First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Peter Jensen: An interview by Bob Morris

An authority on leadership and a renowned innovator, Dr. Peter Jensen is a pioneer in bringing the concepts of coaching and personal high performance to corporations worldwide. Jensen has worked with the best and brightest in Fortune 500 companies in eight countries applying his extensive understanding and realistic practices to the art of leadership. He knows firsthand what it takes to get the best out of people.

Peter has attended seven Olympics, assisting athletes and coaches in winning over 50 Olympic medals. His work with athletes provides an amazing laboratory in which to both observe and practice how to support and develop people who truly are striving to reach their potential while learning to manage intense pressure and high expectations.

Also a top rated instructor at Queen’s School of Business he combines a potent understanding of the fundamentals of effective leadership with new ideas and ongoing insights from Olympic coaches and athletes. He has a unique ability to bring practical clarity to complex concepts by illustrating their tangible application in the business world, and the power to invigorate audiences through his compelling use of humor, and personal experiences.

Jensen is the author of the best-selling book The Inside Edge, a powerful roadmap for using the mental preparation techniques of elite athletes to improve personal performance. His latest book, The Winning Factor, offers managers solutions from exceptional Olympic coaches on motivating, engaging and developing their employees. His work has been featured on ABC, CBS, CBC, and CTV and in a wide array of print media in North America and Europe.

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

*     *     *

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

Jensen: Probably my mother because she believed everything was possible so put no limitations on me.

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

Jensen: Hard to single out one person but it was Kazimierz Dabrowski who first introduced me to the critical role emotion and imagination play in human development. He was the one who coined the term “third factor.”

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.

Jensen: Again it grew out of my working/studying with Dr. Dabrowski. I was going through a difficult time in my life at that point and the timeliness of his concepts given the adversity of was facing really changed the course of my life.

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

Jensen: I think formal education of any type can be an assist and a PhD has helped with credibility but I am also a believer in Mark Twain’s observation that you ought not let your schooling interfere with your education. Life can be a tremendous learning laboratory if you let it.

Morris: How do you define a “winner”? A “loser”?

Jensen: Only in developmental terms. Winning isn’t about the medal but about what happens to you in the achievement of that medal. If you will be nothing without a gold medal then you will be nothing with one. A loser is someone who lacks self awareness and self responsibility.

Morris: Of all the films you have seen, which do you think most effectively portrays great leadership in a competitive sports context?

Jensen: Probably Invictus, the Nelson Mandela South African rugby story.

Morris: Teamwork?

Jensen: it’s been a while since I’ve seen it so memory may be inaccurate but Hoosiers.

Morris: When and why did you found Performance Coaching?

Jensen: In 1991 because I saw a need for training in coaching in the Organizational world that paralleled the coaching development systems prevalent in the sport coaching certification programs that had been implemented in several countries at the time.

Morris: To what extent (if any) has its original mission changed since then? Please explain.

Jensen: Not so much changed as deepened and, to a small extent, expanded. We believe more strongly then ever that managers and leaders need to move away from constantly directing and supervising into developing. They need to take on the more fulfilling mandate of becoming a developer of people.

Morris: In your opinion, to what extent (if any) have professional sports been corrupted by greed? Please explain.

Jensen: There is no question that the pendulum has swung dramatically away from players as owned pawns that are used to generate huge profits for those who own them. Clearly the adjustment has led to some greed and entitlement in some athletes. Most people no matter where they work would take as a wage their market value. Many athletes can get that in today’s world. Is it greed? I suppose we would need to know what they do with their resources before we passed that judgment. They are privileged.

Morris: What do you regret most about organized youth sports programs for children up to the age of 14? Why?

Jensen: That parental involvement has run amok. Sport has tremendous developmental potential for young people when they are involved not just in playing but in working through the various issues that are bound to arise in a competitive environment.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Peter cordially invites you to check out the resources at his website:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mark Miller: An interview by Bob Morris

Mark Miller is a business leader, best-selling author and communicator. He began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. In 1978, Mark joined the corporate staff working in the warehouse and mailroom. Since that time, he has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, and Quality and Customer Satisfaction, and today he serves as the Vice President, Training and Development. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to almost $4 billion. The company now has more than 1,500 restaurants in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

Mark began writing about a decade ago.  He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Today, almost 400,000 copies of The Secret are in print, and it has been translated into more than 20 languages. Recently, he released The Secret of Teams that outlines some of the key lessons learned from a 20-year study on what makes some teams outperform the rest.  His next book, Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life, is set for release in February 2012.

In addition to his writing, Mark loves speaking to leaders.  Over the years, he’s traveled extensively around the world teaching for numerous international organizations. His theme is always the same: encouraging and equipping leaders.  His topics include leadership, creativity, team building, and more. Mark has an active lifestyle. As a photographer, he enjoys shooting in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach places, including Mount Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and the jungles of Rwanda.

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

*     *     *

Morris: Before discussing The Secret and The Secret of Teams, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth?

Miller: My mom.  She instilled in me early the idea of working hard to be my best.

