If you don’t think so you’ve already given up.Read More›
Pandora’s Promise is the story of Nuclear energy. It’s from the perspective of people that came from the Anti-Nuclear fight. Scientists that were very much against anything to do with Nuclear power kept learning more and more about the industry. They learned so much that they finally changed their stance on it.
True wisdom is taking a topic you have had a strong stance on, and upon the discovery of new facts, change your strong opinion.
People with a vested interest in one side of an argument should rarely be trusted. Therein lies the problem, “where do you find people that you can trust their opinion on such a major issue as Nuclear power?”. This doesn’t just go for the Nuclear industry, this goes for every industry. So when someone completely changes their opinion 180 degrees take note, they should be the ones you hear out.
Artifact: the 30 Seconds to Mars story
I had no idea how bad the record industry was until I watched this documentary. It’s eye opening to say the least. Personally I found myself looking up to Jared Leto, the lead singer and mastermind behind the band 30 Seconds to Mars. The struggle he and the band go through. The utter disregard for people and jobs within the recording industry.
This is just one industry that has been displaced. It will happen to more if not every industry. Do you have the courage that Jared Leto had to fight for what was right? What war are you going to fight in your industry? Who is going to be the record execs in your industry that are going to try to wipe you clean off the earth? Ok maybe a little hyperbole, but we haven’t really seen the impact of what the internet will do to every business model. Prepare for war.
This one hits a little closer to home. Teaching at Sask Poly Tech and being the president of the University of Regina Alumni Association I can see the Ivory Tower even in the institutions in Saskatchewan. In whatever you do in the connected world, the juice better be worth the squeeze. Whatever takes up your time, whatever you’re spending money on, it better be worth it.
If the cost of post secondary school out paces the value of what you are capable of once you are out, post secondary school will become obsolete. Sorry let me correct myself, post secondary school as we know it will become obsolete. Last year I took my first online course from the University of France on Coursera. The class was truly a great experience. The professor was engaging (even with a strong French accent), he loved the topic (What managers can learn from Philosophers), and any concept I wanted to go back over I just started the video over again (every week you’re sent 5 videos as your weekly lecture, they’re).
In the future you will learn whatever it is you want to learn from whoever teaches it the best in the world. Do you really want to learn consumer behaviour from a professor in Regina or do you want to learn it from the best marketing professor Stanford has? I don’t know about you but I’ll take the Ivey League schools education thank you. And yes the online education world isn’t perfect but if you are an institution and you aren’t experimenting on how to make it work online, I would be worried.
1. I remind 8 year olds trying out Volleyball for the first time this very lesson.
ANYTHING you try for the first time is going to be hard, don’t let that discourage you.
Remember, you just need to stay in the game longer than everyone else and you’ll be the default winner. Keep treading water, keep above the water line. Another day alive is another day closer to your goal.
2. In Richard Branson’s “The Virgin Way” he tells a brilliant little story about the Bumblebee. For decades scientists have been stumped by the Bumblebee. When you take into account the size of the body compared to the size of the wing span, the Bumblebee on all accounts should NOT be able to fly. It is a scientific impossibility. Then Branson’s goes on to say that up until this very day, not one scientist has ever been able to explain that to a Bumblebee.
Don’t listen to people who use the word impossible. They live a shallow life and will never reap the rewards of amazing breakthroughs, innovative new ideas and groundbreaking discoveries. To the future on-word we march, into the crazy unknown.Read More›
Can I give you some feedback?
If you’re like me this is one of the worst phrases to hear in the English language. What they’re actually saying is “would you like me to tell you how I actually feel about you? And oh yeah, if it was good we would have already told you so it’s almost guaranteed to be negative.”
Without feedback we never learn, we never get better, and we never progress.
The extent of your management career will largely be based on the amount of feedback you’re willing to take.
I’ve said to Brandon many times that we will get as far as the feedback we’re willing to take.
I still love the Tim Sanders analogy of “how” to process feedback. He says it’s like eating an almond. Not all of the feedback is valuable, find the nut at the middle (the learning moment) and discard everything else. Rarely do we receive 100% true feedback.
