First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Dorie Clark on How to Stand Out: An interview by Bob Morris

ClarkDorie Clark is the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013) and Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It (Portfolio/Penguin, 2015). A former presidential campaign spokeswoman, she is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Entrepreneur as well as the World Economic Forum blog. Recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, Fortune, and Inc. magazine, Clark is a marketing strategy consultant and speaker for clients including Google, Microsoft, Yale University, Fidelity, and the World Bank.

She is an Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a Visiting Professor for IE Business School in Madrid. She has guest lectured at Harvard Business School, the Harvard Kennedy School, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and more. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC and appears in worldwide media including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the BBC.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Dorie.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Stand Out, a few general questions. First of all, I think your previous book — Reinventing You — is a brilliant achievement. To what extent have you reinvented Dorie Clark over the years since you graduated from Smith College?

Clark: I’ve reinvented myself quite a few times. Right after college, I went to Harvard Divinity School and thought I’d become an academic, but (after getting my masters degree), I didn’t get into any of the doctoral programs I applied to. So I reinvented myself into a journalist, only to get laid off, and then a political campaign spokesperson, only to work on two consecutive losing campaigns. It took me until nearly a decade after college to land on my current profession as a marketing strategist/author/speaker. So my interest in reinvention comes quite naturally! I wanted to write Reinventing You to help other professionals go through the process more seamlessly, and faster and better.

Morris: My own opinion is that most people prune — if not reinvent — their lives every few years. Frankly, I have found this immensely difficult, sometimes painful. It’s such a struggle to resist what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” What are your own thoughts about all this?

Clark: Reinvention is definitely becoming a constant in most people’s lives. After all, how many people do you still know who spend a lifetime – or even a decade – at one company? But I like to differentiate between what I call “Capital R” Reinvention, which is a more dramatic job change or career change, and “lowercase r” reinvention, which is the practice of keeping ourselves flexible and adaptable with small choices we make, from taking a class on something new to being open to making a new friend in an unlikely place. The better we are at “reinvention” on a regular basis, the less likely “Reinvention” will feel traumatic when the time comes for a major change.

Morris: I congratulate you on what you have achieved in your career thus far. Presumably there have been a few setbacks along the way. Thus far, what has been the single greatest disappointment and what are the most valuable lessons that you have learned from it?

Clark: There continue to be setbacks and disappointments in my professional life, even though in general I feel happy with the success I’ve achieved. My first book, Reinventing You, was actually the fourth book proposal I created; the other three before it were all rejected. And there are at least four fellowships I’ve applied for in the last 2-3 years that I haven’t been chosen for. You have to keep pushing. But probably the hardest disappointment was the first, getting turned down for the doctoral programs. That’s because academia was my only plan; I really didn’t have a Plan B. But that taught me something important, which is that you should always have an alternate strategy, because you never know how things will play out, and you need to be prepared.

Morris: In your opinion, should people prepare for a career in a specific field or master skills that will be highly-valued in any field? Please explain.

Clark: My ideal advice would be to learn baseline skills – good writing and speaking, for instance – and then get professional experience in particular fields through internships or volunteering. Paying a university to educate you in a specific discipline, especially one that might change rapidly, could be quite expensive and leave you adrift if the field changes or if the need is no longer there because of demographic changes or technological advances. Far better to get specific work experience at work, rather than in a classroom.

Morris: Opinions are divided — sometimes sharply divided — about the how essential charisma is to effective leadership. What do you think?

Clark: I think people want to follow someone who seems “like a leader.” But charisma is often misunderstood. I like the research of the Center for Talent Innovation, which broke down the concept of “executive presence” – often related to charisma – into its constituent parts. They are communication skills, gravitas (i.e., can you handle pressure during difficult circumstances?) and, to a more limited extent, appearance (such as professional dress). All of these are things that individuals can master with practice.

Morris: Here are two of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. From Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s odd….’”

Clark: One of my favorite stories from Stand Out is about the psychologist, Robert Cialdini, who revolutionized the field by paying attention to his students when they questioned the typical way of doing business. In his field, experiments were done in a laboratory setting and then the findings were simply assumed to translate to real life. Students wondered how researchers knew the same principles would apply, and Cialdini told them they simply had to trust that human nature was the same everywhere. But he listened and wondered if there was a way to know for sure, so he started doing the first field experiments in psychology and became a legend in his field by advancing the discourse in a meaningful way.

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

Clark: In the business world, we often talk about the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle – i.e., that 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. That’s particularly true when it comes to the research I did around breakthrough ideas. Most of these recognized experts are known for one or, at most, two “big ideas” and concepts that are associated with them. It shows the importance of doubling down when you’ve found an idea that resonates.

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete interview.

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

Her home page with Free 42-Page Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook link

Amazon page link

Reinventing You link

Stand Out link

TEDx talk: Finding Your Breakthrough Idea link

Twitter link

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greg McKeown: An interview by Bob Morris

McKeown, GregGreg McKeown is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. His writing has appeared or been covered by Fast Company, Fortune, HuffPost, Politico,Inc. Magazine and Harvard Business Review. He has also been interviewed on numerous television and radio shows including NPR and NBC. McKeown is the CEO of THIS, Inc. where his clients include Adobe, Apple, Airbnb, Google, Facebook, Pixar, Salesforce.com, Symantec, Twitter, VMware and Yahoo!.

