First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Laurie Sudbrink: An interview by Bob Morris

Sudbrink1-1With a passion for developing accountable and proactive workplaces, Laurie Sudbrink established Unlimited Coaching Solutions, Inc. in 1999. She has been a catalyst for change in the workplace ever since. She brings more than 20 years of corporate experience in human relations, leadership/ management, sales, marketing, and training. She is certified as a New York State trainer, a United States Navy trainer, a DiSC® facilitator, an authorized and accredited partner of Patrick Lencioni’s Five Cohesive Behaviors of a Team, a certified Four Agreements trainer, and founder of GRIT® training programs. She is currently a member of NHRA, ASTD, and former member of SHRM and the Western NY Entrepreneurs Organization.

Laurie’s latest book, Leading with GRIT: Inspiring Action and Accountability with Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth, was published by John Wiley & Sons (March 2015). The material in Leading with GRIT provides a foundation that inspires people to step up, take ownership, create solutions, and make things happen! Through these concepts, more happens with less and workplaces are transformed into productive and enjoyable environments.

* * *

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

Sudbrink: It’s impossible to narrow this down to one person, there have been so many who have influenced my personal growth in different areas, at different times, in different ways – some by positive example, some by challenging me, some by negative example. My mother, for sure, was a positive influence on me.

Unfortunately I did not get to be raised by her, but as a young adult I quickly valued the sacrifices and pain she endured in having her children stolen from her (by my father), and how she managed to remain a loving and generous person. It puts all of life in focus – you can’t take it personally, but you don’t have to put up with it or ‘like it’ either!

Don Miguel Ruiz is another person who has influenced my personal growth – through retreats and personal meetings, along with his wonderful books, he has taught me to accept myself and be happy.

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

Sudbrink: Again, so difficult to narrow to one greatest impact, but the one that is earliest in my professional development would be my High School English teacher Mrs. Harvey. She was the first, and only person to tell me not only that I was going to college…but also believe that I would succeed! While my father and stepmother were busy tending to 12 other children, and their own lives, I believe they wanted the best for me but didn’t really consider it much farther. They did the best they could. A college professor, Dr. Thomas Mwanika, also made a big impact on my professional development through his teachings in communications – it was definitely part of what inspired me to do the work I do today.

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.

Sudbrink: Yes, years ago one of my college professors, Thomas Mwanika, taught a terrific course called General Semantics. I was so inspired by the power of our words, and thoughts, it shifted the way I thought about things. It had me so intrigued with the impact it has on behavior. This, combined with the book The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, and a fantastic public speaking course taught at SUNY Cortland that got me over my fear of public speaking – launched me on this path to professional training and development.

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

Sudbrink: My formal education has been invaluable to what I’ve accomplished in life thus far in many ways. First, it taught me to focus and finish. College taught me a lot about self-discipline and personal accountability. It also started my experience of working within a team (other than that of my siblings!) In addition, the subject matter was invaluable. From principles of management, to child psychology and sociology, and general semantics and other interpersonal communications classes – I discovered the foundation of a lot of what I teach today. Awareness. Don’t make assumptions. Use your language with a helpful intent. Be objective (don’t take things personally). Integrity – walk your talk. Accountability.

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?

Sudbrink: Politics!!! Knowing how to communicate effectively with different styles; not letting things get to you, but communicating directly; being aware of the politics (not sticking my head in the sand), but instead knowing how to navigate through.

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

Sudbrink: I would say probably Karate Kid, great lessons in discipline and perseverance. A few important ones from the film: There is no “try” – you just do. “Try” holds us back; keep your ego in check; put your whole heart/self into what you do.

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

Sudbrink: I would have to say The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could The first teaches the basic foundation to living a healthy and happy life, empowering you to be your best in business, and the latter teaches about perseverance and will power!

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To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

Her website link

Leading with GRIT page at Wiley website

Unlimited Coaching link

Her Amazon page link

Twitter link

Google+ link

Friday, June 26, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Linda J. Popky: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris


Award-winning marketing expert Linda J. Popky, the founder and president of Redwood Shores-based Leverage2Market Associates, transforms organizations through powerful marketing performance. Her clients range from small businesses and consultants to mid-sized companies and large Fortune 500 enterprises. She’s been involved with many of the Silicon Valley companies who developed and deployed the technologies that have changed the world over the last twenty-five years, including Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, NetApp, PayPal, Plantronics, Autodesk, Applied Materials, and others.

