Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Strategic Collection

The Art of War: The Quintessential Collection of Military Strategy (Knickerbocker Classics) Sun Tzu, Nicolo Machiavelli, with An Introduction by Erik O. Ronningen - (Racepoint Publishing)

Over the course of time there have been shelves full of books written about strategic thinking and how to apply strategy to business. While many of these books have been touted as classics and have offered up nuggets of useful information most have not held up in the same fashion as the classic military strategy books that date back hundreds, if not thousands of years.

These military treatises have been interpreted and re-interpreted many times and have had variations that point to a way to utilize them in the world of business. Four of these truly classical takes on strategy are collected in a beautiful and extremely useful package dubbed, The Art of War: The Quintessential Collection of Military Strategy.

Housed in a sturdy slip cover, this well designed collection includes; Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Nicolo Machiavelli’s, The Prince, General Carl von Clausewitz’s, On War, and Fredrick the Great’s, Instructions to His Generals. Military veteran Erik O. Ronningen provides an introduction to the collection that not only informs, but adds historical context for each of the individual books.

While many renditions and interpretations of Sun Tzu have come before; I have muddle through any number of variations, the version included in this set tracks very well and is among the most relatible versions I have encountered. The von Clausewitz is a book that I have recommended many times after an instructor at West Point passed along his recommendation to me. There is something quintessential about each of these pieces that translates to even modern situations.

Perfect for fans of military history or business strategy, it has allowed me to jettison the individual, often dog eared copies of the four books. There is something substantial about the heft of this book/case that tells me it will stand the test of time, much like the texts it contains. While I have gifted my son with some of these books individually, I plan to purchase an additional copy to pass along to him this holiday season. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Education vs. Learning

Don’t Pay for Your MBA- The Faster, Cheaper, Better Way to Get the Business Education You Need – Laurie Pickard (AMACOM)

This has been one of the seemingly endless, personal, debates that I have had over the course of my career; should I take the next educational step, bite the bullet and get an MBA. The debate is marked by any number of the familiar touch points that these kinds of debates usually have; the lack of time to commit to getting it done conflicting with work and family, the high cost, again conflicting with family and lifestyle and the invariable question, is it truly worth the investment of time ad treasure?

I will admit that most often the debate comes up when a colleague or manager has encouraged me down that road with talk of a higher level position or new management role. I have continued to nurture and invest my own personal learning, but without taking the step of enrolling in a formal educational program.

It is that at this point in the debate that Laurie Pickard’s new book, Don’t Pay for Your MBA- The Faster, Cheaper, Better Way to Get the Business Education You Need, has tossed gasoline on the fire of that debate. Pickard advocates persuasively for taking the route of taking MOOCs; Massive Open Online Courses. I encourage you to Google MOOCs and be astounded by the truly massive variety of low and no, cost courses that  are available and accessible to furthering your learning.

Pickard also goes as far as arming you with a road map and the tools to design the course of study you want to undertake; whether it’s sharpening your skillset, growing into new areas or setting yourself up to take the plunge into a full on MBA program, she helps you chart the course. This allows you to evaluate your personal progress, determine how much time you want to commit and design the best program to achieve your goals, not somebody else wants. It’s a safe bet the no high priced MBA program can offer you access to a personally designed core curriculum like the one you can build, especially at the comfortable price of a copy of Pickard’s book.

This is the kind of investment parents should make for those perpetual students, who can’t quite manage to figure out what they want to do. A second copy may also help those parents figure out what direction they personally want to take. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Go Your Own Way

Dot Journaling: The Set – Rachel Wilkerson Miller – (The Experiment)

As I have written on numerous prior occasions, I am more than a bit of an addict when it comes to journals, notebooks, organizers and pens. There is literally a pile of these books in various states of usage and size that litter my desk, my office and my home. My wife will attest to the fact that I NEVER leave home without some form of notebook and at least two pens…you never know when a brilliant idea might strike!

I am also a copious taker of notes and I have tried the full range of note taking implements; from legal pads and binders to bound notebooks all variety and size. My focus is to be as organized as possible within the parameters of a very busy work life. Once while interviewing potential ad agencies, I was gifted with a custom designed notepad that was designed for meeting note taking and I am not ashamed to admit that I went as far as re-creating the notes pages and I have continued to utilize the design many years later.

