Instead of Being Interesting, Be Interested…..In Constantly Learning.

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article: The Best Leaders are Insatiable Learners. The author, Bill Taylor, discusses one of the more revered and read speeches of John Gardner  and the importance of constantly learning, growing and renewing yourself.  If you are not familiar with Gardner, you are in for a treat once you do some research.  At a high level, John Gardner was a legend, an intellect and civic reformer.  He was a well-known Standard University Professor, an architect of the Great Society under President Lydon Johnson, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, founder of the White House Fellowship and The John Gardner Fellowship programs, and he was the founder of Common Cause and Independent Sector.  Gardner died in 2002 at the age of 89.  In 2012, Standford University held a 100 year anniversary on his birth with a panel of leaders discussing the impact Gardner had on society and their personal lives.

The HBR article was great and I would encourage you to read it.  It is a challenge to each of us as leaders to constantly push ourselves to learn and grow.  However, if you are limited on time and can only read one article, read the classic speech Gardner gave on November 10, 1990, to a group of McKinsey & Co. leaders.  This powerful speech was called “Personal Renewal,” the urgent need for leaders who wish to be impactful and effective to commit themselves to continuous learning and growing.  It was based on his 1964 book Self-Renewal.  What impresses me is how relevant the concepts are today as they were 24 years ago when that speech was given or even 50 years ago when the original book was written.  Cheers to leadership and to the concept of constantly learning and growing!

Speech Delivered to McKinsey & Company, Phoenix, AZ

“Personal Renewal”

By: John Gardner

November 10, 1990

I’m going to talk about “Self-Renewal.” One of your most fundamental tasks is the renewal of the organizations you serve, and that usually includes persuading the top officers to accomplish a certain amount of self-renewal. But to help you think about others is not my primary mission this morning. I want to help you think about yourselves.

I take that mission very seriously, and I’ve written out what I have to say because I want every sentence to hit its target. I know a good deal about the kind of work you do and know how demanding it is. But I’m not going to talk about the special problems of your kind of career; I’m going to talk about some basic problems of the life cycle that will surely hit you if you’re not ready for them.

I once wrote a book called “Self-Renewal” that deals with the decay and renewal of societies, organizations and individuals. I explored the question of why civilizations die and how they sometimes renew themselves, and the puzzle of why some men and women go to seed while others remain vital all of their lives. It’s the latter question that I shall deal with at this time. I know that you as an individual are not going to seed. But the person seated on your right may be in fairly serious danger.

Not long ago, I read a splendid article on barnacles. I don’t want to give the wrong impression of the focus of my reading interests. Sometimes days go by without my reading about barnacles, much less remembering what I read. But this article had an unforgettable opening paragraph. “The barnacle” the author explained “is confronted with an existential decision about where it’s going to live. Once it decides.. . it spends the rest of its life with its head cemented to a rock..” End of quote. For a good many of us, it comes to that.

We’ve all seen men and women, even ones in fortunate circumstances with responsible positions who seem to run out of steam in mid-career.

One must be compassionate in assessing the reasons. Perhaps life just presented them with tougher problems than they could solve. It happens. Perhaps something inflicted a major wound on their confidence or their self-esteem. Perhaps they were pulled down by the hidden resentments and grievances that grow in adult life, sometimes so luxuriantly that, like tangled vines, they immobilize the victim. You’ve known such people — feeling secretly defeated, maybe somewhat sour and cynical, or perhaps just vaguely dispirited. Or maybe they just ran so hard for so long that somewhere along the line they forgot what it was they were running for.

I’m not talking about people who fail to get to the top in achievement. We can’t all get to the top, and that isn’t the point of life anyway. I’m talking about people who — no matter how busy they seem to be — have stopped learning or growing. Many of them are just going through the motions. I don’t deride that. Life is hard. Just to keep on keeping on is sometimes an act of courage. But I do worry about men and women functioning far below the level of their potential.

