You must have a clear vision

3 Things Great Leaders Always Do

Why is it so rare that employees look up to their boss? Why is it that most senior leadership are referred as more of the senior part and not so much the latter? How come more people don’t look up to the leader of the organization? Why is it so rare to find a visionary, humble, head of an organization?

In the future we’ll look up to leaders who understand and act upon these 3 must do’s.

1. You must have a clear vision.

If your staff don’t know where you’re going it’s going to be very difficult to follow you. If your vision isn’t simple most people won’t get it. If your purpose can’t be summed up in a short phrase, you probably haven’t drilled deep enough. If everyone on the board is comfortable with the simple vision, it’s not provocative enough. If you let a committee come up your purpose it isn’t going to get far. If you think the executive suite are the only ones who can come up with your purpose, you’re wrong. Purpose should be shared just as much with the top row and the front line employees. More often than not front line employees have a better grasp on what the company “actually” does than the executive row.

Business strategy that’s written by mbas is business strategy for mbas. Real people want simplicity, they want to know you care and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

2. Actually care about people.

Don’t just say you care about people, that’s cliche and every company says they care about their people, very few actually show it.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You show people you care with your actions and how you spend your time and your money. Every company says they care about their people but how many create a bottom up feedback system? How many leaders actually have an open door policy? How many leaders would actually encourage employees to speak up when they disagree with a decision?

You show employees or members that you care when you listen to them, when you actively seek their feedback, when you truly want them to be a part of the decision making. If you truly do care about the people you work with, you’ll try to help them. When employees feel their voice will be heard and that they can make a difference, it’s like they’re working with a super power.

Anything becomes possible when the people we look up to empower us to achieve more than we are capable of.

3. Be the hardest working person in the organization.

Be the hardest working person in the organization

Leadership is service. Leaders work harder than everyone else, they rarely take credit and they put more fires out than anyone else. Leadership isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work.

Having people look up to you, rely on you, being a part of your team, is a small reward. The larger reward in this situation is watching the people under grow into a better leader, manager, and team player than you ever could be. Leadership is the humble act of always putting others first. When you find you’ve groomed a candidate that people look up to, are inspired by and that works harder than you do, you know you’ve done your job.

The goal of leadership is not to be indispensable, it’s quite the opposite. The goal of leadership is the day you don’t show up, everyone knows exactly what to do and the sustaining work to keep the organization is done.

Leadership is the highest form of service. Never forget that.

Leaders wanted.

Leaders wanted

Blackfish

3 Must Do’s To Tell a Compelling Story

1. Start off with a big bang

Introductions mean a lot in documentaries. They set the stage for what’s about to come. The intro can either turn the viewer on, having them beg for more, or can work against the film by boring the $!%$ out of the audience.

Searching for Sugarman begins with the controversial story of how Rodriguez killed himself. Some say it was a gun to the head, some say it was the most gruesome suicide in history, where he doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of an audience. The beginning of this documentary in incredibly captivating, you can’t turn it off or switch the channel. You desperately want to know what happens. A sign of a great story is you can’t turn away because it’s so spellbinding.

2. Introduce Controversy

K2 is one of the deadliest mountains the world, far more dangerous to climb than Everest, for every four people who summit K2, one dies trying. This is the story of the fateful day 11 climbers never returned home from K2. One of the deadliest expeditions in mountain climbing history.

There are conflicting stories on how some people made it off K2 that fateful day, not every agrees to what happened. Were some people hero’s? Or were they just trying to be selfish. In desperate times, people do some strange things.

You can’t help but be at the edge of your seat the entire time the movie plays. The camera shots, the epic story that changes back and forth, and the mysticism around this life altering mountain that is so very hard to summit.

3. Tell an emotional story that pulls on people’s heart strings

Whenever a movie or documentary comes out that features animals, it’s hard not to get emotional. Yeah, I cried in Babe, Homeward Bound, and maybe The Lion King, didn’t everyone?

We have a natural (biological) tendency to care for babies and animals (and animal babies). When a documentary like Blackfish comes out you know it’s going to be an emotional ride but what you don’t know about is how these beautiful creatures are treated in captivity. It’s horrible. It’s hard to watch. You’re going to get emotional.

The good news is is that this documentary actually is influencing change in how the public views SeaWorld. Several articles have touched on the protests and how angry people are over SeaWorld, and even a bill introduced in California that could introduce the end of Killer Whale shows in the state as well as importing and exporting Killer Whales.

All of these documentaries can be found on Netflix. I strongly encourage you to watch.

To recap, telling a compelling story in the media, to a friend, on your website, in a video, in an article, remember these three things:

1. Start off with a bang 

2. Introduce controversy

3. Pull on peoples heart stings.

NYTimes Innovation Report

The Leaked New York Times Innovation Report and Why It’s Important

The New York Times (on purpose or not) leaked an innovation report which ended up being a scathing analysis of how far behind the times the Times really are. From one of the worldwide leaders in Journalism comes a humble look at their own efforts digitally. They recognize how behind they really are but it seems that they have a plan to become more relevant to a larger audience in the future.