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development?

Miller: Dan Cathy, the current president of Chick-fil-A was one of my first supervisors.  He’s modeled life-long learning for me for over three decades.

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

Miller: Dan has taught me many things over the years, but none had more lasting impact than the idea that your capacity to learn determines your capacity to lead.

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

Miller: My formal education took a non-traditional path. I attended college at night while working on the Chick-fil-A staff.  Since that time I’ve had some phenomenal educational experiences – one of the highlights for me was attending the 8-week Advanced Management Program at Harvard,

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you to work for Chil-fil-A in 1977?

Miller: Everything rises and falls on leadership. Had I known this in 35 years ago, I would have become a student of leadership as a kid.

Morris: In you opinion, what differentiates Chil-fil-A from all other employers for which so many young people now work?

Miller: The success of our brand hinges on the business leader who operates each individual location. We are tireless in our efforts to get the right leader in each location. As a result, the more than 70,000 employees in the restaurants have the chance to work for some amazing leaders.

Morris: Based on your own experience as well as what you have learned from others, how to recognize high-potentials among all the young people whom Chick-fil-A hires?

Miller: It all starts with the point leader in the restaurant, we call them the Operator. We’ve noticed over the years that the best Operators attract the best people. As I said earlier, our success is determined by the local Operator.

Morris: On May 23, 1946, 25-year-old Truett Cathy and his younger brother Ben opened a restaurant called the Dwarf House at 461 South Central Avenue in Hapeville, Georgia, a small town south of Atlanta. With all due respect to what Ray Kroc and Dave Thomas achieved, how do you explain the fact that they have received far more attention as entrepreneurs than Truett Cathy has?

Miller: Truett chose a different path. Because he was not trying to build a big company, he could do things differently:  Close on Sundays, all company-owned restaurants, be a privately owned company, etc. The result of these decisions, and others like them, was slower growth. I guess there are fewer news stories on slow and steady growth. A footnote on this point: In 2011 we surpassed $4 billion in sales for the first time and we’re debt-free. Not bad for slow and steady.

Morris: Of all the business books that you have read, from which have you learned the most valuable lessons? Please explain.

Miller: I’ve read more business books than I can count. My goal is to learn something from every one of them.  I think I have. With that said, The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker continues to challenge me.  It is one of the few business books that I read again and again.

Morris: When did you first meet Ken Blanchard and how did your relationship with him then develop?

Miller: Ken and I met when Chick-fil-A was considering him to speak at one of our events almost 15 years ago. He and I hit it off and the day of my first meeting with him I found myself at his home for lunch meeting his wife, Margie. We’ve worked on several projects over the years – Chick-fil-A projects, numerous book projects and we’ve worked together in the non-profit sector. He’s been a great friend and mentor for me.

Morris: How specifically have you applied his “One Minute” concept in your work at Chick-fil-A??

Miller: We created curriculum for our restaurants around Ken’s book, Leadership and the One Minute Manger. Some of our Operators say it is the best thing we’ve ever done for them. We’ve also had Ken conduct his Situational Leadership II workshop for our Operators and corporate staff.

Morris: Has it also proven helpful in personal situations? Please explain.

Miller: Ken’s ideas are powerful! He has an uncanny gift for making the complicated easy to understand and apply.  So, once you get Situational Leadership, or any of his other ideas, you can apply them at home, or school, or church, or work.  The ideas he tends to write about have a broad, if not universal application.  That’s one reason he’s been so successful.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Mark cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites.

Thursday, February 2, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Engaging Films: The power of first-person plural pronouns

In general, people become engaged in the doing of whatever must be done, enduring whatever personal sacrifices may be required, if they believe in the given objectives and, a key point, are able to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate effectively with others involved. They agree with David Packard that “people get together [in order] to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately.” Here are some films that demonstrate what teamwork can accomplish.

Apollo 13 (1995)

Directed by Ron Howard, this film examines an unexpected development during a space flight that created a life-or-death situation (literally), requiring seamless teamwork to return the module safely. Note how calmly Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) responds as does Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) while coordinating the improvisation of a solution under increasingly greater pressure. Without leadership and teamwork both in space and on the ground, Apollo is doomed.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Here is an excellent example of effective teamwork under less than favorable conditions: a dozen soldiers (convicted of various crimes) are scheduled to be executed or to serve long-term sentences unless they agree to participate in a suicide mission. If it is successful, those who survive may be granted a more lenient sentence. The mission is led by Maj. Reisman (Lee Marvin), widely viewed as an insubordinate officer. F special interest to me is the fact that if any one of the “dirty dozen” escapes or fails to make a full commitment to the success of the mission, all of their original sentences will be carried out.

The Great Escape (1963)

This film is also based on an historical situation (during World War Two) as Allied officers who are inmates in a German prison plan and execute an escape. Preparations are lengthy and complicated, constantly vulnerable to detection. The division of labor is necessarily at a very high level because only exceptional expertise will produce the German uniforms, documentation, and escape routes that needed. Note that only of a few officers will have the opportunity to escape but all inmates are actively engaged in achieving that.