We have to face the fact that most men and women out there in the world of work are more stale than they know, more bored than they would care to admit. Boredom is the secret ailment of large-scale organizations. Someone said to me the other day “How can I be so bored when I’m so busy?” And I said “Let me count the ways.” Logan Pearsall Smith said that boredom can rise to the level of a mystical experience, and if that’s true I know some very busy middle level executives who are among the great mystics of all time.

We can’t write off the danger of complacency, growing rigidity, imprisonment by our own comfortable habits and opinions. Look around you. How many people whom you know well — people even younger than yourselves –are already trapped in fixed attitudes and habits. A famous French writer said “There are people whose clocks stop at a certain point in their lives.” I could without any trouble name a half of a dozen national figures resident in Washington, D.C., whom you would recognize, and could tell you roughly the year their clock stopped. I won’t do it because I still have to deal with them periodically.

I’ve watched a lot of mid-career people, and Yogi Berra says you can observe a lot just by watching. I’ve concluded that most people enjoy learning and growing. And many are dearly troubled by the self-assessments of mid-career.

Such self-assessments are no great problem at your age. You’re young and moving up. The drama of your own rise is enough. But when you reach middle age, when your energies aren’t what they used to be, then you’ll begin to wonder what it all added up to; you’ll begin to look for the figure in the carpet of your life. I have some simple advice for you when you begin that process. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Look ahead. Someone said that “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” And above all don’t imagine that the story is over. Life has a lot of chapters.

If we are conscious of the danger of going to seed, we can resort to countervailing measures. At almost any age. You don’t need to run down like an unwound clock. And if your clock is unwound, you can wind it up again. You can stay alive in every sense of the word until you fail physically. I know some pretty successful people who feel that that just isn’t possible for them, that life has trapped them. But they don’t really know that. Life takes unexpected turns.

I said in my book, “Self-Renewal,” that we build our own prisons and serve as our own jail-keepers. I no longer completely agree with that. I still think we’re our own jail-keepers, but I’ve concluded that our parents and the society at large have a hand in building our prisons. They create roles for us — and self images — that hold us captive for a long time. The individual intent on self-renewal will have to deal with ghosts of the past — the memory of earlier failures, the remnants of childhood dramas and rebellions, accumulated grievances and resentments that have long outlived their cause. Sometimes people cling to the ghosts with something almost approaching pleasure — but the hampering effect on growth is inescapable. As Jim Whitaker, who climbed Mount Everest, said “You never conquer the mountain, You only conquer yourself.”

The more I see of human lives, the more I believe the business of growing up is much longer drawn out than we pretend. If we achieve it in our 30’s, even our 40s, we’re doing well. To those of you who are parents of teenagers, I can only say “Sorry about that.”

There’s a myth that learning is for young people. But as the proverb says, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” The middle years are great, great learning years. Even the years past the middle years. I took on a new job after my 77th birthday — and I’m still learning.

Learn all your life. Learn from your failures. Learn from your successes, When you hit a spell of trouble, ask “What is it trying to teach me?” The lessons aren’t always happy ones, but they keep coming. It isn’t a bad idea to pause occasionally for an inward look. By midlife, most of us are accomplished fugitives from ourselves.

We learn from our jobs, from our friends and families. We learn by accepting the commitments of life, by playing the roles that life hands us (not necessarily the roles we would have chosen). We learn by growing older, by suffering, by loving, by bearing with the things we can’t change, by taking risks.

The things you learn in maturity aren’t simple things such as acquiring information and skills. You learn not to engage in self-destructive behavior. You leant not to burn up energy in anxiety. You discover how to manage your tensions, if you have any, which you do. You learn that self-pity and resentment are among the most toxic of drugs. You find that the world loves talent, but pays off on character.

You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you, they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.

Those are things that are hard to learn early in life, As a rule you have to have picked up some mileage and some dents in your fenders before you understand. As Norman Douglas said “There are some things you can’t learn from others. You have to pass through the fire.’

You come to terms with yourself. You finally grasp what S. N. Behrman meant when he said “At the end of every road you meet yourself.” You may not get rid of all of your hang-ups, but you learn to control them to the point that you can function productively and not hurt others.

