All in Leadership

I’ve got a bit of an issue with articles that proclaim that the golden age of something or the other is over. (I saw one recently proclaiming that the golden age of American dining was over.)

I get that stream of thought when it comes to specific brands or technologies. For example, I don’t think any of us would disagree that The Golden Age of the Walkman is pretty much done and dusted. Or that The Golden Age of Atari is essentially behind us.

When Our Best And Brightest Stop Speaking Up...

Every organization has that person. The one who raises issues, flags problems, talks about solutions and fixes to move the ball forward.

I’m not talking about the complainers - folks who have nothing better to do, and don’t have any real intent to solve the problem. I’m talking about those who want to get things done and are vocal about it. Very vocal, in fact. Sometimes, they’re in your face. Many times, they’re irritating. Many times, it feels like they’re too much.

That's Not How Good Ideas Work

I don’t subscribe to many email newsletters but one that I do like to read is from Rob Hatch and Chris Brogan of Owner Media Group. They always have great ideas and perspectives on doing business at a granular level - how to organize your thinking, how to position and market yourself and your products and so much more.

Rob recently sent an email about how we think about “ideas” in business, specifically referring to Chris’ book, Trust Agents, published ten years ago. He talked about how he still found the ideas discussed to be relevant. Still as applicable today as it was a decade ago.

"This Will Only Take A Minute..."

Expectations management is everything in business.

If you’re going to do something, do it. If you have no intention of doing it, don’t say you will. That’s pretty clear cut and I think we’ll all agree with that.

The problem arises when we get comfortable in the grey areas, at the edges of “well, this isn’t really a big deal”. We brush off - consciously or otherwise - these little things.

You Can't Get A Little Bit Pregnant...

Free Soloing is a form of climbing that’s done without any sort of protection - no ropes, no harnesses, no climbing gear. Nothing but a good pair of climbing shoes, chalk to keep your hands dry and your technique and wits. It’s been around for decades but came back into the spotlight in the excellent documentary, Free Solo, which profiled Aex Honnold and his free ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite, a truly spectacular and breathtaking achievement.

Sometimes The Problem With Our Message Is Us

In my last post, I talked about the importance of simplicity and authenticity in our messaging. Complex, obtuse and, worse, overly clever messaging does a disservice to the point we’re trying to make. And most of the time, it detracts from getting that point across.

Sometimes, though, this just seems impossible. We struggle with distilling the key takeaways or the so-whats. What keeps emerging is far longer and more involved than what feels right.

When Capable People Need To Go

The biggest challenge that any organization - small or large - faces is finding and keeping good people. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a start-up team of 3 or if you’re Google, the core challenge remains the same: employ the best people possible.

And getting the best people is a complex goal with multiple aspects to it, each as important as the other.

How do I find the best people to do what is needed? How do I incent them to do their best work? How do I make sure they stay?

The Thing about (My) Pettiness...

The past month or so has been a terrible one for Arsenal supporters like me.

We knew this would be a transition year and hence (we believed) we’d managed our expectations accordingly. But as the end of the season approached, we found ourselves in pole position to do something fantastic (for where the team was, anyway). We had a real shot at finishing 3rd in the league, thereby securing a coveted spot in the Champions League (very necessary to attract the best players), and we had the chance to bring home a European trophy, having reached the Europa League Final.

The Importance of Valorization

One of the things that I love about the Montessori education system is its focus on developing independence and confidence and instilling self-esteem in children.

In fact, one of the central tenets of that system is Valorization. I was reminded of this in a recent video from the RPMS school (which is where my kids went). Valorization is about:

The One Question You Should Ask In An Interview...Isn't Enough

If you spend any time online looking for advice (of any sort - personal or business), you’re bound to come across articles that espouse the “1 question you need to ask” or the “3 signs that you’ll be successful”. The intention behind these articles is clear - if you’re on the path to X, and if you pay attention to these one or two or three things, then you’ll get there.

I get the simplicity of the approach and I appreciate it’s allure, especially if the advice is coming from someone we consider to be successful (or from someone who works for a company we consider to be conventionally successful).

If You Do Know, Then Say So

I’ve talked about situations where leaders and managers struggle to say “I don’t know” because of their fear of seeming incompetent or not being “in the know”. It’s an approach that rarely works and, more often than not, breeds frustration and angst, because it goes against the reality that real leaders are human, open and willing to be vulnerable.

On the flip side, we also see situations where perfectly competent individuals - individuals who know their stuff and know the situation at hand - are unwilling to say what they think. They remain quiet even when they know better, even when their expertise, experience and gut are telling them otherwise.

Why does this happen?

Defining Happiness

“To me, happiness is about an expectation of positive change. Every year before 2016, there was an improvement in my expectations — in the team, the product, or the company. This was the first time in my life when the present year felt worse than the last.“ 

The above quote come from Sahil Lavingia’s Medium article titled “Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company”, which recounts how he built what by any normal standard would be considered a successful business but a failure by traditional Venture Capital standards (and as he says, his own).

Get Used To Criticism

If you’re going to do anything different, you’re going to get criticized.

There’s no shortage of folks willing to offer you advice if you’re thinking about a new venture, a new project or a new position. They’ll range from friends, family as well as business colleagues - well intentioned or otherwise. Some of it you might actively ask for, but a lot of it will be offered to you, at no extra cost.

Be The Guide - Not The Victim

Donald Miller is an author and businessman who helps organizations tell better stories. His message is that, in a business world that’s full of noise and clutter, the only way to cut through is to tell stories and engage your audience - in any type of setting.

One of his key themes is that there are really 4 key roles you can play in any story - hero, villain, guide or victim.