First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton: An interview by Bob Morris

Internationally recognized workplace experts Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton are partners in the consulting firm The Culture Works.

Adrian Gostick

Adrian Gostick is the author of several best-selling books on corporate culture, including the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers The Carrot Principle and All In. His research has been called a “must read for modern-day managers” by Larry King of CNN, “fascinating,” by Fortune magazine and “admirable and startling” by the Wall Street Journal. As a leadership expert, he has appeared on numerous television programs including NBC’s Today Show and has been quoted in dozens of business publications and magazines.




Chester Elton

Chester Elton has been called the “apostle of appreciation,” by the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper, and “creative and refreshing” by the New York Times. The co-author of All In, The Carrot Principle and The Orange Revolution, his books have sold more than a million copies worldwide. Chester has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Fast Company magazine, and New York Times, and he appears in a weekly segment on CBS News Radio.

Here is a brief excerpt from my interview of Adrian and Chester.

To read the complete interview, please click here.

*     *     *

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

Gostick: We’ve talked about this often. Our parents were our first bosses—they gave us our moral compass, goals, and our first recognition. My dad worked 25 years for Rolls Royce in England. He taught me the value of working someplace where you can make a difference—not chasing money but doing work that you found purposeful.

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.

Elton: About 15 years ago now I was working as a consultant with some large organizations in the Northeast. We were working at the time on employee recognition ideas and we were doing some really innovative things. I realized no one had ever written the definitive work on recognition. There were these 101 ways books. Most managers had one on their shelf, but no one ever read them. Just then my firm hired Adrian as its head of communication. We collaborated on our first book in the Carrot line and it really took off. Finally Simon & Schuster contacted us to do a big research book on the subject and that became The Carrot Principle. That book has now been translated in 25 languages and is sold around the world.

Gostick: Over the years since that release our work has taken us to the characteristics of the world’s best teams and now on to culture—something that we are hearing more and more from our clients. They want to know how to build not only a great corporate culture, but effective cultures in each of their smaller teams.

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

Gostick: I was able to study 50 years of leadership theory and practicum in my master’s program at Seton Hall, and it has provided the backbone of the knowledge we use every day. My undergraduate work was in journalism, and my early work as a newspaper reporter taught me how to research, write, and rewrite.

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

Elton: We originally handed in the manuscript for All In to Simon & Schuster in the late summer of 2011. Four months later it went to press. Those four months were some of the hardest in our lives as our editor threw out half the book and demanded entire new chapters. While we had explained our findings well, we think, she pushed us to make the takeaways relevant for real business leaders. We spent so much time on explaining what a great culture looks like, we had neglected to tell readers “how” to do it. So many business books fall into that trap, and we are so grateful to Emily Loose, our editor, for pushing us to answer that paramount question: “I do what?”

Morris: Recent research studies by highly reputable firms such as Gallup and Towers Watson indicate that in a U.S. workforce, on average, fewer than 30% of the employees are actively and positively engaged; as for the others, they are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively disengaged. How specifically can business leaders increase the percentage of actively and positively engaged employees within their organizations?

Gostick: First, managers should understand there are some simple things they can do tomorrow that will make a big difference in their culture, but so few managers do them. For instance, the great leaders in our study treated their people like partners in the organization. That meant they created for their people a sense of connection by teaching them how their jobs impact the larger organization. And they showed them growth opportunities, how they can grow and develop with the company.

Next, these leaders also created a culture of rooting for each other with much greater levels of recognition and rewards. And finally, managers learned to create a share everything culture, where they honest and openly discussed issues.

Elton: Simple things really, but powerful. It comes down to opportunity, recognition and communication. Three things you can do right way to see results.

Morris: Given your response to the previous question, to what extent will those initiatives also help to retain valued employees who might otherwise leave?

Elton: The number one and number two reasons key performers leave an organization: one—I don’t feel in on things, and two—I don’t feel appreciated. It’s not money, it’s not job growth, people most often leave for things that are absolutely in our control as managers.

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you began your first full-time job? Please explain.

Gostick: When I first became a manager, I didn’t realize that there were people who did a good job but who were toxic to the culture. I waited much too long to get rid of those people.

Morris: Here’s a hypothetical question. If there were a monument honoring business leaders comparable with the one honoring U.S. Presidents on Mount Rushmore, sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, which four would you select? Please explain each choice.

Elton: I’ll give you one. One of our favorite leaders is someone most people have never heard of: Scott O’Neal. He’s president of Madison Square Garden Sports, and he’s the best leader we have ever met. One thing Scott does with every new hire: He asks them where they want to be in five years, and then he commits to help them get there if they promise to give 100 percent to him every day. And people do it, and in turn he’s helped business leaders all over the sports world achieve their dreams. He lives up to his promise.

Gostick: Here’s another one: Doria Camaraza. We feature her in chapter three of All In. Doria is the general manager of American Express’ 3,000-person call center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She is simply amazing. She seems to know every one of her employees, and spends her days making people included and recognized and wonderful. Her call center has employee turnover that is one fifth the national average and has the best efficiency and productivity numbers in the call center industry. My favorite thing she does is called Tribute, where she gathers all her employees together once a month and the leaders come out dancing to Lady Gaga or Aerosmith and then she recognizes a dozen people for living the core values of American Express. It’s really powerful and there are a lot of tears.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Adrian and Chester cordially invite you to check out the resources at these websites:

The Culture Works

Sunday, May 6, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Michalko: An interview by Bob Morris

Michael Michalko

Michael Michalko is one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Business Creativity), ThinkPak (A Brainstorming Card Deck), Creative Thinkering (Putting your Imagination to Work), and Cracking Creativity (The Secrets Of Creative Genius).

