Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

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.

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.

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!

How To Delegate

09/04/2009

Rule of Thumb

If you can’t leave your organization for 3 days, then you’re business isn’t systematized. The way for it to become so, is through something we call: Delegation.

What To Delegate

  • Delegate, don’t abdicate! Follow up and and hold the delegated party responsible for making sure the job is done right.
  • Delegate things that aren’t part of your core competency (accounting, web design, deliveries, hardware/software help, design, travel arrangements, patenting, legal, payroll, research, data entry).
  • Don’t delegate what you can’t (performance reviews, discipline, firing).

Effective Delegation

  1. Identify task to delegate. If you don’t need to be doing it, eliminate it.
  2. Create Action Plan, document procedure to perform task step-by-step (including quality control standards).
  3. Specify expected results of the task (what, why, when, who, where and how).
  4. Delegate authority along with responsibility. Automate minor approvals (say anything less than $150).
  5. Have someone follow your Action Plan.
  6. Maintain open lines of communication. Trade short-term errors for long-term results.
  7. Don’t micro-manage, but ensure that you are kept in the loop on progress and performance.
  8. Revise document until you are both comfortable with it.
  9. When the new system document is ready, provide it to the employee responsible for that task. Train them how to successfully run this “system”.
  10. Insert copy into Operations Manual.
  11. Repeat on next task.

Once you’ve done this for every job in your organization, you will be free to move around the country, or the world. You will no longer be subject to the day-to-day waves of operations!

9 Qualities That Will Rock Your Career

08/21/2009

From www.dumblittleman.com

Success in life is always relative. Some people are happy with small achievements while there are others who won’t be satisfied until mountains are moved.

Regardless of our ambitions, our career spans through a series of jobs and experiences that truly polish our personality and will. While we all have defining moments that will determine our core beliefs around hard work, persistence, determination, etc., these are all simply components of a greater foundation that defines ‘you’. A rocking rise through corporate ranks involves a radical understanding and possible change in your attitude and behaviors.

There are millions of brilliant people who pursue aggressive career paths and have their sights set on great achievement. While their ability is nothing short of genius, many lack the soft skills that could put them over the top. These are the traits, qualities and understandings are what make good people great. Practical and time tested, mastering and practicing the following qualities will make if difficult for success to elude you.

  1. Out of Box Thinking Many dislike this term but the concept is for real. All it requires is thinking of problems though a different set of eyes, or different dimension. This is why many brainstorming sessions fail; most people sit and think of work problems in the context of what it means to the company, not the user, not the environment, etc. Sit back and try to solve the problem from the eyes of a 6 year old, turn things upside down, and absolutely challenge the norm. Go outside and sit in a subway station (or somewhere you generally don’t sit to work) and think about why other solutions not worked? What has worked?Remember the best ideas come from people who are hands-on with their work. When everyone thinks and recommends a lackluster way, lackluster results will follow. Change your surroundings, change your views, change your thought process and come up with a killer idea!
  2. Taking Ownership When no one is willing to own it, be the first to grab the opportunity. A process involving various stakeholders normally loses vision and momentum. A process with a good leader, input from others, and true direction, has a much better chance of success. Be the person that jumps in and takes on a new project (just don’t over-commit). An ability to own and work towards success is a skill which gives long lasting returns.
  3. Eagerness to Learn After a certain period, a job becomes monotonous and people become bored and eventually even lazy. They lose all the zeal to learn new things and although they won’t admit this, their actions would make you believe they have thrown in the towel and are satisfied with a status quo life and career. If you really want to move ahead, don’t get into this rut. Don’t tune out.Always remain eager to learn; you never know what knowledge or capability will push you up in your career. Remember, you need an open mindset and positive attitude to approach work. If you are constantly learning, it will be tough to be or appear to be interested in mediocrity.
  4. An Eye for Detail If you are hands on with your work there is no reason why you won’t know the intricacies involved. Therefore, have the confidence needed to make difficult choices. When you master something and know the minute details, your logic and ideas will be highly regarded. While people love to argue, they get easily impressed by intelligent reasoning too.
  5. Willingness to Help Much of life is give and take. Work is no exception. If you are the person that is constantly stepping out of your comfort zone in order to help others, people (most) will return the favor when you ask. That’s the key though, you have to be willing to help someone and not too proud to ask them for help when you need it.
  6. Networking Your network should never be restricted to people in your domain but it should span other departments too. Again, break away from comfort and get engaged with someone from a different department. When you sell yourself in the market, you need people who can vouch for you and the broader the network, the better. A strong network always gives you an upper hand, not only to receive but also influence the information flow.
  7. Solution Seeking Mindset People love to mention and talk about problems. However, when you ask for their solutions to those problems, they aren’t willing to go on record with sweeping changes. The majority of employees lack an attitude to solve issues and love to keep them burning for long time, almost to encourage sympathy. It is these times that a positive mindset can send the right vibes across and can really give you a lot of attention. Don’t avoid complainers, listen to them just long enough to hear the problem, then try to come up with a solution.
  8. Humility Arrogance has its own advantages but it never attracts more people than the magic done by humility. When you know your work and are humble about it than there is no reason that you would not get the desired appreciation. Humility needs to be pitched with much care lest it lets people take undue advantage of you. Strike the right balance and you would see its real magic.
  9. Being Practical Human beings are emotional and many fall for popular decisions. A practical decision made at right time with right attitude has the ability to shower you with long lasting fame. Remember, the people who are at the top are nothing but practical.

It is a jungle out there where you not only need to survive but flourish too. Develop the killer attitude for success and no one would ever dare to stop you.

Always:

  1. Work Hard
  2. Make sure the world knows about it
  3. Make sure to sell it in right manner to right people

Go, Get Success!