You learn the arts of mutual dependence, meeting the needs of loved ones and letting yourself need them. You can even be unaffected — a quality that often takes years to acquire. You can achieve the simplicity that lies beyond sophistication.

You come to understand your impact on others. It’s interesting that even in the first year of life you learn the impact that a variety of others have on you, but as late as middle age many people have a very imperfect understanding of the impact they themselves have on others. The hostile person keeps asking ‘Why are people so hard to get along with?” In some measure we create our own environment. You may not yet grasp the power of that truth to change your life.

Of course failures are a part of the story too. Everyone fails, Joe Louis said “Everyone has to figure to get beat some time.” The question isn’t did you fail but did you pick yourself up and move ahead? And there is one other little question: ‘Did you collaborate in your own defeat?” A lot of people do. Learn not to.

One of the enemies of sound, lifelong motivation is a rather childish conception we have of the kind of concrete, describable goal toward which all of our efforts drive us. We want to believe that there is a point at which we can feel that we have arrived. We want a scoring system that tells us when we’ve piled up enough points to count ourselves successful.

So you scramble and sweat and climb to reach what you thought was the goal. When you get to the top you stand up and look around and chances are you feel a little empty. Maybe more than a little empty.

You wonder whether you climbed the wrong mountain.

But life isn’t a mountain that has a summit, Nor is it — as some suppose — a riddle that has an answer. Nor a game that has a final score.

Life is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves. By potentialities I mean not just intellectual gifts but the full range of one’s capacities for learning, sensing, wondering, understanding, loving and aspiring.

Perhaps you imagine that by age 35 or 45 or even 33 you have explored those potentialities pretty fully. Don’t kid yourself!

The thing you have to understand is that the capacities you actually develop to the full come out as the result of an interplay between you and life’s challenges –and the challenges keep changing. Life pulls things out of you.

There’s something I know about you that you may or may not know about yourself. You have within you more resources of energy than have ever been tapped, more talent than has ever been exploited, more strength than has ever been tested, more to give than you have ever given.

You know about some of the gifts that you have left undeveloped. Would you believe that you have gifts and possibilities you don’t even know about? It’s true. We are just beginning to recognize how even those who have had every advantage and opportunity unconsciously put a ceiling on their own growth, underestimate their potentialities or hide from the risk that growth involves.

Now I’ve discussed renewal at some length, but it isn’t possible to talk about renewal without touching on the subject of motivation. Someone defined horse sense as the good judgment horses have that prevents them from betting on people. But we have to bet on people — and I place my bets more often on high motivation than on any other quality except judgment. There is no perfection of techniques that will substitute for the lift of spirit and heightened performance that comes from strong motivation, The world is moved by highly motivated people, by enthusiasts, by men and women who want something very much or believe very much.

I’m not talking about anything as narrow as ambition. After all, ambition eventually wears out and probably should. But you can keep your zest until the day you die. If I may offer you a simple maxim, “Be interesting,” Everyone wants to be interesting — but the vitalizing thing is to be interested. Keep a sense of curiosity. Discover new things. Care. Risk failure. Reach out.

The nature of one’s personal commitments is a powerful element in renewal, so let me say a word on that subject.

I once lived in a house where I could look out a window as I worked at my desk and observe a small herd of cattle browsing in a neighboring field. And I was struck with a thought that must have occurred to the earliest herdsmen tens of thousands of years ago. You never get the impression that a cow is about to have a nervous breakdown. Or is puzzling about the meaning of life.

Humans have never mastered that kind of complacency. We are worriers and puzzlers, and we want meaning in our lives. I’m not speaking idealistically; I’m stating a plainly observable fact about men and women. It’s a rare person who can go through life-like a homeless alley cat, living from day-to-day, taking its pleasures where it can and dying unnoticed.

That isn’t to say that we haven’t all known a few alley cats. But it isn’t the norm. It just isn’t the way we’re built.

As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Old or young, we’re on our last cruise.” We want it to mean something.

