A World Full of Glass

Over the years I’ve collected a few great videos on how the future may look in an ideal world.  Technology improves the lives, people are extremely productive, automation works as anticipated.  In this video, supplied to me by my aunt (thank you), you’ll see what Corning sees as the future using glass.   I like what I see.

What’s your thought?

You might be chuckling right now at the way the woman in the video made quite a splash trying to text and walk through a shopping mall at the same time.  But it’s no laughing matter when important business projects get botched because executives over-estimate their ability to run their minds productively on several tracks at once.

Don’t be so quick to assume you can multi-task, especially when you’re engaged in strategic thinking.  Yes, it’s part of  today’s belief that you can multi-task with ease.  Answer phones while working on spreadsheets.  Talk on two calls at once with two different phones. Listen to everyone in the office while working on another deal.

But the research indicates otherwise.  Stats show that if you text while driving a car, the risk of an accident increases by as much as 23 percent and your attention diminishes by over seventy percent.  And that’s only texting and driving. It’s true whenever one or both of the competing tasks involve thinking.  You’ve experienced this already.  Have you ever lost track of a thought just after someone tells you something else?  Have you taken off for the day and then forgotten your last train of thought before leaving, which never returned later?

Now consider a situation where you’re working on a very important decision that could impact the future of your organziation, and someone interrupts your work on a spreadsheet.   The interruption may not seem important at the time, and yet, if it leads to you’re making the wrong decision on the project that was interrupted, it could mean losing a job, failing to secure real estate, purchasing a piece of equipment that was not the best, giving the wrong instructions, etc.   Your future and that of your organzation could be changed forever.

My suggestion is to stop believing that you can multi-task when in critical leadership and management roles, because where decision-making is involved, multi-tasking is really multi-thinking, and multi-thinking is different than multi-tasking.  The difference is that multi-thinking is not as simple as patting your head while rubbing your stomach. When you think, you can only really concentrate on one thing at a time. If you try to multi-think, what you’re really doing is shifting back and forth very quickly.  This means something is likely to suffer as you shift.

Here are 5 pointers for avoiding this trap when strategic thinking requires your full attention:

#1. Take private time with the door closed or get free from the work area so that you can think clearly.

#2.  Let others know when you’re working one something that needs real concentration by putting up a sign or notice that you need some private time.

#3.  Allow ample time to think through a thought instead of trying to rush thinking.

#4.  Turn off your email pinging and put your phones on hold (or in a drawer) so that you’re not distracted.

#5.  Only multi-task…don’t multi-think.

Known to be one of the one of the hottest and driest national parks in the US and on the planet, Death Valley’s temperatures can swell to over 100 degrees F (37.77 degrees Celsius).  While there are many amazing things that happen in a place like this, there is one that made me sit up and take notice one day in 2010 while I was watching a program on the Discovery Channel.  The program described how within a single rain, something that is not a regular occurance, seeds that may have laid dormant for 10 years can take root.  Within one week, a dry environment with no greenery could be tranformed into a  sea of growth.

The same thing can happen to an individual with the right support.  Humans are extremely talented, and with the right direction, the right tools, the right everything, humans can achieve incredible feats.  So next time you’re thinking that a particular person has no potential, consider the possibility that you’re not delivering the rain.

I’m often asked  a question like this one by someone hiring to fill a leadership position: “How do you think I should hire someone for the new position, considering that we have such a unique organization?”  The implied statement is that if we bring someone in from the outside, they’d have a tough time fitting in and the individual will need a lot of help learning to navigate the politics or channels they have in place. This is especially true when we’re talking global organizations.  It’s as if someone from the outside will never get it, they will be eaten alive, and a lot of the training responsibilities will fall on his/her shoulders.

Here’s a tactic  you may want to think about the next time this decision crosses your mind.

Ask yourself, do you want a person who is exceptionally skilled at the skill you need, such as public relations, more than a person who knows the organization, or would you prefer someone who knows the organization but has only average skills?

