First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Philip Mudd: An interview by Bob Morris

MuddPhilip Mudd, the ex-deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and FBI’s National Security Branch, appears regularly on Fox News, CNN, and NPR. He is the current director of enterprise risk at SouthernSun asset management in Memphis, Tennessee.

His book, The HEAD Game: High-Efficiency Analytic Decision Making and the Art of Solving Complex Problems Quickly, was published by Liveright (April 2015).

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Phil.

* * *

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

Mudd: Watching people and experiencing events. I witnessed great leadership and poor leadership, and as I matured, I realized that there were learning lessons from both categories of people. For example, I watched former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin show remarkable patience and moderation even in the most stressful moments. The lesson was simple: it doesn’t matter how stressful the times are, the choice of whether to buckle under the stress is yours.

Events taught me how the lessons that you can only learn through mistakes. Lack of humility was always key: when you’re dealing with inherently complicated problems about events in the future, never assume you have all the answers. If you are too confident in the decisions you’ve taken, you will make a mistake. Never assume that what happened yesterday gives you much of a picture about what will happen tomorrow.

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.

Mudd: Many of the turning points in my career were accidental. In the early 1990s, I told my office at the CIA that I wanted to take a year off and move to Paris. It seemed an odd choice for a junior officer. But the office agreed. When I returned, the managers in my office didn’t know where to place me — I suspect they thought I’d never return — but they had to fill a position in what was then regarded as a backwater: the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center. When younger professionals ask how to map their careers, my life experiences, like that career shift, have led me to tell them that they can’t map everything, nor should they try. They can, though, take advantage of any opportunity they have, to maximize the chance that they’ll succeed regardless of what twists and turns they experience. Curveballs are inevitable in life, and at work. You can’t avoid them; you better learn how to hit them. Most people can’t handle change. A few profit from it.

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

Mudd: You could look at this question and assume that most responders would reflect on a college and graduate school career to determine how those experiences shaped later life. For me, I often reflect on what I learned earlier, in grade school, and how critical those lessons proved to be. The nuns who taught me forced all of us to diagram sentences, day in and day out, for years. They forced us to learn Warriner’s English Grammar. They corrected our grammar every day, and they required us to write, all the time. Writing is a critical form of communication, and they gave me the basic tools to write effectively. I will never forget. I hated those classes. But they turned out to be among the most important classes I ever took.

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

Mudd: By far the most influential book I’ve read is Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. The book exposed many biases or flaws in thinking that I had been aware of but had never heard explained so clearly. I also found myself learning about biases or flaws that I wasn’t even aware of. Simply a fascinating book that makes sense of what goes on in your brain when you think you’re assessing a problem analytically. It turns out, as you’ll find out in the Kahneman book, that your brain plays a lot more tricks on you than you think.

Morris: I am curious to know your response to this observation by Peter Drucker, “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Mudd: I’ve found this to be true so many times that I’ve lost track. The worst part of knowing this is that I was a victim of useless efficiency for much of my early career. Here’s an example: You write, read, or hear a brilliant summation of the current state of some terrorist group. The data is high-quality. The presentation is first-rate. The analysis is a highly efficient characterization of an adversary.

But…The first question any analyst should ask is not how to capture everything he knows about a subject. The first question is harder: What actions is he trying to influence, and what kind of analysis can he write to help a decision maker take more efficient, effective action? Good analysis isn’t how to better understand every detail about a terror group, in other words, it’s how to identify vulnerabilities or opportunities that are exploitable. In retrospect, a lot of what I studied and wrote about should not have been done at all. I should have focused less on what I knew and more on what a decision maker would need to take more efficient action. Do you want to understand al-Qa’ida’s finances? Or do you want to understand how your knowledge of those finances can help a decision maker develop policies and operations to disrupt those finances?

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete interview.

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

Amazon reviews of The Head Game link

Steven Colbert interview link

Link to Meredith Blake’s article in Los Angeles Times about Steven Colbert interview

PBS interview link

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Robbie Kellman Baxter: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

BaxterRobbie Kellman Baxter created the popular business term “Membership Economy.” She is the founder of Peninsula Strategies LLC, a strategy consulting firm. The Peninsula Strategies website is Her clients have included large organizations like Netflix, SurveyMonkey and Yahoo!, as well as smaller venture-backed startups. Over the course of her career, Robbie has worked in or consulted to clients in more than twenty industries.

