Fear! And How To Cope….

I loved this from Chris Heivly writing in Inc Magazine. If you run your own business you’ll know exactly where he’s coming from, and even if you don’t, it’s well worth a read:

“On the outside, I am an extroverted, sometimes over-the-top cheerleader for my portfolio companies. The Startup Factory (TSF), the accelerator I run, has 31 investments. But I have a secret. I worry. I worry a lot. At its core, my worry is all about fear. What do I fear? I am afraid that my investments are bad and I won’t return capital back to my investors. I am afraid that my reputation (whatever that is) will be crap and I won’t be taken seriously. I am afraid that I will have wasted three, four, five years for no gain. Ultimately, I am afraid that I will be a failure. Again.

Why me, you might ask? I have had success. I co-founded MapQuest, served as the president of Rand McNally, and worked as a corporate venture capitalist. Now I operate one of the best seed investment funds in the Southeast. But I have had real failures as well. In the late 1990s, I spent a year raising investment capital to roll up and combine a handful of map publishing companies that never materialized. I was brought in as an executive (along with a CEO I had worked with before) of a multimillion-dollar software company that was losing millions a year. We got close to rescuing the company before the recession hit us hard. It is a shell of its former self today.

The Startup Factory is on its third iteration.

You want full transparency? I feel like the successes were lucky and that the failures were entirely my fault. I think about it every day. And I worry. I’m not the only one, of course. Everyone worries. The difference is I now know how to cope with my own insecurities.

Take credit for the good, along with bad. Ultimately, with age, I have come to realize that I had something to do with both the successes and the failures. There it is. I said it out loud. I am responsible for the successes. I earned that. My brain, my experiences, my personality, and my drive can make positive things happen. This is a positive building block for my own daily psychology.

Develop a support system. A few years ago, a very close friend and I were talking about this issue and how our brains naturally took us to the dark place (we have a code for it–ask me sometime). We were lamenting how peers we knew had seemed to naturally transcend our demons, and we committed to helping each other. We developed a trick for me. I was raising capital for the first iteration of TSF and I would call him before each meeting. He would ask me one question: “Who’s the king?” My answer: “I am the king!” Corny, but I like to think it helped put me in a different frame of mind.

Let it go. When I look back on what factors are integral to my successes, I can clearly see a distinct pattern emerge. When I had no fear or worry, I was free to be in the business-moment. I operate best when I have released the baggage of fear. I love this quote from Jack Canfield, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

My goal, every day, is to find my way to the other side.


Toxic Workers!

Loved this from Inc Magazine. Do you have these ‘toxic workers’ in your company killing productivity?

1. The Chameleon
In the animal kingdom, the Chameleon changes color in order to escape notice. In the business world, the chameleon changes roles in order avoid work. He volunteers for (or gets himself assigned to) multiple teams and working groups. He then uses that fact to justify never taking an action item within any of the teams because he’s “stressed to the max” due to the “huge workload” that he’s taken on…in other meetings.

When salary review comes, the Chameleon claims credit for “helping” all those teams achieve their goals. The best way to deal with a Chameleon is to assign specific projects that require the Chameleon to work solo and have ambitious deadlines. Use surprise “status update” meetings, to prevent the Chameleon from getting other people to do the work.

2. The Ornament
In the day-to-day world, an ornament, of course, is something you put on a Christmas tree or car hood. In business, Ornaments are people who get by on their looks rather than on their contribution. There are two types: Female Ornaments tend to be model-esque, in a “Victoria’s Secret” way. Men are so fascinated by the Ornament’s appearance that she can get them do to anything she wants. (There was a Seinfeld episode about this phenomenon.)

Male Ornaments have the tall, square-jawed, perfect-hair, perfect-suit appearance that immediately identifies them as authoritative and business-like. (Think Mitt Romney, but without the high IQ.) If you can’t fire an Ornament, put him or her in a “face the public” job where good looks are actually an asset to the company. For example, both the female and male Ornaments mentioned above were quite effective as “demo dollies” at trade shows.

