First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Thoughts Prompted by the Focus on Self-Interest, and the Confederate Flag

I love me,
I think I’m grand.
When I’m with me,
I hold my hand.
(from a vague childhood memory of a little ditty from Mad Magazine)


(I’m just kind of thinking through some things with this post)…

Here’s an ever-true insight – people act out of their own self-interest. Thus, it has always been, and always will be…

I’ve done a lot of reading about the Confederate Flag issue in recent days. One of the paths I have chosen to take is to read the “original” documents. I’ve re-read The CornerStone Speech by Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, delivered in Savannah, Georgia on March 21, 1861, and I’ve carefully read the official secession document from my own state, Texas: The Texas Ordinance of Secession, February 2, 1861. (I perused the documents of secession from a few other states also).

Here’s my conclusion. There is no way to escape the fact that the Confederate States of America, and thus the flag(s) of the Confederacy, were born under, and fully communicated, the idea of white supremacy; including the commitment to the idea that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” To do away with slavery was a threat to an entire worldview on the order of things, and thus the catalyst for the war.

Why? What is the why behind this unbending demand to maintain slavery? It is pretty clear that it was the incredible dependence on slavery for the economy of the Southern states. It was the “Empire of Cotton,” and without slave labor there would have been no such empire.

In other words… self-interest.

And, if we pay close attention, we see this time and again. For example: Why are there so few women at the top of the corporate hierarchy? (Of the Fortune 500 CEOs, the latest count was 21 women – barely over 4%). Why is this the case?

One answer has to be this: the people in such positions seem to be very good at making sure the next CEO is another male CEO. One would almost think that men, especially white men, see protecting their percentage of places at the top of the ladder as a matter of survival in the “proper order” of things.

In other words, self-interest.

But what happens when one group’s self-interest leads to the harm of another group? That is what has happened in the aftermath of the murder of nine Charleston church-goers by a young, white supremacist, draped in the Confederate Flag. The truth of that symbol becomes inescapable, doesn’t it? (Although, in reality, the horror done under this flag has been long-lasting. Lynchings in the thousands (read this New York Times article, if you can handle it); Alabama Governor George Wallace standing in front of the Confederate Flag proclaiming “segregation forever”).

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think we are not looking at self-interest properly. I think it is in our self-interest to become much better at accepting, and promoting within our corporate and other circles, all kinds of people. Diversity is not just a good idea – it is a survival strategy for an ever-increasing diverse world.

There should be no symbols of white supremacy, male supremacy, or any other kind of supremacy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Linda J. Popky on “Marketing Above the Noise”: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

PopkyAward-winning marketing expert Linda J. Popky, the founder and president of Redwood Shores-based Leverage2Market Associates, transforms organizations through powerful marketing performance. Her clients range from small businesses and consultants to mid-sized companies and large Fortune 500 enterprises. She’s been involved with many of the Silicon Valley companies who developed and deployed the technologies that have changed the world over the last twenty-five years, including Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, NetApp, PayPal, Plantronics, Autodesk, Applied Materials, and others.

A consultant, speaker, and educator, Linda has been named one of the top women of influence in Silicon Valley and inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. She is the past president of Women in Consulting and is a member of the Watermark Strategic Development Board. The first marketing expert worldwide certified to offer the Private Roster™ Mentoring Program for consultants and entrepreneurs, Linda has taught marketing at San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning, University of California Santa Cruz Extension in Silicon Valley, and West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

Linda holds an MBA and a BS in Communications from Boston University. A classically trained pianist, Linda has also produced Night Songs, a CD of classical piano music. Her latest book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters, was published by Bibliomotion Books+Media (March 2015).

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Linda.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Marketing Above the Noise?

Popky: Over the last several years, I saw an increasing focus on technology and new marketing techniques. Yet many of these efforts weren’t successful because the basics of good marketing were being left by the wayside. Furthermore, the opportunities for reaching customers through marketing continued to multiply nearly exponentially. It was obvious something was out of control and that fascinated me.

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

Popky: I began to realize that many of the core concepts of marketing, what I now call the Dynamic Market Leverage factors, haven’t changed in thousands of years, and they aren’t likely to change in the future. Of course, there are some key areas that have changed. Success requires working within that dichotomy to come up with the best marketing campaigns and programs as possible.

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

Popky: I actually didn’t start out thinking about noise and the musical metaphors, but as I got in to writing the book this became more and more evident to me. Then I realized that noise was a factor inside the organization as well as externally, which leads to the Momentum Factors and the concept of static.