Before starting Peninsula Strategies in 2001, Robbie served as a New York City Urban Fellow, a consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton, and a Silicon Valley product marketer. As a public speaker, she has presented to thousands of people in corporations, associations, and universities. Moreover, she has been quoted in or written articles for major media outlets, including CNN, Consumer Reports, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She has an AB from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Robbie’s book, The Membership Economy: Find Your Super Users, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue, was published by McGraw-Hill (March 2015).

Here is an excerpt from 2art 1 of my interview of Robbie.

* * *

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

Baxter: This might sound corny, but my parents and my husband Bob have had the greatest influence on both my personal and professional growth, because they always have believed in me and have always provided a safety net, or at least the feeling of one. Knowing that I have people to turn to if risks don’t work out has given me the confidence to launch my consulting business, write the book and continue to stretch myself.

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.

Baxter: Almost twelve years ago, I was brought in to do some work for Netflix by a business school classmate. At the time, I had been an independent consultant for a couple of years, and prior to that had been a big firm (Booz) strategy consultant—always a generalist. At Netflix, I fell in love with their business model. I loved the subscription-for-unlimited-access model (as a person who loves all-you-can-eat buffets) and I loved the relentless focus on doing a single thing really well. I also loved how carefully they tracked post-transaction engagement, as opposed to just focusing on basic metrics like acquisition and retention. As a result of working with Netflix, I changed the focus of my practice to specialize in subscription and membership oriented businesses.

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

Baxter: At Harvard, I studied poetry. That was such a gift. I learned to think analytically and I learned to write, but I also had an opportunity to develop an appreciation of the arts that is still a tremendous source of pleasure and inspiration. Going back to business school helped me round out my tool box of business skills and develop a big picture understanding of how organizations thrive. At both schools, I developed friendships that have evolved into tremendous professional relationships as well.

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?

Baxter: I know that you need to be on a team where your boss really believes in you and where the company is growing quickly. These two elements define a great professional situation for me. It’s not enough for your boss to think you’re “pretty good”. Also, especially as a woman, I encourage people to spend at least some time in sales. Revenue generated is never subjective.

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

Baxter: The Godfather. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

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

Baxter: Can’t select only one. Here are three:

o Free by Chris Anderson: I wish I had written it! I think the way organizations use free, especially as the variable costs of content, software etc approach zero, can be a source of competitive edge.

o The Enneagram Made Easy: A great tool for understanding how other people think and what they value. It’s been tremendously helpful in helping me relate with clients and colleagues.

o Getting to 50/50 by Joanna Strober and Sharon Meers: As a working mom, being thoughtful and deliberate about the professional choices I make has helped me have a wonderful career while still having the flexibility to parent the way my husband and I think is best for our family.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Peninsula Strategies link

Robbie’s Amazon page link

Robbie’s Business of Consulting blog link

LinkedIn link Twitter link

The Membership Economy video trailer link

The Membership Economy summary video link

Sunday, May 17, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vaden’s Unique Approach to Managing Time Deserves Attention

I won’t spoil the presentation next week at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, but if you attend, you will certainly find Rory Vaden‘s approach to time management very different from every traditional approach you have ever seen.

Vaden’s best-seller, which debuted last month, is entitled Procrastinate on Purpose (Perigee Books, 201Rory Vaden4).    In the book, he provides five permissions that allow you to multiply your time.

His premise is different, yet realistic.  We all have the same amount of time.  His idea is to ignore methods and tools you have heard about for years.  These include prioritizing daily tasks, segmenting parts of your day into specific focused activities, and so forth.  Rather, his focus is on understanding and coming to grips with the emotions that get in our way and preventing us from maximizing our time.  To Vaden, time is not something you spend, but something you invest.

You will remember his previous blockbuster best-seller, Take the Stairs.  Over time, Vaden has become one of the most popular and influential speakers and authors of our time.

ProcrastinateCoverWho is he?  From his own web site, I copied this biography:

As an award-winning entrepreneur and business leader, Rory Co-Founded Southwestern Consulting™, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 14 countries drive educated decisions with relevant data. He’s also the Founder of The Center for the Study of Self-Discipline (CSSD).  Rory is the world’s leader on defining the psychology around modern day procrastination, called Priority Dilution™ – in fact, he coined the term. He speaks and consults on how to say no to the things that don’t matter, and yes to the things that do. His client list includes companies and groups such as: Cargill, The Million Dollar Roundtable, P&G, True Value, YPO, Wells Fargo Advisors, Land O’Lakes, Novartis, and hundreds more. His insights have recently been featured on/in: Fox News, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Inc, Fortune, and the New York Times.  He is a regular contributor for American Express Open Forum, Huffington Post, and The Tennessean and his articles and insights average more than 4 million views every day.