3. The Ball and Chain
In history, a ball and chain was a weight clamped around a prisoner’s leg so that he couldn’t run fast enough to escape. In business, a Ball and Chain is a person inside an organization whose job is to ensure that the company never takes risks, a.k.a. a corporate lawyer.

When asked whether or not the company should try something new, a corporate lawyer will always say no, because if things go right, the lawyer gets no credit, but if things go wrong, the lawyer gets blamed.

Corporate lawyers are also adept at creating legal red tape, ostensibly to lessen risk, but also to strengthen their stranglehold over the organization. If left unchecked, they can gum up the works so that it becomes impossible to do anything at all.


Staff Motivation

A great short piece from Inc written by Peter Economy is on the spot for managers! The picture is two of our long serving staff at Chanters Lodge appearing as Guests on our local radio show.

1. Interesting Work
No one wants to do the same boring job over and over, day after day. Though a certain amount of routine and repetition is part of almost every job, make sure each employee finds at least part of his or her job highly interesting. As management theorist Frederick Herzberg put it, “If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” Find out which tasks your employees most enjoy and use that information when you make future assignments.

2. Information
Information really is power, and your employees want to be empowered with the information they need to do their jobs better and more effectively. And, more than ever, employees want to know how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is doing in its business. Open the channels of communication so that employees are well informed, can ask questions, and can share information. Be transparent, honest, and forthright. Those qualities will have a direct impact on employees’ effectiveness.

3. Involvement
As the speed of business continues to increase, the amount of time you have to make decisions continues to decrease. Involving employees in decision making, especially when the decisions affect them directly, is both respectful and practical. Those closest to the problem typically have the best insight as to what to do. Involving others will increase their commitment and speed the implementation of new ideas or changes.

4. Independence
Few employees want their every action to be closely watched and monitored, or for their every decision to be questioned or micromanaged. Most employees appreciate having the flexibility to do their jobs as they see fit and to make decisions independently. Giving people latitude increases the chance that they will bring additional initiative, ideas, and energy to their jobs.

5. Increased Visibility
Everyone appreciates getting credit when it is due. Occasions to celebrate employee successes are almost limitless, and you should never let one pass. One of the best and most highly motivating forms of recognition is to give your employees new opportunities to perform, learn, and grow in response to their recent achievements. They will always rise to the occasion, becoming even more engaged, productive, and effective.



Some quotes from Lee Colan

• Leadership is about others, not ourselves.
• Leaders who give the best of themselves get the best from others.
• If you do not take care of the little things over the long term, you won’t take care of the big things.
• Leaders who underestimate the intelligence of their employees generally overestimate their own.
• Great leaders appreciate their employees, not just their contributions.
* Don’t worry about leaving your leadership legacy. Just live it.

Some of my favourites:

* What gets rewarded is what gets done
* Fixing the blame does not fix the problem.
* People tend to do what you do not necessarily what you say.
* There are no problems only opportunities to learn
* Honest people do not lie, steal or cheat


Leadership Quotes

Here’s a nice one from Lee Colan (above) writing in Inc Magazine

“As an author, the question, “May I quote you?” is a humbling request and a great compliment. For anyone who is in search of leadership excellence a good quote is fuel for your team and your journey. It’s amazing how a short, simple quotation can quickly provide perspective, inspiration, comfort, motivation or insight. What a wonderful return for our invested time! Take 10 seconds each morning to read a new quote and our day, maybe even our world, is changed.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite leadership quotes:

•    “To add value to others, one must first value others.” – John Maxwell

•    “A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.” – Herb Kelleher

•    “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.” – Yogi Berra

•    “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson

•     “Those who let things happen usually lose to those who make things happen.” – Dave Weinbaum

•    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  – Winston Churchill

•    “In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Lee added some of his own but I’ll save those for a future post and chuck in a few of my favourites as well!