I am after all, an addict. Over the course of time I have sought and discarded countless organizational tools including more than a few high priced, “custom’ solutions, that I later found to be lacking in some way shape or form. Recently I toyed with investing in Michael Hyatt’s quarterly subscription organizer, but was concerned that it would end up on the stack, unused and couldn’t justify the price tag.

Then came the opportunity to review Rachel Wilkerson Miller’s  Dot Journaling: The Set, which includes Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide and a dot journal notebook. While it says so right there in the title, I did find Miller’s guide very practical. While some gurus of these kinds of organizational systems try to mold you to their way of thinking and organizing, the thing I liked immediately about Miller’s “system” is that the only real system there is, is the one you create. The dot journal lends itself to being everything you want it to be and nothing you don’t.

If you want a notebook, you’ve got one. If you want and organizer for your calendar, you can create it. Say you want something uniquely your own design, there is nothing about this approach that stops you from building it your way. The rules you work with, are the ones that you write, you can go your own way.

Miller does a wonderful job of offering up literally dozens of variations that you can build into your dot journal. She provides loads of useful solutions and techniques for making the system as useful to you as you want it to be. I often found other “systems” either too much or not quite enough. 

My only quibbles and they are minor, is that I found the journal included in the set to be a little smaller than I would like and a little girly, with the pale green cover, insert it into a leather cover and that problem is solved. The other is that the paper was a little light for my heavy hand and tended to bleed a bit. The solution is a quick fix and visit to Amazon for a larger format and heavy weight paper dot journal; the system can work anywhere.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Reality is a Dish Best Served Cold

On Power: My Journey Through the Corridors of Power and How You Can Get More Power – Gene Simmons (Dey Street)

Gene Simmons is not your ordinary rock star. He was and is not content to be caught up in the trappings that come with being a mega-millions earning rock star; instead he takes the attitude of a laborer into his approach to life and business, always willing to put in the hard work.

It may be hard to comprehend in this day and age of no real talent, do nothing celebrity millionaire that a guy who has piled up as much cash as Simmons from his multitude of business ventures would work as hard as he does every single day. The difference is Simmons knows that nothing he has was handed to him, he did it the old fashioned way, he earned it.

Because of his unique, entrepreneurial approach to rock stardom, Simmons has also become a bit of a business guru who is sought out for his comment and thought on a wide range of business and political topics. In that vein Simmons has cranked out some business philosophy books, the latest being, On Power: My Journey Through the Corridors of Power and How You Can Get More Power.

The old cliché that goes something to the effect of “revenge is a dish best served cold” should be retooled to “reality, is a dish best served cold” because Simmons serves up a cold, hard dish of reality in the pages of On Power. Along the way he provides not only his take on the reality of business, politics and power, but offers a depth of knowledge of philosophy and strategy that one would never expect from a guy made famous for his tongue waging onstage persona.

A copy of this book should be sent to every one of the 535 members of Congress from both parties, notably every one of the pantywaist liberals who ever uttered the stupid talking point about “tax cuts for the rich.” Simmons does a wonderful job of pointing out the fallacies of the cultural mindset that so many have gravitated towards that power and wealth somehow equate to evil. His line, “being afraid of power, shunning power, stunts your growth” belongs on a T-shirt. Moms and Dads need to pick up a copy of On Power, because this may be the best guide to proper parenting that I have ever read.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Courage to Lead

Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong – Kristen Hadeed (Portfolio)
Hands down the question I get asked most often when conducting a leadership training or seminar is; “What are the most important skills a leader can possess or develop?” Since the focus of most of my seminars are focused on leadership communication I naturally peg the most important skillset as being communications skills.

A close second on the list is courage. Courage involves many facets of leadership, perhaps the most important being to admit that you don’t have all the answers and the ability to admit when you’ve made a mistake, a wrong choice or just flat out messed up. The most important superpower that leaders must possess is the ability to not only learn from their mistakes, but to harness the knowledge you gain and improve future outcomes.

That superpower is the focus of Kristen Hadeed’s debut business book, Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong. Hadeed is the seemingly accidental founder of Student Maid, a company that has hired hundreds of student to get down and dirty mopping floors and cleaning toilets. Hadeed admits that she stumbled along when the business got started and along the way discovered her leadership style/path and has succeeded in not only developing the courage to admit her errors, but to learn and build a company culture that scores amazing retention rates in an industry better known for its rate of turnover.