A consultant, speaker, and educator, Linda has been named one of the top women of influence in Silicon Valley and inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. She is the past president of Women in Consulting and is a member of the Watermark Strategic Development Board. The first marketing expert worldwide certified to offer the Private Roster™ Mentoring Program for consultants and entrepreneurs, Linda has taught marketing at San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning, University of California Santa Cruz Extension in Silicon Valley, and West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

Linda holds an MBA and a BS in Communications from Boston University. A classically trained pianist, Linda has also produced Night Songs, a CD of classical piano music. Her latest book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters, was published by Bibliomotion Books+Media (March 2015).

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

* * *

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

Popky: Probably my dad. He was a businessman and a community leader. He set a high bar for me to follow. Of course, back then no one talked about entrepreneurs, but he brought a real can-do attitude to everything he undertook, from building an insurance business to creating and leading a non-profit foundation to build housing for low income senior citizens.

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

Popky: I’ve had the good fortune to work with Million Dollar Consultant Alan Weiss over the last 10 years. Alan has coached and mentored some of the most successful solo consultants in the world. Not only have I learned about best practices in consulting, I’ve also had the opportunity to see those praactices put in action by members of his community.

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.

Popky: I’ve always been a writer, as well as a classical pianist. When I realized music was unlikely to be an appropriate career choice for me, I focused on ways I could be creative within the business environment. I’ve kept up the music, and am now looking at how I can integrate some of what I’ve learned over the years into the business environment The concept of noise, for example, comes from my musical background. Some sounds we consider noise and avoid, others we consider music and lean towards. How do we capture our audience’s attention and add that musical aspect to their lives?

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

Popky: I’m probably one of the few people you’ll meet today who actually has a career related to what they studied in college. I have two degrees from Boston University, an undergraduate degree in Communications and an MBA. I got a strong foundation from BU and built upon that.

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?

Popky: It’s not about what you know or how hard you work. It’s about who you know and who knows you. And it’s critical to build a personal brand so you stand out from the crowd.

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

Popky: Probably my favorite movie of all time is The Sting. Newman and Redford taught us that you have to have a solid strategy. You have to know both your audience as well as who you need to influence to be successful. And things are not always what they appear to be at first glance. A more recent movie, Inside Man, applies many of the same principles. These are movies you can watch many times because you just don’t catch everything on the first go-round.

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

It’s just about impossible to pick a single book. I’ve belonged to a great book club for a number of years and we read a wide variety of works that I wouldn’t necessarily choose for myself. This includes fiction, memoirs, history and historical fiction, among others. Everything I read informs my thinking, and I am constantly looking for business lessons in everything that goes on around me.

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.”

Popky: It’s amazing how much we can learn from listening to the people we want to influence. Once we understand their point of view, we can tailor our message to have a higher likelihood of being received. Great leaders know better than to try and impose new ideas on those whose behaviors they’d like to change. There’s a huge difference between compliance and wholehearted support.

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.”

Popky: He’s right about not worrying about people stealing your ideas. If you have good ideas, get them out there, show people the value and they will come back to you to learn more. There’s no noise if you don’t make it, so it’s important that you get out there and let people know what you’re creating. However, no one wants an idea rammed down their throat. Better to have people hear what you have to say and come back because they want to be part of what you’re putting together.

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

Popky: As a musician, I’m fascinated by the concept of dissonance, which is the tension that occurs by combining two sounds that together are harsh or nonharmonious. Our concept about what is harmonious and accepted changes over time. This is true in business and society as well as music. So what we considered to be dissonant and jarring a decade or two ago, today is mainstream and eventually will be passe. I think what’s what Dawkins means when he says we go from dangerous idea to orthodoxy to cliché.

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….’”

Popky: Noticing what’s different or unexpected is an important step to enable innovation and creativity. “Eureka” implies you knew what you were looking for and now you’ve found it. “That’s odd” is more open-ended—something’s different and unexpected…how do we capitalize on that? The lesson is as important in business as in science.

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

Popky: Edison’s on to something here. All the visions in the world don’t matter if you can’t execute against them. However, what he’s missing is the inverse: Execution without vision is a terrible waste of time and resources. We see this much too often today—people so eager to execute they get ahead of the vision.