Personally, I lean toward the high skills, if the leadership talent is comparable,  because more and more people have worked in large organizations or several organizations throughout their career.  Teaching someone in a leadership position to run a PR unit without the skills you need to be proficient at PR  is much more challenging than teaching them the ropes about how to do business in your particular environment and then expecting them to become more savvy as a PR leader.

Besides, in large or small organizations, there are plenty of people who want your next hire to be better than the last, because if the groups brings on great talent, the others in the group win also.  For one moment, envision that you need to hire an executive for PR and someone says that Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, would like the job.  Would other members of the leadership team support the decision, or try to sabotage Jeff’s work?

Here are two scenarios to run through your mind when weighing your options:

* Be a forecaster.  Ask yourself, “How would each of the two candidates just described be performing after six months in your culture?”  I’m assuming that you’ll be coaching, mentoring, and teaching them the ropes about your organization along the way.   Would Candidate One, with the PR skills, be better positioned for future growth, or would the person who’s culturally knowledgeable be better prepared to lead your PR unit?  My guess is that the individual with PR skills will be up to the challenge, while the individual with average PR skills may now need a lesson in PR to make him/her great.  It’s likely a valid point that the person with the organizational knowledge might get off to a faster start. However, I’m thinking long term.  This person may be developing PR for the next 10 years for you and an eye for PR is much more difficult to cultivate.

* Envision a battle scenario.  I have a saying that you choose your own captains, meaning that you need to have the right person next to you when you are in battle.  To make this more evident, look around at the people you work with today.  If you were in battle in your industry, and your life was on the line, would these be the people you want by your side?  Is the current team the one you’d like to be by your side if the battle became fierce?  I can’t tell you how many leaders have said “No” about their own team–people they’ve thought the world of until the right question was asked! In the scenario above, the PR person is like having an expert in demolitions by your side compared to someone who’s only knowledgeable.  Given the fact that they both have comparable leadership skills, you must count on the expert in PR to learn the organization and therefore within a few months be able to become a part of the group.

Your job is to find the right talent, and the best approach is to start with the right question– what would you rather have, high knowledge of the organization with average skill, or average knowledge of the organization with high skill?  To me it’s obvious. To you?

I remember reading that during the 1930′s, the time of the Great Depression in the US, there were individuals earning upwards of $10,000 a month while others were starving.  This memory has remained as a lesson to me that during any time of crisis there are always those who manage to do well.

Looking back over 2010, we can see this phenomenon in operation. During this global recession there are still companies doing well, such as those who know how to write government grants, individuals who know how to balance risk as an investment, organizations with cash who can purchase troubled assets at low price, tech firms that leverage productivity, sports teams that know how to put on a great show. You may have noticed that credit union membership has had an uptick interest because more people are looking for a different banking experience.  (Did you know that all the assets in all the credit unions in the US were not as large as all the assets at Lehman Brothers?)  But this consumer shift should benefit someone.  It could be the nearby restaurants frequented by the credit union’s employees and visitors.  It could be the credit union’s existing members, because it can now provide better services–maybe a lower rate on a loan or a better functioning web site–because its assets jumped from $70M to $100M.

The worst news contains potential benefits for someone.  Take the  oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.  P&G’s Dawn brand has been mentioned in hundreds if not thousands of places because the product appears to be the best soap on the market to break down oil on animals caught in the slick.  (A 2003 report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called Dawn “the only bird-cleaning agent that is recommended because it removes oil from feathers, is non-toxic, and does not leave a residue. Other methods or products are not recommended for use or testing during an oil spill.”)   To aid in the recovery, Procter and Gamble donated more than 7,000 bottles of Dawn.

American Boom and Barrier Corp also saw a positive from the disaster.  Their product, booms used to catch oil, were in such demand that the company had to turn down over 300,000 feet of orders just weeks after the spill.  So, too, have others in the industry.   Barely a month after the April 20 spill, the containment staff had already placed over 1.2 million feet of boom, had over 400,000 ready to deploy, and over 2.3  million feet on order–the largest ever in history.

