want a long email, no matter what, even if you think you’re giving them crucial background or information. They just don’t have the time or interest, and they get annoyed. It took me a long time to get that through my thick head and I’m still learning it today. I’m verbose and have to curb my eagerness and enthusiasm over email.

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

Roberts: I’m cheating slightly since I’m using books about my own industry, but there are two novels about newspaper people that, while they weren’t about the business per se, reveal big lessons about the journalism industry through the routines and frustrations of their characters: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and Pete Hammill’s Tabloid City. There are obvious and instructive takeaways, about the business of putting out a daily newspaper, that emerge through the fictional stories of both.

Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?

Roberts: Well, think about what being a leader means, at the most basic level: it means you’re someone that other people want to follow. So it follows naturally that those who are eloquent, able to inspire, able to rally the troops, will be most adept at earning devoted followers and loyal people that want to be on your team and believe in your vision.

Morris: In recent years, there has been criticism, sometimes severe criticism of M.B.A. programs, even those offered by the most prestigious business schools. In your opinion, in which area is there the greatest need for immediate improvement? Any suggestions?

Roberts: I think business programs everywhere need even more focus on entrepreneurship and building a company from the ground up. That’s what is clearly renewing America, and I don’t only mean in technology, and from the little that I know about these programs I gather that they may still be a little bit 1.0 in that regard.

Morris: Looking ahead (let’s say) 3-5 years, what do you think will be the greatest challenge that CEOs will face? Any Advice?

Roberts: Keeping up with the rapidly-increasing rate of change from year to year in technology and media and the way that people— their customers— live their daily lives. Certain older, established companies will struggle to look current and innovative as everything around them is changing.

ZOOMMorris: Now please shift your attention to ZOOM. When and why did you decide to write it?

Roberts: Well, it’s a Fortune title, so our publishing team came to us — that is, to me and Leigh Gallagher, who edits the 40 Under 40 franchise — and they suggested that, with the fifth iteration of the list approaching, we might look through the reporting and stories we’ve done for this list and select a handful of the most compelling people that have been on it, tell their stories in book form.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Roberts: I’d say that I was continually surprised how many of these people took big risks, and not even calculated, careful ones but large, ballsy chances with their careers. That was a quality consistent almost across the board. They took bold leaps and it paid off.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Roberts: The content inside the book is very much in line with what we wanted to do, I would only say that because there are so many useful takeaways in its pages, the book as a whole is presented a bit more as a career advice guide, when really I like to say it’s simpler than that, it’s 27 compelling, in-depth profiles of 33 successful young businesspeople. It’s really more a book of profiles than a book of career advice.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

ZOOM link

40 Under 40 link

Saturday, January 4, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tim Ferriss: On The Creative Process and Getting Your Work Noticed

FerrissHere is a brief excerpt from an interview of Tim Ferriss by Ariston Anderson for the website of 99U: Insights on making ideas happen by Bēhance. To read the complete interview, check out other resources, and learn more about 99U, please click here.

* * *

It’s not an easy feat to stay on the New York Times Bestsellers List for four-and-a-half years straight, but Tim Ferriss is used to pushing limits.In 2007, Ferriss transformed the world of book marketing with a grassroots campaign that gave his first book, The 4-Hour Work Week, mass appeal — all while detailing his adventures as a champion kickboxer, world record holder, entrepreneur, and more.

But there was one mountain that Ferriss still hadn’t climbed: how to find his way around a kitchen. The author couldn’t tell his basil from his parsley when he began writing his latest book, The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life. But in typical Ferriss fashion, he traversed the globe interviewing top chefs. In the process he found a new model for efficient learning: pinpointing the best, copying their craft, and skipping all the unnecessary filler lessons that most courses begin with.

Your first book was about escaping the workaholic lifestyle to “find your muse.” Do you think it’s better making a living doing what you love, or to make a living that allows you to spend time doing what you love?

If you wake up on Saturday morning and go surfing to decompress for the week, that is different from having to wake up at six every morning Monday to Friday and take investment bankers out to surf. One is elective and one is mandatory. Adults and three-years-olds are very similar, in that as soon as we have to do something, we start to resent it.

For instance with me, I don’t like to do a lot of speaking engagements like a lot of authors do. I just find it really boring. I now only do two types: it’s either top price or free. If you realize that income is intended to ultimately improve your quality of life in some fashion, then it makes it easier to forgo some the fleeting, high-maintenance opportunities.

