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A Regret Minimization Framework

In the early 1990’s Jeff Bezos had an epiphany: the internet was going to dramatically change the way people purchased everything, and he wanted to participate in that transformation. The idea of Amazon.com hatched shortly thereafter. At the time, Bezos was making very good money at a large hedge fund in New York City. The decision to leave his enviable job and invest every last dime he had into a risky new business venture was not to be taken lightly. Bezos ... Read more

10 Ways to Wise Up

You may be smart, but are you wise? When I think of wise leaders, I think of people like Max De Pree (about whom I wrote in last week’s blog), or Warren Buffet, the “Sage of Omaha.” These are individuals we can admire and trust, not only because they’ve consistently delivered value for shareholders, but also because they’ve positively impacted their employees, communities, and families. Their lives are rich in things money cannot buy. While we can’t all become famous for our ... Read more

Leadership, God, and Good Furniture

Many people believe that at its heart, leadership is primarily about getting other people to do what you want them to do. They think leaders tend to see people as tools—objects that are a means to an end, interchangeable, and expendable.   While this is one way to lead, the cost is very high. It leads to: Exhausted and miserable leaders Cynicism and frustration throughout your organization Lack of sustainability – success is measured in financial quarters instead of decades No lasting impact – if the company ... Read more

Leading Ahead of the Curve

Ray Kurzweil, the seasoned inventor and futurist, says a lot of things that sound crazy—until they end up coming true. He foresaw many key technological breakthroughs like the ubiquity of the internet, a computer beating a world champion at chess, face-recognition software, and self-driving cars. Currently, he’s working as Google’s Director of Engineering, tasked with getting computers to understand human language. His predictions for the next 20 years (more…) Read more

Finding Balance

"Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way—that is not easy." --Aristotle, Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics In the quote above, Aristotle is essentially talking about balance—or, in his words, finding the golden mean. The golden mean is a moral virtue that lies between two extremes (vices). For example, courage is a virtue that lies between cowardice (too little ... Read more

Mistaking Ideals for Values

It is quite a shock when you discover that you are not exactly who you thought you were. As a leadership coach, I see this phenomenon occur most frequently when I help clients to determine what their values are. I begin by asking clients what they consider to be their core values. Usually it doesn’t take long for us to get 5 or 6 values on the whiteboard. That’s the easy part. The more challenging part is proving it. Just as ... Read more

Kids these Days!

Classifying and understanding people on the basis of when they were born is a very old and popular concept. It makes intuitive sense. A population that shared historical experiences will tend to be affected by those experiences in similar ways. This may cause them to see the world through the same lens. While this concept has been sometimes been abused or overextended, everyone has witnessed first-hand the conflicts and misunderstandings that can result from generational differences. This is a crucial concept for ... Read more

A Useful Tool for Managing Well

“Manage” is not a bad word. And, as a leader, you shouldn’t be afraid to use it. However, micromanaging your team creates dependency, stifles creativity, and implies that you don’t trust anyone but yourself. At the other extreme, a completely hands-off management style exposes your organization to a tremendous amount of risk and calls into question your commitment and desire to lead. I have found that a good old fashioned work plan, properly implemented, (more…) Read more

How to Find Personal Fulfillment

Every person must ask himself or herself the question, "How should I live?" Leaders have the added responsibility to tackle this question because the answer impacts not only themselves, but all of their subordinates as well. Fortunately, ancient Greek thinkers like Plato and Aristotle committed a tremendous amount of time and energy to answering this question, and today we can benefit from the mental heavy lifting that they did all those centuries ago. Aristotle identified three main ways humans seek fulfillment: Laetus (Immediate ... Read more

Leading the Underdog

We don’t often envy the leader whose company is lagging behind in its industry. The underdog company chases scraps of market share, often verges on collapse, and can’t afford to hire the most credentialed and experienced employees. Indeed, being the leader of an underdog is no easy task. And yet, by choosing to view the situation from a different perspective we can see that it has benefits and advantages all of its own. (more…) Read more
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