For more, you need to attend the presentation on Friday.  You will hear all about the five permissions.

I can promise you it will be a very different approach to managing time, from someone who is very different himself.

I will see you then!

Friday, February 27, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Van Rooy: An interview by Bob Morris

Van RooyDavid Van Rooy is Senior Director, Talent Management for Walmart. He previously held roles in International Human Resources, and was responsible for the world’s largest performance management and employee engagement programs at Walmart, covering nearly 2.2 million employees globally. Before Walmart his most recent role was at Marriott International, where he led global HR operations and systems for several Centers of Expertise (COE) including compensation, benefits, workforce planning, performance management, associate engagement, and learning. He also held several Talent Management and Marketing roles of increasing responsibility at Burger King Corporation.

David received his doctoral degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Florida International University (FIU). He has published over 20 peer reviewed scientific business articles and book chapters. Most of these have been highly recognized and his work has been covered by many national and international outlets including USA Today, CNN, Forbes, Inc., and Fox News, and HR Asia. This has been complemented by over 30 presentations at international conferences. In addition to performance management and employee engagement, he is a recognized expert in the fields of emotional intelligence and employee assessment and selection.

His book, Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, was published by AMACOM (May 2014).

Author Note: In gratitude for the brave and unselfish service of our military men and women, David will be donating all of the author royalties he receives from the sale of Trajectory to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) in support of our military veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce. IVMF’s mission is to enhance American competitiveness and advance the employment situation of veterans and their families by collecting, synthesizing and sharing veteran-employment policy & practices, providing employment related expertise, capacity, training and education and delivering technical assistance to stakeholders in the veterans’ community. You can learn more about this great organization here.

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

* * *

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

Van Rooy: My parents. They provided me with a supportive, values-based childhood and demonstrated the value of hard work and integrity.

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

Van Rooy: I would have trouble pointing to a single person. I have been extremely fortunate to have amazing professors, bosses, and mentors throughout my career.

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.

Van Rooy: At the first company I worked for out of graduate school I was presented with a neat opportunity to move from HR into Marketing. My time in marketing gave me direct exposure to a different part of the business, which I believe helps me to this day. Less than a year later, though, I had a chance to move to a new organization, but the role was back in HR. At that point I realized I had to decide which career path to take, and I decided that HR was where I wanted to be down the road. It’s sometimes hard to make these decisions at the time, but looking back on my career I have no doubt it was the right career choice for me.

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

Van Rooy: My Ph.D. is in a field called Industrial and Organizational Psychology, which includes heavy research and analytical components. This has helped me in understanding data that is so important with decision making, particularly as the amounts of it continue to increase.

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

Van Rooy: In college I took an organizational psychology class, and Bringing Out the Best in People by Aubrey Daniels was required reading. As an aspiring psychologist I was drawn to the message about motivating people through positive reinforcement. The alternative – negative reinforcement – can lead to behavioral change, but it is either short-lived or not as powerful as positive reinforcement.

Morris: Here are two of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Van Rooy: Absolutely! Many ideas that originally “failed” were simply ideas ahead of their time. Something that did not work in the past should not be forever discarded; instead, reevaluate when conditions change, and you may find that what was once dangerous or crazy is now brilliant.

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

Van Rooy: It’s easy to fall into a trap and continue doing what worked in the past, even if it is no longer worthwhile. Over time we tend to get better and more efficient at what we do, but it’s important to make sure that it is still important. For example, you may be able to create a monthly scorecard much quicker than when you started it, but unless it is still being used it does not really matter.

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

Van Rooy: It’s important that people have passion for what they do, and feel connected to the greater purpose. Stories have a powerful effect on us because we can relate to them, and as a result we remember them. It is this emotional connection that results in storytelling becoming such a powerful way to inspire others.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

His website link

Inc. link

David’s Amazon page link

Sunday, September 21, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carmine Gallo on Talking Like TED: A third interview by Bob Morris

GalloA global best-selling author, Carmine Gallo is also a former reporter and anchor for CNN and CBS. He has sat down with many of the most dynamic and respected business leaders of our time. In these interviews, Carmine gained insight into what makes a great leader. Great leaders are also great communicators. He formed Gallo Communications with the mission of helping business leaders discover and apply the untapped power of effective communications. Communications comprise a multi-faceted art form. From internal relationships to press conferences, from rallying investors to counseling employees, from inspiring greatness to managing crisis, managers need to educate, motivate, and persuade much more effectively than many (most?) of them do now. Gallo Communications prepares business leaders for these make it-or-break it challenges.

