Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Ancient Lions and The Modern Man

11/28/2010

By Tzvi Greenberg

Roman and Germanic Armies Battle

Understanding the past is critical to understanding the present. Attention to history slows the racings of contemporary life. It lends context to confusion and provides the lens which sharpens our perspective.

So let us survey the plains of the past. Let us gather ourselves about the hearth of lore and legend and perhaps be enlightened.

There was a time when every sunrise was the dawning of a fresh terror. The crowing of the rooster was a lament for a day that had not yet begun. It was the age when violence was the language of nature. A time when nation confronted nation with the glint of the sword held high, as the hooves of their armored horses scarred the ground in the exaltation of war.

Despair consumed the hearts of those who surveyed the wealth of tradition as it lay trampled beneath the feet of advancing civilizations.

Yet throughout, men and children whispered beneath the floor boards, their eyes straining over forbidden text as small prayers issued from their trembling lips. And at night, hunched against the cold, ignoring the protest of their stomachs, some of them had the nerve to dream of freedom.

Today, we are the children of ancient endurance. We eat warm meals in brightly lit homes and are free to pursue a livelihood in an environment that poses no threat to our lives. We can enjoy our parks, museums, cafés, and all the allure of culture unhindered.

Basic comfort is not a pursuit; it is a given. Today, true horror is the stuff of film and the business of far away countries. And although misfortune visits everyone from time to time, it does not afflict our country on a large scale.

It appears that we are witnessing the triumph of civilization. Mans turbulent past has given birth to his relatively stable present. We live in a time when different beliefs and religions, once the instigators of conflict, coexist in relative peace and understanding. Leaders of various faiths meet at the lectern as opposed to the battlefield. People have graduated from the duel to the debate, and our liberty and ingenuity have allowed us to capitalize on the error and industry of millennia.

Yet, in the background of our culture some critical alarms are begging to be heard. There is something about our alleged progress that speaks of sinister regression. It warns that amidst the intricacy of our advancement, there might very well be the symptom of a subtle retardation of the psyche.

Let us return to the past and ask a question. What served as the fuel for the ancient extreme take on life and events that gave rise to those ensuing chaotic periods? What mentality supported the epic violence and massacres? Could such capacity for destruction and cruelty be conceived in a vacuum?

There is certainly an explanation and we shall endeavor to bring it forth with an analysis, however briefly, of the relationship of man and his ideas.

On the one hand, there is the “isolated idea” that is, the idea itself, the theory, formula, belief. It is impersonal, and its uses and responsibilities have no bearing on the individual. It exists in the mind as an apple might in the hand, and cannot nourish the person so long as he is holding it.

The second relationship between the individual and his idea is the “personalized idea.” It is the conscious joining of the man and his beliefs, the two separate entities becoming one. This is the consumption of the apple and its ingestion. Man and his thought merged into a single being and the intellectual wall and distance is removed. The idea is allowed access into his perspective, and given the discretion to influence his attitudes and decisions.

In ancient times, man and his ideas were indivisible and indistinguishable. Man did not “practice” religion, he was religious. He was his thoughts and his thoughts were one with him. He was the embodiment of the “personalized idea.”

There is a strong aesthetic appeal to this composite unity, this vibrant picture of the ancient personality.

On the negative side, this ancient beauty only worked for a single person or a single faith and left no room for any contrary opinion. The natural attitude that results from this mentality is, “if I am right then you are wrong, you must join me willingly, by force or be destroyed, for you cannot be saved if you do not believe as I do.” In addition, as a byproduct of this outlook; intellectualism and abstract thought were considered vanities or even heretical, and were often forbidden in any form. Ancient mans’ holistic beauty was also the most fertile environment for his dogmatism and intolerance. It resulted in the death of millions.

Extremism and tolerance cannot coexist, and therefore we must pronounce him a colossal failure.
Contrast this with today where the situation is quite different. We are tolerant and understanding. We can listen to discussions about the validity of faith with total calm. We debate religion and topics that once shook the very foundations of the world with objectivity and personal detachment. We have learned that violence is not the appropriate response to our differences.

Yet what effect has this tolerance exacted on our collective psyche?

It has come at the cost of the “isolated idea.”

Our “open mindedness” and “understanding” has left the inner pillar of human identity fractured. Our reaction to historical intolerance is indiscriminate acceptance. The cosmic embrace of modern man is his very loss of self. Our individual devotion and passion, the very essence of the individual, has been diluted by excessive acceptance of parallel devotions and foreign faiths. In our uniting with others we have divided ourselves.

