First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Liz Wiseman: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Wiseman, bio-lizLiz Wiseman is a researcher, executive advisor, and speaker who teaches leaders around the world. She is the author of three best-selling books: Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter and The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools.

Liz is a former executive from Oracle Corporation. She writes regularly for Harvard Business Review and Fortune and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Time Magazines. She has been listed on the Thinkers50 ranking and named as one of the top 10 leadership thinkers in the world.

She holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management and a Masters of Organizational Behavior from Brigham Young University.

Her latest book, <strhttp://employeeengagement.ning.com/profiles/blog/new#ong>Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, was published by HarperBusiness (October 2014).

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

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Rookie Smarts?

Wiseman: At the “height of my career” at Oracle after being perpetually under-qualified for a series of oversized jobs, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing. But, as I left this comfortable environment, I wondered how my hard-won knowledge and expertise might become a liability. I had this lingering (if not nagging) question: How does what we know get in the way of what we don’t know but need to learn? I wondered when experience was a liability and being inexperienced (and even under-qualified) could be an asset.

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

Wiseman: The most surprising finding was that in the realm of knowledge work, rookies tend to outperform experienced people, especially when the work is innovative in nature and needs to be delivered fast. There were also a number of counter intuitive findings. For example, we typically think of rookies as big risk takers; however, we found that rookies work more cautiously, biting off smaller pieces and checking in frequently with stakeholders to minimize risk. We also found that rookies aren’t actually bumbling and clueless – they have significantly higher levels of self-awareness and are more attuned to organizational politics, which causes them to reach out, build alliances, and stay connected with critical players.

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

The research findings were very different that my research hypothesis – in fact, I think about 50% of my hypotheses were wrong. However the final books very closely follows the original book proposal. I am persistent to a fault and have been accused of being “a dog on a bone.” In hindsight, there are a couple places I fell like I should have deviated more from my original plan.

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 [begin italics] the most important point [end italics] or [begin italics] key take-away [end italics] in each of these passages.

First, The New Workscape (Pages 6-10)

Wiseman: “When there is too much to know, having the right question may be more important than having a ready answer.”

Morris: A Question of Experience (20-22)

Wiseman: “The upside of experience may be less pronounced than once imagined, while its downside may be even steeper. What we know might actually mask what we don’t know and impede our ability to learn and perform.”

Morris: The Learned and the Learners (22-24)

Wiseman: “Sometimes the more you know, the less you learn.”

Morris: The Rookie Smart Mindset: Backpacker, Hunter-Gatherer, Firewalker, and Pioneer (27-34)

Wiseman: “Rookie smarts isn’t defined by age or by experience level; it is a state of mind – it is how we tend to think and act when we are doing something for the first time. These four rookie and veteran modes are not an attempt to categorize people; they illustrate patterns of behavior. They are modes we can slip into and roles we tend to assume. We shift into and out of these modes based on our situation, mindsets, and assumptions.”

Morris: The Right Terrain (34-38)

Wiseman: “While rookies can play an important role, they need to be channeled and directed toward the right kinds of terrains for top performance.”

“Experts tend to outperform novices in the long game because they can recognize patterns and project into the future, but rookies are particularly well suited to deal with the immediate and the ephemeral.”

“In complex systems, where there is too much information for any one person to process or any one expert to know, the organizations that win will be those that tap into the greatest number of brains.”

Morris: The Fountain of Youthful Thinking (41-42)

Wiseman: “The most dangerous place to be might be at the top—whether it is the top of a ladder or at the top of your game…If you are at the top of your game, it might be time to position yourself at the bottom of a learning curve. It is on this steeper learning curve that we can rekindle our rookie smarts.”

“Are you learning faster than the world is changing?”

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete Part 2 of the interview.

To check out Part 1, please click here.

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

Rookie Smarts link

Multipliers Books link

The Wiseman Group link

Sunday, April 19, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tony Hsieh at Zappos Announces “No More Gradualism” – (with appreciation to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

i-have-a-dream-speechWe have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream, August 28, 1963 (emphasis added)

——————–

Of all the excerpts from Dr. King’s speech, the line about gradualism may be the one that crops up in my thinking most often.

He was speaking, of course, about the excruciatingly slow pace called for and taken by “leaders” regarding racial equality. But, the idea itself has a wider reach.

We see gradualism all around us.

We get advice. “You can’t move too quickly. You have to be patient. It takes time.”

On subject after subject, in civic life, corporate life, everyone seems to be a fan of “gradualism.”  (Unless, of course, it is a change that they want made immediately!)