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

Popky: I’m with Drucker on this one. Too often I see technology and tools that help us automate processes we should no longer be doing at all…but now we’re doing them faster and more efficiently. That’s because it’s much easier to focus on tweaking something that’s already in existence, rather than looking outside the box—or perhaps even blowing up a few sacred cows—and having to rethink how to do something to start with.

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?

Popky: The key word here is “control.” We live in an age when it’s much harder to “control” people and information than in previous eras. Information is so much more accessible and available today than ever before. This allows more people to be informed on any given subject and provide useful insights and opinions. However, when the rubber meets the road, someone still needs to be on the hook to gather the input and make an informed decision. I have not seen management by group consensus work effectively at great scale for an extended period of time.

* * *

To check out all of Part 1, please click here.

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

Leverage2Market Associates link

Linda’s Amazon page link

Marketing Thought Leadership link

Sunday, June 21, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emmanuel Gobillot: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

Gobillot, Emmanuel“There must be a better way.”

That’s the motto Emmanuel Gobillot has adopted toward everything he does. As one of the world’s most popular speakers, consultants, and thought-leaders, he believes there is a better way to lead, relate to customers, and engage an organisation’s creativity, passion, and drive. The author of three bestselling books: The Connected Leader, Leadershift, and Follow the Leader, Gobillot gives audiences the tools to see inside their organisations in order to find a better way.

Prior to setting up his boutique consulting business Gobillot worked at the Hay Group, where he was head of consumer sector consulting and director of leadership services. He has worked with various organisations to develop their senior executive capability and to improve efficiency and return.

In The Connected Leader: Creating Agile Organisations for People, Performance and Profits, published by KoganPage, Gobillot redefines both leadership and our idea of what an organisation is, proposing a new focus and new tools to make organisations more agile. Leadershift makes the case that critical demographic and technological trends are coming together to challenge the very essence of what it means to be in business. In his subsequent book, Follow the Leader: The One Thing Great Leaders Have that Great Followers Want, also published by KoganPage, he explains why he thinks that the “one great thing” is charisma. and creates a frame of reference within which he anchors that belief for discussion of what continues to be a controversial subject: the importance of charisma. Opinions are divided, sometimes sharply divided, about that. My own opinion is that, like an expensive fragrance, charisma smells good but we shouldn’t drink it.

Gobillot holds an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic, a Masters of Arts with honours from St. Andrews University, and a Diploma in Management Science from the Nottingham Trent University.

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

* * *

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

Gobillot: I find the question tough to answer as I am the product of so many influences that it is hard to just decide on one. I do think however there is a category of people rather than one person who have had a tremendous influence on me. When you consider that my parents divorced when I was still relatively young and that France was and to some extent still is a fairly matriarchal society I would say that the greatest influence on my personal growth came from women.

My mother struggled to make sure my sister and I had everything and became a role model for dedication, kindness and love. My sister who is a headteacher showed me and still reminds me of the importance of learning and discovery as well as service to others. My aunts taught me to question and two in particular came at this from very different places. One of them was a political activist who taught me to question the way the world works whilst the other was highly religious and taught me to question what I believe to be true. Finally, my paternal grandmother taught me to always do my best. Her belief in her grandchildren was all encompassing and I am sure she thought that if we didn’t do our best we would not only do a disservice to ourselves but a disservice to the world! But her enduring legacy is that you have to be the best you can be regardless of what you do.

She was fond of reminding me that my dad was very bright but didn’t apply himself at school. But look at him now, she used to say, he can’t help it, he may have become a train driver when he could have been a doctor, but he sure is the best train driver in France (and she was being as objective as a mother can be given my dad finished his career as one of the few test drivers on the high speed rail link). I guess that’s the power of grandmothers (oh and she sure taught to cook!).

And just to show that you never stop growing and you can learn from all generations my personal growth continued with the birth of my first child my daughter Charlotte who arrived some 17 years ago and is trying very hard to teach me not to grow old too gracefully whilst my wife Katherine has taught me patience (especially when it comes to dealing with both my children) and both together would not let me get away without self-awareness!

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

Gobillot: When I came to the UK in the mid eighties the government used to run an advert on TV to recruit teachers. The advert simply stated ‘nobody ever forgets a great teacher’. That ad really resonates with me as I know it to be true. We can all remember the great teachers and mentors we have had. We can picture in our minds the people who took risks on us, the ones who never doubted us even if we often doubted ourselves. Again, I have been lucky to encounter many such people in my career, but as a young manager there was one in particular who made a huge impression on me and a difference to my way of approaching business.