Our very language betrays this internal division when terms like “family life,” “business life,” and “married life” become commonplace. Whatever happened to just, “life?” We adapt technology to provide endless forms of entertainment and distraction, and we become easy targets for the influence of advertizing which teaches us to want things that we don’t need. And when the tides of distraction dissipate and we reach a fickle moment above the fray, we remain dehydrated of meaning and thirst for answers to unarticulated questions.

Ancient man was at peace with himself and at war with his neighbor. Modern man is at peace with his neighbor and at war with himself.

The result is the stranger that stares back from the mirror.

The solution is balance. We must join the strengths of the past with the strengths of the present and fix them in their appropriate places.

When reflecting on oneself, one must take the “personalized idea” approach. We cannot afford to compromise on truth merely because someone else has a different definition of the term. We must pursue our individual purpose with discipline, focus, and yes, “narrow-mindedness.” It is our ultimate imperative to synchronize ourselves with our service to G-d, and the fulfillment of His commandments. We must strive to reflect our faith and conviction in our thought, speech, and action.

Extremism, that firebrand, does have a place where it does not destroy; in our hearts where it warms our lives and ignites that passion in our eyes. And when channeled only toward the self, endows man with the strength, energy, and beauty that reflect his Creator.

When viewing the world and the opinions of others, one must take the “isolated idea” perspective.

We must respect another’s right to search for truth, purpose, and meaning. It is not our task to respect a different faith, but it is our responsibility to respect another’s right to practice it. For G-d has many children, and who can fathom what he might desire from your neighbor?

It is only G-d who can make ultimate decisions and judgments. The individual can only make a judgment for himself alone. Tolerance and acceptance toward others are not pursuits in their own right, but are the natural byproducts of the understanding of the human condition.

The knowledge is there, the facts have been presented. And now action is the task at hand.

Advertisements

Writing History

08/01/2010

“In a few hundred years, when the history of our time is written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event those historians will see is not technology, not the internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time, literally, substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves.
“And society is totally unprepared for it.”

~ Peter Drucker

Maybe It’s My Fault – Michael Jordan

06/29/2010

“Maybe you’re just making excuses”

What Is Leadership?

04/08/2010

This morning I wrote a comment on my Twitter and Facebook (as I normally do so many times a week when I have a thought I deem worth sharing):

“If you’re not listening and attending to each and every voice, your leadership is compromised”.

I should have been more specific as I was soon bombarded by dozens of comments begging me to defend my statement. (I paraphrase).

“One who looks to attend to all attends to none. A leader is defined by how they lead – not how they react”

“The leader not only has to listen, but must also consider external and internal factors that are not being voiced!”

“The leader, not the people, will often make the right choice. A leader leads by example”

Various Other Leaders vs The Ultimate Leader

There are various types of leaders, as my friend Yermi points out in in “Leadership – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly“. And in addition to adjustment of character, there are various functions in the organization that each require leadership: The Financial Leader, The Management Leader, The Marketing Leader, etc.

The individual I refer to however is none other than the Enterprise Leader. This is the Big Kahuna, The Head Honcho, The CEO – whatever. He or she is the person who takes full responsibility for the organization, company, or nation they lead.

Peter Drucker once said “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations”

The Job vs Enterprise Leadership

Leadership is more than just a job, or “function”. It does not follow the same job description as “COO” or “VP of Sales”. The leader is one who a) takes full responsibility for the organization and b) drives it and its people forward to greatness and improvement.

Many people confuse CEO (chief executive officer – or enterprise leader) with COO (chief operations officer – or management leader). The COO’s job is to make sure everyone does their job. To ensure that operations run smoothly and effectively. To create systems and procedural duties that allow the organization to endure as it did yesterday.

The Enterprise Leader has a different focus entirely. The Vision. Whereas most others in the organization focus on yesterday, today or tomorrow, the Leader must focus on all of these simultaneously. Whereas a hierarchy of lead and be led is often present, the ultimate decision maker must actually fill both roles.

The Leader and The Vision Are One

The Vision is the leader’s leader; the white paper, the commitment and the dream, self-imposed or otherwise, that the organization and the leader must follow. It is the “bible” which all answer to and none refute. It is the essential constitution that reinforces the core competency and compels the audacious dream forward. The choices made are only a means to achieve the result required.

There is little room for personal thoughts or discrepancies as to what the organization should or should not do. If the dream is realized, the organization and the leader are a success. If not, then all the billions in the world cannot validate its worthless existence.

The Problem Today

In the early part of the last century, businesses and organizations struggled. Either they battled to gain dominance in a small but meaningful niche, or they assumed greatness quickly but just as soon realized they could not carry their own weight.

So we became obsessed with results and productivity. Organizations became organized. The assembly line became the norm. And Six Sigma became an ingrained part of every management system.

But Where Are The People?

