First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Jeff Wolf: An interview by Bob Morris

Wolf 2Jeff Wolf is one of America’s foremost executive business coaches, speakers and management consultants.

Prestigious Leadership Excellence magazine named him one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development, managerial effectiveness and organizational productivity. His strategic focus on solving corporate and human issues has garnered continuing raves from myriad global organizations. Jeff’s first book, Roadmap to Success, with management gurus Ken Blanchard and Stephen Covey, is now in its second printing.

His latest book, Seven Disciplines of a Leader: How to Help Your People, Team, and Organization Achieve Maximum Effectiveness, was published in November 2014 and has been named one of the 11 most thought-provoking leadership books of 2014, was cited as one of the three books small business owners should read by the Small Business Forum and will be translated and published in China in late 2015. According to Wiley publisher, Richard Narramore, “this book has the potential to become a standard text on leadership for organizations around the world.”

Featured on NBC, CNBC, CBS and Fox, Jeff understands what today’s leaders demand: business acumen, leadership skills and common sense, all of which produce extraordinary growth. Whether he’s working with world-class organizations or small businesses, Jeff’s clients — including Sony, AT&T, Samsung, GE, Abbott Labs, CVS/Caremark, URS, Citibank, Qualcomm, Ace Hardware, Hyatt, Baxter International, Cummins, Pfizer, Tupperware International, Thomson Reuters, Monsanto, General Mills and hundreds of others – know where to come when they want to retain the best advisory talent. As founder and president of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC, Jeff has built a valued practice that addresses the critical problems confronting businesses today.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Jeff.

* * *

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

Wolf: My parents. They provided me with guiding principles and moral values as a child that have stayed with me throughout my life. They taught me that anything you put your mind to may be achieved with hard work. My father was not an educated man, but he had people skills that were second to none. I never realized how important that attribute was until I was much older and in the business world. He was a great listener who made people feel good about themselves.

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.

Wolf: Fifteen years ago I was a CEO and working 14-16 hours a day which obviously affected my personal and family life. I made a decision to spend more time with my family and left the corporate world to become an executive coach, consultant and speaker which allowed me to have more time with my family. Now, in my coaching of high-level executives, one of the problems that usually arises is work-life balance which is easy for me coach them through.

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?

Wolf: Have fun and don’t take everything so seriously!

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

Wolf: I can think of two. The first is The Company Men, where a large conglomerate closes its shipbuilding subsidiary and releases some its top executives, who then start their own shipbuilding company from scratch. The movie demonstrates how poor leadership principles damage organizations and how effective leadership principles can be applied in both the largest and smallest organizations to achieve successful results.

The second is Too Big To Fail, a movie about the market crash of 2008 and how the country’s top bankers team with the Secretary of the Treasury to prevent an economic disaster. Their leadership truly averted a financial catastrophe.

Any leader or potential leader can learn a lot by watching both films.

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

Wolf: Here, as with film, I would say two: One of the great classic books on leadership and management is The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People written by Stephen Covey. As Amazon.com describes it, Covey’s book “has transformed the lives of Presidents and CEOs, educators and parents— in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations.” Stephen’s book encouraged me, for one.

The other book, Up The Organization, by Robert Townsend, retired CEO of Avis, is a wonderful insight into how executives should guide their companies, written in plain down-to-earth language that is refreshing to read. The subtitle says it all: How To Stop The Organization From Stifling People And Strangling Profits. It’s been on the market for 45 years and it’s still as valid today as it was then.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-tse’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.”

Wolf: This quote expresses the core principle of my book. Involve your people, train them, provide them with the necessary tools to accomplish their mission, and encourage their active participation in the direction of their work groups. This is the essence of great leadership: the ability to inspire your people so they consider their personal involvement essential to company success. Miracles result.

Morris: From Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Wolf: I think what Aiken was implying is that a lot of people, top executives included, are often stuck in the rut of doing things today and tomorrow the way they were done yesterday. The truly innovative thinkers in the executive suite understand that fresh thinking is necessary to cope with the ever-changing conditions of the marketplace, and that change itself is a required constant of company success.

Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Wolf: Dawkins was quoting somebody else. He claimed that statement was a seductive generalization that has led many people astray. As Dawkins expressed in Edge https://edge.org/conversation/afterword-to-dangerous-ideas) “Although it is true that hindsight can recognize accepted norms that were once dangerous ideas, it is also true that most dangerous ideas from the past neither deserved nor received eventual acceptance. It is not enough for an idea to be dangerous. It must also be good.” I can second that. It’s been my experience that all new ideas must be evaluated on their merit, not on their cachet.

Morris: 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….’”

Wolf: Asimov was in a better position to evaluate that statement than me. I can say that whatever the insights sparked or words spoken at a breakthrough moment in leadership and management, the hard work that follows is the criterion for acceptance and success.

Morris: From Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Wolf: Good point. I might not call it hallucination, but vision without execution is certainly meaningless. And nowhere is it more meaningless than in business where achievement trumps insight without accompanying actions.

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

Wolf: What Drucker was pointing out is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is doing the right things, while efficiency is doing them well. There’s a world of difference between the two. The leader’s job is doing the right things for his or her organization, while employees in operations have the responsibility of executing plans as efficiently as possible to meet operating budgets.

Morris: In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, 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?

Wolf: That comes back to my response to the Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching quote. In my opinion it is both foolish and self-defeating to consider that any single person is responsible for the success of an organization. The most successful organizations are those whose leaders understand that to get full commitment from their people they must ask, encourage, and welcome their active involvement in decision-making for their individual work groups and the company as a whole.

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 mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'” Your response?

