How to see the world “as it really is, without perceptual filters that manipulate motivation, decisions, and behavior”
Throughout human history, the greatest leaders have been both smart and wise. According to Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radjou, business leaders tend to see reality through filters that, “for ease of identification,” are in either the red zone or the blue zone. “To actually see the world as it is, not as we are used to seeing it, we first need to become aware of and then set aside our perceptual filters.” That is very, very difficult. As I read the discussion of the two zones throughout the narrative, they remind me of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in which shadows dancing on a wall are perceived by those in the cave to be realities rather than distorted fragmentations of them.
Kaipa and Radjou identify and discuss six capabilities that twenty-first century business leaders can use to cultivate wise leadership. The challenge is to evolve from a smart leader (in a blue or red zone) to a wise leader (in what I guess could be called a “green” zone in which the best of blue and of red are combined. Those who complete this process have discovered their noble purpose, acted authentically and appropriately, learned when to lead and when to let others lead, make decisions with discernment, know when (as the Gambler does) “”when to hold `em and when to fold `em,” and cultivates enlightened self-interest.
These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Kaipa and Navi Radjou `s coverage:
o Red Zone and Blue Zone: Defining Characteristics and Limitations (Page 6-9 and 118-119)
o The Six Leadership Capabilities (14-16)
o The Path of Wise Leadership (18-20 and 24-27)
o The Wise Leader’s Perspective, and, A Mindful Mind-Set (36-37 and 50-52)
o How Wise Leaders Act (71-77)
o Bridging the Integrity Gap (77-81)
o How Wise Leaders Demonstrate Role Clarity, and, Role Clarity and Becoming a Wise Leader (95-101)
o The Neurobiology and Psychology of Making Decisions (115-124)
o Wise Leaders Display Flexible Fortitude (145-149)
o Smart Leaders and Self-Interest, and, Wise Leaders Are Driven to Help Others (158-164)
o Cultivating Leadership Wisdom Across Social Systems (183-203)
o Wise Leadership in a Complex World (203-205)
Readers will also find what these “Self-Assessments” reveal to be of incalculable value:
o “From Smart to Wise Leadership” (20-24)
o “Finding Your North Star” (46-47)
o “Red Zone” (comparison contrast with blue on 6, 58)
o “Blue Zone (58-59)
o Determining the purpose and meaning of your initiatives (173-175)
Kaipa and Radjou identify several wise leaders in the contemporary business world, including Warren Buffett, Narayana Murphy, Ratan Tata, and Oprah Winfrey, who what “found ways to apply practical wisdom in their businesses and made their companies highly successful.” However, with all due respect to them and other celebrated men and women, Kaipa and Radjou are convinced, as am I, that in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be), there are leaders and high-potential prospects for leadership who can also master the six capabilities during a rigorous process of personal growth as well as professional development.
In my view, this book poses two separate but related, indeed interdependent challenges: To become a wise leader and, meanwhile, do everything possible to help others to do so, “to find their authentic selves, creating a [community] of wise leadership to help unleash collective wisdom for the greater good.” I congratulate Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radjou on a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
Tom Butler-Bowdon has only recently received in the United States the attention and appreciation that he so richly deserves. Years ago, he formulated his “50 Classics” concept, based on the idea that “every subject or genre will contain at least 50 books that encapsulate its knowledge and wisdom. By creating a list of those landmark or representative titles, then providing commentaries that note the key points and assess the importance of each work, awareness of these key writings is spread to readers who may not otherwise have known of their existence.” 50 Self-Help Classics was initially released only in Australia in 2001, then in the UK, US and rest of the world in 2003 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 50 Self-Help Classics has been translated into 15 languages. In 2004 it won the US Benjamin Franklin Award, and was a finalist in Foreword Magazine‘s Book of the Year awards. “My second book, 50 Success Classics (2004), covers the landmark works of motivation, prosperity and leadership. Rights have been sold in 13 languages. The third, 50 Spiritual Classics (2005) explores some of the famous writings and authors in personal awakening, and has been translated into 10 languages.” 50 Psychology Classics was released in 2007 and has been translated into 12 languages. All works are available in audio format from Audible.com (see links on homepage), including the most recent titles in the series, 50 Prosperity Classics. His latest book, Never Too Late to Be Great: The Power of Thinking Long, was published by Virgin Books (2012).