And herein lies the essential and impudent task of the enterprise leader. We’ve forgotten all about the people who MAKE the results, and who ARE effective. We’ve put so much focus on the work and the assembly line and the success of our machines that we have completely disregarded the hard working men and women who make it all possible.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, says that the leader should be properly dubbed “The Chief Happiness Officer” (Check out the book). That is his or her true function. In addition to making sure that all the other leaders are doing their jobs helping people do their jobs, they must be an example of what it means to be a good person. Someone who cares about the process just as much as they care for results. Someone who is just as into the People Strategy as they are into their Product Strategy.

Are your people happy? Do they have what they need – attention, love, appreciation, worthiness, value? Do they follow you because of your love and dedication to them and the company? Or do they obey you because they fear heads will roll if they don’t?

What happened to morning psyche-ups with your sales teams? Whatever happened to the CEO walking through the production floors on a periodic basis? What in the world happened to the leader that cares more for his own people than the market cap of his whole company?

Forget all about what textbook leaders look like and act like, and open your eyes to reality. People need people, and YOUR people need YOU.

If you’re not listening and attending to each and every voice, your leadership is compromised.

How To Find Yourself in 20 Minutes

11/08/2009

Have been thinking a lot over the past couple days. I spent a few days in New York (and attended a live viewing of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report). I was mostly on my BlackBerry so I had more time to think instead of just “surfing” the web.

One of the things that’s fascinated me recently has been Personality Profiles – Jung, Myers-Briggs, anything that categorizes us by the way we think, feel and interact with the world.

To find out your profile its really simple:

  1. Take a Personality Quiz. There are many that are free and fairly accurate. Try Kisa.
  2. Do some basic research. Identify the basic elements of each component. Click here for a good guide.
  3. Find Yourself. (No Ashram necessary). Just Google your 4-letter combination. Personality Page is great for this.

It’s a fascinating experience and one that will help you find out who you are, your strengths, your weaknesses, and how you best interact with various other types. Not to mention all the fun in getting suggested interests, find celebrities and fictional characters with similar traits and – best of all – becoming a pseudo-psychologist trying to crack the code of everyone you meet.

As a matter of fact, once you get the hang of it you can become quite good at figuring people out quickly. Psychics use this to fool people into believing they know more about them then they really do. They are simply taking the major clues and tinkering with the more subtle ones.

All in all its fun. Try it!

For a quick overview of each of the 16 Types click here.

The Best Business Advice

10/12/2009

Just finished a phenomenal article “101 Small Business Mistakes and what you can learn from them“. It’s got to be one of the best article I’ve read in months. The following are some of my notes and personal insights.

Startup Tips:

  1. Become a leader as soon as possible.
  2. Focus entirely on the business, no 2nd jobs.
  3. Just do it and don’t look back.
  4. Spend nothing, let people know you’re only making “investments”.
  5. Bootstrapping goes beyond just startup. Ensure that all expenses are conscious.
  6. Entrepreneurs are unemployed until there are profits.
  7. Talk more about what you’re doing, not what you will be doing.
  8. Nothing will ever be perfect! Work around that.
  9. Always apply the 80/20 Rule and set short deadlines.
  10. Don’t have a master plan, have a vision.
  11. Prepare an exit strategy.
  12. Keep development short and generate a prototype quickly.
  13. Focus on Web development and e-mail marketing sooner rather than later.
  14. Hire talent not family. It’s hard to fire family.
  15. Don’t raise too much money. You’ll start looking for ways to spend
  16. Better to own a small piece of a large pie than a big piece of nothing.
  17. Never give up ultimate authority of your business.
  18. Debt is not cash.
  19. Pick the right type of incorporation. Speak to an Attorney.
  20. Know industry regulations and legal codes.
  21. Figure the most opportune time to launch, then accept capital only on the best terms.
  22. Investors will throw money at any great idea, allocate it right.

Product Tips:

  1. Research your market!
  2. Build your infrastructure before major client pulls.
  3. Keep your personality and be playful. Make your workplace fun.
  4. Never lose sight of how you differentiate from the competition.
  5. Don’t base prices on how much you think you’re worth but how much it would be worth to the customers you service.
  6. Price higher than the industry norm and do just enough ads to get noticed by the competition.
  7. Never undersell, even to lock someone in.
  8. No one ever said “We priced too high”. There are always unknown expenses and you can always make a sale.
  9. Negotiate everything. Don’t just pay based on what you value.
  10. When client applications and customer service are on the line, outsourcing isn’t an option.
  11. The costs of building a data center are quickly recouped through more efficient customer service and recurring revenue.
  12. Don’t trying to be all things to all people.
  13. Have a list of competitors that offer what you don’t. This builds your rapport.
  14. Always require an upfront percentage fee for services.
  15. Always sign a contract/terms for major deals/purchases.
  16. Don’t let referrals lead you way from your target market.