I started my career in retail banking as a management trainee and was on a rotation programme with the bank. There was one branch manager in particular who was critical in my development. His name was Ken Ripper. Everyone called him Jack and he called me ‘spit a little’ rather than the usual “gob a lot” English people normally call me. Jack was an incredible mentor because he forced me to question everything and taught me that my ideas matter. I always wanted to experiment (never a good idea in a bank as we all found out in the early 2000s) and he would always force me to take my ideas to their extreme conclusion to test them to destruction to see if they would break. He also was the first manager I ever met who taught me that people and humanity are a key part of business. He coupled a wonderfully enquiring mind with incredibly varied interests and as a result saw lessons in everything and everywhere. He was one of those people who made you feel like you mattered more than he did. He was a living embodiment of what is called “socialised power’ – the ability to impact and influence people by making them feel stronger and more capable rather than making them feel stupid and inferior. He was challenging in a way that made you want to challenge yourself. He would spend his spare time rewriting early computer systems at the bank to make the life of his fellow managers better.

He was the first person I met in business who made me understand that you should always aim to be a better, more skilful version of yourself rather than aspire to be something you are not in order to somehow fit in. He was the one who set me on my course of always looking for a better way and taught me that the answer could only be found through collaboration (hence my motto there must be a better way and together we can find it).

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.

Gobillot: At a practical level the biggest turning point was when my English teacher in France told us about an international school in Wales that accepted people from all backgrounds and provided scholarships. As a 16 year old desperate to see the world but without the financial backing to do so I saw this as a huge opportunity. I applied for and got a scholarship to The United World College of the Atlantic in Wales where I did my international baccalaureate and got so much more than qualifications. I knew it was a special place then I now know it was the turning point I needed to realise the world is truly yours for the taking.

At an emotional level I never truly knew what I wanted to do until I encountered the world of debates at University. St Andrews University has a proud history of debating and a very active society. I had never heard of debating until I saw a debate during my freshers’ week and from the second I saw it I was hooked. It played to my French education having been taught the need to be able to argue anything and more specifically both sides of anything as part of rhetoric classes. I discovered I loved the performance of speaking. I love the idea of impacting people and sharing thoughts. My kids and my wife would also argue I’m sure that I love the sound of my own voice. So I joined the society, eventually became president and have been looking ever since, in everything I’ve done to get that feeling of excitement that comes with exchanging and playing with ideas.

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

Gobillot: There are two areas that have been of huge value.

The first comes from the French educational system. France prides itself in an education that is driven by the exercise of the mind. It is underpinned by reasoning over retention. I now realise that I owe much of my critical reasoning to that way of thinking. I also take pleasure in words, discourse and rhetoric which I put down to the French educational system. The French value intellectualism over many other things. It is not rare to switch on the news and see a politician talking to an economist and an intellectual. That’s right, being an intellectual is a job in France! I do think that heritage drives my curiosity.

The second area interestingly is my philosophy master and, in particular, logic. The downside of my French education is that I could easily get lost in ideas or value ideas for their own sake. Whilst that might be enjoyable for me it may also be pretty useless for clients, audiences and readers unless I can take them on a journey of thoughts that lead to actions. This is what logic and philosophy, maybe counter-intuitively, have helped me do. I was taught a way to critically examine an idea to surface its applications.

Those two put together provide the empty container I could have filled with anything. I chose to do it with business and leadership.

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?

Gobillot: That one is easy because I wrote about it recently in a short article. I wish someone had told me that not only do you not need to fit in order to move up, but in fact the more different you are the more likely you will be to be spotted.

I see too many young leaders park their views and opinions at the door in order to fit in. They see that ability to fit in and be a good supporter as being key to career advancement. The problem is that this is true up to a certain point so that belief often gets progressively engrained as it gets rewarded.

There comes a point however when they often feel invisible and others, who possibly don’t fit in as much, seem to progress faster than they do. The problem is that their way of fitting in was by forgoing voicing the very opinions senior leaders want to see to promote you to the very senior levels of the organisation.

I fully endorse the view shared by Rob Goffee that leadership development should be about being you, more and with skill rather than a poor copy of someone else or a smaller version than yourself. They key is learning how to make your opinions be heard and adopted rather than rejected or not voiced at all.