Wolf: I agree that it is crucial to question our deeply held assumptions by testing them constantly, because penetrating questions may reveal unpleasant surprises. For example, a salesperson for a company in the leather goods industry worked the same territory for thirty years and produced what the company considered to be top-drawer results consistently, quarter after quarter. When he retired, the new salesperson, a rookie straight out of college, took over the territory and doubled sales in the first year and tripled sales the year after that. When the company looked into the matter it soon discovered that the retiring salesperson had been coasting for years.

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

Wolf: Look, when you’re fully invested emotionally in your company and dedicated to your job, the natural tendency is to try to control everything. That’s just natural. But the careful leader will divest themselves of those feelings and learn to share responsibility. It’s a learning process, and to arrive at that point where the leader balances control with delegation takes some time and a lot of effort.

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

Wolf: I couldn’t agree more. It’s been my experience that people accept change and learn more through examples (stories) because they listen more attentively. I think the lesson to be learned here is that when training people and helping them learn new concepts, it’s much better to use examples (stories) every step of the way.

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?

Wolf: Probably the most important step in the process of acceptance of the new order—and it is a process—is to involve everybody affected by the change from the very beginning not through discussions of the mechanics of the process—that comes later– but instead through explanation of why changes are necessary. The further the process advances the more that explanations are needed to assure employee’s comfort and cooperation.

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?

Wolf: The biggest argument I have with B-school graduates is their unwillingness to get their hands dirty. This obviously isn’t universal, but it happens with enough graduates to cause concern. This perception of moving directly from grad school into high-level executive positions dealing with policy isn’t going to happen (at least not often), and it actually hampers the chances of these young people to mature into outstanding leaders. I would advise organizations to start them at the bottom of the pyramid where they can get an understanding of what it takes to get the job done.

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

Wolf: We’re living in different times. To paraphrase that old commercial (“this is not your father’s Oldsmobile), “this is not as simple as your father’s job,” That probably expresses it best. The new workforce now comes from a very diverse background. They’re motivated differently than previous generations. I think the biggest challenge will be to cohesively meld the new generation with the older generations to produce successful corporate performance.

Wolf: “I understand you are donating the proceeds of the book to our wounded service men and women. Why did you decide to do that?”

Living in San Diego, a large military town, I often drive near the VA hospital and see many of our nations’ wounded heroes standing on street corners with signs asking for help. Seeing these once proud able-bodied men and women asking for a handout makes me very sad and it’s unwarranted. These warriors are the country’s real heroes who put their lives on the line every day so you and I can live in a free country. They deserve all the help and support they can get for sacrifices they made.

I wanted to give back to those warriors who have been severely injured while selflessly and courageously serving our country. Leadership comes from a strong sense of service to others, something our military men and women exemplify every day through their sacrifice. They are the real life, every day examples of leadership in my estimation.

Morris: How can those who read this interview obtain more information?

Wolf: I suggest they visit these websites:

Warrior Foundation Freedom Station (San Diego) link

Building Homes for Heroes (New Jersey) link

Blue Star Families (Virginia) link

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Wolf Management Consultants link

Seven Disciplines of a Leader link

Monday, May 25, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mark Goulston: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

Goulston

In his career as an organizational consultant, relationship counselor, and hostage-negotiation trainer, Mark Goulston has found what works, consistently, to reach all kinds of people in any type of situation.

In his book Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In, he and co-author John Ullmen share what they learned while interviewing more than 100 influential people and distilled a four-step model that they have in common. As he explains, “We are in a ‘post-selling/post-pushing’ world where most people can’t stand to either of these done to them and don’t enjoy when they have to do it to others.” He says, “There is a way to persuade without pushing and that is by positively influencing people, because influence can last a lifetime, whereas persuasion sometimes doesn’t even last until the end of a conversation.”

In his latest book, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, Goulston introduces a communication process in a book (first published in 2010) that can help almost anyone get to almost anyone else who may otherwise be inaccessible. Dorothy and her friends were advised to follow the yellow brick road. Goulston advises his reader to follow the five-step “persuasion cycle.” There won’t be any flying monkeys to worry about but there may be distractions so focus on the basic nine rules he identifies and master the twelve “quick techniques” he recommends.

Mark blogs or contributes to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Business Insider, and writes the “Closing Bell” for C-Suite Quarterly magazine and the Tribune syndicated column, “Solve Anything with Dr. Mark.” He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Real Influence and then Just Listen, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Goulston: William (“Mac”) McNary, PhD, Dean of Students, Boston University School of Medicine. One of my greatest personal accomplishments is that I dropped out of medical school twice and finished. I didn’t drop out to see the world. I had hit a wall and although I was passing my courses, I couldn’t retain or recall information. I took my first year off, and recovered enough to come back, but then hit the same wall after being back less than a semester and sought another year off. The Dean of the medical school wanted to have the promotions committee ask me to withdraw (since I wasn’t flunking any courses) because each time I was out, they lost matching funds for an unoccupied place. I couldn’t blame him for doing so.

However Mac stepped in at that point and saw value and a future for me that I didn’t see. He saw that not based on anything I had to do, but based on something he saw in me. And so at a time when I didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone he said, “Mark, even if you don’t finish medical school or become a doctor or do anything else in your life, I’d be proud to know you, because you have goodness in you that the world needs. However you won’t know that until you’re 35…but you have to make it to 35.” (Pause and then pointed his finger at me) “And another thing, Mark. Look at me. You deserve to be on this planet… and you’re going to let me help you.”

Years later I came to believe that Mac was an actual angel sent to save me. Now the good news about being touched and blessed by an angel, is that you walk differently in this world. You are also compelled to pay it forward. So I have even come up with something I call the Diamond Rule, which is: “Do onto others, as someone who loved you did onto you.”

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

Goulston: What Mac did for me by not just listening to me, but listening into me and not just understanding me, but causing me to “feel felt” by him is something I use in my professional life. I do my best to follow the directive from psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, which is to listen without memory (a past personal agenda you’re trying to plug someone into) or desire (a present or future personal agenda you’re trying to plug someone into). I do this by practicing and teaching others to be a PAL, which stands for Purposeful Agendaless Listening. Your purpose is to help others self discover through their conversation with you, what is most important, critical and urgent to them.