So, here’s quite a story; quite a development. At Zappos, they have been trying the gradual approach. The issue – becoming a “self-managing company.” They have been trying to make the transition in steps — you know, “gradually” – the approach of “gradualism.”

Enter Tony Hsieh. It sounds like he’s had enough of such gradualism. So, he is acting – quickly, once-and-for-all, no-more-delay… No more gradualism for this guy.

Tony Shieh, CEO of Zappos

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

I read about this here: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to employees: Embrace self-management or leave by the end of the month by Richard Feloni. Here are key excerpts:

The online shoe-seller Zappos has been experimenting with a self-management organizational structure known as Holacracy for nearly two years.
But on April 30 the company plans to be fully manager-free, according to a company-wide memo CEO Tony Hsieh emailed late last month.
“Having one foot in one world while having the other foot in the other world has slowed down our transformation towards self-management and self-organization,” he wrote.

And here’s the key paragraph, from Mr. Hsieh’s memo to all employees at Zappos:

After many conversations and a lot of feedback about where we are today versus our desired state of self-organization, self-management, increased autonomy, and increased efficiency, we are going to take a “rip the bandaid” approach to accelerate progress towards becoming a Teal organization (as described in the book Reinventing Organizations).

This is what is pretty clear. Not everybody at Zappos has successfully made the transition; not everyone was fully on-board. And, even those on-board had not successfully fully implemented the change.

Reinventing OrganizationsThis is a bold experiment at Zappos — a once-and-for-all, no-more-gradualism approach. Mr. Hsieh is ready to jettison the old completely, and move fully to being a “Teal Organization.”

{So, what is this new “Teal” organization? From a review of Reinventing Organizations:

What is a “Teal Organization”? Frédéric Laloux, in Reinventing Organizations, uses a colour scheme, based on Integral Theory, to describe the historical development of human organizations: Red > Orange > Green > Teal. Laloux lists three breakthroughs of Teal organizations:

#1 — Self-management: driven by peer relationships
#2 — Wholeness: involving the whole person at work
#3 — Evolutionary purpose: let the organization adapt and grow, not be driven.}

Here’s what I think… Gradualism is probably a strategy that needs to be retired. It simply takes too long to make needed change that way, regardless of what arena you are talking about or working in. And, in today’s world, delay and slow-approaches-to-change can leave you, or a company or organization behind in a hurry.

I’m not one to pass judgment on whether or not Zappos should actually become such a self-managing organization. But I think I get the idea that if they are going to do this, they want to/ought to just “rip the bandaid” off, and do it! No more gradualism.

It will be interesting to watch, won’t it?

Friday, April 17, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | 1 Comment

Here are my Five Lessons & Takeaways from Civic Sermons by Gerald Britt

Civic SermonsI’ve now finished my reading of, and my handout for my synopsis for, Gerald Britt’s book Civic Sermons: Ideas for a Different Civic Culture. (Read my first blog post about this book here).

How do I feel about it? Like everyone should read it. Did I enjoy it? No; but I appreciated it. And the reason I did not “enjoy” it is simple – the social justice challenges are so overwhelming, and the progress is so slow.

There are times when one wants to just…quit.

But, that is not a very good option – quitting. There are people to help, and there are systems to tackle.

He has four major sections in the book:

Race and Poverty
Economic/Neighborhood Redevelopment
Education
Politics

Not a one of these have we “mastered.” There is so much work to be done in each.

Of all the thoughts that came, this one may be as big as any. In his famous I Have a Dream speech, Dr. King spoke this line:

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

That’s the description! There are vast oceans of opportunity and prosperity, and pretty hefty islands of poverty, in city after city. It is such an apt description. In one sense, in this book Rev. Britt is simply describing that lonely island of poverty in our area.

Look, we are all busy. I get that. But order this book from Amazon, and read it slowly. The chapters are short – read a chapter every couple of days. And think about our area – and our responsibilities to the people of our area. It will do your heart good. And, it might help you be an even more active problem solver…

Here are my Lessons and Takeaways from Civic Sermons by Gerald Britt:

#1 – The “lonely islands of poverty surrounded by a vast ocean of material prosperity” (Dr. King) is still, sadly, a very apt description.
#2 – Everything matters – health care; and ending discrimination; and education; and jobs; and housing; and effective representation; and…
#3 – The balance between outrage and humble keep-at-it work is delicate indeed.
#4 – The right leader, at the right time, matters. (A thought about Martin Luther King, Jr.).
$5 – We’ve got to provide better starting places; and better environments for growth, development, and progress…

——————–

The Wealth of the PoorGerald Britt works with Larry James at CitySquare.  I have earlier presented a synopsis of The Wealth of the Poor by Larry James.  Larry is the CEO of CitySquare.  You can read my review of and takeaways from my blog post for Larry’s excellent book here).  Read these two books one after the other; a great one-two tutorial on social justice.