In the Introduction to Never Too Late to Be Great, Tom quotes Anthony Robbins: “People overestimate what they can achieve in a year, but underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” The balance of the book is devoted to explaining how and why it is imperative to reject these miscalculations. Here are a few of the quotations that caught my eye:
Warren Buffett: “No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: you can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
Jeff Immelt: “The most successful parts of GE are places where leaders have stayed in place a long time…The places where we’ve churned people, like reinsurance, are where you’ll find we failed.”
Tony Mendoza: “I turned full-time to photography at age 33. It takes ten years to get really good at anything, including photography, and so I have ‘til I’m 43 before I need to start worrying.”
Ray Kroc: “People have marveled at the fact that I didn’t start McDonald’s until I was 52 years old, and then I became a success overnight…I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”
Howard Schultz: “Life is a series of near misses. But a lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see, and pursuing that vision, no matter who tells you not to.”
Jim Collins: “No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.”
* * *
As Tom explains, “In the early 1990s, I was working as an adviser at the New South Wales Cabinet Office in Sydney, writing briefing papers for senior ministers. I took a year off to do further study in the UK, but put aside my political economy textbooks to read a growing pile of motivational and self-help literature. On returning to Australia, I spent some time in the Outback, where the idea came to me of writing about the classic books in the self-help literature. Based in Oxford, UK, I now write full-time, run Butler-Bowdon.com, and do occasional speaking engagements.I have a BA (Hons) degree in Politics and History from the University of Sydney, and a Masters degree in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.”
How and why our location on “the introvert-extrovert spectrum” influences most (if not all) of our decisions and opinions
Throughout most of her book, Susan Cain takes a balanced approach to the immensely difficult task of examining the advantages and disadvantages of being primarily an introvert as well as those of being primarily an extrovert. I use the term “primarily” in the context of culture as well as one’s temperament, personality, preferences, tendencies, and (yes) volition. “If given a choice…” is a helpful phrase. Some people dread being the center of attention whereas the behavior of others indicates a pathological need for it. Not all introverts are shy and reluctant, however, and not all extroverts are bombastic and impulsive. Moreover, expediency can also come into play. As Walt Whitman affirms in “Song of Myself,” each person is “large”…and contains “multitudes.”
When writing her book, Cain was guided and informed by research in social science (e.g. Carl Jung, Jerome Kagan, Elaine Aron, C.A. Valentine, David Winter) supplemented by what she had learned from her own observations. She examines the inadequacies of several concepts such as charismatic leadership, the New Groupthink, the “Extrovert Ideal” (i.e. “the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight”), being or at least seeming “cool,” collaborative innovation, and being a more “assertive” student in the classroom. Historians’ accounts and media coverage must share at least some of the blame for widespread but remarkably durable misconceptions about eminent persons such as Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Wozniak. However great their impact on others may be, all are (or were) essentially introverted. What else do they share in common? They are renowned for being thoughtful, indeed reflective, tending to take more time than others do to make sound decisions and to reach correct conclusions.
Ironically, Carnegie is among the pioneers of self-help programs that emphasize “winning friends and influencing people,” the title of a book first published in 1936 that continues to be a bestseller. According to Cain, Carnagey (who later changed his name “likely to evoke Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist”) was a good-natured but insecure high school student. He was skinny, unathletic, and fretful. His subsequent career from farmboy to salesman to public- speaking icon demonstrates a shift in America “from what influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality – and opened up a Pandora’s Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.”
By the end of the book, Cain seems to include in the introvert category almost anyone who is “reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned.” Surely many (most?) of those who are extroverts also demonstrate one (if not several) of these attributes, at least occasionally. How would she categorize, for example, Richard Feynman?
The much more important point, in my opinion, is that assigning a label such as introvert or extrovert to someone denies the human complexity to which Whitman referred. Obviously, some people are more or less introverted or extroverted than others. It’s also obvious, that some situations (usually in a social context) require outgoing behavior whereas other situations (usually in an intellectual or spiritual context) require solitude, tranquility, perhaps even isolation
For me, some of Cain’s most valuable material is provided in Chapter 11, “On Cobblers and Generals” (especially pages 250-258) when she discusses the implications and consequences of many (most?) schools that are designed for extroverts. “The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.” She goes on to observe, “The school environment can be highly unnatural, especially from the perspective of an introverted child who loves to work intensely on projects he cares about, and hang out with one or two friends at a time.” Cain offers several key points for teachers to consider (e.g. “Teach all kids to work independently”), followed by several key points for parents to consider if they able to select a school (e.g. one that hires and supports teachers “who seem to understand the shy/serious/introverted/sensitive temperament”). I agree with Cain that appearance is not reality…but the fact remains, that the misconceptions she repudiates in her book are no less “real” because they are wrong, nor are “the personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.”
Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Customer’s Way
Nunes and Johnson help to increase our understanding of an especially powerful trend in contemporary marketing: creating or increasing demand for customized products or services that have been mass-produced primarily for affluent consumers. This is a complicated subject in that, as recent research clearly indicates, many of these same products and services also appeal to less affluent consumers. This is precisely what Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske discuss in Trading Up: The New American Luxury in which they refer to “products and services which possess higher levels of quality, taste, and [key word] aspiration than [other] goods in the [same] category but are not so expensive as to be out of reach…[trading up to products and services which] sell at much higher prices than conventional goods and in much higher volumes than traditional luxury goods and, as a result, have soared into previously uncharted territory high above the familiar price-volume demand curve.”
According to Nunes and Johnson, what is needed is “an approach that considers the facts about mass affluence and delivers a comprehensive view of how companies can change their marketing strategies to capture the value created from greater consumer affluence. That is why we wrote this book; that’s what we’re attempting to provide.”
Indeed they do, and with discipline and eloquence. Their material is carefully organized within four Parts: The New Rules of Positioning, The New Rules of Designing Offerings, The New Rules of Customer Reach, and then a final section which responds to the question “What’s Next?” Then in their Epilogue, Nunes and Johnson share their observations and suggestions with regard to “Reenvisioning an Industry” (i.e. the jewelry and watch business), applying to it the “seven new rules of mass marketing” previously introduced and discussed in the first chapter.
Long ago, Warren Buffett suggested that price is what we charge and value is what the buyer thinks it’s worth. I was reminded of that as I read Part One in which Nunes and Johnson explain “The New Rules of Marketing.” These are not their rules nor are they even rules per se. Rather, they are strategies that the competitive marketplace has already determined are more appropriate to new realties. For example:
Old Rule: Avoid middle-market positions between low-cost and premium.
New Rule: Seize the new-middle-ground position, above the rest of the conventional offerings and below the ultrapremium solutions. (Please see Figure 2-1 on page 33.)
Old Rule: Produce less-expensive versions of luxuries to sell to the masses.
New Rule: Introduce new models of ownership that make a wealthy lifestyle, and even real luxuries, affordable to the masses.
According to Nunes and Johnson, traditional mass marketers can “play by the new rules” (i.e. can capture the spending of the moneyed masses) without sacrificing the former core mass market. How? Give customers the chance to spend more by offering new premium versions, adding on product upgrades and differentiated service levels to existing offerings. Also, honor customers with the recognition they desire by creating status levels that richly reward willing-to-spend customers in all of the ways they wish to be recognized. Also, offer the right price to each customer by using effective pricing to achieve differential margins based on qualities that aren’t intrinsic to the offering. Customers may not always be right but, ultimately, their perceptions ARE market realities.
They are asking different kinds of questions now. For example, “What does this [watch, handbag, dress, set of golf clubs, etc.] say about me?” Moreover, they are less concerned about a luxury item’s purchase price than they are about ROI that includes enhanced self-esteem in their own eyes as well as in others’. New realities do indeed require different (if not “new”) strategies by which to respond to them. Nunes and Johnson offer several in this book, anchoring each within a context of relevant information and appropriate examples. Well-done!
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine’s Markets of One: Creating Customer-Unique Value through Mass Customization, the aforementioned Trading Up, James B. Twitchell’s Living It Up: America’s Love Affair with Luxury, Virginia Postrel’s The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness, Gerald Zaltman’s How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, Joseph Epstein’s Snobbery: The American Version, and Bill Stinnett’s Think Like Your Customer: A Winning Strategy to Maximize Sales By Understanding and Influencing How and Why Your Customers Buy.
I thought it was interesting when Warren Buffett made a major turnaround and chose to invest in a traditional newspaper. On November 30, Berkshire Hathaway, where Buffett is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, purchased the Omaha World-Herald Company, publisher of six daily papers in Nebraska and Iowa. Such a deal is counter to the flow of his investment history, and represents a shift from his position about traditional papers. In 2009, he stated that “we would not buy them at any price.” You can read a summary of this transaction from the Wall Street Journal by clicking here, and view expert analysis in a video by clicking here.
There is something that Warren Buffett knows that Steve Jobs did not. Buffett is one of the richest and most successful investors in business history.