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

Goulston: My formal education gave me an appreciation for following a process when assessing issues, coming to solutions and then taking action. In medical school that followed: CC (Chief Complaint); HPI (History of Present Illness,); ROS (Review of Systems); PE (Physical Examination); Differential Diagnoses (all the possible diagnoses); Plan, which includes further Diagnostic Tests and Procedures; and ending with Treatment Plan.

At the Goulston Group, our valuing the power of a clear step-by-step process has informed what we refer to as “Disruptive Digestible Business Solutions.” Disruptive because you often have to break through people’s resistance and inertia in ways where an “innovative” solution will not work and Digestible in that everyone who is tasked with executing them (in the areas of Hiring, Business Strategy, Marketing, Consulting, and Selling) will be able to follow all the steps.

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?

Goulston: What I have come to realize is that specialties and silos don’t care about other specialty’s passions, but only care about their bottom line. When we work with IT specialists we have to repeatedly tell them that non-technology people don’t give a hoot about how and why a certain technology works, they just want to be able to use it and have it be reliable. That may explain why a significant number of public company directors don’t even know the name of the CTO. In the world of silos, “my silo is your silo, but your silo isn’t my silo.”

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Mark’s Amazon page link

AMA/Amanet link

Patreon link

Goulston Group link

Heartfelt Leadership link

Twitter link

Facebook link

LinkedIn link

HBR
link

C-Suite Quarterly link

Huffington Post link

Psychology Today link

Business Insider link

Leadership Excellence link

Saturday, May 23, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip Kotler: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

KotlerPhilip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He received his Master’s Degree at the University of Chicago and his PhD Degree at MIT, both in economics. He did post-doctoral work in mathematics at Harvard University and in behavioral science at the University of Chicago.

Kotler is the author of 57 books including: Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control, the most widely used marketing book in graduate business schools worldwide; Principles of Marketing; Marketing Models; Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations; The New Competition; High Visibility; Social Marketing; Marketing Places; Marketing for Congregations; Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism; The Marketing of Nations; Kotler on Marketing, Building Global Biobrands, Attracting Investors, Ten Deadly Marketing Sins, Marketing Moves, Market Your Way to Growth, and Winning Global Markets. He has published over one hundred and fifty articles in leading journals, several of which have received best-article awards.

His latest book, Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System, was published by AMACOM (April 2015).

He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia and South America, advising and lecturing to many companies about how to apply sound economic and marketing science principles to increase their competitiveness. He has also advised governments on how to develop and position the skill sets and resources of their companies for global competition.

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of Phil Kotler.

* * *

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

Kotler: My parents, and their interest in making the world a better place for more people inspired me.

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

Kotler: Peter Drucker. I learned so much from his insights into business, organization, and strategy. Peter phoned me several years ago and invited me to spend a day with him at Claremont College. We spent a lot of time viewing his collection of Japanese art and discussing the problems of nonprofit organizations. Peter invited me to join the board of the Drucker Foundation and I saw him at several annual meetings.

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.

Kotler: After receiving my Ph.D. in economics at M.I.T., I planned to teach economics. Professor Don Jacobs of Northwestern University, who I met at the one-year Ford Foundation program at Harvard in 1960, invited me to consider joining the business school at Northwestern (subsequently called the Kellogg School of Management.) He recommended that instead of my teaching microeconomics or managerial economics, the field of marketing was ripe for new conceptualization and development. I agreed with him and decided to teach marketing.

I found marketing to be highly descriptive and prescriptive, without much of a foundation in deep research. I brought in economics, organization theory, mathematics, and social psychology in my first edition of Marketing Management in 1967. Today Marketing Management is in its 15th edition and remains the world’s leading textbook on marketing in MBA programs. Subsequently, I wrote two more textbooks, Principles of Marketing and Marketing: an Introduction.

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

Kotler: My education was largely humanistic covering history, philosophy, literature, and the arts. I spent a lot of time discussing the Great Books. I finally chose economics as my major. For my Masters degree, I studied under Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago and I became a free market economist. For my Ph.D., I received a fellowship to study at M.I.T. under two other Nobel Prize winners, Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow. I became a convinced Keynesian as a result, believing that a recession is best handled with stimulus spending rather than leaving the economy to eventually recover with the hardships of austerity.

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?

Kotler: My primary early interest was in marketing and my aim was to improve its theories, methods and tools. Early on I pressed companies to adopt a consumer orientation and to be in the value creation business. I didn’t pay much attention to the social responsibilities of business until later. Now I am pressing companies to address the triple bottom line: people, the planet, and profits. I found that companies were too much into short term profit maximization and they needed to invest more in sustainability thinking.

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

Kotler: I admire firms that have achieved a real differentiation from their competitors. Nike is all about mastering sports. Apple is all about creating technologies to make life easier and better. Audi is is all about introducing new technologies to make automobiles safer and better performing. I admire companies that have a purpose, passion, and performance. I am a fan of Unilever under its CEO Paul Polman, not only for the company’s insights into women and men when they buy beauty products or skin products (the DOVE woman, the AXE man), but also as a company seeking to achieve both growth and practicing social responsibility. Continue reading

Friday, May 22, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rodd Wagner: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Wagner, RoddRodd Wagner is the New York Times bestselling author of the book Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They’re Real People, published by McGraw-Hill (April 2015). He is one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration. Wagner’s books, speeches, and thought leadership focus on how human nature affects business strategy. He currently serves as vice president of employee engagement strategy at BI Worldwide. He is a confidential advisor to senior executives on the best ways to increase their personal effectiveness and their organizations’ performance. His work has taken him around the world, to the executive suites of major corporations in nearly every industry, to the Pentagon, and to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

Rodd is lead author of two other books: 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life. His books have been published in 10 languages and his work featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABC News Now, BusinessWeek.com, CNBC.com, and the National Post of Canada, and parodied in Dilbert. He holds an M.B.A. with honors from the University of Utah Graduate School of Business. He was formerly a principal of Gallup, the research director of the Portland Press Herald, and WGME-TV in Maine, a reporter and news editor for The Salt Lake Tribune, and a radio talk show host. When not writing or consulting, he enjoys fly-fishing, snowboarding, and coaching youth lacrosse.

