Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You’re never above it

An unexpected package arrived in the mail. I recognized the return address, but was not expecting anything. With my typical curiosity, I tore open the padded envelope to find a nice note attached to Tom Lydon’s new book, “The ETF Trend Following Playbook.”

Tom is a good friend, hoops buddy and well-known expert in the financial planning world. Earlier in the year, Tom asked me if I would review his manuscript and give him comments and insights. I was glad to help and certainly did not expect to be thanked in any meaningful way. So, was I surprised to find a full paragraph in the acknowledgements thanking me for my time and expertise.

This made me think about the power of a “thank you” and the fact that it can be delivered in any direction. Convention has told us that bosses thank team members. This is a very limiting view. Teammates should equally thank peers and superiors. The act of remembering to take the time to thank someone when they least expect it has powerful impact.

When have you thanked the unexpected with amazing results?


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Say “Thanks”

Thank you for all your contributions to LiaV in 2009. You have made it the success it has become. While others are focused on shopping and rushing around, I encourage you to slow down for a moment and say thanks to all those that allow you to do and be what you are.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do you learn from watching?

Ask any professional educator and they will talk about how people learn differently. There are those that read and understand. Then, some just put on the skis and do it. Last, there are those of us who watch someone else doing something and they get it.

Since so much of what is on the internet about leadership is based on our ability to learn from the written word, I decided to start a search of the websites that specialize in compiling significant videos of thought leaders. Following are three examples:

TED – Technology, Education and Design - Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.
MIT World Distributed Intelligence - MIT World is a free and open site that provides on demand video of significant public events at MIT. MIT World's video index contains more than 600 videos.
The Leap - Hosted by David Belasco of USC Marshall School of Business to provide “Inspiration, empowerment and a kick in the ass.”
eCorner – Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner - Entrepreneurial thought leaders lecture series that take place every Wednesday during the academic year.
Manager Tools - a weekly podcast talking about new tools and easy techniques you can use to help achieve your management and career objectives.
YouTube EDU/Leadership - dedicated exclusively to videos from the more than 100 schools--ranging from Grand Rapids Community College to Harvard Business School
iTunesU/Business/Management - More than 170 schools offer content free to the public on Apple's iTunes U, which originated in 2004 as a way for colleges to distribute content privately to their own students. (downside - requires you register for iTunes)
Academic Earth/Entrepreneurship - Thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars.

Please comment on this posting and add the URL links for the sites you believe add to this library.


Monday, December 14, 2009


Many organizations get confused this time of year. A management ritual in December is to summarize the accomplishments of the team and start preparing annual performance reviews. We all want to be fair and reasonable. Some managers find it challenging to inform teammates they are anything other than fully competent. At same time, if the objectives are underclear or easy enough, anyone deserves a high rating.

I, on the other hand, have always felt December to be the most important month of the year because it sets the tone for the rest of the year. The team should dedicate quality time setting robust goals, definitions and metrics to be used the next twelve months. The S.M.A.R.T. criteria are well documented and have stood the test of time. (SMART = Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time phased). When leadership spends time creating buy-in and understanding, the next 12 months go much more smoothly. It also allows the team to perform self performance reviews. The facts and data will speak for themselves.

Does your leadership take the time to mutually develop robust goals with you annually? Do each meet the SMART criteria?


Thursday, December 10, 2009

You own nothing here

At the conclusion of a meeting the other day, I recommended to my team that they should use my office as a conference room when I’m on travel. With the amount of international travel I do, the office was being wasted. It is a valuable resource and should be utilized as such.

The team looked at me like I was from another planet. I shared with them that I do not own the office, the company does. It happens to be assigned to me and it should be used like any other company asset. While the concept was foreign to the team, they appreciated the gesture. It has been a few weeks and I doubt anyone has taken my offer yet. This whole situation caused me to wonder what it is that makes executive leaders categorize “things” as entitlements and something of their own. I think the team believes it is a sign of respect to give their leadership space, but this should not be at the expense of productivity.

What do you believe causes this entitlement mentality? Can a single leader change it?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Personal Leadership

Guest blog post by Paul Mallory .

A few thoughts of my own on personal leadership from my Soul Work blog...

We hear all the time that we are living through a period of furious pace of change. One take on this can be seen in the (technology-centric) 'shift happens' video. (See http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ljbI-363A2Q)

Clearly, we can't stop change happening, nor slow it's pace...
Change is not a bad thing. It is inevitable, and it is fast.
Some things change and some things don't...

For me, personal leadership is about knowing who you are and what you are for, having a beacon to guide you through the storm of change. Many people today are clear what they are against... many people today find purpose and fulfillment from being against something, whether it be wind farms, nuclear energy or the prospect of an eco-town being built near their home. Another perspective is to decide what you are for in this world.

The good news is, we needn't be like a cork bobbing on the tide of popular opinion and ever-changing (not always for the better) societal values. Indeed, there is little virtue in just 'going along with the others'. As philosopher Edmund Burke is reputed to have said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".

We have the option to decide who we are, who we will be, what we are for, what difference we will make in this world. This is effortful work, requiring much contemplation and deep personal honesty (it comes from within). However, deciding our purpose and reason for being is the first step to discovering a level of passion and inspiration within ourselves that can lead to an extraordinary quality of life.

And, guess what, change begins with ourselves, as Gandhi memorably remarked: "Be the change you want to see in the world".

How much more fulfilling such a life is than living the life of a grazing cow...

Personal opinion! Paul

Paul Mallory is the host of the “Soul Work Blog” - http://soulworkblog.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What’s normal to you?

The Parlor Mob is not the typical band you would take your seven-year-old daughter to see. They play some serious alternative tunes and bring in the twenty-something crowd. I learned of them at the Austin City Limits this past October. While listening, I noticed this kid also enjoying the event.

But, what if you did grow up as a child experiencing major international music shows? You would learn many kinds of music, meet all types of people and view unusual forms of art. Your perspective on crowds, volume, self-expression and tolerance would be different than the typical kid.

The reason this question even occurred to me after seeing this kids enjoying the concert was it clearly demonstrated the differences among people. As leaders, we need to be very careful not to stereotype people into categories that might not fit. The more interest you take in the people you lead, the more likely you will learn something they can contribute that nobody else can. Ask questions and actually listen to the answers. It will pay off in the end.

Have you ever had a boss take an interest and have it result in a better assignment? Have you ever learned a detail about one of your teammates that allowed you to better use their unique skills?


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