Morris: What did you learn about yourself while writing it that you did not know – or fully understand – before?

Popky: I’ve been a writer my whole life, but it’s a very different process to create a book of this sort vs all of the short pieces or marketing copy or white papers I’ve produced for years. It’s not just about having a great book concept, it’s applying the discipline to get those ideas out of your head and into a form that readers will be able to access and appreciate. You asked about storytellers previously. I also rediscovered my storytelling ability, and how important it is to tell effective stories to get key points across.

Morris: As I read this book, I was again reminded of the final scene in a film, The Pawnbroker, when Saul Naserman (played by Rod Steiger) “screams” in agony after a friend has been killed. Actually, it was a silent scream. I think some of the loudest “noise” is in our heads. What do you think?

Popky: We need to differentiate between the times when the noises in our head are distractions or obstacles and when they’re telling us something important. Too often we allow ourselves to get in our own way. However, there are times when that scream inside our head provides more important insight than anything anyone else could tell us. And I think that what’s probably even louder than the noise in our heads is the noise in our guts. Whenever I’ve listened to my head and not my gut, I’ve always regretted it.

Morris: Many people today seem to have the attention span of a Strobe light blink. How do you explain the fact that there are so many poor listeners?

Popky: We are now conditioned to receive very short messages. There was a time when advertisements were 60 or even 90 seconds. Today, it’s rare to find a 30 second commercial. Quite often we see only 10 or 15 second spots, and our attention to web advertising is even shorter—only a few seconds.

We are also now much more internally focused. How often do you walk down the street and see people about to walk off a curb into traffic because they’ve got their head in their mobile device? Furthermore, the ability to contribute and join conversations in online communities and social media is wonderful, but too often we focus on talking without considering how important it is to just sit back and listen once in awhile.

Morris: For those who have not as yet read the book, there are dozens of passages that evoke especially important questions. Please respond to these. First, The Dynamic Market Leverage Model (Pages 10-12): What differentiates it from other such models?

Popky: The Dynamic Market Leverage Model looks at those key marketing factors that are timeless—they don’t change from year to year or with the introduction of new technologies or marketing methods. It gives marketers a way to look at the key aspects of their marketing efforts and ensure that they are covering these key areas.

Morris: Change Is the New Constant (15-18): Where and when is this most significant in a competitive marketplace?

Popky: If you wait a moment in this marketplace, something will change—products or services, customer needs, technology, etc. As marketers, we can’t reach to every new stimuli, but we also can’t sit back and wait for everything to be in perfect alignment either. That’s why it’s so important to have a core foundation. If you know where you are and where you want to go, you can find the right vehicle to get you there—and that vehicle today may be very different than it would have been a couple of years ago or it will be in the near future.

Morris: The Five Stages of the Purchase Process (27-30): Which seems to be the most difficult to complete? Why?

Popky: That’s a great question. Without Awareness, nothing else happens. Your prospects and customers need to know you’re out there before the can even consider you. However, I think the most difficult stage to achieve is Loyalty. So many organizations get you to Purchase and maybe even to Preference (where all else being equal, you prefer to buy one brand over another). But very few brands acheive that strong Loyalty where customers will turn down other alternatives that may be less expensive or have additional features and benefits because they are loyal to that brand. The reason we hear about Apple so often is because they are one of the few that does this so well. Yet there’s no reason why others can’t achieve this status if they’re willing to invest the time and resources to make this happen.

* * *

To check out all of Part 2, please click here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

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

Leverage2Market Associates link

Linda’s Amazon page link

Marketing Thought Leadership link

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You take “No” for an Answer too Easily, You May Need to Make a Change – Insight from Elon Musk

There’s always a fine line. You’ve got stubborn people, obnoxious people, and then people with genuine resolve who simply will not give up. Their actual behaviors may look about the same. But, when the motivation is not stubbornness, or plain old obnoxiousness, then true persistence and resolve can be a wonder to behold.

ELON-COVER-BOOK-LARGEAshlee Vance is the author of the new book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. (I’m presenting my synopsis of this book at the July 10 First Friday Book Synopsis next week).

Ashlee Vance, a respected journalist, decided to write a serious, thorough book about Elon Musk. In case you do not know, Elon Musk’s endeavors include PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX (SpaceX had quite a set-back this week), along with major involvement with Solar City. So, Ashlee Vance asked for time with Elon Musk himself. He was turned down. More than once. He then proceeded to work on the book anyway, and talked to everyone he could find who knew or worked with Elon Musk. Finally, Mr. Musk granted a visit, over dinner.

