Boss vs Leader

Who do you work for?  Who would you rather work for?

Boss vs Leader

Write a comment today on your boss vs leader experience.

Enjoy the day.

Webman

High Quality People

There are so many people that flow through your life, but when you think about it, so few go the distance.  What do I mean?  You know, the folks that are there with you through thick and thin, or the people that you meet professionally that whenever you think about them or contact them it is like you spoke to them yesterday.  The people that you respect, admire, that admire you; the people that you have gone into battle with and experienced success or failure, but that left an indelible mark on your life.  On the personal side, these are the people that you can trust with anything, the ones that you know without question if you called them at 2:00AM, they would be there as quickly as possible, regardless of whether you spoke to them last week or last year.  On a professional/personal side, the people that just get stuff done; no whining, no complaining, no what’s in it for me, no BS.  Just straight up, what is it going to take people; put me in coach people; what else can I do people.  These are “your peeps”, your go-to folks.

These people have at one time or another been very important to your success, have helped you to become the person you are, have helped you achieve greatness, have provided you with a new perspective, have assisted you in time of trouble, have created awesome solutions for you and helped you accomplish celebratory goals.  You know who they are!

I have been very fortunate to have many great folks as a part of my life.  Of course that starts with family, but today I would like to give you some examples of people that are not in my everyday life but those that are just awesome every time we engage.

I have three best friends from kindergarten, Armand, John and Jamie.  So I have known them for about 95% of my lifetime.  No age giveaways  here!  They have all led very successful lives with wonderful families, had business success and many individual accomplishments.  They have changed over the years, as we all have, and have become conditioned by their own life experiences.  They have matured into responsible adults (they will never admit that) and have their own large circle of friends and acquaintances that we all have today.  But the one constant is that we have an inseparable bond, one that was forged at a very young age, one where trust and admiration was built over many, many years.  During that time we spent more time with other people as well, but we always re-engaged.  We shared many incredible experiences at that very impressionable time of our lives.  We do not talk as often as we should, but when we do, it is like there has been no gap.

During my professional career, I have had the privilege of working not only with the best and brightest but also with people that care about me on a personal level and are always there to provide me counsel, advice, a new contact or forge the way for a new career opportunity.  Many of my former co-workers became CEO’s of both large and small businesses, successful investors, board members and industry leaders. A great example of this is my former CEO, Paul.  So many times over the years I have reached out to Paul for counsel, guidance and  career advice and he has always provided me with honest insight and perspective.  When I am looking for a new opportunity, he is one of the first people I call, not only because he is so well connected, but because he listens, learns and takes direct action to support my goals.  Whether it is merely an introduction, or it is an opportunity to work with him, he has always provided an honest and highly responsive approach to support my goals.

One final example for today is my friend and co-worker Alejandra.  I had the pleasure of meeting Ally in 2011.  She is an awesome web designer by trade but more importantly, is one of the highest quality people that I have known professionally.  Ally’s philosophy to work and life is “Put me in coach, I will do whatever is necessary to get it done.”  She is the proud mother of three children, expecting a fourth now, a tireless worker, extremely creative and she always keeps her eye on the prize.  When I ask her for her opinion, I get it.  When my idea sucks, she tells me it sucks, but of course offers an outstanding alternative.  When there is a tight deadline on a project, she provides you with the guidance and insight to get it done at the highest level of quality.  We are working on a project together right now that is just awesome.  I have not known Ally long, but I am a very good judge of character.  And she is quite the character 🙂

There are so many people that I could have written this blog about.  Upon reflection, I am really amazed by how many terrific people I know, that I can turn to whenever I need them, that can provide me with the thoughts and perspectives that I need to either accomplish a project, find a new opportunity or make a difference.

If you have not spoken to some of these great people in your life recently, pick up the phone and call them today.  They would love to hear from you!

Webman

The Art of Focus

How many times have we all used the word focus?  With ourselves, with our children, with our co-workers.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”- Ferris Bueller

Classic, but I digress.  Life does move really fast these days and if you do not look around you will certainly miss the most important things in your life.  If you are like me, we are all juggling so many things that many days are just a blur.  Husbands and wives running in different directions: children trying to grow up and face the everyday challenges of school, social, sports etc. (I think it was easier when we were growing up but that was a while ago so my memory may not be accurate).  Keeping up with changes in technology, news, work, play, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, banking, working out, eating healthy, facebook, twitter, linked-in, business meetings, networking events, even a party or two now and then, sports…….I am exhausted just listing these things.