Sales and Marketing Tips:

  1. You must sell! Build your own skills, or find someone else.
  2. Your marketing ‘hook’ is critical, to grab the client’s attention long enough for the sales process to begin.
  3. Have multiple hooks for different psycho-graphics.
  4. Market locally. It’s easier and cheaper.
  5. Never underestimate the power of promotion. Plan for best/worst case scenarios.
  6. Use share-shift marketing, converting a client-base from your competition.
  7. You can’t buy instant recognition, but you can find key influences.
  8. Cross reference your events with various calendars.
  9. Inform! (clients, employees, partners).
  10. Always get testimonials when they say how happy they are. Even better, get them to recommend you.
  11. Have 4-5 on-going contracts, plus breathing room, so that the loss of one deal doesn’t set you back too far.
  12. Develop relationships with the most influential people possible in a company. (Founders preferably).
  13. Just because a contract is signed doesn’t mean the deal’s going to go through.

Operations and Big Picture Tips:

  1. If you do one thing right, hire the right people!
  2. Hire assistance ASAP for all work that doesn’t have to be done by you.
  3. Explain to people the job of leader – to build consensus and organization.
  4. Define functions and results, not personalities and process.
  5. Hire talented people who fit your culture!
  6. Recognize bad decisions and deal with them quickly.
  7. Sometimes it’s the little errors in judgment, compounded every day, that kill you.
  8. Learn when to say NO! and when to say YES!
  9. Inspect what you expect people to respect.
  10. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  11. Pay as you go. Partners should earn trust and their equity.
  12. Lead with authority and passion. Consensus leads to mediocrity.
  13. Listen to opinions and be open-minded but then make a decision.
  14. Employees have an expectation and a desire for leadership. Without it, everything falls apart.
  15. If there’s a will there’s a way. Go and find it!
  16. No one who provides capital lets your keep full control. So keep the cash!
  17. Always consult a cultural expert about small details before traveling to other countries.
  18. Get used to saying the words “Look. I saw things differently, but I could be wrong and I often am. I’d like for things to be right. Let’s examine the facts.”

Seth Godin’s on his biggest mistakes: “Not believing, not risking, not deciding. Holding back feels safe. When someone asks you your big mistakes, it’s tempting to talk about the stuff you did that didn’t work out. But what about the stuff you DIDN’T do? Those are the really big mistakes. Not starting Yahoo! or Google, those were big mistakes.”

Now get out there and make things happen!

Changing the World

10/11/2009

Here’s To The Crazy Ones

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–  Steve Jobs

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our fears, our presence automatically liberates each other.

–  Nelson Mandela

Go Get It

Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. Not even me. All right? You got a dream. You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.

Will Smith, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’

Famous Failures

Go on! Change it!

How to Achieve Your Bucket List

10/08/2009

Two words: Energy and Focus!

goal

Getting Started

  • Start Small. Eat your elephants one bite at a time (weird, I know, but it works). Set micro-goals to achieve larger ones.
  • One Goal. Instead of trying to fulfill everything, focus on ONE with full energy and laser focus.
  • Examine the Motivation. Describe goal and reasons to complete it.
  • Be Passionate! Commit to it publicly. Tell your friends. Write about it in the papers. Promote your need to succeed.
  • Set a Start Date. Don’t just start. Build anticipation. When you do start, you’ll start with even more enthusiasm.
  • Create a Dream Collage. Find pictures that match your set goal. Build a short Mantra. Put it everywhere!

Staying the Course

  • Work Hard! Nothing pays off like great and relentless practice!
  • Visualize your success! Feel the benefits of completion. This should cause a sudden surge of inspiration.
  • Hold yourself back! Pace yourself. Don’t do 100%. This will make you yearn for the next opportunity to practice.
  • Check out the competition. If you’re in a competition, check out how other’s are faring. (This should ignite your rear).
  • Just Start! There’s no motivation like action, works every time. Get dressed and do one set. You’ll take off.
  • Keep your audience informed. Update your fans on the progress of your success.
  • Think only positive! Read books and success stories on it. Make prior conquerors your mentors.
  • Listen to great music. Everyone has their own preference. Create great playlists that match your moods and modes.
  • Speak with believers. Find people with the same goal as you. Call friends and family that support your ambition.
  • Celebrate! Every step is precious. Chart your progress and reward yourself for each milestone.
  • Never miss 2 days in a row! If you’re incapable, improvise. Do something that resembles your practice.

Related articles:

5 Things You Must Have on Your Bucket List

5 More Intense Things to Put on Your Bucket List