In the visit, Elon Musk acknowledged that Vance was intent on actually writing the book, so he asked to read it in advance, and submit footnotes for correcting any errors or false impressions. Vance said no: And then, Musk said OK, and agreed to a series of meetings, with full cooperation, anyway. From the book:

Musk cut me off after a couple of minutes and simply said, “Okay.” One thing that Musk holds in the highest regard is resolve, and he respects people who continue on after being told no.

Notice again: “He respects people who continue on after being told no.”

In other words, Elon Musk recognized and respected and honored resolve.

I remember similar stories about Steve Jobs from the Walter Isaacson biography, and from Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc. They both Creativity-Inc.-Covercommented that people who worked with Steve Jobs had to learn when his “no” was something to ignore and work around. In other words, Steve Jobs also respected genuine resolve.

We all know the time-honored wisdom. Probably the most famous quote comes from Calvin Coolidge:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

For Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs, resolve, the ability to “ignore the no,” signaled genuine inner character and resolve.

So, do you have such resolve, such persistence? Or do you take “no” for an answer too quickly, too easily?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Ego vs. EQ, insight from Jen Shirkani – (or, maybe, it is a real fight with your JQ – your “Jerk Quotient”)

If you watch, you will see a number of articles popping up dealing with some version of this issue: “does a great leader have to be something of a jerk?”

Over time, such articles usually referred to Steve Jobs, and these days Elon Musk are creeping into the conversation. And both of these leaders had pretty high JQs (Jerk Quotients).

But, I think it is a pretty big mistake to even have this conversation. It is certainly a dumb idea to say “since Steve Jobs was something of a jerk, then I will be more of a jerk, and thus, maybe more successful.” In my opinion, it doesn’t quite work that way. I think Steve Jobs, and maybe Elon Musk, were just superior leaders, who also happened to have high JQs.

In other words, maybe being a jerk, or not being a jerk, has little to do with actual success.

Yes…, not being a jerk has plenty to do with building a workplace that people want to be a part of. (Although, truth be told, the people who “survived” Steve Jobs, and the people who “survive” Elon Musk, seem to be pretty loyal. They generally believe that they got more accomplished than they could have/would have, because of the unswerving focus of these leaders).

I think that leaders who succeed have qualities unrelated to the JQ spectrum. Mainly, they have an uncanny ability to sense what people really want/need, and then they have the equally uncanny ability to marshal teams and resources to turn that into reality.

Let’s put it this way: there are some jerks who are great leaders, and plenty of jerks who are not at all much of a leader. And, there are some really “nice” – i.e., high EQ) people who do not lead very well, and a few who do.

In other words, great leaders are rare, regardless of their EQ and JQ.

Ego vs. EQBut, let’s pretend that you would like to be successful, while lowering your JQ. In other words, let’s imagine that you want to be a good leader, a successful leader, and not much of a jerk. (A worthy goal, in my opinion).  Here’s a little help from the book Ego vs. EQ: How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence by Jen Shirkani.

First, a key quote/excerpt from this book — part of Ego Trap 1 (see below):

It’s easy to end up at the top of your organization with certain blind spots that fewer and fewer people are willing to call to your attention….
Maybe people have tried to give you feedback, only to see you ultimately ignore it. So they stop. (emphasis added).
“Blind spots that fewer people are willing to call to your attention.”

That’s a nice way to say that:

you do have blind spots
nobody is willing to call you on them
partly because
you are unwilling to let anyone call you on them.

In other words, you are not just blind regarding your own blind spots, you are also deaf when it comes to listening to correctives. In other words, you are something of a jerk, and you don’t own up to it; you don’t even listen to anyone willing to tell you about your problem. Thus, guaranteeing a lower EQ, and a higher JQ.

So… whatever else your job is, the closer you get to the top of any hierarchy, the more important it is to put someone (maybe more than one such someone) into your inner circle to tell you the truth. And then, you have to listen to their warnings and correctives, and do something with what they have the courage to tell you. Otherwise, your JQ goes up while your EQ goes down.