While some may argue that it’s a bad thing that there are winners when others are suffering, this same scenario happens every day in every sector.  Someone wins a war, someone loses, a new technology is launched putting another one potentially out of business, one party wins a political race and the others have to concede defeat.  Yes, there are magnitudes of difference and there are those that live their lives on disasters.  We all know the image of the “ambulance chaser,” and indeed a large number of attorneys hit the ground on the Gulf Coast just to be ready for potential  lawsuits from the oil spill.   That’s not meant to suggest that attorneys are bad, or even that those who chase ambuances are bad. (Victims of disasters–whether personal or multi-state in scope–do have service needs to meet.)

What this means is that if you keep your eyes open and are willing to adapt AND be innovative, sometimes bad situations managed correctly can create new opportunities.  Like the saying goes, when one door closes another opens.  As the new year brings its unanticipated challenges–perhaps economic setbacks in your own sector, or difficulties in your home region–I’d suggest you pay attention to the doors that may be opening.

Sources Boom P&G

During the past year I’ve heard the phrase, “relationships are the most important part of business,” or some reference to this point, more times than I can count.   With a new year dawning and change the new constant, one thing that has not changed is my opinion about that ”relationship” myth.  These were comments I made back in 2006:

People DON’T do business with people they know!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that “relationships are the most important part of business.”  In other words, people buy from people they know.  If you want to make sales and build loyal buyers, building relationships is the way to go.  Well, the relationship theory is WRONG.

Maybe, like your sales staff, you don’t believe us.  Okay.  Think for a moment about the number of insurance agents you know.  Do you do business with ALL of them?  How about attorneys and real estate agents?

Of course you don’t.  And why don’t you?  After all, they are your friends.  You have relationships with them.

Maybe you believe that only one friend can service you the best.  Perhaps you think you don’t have that much business to spread around.  Or, like many of our global consulting clients, you don’t want your friends knowing your personal business.

But if you took a closer look, you’d realize that your buying decisions boil down to the same reason that everyone else’s do—you buy from those individuals whose companies fill your needs best…period.

Your sales staff probably won’t be very happy to hear this news.  If you spent your time kissing up, running ragged, and shaking hands, you’d want to know it paid off, too, wouldn’t you?  Unfortunately, the reality is, none of that matters if your firm’s products and services don’t meet the buyer’s needs and expectations.

Think about it.  Do you know the owner of the grocery store where you purchase the bulk of your food?  How about the owner of the Subway or pizza shop, dry cleaner, gas stations, or car dealership?  You might know one of them, especially if you live in a small town, but honestly, most of us don’t know our primary vendors well, if at all.

Think about how you decide to purchase from Amazon, Nordstroms, Toshiba or Chevy…you do so for the relationship?  Nope.

Most likely, you don’t purchase much of anything from people you know.  So what’s this relationship thing all about, anyway?  Two things.

First, relationships open doors of opportunity. If a relationship exists, a prospect might take your phone call, give your new products an extra long look, listen to your pitch for an extra few minutes, or dial your number to make an inquiry phone call.  That’s it.  Even when your best buddy is the prospect, if you don’t have the right product, you won’t make the sale.

Picture yourself as the buyer.  Your friend works for a bank.  He might provide special services for you, and that makes you want to do business with the bank again.  Your friend moves to a different bank where he has less leverage.  No special services.  You have to set up new accounts, the online services are not as good, and the new bank lacks the history you so much enjoy when doing your taxes.  Are you going to move to the new bank with your “relationship,” or are you going to avoid your friend like the plague?

Second, the connection between the buyer and the COMPANY is the relationship. People don’t buy from people they know as much as they buy from companies with products and services that they want.  As much as you may want to give business to a friend, if the product isn’t right, their company bills you incorrectly or sells shoddy workmanship, yet their competitor offers everything you need, the relationship that wins the sale is the one developed with the best company.

