Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What’s More Important Than Knowledge?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" – Albert Einstein

Why would one of the smartest people in history say something so counterintuitive? We are taught to depend on knowledge; that it is power.  Furthermore, we are taught to depend on knowledge that was created by others.  We spend countless hours studying and memorizing knowledge others conjured up in their imagination.  After memorizing what we studied, our intelligence is assessed.  If we retained most of the knowledge created by others, we are deemed intelligent. 

However, knowledge is from

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

If It’s Not Maximizing Shareholder Value, What Is the CEO’s First Priority?

In recent years, Apple Inc. was announced the most valuable stock to ever be traded, reaching a peak market cap over $950 billion. Since the departure of founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, company shares have continued to grow. From debut through the present, Apple has been a driving force outside its original core competencies and a poster child for innovation.

Apple’s performance is

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

3 Things CEOs Should Know Before Changing Corporate Culture

There is a common belief amongst most corporate executives: “changing corporate culture is one of the most difficult things to do.” Perhaps it’s so difficult because it involves human beings. People are not as simple as changing the oil in your car or the software in your computer. While transforming culture may appear analogous to changing computer software, there are complexities that make them enormously different. With that said, here are 3 aspects that outline some of those differences. Every CEO should consider them before initiating change initiatives.

People come with baggage: Unlike software in a computer, people have been

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Road to High Performance

“If you pay in peanuts, you get monkeys.” – Anonymous

In a high performing culture, which comes first – money or performance?

Doling out a salary of peanuts to your employees may very well turn them into monkeys.  At the same time, you don’t want to overpay them either. Before you get caught up in a chicken-egg paradox, you must realize that money alone will not increase employees’ value proposition to the company.

After speaking with many retired CEOs, they have all commented that it is

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Here’s Why Some People Will Never Be Emotionally Resilient

Emotions have nothing to do with emotional resilience. What’s called emotional resilience has everything to do with the conversations you have with yourself. Before there is an emotion, there is a thought. That thought dictates whether or not you have an emotion and what it will be. Therefore, it is the

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How Well Do You Lead Your Direct Reports?

If you're the CEO, your direct reports are critical to the success of the company.  In fact, some may say direct reports are smarter than the CEO.  Yet, they can be the most under utilized resource the CEO has. This happens more so if the CEO is very smart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Are Perfect Relationships Possible?

Thus far, we’ve established that nature is perfect. We’ve also established that human beings are nature. Therefore, people are perfect. If we observe nature, it seems she does not make mistakes, even if we don’t fully comprehend her plan. With that said, how is it that two people who are essentially perfect come together in a relationship that falls apart? In the US, more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. Nature does not divorce herself from us. She operates in cycles. She wastes nothing and has an intention for every event, whether it’s

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Build the Perfect Corporation

In nature, you find perfection. And everything functions according to its design. You don’t find fish climbing trees nor do you see hawks running around on the ground chasing its prey. The fish swim in water with precision and alacrity. The hawk uses flight for surveillance of the land then swoops down on its prey and carries it away. In nature, you see the fish and other animals operate with optimal performance as they function in the capacity they were designed to do. In corporations, it’s possible to elicit optimal performance from employees. However, if you squander talent in an organization, you will find less than optimal performance. Squandering talent is

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Is It True That No One Is Perfect?

Before you respond to the title, consider the following.  If you observe the universe, it’s perfect.  The same is true for nature on our planet.  The collaboration between the celestial planets and stars allows life to thrive in great abundance.  With that said, if you look at human beings, we are part of nature.  In fact, it could be said we are, like all animals, nature.  If nature is perfect, that makes people perfect.  But…..

We have been

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Catching Unicorns

In mythology, the unicorn was described as a wild and beastly horse-like animal with one horn. Its horn was said to have the power to make poisoned water drinkable and heal sickness. However, legends said the animal would rather die than be caught. If you wanted to catch it, you needed a virgin. Leonardo da Vinci once wrote in his note book, “the unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.” 

Since the unicorn is a rare breed of animal with magnificent powers, it is the perfect analogy for people who are considered

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why Is It Difficult to Think Like A CEO?

From the outside, it appears CEOs have it made. In fact, some believe their job is to fire and hire whomever they want. One CEO I know told his daughter that he does not like to fire people. He cautioned her that if she ever works for a company where the CEO likes to fire people, she should run. If the job of a CEO is not about hiring and firing, what is it about? Do they possess special talents that most do not?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Words Managers Are Afraid to Say

There is a huge impact on the organization when the managers are not having the right conversations with employees.  If critical conversations are avoided because management feels they lack sufficient knowledge in that area, the company could be operating with blind spots. So the notion of being afraid to tell your people you don’t know, you were wrong, or ask them, “what do you think?” or “what would you do?” is a formula for a struggling organization.

I have seen smart managers come up with all the answers.  In the end, his employees became

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why You Should Never, Never Quit!