 As an officer in the United States Army, Michael organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. His international team applied those methods to various NATO military, political, and social problems and in doing so it produced a variety of breakthrough ideas and creative solutions to new and old problems.  After leaving the military, Michael facilitated CIA think tanks using his creative thinking techniques. Michael later applied these creative-thinking techniques to problems in the corporate world with outstanding successes.  Michael has provided keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars on fostering creative thinking for clients who range from Fortune 500 corporations, such as DuPont, Kellogg’s, General Electric, Kodak, Microsoft, Exxon, General Motors, Ford, USA, AT&T, Wal-Mart, Gillette, and Hallmark, to associations and governmental agencies.  In addition to his work in the United States, Michael has worked with clients in countries around the world.

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

*     *     *

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

Michalko: My mother was my greatest influence because she taught me by example that your life and happiness are determined by what you choose to or refuse to do.

We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, or the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time or conditions of our death. But within all this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we shall live: with purpose or adrift, with joy or with joylessness, with hope or with despair, with humor or with sadness, with a positive outlook or a negative outlook, with pride or with shame, with inspiration or with defeat and with honor or with dishonor. We decide that what makes us significant or insignificant. We decide to be creative or to be indifferent. No matter how indifferent the universe may be to our choices and decisions, these choices and decisions are ours to make. We decide. We choose. In the end, the meaning of our own life is decided by what we choose to do or what we refuse to do. And as we decide and choose, so are our destinies formed.

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

Michalko: While in the military I observed that the more an expert one became in an area of military specialization, the less creative and innovative that person became. The paradox is that people who know more, see less; and the people who know less, see more. Consequently, the majority of the generals had a fixed mindset about what is possible and what is not. The creative and innovative solutions to military problem came from the youngest noncoms and officers who still had open minds.

I discovered the same paradox in civilian life. An example of this is when Apple Computer Inc. founder, Steve Jobs, attempted, without success, to get Atari and Hewlett-Packard interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer. As Steve recounts, “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And their experts laughed and said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.”

It seems that once a person has formed an expectation concerning the subject being observed–this influences future perceptions of the subject.  Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., thought the idea of a personal computer absurd, as he said, “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, was ridiculed by every scientist for his revolutionary liquid-fueled rockets. Even the New York Times chimed in with an editorial in 1921 by scientists who claimed that Goddard lacked even the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high school science classes. Pierrre Pachet, a renowned physiology professor and expert, declared, “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

If we experience any strain in imagining a possibility, we quickly conclude it’s impossible. This principle also helps explain why evolutionary change often goes unnoticed by the experts. The greater the commitment of the expert to their established view, the more difficult it is for the expert to do anything more than to continue repeating their established view. It also explains the phenomenon of a beginner who comes up with the breakthrough insight or idea that was overlooked by the experts who worked on the same problem for years.

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

Michalko: The realization that most educated people have a fixed mindset that encourages robotic thinking and determines a person’s outlook and behavior. Think of the fixed mindset shaped like an upside down funnel. At the wide bottom, there is a wide variety of different experiences. At the top, there is the narrow opening which represents a fixed mindset that superimposes itself on all the experiences. Once people with a fixed mindset have settled on a perspective, they close off all other lines of thought. Whereas, a creative thinker’s mind is shaped like a right side up funnel with the narrow opening over one experience. At the wide top there is a wide variety of different ways to see and think about the one experience. This represents a creative thinker’s growth mindset.

Imagine a mud puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world.  I find myself in this hole and I find that it fits me perfectly. In fact, it fits me so well, it must have been made to have me in it. Everything is fine and there is no need for me to worry about changing anything.” Yet every day as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up, the puddle gets smaller and smaller. Yet the puddle frantically hangs on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because the puddle believes the world is what it is and was meant to have him in it. The moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.

People with fixed mindsets are like the mud puddle. They were taught by authority figures that their genes, family, education and environment have determined their destiny, and they, like the atom, just are. Many of them were taught that they are not creative. Consequently, they believe they are a certain kind of person and there is not much they can do to change that. They might be able change some small things but the important part of who they are can’t be changed.

It was this realization that encouraged me to research, write and teach the importance of understanding these cognitive mindsets, how they influence us and how we can easily change the dynamics of a mindset and change the way we think and see things.

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

Michalko: What I learned from observing and listening to academics in college was their curious tendency to assimilate new information into their pre-existing views. Their mental image of the established view interferes with their perception and understanding of new ideas and concepts. In the case of real life, physicists could not see Einstein’s theory of relativity because of their established, accepted view. For years, they tried to incorporate his view into the established view without success.

Experts always try to assimilate new insights, ideas and concepts into their view. What happens in real life is, despite ambiguous stimuli, people form some sort of tentative hypothesis about what they see. The longer they are exposed to this hypothesis, the greater confidence they develop in this initial and perhaps erroneous impression, so the greater the impact this initial hypothesis has on subsequent perceptions.

Suppose an expert has an established theory about the danger of boxes and their effect on human life and the environment. The theory is that boxes might be harmful and the use of boxes should be regulated. Now, suppose that I leave a box on the floor, and my wife trips on it, falling against my son, who is carrying a carton of eggs, which then fall and break. The expert’s approach to an event like this would be that the best way to prevent the breakage of eggs would be to outlaw leaving boxes on the floor. As silly as this example is, it is analogous to what is happening in the world of global warming. If you survey the history of science, it is apparent that most individuals who have created radical innovations did not do so simply because they knew more than others. One of the most important experiences Noble laureate, Richard Feynman, had in his life was reading a copy of James Watson’s typescript of what was to become his famous book, The Double Helix, about his discovery, together with Francis Crick, of the structure of DNA. Feynman had become unproductive and began to believe he had run out of ideas. The discovery Feynman made was that Watson had been involved in making such a fundamental advance in science, and yet he had been completely out of touch with what everybody else in his field was doing.

As told in Watson’s classic memoir, The Double Helix, it was a tale of boundless ambition, impatience with authority and disdain, if not contempt, for received opinion. “A goodly number of scientists,” Watson explained, “are not only narrow-minded and dull but also just stupid.” Feynman wrote one word, in capitals: DISREGARD on his notepad when he read that. This word became his motto. That, he said, was the whole point. That was what he had forgotten, and why he had been making so little progress. The way for thinkers like himself to make a breakthrough was to be ignorant of what everybody else was doing and make their own interpretations and guesses.