 

Thursday, April 16, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Bernhard Schroeder: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

SchroederBernhard Schroeder is the Director, Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Programs and oversees all of the undergraduate and graduate experiential entrepreneurship programs on the San Diego State University campus. He also has responsibility for the Center’s marketing and outreach on both the SDSU campus and in the San Diego community. He is a part-time Clinical Faculty, Entrepreneurship teaching several entrepreneurship course including Creativity and Innovation.

Prior to moving to San Diego, Bernhard was a Senior Partner in the worlds’ largest integrated marketing communications agency, CKS Partners, which in 1998 had offices in over 30 countries, more than 10,000 employees and over $1 billion in revenue. Bernhard joined CKS in 1991 and working with the other four partners, grew the firm to almost $40 million in revenue by 1995 and led CKS to a successful IPO that same year.

He has experience working with Fortune 100 firms like Apple, Nike, General Motors, American Express, Mercedes Benz, Kellogg’s and others as well as start-up companies. He was involved in the initial branding and marketing launches for startup companies Yahoo! and Amazon. Today, he mentors more than 20 founders of startup companies in San Diego with yearly revenue ranging from $400,000 to more than ten million.

His book, Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-Up Plan for Starting Now, was published by AMACOM (February 2015).

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

* * *

strong>Morris: When and why did you decide to write Fail Fast or Win Big?

Schroeder: I never intended to write a book. I attended a networking event to celebrate startup “food” companies in San Diego. Sat down next to guy who I did not know and we chatted about each other’s careers and what we were both doing now. Next day he called me and asked if I would do a private TED Salon talk on Entrepreneurship in Education. I did that talk about 90 days later. Someone in the audience called me about two weeks later and asked I would talk at a full TEDx around the theme of Change. So I spoke at that TEDx with a talk I created around why I felt Failing Fast was good. Next day I got an email from a book publisher in New York who asked if they could see the presentation I created for the TEDx talk. Long story short, I sent them the presentation and over the next two weeks hammered out an outline for what the publisher felt was a book. Once the outline was completed, they sent me a contract to write fail Fast or Win Big. Crazy, huh?

Why did I write it? I teach entrepreneurship on the campus, mentor founders in the community, have met hundreds of entrepreneurs. My goal in writing the book was to pay it forward…to demystify and simplify exactly how someone could go about creating a company in an easy to read and understandable book. Just simply tell someone, this is how you do it. With a solid idea, good business model, big marketplace and lots of passion and sweat. Because I really believe no one was born to do what they do…they just decide to do. So, I hope I help someone I will never meet to create a great company.

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

Schroeder: Not really. So, I got up every day at 3:30 AM for about 70 days straight (mostly) and wrote for about three hours and then showered and went to the campus. I wrote the book in no particular order. I write every morning on the chapter I felt good about. So I bounced all over the place. Once the draft was finished, I sent it to the publisher who promptly shredded it. It took me about three weeks just to get my head around their comments and edits. Then I sat down and edited it over the next 30 days, one chapter at a time. The forward was the last thing I wrote. What was interesting to me is how easily this book “fell out” of me. It was not job either; I looked forward to writing every day. Sometimes at night, I would go to bed and anticipate waking up at 3:30am. After about two weeks, I woke up at that time without the alarm. My only concern the whole time was to not write “war stories” and make it about me. Rather, to provide insights and knowledge, and some tools that might help someone become an entrepreneur. Or to help an existing entrepreneur go further.

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

Schroeder: It’s way better than I imagined. Working with a professional publisher and editor took me to another level in terms of how well the book turned out. They provided very fair and tough critiques that made the whole book better. They constantly reminded me of my target audience and the clarity of my messages. I have marketed a lot of things in my career but never really myself. I formed a quick trust level with the publisher and we hit it off immediately. To this day, we have never met face-to-face but I trust him.

Morris:
You ask your reader to embrace “a new way of thinking about creating and launching a company.” How so “new”?

Schroeder: There has never been a time like this…it’s the perfect storm for an entrepreneur. You have the availability of low cost, innovative tools and resources where you can rapidly prototype your product or service. You have marketplaces being disrupted everywhere. You have new sources of funding or early sales with crowdfunding. And you have the largest generation ever forming (Millennials) right now. So, if you have an idea, you have to move fast because everyone else and everything is moving faster. Marketplace windows are slamming open and shut rapidly. You wanted to create a new type of transportation company? Too late, Uber came out six months ago and is flying in terms of growth. Have an idea for a new alternate hand-craft goods marketplace? Too late, Etsy is steaming ahead. Want to get in the “new” healthy juice business? Suja was created three years ago…they will do $40 million this year on their way to $100 million. Did you see the new juice craze coming? So, amazing opportunities but you have to move fast. Or maybe faster.