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

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Widgets?

Wagner: I decided to write Widgets a couple years ago, as my colleagues and I took stock of everything that had changed in previous decade and as the first wave of our research made it apparent there was a compelling story to tell.

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

Wagner: Each of what I called “the New Rules of Engagement” reflects a rewriting of the old social contract. As I assembled the evidence for each chapter, it became clear the world had changed with respect to that issue. How, for example, can a company get its people committed to work on long-term plans for the organization at the same time it is laying off dedicated people and no one who remains knows whether he or she will be there to see the plan fulfilled? At what point, to cite another example, does an organization’s poking and prodding of employees in the interest of so-called “wellbeing” get creepy?

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

Wagner: It took two chapters rather than one to lay the foundation. It took two chapters rather than one to wrap things up after covering each of the 12 New Rules. Otherwise, it’s largely structured as I envisioned. But the details – the examples and the particular form of the arguments – showed up only in the writing. Concepts and facts in my mind are non-linear. I can let them float around and connect in three or four dimensions in my mind right up until the moment I start writing. A book is linear. It requires I get each idea and statistic to get in line. These ideas don’t behave much better than a group of kindergarteners a teacher is trying to take on a field trip. I am always a little surprised, amused, or intrigued at how these things assemble themselves when required to do so. Under this pressure to organize my thoughts, or in the discussion of the draft with my manager or a trusted friend, insights emerge that never would have popped out except under these conditions. Those breakthroughs are always worth the price of admission.

Morris: To what extent do you develop in greater depth ideas introduced in your previous books, 12 and Power of 2? Please explain.

Wagner: 12 was written a decade ago. Except for the stories of the great managers I interviewed for the book, which are good examples regardless of their time, the science in the book is as dated now as the cell phone I carried in 2005 when I was writing it. Gallup has not changed its Q12 questions since 1998, a year before First, Break All the Rules was published. While human nature has not changed in that time, the business context certainly has. You can tell in Widgets that I am critical of Gallup and its many copycats for their lack on innovation in the face of dramatic changes to the unwritten social contract over the last 16 years. In Widgets, I hit the reset button hard.

The research Gale Muller and I did for Power of 2, on the other hand, grounded me in the science of reciprocity, which substantially influenced my research and writing for Widgets. It was a good launching pad for this most recent book.

Most important, while I was the lead author of both those books, one does not take as many liberties or speak as candidly when writing on behalf of two people (and on behalf of a company, a fact for which I was once slammed in The Wall Street Journal). Widgets is the first book where I am sole author, where I could communicate most directly and bluntly with the reader. Where the facts showed it necessary, I’ve contradicted what I wrote a decade ago, either because further evidence indicated the truth was something different or because the world changed and what was true then is not true now. Like that “best friend at work” question? Pssst! It really is a dumb thing to put on a survey.

Morris: Here’s a motivation issue on which opinions are divided – sometimes sharply divided. I doubt that leaders can motivate other people but they can inspire them to become self-motivated. What do you think?

Wagner: Putting all the responsibility for an employee’s motivation on him or her is an abdication of responsibility, and contrary to a wealth of research. We’ve all had good jobs and bad jobs and we know that we were more motivated in the good jobs. Just because there is evidence that people do bring a certain bearing to work with them does not mean that there’s not a huge range in their intensity that depends on the quality of their enterprise’s leadership and managers.

Morris: Many people see themselves as “widgets” and one of the reasons is that creativity and individuality tend to be discouraged in schools, especially in elementary public schools. Do you agree?

Wagner: That’s a bad rap. Schools are such different places than they were a generation or two ago. I find them exceptionally open to recognizing different talents in individual students. Schools are also in the difficult position of having to recognize individuality while at the same time needing to teach certain skills and knowledge that everyone ought to have. Business can afford to have people specialize. Schools must help kids master general knowledge. My teachers knew me as a hard-core science kid. They would be shocked to find out I became a writer. It’s a good thing no one waived the English requirements for me along the way.

Morris: Many managers see themselves as “widgets” and one of the reasons is that they tend to have responsibility for [begin italics] but very little authority over [end italics] those whom they manage, as is the “way” at Google. Your own thoughts about all this?

Wagner: Without speaking about Google, which is a topic by itself, sure, it happens all the time. The quality of managing is constrained by the little latitude given to those managers and the degree to which the managers themselves are looked after by their managers. I’ve been in a few situations where I had fantastic managers, but the leadership of the company was clueless. I asked my managers for their advice. They all said something such as, “There’s nothing more here for either of us. Let’s both get out.” And we did. Most managers will tow the company line up to a point, but eventually they choke on the words, because they care about their people.

Morris: In your opinion, can what you characterize as “The New Rules of Engagement” work in the military services? Please explain.

Wagner: Absolutely. We’re still talking about human nature. It’s often struck me how different the vocabulary is, but how much the concepts are the same. In many ways, the military is ahead of the civilian world. Pay is transparent. The path to promotion is much clearer. There is a system for recognizing achievement and sacrifice. The incentives for teamwork are nearly perfected in a way that would be the envy of any civilian organization. And the pressures are so much greater that the proportion of exemplary leaders is, in my estimation, much higher.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

Here’s a link to Part 1.