Good Leaders

 Another gem from Inc Magazine.
This is what this super magazine has to say about good leaders!

1. They Observe
Thoughtful leaders crave stimulus to get their mind working. That’s why their powers of observation are always hard at work. They are masters of watching and listening to everything happening. They observe the world moving around them and notice behavior, culture and patterns with great interest. When engaging with people they have heightened awareness of their tone, mood and feelings. You can see they are actively engaged. Try spending an hour in a busy environment just looking and listening. Take notes on what you see and hear, or better yet shut off your inner voice and just take it all in.

2.  They Explore
Thoughtful leaders are naturally curious. Their insatiable need for knowledge drives them to open closed doors, dissect the mundane and analyze alternative concepts. They can spend hours surfing the web or weeks traveling abroad.  Questions starting with who, what, where, why and how are second nature to them. In conversation they will probe and prod, looking for deeper answers and hoping to get to the core truth. No idea or suggestion is poor at the outset; rather all possibilities are worthy of open consideration. Expand your perspective beyond your normal sphere. Make an attempt to engage people and ponder ideas that are outside your usual, comfortable approach.

3. They Reflect
Thoughtful leaders understand the value of deep thinking. Although perfectly capable of making reflexive decisions when required, they prefer to ponder and live with big dilemmas and decisions. They think about the potential implications for themselves and the other people around them. They consider carefully the people they impact and use skilled communication to instill comfort and confidence in their teams. They know that a slow “yes” is better than a fast “no” and will apportion appropriate time and energy to each opportunity. Begin adding time to your decision process. Using a journal, create a 1–5 rating for the seriousness of your decisions and determine a set time to decide that allows you to consider all angles.  Try this for a week and you’ll learn how to manage your thinking for both depth and efficiency.

4. They Learn
Thoughtful leaders love to get smart. Their insatiable need for knowledge drives them to read, discuss and absorb complex concepts and broad perspectives. No amount of information is enough for them to feel complete and accomplished. The joy of the learning journey thrills them more than any degree or accolade. Their deep interest in other people is genuinely derived from their desire to understand. Set out three new challenging skills to learn over the next year.  You’ll not only gain the subject knowledge required, but you’ll stimulate your desire and aptitude to learn more.

5. They Consider Others

Thoughtful leaders are naturally empathetic.  They have a love of humankind and are fascinated by offensive or bizarre behavior rather than affronted by it. At their core they understand the concept of cause and effect, thinking about how to get the most desired reaction for the effort extended. They make people around them feel important and worthy of time and energy. Examine your actions from the perspective of others. Think through your decisions from the perspective of your adversaries. You may find more win-win scenarios than you previously thought possible.

6. They Take Action
Thoughtful leaders are rarely stuck in analysis paralysis. They know how to turn careful thought into meaningful action. They understand that thought and exploration without physical implementation and impact is selfish and wasteful. They won’t make people wonder if any good comes of all this thinking. They know when to finish the thinking and make great things happen. Whatever great things you have been pondering, it’s time to put those thoughts into motion and achieve your preferred destiny.


Confident Leadership

I loved this piece from Steve Tobak in Inc Magazine – a great read and a great site for all aspiring young leaders and managers. These are Steve’s thoughts on what confident leaders do NOT do:

1. What everyone else is doing.
Quite the contrary, confident leaders seem to have a natural tendency to question conventional wisdom and challenge the status quo. Fads, cultural norms, groupthink, forget it. They don’t worry about their personal brands, personal productivity, or social media. That is, unless that’s their competency, their passion, who they are. I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey manage to update their Facebook and Twitter pages from time to time.

2. Worry about weaknesses.
Maybe they should. For all I know, maybe that’s the difference between successful people and really successful people. All I know is, they’re usually confident and comfortable with who they are. They’re not plagued by the fear and self-doubt that derails so many people. They don’t fixate on what they’re not. They accept it. Don’t get me wrong. They are human. They have fear. But one of the key reasons why they’re so successful at what they do is because it is their passion. They’ve found their true path. When they’re doing what they love, they’re comfortable with it, not fearful of it. And it shows in their work.