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

Gobillot: I have a tendency, to the great annoyance of my loved ones, to see business lessons everywhere and in anything. I am somewhat of a leadership and business obsessive. That being said there are two in particular that I often mention in my speeches and to my clients.

The first is Winnie the Pooh! At the beginning of the story there is this fantastic moment. so beautifully illustrated by Edward Shepard, where Christopher Robin is coming down the stairs dragging Winnie, whose head is banging on every step. As he comes down Winnie remarks that he is sure there must be a better way to come down the stairs and that, if only his head could stop hurting for a moment, he could even think about finding that way. That, to me, captures the essence of a life of an executive. We all have that sense that there must be a better way to do what we do but that, given the pressures to deliver we are under, we don’t have the time nor, more importantly, the brain space to think about it. I often glance at that picture on my desk thinking that I am lucky in that I have the luxury to spend my life thinking about those better ways.

The second book I often reference is Alice in Wonderland. There are two moments in Alice which I think are great lessons for leaders. The first is when she plays croquet with the queen and the queen keeps on changing the rules to make sure she wins. Alice who is getting frustrated eventually stops the game and tells the queen she can’t do that. That’s not how the game is played. The queen turns back to Alice and just says “that’s the way we play here”. I often quote that moment to executives who get frustrated at competitive or disruptive moves. We have this idea that some of these things are not fair. We think the market is against us. My view is to always remind them that “that’s just the way we play here’. There is no point wasting energy thinking that business life isn’t fair when you could spend it making sure you win.

The final Alice moment that resonates with me is the Cheshire Cat episode when Alice is at a crossroads and asks the cat which to take. The cat tells Alice that “it depends on where you want to go” and when she replies that she doesn’t know where she wants to go the cat points out that it doesn’t really matter then which road she takes. Again I often see leaders, and especially young leaders, asking for direction when they haven’t really spent much time reflecting on their final destination. Leadership for many is an appointment rather than a calling. Unless we are prepared to think through why we want to do it and where we want to take it, personal leadership development really becomes secondary and, I would hazard, wasteful. It is also a good lesson for children deciding on which subjects to take at school, given few of us know where we want to go why not go with the flow and enjoy the journey. Life does not have to be linear to be enjoyable and retracing your steps can be a great way to see something you might have missed along the way.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

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

His website link

His Amazon link

Here’s a link to a video of his presentation to the HayGroup

Here’s another link to a video of his presentation at Google.

Twitter link

This link is to a more recent program during which he discusses some of the early thoughts that are going into his next book.

A link to a meeting for entrepreneurs of growing businesses

Friday, June 5, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fred Kiel: An interview by Bob Morris

KielKRW International co-founder and principal, Fred Kiel, brings years of experience in leadership consulting from Fortune 500 companies and large, privately held organizations. He has advised individuals who have become CEOs of complex businesses, most with multi-billion-dollar top lines. Fred understands that business success starts in the heads and hearts of leadership—creating an enthusiastic, creative, retained talent pool. Helping CEOs gain alignment of their vision all the way to the front-line worker can create immediate bottom-line results.

Prior to focusing on business advising, Fred founded a successful private practice in Minneapolis which became the major employer of professionals in that market. His interest in business advising eventually won out, and a bit over two decades ago, he sold his practice and co-founded KRW International.

Fred has served on the boards of several philanthropic organizations, including Augsburg College Youth and Family Institute, Graywolf Press, Walk-In Counseling Center, and the Lyra Concert. He currently serves on the board of the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. He also served on the adjunct staff of the Center for Creative Leadership for nearly ten years and served two terms on the Board of Psychology for the state of Minnesota. He earned a B.A. in psychology and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota.

His latest book, Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win, summarizes seven years of research on the connection between the character of the CEO and return on assets. It was published by Harvard Business Review Press (April 2015).

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Fred.

* * *

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

Kiel: My wife and life partner, Sandy. We met when I was thirty-nine and that began the most significant period of personal growth in my life. We joke that although I’m quite a bit older than she is chronologically – emotionally she was much older and more mature!