Let’s transfer this to your business.  You establish a relationship with someone, your new business friend, and everything seems fine until one day the vendor botches up a project or order.  You call your friend and explain the situation.  They promise to fix the problem on their end.  The problem persists or recurs.  You can’t tolerate the incompetence and call your friend’s competitor.  Wow, to your surprise, the person on the other end of the line also wants to be your “friend.”  Offering better products and services, they win your business.

One-on-one relationships alone can get you only so far.  That’s why the responsibility of good management is to build organizations where relationships between buyer and company work. Good news for salespeople, if they’re even involved in the sale at all, because the company that supports relationships increases sales and retains repeat buyers.

Here are 6 thoughts on how you can get started:

1.      Provide products and services that do what you promise and have them available for purchase. You don’t have to have the highest perceived quality in the industry, but you do have to offer something that consumers believe is worth the price.  Then when they make the choice to use your firm, the product must be on the shelves so that they don’t start developing new “friends.”

2.      Build in integrated accounting operations that make working with your firm a convenience, not a hindrance. Billing procedures should ensure accuracy and be completed in timely fashion.  No buyer will tolerate errors where money is concerned forever.

3.      Deliver on time. Late work, whether you’re a building contractor or a computer manufacturer, always leads to wasted money.  If you want a strong relationship between your company and your customer, be sure you deliver as promised, or even early if you can.  Constantly strive to deliver predictable, reliable results for the buyer.

4.      Respond quickly. Return phone calls immediately.  Issue refunds and replacements fast.  Nothing blows a customer’s trust faster than when he can’t get a response within a reasonable time.  In our office, consulting and speaking service inquiries gain a response within 3 hours.  The relationship is stronger when people find you’re accessible when they need you.

5.      Market clearly and honestly. Back every claim you make.  Be sure that people understand what you sell and how they’ll benefit from working with you.  Most importantly, if you can differentiate yourself from the pack and back it with your actions, the relationship is reinforced and competitively stronger.

6.      Spread the tools around. Give every employee in every department the tools needed to keep up his end of the deal in your company’s relationships with customers.  Good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software helps customer service keep on top of each customer’s needs by providing a history of the relationships.  An integrated order processing system prevents important elements from falling through the cracks.

Finally, don’t worry about freaking out your sales personnel.  Sure, initially some people will be shocked to hear you say that people don’t buy relationships.  But the shock will turn into motivation once they understand that they no longer have to bear the entire burden of building and maintaining relationships alone. The company is just as responsible for the relationship as the sales person.

And that’s why you, the decision-maker, get it.  You know that people don’t buy relationships, they buy what works for them…and your organization is primed and ready to do just that.

Fast-forward to 2010. One day I visited Kelli Schmith after an RT on Twitter.  An “RT” (retweet) is where a tweet is passed on to the user’s own list of subscribers.  On her page she listed “brands, products (or experiences) … I purchase and recommend to other people”  Almost all of the links she had are ones I recognized, and I’d bet that she knows no one at any of these companies (www.digdeepthinker.com).  If we purchased from people we know, her list would be much different.

I have the same opinion of today’s obsession with getting linked to everyone on the expectation that this activity will cause a spike in business.  My own research indicates that the social experience, while engaging, is–once again–just another door opener.  I’m betting that for many of you, there are people who want to be your friend, link to you on Twitter, and think that being LinkedIn is the next best thing to having you walk into their office and make a purchase.  This is far from the truth.  In a recent poll, I asked people in a 500-member audience to raise their hands if they had had a major online purchase made directly as a result of any of these connections.  There were THREE.

Once again, I’d suggest that these tools open the door to the potential for new business, but it’s far from being the answer to business development or career advancement.

So be careful what you believe; relationships are only a beginning but don’t often bring the business one might expect.

One of the big business trends of late is the support for and movement towards what is commonly referred to as cloud computing.  This refers to a type of business tactic to use outside vendors to deliver and manage your software applications.