Here are all 8 Ego Traps from the book Ego vs. EQ.   You might want to read them carefully; they set quite a challenging agenda for the leader. And Jen Shirkanithen read the book for a deeper dive into these 8 ego traps. Here they are:

Ego Trap 1: Ignoring feedback you don’t like
Ego Trap 2: Believing your technical skills trump your leadership skills
Ego Trap 3: Surrounding yourself with more of you
Ego Trap 4: Not letting go of control
Ego Trap 5: Being blind to your downstream impact
Ego Trap 6: Underestimating how much you are being watched
Ego Trap 7: Losing touch with the frontline experience
Ego Trap 8: Relapsing back to your old ways

But, as with most genuine challenges, it always starts with Step One: “Hello, my name is ____, and I admit…”

Monday, June 29, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

A conversation with Grant McCracken on how to build “a living, breathing culture”

McCrackenTrained as an anthropologist (Ph.D. University of Chicago), Grant McCracken has studied American culture and commerce for 25 years. He has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and worked for Timberland, New York Historical Society, Diageo, IKEA, Sesame Street, Nike, the White House, and Netflix.

He started the Institute of Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum. He taught anthropology at the University of Cambridge, ethnography at MIT, and marketing at the Harvard Business School. He has been affiliated with the Department of Comparative Media at MIT and the Berkman School at Harvard. He is a student of culture and commerce and explored this theme in Culture and Consumption I and then in Culture and Consumption II.

Grant has also looked at how Americans invent and reinvent themselves. He had explored this theme in Big Hair, Transformations, Plenitude and Flock and Flow.

Six years ago, he published a book called Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation with Basic Books in which he argues that culture now creates so much opportunity and danger for organizations that they need senior managers who focus on it full time. He is hoping this will create a new occupational destination for graduates in the arts and humanities.

His latest book, Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas, was published by Harvard Business Review Press (2012).

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Chief Culture Officer and then Culturematic, here are a few general questions. First, in your opinion, what are the defining skills and characteristics of a great anthropologist?

McCracken: Anthropologists are good at reading culture and that gives them interesting powers of pattern recognition. Now that American culture is so dynamic, any such advantage n is a good thing.

Morris: To what extent can they be developed by formal education?

McCracken: Oh, I think they are entirely trainable. And it doesn’t take a formal education. All we need is a base of curiosity, intelligence, and creativity and it’s away to the races.

Morris: To what extent can they be developed only through real-world experience?

McCracken: I think a combination of formal education and experience serves best.

Morris: In your opinion, which of these skills and characteristics would be of greatest value to C-level executives?

McCracken: C-level executives have formidable powers of pattern recognition. The question is how we can give them the ability to read “soft indicators” in the study of contemporary culture, movies, trends, generations, subcultures. This is easier than it looks.

Morris: What are some of the core questions that anthropologists have in mind when preparing to begin a new project or assignment?

McCracken: Here’s one: “How to know what you don’t know…but think you do.”

Morris: How do you define “culture”?

McCracken: Culture is comprised of the meanings with which we define the world. And the rules with which we govern behavior.

Morris: In your opinion, to what extent is culture a structure? Please explain.

McCracken: The meanings of culture come from within a culture. That is why we define each generation in terms of both its structure and its values.

Morris: In your opinion, to what extent is culture an organism? Please explain.

McCracken: I don’t think culture is a organism in any useful sense, although goodness knows, it grows and changes as if driven by a genetic imperative.

Morris: What are the most common misconceptions about anthropology? What, in fact, is true?

McCracken: A lot of people think anthropology is about primates, or archaeology or small communities. These are all true in a way but it is also true that anthropology is very good at studying large, contemporary cultures.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Chief Culture Office. When and why did you decide to write it?

McCracken: Culture matters so much to the success of a business. Take for instance the artisanal trend that has been growing at least since 1971 when Alice Waters founded Chez Panisse. McDonald’s, Kraft, and Subway are now struggling to adjust to the trend but had they had a CCO, they would have had around 45 years of early warning.

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

McCracken: How so much of economics appears just to ignore culture.

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

McCracken: It’s pretty close to it’s original concept, again a bad thing.

Morris: As you explain in the Introduction to Culturematic, it is ” a little machine for making culture. It is designed to do three things: test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value…It’s still a little vague, isn’t it? Some of you are saying, ‘I’m not exactly sure of what he means.’ Me neither. I am still working it out. The idea will get clearer as you read the rest of the book.” To what extent are you now clearer about “what it means”? Please explain.

McCracken: There are a couple of simple techniques for making culture out of culture…and this is where innovations come from.

* * *

To read the complete transcript of the conversation, please click here.