Three reasons why you need to get feedback from your team:
1. If you currently think “my team loves me though, I don’t need their feedback to know that”. You need to ask for feedback soon, you’re worse off than you think. It’s always those managers who “think” their staff can give honest feedback but don’t. Instead there ends up being a revolving door for staff, lots of turnover and no long term employees.
2. It underhandedly shows your team that you care, that you aren’t a know-it-all, and that you’re not too egotistical to change. You don’t have to listen to everything you hear but you do have to make yourself available to hear people when they want to give some feedback. Listen to people shows you care, even if you know you aren’t getting the best feedback, listen, don’t talk, don’t interrupt, just listen. You’ll be amazed at what you find.
3. The teams that communicate up the hierarchy just as efficiently as down the hierarchy will be the most sought after and in turn the most effective.
If your team doesn’t have a feedback strategy soon, your competitors will. They’ll be able to turn on a dime, adjusting to feedback they’re receiving. Today it is relatively simple to setup a feedback strategy, 10 years ago a lot more difficult. 5 years from now it will be baked into the strategy of the high performing teams, and I’m sure it’ll get easier and easier to track, manage and act upon the information acquired.
Ever since I was a little kid I was fascinated with Venture Capitalists. Maybe little kid is a stretch, but in University we heard about these folks who lived in the big cites in the U.S. were pitched all sorts of business ideas and they got to pick their favourites and most of those businesses made them tons of money. Money they used to fund more and more businesses and the cycle went on.
I may have got their success rate a little wrong but all in all VC’s were the heros of business school. They were the smartest, they lived a lavish life, and they made thousands of dollars a day, just by being, well, remarkable at business (the good ones anyway). They were entrepreneurs that had already made it, and they empowered other entrepreneurs to achieve their goals too. Venture Capitalists were one of the major funding sources behind many of our darling companies that have been created over the past 15 years. Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Youtube, Genetech, Cisco, Oracle, Electronic Arts, LinkedIn, Amazon, Paypal, Intel, etc.)
The Venture Capitalists they talk to in the movie include;
- Arthur Rock (Early investor in Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, Apple, and Teledyne)
- Tom Perkins (Founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, early investor in Genentech and Tandem)
- Don Valentine (Founder of Sequoia Capital; early investor in Apple, Cisco, Oracle, Electronic Arts and LSI Logic)
- Dick Kramlich (Founder of New Enterprise Associates, investor in PowerPoint, Juniper Networks, Macromedia and Dallas Semiconductor)
- Reid Dennis (Founder of Institutional Venture Partners)
- Bill Draper (Founder of Sutter Hill Ventures; Founder of Draper Richards)
- Pitch Johnson (Co-founder of Draper and Johnson Investment; Founder of Asset Management Company)
- Bill Bowes (Founder of US Venture Partners)
- Bill Edwards (Founder of Bryan and Edwards)
- Jim Gaither (One of the early developers of the venture financing structure still in use today)
These companies and people are behind some of the most revolutionary companies of our generation. We must learn what they did and ensure that the same progress and technological advancement occurs throughout our tenure.
So who’s going to be the next Arthur Rock? Who’s going to look at a business like Don Valentine in the future?
Why not you?
If you want to read more about the movie you can check out their website here or find the movie on Netflix.
I had to lead three consecutive sessions of Volleyball for 8-14 year olds. I have never done this before. I’ve coached for six years now, have only coached boys and the youngest I’ve ever coached was 15 years old.
So I’m completely out of my comfort zone…
I get to the gym my hearts racing because I have to register every athlete in the next 20 minutes (you guessed it, never done that before either!) and then my nightmare happens. We were at the wrong gym. And not just me. I had over 70 Volleyball players and their parents coming to the wrong gym on the opposite side of town. Two cars were sitting in the wrong parking lot waiting for me to open the wrong doors to the wrong school. I completely messed up. I had one very important job to do, to confirm the gym, and I confirmed the wrong gym**.