Salesforce.com would be considered a cloud service since the user only interfaces with the software, while the Salesforce staff maintains the infrastructure, keeps the site virus free, loads updates, and protects the user’s data. Sounds great–you do your job while the other company does theirs. I personally have some misgivings about the entire concept.  My fear is that the trust that you may have with your vendor may be unsupported both financially and technically…in the future.

Back in the 1990′s I remember reading an article on Intel’s movement into what was then called ASPs.  As an Application Service Provider, Intel and Pandesic, a project joint venture, ran the software for other firms which could then focus on their own businesses. What suprised me was that, one night, Intel turned off all the lights and closed down operations.  User companies, one of which was Oshkosh, were left stranded the next morning.

Cloud computing is almost the same service, translated into current lingo.  The service is still delivered by an outside company and you are trusting that they will survive and grow.  That’s what Intel’s buyers thought too.  Intel is large and stable, and yet the ASP division did not fit someone’s definition of a necessity, and the division was closed.

Today’s clouds still represent the same challenges.  Companies do fail.  Company leadership does make poor desicions.  Companies create data that may not be able to be used on any other service.

Imagine yourself in this situation.  You leave all your data on someone else’s software, and even though you have a backup, tomorrow they close.  What do you do with the data if no other software fits that style of code or is missing key functionality? Yes, I can hear the old ASP rationale.  You don’t manage your phones and you let the phone company take care of everything else.  Well, not exactly.  I have a phone and the phone numbers are kept on my phone.  Besides, we are only talking phone numbers.  What if we were talking, financial data, 12,000 contacts (you can change the number), inventory, sales pipelines.  You’d be screwed.

My original hosting provider used to be the creme de la creme of providers when I was looking for a hosting company.  Seven years later the same company was a nightmare to deal with and our websites used to be down for days on end.

The challenge is, then, what do you do if you want the best of both worlds?  I suggest that you always prepare for the worst and be thankful for what works.  With that apprroach, you’re at least aware of potential pitfalls, and can plan for such failure.  You don’t plan for a plane falling out of the sky; however, pilots are taught to do certain manuevers to get a plane to safety. The same here.  Cloud computing is nothing more than outsourcing your software application to someone else.  Nothing more.  In every alliance you have to at least beware of the risk and prepared to take action.

A few tips you might want to keep in mind.

1. Back up your data regularly and automate this function if possible.  The rationale for this tactic is to insure that your organization has the necessary means to return to normalcy if there is a problem.

2. Pay attention to your vendor’s future just as much as your own.  If they are public, watch their stock market price and their public announcements.  If they are public or not, pay attention to their decision-making.  Years ago I purchased a $55,000 software program for a company I owned as the vendor was number one in the industry.  Five years later they had to sell because the technology had changed and a competitor had taken the lead.

3. Keep your eyes out for alternative vendors just in case.  If you consider how difficult and frustrating it is to change your cell phone provider, think about how difficult it might be to move your data from one company to another, and be prepared.

4.  Determine performance levels for your vendor just as if they worked for you as your IT department.  If you don’t set expectations, you are in a reactionary mode to the vendor’s leaderships decision-making.  Remember, it’s your organization.

5.  If you’ve got everything riding on the cloud, and you’re big enough, have weekly meetings with the vendor to insure you’re both in sync.  If you don’t, you’re sure to find out that what you need and what they spend their resources on will be different.

6. Annually reassess if your provider is keeping up with your needs.  There are warning signs around you all the time as to when vendors are not keeping up.  New product or services launches are late, forum discussions are about serious update issues, call centers are late to respond, staff turn-over becomes apparent.

I’m betting two things will happen.  The first is that in the next few years there will be a major Cloud system that will in fact fail, and cause havoc to some major organizations and/or a lot of small-to-medium-size businesses. Let’s just say the clouds will rain. The second is that decision-makers will ask for additional standardization of systems so that when something does go wrong there are options.  This may come in the form of export and import conversion functionality to ease moving data from one place to another, or the decision to utilize platforms that make the transition less than a nightmare.