Morris: To what extent can this “new way of thinking” also assist the launch of a new project? Please explain.

Schroeder: You can just prototype something faster and test the business model quickly. Based on early marketplace feedback, you know you are either onto something or you have to pivot or abandon the idea. I know of one group here in San Diego that had one successful exit last year. They see what’s going on in an area of focus they have developed an expertise. So they convinced investors to give them $2 million dollars to start FIVE small companies at the same time in one location. They are looking for one hit in the next year and then they will focus on that one. That is certainly a new way of thinking. Can you say “entrepreneur factory?”

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a “solid” business model?

Schroeder: One that makes money, better if it can make money quickly. I look for 3-4 things when I examine a business model. One, is the product or service truly unique or does it deliver a unique value to the customer, that the customer actually needs, not wants. Two, does the business model have a focus on a target segment of the population that over time is large (either large today or growing)? If successful, does the product or service have crossover appeal to other large segments? Three, is there a solid distribution or delivery strategy to get the product or service to the targeted customers in the most efficient way possible. Fourth, based on cost and projected revenue, does the product or service have good (60% or better) gross margins? And finally, not really part of the model but most critical, is the team (read founders a this point) capable of creating this company? I reviewed some amazing ideas that never got off the ground and some pedestrian ideas that have become amazing little companies. Why? The founders worked their ass off in every way possible.

Morris: What are “lean resources”?

Schroeder: Those resources which cost very little time and or money. Crowdfunding, 3-D printer prototypes, food carts, computer science majors going to school at a university you can pay with “coke and pizza” to write mobile applications, farmers markets to test your food prototypes, etc. Online ecommerce websites for less than $30 month, iPads with Square payments is the new cash register, leverage Uber drivers to deliver something, the list just goes on. The mantra is pay little or next to nothing to test your idea. Then continue to leverage everything to support the fledgling company and keep it lean on purpose.

Morris: What is accomplished by “rapidly prototyping a minimally viable product”?

Schroeder: Getting customer feedback quickly. Early in my marketing career, I grew wary about market research reports on everything about the customer. I just did not believe the “data” could tell me what customers were thinking. Only what they eventually did. So, on every account for the rest of my life, I always made it a point to go into the marketplace and meet with customers. With rapid prototyping, you get early marketplace feedback and make your necessary adjustments quickly.

Morris: How best to obtain customer feedback that is sufficient in quantity and of direct relevance to the given objectives?

Schroeder: I think it’s a mix of three things. I like to look at market analyst data that looks down the road about 5-7 years. They are not always right but they get close and they talk about trends at a high level. Second, I like to review local/national marketplace and tend data of the actual customers that are being targeted. Want to really quantify the target market is real and what they look like. Last, want to meet with at least 50 real target customers in perhaps three levels of refinement; first 15 to get a gut fee about this customer segment and present them idea of what we are doing, second 15 to present any refinements to and third 15 to get an idea of how many would buy and why. You just cannot substitute quantitative data with feedback from real customers.

Morris: Here is a comment that caught my eye: “Customers are not always right, but they are never wrong.” Please explain.

Schroeder: This is a great quote. One that I really believe in. Customers are obviously critical to each and every product or service. But here’s the rub…customers will tell you want they want, not what they need. I want a Porsche but I need reliable transportation. Steve Jobs (who our agency worked with at NEXT, Pixar and back at Apple) once stated in general “if I asked customers to design an iPod, they would not design what we designed.” BMW designs its cars five years out. They have to figure out what their customers/prospects will need or expect in a BMW. However, if you are wrong and don’t give customers what they need, they will not buy the product or service and that is where my quote comes from. And in that essence, since they vote with their wallet, they are never wrong.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

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

His website link

Lavin Entrepreneurship Center link

Fail Fast or Win Big Amazon link

TEDx Encinitas video link

StartUp Circle video link

LinkedIn link

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civic Sermons: Ideas for a Different Civic Culture by Gerald Britt – Thoughts on Engagement

It takes two different tasks to get good work done.

#1 — You have to do the actual work. – Planning and execution, both done well, both always tweaked and improved. This is always ongoing, and always essential.

#2 – But, you also have to constantly think about the work you are getting done. Are we doing the right work? Is this what we should be spending our time on? What threats are we missing; what breakthroughs have we not embraced? Thinking about our work is just as important as doing our work.