His published books include The Apple Experience: Secrets to building insanely great customer loyalty, The Power of foursquare: 7 Innovative Ways to Get Your Customers to Check In Wherever They Are, The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, Fire Them Up! 7 Simple Secrets to Inspire Colleagues, Customers, and Clients, and 10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators: How you too can learn the presentation secrets behind today’s greatest CEOs. His latest book is Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, published by St. Martin’s Press (March 2014).

Here is an excerpt from my third interview of Carmen. To read the complete interview, please cklick here.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Talk Like TED?

Gallo: After the success of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I was looking for another communicator to profile. It was very difficult to find one person—well known around the world—who had the complete package of presentation and business communication skills. I expanded my thinking and realized that TED, the famous conference that’s become a hit around the world, is popular because it showcases the world’s best speakers and communicators. I’ve also been asked to work with people who have given TED talks and so it wasn’t much of a stretch. The fun part was studying the neuroscience behind persuasion and discovering why 18-minute TED talks work so well.

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

Gallo: There are many revelations. For example, 18 minutes is quite possibly the ideal amount of time to deliver a presentation. Through trial and error the TED organizers discovered early on that 18 minutes is long enough to have a serious discussion and short enough to keep people’s attention. Now think about all of the great speeches that have moved us a nation — they’re all under 18 minutes: Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” and JFK’s inaugural. Also, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg launched a national movement to Lean In with a TED talk that lasted 15 minutes. A lot can happen in under 18 minutes!

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

Gallo: It’s more inspiring than I thought it would be. I set out to do a tactical book on how to deliver better presentations. The content of the presentations was so inspiring, however, the content also made me a better person and a better leader. The book took on a new life as I focused on inspiring my readers as well as giving them strategies and techniques they could use. Today most of the feedback I receive indicates that readers really are inspired by the book to lead better lives and to fulfill their potential. It’s very gratifying.

Morris: How do you explain TED‘s success since it was founded by Richard Saul Wurman in 1984?

Gallo: 18 minutes! Seriously, people want to be inspired and to learn something valuable in a short amount of time. That’s a big part of it. Of course, the year 2006 is also very important to TED‘s popularity. That’s when TED began to post its videos for free to share the insights. It became a global hit and today TED videos have been viewed 2 billion times. Humans are natural explorers. We’re curious. We crave learning new things — that’s why one of the book’s sections is called “novelty.” People cannot ignore something new and novel. Teach people something stunning in 18 minutes and put it online for free — that’s a winning formula.

Morris: The title of the book’s Introduction suggests that “Ideas Are the Currency of the Twenty-First Century.” What specifically does that mean?

Gallo: In the information age, the knowledge economy, we are only as successful as the ideas we have to share. If I can’t package my ideas in a way that grabs your attention and inspires you to take action on those ideas, then what does it matter? My ideas are my currency, a form of trade. I trade you my ideas for a salary, an investment, etc. I benefit monetarily from the exchange of my ideas.

Morris: What are some of the most common misconceptions about what great public speaking is…and isn’t.

Gallo: Public speaking is more than just grand oratory giving a speech in a front of a lot of people. Delivering an effective PowerPoint to a potential customer is “public speaking,” as is a job interview or a business pitch over coffee at Starbucks. We all need to improve at public speaking whether or not we ever give a formal “speech.”

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

His website link

Gallo Communications link

Thursday, August 28, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rich Horwath on “Elevation”: An interview by Bob Morris

Horwath, RichRich Horwath is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author on strategy. As the CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, Rich leads executive teams through the strategy process and has helped more than 50,000 managers around the world develop their strategic thinking skills. A former Chief Strategy Officer and professor of strategy, he brings both real-world experience and practical expertise to help leaders build their team’s strategic capabilities.

He and his work have appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, NBC and FOX TV. He is recognized in a textbook, Strategy in the 21st Century, as one of the key contributors in the history of strategic management for his thought leadership in the field of strategic thinking. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, Rich has spoken to leaders at world-class companies including Google, Intel and FedEx and has been ranked the #1 speaker on strategy & innovation at national conferences.

Rich is the author of six books, including, Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking, which a leader at Intel proclaimed: “If you only read one book on strategy, this has to be that book!” His book, Deep Dive: The Proven Method for Building Strategy, has been described by the Director of Worldwide Operations for McDonalds as “…the most valuable book ever written on strategic thinking.” And Strategy for You: Building a Bridge to the Life You Want, helps people apply the principles of business strategy to their overall life.

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

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Elevate, a few general questions. First, who and what have had the greatest influence on your thoughts about strategy? Please explain.