If you have been around business for any length of time you have crossed paths with those hard chargers bent on perfection who are doomed to fail. Hadeed seems to grasp the concept that it’s okay to not be perfect and spells out how you can be successful without being perfect. She does a nice job of imparting the knowledge she gained in a hard fought manner, in the trenches of business, which raises the value of the advice she shares.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Entrepreneurial Empowerment

The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth – Eric Ries (Currency)

Straight out of Penn State, my son took a position in IT with a HUGE multi-national, multi-division, multi-product line corporation that everybody knows. Being new to the work force, he was shocked at how slowly this gargantuan corporation seemed to plod along at a glacial pace when it came to expanding markets and introducing new products. With silos firmly entrenched in the management structure to say that inertia has set in would be an understatement. From their he accepted a position working for an institution of higher education and now he longs for the comparable light speed at which his former employers worked.

With so much media and business press focus on startups and high tech and sprint to market, you have to wonder how so many great business entities ever lost sight of that entrepreneurial spirit and drive, to become so bogged down. Over the course of time we have heard the rather timid rallying cry from business as the encourage their middle managers and frontline staff to “take ownership” and run with ideas; only to see those folks who take that thought process to heart, crushed under the thumb of a cumbersome management structure.

Enter Eric Ries, the brainchild behind and author of The Lean Startup. Ries found himself at the center of both the natural audience, those in various stages of the startup mode and in the unnatural position of being brought in by behemoth corporations to try to inject that lean startup spirit back into the way they do business. This truly was a take ownership moment; why couldn’t these huge business entities with all of their inherent tools and resources utilize the can do spirit of a startup.

By deconstructing not only the startup process, but by breaking down the silos and chains of command, which had turned into the shackles of command, Ries demonstrates how this process will work no matter where you are on the business scale. He takes the principles outlined in The Lean Startup, and takes a deeper process dive into fleshing out how this can scale to more established and entrenched businesses, while adding new tools to the belts of true startups.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Color My World

Color Index XL: More than 1,100 New Palettes with CMYK and RGB Formulas for Designers and Artists – Jim Krause (Watson – Guptill)

With the rapidly changing world of marketing and the integration of so many forms of visual content for creative folks to keep up they need to understand and speak the language of design. If you are a marketer who works with graphic design, web design or even event design, you need to understand how to integrate color into your marketing expression.

One handy tool to have within reach is veteran graphic designer Jim Krause’s newest edition of his color index series of books, Color Index XL: More than 1,100 New Palettes with CMYK and RGB Formulas for Designers and Artists. While previous editions have been more low key, pocket sized tomes, the new one is perfect for our predilection towards supersizing, with a larger format that is easier to use and will enhance your ability to visualize colors for any design project. Hence the XL.

For the uninitiated, CMYK refers to the color process that utilizes for inks in some color printing, the include: cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). The RGB color model refers to the more obvious, red, green and blue.

Whether you are a graphic designer, and artists or someone who utilizes their services, Color Index XL, is a great tool that you will reach for again and again and I can almost guarantee you break the binding simply fro using it time and again.

Monday, October 9, 2017

It’s About Growth!

Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans – Stephen Woessner (AMACOM)

Nothing makes me more crazy than working with an entrepreneur or business owner who proclaims “I need to have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account, or be on Instagram, or have a blog or start a podcast.” When I ask the very simple question why? I usually get an answer that goes something like; “well this guys I know said I needed it,” or “my brother-in-law tried it and it worked for him.”

It’s what I call running from one end of the room to the other marketing syndrome! Whatever the new and shinny object is that catches a business owners eye, the newest must have that invariably DOES NOT WORK. This isn’t to say that any of these vehicles can’t help you grow your business, the problem is most folks never bother to take the time to, first understand their audience and second, develop a plan to best reach the folks that you are targeting with your product or service. Hence, the mad dash blindly around the room in search of business gold.

One of the newest entries in the category of books that will help you STOP running around the room in search of answers is Stephen Woessner’s Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans. Woessner, the founder and CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation, a podcast for business owners; and the great thing about this book is it truly focused on getting to growth.

When it comes to podcasting, there are a multitude of shows, styles, platforms available that tackle a massive variety of topics. More often than not, podcasts tend to boil down to a couple categories; the wildly successful ones with great production values, and content and those that are quite frankly not done well and have little to no impact on growing business.