For many this life is a vale of tears; for no one is it free of pain. But we are so designed that we can cope with it if we can live in some context of meaning. Given that powerful help, we can draw on the deep springs of the human spirit, to see our suffering in the framework of all human suffering, to accept the gifts of life with thanks and endure life’s indignities with dignity.

In the stable periods of history, meaning was supplied in the context of a coherent communities and traditionally prescribed patterns of culture. Today you can’t count on any such heritage. You have to build meaning into your life, and you build it through your commitments — whether to your religion, to an ethical order as you conceive it, to your life’s work, to loved ones, to your fellow humans. Young people run around searching for identity, but it isn’t handed out free any more — not in this transient, rootless, pluralistic society. Your identity is what you’ve committed yourself to.

It may just mean doing a better job at whatever you’re doing. There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are –and that too is a kind of commitment. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It matters very little whether they’re behind the wheel of a truck or running a country store or bringing up a family.

I must pause to say a word about my statement “There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are.” I first wrote the sentence some years ago and it has been widely quoted. One day I was looking through a mail order gift catalogue and it included some small ornamental bronze plaques with brief sayings on them, and one of the sayings was the one I just read to you, with my name as author. Well I was so overcome by the idea of a sentence of mine being cast in bronze that I ordered it, but then couldn’t figure out what in the world to do with it. I finally sent it to a friend.

We tend to think of youth and the active middle years as the years of commitment. As you get a little older, you’re told you’ve earned the right to think about yourself. But that’s a deadly prescription! People of every age need commitments beyond the self, need the meaning that commitments provide. Self-preoccupation is a prison, as every self-absorbed person finally knows. Commitments to larger purposes can get you out of prison.

Another significant ingredient in motivation is one’s attitude toward the future. Optimism is unfashionable today, particularly among intellectuals. Everyone makes fun of it. Someone said “Pessimists got that way by financing optimists.” But I am not pessimistic and I advise you not to be. As the fellow said, “I’d be a pessimist but it would never work.”

I can tell you that for renewal, a tough-minded optimism is best. The future is not shaped by people who don’t really believe in the future. Men and women of vitality have always been prepared to bet their futures, even their lives, on ventures of unknown outcome. If they had all looked before they leaped, we would still be crouched in caves sketching animal pictures on the wall,

But I did say tough-minded optimism. High hopes that are dashed by the first failure are precisely what we don’t need. We have to believe in ourselves, but we mustn’t suppose that the path will be easy, it’s tough. Life is painful, and rain falls on the just, and Mr. Churchill was not being a pessimist when he said “I have nothing to offer, but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” He had a great deal more to offer, but as a good leader he was saying it wasn’t going to be easy, and he was also saying something that all great leaders say constantly — that failure is simply a reason to strengthen resolve.

We cannot dream of a Utopia in which all arrangements are ideal and everyone is flawless. Life is tumultuous — an endless losing and regaining of balance, a continuous struggle, never an assured victory.

Nothing is ever finally safe. Every important battle is fought and re-fought. We need to develop a resilient, indomitable morale that enables us to face those realities and still strive with every ounce of energy to prevail. You may wonder if such a struggle — endless and of uncertain outcome — isn’t more than humans can bear. But all of history suggests that the human spirit is well fitted to cope with just that kind of world.

Remember I mentioned earlier the myth that learning is for young people. I want to give you some examples, In a piece I wrote for Reader’s Digest not long ago, I gave what seemed to me a particularly interesting true example of renewal. The man in question was 53 years old. Most of his adult life had been a losing struggle against debt and misfortune. In military service he received a battlefield injury that denied him the use of his left arm. And he was seized and held in captivity for five years. Later he held two government jobs, succeeding at neither. At 53 he was in prison — and not for the first time. There in prison, he decided to write a book, driven by Heaven knows what motive — boredom, the hope of gain, emotional release, creative impulse, who can say? And the book turned out to be one of the greatest ever written, a book that has enthralled the world for ever 350 years. The prisoner was Cervantes; the book: Don Quixote.