Horwath: The concept of strategy originated in the military arena beginning thousands of years ago with the writings of Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu. Key military strategists such as Carl von Clausewitz, Napoleon, BH Liddell Hart, and others set the tone of strategy’s intent to achieve goals and defeat others. From a business perspective, Michael Porter’s work in the late ’70s through the ’90s established a foundation for thinking about competition in a methodical manner. Studying the successes and failures of organizations and their leaders has also played a prominent role in better understanding the nature of strategy and its composition of both art and science.

Morris: The title of one of Marshall Goldsmith’s more recent books suggests that “what you here won’t get you there.” My own opinion is that what got you here won’t even allow you to remain here, wherever that may be.

What are your own thoughts about all this?

Horwath: I believe that new growth comes from new thinking. Most people and organizations never come close to realizing their true potential because they allow themselves to be anchored in the past. Whether it was past success or past failure, very few people open their minds up to future possibilities.

Morris: Decades ago, I concluded that strategies are “hammers” that drive tactics, “nails.” However, I also realized that if all one has is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

In Elevate, you make brilliant use of metaphors including the helicopter. In your opinion, why do so many people seem to have problems with using metaphors effectively when communicating with others?

Horwath: Busy. We’re all too busy to stop and think. Activity has become the addictive analgesic of choice, numbing us to the gaps, disappointments and shortcomings of our careers, our work and our personal lives.

Morris: What to do if a strategy doesn’t seem to be working? Where to begin? Who should be involved?

Horwath: You’ll never really know if a strategy is working unless you build milestones into your objectives. Too many managers have yearly goals and at the end of the year, they either achieved them or failed. This is moronic. Every goal should have a corresponding objective with periodic milestones to indicate progress or a lack thereof. If you have failed to hit three or more consecutive milestones, it’s time to revisit the strategy. The people that should be involved are the ones who develop, communicate and execute the strategy, especially those who are customer-facing.

Morris: Percentages vary but all recent research studies seem to agree that, on average, fewer than half of an organization’s managers know what its strategy is. Do you agree? Whatever the percentage, what do you make of that?

Horwath: I’d say it’s closer to 100% than 50%. First off, the majority of managers can’t define what a strategy is. Then you add in the complication of different business units, functional areas and levels, and it’s easy to see how complex it can be to have everyone understanding and executing a consistent strategy.

Morris: Who should be involved in an organization’s strategy? Why? Who should not be involved? Why not?

Horwath: Strategy needs to move from an annual event to an ongoing dialogue about the key business issues. If we look at strategy as dialogue, then everyone should be involved to some extent. If you have people in your organization that you don’t believe can contribute any ideas on ways to create new value, then why are they working for you? New value can be internal or external, but leaders need to create regular forums for strategy conversations at all levels.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Rich cordially invites you to check out resources by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How would you describe your writing process?

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

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

My quota is two crappy pages per day.

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

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

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To read the complete inyerview, please click here.

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

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

George Kohlrieser: An interview by Bob Morris

Kohlrieser, GeorgeGeorge Kohlrieser is an organizational and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at IMD and consultant to several global companies including Accenture, Alcan, Amer Sports, Barclays Global Investors, Cisco, Coca-Cola, HP, IBM, IFC, Morgan Stanley, Motorola, Nestlé, Nokia, Roche, Sara Lee, Tetra Pak, and Toyota. He is also a Police Psychologist and Hostage Negotiator focusing on aggression management and hostage negotiations. He has worked in over 100 countries spanning five continents.

Kohlrieser is Director of the High Performance Leadership (HPL) Program, an intense six-day IMD program for experienced senior leaders and the Advanced High Performance Leadership (AHPL) for former HPL participants. He completed his doctorate at Ohio State University where he wrote his dissertation on cardio vascular recovery of law enforcement leaders following high stress situations. His research has made significant contributions to understanding the role self-mastery and social dialogue has in helping leaders sustain high performance through life long learning.

He is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, adjunct faculty member of Union Graduate School, Antioch, Ohio, adjunct faculty member of Fielding Institute San Francisco, California, adjunct faculty member of Zagreb University, Croatia. He is past president of the International Transactional Analysis Association, San Francisco, California and is also a member of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF). He has consulted for the BBC, CNN, ABC, and CBS and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and other leading newspapers and magazines.

He is author of the internationally bestselling book, Hostage At The Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance, and, more recently, co-author of Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership with Susan Goldsworthy and Duncan Coombe.