So Feynman “stopped trying to keep up with what others were doing and went back to his roots, comparing experiment with theory, making guesses that were all his own.” Thus he became creative again, as he had been when he had just been working things out for himself, before becoming a famous physicist in academia. While this is an important lesson for science, it is a supreme lesson for any discipline where “current knowledge” can be dominated by theories that are simply incoherent.

Make your own interpretations of your experiences to shape your own beliefs and concepts about your world. This is the lesson Feynman called the most important of his life. This is the lesson I learned during my college years.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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

His website

Psychology Today Blog: Creative Thinkering



Facebook Fan Page

Monday, April 30, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Erik Qualman: An interview by Bob Morris

Erik Qualman

Called a “Digital Dale Carnegie,” Erik Qualman is the author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business and, more recently, Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence.  Socialnomics made Amazon’s #1 Best Selling List for the US, Japan, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy, China, Korea and Germany. Socialnomics was a finalist for the “2010 Book of the Year” awarded by the American Marketing Association. Fast Company magazine listed him as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. He also has one of 2010’s most viral videos on YouTube in “Social Media Revolution.” Qualman is a frequently requested international speaker and has been highlighted in numerous media outlets including: BusinessWeek, The New York Times, WSJ, Mashable, USA Today, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, CBS Nightly News, and The Huffington Post. He has been fortunate to share the stage with Alan Mulally (Ford CEO), Lee Scott (CEO/Chairman Walmart), Jose Socrates (Prime Minister of Portugal), Lutz Bethge (Montblanc CEO), Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (Nokia CEO), Julie Andrews, Al Gore, Tony Hawk, and Sarah Palin.

Qualman is an MBA Professor at the Hult International Business School. For the past 16 years he has helped grow the digital capabilities of many companies including Cadillac, EarthLink, EF Education, Yahoo, Travelzoo and AT&T. He is the founder and owner of which PC Magazine ranked as a Top 10 Social Media Blog. He sits on the Advisory Boards of Manumatix and Bazaarvoice Inc. With regard to his formal education, he holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MBA from The University of Texas. He was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University and still finds time to follow his beloved Spartans while living in Boston with his wife and daughter.

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

*     *     *

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

Qualman: My parents. They instilled in me the belief that if I wanted anything bad enough that I could achieve it.

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

Qualman: Ralph Bartel, CEO of Travelzoo, taught me the art of simplification and also the art of doing what you are passionate about.

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.

Qualman: Yes, I realize that I had a lot of great ideas, but so does everyone else. The way to separate yourself is to stop dreaming your ideas, and making them happen. That was an epiphany for me.

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

Qualman: The networks of friends and learning I developed outside of the classroom have been invaluable in my success.

Morris: To what extent (if any) have reactions to your book, Socialnomics, surprised you?

Qualman: Becoming the #1 marketing book in 7 different languages/countries really floored me. Also that it was a finalist for the American Marketing Association’s Book of the Year (2010).

Morris: Robin Dunbar has suggested that roughly 150 is the “cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships.” What do you think?

Qualman: I believe that is true in an analog world, but can be expanded in today’s digital world. That being said I do believe you are best off going deep with a few people rather than wide with many.

Morris: Although the term “social media” is relatively new, people have been gathering in groups since fire was first used for domestic purposes. Here’s my question: What are the most common misconceptions about the nature, benefits, and limitations of social media? What in fact is true?

Qualman: Social Media is simply Word of Mouth on Digital Steroids

Morris: In your opinion, what is the single greatest challenge that CEOs will face during (let’s say) the next 3-5 years? Why? Any advice for them?

Qualman: CEO’s need to learn that in order to learn in this digital world they need to increase their rate of failure. This is difficult for publicly traded companies.

Morris: If there were another monument comparable with the one on Mt. Rushmore for social media entrepreneurs, who would be your four choices? Please explain your reasons for each selection.

Qualman: Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Mari Smith

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Erik cordially invites you to check out this website ( follow him on Twitter @equalman.

Friday, April 27, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joel A. Garfinkle: An interview by Bob Morris

Joel A. Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 executive coaches in North America. His valuable insights have been sought after by leaders in companies such as Google, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, Gap, Starbucks, Deloitte, Cisco Systems, Oracle, Bank of America, Citibank, and Microsoft. He is the author of seven books and more than 300 articles on leadership, executive presence, getting ahead at work, career transitions, and work fulfillment. His most recent book, Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, was published by John Wiley & Sons (2011).

He is regularly featured in the national media, including ABC News, National Public Radio, New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, USA Today, Newsweek and Fast Company. Sign up to Joel’s weekly report, Fulfillment@Work Newsletter (delivered to more than 10,000 subscribers), and receive the free e-book, 41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now! For more than two decades, Joel has had first-hand experience advising thousands of executives, senior managers, directors, and employees at the world’s leading companies. He draws from this experience to provide coaching programs that serve individuals and organizations throughout the world.

He is also a sought-after speaker who conducts workshops, trainings, and keynote addresses that empower corporate audiences. He has delivered more than 1000 customized presentations that provide fresh insight into common issues that employers and employees face. Learn more about his books, executive coaching services and over 300 FREE articles at

Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. Please click here to read the entire interview.

*     *     *

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

Garfinkle: My wife, Jueli. We’ve been together for eleven years. In this relationship, she is has always been 100% committed to her own personal growth. As she consistently focuses on her own spiritual development and growth, it has spilled over to me and the relationship we have together.

We use the relationship as a vehicle for our own growth. We both dedicate ourselves to communication and connection at all times. We are willing to work through the difficulties that arise (and they do). We never go around them, instead we go through them.