In the Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz recalled what Jobs said about the future of newspapers in his column entitled “Steve Jobs and the Future of Newspapers” (October 9, 2011). Jobs said, “The only problem is that the [Wall Street] Journal is a newspaper and so is printed on newsprint.” Further, he recalled Jobs saying “Whenever I have the time to pick up the printed version of the newspaper (sic), I wish I could do this all the time, but our lives are not like that any more.” Crovitz summarized Jobs’ position by writing “he predicted that in five years there would be no more printed newspapers.”
That conversation was in 2006, so Jobs’ deadline has passed. Sorry – there are still newspapers printed, delivered, purchased, and read in the traditional manner. Since then, many newspapers have disappeared and many others are in financial trouble. Some have pushed their emphasis to online editions, and now charge for access.
One of the great supporters of the traditional newspaper remains Donald Graham, the Chairman of the Washington Post Company, who said in a corporate news column in the Wall Street Journal, published on December 3-4, 2011 (p. B3), that he would neither sell nor spinoff the flagship newspaper or any of his company’s core businesses.
There is no question that reading online content from newspaper sites, such as the Huffington Post, is trendy, popular, and convenient.
To be sure, however, there are enough advertisers and enough subscribers to keep many printed versions going. There are still plenty of people who want to get their paper from the front lawn, get their coffee, get back under the covers, and fold the pages to explore the content. There are still enough people who spend enough time using digital devices who refuse to carry this mode into their treasured leisure time. They want to sit in their easy chair, hold a paper, turn it, and even clip out articles of interest to them. I subscribe to the Dallas Morning News and Wall Street Journal print versions, as well as the Wall Street Journal online edition. The amount of time I spend with the online edition is about 2% compared with the traditional version.
I don’t think that Warren Buffett throws money away. Something hit him to invest money in a paper whose weekday circulation has fallen 24% since 2006. Maybe he wanted a challenge. Maybe it links to his childhood occupation of delivering the Washington Post to homes in weathly neighborhoods. I don’t know. But, I do believe that he knew something about traditional newspapers that Steve Jobs didn’t. And, for me, I will be under the covers reading my paper and sipping my coffee. I’ll be digital during the day soon enough.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it really soon!
How to establish and then sustain long-term (if not lifetime) customer relationships
What we have in this book is a personal account by the founder and CEO of Zane’s Cycles. It began when Chris Zane was 12 and repairing bikes and really began to grow after he bought a local bike shop (he was 16) and eventually built it into a multi-million dollar company today, with an annual growth rate of about 25%. There are no head-snapping revelations nor does Zane make any such claim. When he wrote this book, presumably he was well-aware of other CEOs and other companies that learned how to establish and then sustain long-term (if not lifetime) relationships with their customers. More specifically, they created what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba aptly characterize as “customer evangelists.”
After briefly identifying the “what,” he devotes most of his attention to the “how” and “why” of what seem to be nine core concepts:
1. Know what your core business is. Long ago, Home Depot’s then CEO explained that his company doesn’t sell half-inch drill bits, it sells half-inch holes.
2. Focus on building a lifetime relationship with each customer. Think of each purchase as a partial payment toward what the total (potentially lifetime) value of the relationship could be.
3. Always offer more than is expected. For example, over-serve and indicate how grateful you are to have the opportunity to do so.
4. Over time, the shared experience – rather than a product or service — becomes the brand. Take full advantage of every opportunity to strengthen it with personal attention.
5. Keep looking for a new niche. Zane urges his reader to “stretch your comfort zone.” Try new ideas. What about potential allies who could be referral sources? Which of them might be willing to co-sponsor an event such as a bicycle safety rally? Constantly energize the enterprise with creative thinking and prudent experiments.
6. Keep the competition off-balance with game-changing tactics. Pleasant surprises for the customer will be bad news for competitors. If you are proactive, they must be reactive. This concept suggests a classic strategy that Sun Tzu recommends in The Art of War.
7. Focus on continuous improvement. To borrow a line from Marshall Goldsmith: for Zane’s Cycles and just about any other organization, “what got you here won’t get you there.” In fact, the title of this book suggests to me another title: Reinventing Zane’s Cycles…Every Day.
8. Hire for character and temperament (especially emotional intelligence) and use training to provide orientation, complete knowledge transfers, and strengthen skills.
Note: I well recall Warren Buffett’s observation, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”
9. Respect and embrace differences between and among people. As I read this final chapter in the book, I was reminded of a passage in Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
To me, that is the definitive description of human diversity.
Yes, Zane’s Cycles sells bicycles and accessories but what it creates – as Chris Zane explains with eloquence as well as pride and appreciation — is much more interesting and much more valuable…precious, shared memories of joyous experiences.