3. Waste a lot of time.
It’s not that they’re concerned with productivity or time management. They don’t waste a lot of time because they have a vision–a mission. They truly want to spend their lives on whatever it is they love doing, so that’s what they do. Period. They don’t indulge activities that so many people waste their lives on. They don’t try to get inside other people’s heads. They don’t ask why things happen or why people do the things they do. That is, unless it’s a problem they really want to solve. They don’t wish for things to be different. They make things different.

4. Try to be successful.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they’re not savvy business people. What I am saying is they’re usually just trying to accomplish something. Then they’re trying to accomplish another thing. Then another. Most successful people are driven to do, to accomplish, to win. It’s one thing at a time. Success just comes with the territory.

5. Breathe their own fumes.
There is a downside to being too indoctrinated with your own vision. You can become blinded by it. That’s what ultimately takes down lots of people who are initially successful but can’t sustain it. They stop asking questions, succumb to their own status quo, stick with flawed ideas. Highly accomplished people do not surround themselves with yes-men, give in to group think, or accept anything other than the genuine unfiltered truth. Sure, they might bite your head off at first. But that doesn’t mean they’re not listening. What can I say; that’s how it is.

6. Fear competition.
They understand competition, know their competition, are comfortable with competition. They’re generally confident in their abilities and courageous in the face of competitive battle. That said, they’re not fools. They’re not sure they’ll prevail. It’s just that, the question doesn’t usually enter their minds. They just do what they do best and give it all they’ve got. After the fact they may look back and see that they’ve won, but only briefly. By then, they’re usually on to the next battle.

7. Try to be what they’re not.
Not a single successful executive, VC, entrepreneur, or business owner that I’ve ever known has ever gotten to where he is by being something he’s not. Not a single one. Anyone who tells you to focus on self-promotion instead of doing whatever it is you love to do just doesn’t get it. It sounds so simple, but this is the big takeaway that will set you apart. In a world full of wannabe entrepreneurs and leaders, where everyone’s a CEO of their own little world, don’t try to be what you’re not. Just be you.



Continuing some of Inc Magazines A-Z of Peter Drucker, C is for Customers.

Customers: Having trouble formulating a mission statement? Let Drucker boil it down for you: “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer,” he argued. And: “What does our customer find valuable?” is the most important question companies can ask themselves. This focus helped reorient marketing away from advertising and onto a higher plane.

Anything wrong with this? No, except when I write I always use a capital letter for the word Customer or Guest or Client. It just helps to make the point even more strongly.

Just about every valuable idea, suggestion or complaint for that matter comes from a Customer and if you’re not close to yours, you won’t hear about it! I get close to mine by meeting them on arrival at the airport, or in town if they don’t have their own transport, and by close personal contact during their stay. It works!

The picture? The Wills family from Melbourne, Australia – two times Customers and now friends as well!


The Yellow Lobster

I loved this from FreshInc!

“If you’re going to make a mess, make it a big one. That’s the lesson Seattle entrepreneur and angel investor Andy Sack gives to his portfolio companies in regards to innovation. Specifically, rather than tinkering around with existing business models, Sack suggests that if you really want to create something new, then you must break with the traditional ways of doing things and make a full push to innovate. Or as he puts it, “If you’re going to break the model, don’t just break it a little.”

He cites the iPhone as an example of such a game-changer. Coincidentally, CNN’s offbeat story of a yellow lobster found by fishermen in Massachusetts also manages to illustrate Sack’s point, albeit in a weird kind of way. Thousands and thousands of lobsters are caught everyday, but not many of them make the front page of CNN’s Web site. By being completely different, this lucky, yellow-tinged crustacean not only managed to make front-page news but he also found a way to avoid the lobster pot.

Moral of the story: It pays to be different!”