Greg is an accomplished public speaker. He has spoken to hundreds of audiences around the world including in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, England, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. Highlights include speaking at SXSW, interviewing Al Gore at the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland and receiving a personal invitation from Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, to speak to his Annual Innovation Conference.

In 2012 Greg was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Originally from London, he now lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and their four children. He graduated with an MBA from Stanford University.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Greg.

* * *

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.

McKeown: It happened years ago, one day after our precious daughter was born, healthy and happy at 7 pounds, 3 ounces. What should have been one of most serene days of my life was filled with tension. Even as my beautiful new baby lay in my wife’s tired arms, I was on the phone and on email with work, and I was feeling pressure to go to a client meeting.

My colleague had written, “Friday between 1-2 would be a bad time to have a baby because I need you to come be at this meeting with X.” It was now Friday and though I was pretty certain (or at least I hoped) the email had been written jest, I still felt pressure to attend.

Instinctively, I knew what to do. It was clearly a time to be there for my wife and newborn child. So when asked whether I planned to attend the meeting, I said with all the conviction I could muster…

“Yes.”

To my shame, while my wife lay in the hospital with our hours-old baby, I went to the meeting. Afterward, my colleague said, “The client will respect you for making the decision to be here.” But the look on the clients’ faces did not evince respect. Instead, they mirrored how I felt. What was I doing there?! I had said “yes” simply to please, and in doing so disrespected my family, my integrity, and even the client relationship.

As it turned out, exactly nothing came of the client meeting. But even if it had, surely I would have made a fool’s bargain. In trying to keep everyone happy I had pleased no one and sacrificed what mattered most. On reflection I discovered this important lesson: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

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

McKeown: My undergraduate was in journalism which is one of the only majors that teaches you how to ask the right questions. Almost all formal education teaches you how to find the right answer. That’s good as far as it goes. But to ask the right question is a higher and more valuable skill.

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

McKeown: I love the film Gandhi. He is an Essentialist and the film captures this. With singleness of purpose—to achieve independence for the Indian people—he eliminated everything else from his life.

He called the process, “Reducing himself to zero.” He dressed in his own homespun cloth (khadi) and inspired his followers to do the same. He spent three years not reading any newspapers because he found that their contents added only nonessential confusion to his life. He spent 35 years experimenting with simplifying his diet. He spent a day each week without speaking. It would be an understatement to see he eschewed consumerism: when he died he owned less than ten items. He intentionally never held a political position of any kind and yet became, officially within India, the Father of the Nation.

And his contribution extended well beyond India. As General George C. Marshall, the American Secretary of State said on the occasion of Gandhi’s passing, “Mahatma Gandhi had become the spokesman for the conscience of mankind, a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires.” And Albert Einstein added, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” It is impossible to argue with the statement that Gandhi lived a life that really mattered or that his ability to focus on what was essential and eschew the nonessential was critical to his success.

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

McKeown: Can I cheat and point to an essay rather than a book? It was written by Tennessee Williams and was first published in The New York Times and tells the story of his experience following the release of his widely acclaimed play The Glass Menagerie. The piece is called, and contains his thesis in the title, “The Catastrophe of Success.” He describes how his life changed after the success of the play and how he became distracted from the essentials that led to his success in the first place.

For more than 15 years I have been obsessed with a single question: “Why do otherwise capable people and teams not breakthrough to the next level?” The answer, as Williams beautifully captures, is success. It’s a counterintuitive answer: one that is hidden in plain sight. Success can become a catalyst for failure if it leads to what Jim Collins called “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” The key is to become successful at success. The antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Greg cordially invites you to check out the resources at his website and LinkedIn.

Sunday, March 22, 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

Eric Siegel: An interview by Bob Morris

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

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

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

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

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

Siegel: Checks and balances before triggering a project!

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Predictive Analytics link

Predictive Analytics World link

Eric’s Amazon page link

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

Daniel Roberts: An interview by Bob Morris

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

ZOOM link

40 Under 40 link

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How would you describe your writing process?

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

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

My quota is two crappy pages per day.

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

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

* * *

To read the complete inyerview, please click here.

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To read the complete article, please click here.

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

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

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

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

Brian Klapper: An interview by Bob Morris

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

The Klapper Institute

The Klapper Institute blog

Brian’s Amazon page

Bibliomotion link

LinkedIn link

Twitter link

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

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

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

BOOK REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

Decide: Better Ways of Making Better Decisions
David Wethey

Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable
Steven Fink

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

INTERVIEWS

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

Peter Gray (Part 1)
BOB

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

Dennis Perkins (Part 1)
BOB

COMMENTARIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Five Stages of Disruption Denial”
Grant McCracken
HBR

“How to Create an Innovation Ecosystem”
Art Markman
HBR

* * *

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

To subscribe via RSS Reader, please click here.

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

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