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

His blog website

His Amazon page

HBR link

Wired link

Psychology Today link

Twitter link

LinkedIn link

Sunday, June 28, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Data May Already Be Disrupting Your Favorite Sport

i’m in a waiting room, away from my iMac, so, this will be without my usual links. Sorry about that.

I have recently read two articles, one about the rise of 3-point shooting in the NBA, and one about changes in starting pitcher duration in MLB. Here’s what they have in common – new use of big data.

In the NBA story, teams like the Golden State Warriors have discovered that a 3-point shot pays off with much more success than a long-distance 2-point shot. How did they arrive at this insight?, you ask. Lots and lots of data.

And in baseball, after a similar examination of lots of data, a couple of teams are having new success with a genuinely novel approach. They pull their starting pitchers after two rounds of batters oppose them. Why? Because, batting averages go up the third time through the batting order facing the same pitcher. In other words, the pitcher has the advantage 2x, then somewhat loses that advantage.

Call these developments the next evolutionary stages of Moneyball.

Here’s what I think. Technology is allowing us to collect mountains of data that we have not yet known how to effectively analyze. As more and more people get very good at making sense of all of this big, big data, there will be plenty more novel approaches and noticeable changes, and breakthrough discoveries.

In other words, we’re barely getting started in this truly new world.

Friday, June 26, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Laurie Sudbrink: An interview by Bob Morris

Sudbrink1-1With a passion for developing accountable and proactive workplaces, Laurie Sudbrink established Unlimited Coaching Solutions, Inc. in 1999. She has been a catalyst for change in the workplace ever since. She brings more than 20 years of corporate experience in human relations, leadership/ management, sales, marketing, and training. She is certified as a New York State trainer, a United States Navy trainer, a DiSC® facilitator, an authorized and accredited partner of Patrick Lencioni’s Five Cohesive Behaviors of a Team, a certified Four Agreements trainer, and founder of GRIT® training programs. She is currently a member of NHRA, ASTD, and former member of SHRM and the Western NY Entrepreneurs Organization.

Laurie’s latest book, Leading with GRIT: Inspiring Action and Accountability with Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth, was published by John Wiley & Sons (March 2015). The material in Leading with GRIT provides a foundation that inspires people to step up, take ownership, create solutions, and make things happen! Through these concepts, more happens with less and workplaces are transformed into productive and enjoyable environments.

* * *

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

Sudbrink: It’s impossible to narrow this down to one person, there have been so many who have influenced my personal growth in different areas, at different times, in different ways – some by positive example, some by challenging me, some by negative example. My mother, for sure, was a positive influence on me.

Unfortunately I did not get to be raised by her, but as a young adult I quickly valued the sacrifices and pain she endured in having her children stolen from her (by my father), and how she managed to remain a loving and generous person. It puts all of life in focus – you can’t take it personally, but you don’t have to put up with it or ‘like it’ either!

Don Miguel Ruiz is another person who has influenced my personal growth – through retreats and personal meetings, along with his wonderful books, he has taught me to accept myself and be happy.

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

Sudbrink: Again, so difficult to narrow to one greatest impact, but the one that is earliest in my professional development would be my High School English teacher Mrs. Harvey. She was the first, and only person to tell me not only that I was going to college…but also believe that I would succeed! While my father and stepmother were busy tending to 12 other children, and their own lives, I believe they wanted the best for me but didn’t really consider it much farther. They did the best they could. A college professor, Dr. Thomas Mwanika, also made a big impact on my professional development through his teachings in communications – it was definitely part of what inspired me to do the work I do today.

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.

Sudbrink: Yes, years ago one of my college professors, Thomas Mwanika, taught a terrific course called General Semantics. I was so inspired by the power of our words, and thoughts, it shifted the way I thought about things. It had me so intrigued with the impact it has on behavior. This, combined with the book The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, and a fantastic public speaking course taught at SUNY Cortland that got me over my fear of public speaking – launched me on this path to professional training and development.

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

Sudbrink: My formal education has been invaluable to what I’ve accomplished in life thus far in many ways. First, it taught me to focus and finish. College taught me a lot about self-discipline and personal accountability. It also started my experience of working within a team (other than that of my siblings!) In addition, the subject matter was invaluable. From principles of management, to child psychology and sociology, and general semantics and other interpersonal communications classes – I discovered the foundation of a lot of what I teach today. Awareness. Don’t make assumptions. Use your language with a helpful intent. Be objective (don’t take things personally). Integrity – walk your talk. Accountability.

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?