Adults and three-years-olds are very similar, in that as soon as we have to do something, we start to resent it.

How much real world experience do you need before you kind of go off on your own and create your own lifestyle?

I don’t think you need any real world experience. It’s a question of whether you want to learn the trial and error lessons on someone else’s dime or on your own dime. If you get used to a cushy corporate job and automatic money, it’s pretty tough to say: “I have to sell the car and get a smaller apartment because I’m going off on my own.”

How would you describe your writing process?

I do my best writing between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.. Almost every friend I have who is a consistently productive writer, does their best writing between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. My quota is two crappy pages per day. I keep it really low so I’m not so intimidated that I never get started. I will do the gathering of interviews and research throughout the day. I’ll get all my notes and materials together and then I’ll do the synthesis between 10 p.m. to bed, which is usually 4 or 5 a.m.

I will have a station on Pandora, and I will put a movie on and mute it in the background so I don’t feel like I’m in isolation. Then I jam. It takes me an hour and a half to get my brain into the flow of doing anything writing related. So once I’m in that flow, I will bleed the stone for as long as I can. If things are going well, I’m not going to stop until I nose dive. But if it goes for an hour-and-a-half and it’s like pulling teeth, then it might be time to go to bed.

My quota is two crappy pages per day.

It’s easy to say “don’t read a million blogs, don’t do this and don’t do that” but it’s often really difficult to shut off and focus. What have you found that actually works?

Use RescueTime and trial it for a week, and try a low-information diet. Get a really cheap laptop that doesn’t have Internet connectivity and do as much work on that as possible. As odd as it sounds, go back to pen and paper. Because once you’re on the computer and distraction is a click away, you’re just like a rat with a cocaine dispenser. You’re going to get toasted.

* * *

To read the complete inyerview, please click here.

Tim is a serial entrepreneur, #1 New York Times bestselling author, and angel investor/advisor (Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Uber, and 20+ more). Best known for his rapid-learning techniques, Tim’s books — The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef — have been published in 30+ languages. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated), has spent seven years on The New York Times bestseller list. Tim has been featured by more than 100 media outlets including The New York Times, The Economist, TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Outside, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and CNN. He has guest lectured in entrepreneurship at Princeton University since 2003. His popular blog has 1M+ monthly readers, and his Twitter account @tferriss was selected by Mashable as one of only five “Must-Follow” accounts for entrepreneurs. Tim’s primetime TV show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment (www.upwave.com/tfx), teaches rapid-learning techniques for helping viewers to produce seemingly superhuman results in minimum time.

Saturday, November 23, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pat Lencioni’s Latest Point of View: “The Lost Art of Simplicity”

LencioniHere is a brief excerpt from Pat Lencioni‘s latest Point of View. To read the complete article and check out other resources, please click here.

* * *

This is going to be a difficult POV to write, because making a case for the power of simplicity is no easy task. And yet, more than ever, I’m convinced that simplicity is the scarcest commodity among leaders, and probably the most important. Here are some good quotes that attest to this on a theoretical level.

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” Albert Einstein believed that “most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in language comprehensible to everyone.”

And yet, in my consulting to organizations of all kinds, from high tech companies to churches to banks, I find that there is a natural tendency among managing leaders to add unnecessary complexity to situations, problems, descriptions and solutions. As a result, plans do not come to fruition, employees get confused, customers become disappointed and leaders are left discouraged.

So why do leaders do this? Why would they complicate their worlds and create problems for themselves and their organizations?

First, I have to believe that they don’t know that they’re doing it. Based on my experience, executives generally don’t like to make their own lives more difficult. But since that is exactly what they’re doing, there must be a powerful underlying cause. I’m guessing it has to do with pride, and usually the intellectual kind.

Think about it this way. When someone acquires a great deal of knowledge through education, either formally at a university or by reading voraciously about a given subject, it is natural that they’ll want to employ that knowledge. In fact, they’ll probably want to use it even if it’s not required, or for that matter, helpful. Otherwise, they’ll have to admit that all the time, effort and money they put into learning may have been something of a waste.

An example from outside the world of business might be helpful here. Consider a dietician who studies nutrition and exercise physiology for a number of years in school. People hire her to help them lose weight and get fit. Few people in her situation will be satisfied simply telling her clients to eat smaller portions, exercise every day, and avoid one or two particularly harmful foods. While that would be a more understandable, reliable and actionable solution than a complex combination of vitamins, supplements, pilates classes and underwater yoga, the latter seems to be a more common prescription if the magazine covers I see at the grocery store are any indication.

