Imagine if you could

My Favourite Business Book of All Time

Maverick written by Ricardo Semler in Brazil published in 1993. A transformational business book from start to finish. Completely counter what you’d come to expect from a Ricardo Semler MaverickBrazilian industrial tycoon. I think Mr. Semler is one of the most thought-provoking, honest, most humble leaders I’ve ever come across.

Semco, a heavy duty industrial manufacturer has no rules to live by. You pick your own hours, pick your own pay, pick your own vacation times, heck you even vote on your own managers regularly! Twice a year you fill out a 30 question questionnaire about your management and division you work in.

No one has a long term contact. No one is employed longer than 6 months. Everyone’s salary is openly known by anyone who cares to know.

Semco is the most democratic company I’ve ever read about, and they did it in a 1980’s Brazilian economy. Not the beacon of sought after economies you once thought, on the contrary, Brazil was avoid by many businesses because of the government, high inflation rates, and a fast growing unpredictable future. It’s astounding what Ricardo and Semco accomplished during this period in Brazil.

How did they get it so right?

Ricardo lucked out in a sense, his father build a multi-million dollar company. He became of age and realized it would never last in its current state. Plus the fact that second generation wealth is squandered 70% of the time, Ricardo had to make a gamble.

He was courageous in his decisions but the theme throughout his career and the book was that he cared (and still cares) dearly about people. It’s so refreshing to see in someone like him in a leadership role, putting people before profits.

Telling, forcing, commanding, never works. Inspiring, helping, listening, always does.

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Why You Won't See Any Blouses or Ties at the Stratlab Office

Dress Code? Nah. Why You Won’t See Any Blouses or Ties at the Stratlab Office 

In Ricardo Semler’s Maverick he tells the story about the first few times he came in on a weekend. The first thing he noticed “people dress differently when they come in on the weekend, why is that?”. They did it to be more comfortable. But don’t we want everyone to be comfortable when they are working all week long?

The dress code era at Semco was ended.

The executive dealt with the obvious backlash. “What if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way someone is dressed in a meeting?” Ricardo’s answer; “if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way one of our employees ‘looks’ then that’s probably someone we shouldn’t be doing business with”. Wow, that’s leadership.

Isn’t that simple? Why do you try to make your staff conform? Because you’ve always done that? That’s not a good reason why. Ask your staff, what they think, you may stumble upon a smart way to make your company culture better.

The original dress code disobeyer

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what are you looking for a job a career or a calling

What Are You Looking For; a Job, Career or a Calling?

From John Mackey’s Conscious Capitalism he sums up what the vast majority of people are looking for when it coming to work.

A job, a career, or a calling.

a job

A Job

We’ve all had a job. We’ve all hated a job. 

A job is what we first want when we’re young. Mostly for means to an ends. We want cash money. We treat the job as such, we don’t get too attached, we try to do just a good enough job not to get fired. There are many people in this world that simply work at a job. It’s not fulfilling, they don’t love the organization they work for, and when another “job” comes along that seems similar but pays better, they’re gone fast than you can say “do you want fries with that?”

a career

A Career

A career is a little different. Like a longer, well-paid boring job.

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What's the best thing I can do for you

The Best Thing I Can Do For You….

….is to give you my recommendation. It’s not to pay you, it’s not to hire you, it’s not to give you an A+ on an assignment, it’s to tell someone in my life how I honestly feel about you.

Isn’t that the best thing anyone can do for us? Give their recommendation of us to someone they know?

Think about it. An old Manager talking to a business owner who offers you your dream job? An interview while in school for a co-op placement and your Volleyball coach give you a rave reference? (This happened! Jeremy who worked with us for a little while and who I coached with for a couple years had me as a reference for a job placement over the Summer, I had so many positive stories about that boy they HAD to hire him after talking to me).

Isn't that the best thing anyone can do for us give a recommendation

The best thing anyone can do for you is to give an honest recommendation of you to a peer or colleague. There’s no higher honour than someone saying, “oh, you want good cupcakes? You MUST talk to Jeph, he makes the BEST cupcakes!”. No advertising could ever be better than honest word-of-mouth.

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you don't have to win awards to be fricken amazing

You Don’t Need To Win Awards To Be Fricken’ Amazing

One day in the StratLab office Eddy says,
“eh, chew guys ever see Aaron Draplin’s Ted talk?!”
Me: “What did you just say?!?”
Eddy: “Just watch this….”

 

Meet Aaron Draplin. A crazy hat wearing, beard grooming, design denim god. He’s what we strive to be one day. Just happy to be able to wake up and create art every day. That’s something to get excited about.

  1. He’s genuine (I mean he wore a hat and swore in a Ted talk, haha!).

  2. He does not care about awards (they just inflate ego).

  3. He’s incredibly excited to be able to do his art every day.

1. He’s genuine

He cares. He cares so much about his audience he wants to show them how to be original. When someone swears in front of your it’s a sign of respect, they’re comfortable enough to be themselves. When Aaron takes to the stage you instantly realize this isn’t going to be your regular speech. His outfit makes him look comfortable as well, jean jacket, trucker hat? He’s making it okay to be yourself.