Sudbrink: Politics!!! Knowing how to communicate effectively with different styles; not letting things get to you, but communicating directly; being aware of the politics (not sticking my head in the sand), but instead knowing how to navigate through.

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

Sudbrink: I would say probably Karate Kid, great lessons in discipline and perseverance. A few important ones from the film: There is no “try” – you just do. “Try” holds us back; keep your ego in check; put your whole heart/self into what you do.

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

Sudbrink: I would have to say The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could The first teaches the basic foundation to living a healthy and happy life, empowering you to be your best in business, and the latter teaches about perseverance and will power!

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Her website link

Leading with GRIT page at Wiley website

Unlimited Coaching link

Her Amazon page link

Twitter link

Google+ link

Friday, June 26, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Assumptions We Make About Every Successful Business – Insight from my e-book, 12 Vital Signs of Organizational Health

There are plenty of books dealing with exemplar, successful, “great,” “excellent” companies. Some of those companies have already fallen from the list. For example, Jim Collins described Circuit City as one of the exemplar, “great” companies in his book Good to Great, not very long before Circuit City disappeared from our landscape. In other words, becoming “great” is difficult; maybe staying “great” is even more difficult.

12_vital_signs_to_organisational_health_2D_coverI have spent the last 17+ years reading business books carefully enough to present useful synopses of these books. And in my e-book, 12 Vital Signs of Organizational Health, I tried to give the core lessons I’ve learned over these years of careful reading. I begin the book with four key assumptions. Here they are:

Assumption #1 – Assuming that you have a product or service that others will pay for…

My primary collaborator on this project tells me I need to add a phrase:  “that others will pay for at a healthy profit to the company or organization.”

Here is the point:  if you are producing/offering a product or service that no one wants, or that no one will pay for (yes, at a profit to you), then you do not have a business.  It is a truism that is so old that I do not remember who first said it, but it goes like this:  “if people will not pay for it, you do not have a business, you have a hobby.”

Assumption #2 – Assuming that you have excellent business processes (such as:  logistics, accounting, billing, collecting…). 

In other words, you are good at doing the business of being in business.

Consider the experience of ordering from Amazon.  You place an order.  It starts here:  It is easy to place that order (they invented “one click ordering”).  Then, almost as if by magic, that product shows up at your doorstep  – within 2 days if you have Amazon Prime.  There is a lot of process excellence that goes into that 2-day delivery. They are good at:  taking the order; taking my money; packaging the order; getting the order shipped and delivered on time.  A lot of people do everything just right to get that done.

And, there is much more.  They have their goods ready to ship, easy to find within a perfectly designed system.  They have the right suppliers; they pay those suppliers on time…. The list goes on and on.  And a failure anywhere along the chain becomes a threat to the business itself. In other words, they are very good at executing on the processes of business.

We all have to match that kind of excellence…

Assumption #3 – Assuming that you excel at Marketing and Sales (Customer Acquisition)…

You have to acquire new customers.  There’s a pretty good chance that your existing customers cannot order enough to keep you in business.  So, however you do it, using whatever tools you can find, you’ve got to develop a steady stream of new customers.

Assumption #4 – Assuming that you excel at Customer Service – the Customer Experience (Customer Retention)…

As you add new customers, you also excel at keeping your current customers very happy.  Very happy!  They continue to use your product or service, and like it enough that they really would not consider going anywhere else.  In fact, they become your ally in acquiring additional new customers.

These 4 assumptions are what we might call the true basics.  Fail at any of these, and you might find yourself out of business. To say it differently, these aren’t just assumpitons, these are essentials.


Here's a graphic - these four assumptions are on the left; the other signs of organizational health are on the right

Here’s a graphic – these four assumptions are on the left; the other signs of organizational health are on the right

Here are the four, all together.  You might consider printing them out, and discussing them at your next leadership team meeting.  Where are you excelling?  And where do you need to put in some work?

Assumption #1 – Assuming that you have a product or service that others will pay for…
Assumption #2 – Assuming that you have excellent business processes (such as:  logistics, accounting, billing, collecting…). 
Assumption #3 – Assuming that you excel at Marketing and Sales (Customer Acquisition)…
Assumption #4 – Assuming that you excel at Customer Service – the Customer Experience (Customer Retention)…

Get these right, and you have a better chance of staying in business, and growing your business. Get any of these wrong, and you end up in trouble pretty quickly.


My e-book, 12 Vital Signs of Organizational Health, is a quick read, but filled with useful content, and key reminders. You do want your organization to be healthy, don’t you? Click on over to Amazon and purchase 12 Vital Signs of Organizational Health.