At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done - then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Even though the world is filled with brilliant people who have valuable ideas, this quote is the dilemma that every creative inventor faces. Perhaps it is the reason, many ideas

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Building an Effective Board of Directors

A board of directors can be very beneficial for the growth of your organization. While there are benefits, there are also pitfalls. Whether you are a nonprofit or for profit enterprise, before you choose members, it’s important to be clear about the role of the board.

In smaller nonprofits, the intent may be to have a

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Hidden Danger of Not Delegating

Successful leaders aren’t afraid to admit that someone else can do their job. It may sound counter-intuitive, except, to be able to grow and take on new responsibilities, you have to be able to shed your current tasks and re-invent your job description. You have to make yourself obsolete by growing and delegating.

We all know how good it feels to be the go-to person for a specific set of responsibilities. However, if you’re still

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

3 Secrets to Successful Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions can be a great way to grow a business. It is an effective way to grow market share, acquire technology or talent, expand into new geographic locations, increase economies of scale, etc. It also has drawbacks. Aside from it being an expensive way to grow, it is a marriage of two companies that have preexisting identities and cultures. Effectively combining the two to make one new organization has been a challenge for senior leaders over the decades. In fact, more than

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Is the Almost Inescapable Trap of Success?

In another conversation with the wisest man I know, he provided an insightful view of what it has meant to be human. From childhood, we are told what it means to be human. Except, no one knows how the idea of being human was created. And we live with the belief that what we have learned about being human is the truth that has been written in stone.

In this conversation he got straight to the point. It was as though he had been waiting with abated breath to expound on his discoveries and recite them to me in a way that would disrupt what I called reality.

He said the following: People seek

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Boss’ Perspective on Being the Boss

Sometimes you hear about managers who do not communicate clearly or effectively.  They may be concerned that people know they lack knowledge about a topic.  As a result, the manager keeps thoughts to herself.  Other times, a leader may be afraid of being wrong.  So they do not allow for engaging conversations that promote disagreement.  When this happens, there is a much larger impact on the organization as a whole if the managers are not having the right conversations with employees. 

The obvious outcome is a dysfunctional organization where no one communicates clearly because leadership has set the tone.  I ask that you consider other important issues. 

As a manager, you should be thinking about

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Avoid the Yes-Man Culture

The dilemma for many CEOs is that they initially moved up the ladder because of their ability to solve problems and drive solutions. They are used to having the right answers and having their expectations met. While that is a great position to be in, there is a flip side. When you learn to trust yourself and you are usually right, you expect others to follow you and the yes-man culture is born.

The yes-man culture gets its name because people become accustomed to doing things the CEO’s way. Employees assume that the CEO will always

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do You Train for Your Profession?

A formal education is a great place to gather information. To ensure we memorize that information, we are given homework and class assignments. Then the instructor administers tests to see how much information we retained. If you pass those tests, many believe they have earned the title of being the best at their craft. What those people fail to realize is that they only know information. To be the best, takes training and practice. In most cases, that requires a specific focus on initiatives to develop mastery of skills and competencies.  

While a formal education is important, it is not necessarily the path to master one’s craft. Education provides information and information does not cause action. For example, many people have information on how to

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Are You Stuck and Don’t Know It?

I often tell people they have nothing to do with what they think, say and do. As you can imagine, the overwhelming majority refute that statement. They make the claim they have everything to do with what they think and do. In fact, they believe they have control over themselves. I say control is a myth and it’s a waste of time to focus on it. If you think about it, one cannot even stop the bedlam that occurs in one’s mind. Take it a step further – each of us has inherited that bedlam. Here’s how it starts... 

When someone claims to be in control of themselves, I ask a series of questions. The questions begin as follows:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Is It Ahead of the Curve or High on the Curve?

On June 14th, 2011, the Wall Street Journal published an article about Miracle Gro. They said “Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has long sold weed killer.  Now, it’s hoping to help people grow killer weed.” 

Miracle-Gro generates 64% of their revenue from home improvement stores like Home Depot. However, with people hesitant about the economy, sales are down. So the CEO of Miracle-Gro, Jim Hagedorn, says he is looking for

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What’s Better Than Self-Actualization?

For most, constant improvement is satisfactory. It’s a way to become better over time and progress to self-actualization. For an extraordinary person, breakthroughs and world records are a source of empowerment. It is not simply about improvement. Most people explain those results away with things like luck, right place at the right time, genetics, family had money, etc. Perhaps the key that distinguishes those two groups is the very thing most people avoid. What could be so important? Yet, so discouraging?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What If We’ve Misjudged CEOs?

In the 1950s, the US was responsible for approximately 30% of international trade. Today, the US accounts for only 10%. After WWII, much of the world was in shambles. They depended on the US to supply capital, labor, services and materials. In the 21st Century, those same countries that depended on us are our competitors.

The CEOs of the 1950s had it easy compared to CEOs of the past 20 years. Business was predictable back then. Market size and customer demand grew at a steady and manageable pace. In today’s global