Category Archives: Executive

Beyond bookmarking: Sharing five articles I Stumbled, Google-read and stored

One of the best aspects of living life digitally is being able to share what I read in a millisecond.  I remember copying, faxing and mailing articles to clients.  Then I remember emailing them.  The tools we have now are an article clipper's dream.

Today, I use StumbleUpon and Google Reader both to catalog my favorites and to share them with followers on those sites.  I'm starting to do more on Facebook and LinkedIn as well, mainly through a standing link from my Twitter feed to those networks.  My goal is to wean myself off saving things to my computer.

As part of this process, I'm attempting to share five articles, saved and shared to my various networks, here on the blog every week, too.  So here they are.

  1. The obituary of Edward Stobart in The Economist.
  2. How to hold attention, by the brilliant John Hagel, with John Seely Brown, on Harvard Business Review.
  3. Figuring out where your buyers are, from the blog by Content Marketing Institute.
  4. The backlash against the academic Mafia [my phrase!], in The Atlantic.
  5. Mitch Wagner's take on Don Tapscott's view of capitalism, on The CMO Site.
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Of King Coal and Cleopatra, and icons and leaders

Geraldine Ferraro.  Pinetop Perkins.  Lanford Wilson.  The gifts they, and many other Americans, have shared are almost too much to ponder.  Their presence and passing through this age?  A reminder to appreciate the many forms leaders take and the elements that turn them into icons.  

One look at Elizabeth Taylor and those elements were abundantly clear.  Or so one thought.  It turns out that things went a bit deeper than incandescent looks and a lust for life that shot through every performance.  There were loyalty and empathy, two traits that can, but should not, be hard to come by in a leader or an icon.  

As a young Virginian exposed to Miss Taylor's charisma during a whirlwind political campaign, on a night when it seemed every man left every woman's side just to catch a glimpse of her, I witnessed not just the power of glamour but the pull of celebrity.  Standing in front of her, though, I wondered what she was thinking about all of us.  Turns out that evening was probably one of many during which she sacrificed her own comfort to support her spouse.  Yet Miss Taylor not only made it look easy, she seems to have put this quality to use later in evangelizing the importance of compassion for others.

Sacrifice is not an element usually associated with stardom, God-given beauty, serial monogamy — or being a corporate CEO.  When it is, though, it's noteworthy.  

The March obituaries told us the story of another onetime Virginian who had as elite a pedigree as any of today's CEOs, if not moreso, but chose to hone his leadership style from the ground up.  Literally.  

Ted Leisenring was the easy heir to the mighty Westmoreland Coal Company throne, but he worked as if that throne were someone else's to steal.  Upon his graduation from Yale, he headed to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, to labor underneath the ground, side by side, with the people who would be his employees.  Years after that, Mr Leisenring represented the coal companies in a long labor negotiation with the miners.  

My guess is that, for someone who respected the union, Mr Leisenring's negotiating position was reached with clarity of conscience and purpose.  According to Dan Rottenburg, author of In the Kingdom of Coal, Mr Leisenring dedicated the company to opening the lines of communication inside it after the strike was over.  He didn't revel in the victory over wildcatters, he sought to anticipate the concerns that gave rise to action which hurt the miners as much it hurt the companies.  The miners were not remote entities or heads on a spreadsheet; they were people, like him, who had a job to do.  

Here's to the leaders who don't try to be icons.  And the icons who lead.

 

 

 

Five things to read to shape your leadership strategy now

These five articles reach beyond short-term business trends to point us in a new direction — one that takes leaders to game-changing practices for managing growth, culture and image.

Sharing value:  how to reinvent capitalism, co-authored by the great Michael Porter; HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Worthless Wall Street:  by John Cassidy, this is the best explanation yet of Wall Street's culture — read it to avoid the traps; THE NEW YORKER

Personalizing social media:  you can influence what is said about you simply by using networks; HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Understanding brand and marketing now:  learn how to deploy the benefits of new tools in the context of tried-and-true marketing; BRANDING STRATEGY INSIDER

Communicating about performance in real time:  it's now possible to do away with the annual performance review and improve employee relations; MASHABLE [disclaimer:  Rypple is a client]

 

The seven business books I believe are right for right now

These books, which I've read or am reading, are works whose content can inform business life. 

The Power of Pull:  How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in MotionJohn Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison.  Aptly describes the change that is afoot and how anyone — and any business — can sustain relevance and connection.

Team of Rivals:  The Political Genius of Abraham LincolnDoris Kearns Goodwin.  Shows how competitors can collaborate when their leader is clear about the objective and recognizes how their motives can help reach the goal.  [Side benefit:  I found the description of the actions of biased journalists soothing.  If this country survived a civil war and those reporters, it can survive anything.]

The Divine ComedyDante Alighieri [The John Ciardi Translation].  Amazing that despite every other kind of growth, the human character really never changes.  Very useful.

I Hate People:  Kick Loose from the Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your JobJonathan Littman, Mark Hershon.  The authors do an outstanding job of categorizing every personality you can encounter in the workplace.  The psychology and the comedy of pathological behavior.

Delivering Happiness:  A Path to Profits, Passion and PurposeTony Hsieh.  Sometimes nice works. Here's how to do it and prosper without becoming a patsy.

Power:  Why Some People Have It — and Others Don'tJeffrey Pfeffer.  How to get comfortable with power and decide whether you want it.

Overlook Much, Correct a Little:  99 Sayings by John XXIIIHans-Peter Rothlin, editor.  The musings of an enlightened mind, these thoughts inspire action that benefits every stakeholder in an organization — most especially, oneself.

 

 

 

Lessons from a leader who looked to heaven but kept his feet on the ground

Last month, FAST COMPANY blogger David Gardner shared a memorial tribute to Paul L Locatelli, SJ, the president of Santa Clara University who passed away after a two-month illness.  Father Locatelli was something of a legend in Northern California; I had heard of his talents in management and fundraising, but this eloquent eulogy by Mr Gardner explored the qualities of Father Locatelli's style in a way I hadn't seen.  Please take a moment to read it.

Here are the basics of Father Locatelli's approach to leadership, as captured by Mr Gardner, that I took away and will keep in front of me.

  • Commit fully to your company, from vision, to strategy, to execution
  • Make commitments, not promises
  • Be relentless in pursuing your goals and don't lose heart
  • Keep speeches short and idle time shorter, all the while moving to the next thing
  • Make a list and get it done
  • Feed your physical, mental and spiritual selves equally
  • Pay attention to the people in your circles by engaging wholeheartedly with them; make time for them always
  • Listen intently
  • When someone asks for help, find a way to do it without hesitation
  • Emphasize the opportunities in life
  • Look for a value that serves others as well as yourself and honor it through optimal performance

Cloud computing: March 1 2010

The titans of Silicon Valley were talking about cloud computing in the late 1990s — way before anyone called it cloud computing.  I remember Larry Ellison telling Charlie Rose that one day, we'd be accessing our data from a box on our desks, but the data would be off somewhere in a central server, not in the box. 

Today, whole businesses are building in the cloud, offering companies of every size the ability to manage information strategically — affording a focus on the various communities consuming the information, not where the information is stored.

ReadWriteWeb's excellent ReadWriteCloud, the online publication, just ran this article.  While it addresses cloud recovery and whether it's a new name for the simple backup, the article serves as a solid immersion into the value of cloud computing.  

Social media tips from Kodak: February 23 2010

Today's Social Media Hour, a really useful weekly radio program about social media created and moderated by Cathy Brooks, included an interview with Jeff Hayzlett, Kodak's chief marketing officer.  Click here to download the company's excellent, and complimentary, guide to social media use.