Together, we both spend time doing spiritual work that helps us develop as human beings so we can be more truthful, honest and clear about who we are in the world and how we want to show up as authentically as possible.

I am honored and very blessed to be in relationship with Jueli. She helps me be a better person, father and husband. She knows my issues, challenges and difficulties extremely well. She uses a soft touch in reminding me when these issues show up and I’m unaware. We are both steadfast in living the examined life.

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

Garfinkle: I’ve thought a lot about this question. I’ve never had specific mentors who have had huge impact in my professional development. I am extremely driven in my own professional development and work hard to become the best at what I do. My business, coaching practice, speaking and writing are specific areas that I work hard to improve.

I’ve always been dedicated to growing and learning more about who I am. This has had a strong influence in my own professional development. I’m constantly looking for ways to do things at work more efficiently. As my business has continued to grow, it’s forced me to grow with it and learn new ways of doing business. I will always strive for ways to make things work as smoothly as possible so that I can have the right balance. Balance is important to me. I will always prioritize myself, my family and my connection to Jueli. Thus, part of my professional development is learning how to streamline my business as effectively as possible so I can have time for my life.

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.

Garfinkle: The turning point in my life came in college. I found psychology an easy subject, as I’ve always was curious about people. Business, accounting, science and other subjects never were as easy for me. Psychology felt right and something “‘clicked”‘ inside of me. That’s when I became clear on what I really wanted to do. The name of the specific profession, coaching, hadn’t been invented yet, but I knew that I wanted to help healthy individuals improve the quality of their lives. The word healthy was a clear distinction. About eight years later, I was reminiscing and realized that what I had been describing in college was the profession now known as “coaching.”

I found my true essence and what I was meant to be doing after eight long years of exploring what my dream job might look like. I felt that I wasn’t in the right field, industry, job or career and was very frustrated. The job environments and the people I worked with didn’t feel right either. I was tired of trudging my way through a series of unenjoyable jobs that didn’t align with who I was as a person. I didn’t necessarily know who I was, but I knew something was wrong.

I knew that I was working for companies that didn’t respect me and treated me poorly. They didn’t allow me and my gifts to come forward and shine. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what my gifts were, but I definitely knew that my environment was suppressing them. I kept getting subtle and not-so-subtle hints that began to create a great deal of frustration and unhappiness

Throughout these years, I began to employ an unconventional, yet simple, method to find my true essence. I said to myself, “I want to enjoy my job. I want to enjoy my life. How can I get there? How can I find work that matches who I am?” The quest to find answers to these questions led me to my life’s work.

I stood by my decision and knew I had to find a way to follow my dreams. I was talking one day to someone about the purpose I had identified in college—to help healthy individuals better their lives. I was amazed when she told me, “That’s called coaching.” Finally there was a label for my dream profession! I joined a three-year coaching program and started my own company. That was 16 years ago.

I took the biggest leap of my life and said NO to just having a job and YES to fulfilling my dream. I left the corporate world to follow my passions and do what I really wanted. I realized that it is truly possible to create work aligns to who I truly am!

Morris: Opinions are also divided, sometimes sharply divided, about 360º feedback. What do you think?

Garfinkle: I had a client who worked at Deloitte. She was successful in her job. Throughout this period of coaching, she had a clear understanding of how she was perceived in the company. She thought others saw her as: Smart, dedicated, cares about her people, well-organized, sees the big picture, tremendous at execution, others respect her skills/abilities, she is one of the best sales people in the entire company and customer love her.

After a few months of working together, we decided to do 360 degree interviews. I interviewed two people below her, two people at the peer level and two people above her. A lot of the feedback was positive in affirming how she thought others saw her in the company. However, all six people did provide a negative perspective of her that even surprised me. They said she was a bully, harsh, blunt, hard-ass, forceful and intimidating. This was the lens they saw her as. This became their reality and truth. She was shocked by the feedback and we did a lot of work from that moment onwards to get others to view her as she saw herself.

As you can see from this example, my client at Deloitte had no idea she was being viewed this way. Her perception was drastically different then what others thought of her. This is why I like 360 degree feedback, especially if I am conducting interviews (and not an assessment) because I can dictate the direction of the interview to gain the key information. The 360 provides important information on how others view you in the company.

*     *     *

Please click here to read the entire interview.

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

Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level

Garfinkle Executive Coaching Website

100+ free articles that provide practical, ‘‘how-to’’ information and insights to help you become an effective leader and boost your career success.


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Monday, April 9, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Patrick Lencioni on “the three signs of a miserable job”

Patrick Lencioni

Recent research by highly-reputable firms such as Gallup and TowersWatson suggest that, on average, at least 70% of employees in a U.S. workplace are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively disengaged, undermining the success of operations.

In his latest of six books, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and Their Employees), Patrick Lencioni focuses on three reasons why so many workers are passively engaged.

What are the three signs?

“The first is anonymity, which is the feeling that employees get when they realize that their manager has little interest in them a human being and that they know little about their lives, their aspirations and their interests.

“The second sign is irrelevance, which takes root when employees cannot see how their job makes a difference in the lives of others. Every employee needs to know that the work they do impacts someone’s life–a customer, a co-worker, even a supervisor–in one way or another.

“The third sign is something I call immeasurement, which is the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contribution or success. Employees who have no means of measuring how well they are doing on a given day or in a given week, must rely on the subjective opinions of others, usually their managers’, to gauge their progress or contribution.”

My suggestions?

1.  When discussing performance with a direct report, focus on results of effort and keep in mind that results can be better (i.e. improvement), worse, or the same. Whichever, find out why.

2. Praise outstanding results in public (celebrating well- recognition); discuss unfavorable results only in private (providing constructive criticism because of sincere concern).

3.  Help people to become more alert observers. Reward problem finders as well as pro0blem solvers.

*     *     *

Patrick Lencioni is the founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping organizations become healthy. We do this by providing ideas, products and services that improve teamwork, clarity and employee engagement. Lencioni’s passion for organizations and teams is reflected in his writing, speaking and consulting. He is the author of nine best-selling books with nearly three million copies sold, including Death by Meeting, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team — which continue to be a fixture on national best-seller lists.