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

One site is aimed at leaders and managers. Another site is aimed at employees. Both link to my blog and, most important, to the New Rules index self-assessment where employees can discover for free how their job stacks up against the jobs of people in the rest of the country.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Richard Newton: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

Newton, Richard

In his own words….

I’m an entrepreneur who writes.

I’ve written three books.

The End of Nice: How to be human in a world run by robots: This is a manifesto for human creativity in the age of machines, big data and automation.

I wrote Stop Talking, Start Doing: A Kick in the Pants in Six Parts with my co-author Shaa Wasmund: This was a best-selling business book in the UK and has been published in 15 languages.

And I’ve written The Little Book of Thinking Big: Aim Higher and Go Further Than You Ever Thought Possible, published by Capstone/A Wiley Brand. It hit the Sunday Times #1 spot for business bestsellers.

For almost ten years I wrote about business for The Sunday Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday and others. Then I switched sides to walk the talk and run my own business.

A few years ago I co-founded a company called OP3Nvoice (now called Clarify.io) which was described by Giga-Om as the emerging Google of video and audio. We moved the HQ to Austin, Texas, after going through the Techstars program in London.

Before that I co-founded Screendragon, a software company that supplies brand management and project management systems for many of the world’s largest consumer brands and ad agencies. It was hell and it was exciting. Sometimes simultaneously.

In 2014 I shifted back to writing. I write on technology companies, start up culture, and innovation for The Financial Times, Guardian, British Airways Business Life, and Virgin Entrepreneur blogs, my own blogs and elsewhere.

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

* * *

Morris: Before discussing The Little Book of Thinking Big, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Newton: Too many to mention but here’s one. I made friends with a guy called Jonathan Marks in Indonesia in 1987 when I was travelling. A year later I was meandering my way back from the Southern hemisphere to the UK and ended up in San Francisco and I looked him up. He was the first person I knew with a Macintosh computer and he was using it run a business trading in live recordings of the Grateful Dead, Tie Die Grateful Dead T-shirts, key rings and other fan stuff. He was doing all this from his home on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

Nearly thirty years later this still seems like a cool and high tech way to live and to blend passion, technology and work. I stayed with him and his girlfriend for a bit and then, when I caught the Greyhound bus to New York he gave me a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson and On The Road by Jack Kerouac…Which I read “on the road.” Kind of. I think all this lit a slow burning fuse to be a tech entrepreneur and become a writer.

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

Newton: No single person but I would say it is all the “chancers” I have met in life. You see, for me, playing by the rules and trying to proceed incrementally in my career and travelling only step by measured step is easy to do. It’s what I would call “nice” behaviour – fitting in and conforming, minimising risk and playing by the rules. But along the way I have been fortunate enough to keep meeting friends and acquaintances who are less ponderous than me. They just get on with things and while many of them have failed many times they have swung the bat a lot and that’s always an inspiration to leap out of the comfort zone.

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.

Newton: One of these friends I referred to above had persuaded Coca-Cola that he could make a TV commercial for them. He had never made a TV commercial so this was pure hustle. I was a journalist at the time and we collaborated to write some ideas. The ideas which we thought were the worst, the client thought were the best (valuable learning!) and then we were given a budget and had to make a TV commercial. Unlike my friend who had some video production experience I had none. But I took some time off work and we worked out how to make a TV ad and begged and borrowed favours (actors, music, crews, camera, studios, make up, costumes etc) and hustled and got the ad out on time, on budget and it spent a long time on terrestrial TV. Through that I realised you could hustle anything and learn on the job and get help in the areas where you most needed it.

* * *

To read all of Part 1 of my interview of Rich, please click here.

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

His website link

Wait But Why link

Brain Pickings link

xkcd link

Wednesday, May 20, 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 http://www.peninsulastrategies.com. 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

Gillian Zoe Segal: An interview by Bob Morris

Segal, G.Z.Gillian Zoe Segal is the author of Getting There: A Book of Mentors and New York Characters. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She lives in Manhattan and is also a photographer.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Gillian.

* * *

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

Segal: My mother, Leanor Segal. She is a charismatic, curious, fun loving adventurer and an out of the box thinker. I would love to be seen the same way!

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.

Segal: In the midst of law school, I knew that I didn’t want to practice law, but was not sure what I wanted to do. In short, I was lost, career wise. A real turning point occurred when, shortly after taking the bar exam, I read a commencement address given by the cartoonist Cathy Guisewite at my alma mater, the University of Michigan. Cathy spoke about the moment she realized she wanted to write for a living and suggested that, when deciding what to do with the rest of their lives, the graduates remember what they love: “Take the classes, the friends, and the family that have inspired the most in you. Save them in your permanent memory and make a backup disk. When you remember what you love, you will remember who you are. If you remember who you are, you can do anything.” Cathy’s words resonated with me.

Following her advice, I thought back over my four years at Michigan. I had been most energized by the photography course I took the last semester of my senior year. I decided to pursue this interest and enrolled in a one-year program at the International Center of Photography (ICP). Soon after that, I hatched the idea for my first book, New York Characters.

Morris: When and why did you decide to write New York Characters?

Segal: I realized that what makes New York such an amazing city is its people and that, among the millions of New Yorkers, there are some who stand out of the crowd, become famous in their own subcultures, and give the Big Apple its flavor. My New York Characters subjects included neighborhood fixtures, prominent celebrities, and the truly eccentric.

Working on that book was a dream come true. Every day felt like an adventure as I discovered different pockets of my city and got to know a broad cross section of its population.

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

Segal: I am not surprised to hear it. Warren Buffett explains that what’s essential, no matter what business you are in, is getting people to follow your ideas. He says, “If you’re a salesperson, you want people to follow your advice. If you’re a management leader, you want them to follow you in business.” It makes perfect sense that leaders are also adept at storytelling. Communication skills are a key ingredient to success.