The two coaches who were helping me, Reed and Michael quickly got to the other school and started practice with the kids, without myself, the practice plans or the balls. These guys saved my life!! Reed and Michael, you da MVP!
After the worst possible thing that ever could happened(or so I thought) we only had a couple kids quit because of location, but we now have a better gym and I learned how to run three different sessions for 8-14 year olds.
Lesson learned, when times get tough, when you’re at your max stress level, you’re usually not as bad off as you think. Take a deep breath and realize it’s when we’re at our worst, people judge us the most, and that’s when we earn their trust. So smile and don’t be afraid to laugh at your own mistakes. We’re all human.
**In my defence I did check back in my e-mails, I had wanted to book the Laval highschool but instead the email said elementary school. We’d booked the highschool. One of the first lessons you learn from Mr. Dale Carnegie is never ever tell someone they’re wrong. That is NOT a good way to build rapore. The highschool was a better gym with a better spectator area so it actually turned out better for everyone.
1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.
“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”
On a single day on the Internet there are:
Over 2 million Google search queries
48 hours of new YouTube videos
684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook
More than 100,000 tweets
$272,000 spent on e-commerce
If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.
2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?
There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.
3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.
Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.
The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.
Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.
Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.
4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.
“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!
Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.
5. Face the brutal facts.
Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.
Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.
6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).
I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.
The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.
If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.
7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.
People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.
Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.
8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.
Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.
-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras
Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old.
Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball
University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride
Regina Police Service: Public Servie First
Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching
9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.
In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.
Fun can be a competitive advantage.
Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.
If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.
(^Article from Berkley citing several studies on why doing good deeds makes you feel good not just emotionally but biologically as well)
2. It’s the morally right thing to do.
As in, it builds good Karma. (In the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson he talked about the point in which Apple was coming up with iTunes. Everyone was stealing music on the Internet and Steve didn’t agree with that, he wanted a different solution. When the media was critical of iTunes in the beginning Steve was questioned about if iTunes was viable and if it would last, his response was “stealing music isn’t going to last, it’s bad Karma.”
Stealing music hasn’t stopped but iTunes has done very well since it’s inception. Jobs was right, we don’t mind paying a small amount for music, it’s the morally right thing to do.
Everyone could use a little more Karma.
3. The more people you’ve helped, the more people there are out there to help you in the future when you need it most.
Reciprocity suggests that doing things for others is the best way to help yourself in the long run. We’re all going to stumble in the future, we’re all going to make mistakes, you can guarantee it. If you help people without expecting anything in return, when you’re at your worst the people you’ve helped will step up and be there for you.
Go on, make some good Karma.
Help people, even when you know they can’t help you back.
We had this argument the other night.
Which is better at a young age; working at a gas station or working at a fast food restaurant?
My theory goes, at a gas station your job is very transactional. You want to pump gas, pay, and get the hell out of there as fast as possible. Making the working life of a gas station attendant one very lonely job where no one really wants to talk to you (not that it’s your fault).
At a fast food restaurant, McDonald’s till worker for argument sake, you have to interact with customers all day long. You can make people smile, make people laugh and also piss people off. But that’s a great lesson to learn at a young age, how to read and react to people.
It’s not just reading people and reacting to what they say and do, it’s being self-aware in those situations to know when to step out of what’s expected and do the unexpected. To provide a higher level of customer service is an incredibly valuable skill to learn. A skill that is highly underrated in our world.
It’s hard to over deliver at a gas station, unless you can pump the gas like 8 times as fast, then, ummm yup! You’re on to something big! How else could you over deliver at a gas station though? This is my justification that working at a service based job at a young age teaches you so much more than simple mathematics, punching buttons on a till and saying thank you, come again (not that there’s anything wrong with a friendly salutation).
Every day someone provides unbelievable service to someone who wasn’t expecting it.
Everyday we all have the chance to over deliver on something, to make someone smile, to make someone’s day. The easier your job allows you to help other people, the happier you’re going to be working for that company.
What do you think? What is a better job, working at a gas station or working at McDonald’s?
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 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.
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.