Woessner does a great job of not only talking about how to grow your business, he also talks about whether or not a podcast is right for you and your business. If it is, he gives you everything tools and resources-wise to help you plan and execute on a successful, business growing podcast. It’s not just about your business, it’s about how to develop and grow your audience and then convert that growth into growing your bottom line.

To borrow a line from Field of Dreams, podcasting is NOT build it and they will come; like any successful marketing strategy, it takes planning, planning and planning. Did I mention it’s best to have a plan? Woessner takes things down to a pretty granular level to make it a negotiable process no matter what your level of experience. There are plenty of podcasting books, but   Profitable Podcasting should be your go to choice when it comes to determining if podcasting will work for you and if it is, how to do it well.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Lessons in Leadership

There are literally a mountain of leadership books out there that offer a range of view points and ideas for how to successfully lead. A pair of new books offer some interesting insight and new perspective on the roles of leaders, but also on what leadership will look like in the future and how to be prepared to lead.

The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything – Bob Johansen (Berrett-Kohler Publishers)

I have always been intrigued with by folks with the job title of futurist; it just sounds so big picture thinking. Bob Johansen is a futurist’s, futurist, plying his trade at Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley, which for all intents purpose is the hub of what the future will look like.

Johansen, authored Leader’s Make the Future, in which he offered a window to the ten skills that leaders will need and now with The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything he offers up five new literacies that will link back to those skills.

When you spend some time thinking about how quickly the world as changed over the past decade, let alone the past couple of years, what are the leadership skillsets that a truly dynamic leader will need to master to adapt to the ever changing, disrupted workplace. Literally how we deliver products and services is dramatically changing the face of the workforce and leadership must rapidly adapt to those changes.

Those who stand still will be left behind, or run over. Johansen offers insight in to how to better anticipate, adapt and lead that change and remain viable in the dynamic shift.

How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority – Clay Scroggins - (Zondervan)

So what makes you a leader? Is it being bestowed with a title that reflects a position of leadership that makes you a leader? Have you ever been in a situation where you saw an opportunity to take the lead and let it slide by, because you felt that you didn’t have a leadership title, so you couldn’t take a leadership role?

Well I am here to tell and Clay Scroggins new book How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority, backs me up; leaders are not made by titles, leaders are made by a willingness to exert your influence over a situation. Clay’s book is a how to guide for earning and exerting your influence over a situation or people to take the leap into leadership.

I have often used a story of parental leadership based upon a sphere of influence. Like most good parents, my mother exerted a sphere of influence over me that extended well beyond her sightlines and being in her presence. 
Even when I was miles away from home, her leadership influence over me was clearly defined and palpable. You too can develop that kind of talk the talk walk the walk type of influence in your daily life.

What Scroggins really lays out in the pages of How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, is how to break down the hesitation or fear of stepping out of your lane and using your earned level of influence to drive a situation or scenario to the positive outcome you desire. Breaking down that fear is a hurdle that can go a long way towards helping you break through the title barrier that is more often than not self-imposed.

Whether you are looking to lead in a work situation, a community role or church setting, Scroggins gives you a whole belt full of useful tools and examples that will help you break through. 

How To Side Hustle Like a Pro

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days – Chris Guillebeau (Crown Business)

Maybe it’s due to my choice of career path, 25 years in radio is not the most stable choice of careers, but I have always had what now has become dubbed a “side hustle.” There were times where I could ramp this up to cover my bills and other times, where the extra cash would just come in handy. Even now with a more steady career path, I still keep a couple of side gigs going because it has become a habit over the years.

Business guru and bestselling author Chris Guillebeau is out with a brand new book, Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, which serves as a guide for the uninitiated into the process for discovery, developing and executing on a side hustle. Guillebeau lays out a road map for developing an everything from an idea stream right through an income stream.

He also makes the case that starting a side hustle is very different from starting a business, all the while making it clear that if your side gig reaches the point where you can transition to a full time operation that you can set yourself up to make that step. He is absolutely right that while the side hustle takes some planning, the focus has to be on execution and launch. It’s better to get your hustle up and running and make your tweaks and tune ups on the fly, than it is to over think and focus your efforts on planning.