What we are most challenged by everyday is our ability to focus on what is important and to not worry about the small stuff.  Much easier said than done, I know.  We make lists, we prioritize, we get handed honey-do lists – we have lists at home, lists at work, lists of projects, lists of people to call – we have handwritten lists on paper, post it notes, on the refrigerator and if you live in my home, small little lists and reminders on post-it notes all over the house as subtle reminders of the daily to-dos.  So many things to do, so little time.

In order to be more successful in everything that we do it is critical to remain focused on the items that move the needle.  At work, what are the items that you work on that truly make a difference to the business and to you?  Here is a technique that I learned many years ago that has worked for me and one that I have used on many occasions in business.  It is called the Start, Stop and Continue technique.  Make a list of the things you do everyday (Separate business, life, goals, home etc.) and ask yourself the questions.  What should I stop doing?  What should I start doing?  What should I continue doing?  Do this regularly as priorities, goals and impact changes constantly, just like life.

Additionally think about the things that are really important.  I found this today and wanted to share – 10 questions that create success.  I know I am giving you another task but this one is worth it.  I am asking myself these questions starting today:

  1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?
  2. Have I done something today that improved the world?
  3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong flexible and resilient?
  4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?
  5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?
  6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?
  7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?
  8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?
  9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?
  10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?

So slow down, take a breadth, enjoy that cup of coffee or tea in the morning and think differently.  Has worked for Apple, so why not you?

Please let me know what you think of this blog by commenting below.

Webman

We are Disconnected! – Part 2

As we have discussed before, the amount of information that we are bombarded with every day is just staggering.  It really is no wonder that we have a very difficult time filtering through this information, determining what is important and what is not.  This information overload not only leads to a more challenging and stressful work environment, but also carries over into our personal lives, as the separation no longer exists due to smart phones, Crackberries and the like.

In a recent report, commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems, it found 40 percent of companies in Australia and New Zealand are suffering from the information glut, up from 34 percent two years ago.  The report also found 81 percent of companies surveyed now considered it important to manage data growth, up from 68 percent two years ago.

Workers are drowning under a deluge of emails and information. Corporations are failing to help staff cope with the technological barrage, daily meetings and constant connection, leading to rising levels of stress and psychological illness and costing billions in lost productivity.  Psychologists and experts said the information glut is becoming a major issue for firms who are searching for realistic answers to the problem.

Most workers receive an average of 36 emails a day and huge volumes of other information. Add to this social media, instant messenger, daily meetings and the ever-present telephone plus the arrival of new technologies which employees are expected to embrace to stay ahead of the game.  Many employees are reaching “breaking point” with the amount of information they receive and there is a huge need for employers to step in and help.  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/05/information-overload-is-causing-illness-and-costing-money-experts-warn/#ixzz1g2MLMhJf

In these very difficult economic times, companies have cut back on staffing, added more and more projects to achieve their expected growth rates and are relying on these workers to produce at the highest levels of productivity and quality.  Is it any wonder that employees are more dissatisfied at work than ever with many of them focused on finding the next job and leaving their existing employers.

As shared yesterday, we have moved from a “we” to a “me” society.  Is it any wonder that this has happened given the ever increasing lack of loyalty by employers, the overwhelming need for companies to achieve their financial goals for Wall Street and their shareholders?  Oh did I mention the fact that the average pay ratio between CEO’s and employees for the Fortune 50 companies is 213 to 1.  And the CEO to worker pay ratio at United Health Group is 1,737 to 1.  Hmmm.  See the infographic: http://www.payscale.com/ceo-income

So let’s summarize.  Employers hammering employees to do more with less.  More information for employees causing high levels of stress.  Employee dissatisfaction at all time high levels.  People disconnected from their friends and family.  Sound bite society.  Occupy America.

Houston, we have a problem.

Please let me know what you think about this blog.  Have a great weekend.

Webman

We Need Thomas Jefferson!

A few weeks ago, a relative sent the following to me in an e-mail.  As we look at our country today, we are going through a very difficult time financially, with job security, ineffective government, strained international relations and a deteriorating global position.  Many of you are struggling under these extreme burdens and life has become more stressful than ever before.  Many of the basic principals of our nation are being challenged, as evidenced by the recent Warren Buffet article (See previous Web Blog on “Let’s end the Deficit now”)

I thought it would be great to illuminate one again the brilliance of One of our greatest leaders and founders of our country, Thomas Jefferson. 