Another example was Pope John XXIII, a serious man who found a lot to laugh about. The son of peasant farmers, he once said “In Italy there are three roads to poverty — drinking, gambling and fanning. My family chose the slowest of the three.” When someone asked him how many people worked in the Vatican he said “Oh, about half.” He was 76 years old when he was elected Pope. Through a lifetime in the bureaucracy, the spark of spirit and imagination had remained undimmed, and when he reached the top he launched the most vigorous renewal that the Church has known in this century.

Still another example is Winston Churchill. At age 25, as a correspondent in the Boer War he became a prisoner of war and his dramatic escape made him a national hero. Elected to Parliament at 26, he performed brilliantly, held high cabinet posts with distinction and at 37 became First Lord of the Admiralty. Then he was discredited, unjustly, I believe, by the Dardanelles expedition — the defeat at Gallipoli– and lost his admiralty post. There followed 24 years of ups and downs. All too often the verdict on him was “Brilliant but erratic…not steady, not dependable.” He had only himself to blame. A friend described him as a man who jaywalked through life. He was 66 before his moment of flowering came. Someone said “It’s all right to be a late bloomer if you don’t miss the flower show.” Churchill didn’t miss it.

Well, I won’t give you any more examples. From those I’ve given I hope it’s clear to you that the door of opportunity doesn’t really close as long as you’re reasonably healthy. And I don’t just mean opportunity for high status, but opportunity to grow and enrich your life in every dimension. You just don’t know what’s ahead for you. And remember the words on the bronze plaque “Some men and women make the world better just by being the kind of people they are.” To be that kind of person would be worth all the years of living and learning.

Many years ago I concluded a speech with a paragraph on the meaning in life. The speech was reprinted over the years, and 15 years later that final paragraph came back to me in a rather dramatic way, really a heartbreaking way.

A man wrote to me from Colorado saying that his 20 year-old daughter had been killed in an auto accident some weeks before and that she was carrying in her billfold a paragraph from a speech of mine. He said he was grateful because the paragraph — and the fact that she kept it close to her — told him something he might not otherwise have known about her values and concerns. I can’t imagine where or how she came across the paragraph, but here it is:

“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”

Learn from History: Transparency in Corporate Culture is Essential

Enron Complex in Houston Texas
Image via Wikipedia

I am watching a rerun of “Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room“.  Had the Stockholders had transparency into the company, the corporate culture and the legacy of leadership decisions, things would have been different.  A sad story of how so many people on the inside knew or sensed much but said little until it was too late.

If you own a business, share your culture, your decisions and your stories with your employees, your clients and your stockholders.  If you want a legacy and long term success, this is the only way to go…like any relationship…Trust is Essential.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Corporate Culture and Steve Jobs. It is a Company Valuation Discussion.

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Steve Jobs announced his resignation and CEO replacement this week.  The market flurried on the news, articles and cable segments were plentiful on Job’s revolution of the world, his greatness, his attention to detail, how round two leadership differed from round one and whether Tim Cook could sustain the innovation and therefore the stock profitability.  Because of the news, and the market’s speculation of the future, the stock price fluctuated.

While the SEC, the Accounting Standards Board and the public expect greater transparency on the financials, this is a perfect example of where further modernization of transparent data is needed.  The data I am talking about is Corporate Culture.  What is the real corporate culture of a company?  Behind the curtains in the offices, cubicles, conference rooms and break rooms, what do we see and feel if we were employed?  Does the executive leadership down to middle managers think about creating unanticipated needs?  Do employees each feel their job has meaning, and they are curators for society creating imaginative and innovative items that will simplify people’s lives?  Are people rewarded because of not only successes but also the advice/counsel of failures through offering lessons learned?  Has leadership not only established its values but live them every day?

We are talking simple yet life altering values that make sense to everyone on the team; the words/phrase that are heartfelt and have a real connection to the team (exclusion of canned/stock words).  Corporate Culture includes leadership that shares his/her intelligence and understands its greatest creation is the team that can then imagine, create, care for and give back.  The daily belief that teams that works and plays together stays together.  Moreover, the practice of creating and sustaining relationships are key both inside and outside the company.

