What did you learn at school (and in life) today?

In addition to my neighborhood kids waiting for the school bus when I’m out walking Cody, I can also tell that it is back to school time because of the myriad Facebook posts I’ve seen in the past few weeks showing preschoolers to college freshman proudly announcing their return to the halls of learning. Most look pretty excited or maybe a little nervous, like my great-nephew Jackson who went off to his first day just a few weeks ago. I know his parents are awfully proud of him. No doubt, over the next few months, there will be an occasion or two when his mom or dad will ask him “what did you learn in school today?” and Jackson will Read More

A Day to Remember

I’m in New York this week and today this City will go take some time at 8:46 AM to remember the fallen from that tragic day. The modern-day resilience movement began 18 years ago today. We all began to understand that we could not control highly unpredictable events from happening and so we somehow had to do our best to be ready for them. On one side of the equation, that meant cameras on every street corner in every major city in the country perhaps reducing our personal privacy. On the other hand, it provided new technology to help reduce crime and provide a new layer of personal security. Our resilience from this day took us in directions we could Read More

How’s Your Wife Doing?

It seemed like a simple enough question coming from a colleague over lunch last week. “Pretty good,” I told him and went on to share with him that I attended a program Sheila did last week where she spoke about her work in grief and loss. To a room full of participants, Sheila shared about how, in our most difficult times, we have to look for and find the gifts from the pain and anguish we experience when we lose a loved one or find ourselves in a life crisis and which is detailed in her award winning book, Warrior Mother. My lunch partner went onto tell me that for the past 20 years, ever since college, he has had Read More

Your Mantra of the Future

One of the fun concepts my co-author Michael Couch and I introduce in our soon to be released book, Strategy Driven Leadership (here is our new cover!) is the idea of using mantras to help people find short cuts that change behavior and are easy to remember. In working with one leader who tended to jump in and problem solve for his team before they even had a chance to finish their presentation, his mantra became “shut-up and listen” that he told himself in meetings. That simple phrase prompted him to pay attention to what others were saying before he gave his opinion. Our intentional use of mantras or rules of thumb builds off the neuroscience that an individual will Read More

The Conspiracy Bias

Ever since Daniel Kahneman came up with the ideas for cognitive biases in 1973, the world has been heading steadily downhill. We used to think that the brain was a clever thinking machine, working 24/7, creating new ideas that advanced the world. Instead, this Nobel Laureate showed us the brain is basically a lazy organ, just trying to get away with as little as it can, and coming up with one cute trick after another to make its life easier. Well, all that is not exactly true, but cognitive biases do serve as short cuts that the brain takes so as to preserve energy for survival. These biases allow us to reach quick decisions without much thought and there are Read More

The Best Ways to Coach Your Employees

One thing that I hear from senior leaders is how much enjoyment they get from coaching and guiding members of their team. They recognize that today’s aspiring leaders want guidance and want to get it in a way that is tasty and digestible. My colleague, Michael Couch and I discuss some of these strategies in our soon to be released book, Strategy Driven Leadership: The Playbook for Developing Your Next Generation of Leaders, which will be out in late November. Here are 3 ways for you to strengthen your coaching skills: 1. Focus on behaviors: People are understandably defensive when you use personality constructs (“you’re too critical”) but they can’t argue with empirical evidence. “When we were talking about project Read More

Sorry, You Can’t Do It All

We think we can do it all. We call it multi-tasking, but it should more properly be called “serial-tasking.” If you don’t believe me try this exercise. Draw 2 parallel lines. On the top line write, “Multi-tasking is a myth.” On the second line write the numbers 1-20 below the line. That task should take you about 20 seconds. Now draw another 2 lines and this time we’re going to shift between tasks. Go ahead and write the letter “M” and then below the second line , write the number “1”. Then go back to the first line and write the letter “u” and go back down to the second line to write the number “2”. Proceed with that task Read More

You’re Smarter Than You Think

Recently I was talking to a CEO who was sharing about how he is working with his leadership team to think about the “value creation” they make for their customers. For him, value creation means improving his customer’s state of being. He expects his team to meet their customer’s needs and also wants them to go beyond that objective to find new and better ways to think about how their products and services improve their customer’s abilities to serve their customers. One of the best examples of a value creation company is the vacuum cleaning company, Dyson. While no one would deny that they make great vacuums, today they’ve redefined themselves as a company that makes high velocity engines to Read More

The American Dream

I visited the coast of Northern California last week meeting with some prospective clients. One of them invited me to go to a “you-pick-em” strawberry field at a local commercial operation. This fellow, who is now the CEO of a thriving technology company shared some of his background with me in response to my questions related to how he built his successful business. He thought it was best if we started at the beginning. He told me he came from Mexico some 30 years ago crossing the boarder illegally. He did not speak English and had no employment history, so he began where many people in search of the American dream began…at the bottom. His first job was in the Read More

When It’s Okay To Micromanage

Nobody likes to be micromanaged and we usually associate it with an overbearing boss who just likes to stick his nose into everyone’s business. Micro-management, however, does have its rightful place in many workplace situations. Recently I was meeting with a regulatory and compliance officer for a technology firm and she shared about the challenges she faces in influencing her colleagues about the importance of her role. Sure, she can be a pain in the butt, she admitted, but her primary job is to manage and mitigate risk. Cyber hacking, stolen passwords, implanted malware are all real and meaningful dangers for her company and any one of them can sink their on-line business and with it, revenues and reputation. Most Read More