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

Segal: My formal education has helped me tremendously with my communication skills. Law school, especially, taught me to be able to boil things down to what is truly essential. Whether it is writing a request to a prospective subject in my book, writing an essay, or approaching a journalist for publicity, I must communicate well.

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

Segal: 3 Idiots. It is a 2009 Indian film. The film’s message is that if you are passionate about what you pursue you will have the greatest shot at success. If you pursue something that your heart is not in, you’ll have a tough time achieving your potential. This is a major theme in Getting There as well.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Segal: I love this one! All growth and progress is dependent on trying something new (AKA a daring adventure).

Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Segal: This certainly seems to be true! In his Getting There essay, the scientist, J. Craig Venter, explains that the biggest obstacle he continually faces is resistance to new ideas and new approaches. He explains, “If you look at the history of breakthroughs in science and medicine, almost everything that’s turned out to be a major development was initially attacked by the establishment—mainly because it was a threat. Thomas Kuhn wrote about the stages of paradigm shifts in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: First a new idea is attacked then it’s reluctantly accepted. Along with the acceptance comes denial that it was ever an issue to begin with and a bit of historical revision that it was never that big of a breakthrough.”

Morris: From Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Segal: I completely agree. A good idea is just the first step. If you never execute it, you are left with nothing. And executing an idea is the hardest part!

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 mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'” Your response?

Segal: As Kathy Ireland says, “If you are not failing, it means you are not trying hard enough.” Taking risks is necessary for growth and failure is just part of the process. That being said, you want to try and avoid making mistakes on really critical issues.

Morris: I was born and raised in Chicago, a city once described as “a melting pot with the lid off.” Have you considered another book that focuses on another city and its unique characters? Please explain.

Segal: Unfortunately, I would pretty much have to live in another city to write a (good) book on that city — and that’s not on my horizon in the near future.

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of an appropriate as well as an effective mentor?

Segal: An appropriate mentor should be a person you trust and admire. That person should also have an accessible and giving personality and, of course, expertise in the area that you need guidance in.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Her website link

Getting There‘s Abrams link

Getting There‘s Amazon link

New York Characters‘ Amazon link

Forbes conversation link

LinkedIn link

Facebook link

Twitter link

Getting There YouTube video link

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rodd Wagner: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

Wagner, Rodd

Rodd Wagner is the New York Times bestselling author of the book Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They’re Real People, published by McGraw-Hill (April 2015). He is one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration. Wagner’s books, speeches, and thought leadership focus on how human nature affects business strategy. He currently serves as vice president of employee engagement strategy at BI Worldwide. He is a confidential advisor to senior executives on the best ways to increase their personal effectiveness and their organizations’ performance. His work has taken him around the world, to the executive suites of major corporations in nearly every industry, to the Pentagon, and to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

Rodd is lead author of two other books: 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life. His books have been published in 10 languages and his work featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABC News Now, BusinessWeek.com, CNBC.com, and the National Post of Canada, and parodied in Dilbert. He holds an M.B.A. with honors from the University of Utah Graduate School of Business. He was formerly a principal of Gallup, the research director of the Portland Press Herald, and WGME-TV in Maine, a reporter and news editor for The Salt Lake Tribune, and a radio talk show host. When not writing or consulting, he enjoys fly-fishing, snowboarding, and coaching youth lacrosse.

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

* * *

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

Wagner: My daughter and two sons. There is no better laboratory for understanding how one does or does not influence other people than, over two decades, trying to turn a few toddlers into people a company would hire.

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

Wagner: You could boil down behavioral economics into the observation that we’re all just 5-year-olds in an older shell. Whether they were toddlers or teenagers, my kids always gave it to me straight. They’ve been entirely unimpressed with everything I’ve done right up to the point one of my books got mocked in “Dilbert.”

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.

Wagner: While I loved being a newspaper reporter, I became disillusioned with the way The Salt Lake Tribune was being managed in the late ‘80s. I decided there had to be a better way to run a newspaper, but I did not have the knowledge or credentials to be part of that solution. I went to graduate business school while working full-time as a police reporter on the night shift. It was two years of sleep deprivation and hard work. The pattern of simultaneously gathering facts, writing, and analyzing business patterns has pretty much held since then.

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

Wagner: An M.B.A. from a rigorous program changes the way one sees the world. One learns to see the cost of materials, the efficiencies, the marketing strategy, the economies of scale, and the people factors in everything from the local coffee shop to the airplanes on which we all spend too much time. My journalism degree has proven invaluable to not just writing Widgets, but reporting and editorializing on the state of leadership and managing today.

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?

Wagner: Half the people who were running the place knew less about what needed to be done than I did. The other half knew a lot more than I did. Recognizing that earlier would have saved me a lot of time giving too much credence to the first half and not asking for more coaching from the second half. When I was in my early 20s, I had a naive belief that the people who were leading companies were, through the meritocracy of the marketplace, the people who should be leading them. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they most definitely are not.

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

Wagner: Office Space. There are real versions of Milton Waddams in nearly every company out there. In real life, it’s not funny.

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

Wagner: The Endurance, about the expedition led by Earnest Shackleton that is so frequently cited as a pattern for effective leadership under extreme pressure. The writing is gripping. The photos by expedition photographer Frank Hurley take you there. The combination is incredible.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-tse’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.”

Wagner: It’s rare to find a person who will invest himself or herself in another’s success. These people make the best leaders and managers.

Morris: From Michael Porter: “The essence of strategy is choosing what [begin italics] not [end italics] to do.”

Wagner: It’s never that simple. In real life, strategy means choosing what to do and not to do, then stopping what one was doing and starting what one was not as the circumstance change. “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.”

Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Wagner: This is only true of ideas that are not dumb enough to die of natural causes.

Morris: 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….’”