And, you can purchase my synopsis of many, many business books at Each synopsis comes with the audio recording of my presentation (actually averaging about 17 minutes long), and my comprehensive, multi-page handouts.



Thursday, June 25, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Don’t Forget the Fundamentals; Don’t Neglect Them – Even as We seek New Insights and Strategies

There’s something about fundamentals that basketball players love.
Phil Jackson — Eleven Rings:  The Soul of Success

Worth reading for every leader!

Worth reading for every leader!

You can’t skip fundamentals if you want to be the best.  The minute you get away from fundamentals – whether it’s proper technique, work ethic, or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out…
You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them.  The fundamentals will never change.
Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.
Michael Jordan — I Can’t Accept Not Trying:  Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence


Here is one paragraph from one of the excellent interviews Bob Morris conducts with authors. (Yes, I read his post today, and then went back and re-read the first interview with this author). Read this carefully:

Emmanuel Gobillot

Emmanuel Gobillot

…the fundamentals of management. When I started my career much of the education we received was classic management training. How do you set objectives? How do you hold a performance conversation? How do you motivate people etc. Whilst many of these topics are addressed, they are addressed as topics without enough time being spent on the practice of running a business. I am still astonished at how little even some senior leaders know about the fundamentals of management. I also would put myself in the category of people responsible for that failure as so much of our time has been devoted to the topic of leadership that we have forgotten about day-to-day management.
Emmanuel Gobillot: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris 

I read this, and I thought of a conversation with an very knowledgeable Organizational Development specialist who attends our Frist Friday Book Synopsis. He likes what we do, and is practically always present, but once told me something close to this: “you know, if people had just paid attention when they were in school, they would already know all of this.”

So, two nice reminders. Don’t forget the fundaments. And, don’t forget what you learned.

I recently tracked down the “official” definition of a newly trendy business word. I decided (actually, I already knew) that it wasn’t a new concept; someone just gave it a new name, and it is now a mini-industry.

And, I think of books on communication I read. They have nice, trendy-sounding, catchy titles, but if you read carefully, the fundaments are in these books: be sure to speak on something that your audience needs; grab their attention; be well-organized; get to the point. Tell stories – tell good stories, and tell them very well!!! And learn to master each element of speech delivery (good voice; no monotone; great eyeball-to-eyeball contact; the right kind of body movement with plenty of gestures; don’t use the same gesture over and over again). You know – the basics!; the fundamentals.

Let’s look at three fundamentals from that paragraph above

How do you set objectives?
How do you hold a performance conversation?
How do you motivate people?

Pretty basic questions. Have you mastered them? Do you remember to practice them as you should?

The list of fundamentals is long, in each part of each arena. But we keep reading books – older classics, and newer, maybe more “trendy” books — to remind us of what we may have forgotten, or at least have been neglecting, even as we learn some new insights that help move us forward.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Emmanuel Gobillot: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Gobillot, Emmanuel“There must be a better way.”

That’s the motto Emmanuel Gobillot has adopted toward everything he does. As one of the world’s most popular speakers, consultants, and thought-leaders, he believes there is a better way to lead, relate to customers, and engage an organisation’s creativity, passion, and drive. The author of three bestselling books: The Connected Leader, Leadershift, and Follow the Leader, Gobillot gives audiences the tools to see inside their organisations in order to find a better way.

Prior to setting up his boutique consulting business Gobillot worked at the Hay Group, where he was head of consumer sector consulting and director of leadership services. He has worked with various organisations to develop their senior executive capability and to improve efficiency and return.

In The Connected Leader: Creating Agile Organisations for People, Performance and Profits, published by KoganPage, Gobillot redefines both leadership and our idea of what an organisation is, proposing a new focus and new tools to make organisations more agile. Leadershift makes the case that critical demographic and technological trends are coming together to challenge the very essence of what it means to be in business. In his subsequent book, Follow the Leader: The One Thing Great Leaders Have that Great Followers Want, also published by KoganPage, he explains why he thinks that the “one great thing” is charisma. and creates a frame of reference within which he anchors that belief for discussion of what continues to be a controversial subject: the importance of charisma. Opinions are divided, sometimes sharply divided, about that. My own opinion is that, like an expensive fragrance, charisma smells good but we shouldn’t drink it.

Gobillot holds an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic, a Masters of Arts with honours from St. Andrews University, and a Diploma in Management Science from the Nottingham Trent University.