* * *

To read the complete article, please click here.

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, Inc., a specialized management-consulting firm focused on organizational health. He has been described by The One-Minute Manager’s Ken Blanchard as “fast defining the next generation of leadership thinkers.” His passion for organizations and teams is reflected in his writing, speaking, and consulting. Lencioni is the author of nine best-selling books with nearly three million copies sold. After several years in print, his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team continues to be a fixture on national best-seller lists. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, became an instant best-seller in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and BusinessWeek. His later works include Getting Naked (2008) and The Advantage (2012).

The Wall Street Journal has named Lencioni one of the most in-demand business speakers. And he has been a keynote speaker on the same ticket with George Bush Sr., Jack Welch, Rudy Guiliani, and General Colin Powell. Pat’s work has been featured in numerous publications such as BusinessWeek, Fast Company, INC Magazine, USA Today, Fortune, Drucker Foundation’ Leader to Leader, and Harvard Business Review.

As a consultant and speaker, he has worked with thousands of senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 corporations and professional sports teams to universities and nonprofits, including Southwest Airlines, Barnes & Noble, General Mills, Newell Rubbermaid, SAP, Washington Mutual, and the US Military Academy at West Point, Bain & Company, Oracle Corporation, Sybase, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America from 2000-2003. Pat lives in the Bay Area with his wife Laura and four boys.

Monday, October 28, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brian Klapper: An interview by Bob Morris

KlapperBrian Klapper is the President and Founding Partner of The Klapper Institute. He is an internationally recognized expert in operational and cultural corporate transformation. Brian has worked with global companies in a variety of sectors including: financial services, consumer products, manufacturing, food service, utilities, retail, and healthcare. While Brian’s experience spans all elements of the value chain, as well as all customer touch points, his work primarily focuses on helping his clients create a culture of Execution Excellence. Prior to founding The Klapper Institute, Brian was a Partner in the Financial Services practice of Oliver Wyman/Mercer Management Consulting (formerly Strategic Planning Associates). His clients have included: Bank of America, Avon Products, The Hartford Insurance Group, Bassett Furniture, Sun Life Financial, and Northeast Utilities.

Brian a recognized thought leader, speaker and writer. He co-authored a chapter in Redesigning Healthcare Delivery, “Applying Performance Engineering to Medical Care”, which has become an industry standard, is a regular contributor to Chief Learning Officer Magazine and has contributed to the Harvard Business Review.com. Brian has been profiled in several publications including: The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Fortune, BusinessWeek, and The New York Times. Brian holds an MBA from The Wharton Graduate School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

His latest book, The Q Loop: The Art & Science of Lasting Corporate Change, was published by Bibliomotion (May 2013)

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

* * *

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.

Klapper: The year was 1997. The meeting was the culmination of 365 days of work—15 hours a day, six days a week. I had recently become a partner in the Financial Services practice of Mercer Management Consulting (now Oliver Wyman) and was given the honor of working for the firm’s largest client on the largest project in the history of the firm. Our task: “Tell us how to reinvent our company and rethink how we can shape our industry to win in the 21st century.” As a strategy consultant, it was as good as it gets—a blank slate, tremendous resources, and time.

We had over 30 consultants performing thousand pages of analysis, dozens of financial models, and hundreds of client interviews. As we finished our work, we presented to the CEO. Following the presentation, the CEO declared, “Congratulations to the team. This may be the most insightful, brilliant work I have ever seen.”
At that point, he took the deck, threw it against the wall of the conference room, and angrily declared, “I can barely understand half of the stuff in here! How are the 100,000 people in my firm supposed to understand it? What do I do with this?”

One of my partners replied that there was an entire chapter devoted to the Gantt charts, which outlined roles and responsibilities, time lines, activities.

The CEO replied, “I don’t care about all that! What are we supposed to do with this?!”
Two days later I resigned.

I was professionally raised to believe that strategy consulting was the peak of the profession. Implementation was better left to those that did not make it as a strategist. Boy, was I wrong. Following that meeting, I resolved to get out of the “grand ideas” business and get dirty in the trenches where the real work is done to help organizations implement. What I came to realize is that, actually, very few companies are effective at really getting things done. So I resolved to work with companies to fix that. Quite simply, I wanted to help companies get stuff done.

Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

Here’s my question: How best to avoid or overcome such resistance?

Klapper: Below are several methods I use with executives to help them overcome organizational resistance.

o Articulate a vision and develop a thorough plan that is easily understood. To do so, leadership must be fully immersed in the details of the plan and not delegate this step.

o Ensure alignment through one-on-one meetings, group discussions, a thorough data review, and fact-based analysis of the issues. To quote one of my clients, “Far too many of our key decisions are made in a data-free environment.”

o Establish for itself and all members of the organization appropriate expectations of what will happen, how all employees will fit in, and what can be achieved as a result of the change initiative.

o Create a genuine desire for change among the employees by rousing organizational energy, including collective motivation, enthusiasm, and intense commitment (more on this topic in upcoming chapters).

o Establish that the very top leaders, including the CEO, have passion for the change and also the ability to carry it out.

o Address both the behavioral and emotional components of change. Far too many change efforts focus solely on the tactical and operational aspects and neglect the human component.

o Get in the trenches to help and to role-model the desired mindset and behaviors.

o Build a culture of innovative thinking that promotes the freedom to experiment and ignore red tape.

o Trigger a sense of optimism around the change initiative. Change is often viewed as negative, yet most participants in the programs I help to orchestrate find it thrilling. According to one, the experience was “the most fun I have had in 20 years working for the company.”

o Expect and plan for resistance by identifying where in the organization the resistance might come from and how the resistance might manifest itself.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to The Q-Loop. When and why did you decide to write it?

Klapper: I wrote The Q-Loop in 2012. Bookstore shelves are crowded with business books discussing change. On Amazon alone, there are more than eight thousand books on corporate change. So why do I think the world needs another book on the topic? Simple, really. Because a remarkable one-third of all change efforts fail to deliver their intended results, and because the phrase I hear more than any other from business leaders (despite having good people, great technology, and a sound strategy) is: “It’s so hard to get anything done around here!”

Although some existing books on change are filled with interesting stories and rich concepts, they are just not specific enough for readers to use in their day-to-day jobs to truly effect change. This book, on the other hand, offers interactive content, meaningful examples of real problems and real solutions, actionable steps and suggestions, samples of what does and doesn’t work, fresh insights, a new approach, and practical guidance for all types of organizations.

Most approaches to change rely on the same basic tenets, which are incredibly intuitive but virtually impossible to deliver. The list usually goes like this: develop a vision, build a strategy, communicate the vision, establish a sense of urgency, generate buy-in.

It all makes perfect sense. After all, a leader would never have gotten the job without a clear vision. There’s a tremendous amount of public data available to help develop a thoughtful strategy. Many effective communication models exist. And creating urgency is…. Well, it’s this last one that’s the problem. And solving
it is a true art.

The single greatest challenge that prevents leaders from getting things done is their inability to generate buy-in for the change across the organization. There are thousands of books on leadership and even more on change management. So what makes this book different? The Q-Loop is a field guide, taken not from abstract, academic research but from the results of real-world lessons I’ve learned working with my many clients in the trenches for more than twenty years. Although most of my work has focused on Fortune 1000 companies, I have successfully applied these lessons to organizations that have anywhere from 160 to 160,000 employees—in the private sector, for government organizations, and within not-for-profit organizations throughout the world.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

The Klapper Institute

The Klapper Institute blog

Brian’s Amazon page

Bibliomotion link

LinkedIn link

Twitter link

Saturday, August 17, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris (Week of 4/22/13)

BOB Banner

I hope that at least a few of these recent posts will be of interest to you:

BOOK REVIEWS

The Power of Why: Breaking Out in a Competitive Marketplace
Richard Weylman

Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire
Bruce Nussbaum

The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius
Nancy C. Andreasen

Crisis Communications: The Definitive Guide to Managing the Message
Steven Fink

Decide: Better Ways of Making Better Decisions
David Wethey

Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable
Steven Fink

Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons
Lewis Schiff

INTERVIEWS

Jen Guzman (Stella & Chewy’s) in “The Corner Office”
Adam Bryant
The New York Times

Peter Gray (Part 1)
BOB

Thought Leader Conversation: Edgar Schein
Art Kleiner and Rutger von Post
strategy+business

Dennis Perkins (Part 1)
BOB

COMMENTARIES

“How to Expand Your Company’s Innovation Network”
Management Tip of the Day
HBR

“McKinsey & Company: Leading in the 21st century”
The McKinsey Quarterly

“How IDEO brings design to corporate America”
David Kelley
FORTUNE

“To Increase Innovation, Take the Sting Out of Failure”
Doug Sundheim
HBR

“Linked Data: Web Science and the Semantic Web”
Tim Berners-Lee

“Google’s Greatest Innovation May Be Its Management Practice”
Bruce Nussbaum
Fast Company

“The Five Stages of Disruption Denial”
Grant McCracken
HBR

“How to Create an Innovation Ecosystem”
Art Markman
HBR

* * *

To check out these resources and other content, please click here.