The stock market this week speculated whether the rein of Apple was coming to an end.  Sure, they have items in the pipeline so they still have the tail they could ride for a while.  The question that writers and business news broadcasters were asking indirectly and some directly…Was Steve Jobs the only creative sustaining genius in the room?  Were others mere followers of his vision?  I sure hope not.  That would mean the weight of the company rested solely on him.  Given the depth and breadth of Apple’s presence in the world, that would be awfully herculean of Steve Jobs and would have been an unsustainable tenure.  To ask such a question would underestimate the power of team…the Apple team.

Instead, the question the market should be asking is what is the culture of Apple?  How deeply ingrained is the culture?  How deep is their bench of employees technically, creatively and aesthetically on and off the court?  Is Tim Cook the right person to nurture the culture to not only sustain it but also grow it to a better version of itself?

The biggest question of all we should be asking ourselves is why do we not know the answer to these questions?  Why have we not broken into the thick steel vault of Corporate Culture?  Why do we not include in company and market valuation the corporate culture aspect more directly? We look at current leaders, financials, pipeline, past performance, changes in market conditions, ratios, strategy, etc for valuation.  I would propose that these elements are important in valuation; however, corporate culture is the thread that runs through them all.  It is hard to measure, because it is enigmatic…hard to define and for many hard to create, grow and transform.

When people figure out Corporate Culture is the only transformative value creator, then valuing a company will come down to those that have a good culture versus those that do not.  When looking at good cultures, then it will be which ones do shareholders believe in and more align with their values.  After all, shareholders are a part of the team.  Their contribution is not time, energy or creativity…they are contributing their hard earned dollars and trust into the team and the culture.

Want to value a company whether as a shareholder, partner or sole owner for buying or selling purposes?  Top of mind in your valuation calculation…corporate culture.  Companies that develop an amazing culture and then proudly let others know about it, will create, hold and grow more value.

As for Apple, I don’t have firsthand knowledge of their culture but I can think of 356 Billion reasons why we should know in great detail.

Your voice matters and I would love to hear what you think.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Social Media Liberates and Amplifies. Do you Feel Like Liberating?

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...
Image via Wikipedia

Social media is authenticity with a liberating microphone ready to amplify if we use its power for good.

I would encourage leaders to look at the implications of social media more broadly than just marketing and fads.  It really is a liberating tool to express the feelings and thoughts we have about people, companies and corporate culture, communities and leaders in broad and sweeping ways. Soon we will freely see people talking about their company culture, the treatment of its people and how closely the company brand aligns with their corporate reality.  We can use this contagion as a tool to promote not only what we are but what we aspire to be.  I would encourage leaders to be real on who they are, be bold and state what they aspire to be, work every day to create a magnetic culture, own up when mistakes happen and be visionary and create a world of possibilities.  Now that is authenticity and authenticity is the source code and content for what appears in social media.

So to the world out there on this microphone I would say…I am a leader in the making…every day growing, learning from lessons and wishing I would hurry up and live up to the image I have of great leadership.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Be Successful in 2020? Expect to be a Writer, a Mentor and always a Futurist

CaptureWant to succeed in business?  By 2020, I predict we are all going to be measured, in some degree, by how much we share our knowledge with others in personal and written form, how many people we help in their business life and how we educate and empower.  I predict:

1)  Professor’s transition from lecturers to facilitators of the geniuses of their students.  Professors knowledge and ability to research will be more critical than ever, however research life cycles will shorten dramatically.  Research will come from the students so having the right population will be key.  Selection of a course will move from a class topic to an end result both for the student and the professor.

2)  Class cost will vary on who is taking the course with you.  The more experienced the students the more they have to bring to the table.  Therefore for younger less experienced students that want the inside information, they will have to pay a premium.  Conversely, those with advanced experience will pay less and be given special benefits such access to mentor and supporter opportunities of less experienced individuals.  Classes that are 100% lecture oriented will be migrated to a free service.  One-way communication of topics will be helpful to learn the history or fundamentals in order to participate in conversational learning.