But, doing our work is so time consuming, so all-consuming, that we fall behind in the thinking department far too often.

Civic SermonsI thought of this as I read the book Civic Sermons: Ideas for a Different Civic Culture by Gerald Britt. Rev. Britt is the designated “thinker” for CitySquare. That’s not his title, but it is a major part of his role. His title is: “Vice-President of External Affairs.” It’s kind of his job to think about the collaborations and relationships they need to build with the people all around them. He works on public policy issues; he’s written op-ed pieces in the Dallas Morning News.

He thinks a lot.

And his book is a thoughtful book. One that will make you think.

It is a collection of sermons and essays. I’m a big fan of both – sermons, and essays. They make you say important things in just a few pages. And he does that throughout this book.

Consider how he ends Fighting Poverty Then and Today: The Values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After a well-written historical summary with current-day implications, here’s his last paragraph:

Martin Luther King deserves every monument we erect. But we only deserve to erect those monuments if we are continuing his work.

I could quote thought after thought from his book. Like this thought for this coming election season:

But in a democracy we are never promised charismatic candidates or a flawless process. So we can ill afford to sit out any election waiting for either.

Yep!

I will present my synopsis of this book at this Thursday’s CitySquare’s Urban Engagement Book Club, (April 16,) after which Rev. Britt

Gerald Britt

Gerald Britt

himself will lead us in a discussion. I invite you to come join us. We meet at noon, at CitySquare’s Opportunity Center, right near downtown Dallas.

But, more importantly, buy this book. (Click here to order from Amazon). It is a perfect “read-in-short-bursts” book. It will help you think a little better about the challenges facing our society; our city. Gerald Britt has spent a lifetime thinking about, and working toward, social justice. Reading his book might help you think about issues of social justice, and, then, maybe tackle some of the needed work yourself. And I think that could be a good thing…

Click on the image below for all the details.  And, click here to register for the April 16 event.

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Focus; Eliminate Distractions – A Lesson from Masters Champion Jordan Spieth (& C.S. Lewis, among others)

Here’s a problem.

We are too easily distracted. And we have never lived in a time with more distracting distractions.

In the old days, revered professors would teach their classes and then take their daily walks. Like (from Wikipedia):

View along Addison's Walk

View along Addison’s Walk

Addison’s Walk is a picturesque footpath around a small island in the River Cherwell in the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford, England. There are good views of Magdalen Tower and Magdalen Bridge from along the walk.
The Walk is named after Joseph Addison (1672–1719), a Fellow of the College from 1698 to 1711, who enjoyed walking there.
Addison’s Walk was a favourite walk of the author C. S. Lewis (1898–1963), who for much of his life was another Fellow of Magdalen College. He regularly frequented Addison’s Walk with friends who included Hugo Dyson and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Just imagine; Addison, Lewis, Tolkien and probably many others would teach, write, and then take breaks and relax on a quite and serene walk.

They never once had their thoughts interrupted with a text message… or even a cell phone call.

It was a different world…

So, here’s a lesson from Jordan Spieth. The 21 year old golf wizard just won the Masters. Other than the fact that he is really good at golf, Jordan Spieththis article reveals one of his secrets. He knows how to focus; how to concentrate; how to truly avoid distractions. From the article Jordan Spieth rented 2 houses for the Masters, and one is strictly for sleeping by Tony Manfred:

According to Brian Wacker of PGATour.com, Spieth rented two houses at Augusta for Masters week, and he uses one of them as his personal sanctuary.
From Wacker:
One is for sleeping. The place he can rest, gather his thoughts, find some quiet time if necessary.
The other is for fun. The place he can hang out in and enjoy time with his parents, brother, friends and anyone else in town from Dallas this week.

If you saw the news about Spieth’s triumph, you know he must have done something right. Apparently, this decision to “get away to rest, to gather his thoughts, find some quite time” was a key piece of the puzzle.

So, the lesson:

Focus; concentrate;
Eliminate distractions…

Sounds like pretty good advice for anyone who is trying to accomplish a major challenge, don’t you think?

Monday, April 13, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Dan E. King: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

King, Dan EDan is the founder and principal of CloseReach Consulting and has developed a proprietary growth acceleration model designed for business leaders and senior teams striving to outpace the competition. The model consists of and numerically scores three growth drivers: Strategy Planning, Execution, and Talent. Dan developed this data-centric concept for assessing critical aspects of an organization’s capabilities in order to provide leaders with the knowledge of where weakness resides. Only then, can investments be targeted to the right elements of the business in order to steepen the growth trajectory. Dan helps leadership teams overachieve – fortifying the business so that financial targets are surpassed – the hallmark of hyper-growth.

