Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Remember Winston Churchill
In that morning's Intermail had finally arrived the reports from the New York training program on Igino, which said that he was a rebellious crank who disobeyed orders and had created a market among the trainees for lecture notes. The report recommended that he be sent to some distant, insignificant office far away from New York where he could do the least damage. Coyote Jack had never read such a promising report. In a world of unmerciful uniformity, rebels were hard to come by. Those willing to be the first to break the rules were rare. Those willing to disregard orders were even scarcer. Rebels had built this business and rebels had continued to redefine it. Wasserstein had been a rebel. Milken had been a rebel. Coyote Jack went to his fishbowl window and looked out over the pits where thirty-seven salespeople slaved under his command. The evidence of Igino's blatant disregard for authority was already in evidence on only his fourth day of work. He had gotten rid of his chair entirely and was standing up while he worked the phones. And his hair was wet! Two days ago Coyote Jack had told him to get it cut, which he hadn't done, and now he showed up with it wet and entirely unstyled. Coyote Jack couldn't have been happier. A market for lecture notes!
- From Bombardiers by Po Bronson
NASA's Opportunity Rover
Stories and Strategies from Real Life
As always, Wally Bock finds great ones.
Art Break: Cook
Art Contrarian looks at the work of Brian Cook.
As Edward R. Murrow Spins in His Grave
Ludwig, Johann, and Friends
Cultural Offering has started an Essential Great Music list.
Upon his judgment I rely. Check it out.
Elvis Presley, at his charismatic best, sings an casual "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"
Take the call. Check the emails. Answer the emails, Review the draft. Give an opinion. Revise an opinion. Hit a barrier. Shift to another project. Do some research. Make a chart. Track down a contact. Hit another barrier. Stare out the window. Shift back to the first project. Remember a needed change on a third. Get upset about something. Prepare for a meeting. Listen for what was not said. Write up your recollections. Think a while. Change a word. Encourage a friend. Make another call. Answer another email. Get distracted by a news item. Sense that something's been overlooked. Start the pattern over again
Amid the busyness, it can be difficult to spot what needs more attention.
When Do You Find Time to Read?
I am sometimes asked, "When you you find time to read?"
It's a good question. Most of us are scrambling and we have to catch reading on the fly.
Or do we? Novels can be read late at night or while waiting for the multitude of personal appointments which are set for one time but don't really start until 20 minutes later. [I always have a book or two within reach.]
Business reading, on the other hand, should not be regarded as leisure but instead as an important part of work. I't's easy to fall behind on business reading but the volume would be impossible without setting aside time to read. My clients pay me for judgment and insight. Both of those frequently require reviewing the ideas and recommendations of others, if only to confirm that the original analysis was correct.
Some standard recommendations:
- Set aside time to read.
- Set aside time to think.
- Set aside time for uninterrupted work.
- Set aside time to go and see.
- Don't assume that your job only consists of going to meetings.
Quote of the Day
In the meantime, cling tooth and nail to the following rule: not to give in to adversity, not to trust prosperity, and always take note of fortune's habit of behaving just as she pleases.
Friday, January 23, 2015
I hope that you've been following Nicholas Bate's essential tools of excellence.
"I don't think he's that smart."
"He must be smart. He graduated from elite schools."
"So that means he's smart?"
"Well, no. That means he's probably smart."
"'Probably smart' doesn't mean smart but I'll grant you that in some respects he is smart. I also think he's a nut."
"So you think he is a smart nut?"
"Be honest. Haven't you ever met a smart nut?
Avoid the Weeds
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
Back by popular demand: The classic Monty Python routine.
How to Evade Accountability
- Blame your predecessors.
- Rally credulous supporters.
- Exaggerate your problems.
- Whine about lack of resources.
- Make repeated claims that your critics are biased.
- Cook the books.
- Engage in shameless deceptions.
- Deny that the subject is your responsibility.
- Order an open-ended study.
- Allege that you are the victim of a conspiracy.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
At Live & Learn; Tom Gauld's guide to a home library.
Unorganized Hancock: Band of The Great White North
Sippican Cottage: Clear evidence that there is serious musical talent in the wilds of Maine.
You May Already Be a Werner
View From the Ledge has 24 pieces of life advice from film maker Werner Herzog.
They are worth pondering.
7 Things That Can Help You Stop Worrying
Fast Company has the answers and not surprisingly one involves chocolate.
When Running for Office is a Question
Over the years, some people have approached me about running for political office. [A few persistent souls still do.] One time I came close to running but eventually decided that another candidate would do a better job. I stayed out of the race and watched him lose in the primary. It was a reminder that nothing is certain in politics.
Anyway, if you've thought of running, here are some standard questions:
- What will be the effect on your family and job?
- Are you well-versed on the issues?
- Can you afford to run?
- Are you willing and able to put in the time to campaign?
- Can you win?
- Do you have skills and insight which can contribute to the public good?
- Do you have the background, temperament, and character to be both a decent candidate and a decent public servant? [And yes, those are two very different things.]
- Are you and your family willing to put up with the craziness and abuse which can accompany a political campaign?
- Are you indeed the best candidate or would this just be an ego exercise?