Hoosiers (1986)

To some extent based on events that enabled a basketball team from a small high school in Indiana to win the state championship (Milam in 1954 rather than the fictional Hickory), “teamwork” in this film includes but is by no means limited to the players on the team. Indeed, much of the plot focuses on the coach (Gene Hackman) as he struggles to convince not only the players but also their family members and friends, school officials, and other residents of the town that he is capable, and, that the team can be a winner if he remains as coach.

The Magnificent Seven

Based to some extent on Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, this film examines how residents of a village that has been repeatedly terrorized by more than 100 bandits led by Calvera (Eli Wallach) retain for a nominal fee seven gunfighters led by Chris Adams (Yul Brynner). Of special interest to me is the fact that, after the villagers observe the teamwork of the seven during a series of violent encounters, they realize that they must assume responsibility for defending themselves. For too long, they have allowed others to dominate and intimidate them. Most recently, they have hired others to protect them. Only by becoming actively engaged can the villagers determine their own destiny.

Major League (1989)

Teamwork is often required if there is a common enemy to be vanquished. In this instance, that would be Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitten) a former chorus girl who married the owner of the Cleveland Indians. After his death, she is determined that the team lose as many games as possible so that declining attendance will enable her to break a lease and move the team to Florida. (She hates Cleveland). The manager, coaches, and players overcome their personal animosities and character flaws and come together to win the Indians’ first division title in more than three decades. Although this is a loopy comedy in most respects, I think there are a few valuable lessons to be learned from it about engagement and shared commitment, about subordinating personal agendas for a common goal against a common enemy.

Remember the Titans (2000)

As with Hoosiers, this also a dramatized portrayal of events that occurred (n the 1970s) when two high schools in Alexandra (VA) were merged. Unlike Hoosiers, however, questions about the competence of the coach and the effectiveness of his leadership style are anchored in a racial context. Getting everyone on the team and in the community to “come together” and become engaged in helping the football team to succeed is far more difficult. Again there is a common opponent and in this instance, Pogo’s observation is relevant: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Seabiscuit (2003)

This film is also based on actual events, as presented in Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book of the same name. The voice-over narration is provided by an eminent historian, David McCullough. Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) is a successful automobile dealer who purchases a horse that seems to have little (if any) chance of winning any races. As for trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) and jockey Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), their prospects are no better. Over time, a horse and three humans learn how to work together effectively prior to the narrative’s climax that occurs when Seabiscuit competes against War Admiral on November 1, 1938, in the “Match of the Century.” Of special interest to me is how popular Seabiscuit became among those who had not as yet recovered from the Great Depression. Presumably many of them had also cheered for James Braddock when he faced heavyweight champion Max Baer in 1935.

The Sting (1973)

Although quite complicated, the plot is seamless and sustains a viewer’s interest as Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) and his associates plan and then perform an elaborate deception. Their target is a Chicago mob boss, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), and objective is not only to cheat him out of hundreds of thousands of dollars (several million by today’s standards) but to do it so that he does not realize how and by whom he has been deceived. (That is the essence of a “sting.”) It is worth noting that although all but one of collaborators accept their share of Linnean’s money, their primary motive for engagement is to succeed despite all manner of barriers and perils. Similarly, in the business world, members of peak performance teams accept appropriate compensation because it has been earned and is deserved; however, they tend to be most excited by what they have accomplished together rather than by the recognition and rewards received.

Monday, June 21, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Business Lesson: Sports Films



I had the opportunity to vote (in 2008) for the ten best films in ten different categories (in a survey conducted by the American Film Institute) and believe that all of the 100 winners were worthy, as were many of the other 400 nominees. Here are the top ten SPORTS films:

1. Raging Bull (1980)
2. Rocky (1977)
3. The Pride of the Yankees (1943)
4. Hoosiers (1986)
5. Bull Durham (1988)
6. The Hustler (1961)
7. Caddyshack (1980)
8. Breaking Away (1979)
9. National Velvet (1945)
10. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Question: Is there one especially important business lesson that films such as these demonstrate?

One man’s opinion: The terms “winning” and “losing” cannot always be measured in terms of the final “score.”

In all of these films, there are winners and losers in various forms of competition such as prize fighting, high school basketball, high-stakes pool, and bicycle racing. Most of it occurs during “games” that have specific rules. People begin to play games in childhood and, over time, competition becomes more important than participation, and then winning often becomes more important than being competitive. In businesses, there is also intense competition, several different ways of “keeping score,” and several different definitions of “winning” and “losing.” The most highly admired companies, the ones that are the best to work for, do not necessarily generate the most revenue or produce the highest profits. They certainly do not win every contract or dominate every market. However, they set very high standards for conduct, have non-negotiable core values, are customer-focused, treat their people fairly, and are good citizens everywhere they do business. They are the “winners.”

You can check out the wealth of the resources provided by the American Film Institute and the Internet Movie Database. Here are links to their Web sites:

Comments? Please share.

Saturday, July 11, 2009 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



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