Recently named in Fortune magazine as one of the ‘ten new gurus you should know,’ Lencioni and his work have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, Bloomberg Businessweek, Inc. and Harvard Business Review, to name a few.

When Lencioni is not writing, he consults to CEOs and their executive teams, helping them to become more cohesive within the context of their business strategy. The wide-spread appeal of Lencioni’s leadership models have yielded a diverse base of clients, including a mix of Fortune 500 companies, professional sports organizations, the military, non-profits, universities and churches. In addition, Lencioni speaks to thousands of leaders each year at world class organizations and national conferences. He was recently cited in the Wall Street Journal as one of the most sought-after business speakers in the nation.

Prior to founding his firm, he worked as a corporate executive for Sybase, Oracle and Bain & Company. He also served on the National Board of Directors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America.

Saturday, January 21, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delivering an Effective Performance Review

Rebecca Knight

There are two business topics that seem to bring out the best and (yes) the worst in executives: 360º feedback and performance reviews.

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rebecca Knight for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.

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It’s performance review season, and you know the drill. Drag each of your direct reports into a conference room for a one-on-one, hand them an official-looking document, and then start in with the same, tired conversation. Say some positive things about what the employee is good at, then some unpleasant things about what he’s not good at, and end — wearing your most solicitous grin — with some more strokes of his ego. The result: a mixed message that leaves even your best employees feeling disappointed. But if you take the right approach, appraisals are an excellent opportunity to reinforce solid performers and redirect the poor ones.

What the Experts Say

For many employees, a face-to-face performance review is the most stressful work conversation they’ll have all year. For managers, the discussion is just as tense. “What a performance appraisal requires is for one person to stand in judgment of another. Deep down, it’s uncomfortable,” says Dick Grote, author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals. Evaluating an employee’s job performance should consist of more than an annual chat, according to James Baron, the William S. Beinecke Professor of Management at Yale School of Management. Performance management is a process, he says. “Presumably you’re giving a tremendous amount of real-time feedback, and your employees are people you know well. Hopefully your relationship can survive candid feedback.” No matter what kind of appraisal system your company uses, here are several strategies to help you make performance review season less nerve-racking and more productive.

Set expectations early

The performance review doesn’t start with a sit-down in the spare conference room. You must be clear from the outset how you’ll evaluate your employees. Grote suggests holding “performance planning” sessions with each of your direct reports at the beginning of the year, to discuss that person’s goals and your expectations. “You’ll see immediate improvement in performance because everyone knows what the boss expects,” he says. “And it earns you the right to hold people accountable at the end of the year.” Listen carefully to your employees’ personal ambitions, as it will inform the way you assess their work. “Oftentimes managers are evaluating performance without necessarily knowing what that person’s career aspirations are. We often assume that everyone wants to be CEO. But that’s not always the case,” says Barron. Understanding what your direct reports want from their careers will help you figure out ways to broaden their professional experiences.

Lay the groundwork

About two weeks before the face-to-face review, ask your employee to jot down a few things he’s done over the last year that he’s proud of. This will both help refresh your memory, and “will put a positive focus on an event that is so often seen as negative,” says Grote. Next, go over other notes you’ve kept on your employee over the year: a well-executed project; a deadline missed; the deft handling of a difficult client. Finally, ask for feedback from others in the company who work closely with your employee. “The larger number of independent evaluations the better,” says Barron. About an hour before the meeting, give your employee a copy of his appraisal. That way, he can have his initial emotional response — positive or negative — in the privacy of his own cubicle. “When people read someone’s assessment of them, they are going to have all sorts of churning emotions,” says Grote. “Let them have that on their own time, and give them a chance to think about it.” Then with a calmer, cooler head, the employee can prepare for a rational and constructive business conversation.

Set a tone

Too often the face-to-face conversation takes the form of a “feedback sandwich:” compliments, criticism, more niceties. But because there’s no single, clear message this approach demoralizes your stars and falsely encourages your losers. Instead, pick a side. “Most people are good solid workers, so for the vast majority, you should concentrate exclusively on things the person has done well,” says Grote, adding that this method tends to motivate people who are already competent at their jobs. For your marginal workers, however, do not sugarcoat bad news. Performance reviews are your chance to confront poor performers and demand improvement. “People are resilient,” says Grote. “As time goes on, that person is not going to get a promotion and not going to get a raise…You’re not doing this person any favors by [avoiding their deficiencies].”

Constructively coach 

After discussing the strengths and achievements of your solid performers, ask them how they feel about how things are going. “In most cases you’re dealing with mature adults and you’ll elicit their honest concerns,” says Grote. For both solid and poor performers, frame feedback in terms of a “stop, start, and continue” model, suggests Barron. What is the employee doing now that is not working? What are they doing that is highly effective? What actions should they adopt to be more so? By focusing on behaviors not dispositions, it takes the personal edge out of the conversation. Give specific advice and targeted praise. “Don’t say things like: ‘You need to be more proactive.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Say something like: ‘You need to take more initiative in calling potential sales leads.'” Similarly, “Saying: ‘You’re an innovator’ is nice but it’s helpful to know exactly what they’re doing that reflects that,” says Baron.

Hold your ground

The hot button issues associated with performance reviews are money and rank. If your company allows it, separate any talk of compensation from the performance review. “But if you must, do not save the salary information for the end of the conversation,” says Grote, “otherwise there’ll be an invisible parrot above the employees’ head squawking: how much? throughout the entire discussion.” Rank is another place for potential bruised feelings. A majority of companies require managers to rate their employees — often on a scale of 1-5. Your goal is go over the data, and make a judgment call.