Guillebeau breaks things down into easy to understand and execute chunks that he spaces over the 27 days he references in the title. If you’ve never been down the side hustle road, he illustrates the process with a collection of great first hand stories from folks who have hit side hustle gold. Granted not every idea is going to be a home run and/or make you rich, but that’s the beauty of Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, he gives you the tools to have a bank of great ideas to pull the trigger on and before you know it you’ve either added another hustle or moved on to the next.

With the work world going through a shift, this is great stuff to help you build the future you want.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Business…Fueled By People

On an annual basis, business spends BILLIONS of dollars trying to not only engage their employees, but to measure just how engaged they are in the workplace. Just writing that sentence makes me think of my father and what his reaction would have been; probably something like, “you get a paycheck don’t you, should that keep you engaged?”

Despite all of the media reports about low unemployment rates, the fact of the matter is it is pretty difficult to get and hang onto a job; so is that a contributing factor to the dismal workplace engagement numbers we see reported over and over again? People who have jobs are just happy to go along to get along and keep the paycheck coming?
Trying to delve into the numbers, make sense of them and improve them has become a thriving business for consultants and business leadership development types. Here is a look at a pair of new books that offer not only insight into the issue, but could offer solutions on how to improve your results and in the process contribute to the growth of your bottom line.  

The Workplace Engagement Solution: Find a Common Mission, Vision and Purpose with All of Today’s Employees – David Harder (Career Press)
David Harder, the founder of Inspired Work, an organizational a career development company pegs the global employee engagement number at roughly 13%. That is flat out, a dismal number. It has become gospel that an engaged employee, someone who comes to work every day and driven to perform will help contribute to growing the businesses bottom line. So how does a CEO or business owner light a fire under his people and get them to perform at the highest levels of their ability?

Harder makes the case in his book, The Workplace Engagement Solution: Find a Common Mission, Vision and Purpose with All of Today’s Employees, that leaders have to set the tone for helping to drive change and build a culture that engages employees. For me the title says it all! If you don’t build the cornerstone of your business on a common mission, vision and purpose, and communicate, communicate and communicate those values over and over, then how can you attract the right people to come to work for you, and without the right people who can you ever hope to succeed?
Harder makes the case that it’s more difficult to find great, engaged employees than it is to build them. While the process of mentoring and developing skillsets is hard work and heavy lifting, at the end of the day the increased buy in makes it worth the effort.
You cannot over-communicate the mission; if your people don’t know what the company stands for, how can ever expect them to be engaged in the businesses success? Real engagement doesn’t happen if you put a bunch of flowery words on nice, framed posters to hang in the lobby; real engagement means you have to live up to those values and lead by example every day.

The Power of People Skills: How to Eliminate 90% of Your HR Problems and Dramatically Increase Team and Company Morale and Performance – Trevor Throness – (Career Press)

Talk to most business owners and ask them what their number one problem is and more often than not they will tell you something like “It’s hard (impossible) to find (retain) good people!” People are the problem; they make up the greatest part of business expenses and they chew through the bulk of a business owner/leaders time.

Veteran business coach Trevor Throness has narrowed down the problem to one very simple equation; great cultures insist on having star players in every key position and poor cultures are the one who continue to tolerate under performers.
Think about it, how often have you heard the old saw about 20% of the people doing 80% of the work? If you are among the 20%, how does having a boss who makes that comment make you feel? Does it feel something like this; Why the heck am I working so hard and allowing this jackass to continue to allow people to slack off and not carry their share of the load?
Poll after poll points out that good people leave their bosses, not their jobs and much of that can likely be traced back to putting up with rather than confronting those underperformers. Taking action, that most leaders know deep down they need to take, could be the most difficult thing a leader does. Throness offers some great tools to help leaders through that process. While it still won’t be easy, when handed the very simple question; “If I could do it all over again, would I hire this person?” That simple question offers a level of clarity and a connection to purpose that will give you as a leader a clear course of action.
Think about the best and the worst leaders you ever worked for and determine what it was that put them at one end or the other of that spectrum. More often than not it is people skills or a lack of them that was the dividing point. Developing strong people skills is a must have for any leaders toolbox and both of these books will make fine additions to helping you forge that skillset.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Build This…and They will Come

Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts – Ryan Holiday (Portfolio Books)