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Emmanuel.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write The Connected Leader?

Gobillot: Whilst I would not necessarily want to describe the book as being as amazing as a pearl. I like to think I wrote it for the same reason an oyster makes a pearl: out of sheer irritation. I was tired of living in an either/or bipolar world where everything was always at either end of a spectrum (either structure or culture, either soft or hard, either leadership or management, either big or small etc). I was given a lot of latitude in my work at HayGroup to explore ideas and try to solve issues for clients so I decided to focus on trying to reconcile some of those issues.

In my consulting practice I was always struck by the idea that when we talked about organisations we always actually talked about broadly two distinct entities, one being the structures, processes and hierarchies which need to be optimised and the other, the social networks that form the culture of the organisations that needed to be shaped. I have come to call them the formal and the real organisations and like to think of the latter as the company (for the Latin root of the word which means “breaking bread together”).

My idea was that we were fundamentally misguided as leaders by trying to work on those two at different times and in different ways. Rather, to get the most out of the organisation we need to reconnect the company to the organisation. The formal organisation is critical but is also dead; it is a critical process but only a process. To succeed we must channel the energy of the real organisation to the delivery of the formal objectives. This led me to think about the steps necessary to do this.

Having spoken to a number of people about this over the years I was encouraged to share the ideas first on stage which led many to ask for articles and eventually a book. The thing about our work is that we don’t actually make anything and I always saw books as the closest to a product we consultants can have. I love books and the craft of writing so I didn’t hesitate long to give it a go.

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

Gobillot: That’s a great question because, it being my first book, I had no idea what the editing process would entail and bar some grammatical changes I did expect the book to remain mainly unchanged. In fact, the end product is different in two ways. First from a content perspective the book has benefited from challenges from a number of people and is a lot clearer and more practical as a result. As much as I love words and rhetoric I needed a lot of help getting rid of superfluous alliterations so the ideas would speak more clearly to the reader. But as well as content the book changed dramatically in terms of form. I had not at first envisaged the diagnostic instruments that ended up in the final version nor did I start the early drafts with recaps, summaries and short, titled paragraphs. These all emerged as part of the editing process, and, given how keen reviewers seemed to have been on the use of those devices I have adopted them in different form ever since.

Morris: As I indicate in my review of the book for various Amazon websites, there are dozens of passages throughout your narrative that caught my eye.

For those who have not as yet read the book, please suggest what you view as the most important point or key take-away in each of these passages. First, The Connected Leadership Concept (Pages 5-6)

Gobillot: Spend your time thinking how do I reconnect the energy of my followers to the delivery of the formal objective rather than how do I optimise the structures I operate under or try to create motivation in others. People are always motivated, your role is to find and channel that motivation.

Morris: What Are the New Rules of Engagement? (20-26)

Gobillot: We are in a world where the boundaries between personal and social have become blurred and harder to define. Whilst a child would either play a game on their own or go out and meet friends they can now do both of these things at the same time. We have learnt a new way of being “alone together and together alone” which has fundamental implications for the way we think of our organisations.

Morris: How Do Organizations and Individuals Become Disconnected? (32-43)

Gobillot: Whilst organisations rely on roles, rules and economic incentives to work, relationships operate with individuals, reciprocity and social and moral obligations as their guiding principles. The problem is that not only can both be at odds with each other but often they will contradict each other.

Morris: What Does an Organization Designed for Engagement Look Like? (43-48)

Gobillot: An organisation designed for engagement recognises the value of the social networks that both help individuals self-actualise and provides the oil that makes the formal organisation work. It strives to connect the two together by engineering meaning rather than processes.

Morris: What Do Leaders Do? (64-69)

Gobillot: Connected leaders recognise that their role is to make others feel stronger and more capable.

Morris: What Impact Do Leaders Create? (69-77)

Gobillot: Your credibility with others relies on recognising five key elements of effective impact. The first three make you important to follow – utility (there is value for me in the relationship), reciprocity (you see me as also bringing value) and integrity (the relationship is safe) whilst the last two make it easy for you to be followed – warmth (the relationship is fun) and maintenance (the relationship is easy to main – a challenge if you have remote teams).

* * *

To check out all of part 2, here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

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

His website link

His Amazon link

Here’s a link to a video of his presentation to the HayGroup

Here’s another link to a video of his presentation at Google.

Twitter link

This link is to a more recent program during which he discusses some of the early thoughts that are going into his next book.

A link to a meeting for entrepreneurs of growing businesses

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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