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

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

Kohlrieser: This is a very interesting and challenging point. In fact, research shows that people do not naturally resist change – they resist the fear of the unknown and the pain of the change. The human brain actually thrives on curiosity, innovation, new learning, challenge and change to create new neurons until the day we die. This has come to be known as brain plasticity. Followers with a secure base leader will be empowered to successfully navigate the uncertainty, ambiguity, and other unknowns associated with change. James O’Toole is correct: most people are hostages to the “ideology of comfort” and to the status quo. They do not dare themselves to do something new or different. The challenge for leaders is to build trust that enables them to drive change. If leaders are not driving change, they are not really leading. We must dispel the myth that people naturally resist change – it is simply not true.

Morris: Looking ahead what do you think will be the greatest challenge that CEOs will face?

Kohlrieser: The greatest challenge I see is the “paradox of caring” – being able to both care and also dare followers, teams and organizations to achieve their full potential and to be true innovators. How do leaders show enough caring and bonding, even with difficult people and those they don’t like? Giving regular feedback and conveying hard truths unlock the door to the highest levels of performance. Successful leaders challenge their people by inspiring them and building trust, not by coercion, control or threats.

Leaders must drive change. Without change organizations wither and die. Leaders who don’t drive change put their companies in grave danger. The challenge facing leaders is to explain the benefits that change will bring. I use the term “secure base leader” to describe someone who gives a sense of safety as well as the inspiration and energy to encourage followers to explore and take risk. In other words, you must care enough to encourage daring by shutting down the defensive nature of the brain and invite the mind’s eye to seek opportunity and possibility. This combination is crucial, and it’s why my new book about unleashing astonishing potential is called Care to Dare.

Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?

Kohlrieser: It comes down to focus and trust. Secure base leaders, referred to in my books, always look for underdeveloped talents and turn delegation into opportunities to stretch people. This means they have to trust people to learn, develop and possibly to fail. Letting go of control is often the most difficult thing for an executive to do. After all, their experience means they often assume they know how to do things better, which may or may not be true. Give people a secure base leader and they will achieve amazing things – delegating is one form of stretching another person to show what they can do. The executive must always be standing behind as a secure base. A good example is flight training. There is a moment when the flight instructor must relinquish the flight controls to the trainee.

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Hostage at the Table?

Kohlrieser: I have been held hostage four times. Early in my career it became clear that hostage negotiators have to establish a relationship with a very unlikeable, even despicable person. They must engage in a dialogue under high pressure and influence the hostage taker to give up their weapons and their hostages knowing that they will likely go to prison. The success rate of hostage negotiators doing this work is an extraordinary 95 per cent. When I described what hostage negotiators do to the executives and other professionals I work with at my IMD High Performance Leadership Program, they wanted to know if the secret of hostage negotiation can be applied to situations when one is being held a psychological hostage.

It is one thing to be a hostage with a gun to your head; it is another to be held hostage by a boss, spouse, situation or yourself. People wanted to know how hostage negotiations applied to everyday situations. So the “hostage” metaphor is a highly empowering concept that I wanted to describe in the book based on theory and actual stories. The fact is even when physically a hostage, you don’t need to feel a hostage. The techniques used to gain freedom in a hostage situation can be used by all of us in everyday life. Warren Bennis and Dan Goleman, my two wonderful mentors, colleagues and friends, encouraged me to formulate these ideas into a book, and I was honored to have Warren Bennis include it in his Leadership series.

Morris: Obviously, much of the material in the book seems to be based on what you learned from your extensive experience as a police psychologist and hostage negotiator. What were the most valuable lessons learned from that experience?

Kohlrieser: I have learned a number of lessons in my 40-year career. The most powerful lessons for me have been:

1. The power of bonding and the impact dialogue can have on an adversary, a hostage taker, or a person threatening violence.

2. The paradox of caring. Hostage negotiation succeeds because the hostage taker feels genuine care, interest and concern from the hostage negotiator.

3. The power of focusing on the goal and not on the danger or the problem. When facing a gun, the brain will naturally focus on the weapon unless you train your brain to focus on the person and the goal.

4. The power of language, dialogue and of asking questions.

5. Making concessions within a negotiation.

6. The power of loss in motivating people and in driving violence, especially hostage taking. There is always a loss that precedes a hostage-taking situation.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

His home page

His faculty page

His Amazon page

IMD “Big Think” interview

YouTube videos

Monday, April 22, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emily Bennington: An interview by Bob Morris

Bennington bannerEmily Bennington specializes in two distinct forms of career transition: college students entering the workforce and women leaders entering executive management. Her work deep dives into what Stephen Covey famously referred to as “the space” between stimulus and response where she challenges executives to choose mindful, values-centered action. Emily is the author of Who Says It’s a Man’s World: The Girls’ Guide to Corporate Domination and the coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job, a book she wrote with her first boss and mentor Skip Lineberg. Emily has led training programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies and has been featured in business press ranging from CNN, ABC, and Fox to the Wall Street Journal, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. She is also a contributing writer for and a featured blogger for Forbes Woman.