This is not intended to knock down the whole idea of cloud computing.  I personally love the prospect of living in the cloud, since a variety of our resource firms have people working with us in countries as far away as the Philippines.  Without these tools, we’d have to work much harder for us to do what we do.  I’ve just always had this little nagging reminder of the Intel decision, and I thought you’d appreciate the warning.

…well maybe…

For as long as I can remember I’ve been aware of a flying car project initiated by Paul Moller and Moller International.  The dream was to create a vehicle that would replace cars and give the world the comic-television lifestyle of the Jetsons.

Imaging living on the side of a mountain and then traveling to work at 300 MPH by jumping into your Moller.  No landing strip needed because the vehicle had a vertical take off and landing.  A vehicle ANYONE can fly.

Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, from millions in research the company is still far from delivering their product.  The few videos on their site.  www.moller.com, show very little progress since 2003.  (That’s not to say they are not making advancements.)

At the same time “Terrafugia (ter-ra-FOO-gee-ah) was founded in 2006 by award-winning MIT-trained aeronautical engineers and MBA’s –- who also happen to be passionate private pilots.” Their objective was somewhat similar but not as much futuristic:  to enable PILOTS to be able to drive to an airport, fly off and then return in the same vehicle.

With retractable wings you could park the car in your garage, drive on a typical highway with a car that gets 30 mpg, and if weather is bad you could opt not to fly and instead drive to your destination.  The result is the car/plane below.  A different approach and potentially the start of a future Jetson world.  As computers eventually compensate for air travel and human error we may see the start of a new way of living.  Also note that the product fills up on unleaded gas instead of jet fuel.  Much more environmentally friendly.

From a leadership management perspective a few different conditions are at work.

Moller’s team appears to be attacking the challenge in such a way that their answers are not producing the type of results they wish to achieve.  Then along comes a new group with a different mindset and a willingness to ask different questions.  Mind you, leadership must also be willing to listen to such a group.

SHIFT:  If you’ve been working with the same team for a very long time on the same project or in the same organization, you’re bound to experience limitations.  Limitations in innovation, collaboration, alliances, etc.   To overcome this obstacle, you need to be bringing in new minds who challenge the status quo.  People from different disciplines, cultures, ages, sexes, or any other variable that would improve performance.  I once worked with a team of 50 executives who, when I asked who’s new to the team in the last 2 years, replied that there were none.   When I asked who had read a business book in the past year besides Who Moved My Cheese, there were only two.  There’s your sign.

SHIFT:  Learning to ask new and different questions is a skill that needs to be nourished. You can do this immediately by setting up a “What if?” group.  A team of people, individuals not designated by title but by their ability to challenge traditional thinking, whose job is to meet once a week, biweekly or monthly, to think about the challenge without constraint.  This means they ask questions such as, “What would it take to do this in half the time?”  ”…with half the resources?” “…for different purposes or markets?” “…with no funding?”   The information is recorded and then used to create new solutions.

SHIFT: Change the leadership.  It’s funny that you can take a team of people doing poorly and then change the leadership and the team immediately improves.  The opposite is also true.  If you’re willing to make such drastic changes you’re bound to find new opportunities.

SHIFT:  Think in a way that’s  less radical and more progressive.  This means that if you want to build the next greatest company or product or service that transforms the world, you may also want to look at solutions that are not new to the world but more the result of progressive change in your thinking.  The Moller team’s development included a desired outcome of a car-type of vehicle where the driver did not have to know how to fly.  The Terrafugia team is meeting the challenge with more conventional thinking; the driver must be a pilot and capable of flying stick. Stick flying is when you have one column on the floor to move compared to a steering column as you might see in a commercial plane.

How are you going to change to meet your next big challenge?

Here’s the deal.  You say that one reason you’re a great leaders is that you’re a great teacher.   You say you’re a great teacher–that everyone around you wants to learn from you.  And yet, all the while, you find that when you’re in a room, you’re always the smartest.  People can do what you say while you’re looking over their shoulder , but are never as good as you are or better and few can get the same results as you when you’re not around.

