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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.

I could hire you, pay you money, but that’s a short term solution, in the long run a recommendation of appreciation goes much further.

An honest recommendation from someone is invaluable. You can’t buy it, you can’t go to school for it, rich parents can’t give it to you, the privileged have no better chance of attaining it than someone else. It’s one of the hardest things to get from someone, their recommendation.

In a world where it’s getting increasingly more difficult to “impress” people, you must get outside your comfort zone and seek out moments to help people.

Actually impressing someone these days is so rare, almost as rare as people doing good deeds for others. Never miss an opportunity to do something nice for someone. 

Hold a door, volunteer, say yes, smile, compliment someone, don’t ask if someone needs helps, just help.

We confuse our goal in life a lot. As kids we assume pleasing the teacher by getting good grades is the best thing we can do. If that’s true by the time that individual is finished school that’s all they’re good at, doing what they’re told. 

No one who did anything amazing did it by doing what they were told.

Life isn’t about following the rules. I mean in some professions yes (doctor, engineer, lawyer) I hope they follow the rules, but when it comes to business and especially marketing, those who abide by rules get lost on the dust.

I always find it odd in the classroom on the first day or so talking to students about grades. There are always a couple students who put the highest priority on getting the best grades that they overlook the true goal of school, to learn something. 

Beware of the people pleasers

They don’t care about relationships, the people beside them, or any learning outcome, all they care about is being the best. The problem is that the teacher gets to decide, it’s not fair, it’s not perfect and many feelings have been hurt over grades. Stop trying to impress some imaginary authority figure and start doing things for yourself (which obviously means helping others because as you know that’s the best way to help ones’ self).

Stop worry about what other people think, the boss or your teacher is bias, they don’t really know do they? The teachers opinion is bias anyway isn’t it? Heck they proved years ago that the opinion the teacher holds of a student largely dictates how well they do. That means “gifted” students will always do better than “late bloomers” which is completely false.

Stop putting so much emphasis on landing the deal, making the big sale or getting another 99%. You’re putting undue stress on yourself. Focus on the process, focus on how you’re improving. And make sure what you’re learning is relevant, there’s nothing worse than getting “experience” at a business that is antiquated, slow moving or not on the cutting edge.

Stop trying to please people and just help people. Stop talking bad about people behind their backs and start spreading good rumours.

Perfection isn’t realistic, you aren’t pizza.

Perfection isn’t realistic nor is it something you can sustain. Stop trying to please that one person who you think holds all the power and start helping those around you.

Perfection isn’t realistic, you aren’t pizza

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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