In a very simple stripped down way of saying; it used to be take your idea, research if there is an actual market for the idea, build your product to fit the market and then take it to market. This old school approach, while still in practice in some corners today seems to have been abandoned by the side of the road.
Some folks today espouse that it’s all about the customer and not about the product. They claim you should build your audience first and then build your product (service) to fill a need you identify with that audience. That may seem more than a bit counterintuitive and a bit like putting the cart before the horse as old folks used to be fond of saying.
Could the answer lay somewhere in between? Is it ever really a case of “build it and they will come”? Or is it, better put as while you’re building your product, keep your audience in mind every step of the way and build your audience every step along the way…and they will come?
That seems to be what bestselling author and marketing guru Ryan Holiday is putting forth in his new book Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts. Holiday has made a career out of being a provocateur and he sets up his hypothesis with a series of examples to illustrate his thought process.
Has a music fan, recovering radio and music industry guy, I can totally relate to Holiday’s example of heavy metal icons Iron Maiden and the fact that they have built a 40+ year career not by focusing on building radio airplay and creating radio friendly music, but by placing an emphasis on delivering a product that their fans appreciate rather than some weasel radio programmer. They super-serve their fans and the results are, they continue to sell out shows and sell tons of their music to that legion of fans.
The lesson for creators is that it doesn’t matter what your focus is, music, writing, art of any kind, it is your audience that will help you have long term, sustained success and as you craft your deliverables, that audience should be at the forefront of your mindset. Holiday spends roughly two thirds of the book offering a glide path for creators to develop the necessary mindset and tools to build a following for their craft.
Holiday’s ability to write with a level of clarity truly helps to underscore the points he makes in the course of the book as if it is a living case study of knowing and serving your audience.    

Friday, August 18, 2017

Leadership Storytelling

Let the Story Do the Work: The Art of Storytelling for Business Success – Esther K. Choy (AMACOM)

As a leader, I can take what is a very cut and dried subject and give employees a pretty straightforward list of steps to follow, the dos and don’ts and I can check the box and say that I have provided them with training on the topic.
The question quickly becomes; how effective was that “training”? Did I do a good job of connecting that training to the subject that I was speaking about?
Esther K. Choy, president and executive coach with the Leadership Story Lab has authored a new book, Let the Story Do the Work: The Art of Storytelling for Business Success, in which she makes the case that truly effective leaders are those folks who are the most effective communicator among us, the Storyteller.

I know from firsthand experience that when I utilize story I can make a better connection for the subject I am speaking on. For years in my day job I have trained new employees in the basics of HIPAA and patient privacy. It is admittedly not an exciting topic, but it is certainly an important one for those who work in healthcare. I illustrate the need for patient privacy by telling a story that actually occurred prior to my getting into healthcare and it even predates the HIPAA law going into effect.
While I was in college, a LONG time ago, I was visiting a friend who had taken ill and was in the hospital for testing, and I tell the new employees about the blur of a white lab coat and bad checked pants, after all it was the early eighties, and how the doctor proceeded to tell my friend that the test had come back and it wasn’t good news and the diagnosis was cancer. The doctor never bothered to check to see who I was, if the friend wanted me present for this announcement or anything. I impart this story to give them a very real world example of why patient privacy matters.
Without exception, every time I tell the story, eyes widen, lights go on as they take in the connection to the purpose of learning about patient privacy and the story hits home for them; I have succeeded in communicating the importance of the topic.
Choy makes the case that this is how best to engage your audience, inspire them to take action, bring clarity to new concepts and be a more effective leader. This is great stuff and a skillset that Choy gives you the tools to develop and make you more effective out of the gate.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Leadership Buzz

Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life – Tasha Eurich – (Crown Business)

I am endlessly amazed at the cyclical nature of business and leadership trends. Of late there seems to be an abundance of articles that have crossed my radar on the need for leaders to be self-aware and the negative impact the leaders who lack self-awareness have on their companies and their teams.

And like magic, right on cue comes the book, Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life from Tasha Eurich. I am always intrigued by titles like Eurich’s, who is an organizational psychologist and researcher who plies her trade by helping corporate leaders and teams to improve results by improving self-awareness.

The way that last sentence reads it sounds like a whole, healthy, load of business mumbo jumbo, but if you’ve ever spent time working for a leader who is; defensive, a bully, controlling, passive aggressive, who makes excuses, is known for grand flights of fancy, or whose behavior swings and sways depending on which way the wind blows, then you know firsthand the damage these folks can do in the work place. Heck you may have been subjected to some leaders who fall into many of these categories.