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

Kiel: T^hat would be Norb Berg, the Vice Chairman of Control Data Corporation. He had the greatest impact on my professional development. Over thirty-five years ago, when I was just at the beginning of my career, he threw me the challenge to help him develop the leadership and interpersonal skills of several high level computer engineers. As a psychologist, I was forced to abandon the medical model of diagnosing and treating a mental or emotional disorder to instead view these individuals as people who were simply unskilled in interpersonal skills but were unaware of their deficit. Thus, they had no desire to change. It was an interesting challenge – but it’s what prompted me to create a process that worked. Thus, I became one of the pioneers in the field that later came to be called “executive coaching.”

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.

Kiel: The turning point for me (actually it was an epiphany) came when I was in my mid-forties.

At that time, I was the CEO of a public company. My private practice in psychology had grown to multiple offices and I had the vision of rolling out behavioral health clinics across the country by contracting with managed care companies. I launched an IPO and raised a million dollars. The first thing I did was rent a somewhat lavish headquarters office complete with top of the line furniture for my office. This should have been a big hint of what was to come!

I was a big-shot. I drove a red Cadillac and wore a diamond ring on my right hand. And, my car had a telephone! Not too many cars had telephones in the 1980’s.


After a few months, I began to sense that not everything was going well. In my personal life, my wife told me that even when I was at home, emotionally I wasn’t really there. I was thinking about work. She later told me that she felt trapped – she didn’t see divorce as an option, yet she was lonely and carrying the whole parenting load by herself.

One of my friends sensed that I needed help. He suggested I go to a weekend spiritual retreat for men. I reluctantly agreed to go. The first morning, the leader asked everyone to rate the order of priority in their lives for these three – God, your family, and your career. Well, I had recently started going to church so I ranked God as number one, my family as number two and my career as number three. Then he said, “Now take out your calendar and your check book – I want you to see if how you spend your time and your money matches that rank order. Of course, he “got” me. I was spending almost all of my time and money on my career. My wife and kids got maybe 5% of me and God got what was left over – maybe a half percent. My career was my identity – it was my total focus.

My house of cards was getting pretty shaky. After about a year as CEO of this public company and flying all over trying to make my business plan work, it became clear that we were undercapitalized and the company needed to change course. So I went to my board and told them that I thought we should revise our strategy. I was confident we could get back into a profitable situation in a few months. And then I said, “Once I’ve achieved that, I’d like to have us think about finding my successor – I’m getting burned out.” A week later the Chairman came to my office, sat down and said, “The board talked it over and we’d like you to leave now. We already have your successor!” So, I was fired from the company I had founded!

You can imagine that this was quite a wake-up call for me. Up until that time, I had experienced continuous success at whatever I did.

Over the next few months, I engaged in a lot of self-reflection and soul searching. I slowly realized that I had become very much like the self-focused CEOs in our research.

As I struggled to find my way out of this dark period, I found myself remembering some of my experiences from my childhood. My dad would often talk about men who were the kind of person I’d become – he described them as having a “big hat but no cattle.”

I realized that I had become that kind of a guy – a guy with a big hat and no cattle.


At some point, I realized I didn’t want to be that kind of a guy. I wanted to get rid of the big hat and find some cattle!

Actually, I wanted to find my self – the person I was when growing up was not the self-focused person I had become. When I was young I honored the principles my parents lived. You see, they almost always told the truth, owned up to their mistakes, showed forgiveness and clearly cared for people as people – not objects. They weren’t perfect, but all in all, I was dealt a good hand when I was born to them.

Luckily, I came to a point where I abandoned the trappings – I got rid of the Cadillac, the big hat, and the diamond ring.

And I repurposed my life. I rewired my brain! I ditched the self-focused habits and concentrated on becoming the person I wanted to be. With the help of many lengthy discussions with close friends and my wife, I found that I was able to connect my head to my heart.

And it was during this time that I decided that what I was good at and felt passionate about was helping other people like me to transform their lives – to connect their heads to their hearts. So, I set it as my purpose to do that – to help leaders of large organizations connect their heads to their hearts. That has been my focus for over 25 years.

Everyone’s journey is unique. There are however, some tried and true ways to go about changing one’s character habits. As I said earlier, the first step is find out how others experience you – to pop the bubble you live in. I devote a whole chapter in my book to personal change – and provide a road map for changing your character habits.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Fred cordially invites you to check out the resources here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip Mudd: An interview by Bob Morris

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

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

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Phil.

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete interview.

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

Amazon reviews of The Head Game link

Steven Colbert interview link

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

PBS interview link

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

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 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 “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


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


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,,, 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 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


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