Remember: the 1-5 system is not analogous to the A-F grading scheme in school; most employees will get the middle rank, a 3. This might leave some employees feeling let down, thinking they’re merely “average.” Don’t cave in. “In the corporate world, you’re dealing with a highly selective group,” says Grote. “The rules of the game have changed. In school, a C was mediocre, but a 3 in the working world means they’re meeting expectations. They’re shooting par.” Conveying that message is a leadership challenge. “People can accept it rationally but it may be hard to accept viscerally,” he says. “This is why it’s so important to hold a performance planning meeting at the outset. If they hit their targets, they are a 3. It’s a goal.”

Knight then recommends “Principles to Remember” and provides two mini-case studies that illustrate them. To read the complete article, please click here.

*     *     *

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist in Boston. She has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, and The Economist.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kevin Maney: Second Interview, by Bob Morris

Kevin Maney

In his own words….

I’ve had a long career as a journalist and author. Lately, I’ve added a new hat: I’ve joined VSA Partners as its Editorial Director. The plan is to marry business to big-think journalism in a way that hopefully helps both prosper. The first example of that is the book commissioned by IBM and co-authored by me, Steve Hamm and Jeff O’Brien — Making the World Work Better.

My latest book, co-authored with Vivek Ranadivé, is The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future…Just Enough (September, 2011).

Last year, I had another book out: Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t. The hardcover was published in the fall of 2009 by Broadway Books; the paperback, in August 2010.

I contribute occasionally to Fortune, The Atlantic, Fast Company and other magazines. I had been a contributing editor at the ill-fated Condé Nast Portfolio, joining the magazine prior to its launch in 2007 and hanging on until its demise in April 2009.

Before all this, I worked at USA Today for 22 years, much of it as the newspaper’s technology columnist. The job gave me the privilege of interviewing most of the biggest names in the industry. Here and there, I end up on television and radio. I’ve appeared on PBS, NPR, CNBC, and other media outlets, and I’ve frequently been a keynote speaker and on-stage interviewer at events and conferences.

On the music side, in 2008 I worked with a group of terrific Bay Area musicians and recorded a CD of songs of wry commentary about business and technology. It’s called “Privacy,” by Kevin Maney & His Briefs. You can actually buy it on iTunes. I’ve also played in a DC-area band, Not Dead Yet, which at the moment is dormant, if not actually dead. My shining moment was getting my song “Found It On Google” played on Mitch Albom’s radio show.

I graduated from Rutgers University, grew up in Binghamton, N.Y., and now live outside Washington, DC, while spending a lot of time in New York.

[Here is an excerpt from my second interview of Kevin. To read the complete interview, please click here.]

*     *     *

Morris: Before discussing The Two-Second Advantage, a few general questions. First, of all the people with whom you have been closely associated, which has had the greatest influence on your personal development? How so?

Maney: Over the very long run, I guess it’s been my brothers. I’m the oldest of three, and the next one is Dave, and then Scott. (I also have a stepbrother, Mark.) Dave, Scott and I have always been close, but it’s more than that. I think our opinions of each other carry great weight, and that’s pushed each of us to be better people, be more ambitious, be wittier, raise better kids, and whole lot of other things like that. And it’s a supportive competitiveness. We’ve always boosted each other, and at times even done business together. Right now, I’m working at a firm, VSA Partners, that Scott introduced me to, and playing a role in Dave’s start-up, Economaney. Fortunately for me, I’m the least smart and savvy of the three of us, so I think I get to learn more from them than they do from me.

Morris: On your professional development?

Maney: There are two people. When I was 25, Hal Ritter just became editor of USA Today’s Money section, and he hired me. I think I was his first hire. I’d say we had a respectful but sometimes contentious relationship. He could be a hard guy to work for — demanding and harsh. But he was also maybe the smartest editor I ever worked for. He knew his audience and drove us to write for it with clear, lean prose. He taught me to have standards and never settle for less, and to have the discipline to always think of the reader. I worked for Hal for the first decade of my career. Whatever kind of writer I am today, it’s because of those 10 years. Hal is now an editor at the Associated Press. We nominally keep in touch.

The other important person is Jim Collins. While Hal taught me to pay attention to the details, Jim played a significant role in helping me think big and broadly. The two of us met well before Jim got famous for his books Built to Last and Good to Great. I was working on a story for USA Today, and talked to a publicist at Stanford, where Jim was a professor at the time, about it. The publicist told me that I should talk to Jim — that Jim was working on a book about a similar topic. That book ended up being Built to Last, but it was then a half-finished manuscript. Jim and I talked and hit it off. He sent me the manuscript, and I thought it was one of the most important business documents I’d ever read. When Built to Last was finally published, I jumped on it and wrote a cover story for USA Today, which in turn was the spark that sent the book up the bestseller list.

Anyway, Jim and I became friends, and I can’t tell you the number of big, analyze-the-universe conversations he and I have had. I love the way he makes me think. His ideas about corporations had a huge impact on the way I analyzed Thomas Watson in The Maverick and His Machine. I wouldn’t be the same kind of author if not for Jim’s friendship.

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.

Maney: I knew I wanted to be a writer from as far back as I can remember. That was my talent. Lord knows it wasn’t math. If there was an epiphany, it came when I went to Rutgers and got involved in the journalism program. I reluctantly signed up for a journalism major, thinking I needed a fall-back way to make money should my career as a novelist fail to take off. As I started to try on journalism, including doing internships and working at the campus paper, I found I actually liked it. So I started to want to be a journalist.

And then there was another epiphany when I discovered the great old New York Times columnist Russell Baker. I realized there could be a way to be a newspaper journalist and write funny yarns in a column. Then I wanted to be Russell Baker. I kind of half achieved it — writing a column for USA Today that often involved funny yarns about technology.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have since achieved thus far?

Maney: Well, with all due respect to Rutgers, I’m not sure the value of my time there was in what I learned academically. It was more about the fact that Rutgers introduced me to journalism and diverted my path into newspapers.

Morris: You are a serious musician. To what extent has your significant involvement with music proven to be highly valuable in ways and to any extent you had not anticipated? Please explain.

