All in Leadership

Travel Is A Hygiene Factor

A common question when I’m discussing what I do for a living is whether there’s much travel involved. My answer is always that, yes, there’s a moderate amount of travel involved. 

Of course, the term “moderate” means different things to different people. There are those who feel being on the road once a month for a couple of days is a lot. And then there are folks( in consulting, for example) who get on a plane week in, week out, flying out on Monday AM and flying home Thursday or Friday PM. 

The Idealism Of Youth...

…Is not a phrase I’m entirely comfortable with.

Sure, there’s a maturity that comes with age - what we can refer to as wisdom. This experience also has a way of tempering our roughest, ‘least-rounded’ impulses which. in so many ways, is not at all a bad thing.

But the idealism of youth brings with it a daring, an audacity that has (more often than not) broadened our way of thinking, pushing our boundaries and forcing us to confront those things that hold us back yet we’ve taken for granted.

“The Bit I Didn't Want To Show...Was The Bit That Mattered"

“How people may emotionally connect with music I’ve been involved in is something that part of me is completely mystified by...Human beings are really different, so why would it be that what I do connects in that way? I discovered maybe around (Radiohead’s album) The Bends that the bit I didn’t want to show, the vulnerable bit...that bit was the bit that mattered.” Thom Yorke

The 1,000 true fans of what you do, the ones who will follow you through hell and high water, aren’t there because they expect you to sell them something. They aren’t interested in you because you’re thoroughly researched, or because you’re crafted to the nth degree.

When Having Too Much Money Is A Bad Thing

The recent WeWork debacle is an incredible business story that MBA students will be dissecting and analyzing for years to come. 

How could a company that was expecting one of the richest, most high profile IPOs of recent times now be on the verge of bankruptcy - in barely a couple of months?

It seemed to have all the ingredients you’d want - a flamboyant founder who would often walk around Manhattan barefoot, a lofty mission about elevating our consciousness, a truly differentiated product offering and marketing buzz that the most storied brands would kill for. 

When You're On The Verge of Getting Through

It’s a really weird thing.

In the process of learning something on guitar, specifically when I’m dealing with particularly tricky fingerwork, I’ll hit a point when I just can’t get my fingers moving fast enough, or to the right notes, or with the fluidity and rhythm needed for the song. 

It’s that situation when the mind knows what to do, but the body can’t translate. Time after time, I’ll try but I’ll miss this note or I’ll flub that one.

It’s Available To You

One of the most common refrains I hear from business professionals - both young and old - is that the achievements of ‘celebrities’, in any walk of life, are the result of luck, or great timing, or some other reason that’s preordained.

In others words, their smarts and hard work were contributors but not drivers of their success. They rationalize that what drove that person’s success isn’t accessible to them, that they’re disproportionately benefitting from forces outside of their control.

Fighting False Precision (or A.I. Isn't Everything)

There’s a lot of talk these days about Artificial Intelligence. Much of the buzz behind AI and many of the “digital disruptors” that leverage it (think digital twins, IoT, blockchain applications and more) is well founded. Taken together, these capabilities and technologies will change almost every facet of our lives, from how we live to what we buy to how we work.

The Other Side of Cynicism

If you spend any amount of time in the Bay Area, you can’t help but be struck by the entrepreneurial spirit on display (seemingly) everywhere. Billboards promote the latest AI startup, not the usual Fortune 500 monolith. Coffee shops all over are filled with twenty and thirty somethings typing code, while random overheard conversations inevitably turn to the latest tech venture or entrepreneurial startup. 

We Are The Character We Have Played In Our Stories

This week, I’m sharing my favorite ideas from “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, an amazing book by Donald Miller. It’s a non-fiction book that speaks to how we should think of our lives as stories to be lived, making them more meaningful in terms of how we live it, and how we (and others) will remember ourselves as we grow older and when we eventually leave. This is Day 5.

"It Was Only Necessary To Sacrifice Everything"

This week, I’m sharing my favorite ideas from “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, an amazing book by Donald Miller. It’s a non-fiction book that speaks to how we should think of our lives as stories to be lived, making them more meaningful in terms of how we live it, and how we (and others) will remember ourselves as we grow older and when we eventually leave. This is Day 4.

"You Can’t Build An End Scene As Beautiful As This By Sitting On A Couch"

This week, I’m sharing my favorite ideas from “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, an amazing book by Donald Miller. It’s a non-fiction book that speaks to how we should think of our lives as stories to be lived, making them more meaningful in terms of how we live it, and how we (and others) will remember us as we grow older and when we eventually leave. This is Day 3.

"Our Stories Are Being Stolen By The Easy Life"

This week, I’m sharing my favorite ideas from “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, an amazing book by Donald Miller. It’s a non-fiction book that speaks to how we should think of our lives as stories to be lived, making them more meaningful in terms of how we live it, and how we (and others) will remember ourselves as we grow older and, when we eventually leave. This is Day 1.

Stories Without Risk Are Meaningless*

In my very early twenties, I went on my first business trip with my then boss. It was a quick trip to Bangkok (I was based in Hong Kong at the time) and I remember four things about that trip.

First, I got to fly business class, which was awesome. Business class was nice.

Second, I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Erawan, which was amazing. I couldn’t fathom such luxury.

Third, Bangkok traffic sucked - a 15 minute drive took an hour plus. Apparently, pretty normal back then (and not all that different now).

Born Versus Made

An endless debate that takes place in popular conversation is the question of whether people are born with special capabilities or whether they craft and mold themselves to become that way.

There’s a comfort in both streams of thought. The latter suggests that we control our destiny, who we are and who we can become. It provides for the mental foundation that we aren’t restricted to what we are today nor to what we have. Dream your dreams, make your plans and get after it. It’s all there for the taking.

Why Are We So Afraid of Secrets?

“Why are we so afraid of secrets? Why won’t we take risks and figure out something new? We have given up our sense of wonder at secrets left to be discovered?” - Peter Thiel

The problem with the way our educational system works, in general, is that it is designed to produce established skill sets (mostly) that serve a world that has structure. Identify your specific focus area early, dedicate most if not all of your time and academic resources towards that focus area and dutifully march down that well-trodden path to become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant, programmer, etc. 

“...Until You Get Punched In The Face...”

There are two types of people in the world: those who plan and those who don’t. 

And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that those who plan are more successful than those who don’t. 

Of course, just because you plan, doesn’t mean everything will go your way. Reality has a funny way of doing things that don’t align with our best laid plans. 

An Age Old Conundrum...

If I'm honest, I will say that there are many times I struggle with the idea of getting older and dealing with the reality that there are, to paraphrase Steven Tyler, only so many more summers left in my life.

While there's, no doubt, much I have to be grateful for, I'm also flustered by the fact that there's still so much left to do.

And my view of myself doing those things varies - some days I think maybe I'm too old, other days, I'm not at all.

It Doesn't Matter What You Think

Perceptions are everything.

If someone believes something to be true, it almost doesn’t matter what the data says. The most reasoned arguments and the most robust set of facts will pale in comparison to their beliefs, values and worldview. 

And as a marketer or salesperson reaching out to current and potential customers, it certainly doesn’t matter what you think. It only matters what they think, how they perceive the facts.

Unplug Yourself

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” — Anne Lamott

It’s almost always a bad idea to try and make difficult decisions in the fog of war, unless we absolutely have to. 

In the midst of the battle, we’re faced with a host of messages and signals coming at us, non-stop, seemingly at random. Sometimes, our senses are heightened and we’re fully attuned to our circumstances, allowing us to make sharp, intuitive decisions. But more often than not, we’re not. Or we aren’t for any extended period of time.