To subscribe via RSS Reader, please click here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris: 10/15/12

Here are some recent posts that may be of interest to you:

 

REVIEWS

How Women Lead: The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know

Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson

 

INTERVIEWS

Maria K. Mitchell (Amdec) in “The Corner Office”
Interview conducted by Adam Bryant
New York Times

Thomas M. Sterner, Part 2: An interview by Bob Morris

Christopher J. Nassetta (Hilton Worldwide) in “The Corner Office”
Interview conducted by Adam Bryant
New York Times

 

COMMENTARIES

“Valuable Links to Free TED Resources”

“Closing the Great Skills Divide: How to Promote Potential With Success Mapping”
Susan Cantrell, Catherine Farley, and David Smith
Talent Management

“What Really Alienates Top Performers”
Steve Damaio
Harvard Business Review

“Eight essential strategies that successful women in business know”
Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson

“Introverts Can Still Innovate”
Management Tip of the Day
Harvard Business Review

“The Mindset of Great Leader”
Dave Logan
CBS MoneyWatch

“What business should do to restore competitiveness: How companies can get America’s edge back while advancing their own interests”
Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin
Fortune

Michael J. Mauboussin on “Four Steps to Measuring What Matters”
Harvard Business Review

Josh Linkner on “Leadership Lessons from the Honey Badger”
Linkner Blog

“How to Match Your Presentation to Your Audience”
Harvard Management Tip of the Day
Harvard Business Review

*     *     *

To check out these resources and other content, please click here.

To subscribe via RSS Reader, please click here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Erik Qualman: An interview by Bob Morris

Erik Qualman

Called a “Digital Dale Carnegie,” Erik Qualman is the author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business and, more recently, Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence.  Socialnomics made Amazon’s #1 Best Selling List for the US, Japan, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy, China, Korea and Germany. Socialnomics was a finalist for the “2010 Book of the Year” awarded by the American Marketing Association. Fast Company magazine listed him as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. He also has one of 2010’s most viral videos on YouTube in “Social Media Revolution.” Qualman is a frequently requested international speaker and has been highlighted in numerous media outlets including: BusinessWeek, The New York Times, WSJ, Mashable, USA Today, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, CBS Nightly News, and The Huffington Post. He has been fortunate to share the stage with Alan Mulally (Ford CEO), Lee Scott (CEO/Chairman Walmart), Jose Socrates (Prime Minister of Portugal), Lutz Bethge (Montblanc CEO), Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (Nokia CEO), Julie Andrews, Al Gore, Tony Hawk, and Sarah Palin.

Qualman is an MBA Professor at the Hult International Business School. For the past 16 years he has helped grow the digital capabilities of many companies including Cadillac, EarthLink, EF Education, Yahoo, Travelzoo and AT&T. He is the founder and owner of socialnomics.com which PC Magazine ranked as a Top 10 Social Media Blog. He sits on the Advisory Boards of Manumatix and Bazaarvoice Inc. With regard to his formal education, he holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MBA from The University of Texas. He was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University and still finds time to follow his beloved Spartans while living in Boston with his wife and daughter.

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

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

Qualman: My parents. They instilled in me the belief that if I wanted anything bad enough that I could achieve it.

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

Qualman: Ralph Bartel, CEO of Travelzoo, taught me the art of simplification and also the art of doing what you are passionate about.

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.

Qualman: Yes, I realize that I had a lot of great ideas, but so does everyone else. The way to separate yourself is to stop dreaming your ideas, and making them happen. That was an epiphany for me.

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

Qualman: The networks of friends and learning I developed outside of the classroom have been invaluable in my success.

Morris: To what extent (if any) have reactions to your book, Socialnomics, surprised you?

Qualman: Becoming the #1 marketing book in 7 different languages/countries really floored me. Also that it was a finalist for the American Marketing Association’s Book of the Year (2010).