- Are your talents better used out of political office?
In the year 170, at night in his tent on the front lines of the war in Germania, Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of the Roman Empire, sat down to write. Or perhaps it was before dawn at the palace in Rome. Or he stole a few seconds to himself during the games, ignoring the carnage on the floor of the Colosseum below. The exact location is not important. What matters is that this man, known today as the last of the Five Good Emperors, sat down to write.
- From The Obstacle is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
A Culture of Diversions
Quote of the Day
It's a shame that, in so many companies, whenever you get good service, it's an exception.
- Francis G. "Buck" Rogers
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Art Break: La Gatta
Art Contrarian looks at the work of John La Gatta.
The Great Emancipator
Lincoln scholar Eric Foner discusses Lincoln and slavery.
[Thanks to Caroline Fraker for her tip about Foner's book.]
The Merriest Kind
Some C. S. Lewis and much more can be found at The Hammock Papers.
A Guru Track
Quote of the Day
A profound difference between public-and-private-sector collective bargaining is that private-sector unions have a natural adversary in the owners of the companies with whom they negotiate.
- Daniel DiSalvo
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
HR Alert: Federal Regs on Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities
We've just released a new online class which is part of our Federal Contractors training series:
"What HR Professionals Need to Know about Affirmative Action for Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities." Click here for details.
It's packed with practical information, including a comprehensive checklist to determine if the compliance efforts are on-track. There is also battle-tested insight on how to deal with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and how to win support from managers and supervisors.
In short, this is a quick and convenient way to gain control over what can be a very complicated topic. Tell the HR people in your life that they don't need to plow through a mountain of regulations. Help has arrived.
The Influence of Meetings
It's Not You. It's Me.
CX Journey explores the question: "Do customers talk about your products or your ads?"
Be sure to watch the brief video at the end.
All The Way With LBJ
Althouse remembers the heady days of LBJ's inauguration. Look over the list of entertainers and consider how many of them jumped ship in a few years and were either with the Robert Kennedy or Eugene McCarthy campaigns.
All glory is fleeting.
"Their orders were to shape up that operation."
"Does that mean making it worse?"
"Does that mean triggering a bunch of complaints and having lawyers crawl all over your boss?"
"Of course not."
"You see where I'm going with this, don't you?"
"Yeah, I wasn't given a blank check."
"Right, so if juggling oranges would make matters better..."
"Then I juggle oranges."
Oscars, Diversity, and Quotas
The criticism of this year's list of Oscar nominees is troubling because it seems to be a cry for equal results instead of equal opportunity. Will a bold, new, emphasis on diversity produce a covert quota system in which various groups set markers for acceptable representation and where merit is subjected to a de facto ceiling? ["We've had enough Asians for that award." ]
Numbers alone can be enormously misleading. [Does anyone seriously believe that the professional basketball teams discriminate on the basis of race? Check out their composition.] Analysis can become even more fragile when something as subjective as artistic expression is considered. Every year, you can spot individuals who sincerely believe the Oscar selections were ill-considered and unfair. They're the audience members with dazed eyes and frozen smiles.
And here's a dirty little secret: often they are right.
But some perspective is provided by a line from The Godfather, Part II: "This is the business we've chosen."
Quote of the Day
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
- Upton Sinclair
Monday, January 19, 2015
A high school basketball team wins a game 161-2 and the winning coach is suspended.
I confess to having several reactions:
- You don't want to rub it in but you also don't want to insult the other team by treating them in a condescending manner. [I recall playing on some losing Little League baseball teams. Losing by a huge amount would have been better than feeling that the other team was just toying with us.]
- Why did they suspend the coach? Couldn't they have simply had a conversation about it? Does everything need to be formalized?
- One of the article's comments had a good point: At what point does the lead become "running up the score?" Is it at 50 points? 75 points? 103 points?
- This is a sport. Some days you lose big. When you do, you don't boo-hoo about it. You work on getting better.
- If they take the right lessons from this, the players on the losing team may eventually benefit far more than the ones on the winning team.
[HT: Drudge Report]
Bock: Leadership Reading
Wally Bock has leadership reading to start your week. [I always recommend reading Manfred Kets de Vries.]
Elites and Patriotism
In most of Europe, however, patriotism is seen as outdated and discreditable. The EU is built on the proposition that national identities are arbitrary, transient, and ultimately dangerous. Indeed, even the passports have been harmonized: the stiff blue British passport has been replaced by a floppy purple EU one. European countries make little effort to inculcate national loyalty in their immigrant communities, because they feel no such loyalties themselves. I am not speaking here of the general population but of the political and intellectual leaders who have systematically derided and traduced the concept of patriotism for the past 40 years.
- From Why America Must Not Follow Europe by Daniel Hannan
As the nation honors the memory, courage, and good works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we should be embarrassed that the most prominent civil rights figure of our day is Al Sharpton.
In Dr. King's time, important political and corporate figures wouldn't go near such a character but now they share stages with him, embrace him, and pretend that his counsel is wise. We've drifted a long way from a level of leadership which included Martin Luther King, Jr.; Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins; and A. Philip Randolph and it shows.