2. He does not care about awards

In the marketing/advertising world it’s hard to get very far without finding out about “an award you could win!” or better yet “you should apply for this award!”. Apply for an award?!? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?!? Yet it happens all the time. Agencies attach “awards” they’ve won to proposals not knowing that clients want to hire them to create value for their organization, not simply win awards.

Winning awards can send you down a dangerous path. Always striving for the next award. What there is no more? You can’t control that outcome hence why this author thinks it’s very silly to focus on winning awards.

Finally Aaron doesn’t need an award to make him feel good, he just needs to look at the team he works with and the amazing volume of work they’ve created, and smile.

Awards are a false idol you’re seeking. Their poisonous, they change people, once you are an “award winner” you’re never the same. Stay hungry, stay thirsty.

3. He’s incredibly excited to able to do his Art every day

When I met Hugh MacLeod for the first time I asked which of his cards he created was his favourite. He said he had a lot he really liked but one always came to mind.

“If you have your health and you can make a decent living doing what you love, then you have little reason to envy other people.” -Hugh MacLeod

If you have your health and you get to do what your love

The way Aaron looks when he talks about being “able” to do his art every day. That’s incredible. That’s what I want to become.

You don't have to win awards to be fricken amazing-strategy lab

10 Photoshop quick keys

Top 10 Quick Keys in Photoshop (Plus 5 Freebies you should already know ya NOOB!)

We discovered these as a team during a Learning Friday with Eddy, there are so many quick keys that can make your life easier in Photoshop. Yes you don’t need to be a professional designer to be able to use Photoshop, I think it should be taught in school. Being able to manipulate an image is powerful. To be able to do it in a way where people can’t tell you did it?! That’s well what Eddy does!

It’s amazing what you can do in Photoshop, learn it, practice it, create something amazing! Oh and I know that title is a little aggressive, if we’ve missed some of if you don’t believe this list is right please add to it in the comments below!

Here are top 10 plus 5 Quick keys (shortcuts) in Photoshop

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the anthropologist

How We Start Every Project, Being “an Anthropologist” // eps 58 #inthelab

When we start projects at StratLab we like to understand the organization we’re working with, the best way we’ve found is to be what David Kelly would call The Anthropologist. The most success we’ve had (and still have) is really getting to know an organization. Going to the Annual General Meeting, Christmas Party, Golf Tournament, Fundraising dinner, basically anything they will invite us to we’ll go. You get to know people on a different level when you see them out of the office in the “wild”. Don’t ever be afraid to get out from behind your laptop to do some hands-on research.

One of the most successful projects we worked on was with the Regina Police. It was an internal marketing strategy where we were to change their core values, vision and mission to better reflect their current culture. It took Six months longer than we thought because we really didn’t want to rush the research process of interviewing every level of different Police officer. It was amazing

From David Kelly’s 10 Faces of Innovation, the Anthropologist is the face of discovery and understanding.

To observe without judgement. To develop an empathetic understanding of the organization. You must look at the tiniest of details, the most mundane things can have a major impact on what the end consumer takes away in their experience.

From the book:

The Anthropologist is rarely stationary. Rather, this is the person who ventures into the field to observe how people interact with products, services, and experiences in order to come up with new innovations. The Anthropologist is extremely good at reframing a problem in a new way, humanizing the scientific method to apply it to daily life. Anthropologists share such distinguishing characteristics as the wisdom to observe with a truly open mind; empathy; intuition; the ability to “see” things that have gone unnoticed; a tendency to keep running lists of innovative concepts worth emulating and problems that need solving; and a way of seeking inspiration in unusual places.

Look into a company as if you were Sherlock on a case

look-into-a-company-as-if-you-were-sherlock-on-a-case

Asking questions, becoming very curious, always asking “why” and never excepting “that’s just the way it is here.” The Anthropologist needs to uncover the hidden story behind what the client isn’t telling them. Remember what Sherlock Homes said, “the devil is in the smallest of details.” -or something thing like that. The little things matter. Pay attention to the little things.

Create a company “idea wallet”. Much like your wallet that you carry money around in, your companies idea wallet is where you think and pitch ideas.

how-do-you-get-to-know-an-organization

How do you get to really know an organization? 

By asking questions of course you silly nilly!!

Any question that leads you closer to the central purpose of that organization, generally it’s not your run of the mill questions that are going to get to the bottom of things. People never simply open up to you, you must gain their trust first. Be positive, listen to their answers, and be very respectful (no judging). You need to get creative, the more out there the question is, the more people have a chance to show you their personality. See some ideas on research questions you could use.

Vuja De thinking (from Practically Radical)

Seeing a problem for the first time, through a new lens. The definition of Deja Vu is seeing something you’ve seen before in a ridiculously clear manner. Vuja De thinking is approaching problems like you’ve never seen them before. Trying to solve your organizational problems with novel solutions we’ve never thought about trying. The next time you want an “expert” to solve the problem instead why not ask a beginner to take a stab at it, you may surprise yourself!

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