Here’s an excerpt from my interview of her. To read the complete interview, please click here.

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Morris: Before discussing Who Says It’s a Man’s World, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Bennington: Definitely my first boss and Effective Immediately co-author Skip Lineberg. At the beginning of my career, Skip really spent a lot of time coaching and challenging me to be better. One example I’ll never forget was when I had my first performance review and asked for a raise, Skip made me “demonstrate I was worth it” by successfully completing a series of projects ranging from writing a review of How to Win Friends and Influence People to finding a logistical “problem” in the office and solving it using TQM processes. At the time, a lot of my friends and family were puzzled by this, wondering why he didn’t just give me the raise I’d already earned, but I knew better. I saw Skip’s challenge as an opportunity to prove to him that I was not only worth more money, but more responsibility as well. Since then, our relationship has evolved into more of a partnership than a mentor / student connection, but I’m so blessed that we’re still able to work together after all these years.

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.

Bennington: My personal and professional growth under Skip’s leadership made me want to offer a similar experience to others in their career. It truly was the turning point that set the stage for everything I do now.

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

Bennington: I wasted a lot of time in my 20s “looking for the path.” I was constantly planning for a life that would begin 2-4 years in the future when I lived in a particular city, had a particular credential, and achieved particular things. Looking back, I wish I had recognized earlier that I was already on the path. We all are.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Who Says It’s a Man’s World. When and why did you decide to write it?

Bennington: It all started with dirty Tupperware. Years ago when I was promoted to a director-level position for a corporate accounting firm, I found myself with an assistant for the first time in my career. And I remember being nervous about delegating assignments because she had been with the company for about 15 years and I didn’t want to come off as the bossy new kid. So the first time I went to pass her the baton on a job, I noticed she had some dirty Tupperware from lunch sitting on the corner of her desk. In a flash I reverted back to my waitress days in college. I picked up a few pieces and said, “Can I take this for you?” Turns out, I was SO worried about coming across as too assertive that I overcompensated and made myself look weak. After that, I started thinking about all the “little” ways I was undermining my power at work and I created the survey to see if others were experiencing the same thing. The survey became the foundation for Who Says It’s a Man’s World.

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

Bennington: My first book, Effective Immediately, is full of really prescriptive advice on things you should DO if you want to stand out at work. I assumed this book would follow that same path but – literally in the middle of writing it – I realized that success actually starts with how you THINK. I ended up rearranging a lot of the text, but the end result is definitely stronger for it.

Morris: When formulating questions for this interview, I rejected the phrase “working women” because all of the women in my life since childhood were working…but few were paid — [begin italics] and usually under-paid [end italics] — as was my mother, a single parent. So I use the term “employed women.” Do you have a problem with that? Please explain.

Bennington: I have two young sons so I agree that it’s all work – just some jobs pay better than others. That said, I believe that every woman should have a way to support herself and I learned this first-hand through the hardships of my mother. She never had a career and, as a result, she hasn’t always had the freedom to walk away from situations and relationships that weren’t serving her. I teach career success because I want all women to have the safety – and I mean that literally – that financial independence provides.

Morris: In your opinion, what are the “must-have trade-offs” for employed mothers?

Bennington: For starters, go for the “big money.” In other words, what can you do that will be the most important, the most visible, and have the most impact? When it comes to prioritizing time, your kids aren’t all that different from your boss in this respect. If they are old enough – just ask them. Say something like “I can only make one event this month – either the lunch or the assembly. Which one would you prefer I attend?” The fact that they have a voice in the decision will help them feel better about it – not to mention they’re learning a valuable lesson in time management too. Also, if you’re on a crazy air-tight schedule, don’t allow yourself to get talked into anything behind-the-scenes. You may get a gold star from the PTA for selling the most raffle tickets, but your daughter probably couldn’t care less. So before you commit to anything, think about whether she will notice. If the answer is no, well, there’s your answer.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Achim Nowak : An interview by Bob Morris

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAchim Nowak is an internationally recognized authority on executive presence and interpersonal connections. His just-published book Infectious: How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within (Allworth Press) has already received acclaim in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Leadership Excellence, and Forbes. His first book Power Speaking: The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker has becomes an essential leadership development tool with Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Influens, the international training and coaching firm Achim founded in 2004, is based in South Florida. It has guided thousands of leaders from organizations such as Sanofi, Dover Corporation, HSBC Bank, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to better connect and be more influential.