Prior to CloseReach, Dan held a senior executive role with a mid-market enterprise that delivered double-digit revenue growth for five out of six years and was named winner of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Pacesetter Award in 2010. In December, 2012, the company was recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing companies for the fifth time.

He has developed white papers on topics such as The Keys to Flawless Execution, Achieving Talent Density in a High Growth Enterprise, Strategic Planning – Getting it Right, Applying the Organizational Prowess Scorecard to Create an Integrated Organization.

His book, The Scorecard Solution: Measure What Matters to Drive Sustainable Growth was published by AMACOM (2015)

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of Dan.

* * *

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

King: Certainly my parents – my Mom had a strong influence in helping me build relationships and a social aspect to my life. I was rather shy as a young person and she gently pushed me out the door to build friendships. To this day, she tells me “don’t forget to have fun.” She never asks about work. My Dad was more about the work ethic and being conscientious. He pulled some strings to get me my first summer job at 16 working for the Department of Sanitation in a small upstate NY town. Collecting garbage with who we called the “lifers” was the greatest motivation to pursue a college degree. Dad expected me to give 100% to any endeavor and that has served me well. And then there was Willy Carpenter. My little league coach. Willy was like a second dad to me. In addition to baseball, he taught me so many valuable life lessons – respect for others, humility and laughter. He wore a perpetual smile and had a contagious laugh. People loved to be around that man. He worked in a maintenance job and coached little league for 25 years. He exemplifies for me what it means to give away your gifts. He was a legend in Corning, NY.

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

King: Interestingly, it occurred early in my business life. I was two years out of college, having moved to Atlanta from upstate New York. I was what I later learned, a wandering generality. No focus, no dreams. Just a single guy who moved to Atlanta because a friend had preceded me by a year and convinced me that the 6 girls to every guy was a reality in the early 80’s. I never actually confirmed the ratio, but I also had little reason to question it. I was working in retail. Long hours, but energizing. I found the pace to my liking and apparently it showed. My store manager called me in one day and told me I was being considered for a job in the corporate office in downtown Atlanta.

That interview introduced me to my first mentor. The company was growing rapidly, opening stores throughout the southeast. The interview was with the EVP of Human Resources. He had to add to his team as the business grew and he had asked his current managers for a list of 10 high potential from the stores. I made the list, although I wasn’t convinced it was a good thing. HR was not something I had interest in. However, I got the offer and the money was better. It was a Director of Employee Relations role and I spent much of my time visiting the stores, working with store managers and their HR leaders on how to apply best practices in managing a large hourly workforce.

Over the next 8 years, this mentor (although I was too young and naive to recognize this dynamic) moved me through multiple roles with ever-increasing responsibilities. By the time I was 30, I was the youngest VP in the company. Professional growth certainly requires a dose of hard work and being conscientious, but accelerated professional growth almost always requires a mentor. I was very fortunate. Ironically, at the time, I just thought that was how it was. Leaders who cared, were selfless and spent time investing in others. Sadly, authentic mentoring is all too rare. We can’t count the synthetic mentoring programs big companies create. The programmatic approach never is as good as the genuine thing.

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.

King: After my stint in retail, I was recruited for an executive role with Kinder Care Learning Centers. At the time, it was a dynamic, high growth business with 1200 centers around the country, looking after 100,000 infants and toddlers a day. I found the business model intriguing and the nurturing aspect of what the caregivers did each day, humbling. Unfortunately, the founder made some missteps financially during the junk bond era and the business suffered.

The epiphany for me at this stage of my career was deciding to depart from the corporate environment and enter the consulting world. I was introduced to an Australian who had moved to Atlanta in order to replicate the consulting practice he had in Sydney. He sent me to Sydney for two weeks to work there with the managing director. Upon returning, we began working with mid-market businesses on various performance improvement initiatives, focused at the individual, team and organizational levels. That’s when I knew I had found my passion.

Entering an unfamiliar organizational setting and going about learning the model, the culture, the growth drivers and the barriers to improved performance. I loved it. Some have said I have a sixth sense for rooting out systemic issues and grasping the essence of what drives performance. I love the challenge and love helping a business leader see the realities that are often hidden from him or her.