Eurich offers, as the title suggests insights into how you can improve your grip on self-awareness and how it can impact your business, which is all good stuff. Here’s the problem as I see it; the folks that NEED this book and all that it offers are also probably the folks who are least likely to be inclined to pick this book up!

I think there is something for everybody in the pages of Insight, that will be beneficial to your work and life. I found the short quizzes located in the appendices to be great tools, maybe leaving copies of the book or the quizzes in the general vicinity of those who would benefit the most would be the way to a sneaky impact.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Uncontested Leadership

Blue Ocean Leadership (Harvard Business Review Classics) – W. Chan Kim and Renee A. Mauborgne – (Hard Business Review Press)

Back in 2005 W. Chan Kim and Renee A. Mauborgne, a pair of business school professors at INSEAD, tipped business thinking on its side by suggesting that a new way to succeed in business was to seek out uncontested market space, which they dubbed “blue ocean space” as a way for businesses to pursue success without focusing on competition. Their book which espoused the theory, Blue Ocean Strategy went on to become a perennial bestseller in the business world.
Kim and Mauborgne went on to apply their Blue Ocean principals to other aspects of business including a lengthy journal treatment on how to apply those principles to leadership. That Harvard Business Review article is now available in a handy pocket sized (literally) book; Blue Ocean Leadership as part of the Harvard Business Review Classics series.

The books premise is based on a Gallup study that shows that only 30 % of employees actively apply their skills and energy to move companies forward. Kim and Mauborgne offer a solution with blue ocean leadership that will unleash and tap into the unexploited talent base and under-utilized energy to help drive business forward.
Estimates of the costs of this level of dis-engagement run to half a trillion dollars annually and the authors serve up a road map with examples of how companies can tap this unrealized resource just by re-thinking their approach to leadership or middle level and frontline staff. The concepts are easily digestible and come with blue ocean strategy maps to help the implementation process.
Simply by the portable nature of his book, it has found its way into a pocket of my business backpack and I have reached for it during strategic planning sessions on a number of occasions and can see it becoming a go to resource for the foreseeable future.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Advertising Sucks!

The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come Andrew Essex – (Spiegel and Grau)

If I had a dime for every time a self-proclaimed expert labeled something as dead that went on to have a long, and fruitful lives, I could have retired to my own private island and have a bevy of bikini clad beauties to serve me cool beverages.
Andrew Essex, the former CEO of the much vaunted ad agency Droga5 is the latest in a long line of folks to take on the mantle of undertaker and proclaim the death of something. Essex directs his embalming fluid in at his former industry in the new book, The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come.

The reasoning behind Mr. Essex’s proclamation is that millions of folks have downloaded ad blocking apps/software or are signing on with subscriptions services to avoid ad content that advertisers will wake up and stop spending/wasting money on ineffective advertising. His concerns are not without foundation, but perhaps his conclusion is a reach; and maybe that was the goal here, to be just provocative enough to sell books.
The real problem isn’t that advertising is dead, but more simply put, IT FLAT OUT SUCKS! Seriously…watch just long enough to see 100 ads…about two hours of network viewing. 99 out of the 100 ads will feature the always enlightening “stupid man”; you can’t help but wonder how these clowns manage to dress themselves in the morning. Is it any wonder that even more people aren’t tuning out or blocking ads.
Essex settles into a meandering pace here; at times a little inside for the average reader, at times redundant, and at others a little off track. At the end of the day he makes a reasoned case, I’m just not certain he gets to a solid solution to the problem he posits and that it couldn’t have been done in the form of a long article rather than a book.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Be an Inspiring Leader

The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day – Kristi Hedges (AMACOM)

Quick show of hands, how many of you have worked for someone like this; you are speaking to your company leader and they are looking off into the distance or depending on the setting seemingly looking for someone more important than you that they can speak with?

Or how about the one that you want to wash your hands after meeting them because they are about a sincere as a slimy eel or the one who is listless and apparently doesn’t have much time or energy for you as an employee, let alone as a person?

If you are a leader and any one of these examples sounds at all like you, then you should seriously consider picking up a copy of executive coach Kristi Hedges new book, The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day. Hedges outlines some pretty straight forward strategies for leaders to become inspired leaders; those folks who truly make an impact not only on their business but on the folks they lead.