Some important highlights of the 90 page report:

  • Competition is increasing and some of their competitors are producing some massive numbers. EG: Flipboard getting more traffic to the New York Times’ own articles than the Times’ receives to its’ own site.
  • The journalism industry is being “disrupted” with a cheaper easy to find version of “news”. The example given in the report is strikingly similar to Clayton Christiensen’s The Innovators Dilemma. In the book he talks about when entities get too large within their own industry, smaller, faster more nimble businesses innovate to create the future product offerings.
  • They’ve named and provided stats on some of their competition. Some very familiar names on the list such as: Huffington Post, Flipboard, and Buzzfeed.
  • The mentioned the NY Times “Influencers”. Every organization at one point will needs to know who their influencers are and how to leverage them.

The NewYork Times Audience:

  • 30M web readers in U.S. per month
  • 20M Mobile readers in U.S. per month
  • 13.5M News Alerts audience
  • 11.3M Twitter followers
  • 6.5M E-Mail Newsletter Subscribers
  • 5.7M Facebook followers
  • 1.25M Print Subscribers
  • 760K digital subscribers

The Proposal:

  1. Discovery – getting our work in front of the right readers at the right place and at the right time.
  2. Promotion – we need better advocates of our over work.
  3. Connection – our readers are perhaps our greatest untapped resource.

This seems more like a game plan for ANY organization that wants to grow in this new digital world. They’ve identified that is has to start at their core if they hope to have any chance of surviving the disruption that the journalism/publishing industry is facing.

Some important quotes from the report:

“Digital staffers want to play creative roles not service roles.”

“We need makers, entrepreneurs, reader advocates and zeitgeist watchers”

“Evergreen content is appealing to readers if resurfaced in a way that is smart”

“The newsroom can fall into old habits about experiments like this one, raising concerns about  turf, quality control and precedents.”

“One-offs are laborious, so we should focus on making such efforts replicable and scalable.”

 

We don't need teachers

How Education Will Change [Presentation]

1. Be prepared for Non-Linear learning. Students don’t just learn the grade 6 curriculum and enter grade 7 with a predictable knowledge base anymore. Kids can learn about what ever they want thanks to services like The Khan Academy, iTunes U and other Massive Open Online Courses (mooc’s)The teacher may not be the smartest person in the room anymore (arguably never was) on certain topics. We need to be prepared for this.

2. We need to change curriculums faster. We need to help students learn as fast as the world is changing. Reviewing your curriculum is going to have to happen more often than once every five years (which is the default many institutions get stuck in). Our world changes at an incredible rate. If you think what you’re teaching to students isn’t that relevant anymore I bet they think it’s even worse. Determine the learning outcomes that you’re trying to achieve but leave it up to the professor to build the plan to achieve those outcomes. Stop micromanaging the classroom.
I love this video by Cameron Herold. He’s brilliant and he talks about some of the learning outcomes he’s focusing on as a parent, skills that are applicable in the real world (selling, dealing with failure, negotiations, teamwork, leading, serving). 

3. Teach less and they will learn more. Why do we try to cover everything under sun in our curriculums? Do you think students remember everything that’s listen in the curriculum? Do you think they’re retaining the knowledge they are getting in each class? We forget 90% of what we learn in the classroom immediately after the class anyway. So why don’t we flip this around. What if every class had to find the 10% most important stuff on the topic at hand and developed a class around helping students retain that entire 10%?

Inspire them to learn more on a topic instead of trying to bore them to death on a subject that doesn’t interest them.
4. Stop using the text book. It’s to make money. We get it, that’s not going to fly in the future. No one learns from texts books once out of school, so why are we focusing on learning from textbooks while in school? I believe that all teachers should sign a hypocratic outh so this can’t happen any more. In the presentation I compare the textbook I’m supposed to use for my class and I compare three marketing books I want to use. The marketing books have many positive reviews while the textbook has a lone one. I think we need to take a serious look at this.

5. We don’t need teachers, we need leaders. I like to talk about my friend Jordan McFarlen who teaches Entrepreneurship at Campbell here in Regina. In the class the students have to start a company, create a product or service and go to market, all in the matter of months. With the tradition structure of a business, the students learn how to (and sometimes more so how not to) run a business. You don’t learn major lesson in life without trying and failing. I believe this is what school can and should help with.

Let’s Teach Our Kids To Code

“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think.” -Steve Jobs

 

I think this video is amazing. Kids need to learn more about computers, more about the internet and more about how the future is going to be created by them.

Lets teach our kids to code.

Unleashing Your Creative Genius: Touch The Snake

In a brilliant Ted Talk, David Kelly (founder of IDEO, an innovation firm on steroids) shows us how everyone can be a creative genius, it just takes a lot of mini steps.