One evening, John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time.  He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Here are just a few of the many quotes and insights from Thomas Jefferson that resonate for all of us today, 200+ years later:

  • “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.”
  • “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
  • “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
  • “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
  • “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
  • “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against the tyranny of government.
  • “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Thomas Jefferson said that in 1802.  Things that make you go hmmmmm…….

Where are you Thomas Jefferson?  We need you now!

Thanks again for reading this blog.  Let me know what you think by sending comments along below.

Webman

Change or Die

Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting Seth Godin.  We were discussing a business transaction that unfortunately did not happen because the management team of a very conservative company could not get over the name of Seth’s company – Yoyodyne.

Yoyodyne was Seth’s first company.  It was acquired by Yahoo in 1998.  Seth has become an industry rock star over the last 10+ years.  He  has written thirteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.

American Way Magazine calls him, “America’s Greatest Marketer,” and his blog is perhaps the most popular in the world written by a single individual.

I am currently reading one of Seth’s recent books, Graceful.  It is a book of short concepts/ideas/thoughts that are so right on that I wanted to share one with you.  Seth, I hope that you don’t mind.

In one of the short chapters,  Seth speaks about how many of us grew up in the “factory” age.  No, not just manufacturing, but companies the same things that they created for years; only today they do it better, faster and cheaper.  We are talking about accounting firms, banks, insurance companies and the like.  What Seth says, is that these companies are about predictable scalability, scarcity and compliance.

He goes on to say that factories demand compliant workforces to succeed.  Well if you are working for a company that is all about compliance, obedience and doing just as you were told, you will not succeed.  These businesses are having trouble achieving their growth targets (sound familiar), constantly placing blame on existing management and employees (sound familiar) and not providing the latitude to bust out of the box and do something different (Now I know that sounds familiar).

Right now the world is exploding with new approaches, new forms of interaction and new business models, embracing the rapidly changing world and empowering their employees to make a difference.  Their growth comes from change, insight, exploration and risk taking.

Employees, where do you work?  Where would you rather work?

Business owners, are you forcing compliance? Are your providing your employees with the ability to fuel your business growth or stifling them to the point where they will not do anything without asking for permission.

You decide!  Thanks Seth for the thoughts and wisdom.

Webman

Company Culture – What’s Yours?

Yes company culture is important!

There are many different ways that corporate cultures are created.  Founder leadership for many start-ups is so passionate, so inspirational, so meaningful for many employees that they will follow the founder into the foxhole and do whatever is necessary to make it work. For those great entrepreneurial cultures that grow into successful small, medium and large businesses, this passionate approach and the many unique experiences that folks have bond them not only at the company, but for life.

Other cultures are created, not because of the specific leadership or passion of the founder, but because the founder provides a foundation for employees to communicate, to experience success and to win together.  I watched a brief video yesterday about Kiva Systems, http://www.kivasystems.com/, a company that uses game-changing automation technology for distribution centers that helps companies simplify operations and reduce costs while increasing strategic flexibility.  CEO Mike Mountz mentioned that as new folks joined the company, they were impressed and awed by the culture.  But Mr. Mountz did not create a specific culture.  Once they had around 100 employees, management asked the employees to define what they loved about the culture and then they worked to establish the operating principles for their business……and their awesome success.

These examples are illustrative of successful entrepreneurial companies that established awesome cultures, but took different paths.  For those of us that have had the privilege of working for high growth, fast paced, highly focused organizations, the culture is apparent as soon as you walk in the door.  You can just feel the energy, the enthusiasm, the passion of the people focused on two things – winning and enjoying it.  Ego’s are checked at the door,  employees are solely focused on solving problems, capturing market share and kicking the competitions ass.  Simple really.

Many of us have also worked for cultures that are unhealthy, stifled, inflexible, hierarchical and rigid.  These companies have arrived here in a variety of ways – a lack of leadership talent,  no strategy or focus,  short term focus on profitability or a business that fears failure and has no idea how to make it work.  This type of environment is all too prevalent in companies that have lost their way, have stopped investing in people and in their business, companies that are relying on repeating legacy successes, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle once again.  Headline for these businesses – change or die.

Many of us have also experienced these types of businesses – as soon as you walk in the building you feel nothing; no passion, no energy, no electricity, no hope.  It is just painfully obvious to everyone that hope is not a strategy.

Business owners – choose your path and establish a culture of passion, collaboration, honesty and integrity.  Your employees will love it and the energy created by your team will light the path for your success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Webman