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

King: You know, I’m sure I acquired a certain degree of personal discipline through those years of schooling. The reality is, I have not directly applied a great deal of specific course or academic content in my professional life, given that I changed my major a few times and took courses that appealed to me at the moment. Since I had not identified a professional track at that point, I wandered a bit academically. I did tend bar for all four years of college in order to have some spending money and learned quite a bit about life, people and how personal decisions can impact our futures. Decisions can take one to a glorious place and just as easily to one of extreme sadness and hardship. I learned that the path [begin italics] not [end italics] to take is often more important than the one taken when it comes to personal growth.

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?

King: That, even though most business settings are civil, respectful places, everyone is subtly looking out for themselves. Trusting that others will look out for you is not where young professionals want to place their bets. Looking back, I would have been more aggressive, in a positive way and more proactive in mapping my career. I was very fortunate to have had someone who had enough self-confidence and had accumulated sufficient accolades in his career, that he could direct his energy to grooming another. I would tell young professionals to look around and seek out a mentor. Someone who is respected, has integrity and not necessarily trying to reach the next rung.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

His consulting firm link

His blog link

The Scorecard Solution link at Amazon

Sunday, April 12, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lyle Schaller, Observer of People and Organizations – Enduring Wisdom Transferable to so Many Arenas

lyleschallerheaderbb Lyle Schaller recently died.

His name may not register with many readers of this blog. He didn’t write business books. But, in fact, he did. Great ones…  they were just about a very specific kind of organization…

Who was Lyle Schaller? He was a student of churches – what made them “work” well, and what caused them great problems.

But, that’s not quite correct. He wasn’t a student of churches. He was a student of people, especially people within organizations. He just chose churches as his arena for his studies.

It’s been years since I traveled in that arena. In those days, I regularly pulled one of his books off my shelf in search of a well-marked, my-comments-in-the-margin, passage (those books are all put away in storage). I lost count of how many books of his I read. But I remember many important lessons, and think about how they translate into my current pursuits.

You want to talk about company mergers? You should read what he wrote about church mergers, when two congregations come together. I guarantee that the problems in corporate mergers are no more challenging than those found in church mergers.

You want to talk about how boards should function? Well, he wrote about that in many of his books focusing on church boards (called by different names: “Elders,” Deacons,” all decision-making boards with varying approaches).

You want to talk about the many hats that a true leader wears. Read The Pastor and The People (one of the more memorable titles I remember).

You want to understand group dynamics – this was the guy to read.

He was not much for the modern technology era. Or for formal attire. He usually wore t-shirts, even in workshop settings, with sayings on the front and the back. (I think he may have ironed the sayings on himself on a few of his shirts). More than once, we could see the front of the shirt, and then at the appropriate moment, he would turn his back to us for us to see the “rest” of the message. I remember one session. He was talking about how we will never find a group, a leader, a board, a congregation, that fully lives up to its claims… His t-shirt read:

Front: “I believe in original sin.”

Back: “I’m proof of it.”

Yes, I knew Lyle. I wasn’t a close friend, but I was a deeply appreciative learner. I read his books; went to two workshops he led; and hired him to consult with our church in the Dallas area.

For some reason, I recently thought of this story from Lyle. He was talking about a Senior Pastor of a large church who was so frustrated that the music minister was always late to meetings – really late. Sometimes, the music minister would simply skip the meetings. Lyle’s advice to senior pastors? – just accept it. He said that artists do not live on the same planet as non-artists. And then, Lyle launched into his wisdom about how a true leader has to adapt his/her leadership style to each person he/she leads.   A leader simply has to lead different people differently – in different ways.

I have read other kinds of books, books from different arenas, these last few years. But, so often, I read a thought in a current business book, and I think back on wisdom learned from Lyle Schaller.

To be honest, it’s a surprise how his death touched me. I hadn’t thought of him directly too often in recent years. But, I suspect his thoughts and words come out in my presentations more often than I know…

 

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Wisdom from Lyle SchallerBecause I changed arenas I had not followed him lately. But, I just bought this book, and look forward to reading it: Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller: The Elder Statesman of Church Leadership by Lyle Schaller (edited by Warren Bird).

(You can read an obituary for Lyle Schaller by clicking here).

Saturday, April 11, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Scaling Up – Verne Harnish is Back with Rockefeller Habits 2.0 – (If Only We Practiced what we Already Know to Do…)

Scaling UpIn leading People, take a page from parenting: Establish a handful of rules, repeat yourself a lot, and act consistently with those rules. This is the role and power of Core Values…
Leadership: the ability to staff/grow enough leaders throughout the organization who have the capabilities to delegate and predict.
Verne Harnish, Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0)

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Ok, let’s try this again.

There are a couple of primary reasons to read business books. One reason is to learn something new. The other reason is to be reminded of what you already know, but are not currently implementing to the degree that you should.

