Maybe I’m just old fashioned…

Maybe I’m just old fashioned…Exec number 1 (0)


If you are a 1/3 owner in a business and you are claiming a tax loss of about $1 billion, the math implies that you had to destroy $3+ billion in corporate value to use that write-off.

Everyone associated with the company lost their jobs and a liquidation process probably recovered only pennies on the dollar for the debtors and other investors.

I’m pretty sure that is not considered a good business model.

But hey…
I might just be a bit old-fashioned.

Leadership is Like Being a Good Host

Welcome Mat (0)“But they are like family to me!”

You hear this phrase or something like it when people speak about their work relationships.  Hell, I’ve been guilty of saying it in one form or another.  It is sorta sad to think about it, but we often spend more time in the company of our colleagues than we do with our core nuclear family.

But is it really like that, are we really family?

Would we want to be family?

So we’re all one big happy family!  Now what?

Like the saying goes you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.  The implied premise is that your family has to claim you.  Thus, if we use the family paradigm, it hurts all the more when you have to, for professional reasons, reject an employee.

I think the best attitude to take with your employees is the same you might take if they were guest in your home.  Be their host.  (I don’t mean in a parasite/host relationship sorta way, I know some of you were thinking it.) Continue reading

Leadership Programs – The Autopsy

City Morgue (0)“Cause of death?”

“The heart stopped.”

If you are a CSI fan, a fan of the spinoffs, forensic or crime documentaries, or any other show or movie of the genre, you’ve probably watched hundreds of hours of forensic science.

You’re practically a coroner!

Forget all of the testing, the gruesome details of each case, the motives, or the means; the cause of all deaths come down to one final outcome…

The heart stopped.

I can’t say that I have seen hundreds of leadership programs, but I can say that I have been responsible for sponsoring and building, maybe, ten programs from scratch.  I’ve been exposed to others (maybe 30) in an advisory role or as a participant.

In each case, the success or effectiveness of leadership training came down to the question “was the heart still beating?” Continue reading

No, You’re Not a Leader

Leader - a - ManagerSitting in a chair does not make you a leader.

(Not even if it is a really nice chair).

I struggled for a long time over the difference between being a leader and being a manager.  I knew there was an important way to parse the two, but it took me a while to figure it out.

It is a fundamental discussion point for everyone to realize because it is the first step in leadership development.  It is the demarcation point when you invest in your future leaders and potential succession pool.

The nuance leads to planning for responsibilities and expectations.  Some people believe that a place and position is enough and leadership is automatic.  Many people would equate the occupancy of a supervisory position as being a leader.  Leadership is not automatic, but a mindful application of communications, developing relationship, and influence.

The two words are often used as synonyms, but in my mind they are not the same concept.  I’ve always felt that management referred to resources and leadership implied a component of motivation.

If you have a job and you manage time, money, materials, or personnel, you are not a leader.  You are a manager.

Continue reading

Indiana’s RFRA is not just an LBGT issue, it is bad for business and everyone else


What’s the big deal?  Text box, details of vote and signing

What is the controversy with recent law signed into effect in Indiana last week on 26 March?

The law is called “SB 101 The Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA).

In the popular press coverage it is called “Indiana’s Anti- LGBT Legislation”.  How did that happen?

One of the interesting facets of current news topics is how they are reported and their social influence.  Sometimes the influence is well below the media hype and sometimes the media focuses on the best click-worthy aspect and misses the wider picture.

I don’t want to get into the politics of “Anti this or that”, but let’s examine the wider picture of the effect of this public policy on business, business issues, review some history, and who I think it affects.

If you asked any American “Should all Americans have religious freedom?”, I’d bet that you would get a near 100% resounding “Yes!”  I mean, the bill passed 40 – 10, a significant margin.

In the fuzziness of our memories, we all know that it is protected by some Constitutional amendment.  (Don’t worry, not testable, I checked for everyone, it is the 1st Amendment.)

In Western Europe, if you asked the same question, they would say yes too, but they would be puzzled by the question.  Most constitutions in Europe list religious freedom as a basic human right and it is not considered a political problem unless public safety become an issue.

When we see something that seems both complex and obvious, you have to do two things: drill down a little to understand it better and step back to see and understand the context.

This is going to be a loooong discussion, if you stop now, I’ll understand.

Otherwise… buckle in. Continue reading

Your Social Media, Marketing Advantage or Threat

DSC07453Maybe some of you are dinosaurs who think social media is a passing fad with only a tangential relationship to your business.

I hate to admit this, but I have seen the birth of many services in the last 20 years that I thought had no chance of making it.  I could not at the time understand the utility of services such as short message services or picture sharing.

I realize now that “utility” was the wrong metric.  The correct measure was emotion.  I finally recognized the feeling that short messages gave me.  It was that same secret thrill of passing notes back in high school.  It was a feeling of inclusion that, in my opinion, is the emotional hook of social media.  The service platforms make the pathways for the messages easy and accessible.

Emotion is the essence of marketing.  When people resonate a product strongly with an emotion, you are building a powerful brand.

So what does this have to do social media?

Social media is a means to engage with your customers.  It can build and strengthen customer relationships and get immediate feedback.  Build the connection of the emotion, build the brand.

  • Measure your brand value by following yourself on social media.
  • Measure your competitors’ brands by following their activities (branding, market share, performance).
  • Follow industry events, conferences.
  • Follow campaign effectiveness and reach.
  • Follow industry influencers and connect with their followers for more reach.

That is the “why” of social media.

The “what” is how are you managing it, especially in a crisis? Continue reading

Speed Bump to Urgency, Dealing with Deniers

During a crisis, time is of the essence.Hand sign 'Stop' (1a)

Momentum is essential and you need everyone working toward resolution, whatever direction it may take.

Your company is facing deterioration, sales are flattening.  A crisis is looming like a boulder balancing on the edge of steep slope, you are running out of cash.  You have six months or bankruptcy.

Change is a source of uncertainty.  Leadership is a necessity to navigate a through periods of uncertainty.  A sense of urgency gives purpose to people during a transition, everyone must feel the urgency and that determination must be transferred to action.  Any distraction that slows the momentum could affect the success of the change strategy.

How do you deal with the person who is disrupting change, the one individual who is slowing everyone and everything down? Continue reading

For Want of a Nail…

The Nail (2)It isn’t always the “Big Ideas” that are the most satisfying, but the simple ideas with the big impact.

Idea Aikido so to speak.

One of my favorite examples was with a startup company in Barcelona Spain.

For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
– anonymous proverb

Continue reading