3)  Business leadership will include not only the ability to influence, to lead and create value and vision but it will also include the ability to create a legacy for themselves which will include who they have mentored, supported, advocated and promoted.  A new question will be “how many people have you developed and promoted?”

4)  Corporate education, training and corporate universities will be part of the portfolio of “must haves” to compete for top talent.  Curriculum will be more advanced than general topics and the frequency similar to strategy meetings.  New candidates will ask to see the Company’s curriculum and understand the education strategy and tactics before they make a decision.

5)  Leaders in business will be expected to write articles, be thought leaders in their space, and help others through creative content.  Leaders will be judged on how freely they share their knowledge and how they empower others.

6)  Online education will be social and collaborative affecting almost all of our human senses.  Online tools will include movie elements such as music, suspense, mystery, love, action and sadness.  The duration will be in the form of short film and the style will be interactive.

7)  Lines will be completed blurred between education and entertainment.  People’s awards such as Emmy, People’s Choice, and new awards will be given to companies, universities and people who produce award winning “edutainment” content that is impactful.

So what do you do today if this is the future?  Start moving your thinking, your leadership and your company in this direction. Be a Writer, a Mentor and a Futurist if you want to be successful.  People like pioneers who see it first, go there first and bring others with them.

Your thoughts matter, what do you think?

There is Truth to Both Sides of Every Story

Truth or Consequences

There is truth to both sides of every story…every time.  In the business environment, look for the truth to the other side of issue, the story, or the problem.  When the two views are complete opposites, try to find the truth that you can live with or the truth that may be hard to swallow.  Either way, know that in order to truly move forward empathy and understanding are necessities.

Also, understand that compromise is about leaving some goodwill on the table, creating a solution that works for both, and seeing and hearing the other side of an issue.  When people believe their truth has been heard and understood, then real work on a solution is possible and people are more flexible because they were heard.

And finally know it is ok to admit fault and keep moving forward.  Leaders that admitted when they were wrong won more influence because they acknowledged it.  JFK and the Bay of Pigs is my constant reminder of this notion.

Understand there is truth to both sides of every issue, story, or problem.  Look from the other side and see their truth.  The old saying “the truth will set you free” could not be more fitting.

Seeing their truth, even partially, will set you and the issue free.

Enhanced by Zemanta

People Take Care of People…Period.

Thanks to Social Media, we are seeing just how communal and supportive people are to one another.  Our most basic needs to be socially and emotionally connected are being met in a broad and sweeping way.  It is an amazing new frontier we are experiencing and the business world is catching on in droves.  You have heard the saying “our employees are our most important resource”, yet not as many employees felt that way.  Thankfully, the tides are starting to change…ahh….how good it is and what a glorious change it will be when fully realized.

People ARE the most important resource, people ARE the most important asset, and people ARE the most important gift you will ever get in life.  They are the like water, and air to us…we cannot live without their connection.  Why…because people take care of people….period.

As a leader of an organization, rethink the paradigm.  Your employees should be first in the care chain.  When you take care of your employees first, they will see your customer as their customer and take care of them accordingly.  People will do more when they are in love and they will be naturally inspired to make a difference with others.  When your employees take care of the customers, they will show their love, care and support in return and take care of your business and your shareholders/owners.

Rethink the Paradigm:  Employees then Customers then Shareholders.  Your organizations may be successful but you won’t know just how much you are leaving on the table until you realize this paradigm.

As the leader of You, take care of yourself first.  Fully love yourself first and then you may love and help others.  When you love yourself fully you expect more, learn and grow more, and give and care more.  Caring and giving more are the best things you can do for yourself, others and your company.  Finding out what gifts you are meant to leave, what messages you are meant to share, and what lessons you are meant to teach are the greatest things you can do for others and your company.  When you take care of yourself and then others, it becomes a natural extension to take care of the world including its resources and peace.  Only the most self-actualized and enriched people live this way and aspire for a world of peace and possibilities.