Maney: I’m not sure how much the word serious applies! I write songs like “Wouldn’t Want to Be Bill Gates” and “Little Tattoo and All Over Tan.” But I certainly have pursued music in general and songwriting in particular.

What’s it done for me? I think it’s become part of my personal brand — in a field where having a personal brand is an asset. It’s helped me stand out a bit in the minds of a lot of people in the tech industry. I’m that tech writer who gets on stage and plays funny tech songs. I wouldn’t want that to be all I’m known for, but it’s a bit of a differentiator.

Morris: In your opinion, what will be the single greatest challenge that business leaders (especially CEOs) will face during the 3-5 years?

Maney: This gets a bit into what I’m doing with my brother Dave. He and I and other people we’re working with believe that the disruptions and difficulties in the economy the past few years aren’t just a bump in the road — they’re part of a massive change in very big forces, brought on by the Internet, globalization, and the flood of data. It’s changing the very nature of what a company is, the nature of what a job is, the value that proximity has or doesn’t have. Economaney is kind of a new age think tank for tossing these ideas around and trying to make sense of them. All in all, the next three to five years are going to be among the most challenging in history to be a CEO in America — or for that matter, President of the country.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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


Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still Waiting for Superwoman

Richard D. Kahlenberg

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Richard D. Kahlenberg for Slate magazine. To read the complete article, please click here.

*     *     *

What Michelle Rhee’s fans don’t get about education reform

The national press and political class adore Michelle Rhee, who ran the D.C. public schools from 2007 until 2010. She’s appeared on the cover of Time and Newsweek, chatted on television with Oprah and David Gregory, and starred in Davis Guggenheim’s documentary Waiting for Superman and a 12-part series on PBS’ the NewsHour. This level of attention is unheard of for a schools chancellor of any size district, much less the 108th largest in the country.

For many, Rhee is the heroine in a morality play that draws on the power of the civil rights movement. In Washington, D.C., disadvantaged black and brown children are being robbed of an education, and Rhee has been battling the forces that were keeping them down: the teachers’ union. Whereas the union selfishly put adults first, Rhee puts kids first. The new organization she just founded, StudentsFirst, is hoping to raise $1 billion explicitly to counter the political influence of the unions.

In years past, Republicans like Bob Dole castigated teachers’ unions as a central impediment to good schools, which made political and policy sense because the unions are strong supporters of Democratic candidates and provide the political muscle that has stymied conservative school-privatization initiatives. But today the critique of unions is advanced not just by conservatives like George Will, but liberals like Jonathan Alter and Nicholas Kristof; not just the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, but also of the Washington Post and New York Times. And in the 2008 presidential debate at Hofstra University, Barack Obama called Rhee, one of the nation’s leading critics of unions, a “wonderful new superintendent.

Rhee’s message about education reform is very seductive because it’s simple and optimistic. Childhood poverty and economic school segregation, in Rhee’s world, are just “excuses” for teacher failure. If we could just get the unions to agree to stop protecting bad teachers and allow great teachers to be paid more, she says, we could make all the difference in education. The narrative is attractive because it indeed would be wonderful if poverty and segregation didn’t matter, and if heroic teachers could consistently overcome the odds for students whom everyone agrees deserve a better shot in life.

The fact that Rhee is a hard-working Ivy League graduate makes the elite press respect her as one of their own. And Rhee’s flair for the dramatic makes her irresistible. In his well-written and highly favorable biography, The Bee Eater, Richard Whitmire recounts that as a teacher in Baltimore, Rhee grabbed the attention of her students one day when she swatted a bee flying around the classroom and promptly swallowed it. As a chancellor, Rhee once told a film crew, “I’m going to fire somebody in a little while. Do you want to see that?”

Most education researchers, though, recognize that Rhee’s simple vision of heroic teachers saving American education is a fantasy, and that her dramatic, often authoritarian, style is ill-suited for education. If the ability to fire bad teachers and pay great teachers more were the key missing ingredient in education reform, why haven’t charter schools, 88% of which are nonunionized and have that flexibility, lit the education world on fire? Why did the nation’s most comprehensive study of charter schools, conducted by Stanford University researchers and sponsored by pro-charter foundations, conclude that charters outperformed regular public schools only 17 percent of the time, and actually did significantly worse 37 percent of the time? Why don’t Southern states, which have weak teachers’ unions, or none at all, outperform other parts of the country? Rhee often noted that poor blacks in New York are two years ahead of poor blacks in Washington, which properly illustrates that demography is not destiny, but New York didn’t get ahead by firing bad teachers. Chancellor Joel Klein terminated only three teachers for incompetence between 2008 and 2010.

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

Richard D. Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and author of Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy and All Together Now: Creating Middle-Class Schools Through Public School Choice.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lessons to be learned from Steve Jobs

Josh Linkner

Everyone seems to have lots of opinions about Steve Jobs. I never met him or worked for him. I’ve seen videos of him, notably his commencement address at Stanford. Also,  I know people who knew him and worked for him. Among my friends are those who have written books and articles about him. It would be presumptuous of me, however, to suggest what lessons can be learned from him. There are others who are well-qualified to do so. Josh Linkner is a case in point. The author of Disciplined Dreaming, he is also the CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners and the Founder, Chairman and former CEO of ePrize.

Here’s what Josh thinks about his friend, Steve Jobs:

He’s been called the modern day Thomas Edison, the Beethoven of business, and the most prolific visionary since Henry Ford.  Yet as Steve Jobs steps down from the helm of Apple, he has left us with so much more than incredible technology.

Jobs completely transformed the industries of personal computing, digital animation (Pixar), music, mobile phones, and now tablets.  He created the most valuable company in the world and impacted the way billions of people live their daily lives.  But beyond his accomplishments, he’s taught us lessons in leadership and life.  The characteristics he embodied can serve as a roadmap for us all to become better in business, community, family, and personal achievement.