Morris: Robin Dunbar has suggested that roughly 150 is the “cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships.” What do you think?

Qualman: I believe that is true in an analog world, but can be expanded in today’s digital world. That being said I do believe you are best off going deep with a few people rather than wide with many.

Morris: Although the term “social media” is relatively new, people have been gathering in groups since fire was first used for domestic purposes. Here’s my question: What are the most common misconceptions about the nature, benefits, and limitations of social media? What in fact is true?

Qualman: Social Media is simply Word of Mouth on Digital Steroids

Morris: In your opinion, what is the single greatest challenge that CEOs will face during (let’s say) the next 3-5 years? Why? Any advice for them?

Qualman: CEO’s need to learn that in order to learn in this digital world they need to increase their rate of failure. This is difficult for publicly traded companies.

Morris: If there were another monument comparable with the one on Mt. Rushmore for social media entrepreneurs, who would be your four choices? Please explain your reasons for each selection.

Qualman: Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Mari Smith

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To read the complete interview, please click here.

Erik cordially invites you to check out this website (http://www.socialnomics.com) follow him on Twitter @equalman.

Friday, April 27, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Todd Henry: An interview by Bob Morris

Todd Henry is the founder and CEO of Accidental Creative, a company that helps creative people and teams generate brilliant ideas.  He regularly speaks and consults with companies, both large and small, about how to develop practices and systems that lead to everyday brilliance. Todd’s work has been featured by Fast Company, Fortune, Forbes, HBR.org, US News & World Report, and many other major media outlets. His book, The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, offers strategies for how to thrive in the creative marketplace and has been called “one of the best books to date on how to structure your ideas, and manage the creative process and work that comes out of it” by Jack Covert, author of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time and founder of 800-CEO-READ.  You can connect with Todd here, or learn more about how to hire him to speak at your event or train your team.

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

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Morris: Before discussing The Accidental Creative, a few general questions. First, Who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth?

Henry:  I have a counter-intuitive answer to this. Probably the biggest influence on my personal growth was a 20th-century mystic and monk named Thomas Merton. It seems strange that a man who lived the biggest part of the late years of his life in isolation and contemplation would have much to say to a 21st-century, tech-immersed creative, but I found his writings to be deeply reflective on the nature of humanity, and also an illumination on the mechanics of doing important work.

If I were talking only about contemporary influences, I would have to say that I’ve been incredibly blessed to be around a group of mentors who, over a period of several years, really made it a project to develop me and help me understand both my capacity and my limitations. It was in this virtual incubator for leadership that I first discovered my voice and began reflecting deeply on the creative process.

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

Henry: I was a leader in an organization trying to scale a team while helping them handle the pressures and demands we were facing, and in my effort to do so I reached out to several other creative directors who I knew would be dealing with the same issues. My biggest question for them was, “How do you serve your team, and help them do their best work without burning them out?” They stared at me like I was from another planet. “What you mean?” they almost unanimously asked. In other words, it had never occurred to them that it might be possible to exist in any create on-demand environment and be simultaneously healthy in the way you approach your work. This began a long journey for me of exploring whether or not it was possible to be prolific, brilliant, and healthy simultaneously in life and work. This research eventually led to my company, which now shares these insights with teams around the world, and then eventually to the book, The Accidental Creative.

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

Henry: It may be cliché but I believe that the biggest contribution formal education made to my career accomplishments is that I learned how to structure my uncertainty and questions into a format that could be pursued and digested effectively. I learned to deal with ambiguity and suffer through process. When I was in school, information wasn’t so readily available, and there was more risk involved in pursuing a specific avenue of research. It was much more difficult (and costly!) to pivot mid-course, so it forced me to stay focused while going about my work. This allowed me to develop the capacity of deep, intermittent focus that has served me in my work as a professional creative.

Morris: In your opinion, what are the most significant differences between creativity and innovation?

Henry: The definition of innovation I use is “progressive and useful change” which typically involves (or at least begins with) a creative act. Creativity, at the heart of it, is problem solving. A designer might solve a problem visually, while a manager might do so by thinking up a new system. But that creative act is only innovation once it’s applied and creates useful change.

Morris: What do you say in response to someone who says, “I’m just not creative”?

Henry: I would say they are wrong. We are all creative, because we all have the ability to solve problems and create value with our mind. I think the biggest reason people say “I’m not creative” is because they confuse creativity with art. The very act of holding a conversation – which most of us can do – is a creative act, because it’s based on improvisation! Once we re-frame creativity as problem-solving, it helps people see their own creative capacity in new ways.