Wagner: This is certainly true in the social sciences. Most of the insights from the research in Widgets started with just that phrase.

Morris: From Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Wagner: One ought not dismiss the benefits of hallucination too quickly. However, my author version of Edison’s bromide is, “Writing enforces discipline on ideation.”

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

Wagner: I understand Drucker was not a fly-fisherman. Had he been one, he never would have said that.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

One site is aimed at leaders and managers. Another site is aimed at employees. Both link to my blog and, most important, to the New Rules index self-assessment where employees can discover for free how their job stacks up against the jobs of people in the rest of the country.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Linda Rottenberg: Part 1 of an interview of an interview by Bob Morris

RottenbergNamed one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and one of TIME’s 100 “Innovators for the 21st century,” Linda Rottenberg is considered among the world’s most dynamic experts on entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership. Her pioneering work also earned her a host of nicknames: ABC and NPR declared her “the entrepreneur whisperer,” Tom Friedman dubbed her the world’s “mentor capitalist,” Business Insider named her “Ms. Davos,” and for years she was known as “la chica loca” (the crazy girl) for insisting that entrepreneurs existed not only in Silicon Valley but also in emerging markets around the world.

Rottenberg is co-founder and CEO of Endeavor, the premier organization focusing on the scale-up phase of entrepreneurship. Headquartered in New York with 50 offices across the globe, Endeavor identifies, mentors, and co-invests in “high-impact” entrepreneurs: those with the biggest ideas, the likeliest potential to build companies that matter, and the greatest ability to inspire others. Since 1997, Rottenberg’s network has screened 40,000 candidates, handpicked 1,000 Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and helped them grow to provide 400,000 jobs and generate $7 billion annually.

Linda is also author of a New York Times bestseller, Crazy Is A Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags, published in October 2014. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Linda lives in Brooklyn with her husband, author and New York Times columnist Bruce Feiler, and their identical twin daughters.

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

* * *

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

Rottenberg: My twin daughters, Tybee and Eden, have greatly impacted both my personal and professional growth. Just by virtue of being born they changed my whole leadership style. I used to be a perfectionist and a micromanager but I had to learn to let go and say no occasionally in order to be with them. As Eden wisely pointed out at the ripe young age of 5: “You can be an entrepreneur for a short time, but you’re a mommy forever!” It is for this reason that I encourage Endeavor employees and entrepreneurs to “go big and go home,” rather than choosing either-or.

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

Rottenberg: When Edgar Bronfman became chairman of Endeavor, he unwittingly became a mentor, both guarding my back and pushing me forward. And he did it without any recognition. One reason mentorship has become so central to who I am is that I’m forever trying to help others who find themselves in the same situation as when I felt most alone and someone stepped into the breach to help me.

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

Rottenberg: At Harvard, I majored in social studies which taught me to care about the world and think holistically about its problems. It also introduced me to Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist who argued that a nation’s “fiery spirits” (a.k.a. entrepreneurs) are its most powerful economic change agents as forces of “creative destruction.” I developed a passion for social activism and entrepreneurship then and there. And Yale Law School confirmed what I probably already knew, that I didn’t want to be a lawyer! Fortunately, my professors recognized this and gave me an opportunity in Latin America that led me first to join Bill Drayton’s Ashoka and eventually to co-found Endeavor with Peter Kellner.

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.

Rottenberg: It was actually in the back seat of a taxi in Buenos Aires that I encountered my “crazy moment” and decided to start Endeavor. I was talking to my taxi driver and I learned that he had a Ph.D. in Engineering. So I asked him, “Why are you driving a cab? Why don’t you become an entrepreneur?” He said, “Become a what?” It turns out that the word “entrepreneur” was barely understood, let alone used, in the Spanish vocabulary. More importantly, there was no network, there were no mentors, and no access to capital there – all of which are critical to starting a business. So I partnered with a friend, Peter Kellner, and started organizing groups of successful entrepreneurs and business people who could help mentor promising entrepreneurs in Latin America. One of my proudest moments is when I learned from the editor of a leading Brazilian dictionary that, thanks to Endeavor’s efforts, the word empreendedorismo, or “entrepreneurship,” was being incorporated in the next edition.

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?

Rottenberg: I wish I had known how underrated stalking is as a startup strategy! My ability to ‘stalk’ (investors, board members, entrepreneurs, etc.) served me well when I was getting started with Endeavor. A certain amount of chutzpah is just as important as capital. I even waited for a potential investor outside the men’s room once just to get a few minutes of face-time with him. Get over the sense that you might be perceived as aggressive (women especially have to learn this). Find a little courage and reach out to a mentor you admire. People respond to passion. The victim of my stalking did: he ultimately agreed to co-chair Endeavor’s global advisory board.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond.

First, from Lao-tse’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.”

Rottenberg: Entrepreneurs often want to be their own bosses, but no one can do it alone. You need a robust team of mentors, partners, and employees on the ground. We honor this principle at Endeavor in two ways: first, by connecting our entrepreneurs with a rich network of role models from which to learn and grow; second, by insisting that the businesses we support are embedded in their local communities and help grow the local economies.

Morris: From Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Rottenberg: I couldn’t agree more with Aiken! I’ve found that at every turn, someone (or, more likely, everyone) will call you and your idea crazy because if it’s any good it will disrupt the status quo. The job of the innovator is to push past naysayers and find a way to drive forward. Often the toughest naysayer is YOU. Before you worry about how to convince others that your idea is the greatest thing since sliced bread, make sure you have fully convinced yourself.

Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Rottenberg: Whatever their field, entrepreneurs are fundamentally in the business of disrupting the status quo, of forging a new path and envisioning a different future. But once their “crazy” ideas catch on and become the new norm, their work isn’t done. Though people are naturally resistant to change, change is the only constant. If you want to stay ahead today, you have to continuously reinvent yourself and your business or risk being left behind.