For all us kids from 1 to 92, Steve’s guiding principles can help us live our best life and make the biggest difference:

1) Put Passion First – He followed his heart and let the operational details fall into place.  He refused to put a governor on his burning desire to reach new heights.

2) Never Limit Your Imagination – He always imagined the ideal solution or product and never cut corners or watered down his most potent ideas due to setbacks or fear.

3) Pursue Greatness over Money – Steve didn’t chase the mighty dollar.  Rather, he focused on making the biggest possible impact and the money followed.

4) Demand Excellence – Critics complain of his exacting style and “unrealistic” demands.  There’s a natural gravitational force of mediocrity, and sometimes it takes an aggressive stance to rise above the sea of sameness.

5) Put Yourself Out of Business – Steve was never satisfied, and constantly strove to be the force of disruptive change that would make the Steve of six months ago irrelevant.  Never clinging to past successes, he maintained intense urgency around continuous reinvention.

6) Challenge Conventional Wisdom – When there were norms, he lived to shatter them.  Nearly every step of his success can be traced to inspired thinking that stuck his finger in the eye of the complacent incumbents.

7) Simplify – ‘Nuff said.

8) Ignore the Naysayers – If he listened to the “sound advice” of others, we’d never even know his name.  He never let the fear of others interfere with his own trajectory.

9) Persist – While today he sits victorious, there were many times he nearly lost it all.  There were dark days at Apple, Pixar, and even in his personal life.  Where others throw in the towel, Steve stared into the abyss and never accepted defeat.

10) Never Pigeonhole – Steve wasn’t a “computer executive.”  He was a visionary change agent and could not be constrained. He realized his calling was far beyond any categorical label.

11) Push Beyond What You Think is Possible – When Steve heard “that can’t be done”, it only emboldened his resolve.  He constantly drove himself and others to reach new heights.

Whether you’re building a tech startup, raising three kids or running a soup kitchen, these indelible philosophies serve as a roadmap to success.  While you may organize your thoughts on your MacBook, communicate with your team on your iPhone, and later jam some tunes on your iPod, the impact of Steve Jobs is far greater than the devices he’s provided.  Rather, he’s given us a model to reach our full potential.

Steve famously said he wanted to “put a ding in the universe.”  You have done that, my friend, and so much more.  The impact you’ve made is immeasurable, and has inspired a generation to “think different.”  Thank you for taking the path less traveled, for conquering the never-been-done, and for leading with purpose.  Thank you for changing the world.

*     *     *

Josh Linkner is the New York Times bestselling author of Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, named one of the top ten business books of 2011. He is the CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, a venture capital firm helping to rebuild urban areas through technology and entrepreneurship. Josh is the Founder, Chairman and former CEO of ePrize, the largest interactive promotion agency in the world providing digital marketing services for 74 of the top 100 brands. Prior to ePrize, Josh was the founder and CEO of three other successful technology companies.  Josh’s writings are published frequently by Fast Company and Forbes and he’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, and on CNBC. Josh is also a professional-level jazz guitarist performing regularly in jazz clubs throughout the United States.

Most importantly, Josh in on a mission to make the world more creative.

For more information on creativity, please visit his website by clicking here. “In addition to my blog, you’ll find free videos, quizzes, articles, eBooks and more to help fuel your creative fire! ”



Monday, August 29, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All In or Don’t Bother

Josh Linkner

Here is a recent blog post by Josh Linkner, author of Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity. With all due respect to the value of effort and even best effort, Josh is really talking about a mindset that many affirm but few develop: faith in the power of 100% best effort. “In addition to my blog, you’ll find free videos, quizzes, articles, eBooks and more to help fuel your creative fire! ” To visit his website, please click here.

*     *      *

Imagine you have the chance to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the pole vault.  It’s your big moment and you may even break a world record.  With the intense glow of audience scrutiny, this isn’t the time to hedge your bets.  If you try a safer approach or pause to consider all the risks, the game is over.  Instead, your best chance of reaching greatness is to give the task at hand your every ounce of passion, commitment, and energy.

To reach your true potential, you need to be All In.

Opportunity knocks for us all, sometimes more subtly than we’d like.  Frequently that opportunity is shrouded with doubt and uncertainty; often it looks like a setback or even danger.  Most of us ignore these opportunities altogether, or when we seize them we do so with a halfhearted approach.

“I’ll give it a shot”, we might say.  Or, “Let’s see what happens.”  The problem is – all the energy you put into developing Plan B ends up defusing your focus on the real prize.   It turns out that the most successful people devour each opportunity along their journey with carnivorous ferocity.   They give each shot everything they have, knowing full well that some will ring the victory bell while others crash and burn.

Think how silly Lady Gaga would look spending 10 hours a week working on her CPA license in case her music career flopped.  Or what about a Major League Baseball player who never swung for the fences?  Life is short and opportunities are fleeting.   If you hope to achieve your full potential, you must put all your weight behind each punch.  Start playing to win, and stop playing “not to lose.”

Sure, it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and point fingers.  There are scores of people who achieve nothing of their own, but relish in the setbacks of others.  But, at the end of the day, they’ll look back and wish they took a stand of their own.  They’ll wish they were All In.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best, way back in 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

When you are presented with an opportunity, attack it with everything you’ve got.  No more half-and-half.  It’s time to be All In. 

*     *     *

Josh Linkner is the New York Times bestselling author of Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, named one of the top ten business books of 2011. He is the CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, a venture capital firm helping to rebuild urban areas through technology and entrepreneurship. Josh is the Founder, Chairman and former CEO of ePrize, the largest interactive promotion agency in the world providing digital marketing services for 74 of the top 100 brands. Prior to ePrize, Josh was the founder and CEO of three other successful technology companies.  Josh’s writings are published frequently by Fast Company and Forbes and he’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, and on CNBC. Josh is also a professional-level jazz guitarist performing regularly in jazz clubs throughout the United States.

Most importantly, Josh in on a mission to make the world more creative.


Monday, August 15, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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