Morris: Isaac Asimov once observed, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, ‘hmm… that’s funny…'” Do you agree with him?

Henry: Yes! Steven Johnson has called this the “slow hunch” and I agree. Brilliant work is most frequently the result of focused, laborious effort punctuated by moments of insight, all of which is driven by curiosity sourced in the slow hunch. It’s only when we stay with the problem long enough to recognize those anomalies that we are positioned for breakthroughs. To do this we must develop the ability to ask incisive questions. The questions are – in my opinion – far more important than the answers. Every answer must lead to a new question.

Morris: Here is another quotation, this time from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” By what process can one get to “the other side of complexity”?

Henry: The trouble is that we get to the other side of complexity for a moment, only to find that there’s far more complexity to be conquered. The creative process is the perpetual assault on the beachhead of apathy, which means that we must fight a daily battle against our natural desire to stay in our comfort zone. Steven Pressfield calls this battling “Resistance” and I’m in 100% agreement. To get to those flashes of clarity – simplicity – requires persistent daily, and sometimes seemingly fruitless effort. At the same time, I don’t know that the illusion of simplicity lasts for long. Most creatives I know experience a brief, shining moment of satisfaction before they begin to see holes in their work. That’s what propels us to keep striving – the promise of greater clarity and simplicity.

Morris: Many major breakthroughs in creativity and innovation are the result of counter-intuitive thinking. For example, combining a wine press with separable type (Gutenberg and the printing press), removal of burrs from a pet’s hair with an attachment (George de Mestral and VELCRO), and leather softener with skin care (Mark Kay Cosmetics).

Here is my two-part question: What are the major differences between intuition and counter-intuition? What (if anything) do intuition and counter-intuition share in common?

Henry: I think intuition and counter-intuition are all about framing. A problem framed in a certain way leads to an intuitive solution. When framed in a different way, the same solution appears counter-intuitive. I believe that so much of this is determined by the focus of the individual solving the problem, and the stimuli that prompt their search for a solution. That’s why I believe it’s critical to maintain a proper level of focus on the true problems you’re trying to solve. If you don’t regularly define your work, you’re likely to drift and you’re less likely to notice those moments of intuitive or counter-intuitive serendipity.

Morris: Of all the books you have read, from which one have you learned the most about creativity and innovation? Please explain.

Henry: From an innovation standpoint, it’s really hard to top The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. He thoroughly nailed the dynamics of living and working in a marketplace that requires perpetual reinvention, and I believe also unintentionally defined the single biggest factors that cause creative professionals to feel frustrated, under-utilized, and disengaged in their daily work. Purely from a “mechanics of creativity” standpoint, I’d say that I learned the most from Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. I also greatly enjoyed Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is a synthesis of his research into creativity across multiple domains.

Morris: Within the last few years, there have been several excellent books published in which thought leaders such as Roger Martin, Chris Brown, and Roberto Verganti discuss the design of business. In your opinion, why has this subject attracted so much attention?

Henry: Over the past many years it’s become obvious that design can’t be an after-thought, because it’s actually good business as well. We are in an age where ideas flow freely and with less friction, and many of the traditional means of creating and distributing goods were based on creating friction rather than eliminating it. Great design is about eliminating friction so that consumers can identify, connect with, and consume what they want when they want it. Good design, from operations all the way through the final point-of-sale communication, is critical in eliminating that friction, especially now that consumers have so many choices.

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a workplace environment within which creativity and innovation are most stimulated, nourished, and when necessary, protected?

Henry: There is no one-size-fits-all solution, though many still try to find it. In my experience, the most innovative and productive workplace environments have less to do with physical space than psychological space. Is there clarity of purpose? Are we rewarded for the things that move the needle, such as taking measured risks, asking good questions, and spending ourselves on behalf of the work? Do we foster an environment of conversation, or of secrecy? No one goes to work in the morning hoping to crank out a mediocre pile of misery, yet over time our work environments either reward continual growth, or encourage systemic mediocrity. You’re either growing or dying, there is no stagnancy. But growth is difficult and messy, and requires persistent effort. Many give up when it’s “good enough.” (One of the best examinations I’ve read of teams who accomplished great, innovative things is Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman.)

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To read the complete interview, please click here.

Todd cordially invites you to check out the resources at The Accidental Creative website by clicking here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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