Morris: 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….’”

Rottenberg: The first step to becoming an entrepreneur does not happen in a laboratory, a conference room, or even a pitch session. That “crazy” moment happens in the mind. And not the part of the mind where the light-bulbs go off and the ahas are heard. It happens in the part where the darkness resides and the doubts cry out. It happens when you are exposed.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Her website

Twitter link

Endeavor link

Sunday, May 3, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clive Wilson on how to design a purposeful organisation: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

Wilson, Clive

Clive Wilson is a writer, speaker, facilitator and business coach. He is a director of Primeast, a learning and development company based in the beautiful town of Harrogate in the county of North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, some 220 miles north of London.

Primeast works primarily in the oil and gas, power, pharmaceutical and technology industries as well as with the United Nations and other agencies in Southern Africa to facilitate the sustainable development of some of the world’s poorest nations.

He has spoken or facilitated workshops worldwide on strategic alignment and talent leadership, and his clients have included Exxon Mobil, Novartis, and Celgene, a biotechnology company located in New Jersey. In recent years, with his passion for purposeful change, he has facilitated workshops and spoken at conferences in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East and Australia.

Clive’s latest book, Designing the Purposeful Organization – how to inspire business performance beyond boundaries, was published by KoganPage (February 2015).

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

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Designing the Purposeful Organization, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth and professional development? How so?

Wilson: There are a number of people who have influenced me. From business writers such as Marcus Buckingham, Daniel Coyle and Jim Collins through to world leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. However, the people who have influenced me the most have been the plethora of clients with whom I have worked to help make their organisations more purposeful and consequently more effective, often from a clean sheet of paper.

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.

Wilson: In the 1990s the electricity industry in the UK was privatised. I was responsible for a number of change programmes and quickly realised that the most difficult aspect of change was evolving the culture. I went to the US and spent time with Human Synergistics learning how to measure and manage this phenomenon. After applying my new knowledge, I resolved to support organisations with such challenges and have been doing so for nearly twenty years now.

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

Wilson: My formal education extended late into my career. I was awarded my Master of Science degree by the University of Bradford as a 40 year old. I actually find structured education difficult, preferring to follow an intuitive learning journey. Whilst writing Designing the Purposeful Organization, I took several sojourns into unusual places such as stem cell biology, fractal mathematics, quantum physics and biomimicry, as well as more obvious places such as business leadership and psychology. Thanks to the Internet, I got to attend classes taught by some of the world’s greatest thinkers. I had people like Bruce Lipton and Greg Braden speaking to me right in my living room.

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?

Wilson: To be honest, I have to say “nothing”. My greatest learning has been starting out on the journey with little knowledge or experience and learning from the people I have worked alongside over the years. Especially from those who provided me a relatively safe space to fail and grow as a consequence.

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

Wilson: Probably not the answer you’re looking for but I really enjoy adventure films such as Braveheart where the “hero’s journey” is enacted. The hero is born, is taught, discovers their quest and from that point has no option but to make the hero’s choice – to do the right thing. In a way, business is like that. Every organisation and person in it is looking for their purpose and those who discover it and follow it diligently have rewarding careers. When people know who they are and have a curiosity about their context, feelings arise which steer them on an amazing journey.

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

Wilson: The one that springs to mind is No Destination by Satish Kumar, the editor of Resurgence Magazine. It tells of his life story, his sense of purpose. It tells of how he came out of a monastic life to be involved in land reform in India and then to walk without provisions from there to Moscow and beyond to discuss nuclear disarmament with world leaders. And much more. An inspiring and sincere journey. A life of meaning and adventure.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-tse’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.”

Wilson: This takes me back to your earlier question about who I learned the most from. It is through meeting people where they’re at and sharing the journey with them that we learn the most. Not in the arrogance of knowledge but in the humility of common quest and mutual insight. In such circumstances the illusion of duality dissipates and the truth of oneness and growth manifests. In such circumstances, no one person can claim personal ownership of the gain.

Morris: From Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Wilson: I’ve never worried about people stealing my ideas. My sole purpose is to play a small part in developing an increasingly purposeful world. If my ideas have any merit at all, I will be happy to see them turned into action.

Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Wilson: I’ve never been an orthodox thinker. I dance creatively with the challenge of a better future. I awake in the night with new thoughts and explore new ways of doing things. I have met skepticism and been reassured to discover much of my thinking becoming the norm. Such was my response to the divisive talent management strategies prompted by the “War for Talent” in the 1990s. When I first started to suggest that talent management needed to be inclusive and cultural, I was one of a few voices out of kilter. Now this thinking is becoming the norm and my head is into “what next?” By the way I conclude that the “what’s next” is that the ownership of talent will be firmly with individuals with organisations creating the conditions in which it can flourish and managers being skilled facilitators. But that’s a topic for another text I suppose.

Morris: 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….’”

Wilson: Absolutely! “Eureka” is the end of a quest (or at least of a chapter). “That’s odd…” is a new beginning. Providing we take the baton.

Morris: From Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Wilson: A few years ago I was sitting with a colleague outside a cafe in Malawi, where we do a lot of work with the UN and various agencies that are trying to change the world. I heard the word “Dzukani”. It is a Chichewa word (of the Malawian people) that means “wake up”. I stole the word and drew a process that describes how feelings arise when a person is placed in a context. The feelings provide a sense of direction from which a vision is formed. But the vision is meaningless without a commitment (and follow through) to action. In taking action we channel the energy of a context (positive or negative) into a better future. Thus is the act of creation.

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

Wilson: Exactly – which is the whole point of my book. Everything we do should be truly purposeful. Losing touch with purpose is negligent and wasteful. Purposeful leadership, in my view, is the only meaningful leadership.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Designing the Purposeful Organisation Amazon link

Kogan-Page link

Link to additional KoganPage resources

Primeast link

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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