Hedges has spent time not only coaching leaders, but also studying successful leaders actions to see what it is that do and what sets them apart from the rest of the pack. From there she has been able to qualify and quantify what they do and boil it down into a series of steps that she labels the Inspire Path:                                                                           

  • Present: Focused on the person in front of them, not distracted, visibly stressed, or locked into an agenda. They are truly open to new ideas.
  • Personal: Authentic and real, and perhaps most important they LISTEN. They know how to find and expand potential.
  • Passionate: They infuse energy, calibrate it, and manage it as one of their greatest skills. This is a critical step! Most often my first question to leaders or those who want to move into a leadership role is; what are you passionate about?
  • Purposeful: They are intentional and willing to have courageous discussions about purpose, and role model how to live into their own.
The great thing about this is that while it is couched as a way to crack the secret of being a great leader; much of this stuff is really not hard to do. Hedges gives you the steps in the process put these things into action quickly and to sustain them so you can have a real, measurable impact.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mission: Growth

The Bridge to Growth- How Servant Leaders Achieve Better Results and Why It Matters Now More Than Ever – Jude Rake – (Skyhorse Publishing)

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders,” - leadership guru Tom Peters.

A few years back, charged with leading a seminar on leadership, I found the Tom Peters quote above as part of my planning and I shared it with the class. It was one of those quotes that stuck with me and I have used it often since then, because it just makes so much sense for how I approach leadership.

Some have dubbed it servant leadership, but it’s just the way that I determined a long time before I became a leader, that I was going to conduct business as a leader. Now veteran business leader Jude Rake has encapsulated servant leadership and it’s direct connection to business growth in his new book, The Bridge to Growth- How Servant Leaders Achieve Better Results and Why It Matters Now More Than Ever.

Rake boils things down to 9 principles of servant leadership:
  •        Grow leaders and difference makers, not just followers.
  •         Build and orchestrate high-performance teams more powerful than the sum of their parts.
  •         Focus the organization on strategic priorities, simplify operations, and accelerate progress.
  •      Champion the people who purchase and use your products and services.
  •         Cultivate a performance-based culture of innovation.
  •         Communicate relentlessly.
  •         See the world through the eyes of others.
  •         Be the model you want emulated.
  •         Coach people to achieve more than they thought possible.

These are spot on; grow leaders is straight up Tom Peters, communicate relentlessly; you simply cannot over communicate when it comes to mission vision and values. Culture should always be a priority, it’s been proven over and over again, yet some still resist moving it to the head of the line.

Rake does a nice job of spelling out how you can expedite this transition in your business and he serves it up in bite size, bullet-pointed chunks that you can implement starting today. The format makes this a great resource to keep within reach.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Essence of Leadership

Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths – Scott Keller and Mary Meaney (Bloomsbury Business)
Think about it; how much time has been spent studying leadership and at what cost? Now add all of the words that have been written in countless studies, white papers, presentations and books. It’s mindboggling to even ponder.

Well that is the basic concept behind the new book Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths, from McKinsey business consultants Scott Keller and Mary Meany. The pair utilized McKinsey and Company’s decades long experience and information database along with a catalog of articles from the Harvard Business Review to boil down a formidable mountain of accumulated leadership knowledge into a list of what they dubbed ten timeless truths about leading organizations.

The list of ten is disseminated in three categories:
Talent and teams
1. How do I attract and retain the right talent?
2. How do I develop the talent we need to win?
3. How do I manage performance to unlock our full potential?
4. How do I create a high-performing leadership team?
Decision making and design
5. How do I improve the quality and speed of decision making?
6. How do I reorganize to capture maximum value quickly?
7. How do I reduce overhead costs sustainably?
Culture and change
8. How do I make culture a competitive advantage?
9. How do I lead organization-wide transformational change?
10. How do I successfully transition into a new leadership role?

Just imagine, having the sheer volume of information distilled down to what amounts to the essence of leadership. This is a goldmine for leaders at every stage of their career and delivered in a easily accessible and ready to put into play format.
This is really the nuts and bolts side of leadership in a how to format. Will this make you the ultimate leadership machine? Probably not, but it does give you a starting point to tackle many of the issues leaders are charged with dealing with a regular basis.