Rethink the Paradigm.  You then Others then the World.  Are you awesome already…taking good care of your health, heart, mind, soul, family and friends, employer, leader, co-workers, community, and earth?  If you are not yet, just imagine how awesome you could be?

People take care of People.  When we understand this fully and emotionally, our new reality will be far greater than anything we could imagine.

Today’s Project:  Show kindness to yourself, to someone who has made it challenging for you in the business community (your boss, your employee, your customer) and do something earth friendly today.  It takes time to see the change so do it again tomorrow and the following day.  Know this: You are changing the direction of your life, the lives of others and the world.  Now that is Awesome!

I would like to hear from you…you matter to me.  What do you think of this interpretation of People taking care of People?  Share your comments below and share with others if you feel so inspired.

The Day You Get Promoted by Election

Imagine the Day When Your Promotion is not by your boss or what others leaders have heard about you and your past performance.  Instead, you are promoted based on an election of the people you will be managing in a team environment.  They pick you based on what they thought of your past performance, previous results and accomplishments, intelligence, vision, drive, relationships with the team members, inspirational and motivational skills and your genuine interest and past successes developing others.

It is not too far in the distant future that leaders will not be selected any longer by a select group of who you know and who knows your work but rather by a communal review and election.  Everyone wants the winning team, the winning track record for success and soon it will move from the childhood line up of where some fortunate individual gets to pick the team and the selectee just hopes the right leader picks them first and they go early in the draft otherwise it tells others they weren’t their first choice.

Although the economy maybe still limping into recovery, I submit that we as leaders not be fooled and recognize our teammates are sizing up their accomplishments and options.  When the time is right and someone is ready to jump in first, we will see a shift in how we select team members.  We will move in the direction of a democracy of where we as leaders are selected based on our performance, our values, our vision of the future of the organization and our track record for success.

The same will hold true for those members being selected for a team.  The days of where folks get paid to do a job will move away and instead we will have people who are paid to deliver objectives and selection to teams are communal and by leaders AND peers.  Teams and leaders will have less and less bench-warmers and more team members who have siginificant clock time.  Teams will move to compensation on objectives and more importantly results.  Even further in the future I could see compensation of a team to be more communal and based on a meritocracy.  Imagine, your teammates and members determine your pay.  I know it is a little out there but it will happen.  There are already people talking about ways to change the management paradigm.  Check out Management Exchange, a community of like-minded leaders who are looking to change today how we manage.

Although technology and this new age of innovation in everything from consumer products to management are changing how we live and work in the world, I still see that real and meaningful connections is the secret sauce to success.  This means the teams/companies that win BIG in the marketplace will be the ones that care first.  They will care first about their teams who in turn care about the consumers.  We, as humans, are always generous to those who think of us, take care of us and show us they love us.  Consumers will be generous to teams that care about them and that will result in better results for the owners of the companies.

Who will be the owners of the companies?  I am not sure it will be the structure we have today.  Having skin in the game is an age-old life truth.  Those that are invested are more interested in the success.  Giving team members ownership interest in the team that ties directly to their short term and long-term results in a real and sizeable way is what help create the connection between the team and the results.  Loose ties through 401(k)s may still exist but they will do so more for altruistic means sake and not as a direct measure to tie to performance.  By getting those that have no real interest and steel glad ties in the success of teams/companies/objectives is part of the new world order.  Unconnected and uninterested money managers will not be part of the long-term equation.  Frankly, having more skin in the game would have made a difference and perhaps prevented the near precipitous of the recent financial crisis.  We as human have the innate ability to survive and getting the layers out of successes for a company and therefore our future, ensures those survival skills are closer to the ground and always sensing.

I am excited at all the possibilities of where we are going.  I would just encourage everyone to be ready and understand that we can’t look back at what was and wish it could be again.  We have to enjoy what is occurring today and be prepared through constant development of ourselves and our relationships and experiences so we are ready for tomorrow.