I teach Speech at the Community College Level. We are in the midst of “Persuasive Speech” assignments. Some of the students tackle big, controversial issues – issues that find a great deal of disagreement throughout the classroom, and throughout the entire society. But other students give speeches on “you should exercise regularly,” and “never text while you drive.” Everybody already knows these arguments. They accept them intellectually, they understand that they should follow the wisdom of these students in these student speeches.

But they don’t… (and, I don’t – I certainly don’t exercise as I should…).

Thus, the reminder speeches.

Scaling Up by Verne Harnish is one of those reminder books. I could list many more such books. Oh, there is always some new nugget. But it’s main purpose it to “remind us” of what we should be doing. (And, by the way, there are always new audiences who are reading it for the first time – to them, it is a new set of discoveries).

the early "version"

the early “version”

For this book, it’s even in part of his title: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0. Oh, sure, there are refinements, tweaks, new stories… but, if you read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, and actually did everything in the book that he teaches and recommends, you could probably skip reading Scaling Up.

But, you shouldn’t skip it. You know why, don’t you? Because you are not currently doing everything you learned from the first book as fully, as well as you should…

Scaling Up reminds us of the Four Decisions regarding People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. Here’s his own Four Decisions for Growth-resized-600.jpgexecutive summary, from the book Scaling Up:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A 20-minute overview providing busy executives with a summary of the practical tools and techniques for scaling up a business. Aligned around 4 Decisions every business leader must make — People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash — they also represent the four main sections of this book where more specific how-to information, along with mini-case studies and examples, are detailed.

And the book then offers tangible steps to follow to master these habits; to execute on these four decisions.

The point is pretty clear. If you are simply doing a job deep within an company or organization, then keep doing your job. But if you are part of any leadership team, this is a book for one of the folks on your team to read carefully, and put into practice more fully.

In other words, you should be the one to read this book…

It’s not only the new stuff that we miss out on that hurts us; it’s the “old/established” wisdom and lessons that we overlook and ignore and fail to practice (to “master”) that will also do us in.

This is a terrific, useful book to get you, and keep you, on track for a more effective future – to help you “make it” when other companies around you don’t.

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Note: I will have my synopsis of this book, and the audio recording of my synopsis presentation, available on our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com, by the middle of May.

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And, note:  Tom Meyer, a Certified Gazelles Coach, is leading a Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop in Dallas on April 29. This is a one-day workshop that can really help your company take a leap forward! Click here for information.

Friday, April 10, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | 2 Comments

“You should only be thinking about the rhythm of a sentence” – Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall, and the Purity of Intrinsic Motivation

The Writing Life“Do you think I could be a writer?”
“Well,” the writer said, “I don’t know. … Do you like sentences?”
The writer could see the student’s amazement.  Sentences?  Do I like sentences?  If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew.  I asked him how he came to be a painter.  He said, “I liked the smell of the paint.”
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Intrinsic motivation – the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing – is essential for high levels of creativity.
Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

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My wife and I watched Wolf Hall on PBS last Sunday, and we’re hooked. And apparently, so are a bunch of other folks. I’ve already read Wolf Hallabout five articles about the series. This one, Hilary Mantel on ‘Wolf Hall,’ Kate Middleton, and Plans For New Novels by Tim Teeman on the Daily Beast, was especially good, profiling and interviewing the author of Wolf Hall.

But, for this blog, here’s what jumped out at me:

Did Mantel think the books would be so big?
She laughs. “I thought it would be a sentence, then a paragraph, that’s the way it goes. If you are to succeed as a writer, you can’t be thinking about fame and honors—you should only be thinking about the rhythm of a sentence. You do your best for the reader by pinning the moment to the page. The imagination works in these little increments. Much later you begin to add it all up. I’m in the room, writing, with Cromwell and his company, not my publisher and a prize jury.”

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

“You can’t be thinking about fame and honors – you should only be thinking about the rhythm of a sentence.” Call that clarity about what the work actually is that needs to be done. Call that the purity of intrinsic motivation. Call that “start with why.”

I think of other illustrations of such clarity. Michael Jordan and his “love of the game” clause; he was allowed to play basketball, anywhere, anytime he wanted to; and he did, in pick-up games in many places. (Not every player had/has that in their contract).

Or, consider Steve Jobs and his obsession about his products. He certainly had the equivalent of “he loved sentences – the rhythm of a sentence” in his work in a different arena.

Here’s the question – what do you genuinely, deeply love in and about your actual work? Not the fame; not the prestige; not the honors; not the money…but the work; the work itself.

Find that, develop that, and your work will probably be better for it, don’t you think?

Thursday, April 9, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

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