The analogy he gives is a story from Dr. Albert Bandura (the greatest living psychologist in the world, also born in Mundare Alberta, fact) who is world renown for curing phobias in a radically short period of time, sometimes in 4 hours or less. His secret? He does it in many small steps,working up to the finale, the crux, the thing they’ve always been afraid of.

He’ll bring a patient into his office and tell them there’s a snake in the room next door. The patient obviously thinks it’s ludicrous that they’ll ever go into the snake filled room. He opens a one way mirror to let them see the snake, calms them down. Then opens the door and calms them down. Then into the room, then calms them down. Recognize the pattern?

It’s a series of many steps, over time, they contribute to a major outcome. It’s really how we humans get anything done.

With this process in mind, David encourages everyone that they can be creative and they can come up with novel, unique solutions to problems they never thought were possible before. In small steps, over time, you can be come a genius.

Digital Darwinism

The Nine Laws of New Business Strategy

Adapt-or-die-strategy-lab

1. A room is always smarter than the one person standing in front of it. The challenge for leaders, coaches, teachers, and managers is taking advantage of connectivity, to inspire the pack to do the right thing. To inspire the tribe to keep reaching for more. To see their combined potential, to push them further than what any one of them could do on their own. To help internal communication. To improve culture. Read Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger  

2. Your Brand is what Google tells you it is.  With a click of a button anyone in the world can find everything they can about you. If they don’t find very much they’re going to find your competitors and hire them instead. It’s a different world we live in, a world where we like to “meet people” online first before in person. What’s your Twitter handle, what do they look like on Facebook, where have you worked-checking the LinkedIn profile, and finally what does Google say about you? These are all questions you should be asking yourself before a competitor or a sneaky friend of yours finds those pictures of you from that Halloween party in University. Your Mother would not be proud of that picture.

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Two Ricky Gervais Quotes to Live By

 

Ricky Gervais. Actor, writer, director, atheist. Whatever box you choose to place him in, you’ll find a quote from Mr. Gervais on the subject. After reading countless articles and interviews from around the web I was inspired to create a list of the top Ricky Gervais quotes that’ll change the way you work. Prepare to be inspired!

 

Number One.

Rickey Gervais quote on creating

 

Everyone has the ability to create. Everyone! That baby playing with blocks on Christmas morning…. Guess what? They just created something. Creativity has the tendency to be stamped out of us at a young age. Throughout grade school, straying away from the norm is frowned upon and you suddenly become an “outsider”. On the outside is exactly where you want to be. The inside of the box is crowded, and lets be honest, it smells…

 

Here’s a great quote from Greg Ciotti of Help Scout on differentiation and selling your product:

 

“While a superior product and outstanding service are the foundation for growing a company that goes the distance, there is an opportunity to use differentiation as a competitive advantage in order to “stand out like a sore thumb.” – Greg Ciotti

 

Ricky Gervais is a sore thumb.  We should all aspire to be sore thumbs.

 

Number Two.

Ricky Gervais quote on offending people

 

When you want your product or service to be different don’t fret about offending someone.  Chances are, these people are just looking for something to be offended by.  Offending someone’s feelings, as mentioned above, is impossible to measure.  Every human being on the Earth feels in a different way.  Attempting to cater to 7 billion people at once without offending one single person is next to impossible.  I never say impossible.  Nothing is impossible.  But this is probably as close as they come.

Just focus on giving your brand its own personal flare with something different that no one else in your market is doing; that’s where you’ll please the right people.  One of the coolest products I’ve stumbled upon recently is Man Crates.  They allow you to fill a crate with “manly” items and the crate is then shipped to you.  Notice the use of the word crate, not box.  They do, in fact, send you a crate that needs to be opened with a crowbar.  No company I’ve seen recently is delivering in a crazy, new way (other than the drones Amazon “claims” they will be using – link to that here –> Amazon Prime Air).  But Amazons “drone” service is a whole new post in itself.

 

So the moral of the story?  

Be like Mr. Gervais.  Be different.  Differentiate your brand.  Be the wolf among the sheep.  And don’t sweat it if a few sheep get offended by your choice of costume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes-change-happens

The Business of Belief [14 Brilliant Quotes]

I recently finished an amazing read by Tom AsackerThe Business of BeliefHow the World’s Best Marketers, Designers, Salespeople, Coaches, Fundraisers, Educators, Entrepreneurs and Other Leaders Get Us to Believe.

It’s an easy read, not very long, and filled with wonderful little stories that teach memorable lessons in a simple manner. I loved the book and have since bought it for people. I really think you should pick up a copy, after all, don’t you want something to believe in?

I’ve heard this stat before but really puts into perspective the ‘maker’ culture we’re living in.

Every two days we create as much information... quotes-eric-schmidt-information

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