Then are you really a great teacher?  I’d say to be a great teacher, you have to work with your students to make them at least your equal in the skill, or–better yet–give them the tools and concepts that would make then surpass you at a given time.   By students I mean not just  those in a classroom or training setting, but those you work with or those around you.

What I’ve found is that there is a missing link.  Prominent leaders and educators often keep back that one little secret, or that one little technique, that would have driven the others to excel.  Knowingly or unknowingly.

Take, for example, the social networking experts who profess the viability of using their services, and yet, from the many I know, few have made money out of social networking; they make their real money out of selling services to teach or consult on social networking.

During one conversation with a so-called expert, I found something seemed to be missing when I tried to understand what this person said was the way to social success.  The math did not make sense.  How could he post, tweet, integrate everything, as he had suggested and still run his business.  There was not enough time in the day, even with all the aggregator tools and reposting tools.

When asked about the discrepancy, he said, after a long pause, as if  he was pondering if he should let the cat out of the bag, that he hires other poeople to do his posting and to manage his social experience.  WHAT?  I’ve never heard this tactic from him in all the years I’ve known him or read about this in any of his work.

Obviously, this is a huge gap–a missing piece in the puzzle–for others trying to achieve his same level of success.  They’d need to add the same tactic to their efforts.  The same is true for people teaching in leadership.  Subconsciously, are you holding back to remain in control?  Are you always just a step ahead?

Tom Peters once told me that he’s come to cherish the fact that people are doing what he’s advised from years ago without knowing he’s the originator. It’s because he sees the value in his work being organic.

I realized the same thing a few years ago when I found clients bringing me new and improved material–material they felt that they learned so well from me that they improved on the content….and were willing to share it with me and others.  I realized that life is organic and that the role of a teacher is to start the ball rolling, to get others thinking, and then to watch then grow on their own.  This means you can’t hold back.  You have to let go, and in doing so you become stronger.  Those around you see you as valuable because you are willing to accept their contributions to your own work.  This is a sign of maturity–a sign that you’re working to really help them.

Leadership is about helping other people get to where they want to go, and in the process getting to where you want to be.  If you hold back, they will only be as good as you let them.  With the missing pieces, they can be more.


* If you’re always thinking you are the smartest person in the room, then you’re not.

* Think hard about the gaps you may be leaving out intentionally or unintentionally.

* Try to set up mechanisms for the other person to reach your level of proficiency.

* If you’re always using yourself as an example because you are the best, then you’ve not transferred the skill.

* If people are always better when you’re there to lead them, there’s a gap in the process of transfer.

* Great leaders don’t see education as the goal. They desire that others surpass them as the student becomes a teacher.

One thing that impresses me is that marketers of consumer products and retail products often can see the universality of what they sell, and act accordingly.  When you enter the Piazza di San Marco in Venice there’s a huge billboard with John Travolta selling watches, when you go to London you see H&M selling very similar sweaters, in Manila there’s Coke, and in Hong Kong you can see every name brand product in the world from Coach, Samsung, LG, J&J, Nautica,  Nestle, Salvatore Ferragamo, to Nike.  Next to the office where I worked with a client in Kowloon, Hong Kong, there was a huge IKEA store right across the street.

The reason these companies can sell their products all over the world is that they think differently than people who think locally.  They see opportunity in volume and understand the universality and behavioral sameness of humans.  This thinking generates ideas and ties ideas together.

It doesn’t just happen, nor does an executive just make a decision, “Now I’m going to think globally.”  It requires learning–an investment of time, effort, and even money in learning about the world beyond your home town or native land.   The benefit is that once you learn about a culture, a process, or country,  you can duplicate yourself over and over again.  Then again, once you learn how to enter one country you can use the same learning skills to learn about another country.  The more you know, the easier the work becomes and the faster you can progress, because the knowledge begets knowledge.