Achim holds an M.A. in Organizational Psychology and International Relations from New York University. He served for over a decade on the faculty of New York University and has been a frequent guest speaker at other universities and industry events. Achim and his work have also been featured on 60 Minutes, The Today Show, NPR, and CNN.

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

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Infectious, a few general questions and then a few others about high-impact communication. First, who has had the greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Nowak: In 1992 I was trained at the Brooklyn Courts to become a mediator. Mediators are highly skilled at shaping the flow of a conversation and using language with strategic precision. The skill sets – validating, paraphrasing, reflecting feelings, identifying underlying issues, speaking in neutral – are priceless. These skills instantly elevated the quality of the conversations I was having, anywhere. They should be required study for any business leader!

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.

Nowak: I spent six weeks in the late 1980s at a retreat in the Arizona desert. I had never done anything like this before. I had never just stopped to take a look at myself – I was your classic results-driven alpha male. The retreat center sat atop an old Anasazi burial mound. The Anasazi spirit energy was electric. I soon had daily visits from power animals. In one very long night I had repeated visions of a white house on an island, overlooking a sparkling dark blue ocean. I knew instantly that this house was not a metaphor, it was a real place. Six months later I had left my life as a theatre director in New York City and was living in a small white house on the island of Tobago, overlooking the Atlantic. This was the first time in my life that I listened to deep inner guidance and followed suit – even though at no time prior had I ever had a yearning for island life. This was the start of my journey into a life and career that looks different from anything I might have envisioned for myself.

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

Nowak: My formal education has been marginally valuable, at best. There are great minds whose work I cherish – Peter Drucker, Daniel Goleman – and I greatly believe in continuous learning, but my most meaningful lessons happened while working in the trenches: Doing transformational work in North-American AIDS communities, facilitating co-existence dialogues in countries that are at war – and in every one-on-one coaching conversation I have with a C-level leader!

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

Nowak: FLOW by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is my favorite book about business – and life. Distinctions between business and non-business are often artificial since we tend to spend more time at work than we do in our non-business life. The common denominator between both is that we are in constant relationship with others. Csikszentmihalyi’s insights about how we attain peak performance, and how our engagement in peak performance leads to a state of flow, are instantly relevant, in all parts of life. I recommend to everyone.

Morris: Here’s one of my favorite quotations from Oscar Wilde to which I ask you to respond: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Nowak: There are tantalizing questions behind this clever quip. Do I know who I am? Is this knowledge of who I am growing and changing over time? (Yes – I hope!) And most importantly – which parts of myself do I choose to reveal in public? The ability to be myself at all times and make enlightened choices about how I show up – that’s the mark of a mature leader.

Morris: Here’s a brief excerpt from Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather ‘Which [end mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'” Your response?

Nowak: I love the title of this book – Brilliant Mistakes. I tend to be a risk-taker, and the moment we take risks we will make mistakes. Only when we test deeply-held assumptions do we get to the unknown – which is a world that we, by definition, do not know before we know it. How many mistakes we can tolerate, well, that’s the personal frontier everyone one of us needs to explore. I’m thinking of a few situations in my life just recently where I feel like I pressed for results a little too hard. My job is to learn from that experience. Were my actions mistakes? It’s up to me to decide how I frame it up for myself, isn’t it? It always boils down to assuming responsibility for my actions without beating myself up for having taken a risk. That’s my personal bottom-line.:

Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?

Nowak: My experience doesn’t entirely match your statement. I know quite a few C-level executives who do know how to delegate. The key, of course, for all C-Level executives is to be secure enough to surround themselves with amazing talent – and to let this talent shine. Part of letting the talent shine is having real, tough, challenging conversations when everyone meets in person, without ever denigrating the brilliance of others. And, of course, there has to be the willingness to let go of those who do not wish to play your game or support your vision.

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

Nowak: They’re smart. Well-told stories tap into our deepest yearnings and desires. They stir us. Leaders who are unable to stir folks, especially in a democracy, simply will not get elected. Because we know that stories work, every modern politician these days has been coached on telling stories. The key now is to move from the easy and predictable stories – rags-to-riches, immigrant-to-success – and tell stories that involve taking a true personal risk in the telling. Stories that are mere marketing clichés come across as mere marketing clichés. They fail to stir!

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To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Monday, February 25, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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