October 30, 2009

Management: Be What You Want Those Who Follow You To Be

"A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words."

Phillips Brooks
19th century American Clergy/Author

Leading by example.

It's more than words on a chart.

October 29, 2009

Risk Analysis: Looking to the Future

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward."

Vernon Sanders Law
Retired Professional Baseball Pitcher

It is true that we often do not see the potential consequences of our actions until they occur, but why should it be that way?

I think it's because we too often do not attempt to understand what may happen, choosing instead to simply act.

What do you think?

BTW, if you don't know (I didn't), Vern Law is also credited with having said, "A winner never quits and a quitter never wins."

October 28, 2009

Good Enough . . . Isn't

"He who stops being better stops being good."

Oliver Cromwell
17th century English Political and Military Leader

Not to mention great.

Once again an indication that minds much wiser than mine, believe the need to evolve and grow is at the top of the list of things necessary to succeed.

Well at least that's how I see it; what about you?

October 27, 2009

We're Starting Over, Put Away Your Assumptions

"Do not judge men by mere appearance; for the light laughter that bubbles on the lip often mantles over the depth of sadness, and the serious look may be the sober veil that covers a divine peace and joy."

Edward Chapin

Just a better, albeit more lengthy way to say, never judge a book by its cover. And never more appropriate a time to remind ourselves how true this is.

The economic clouds are parting, or so it would seem, but don't expect to look up and see things as they were; things you think you can rely on based on appearance.

The new rule: what was, isn't, what will be, different.

October 26, 2009

Coming Out of Our Shells?

"The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Similar to his "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", but with a slight twist for business.

We went into our "shells" last fall as things began to unravel, and are just now starting to come out, cautiously looking to see if all is well.

Too cautiously maybe?

October 23, 2009

Change: Holding Back the Tide

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."

John Kennedy

Of course he was talking about politics but there is corollary in business.

Resist active change (peaceful revolution) and you hasten the demise of the business (violent revolution.)

October 22, 2009

A Laughing Matter

"Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on."

Bob Newhart

I think so too and what could be more useful when making critical business decisions than to gain new perspective that will come from having "stepped back"?

All the better if it is laughter that makes that happen.

What role does humor play in your business?

October 21, 2009

Invisible Power

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."

Eric Hoffer
Early 20th century American writer

Business succeeds when it promotes the best people with "best" being more than just technical knowledge.

One's position in an organization does not prove his or her power.
Real power is transparent.

Too bad not everyone understands that as did Mr. Hoffer.

October 20, 2009

What's "Done" Isn't Always

"A computer lets you make more mistakes, faster than any invention in human history-with the possible exception of hand guns and tequila."

Mitch Ratcliffe
Internet Strategist

He's right.

A lot of people, sometimes me included, confuse output with production.

They are very different things and often "done" is actually not.

Do you measure production? How?

October 19, 2009

Not What You Make, What You Keep

"Profits are an opinion, cash is fact."


Each year my accountant and I would sit down just before year-end and plan how to close the books, taking into account the realities of income and corporate tax rules.

Nothing illegal, just maximizing what the company would keep.
Obviously the less profit I reported the less tax I paid and while everything we did was legal, the process taught me how little value there was looking at a P&L when evaluating a company's performance.

Now I see a regular stream of start-up companies telling me not how much they will keep, but rather how much they will make.

There is a big difference.

October 16, 2009

Work Hard To Be Lucky

"Rise early, work hard, strike oil."

J. Paul Getty

This is Mr. Getty's prescription for success. In other words, never discount the importance of luck.

But it is the first two that increase the chances of the third ever happening. I would change "strike oil" or "luck" to "create opportunity".

Whatever it is you make or do, do you include attempting to create opportunity as part of your efforts?

Maybe you should.

October 15, 2009

Personal Responsibility: Time to Step Up

"To hazard much to get much has more of avarice than wisdom."

William Penn

17th century British religious leader

We live in a time when business is much maligned, finance in particular, for having been too greedy, seemingly wrecking the economy as a result.


What is "business" if not individual sellers and buyers of goods and services. Without us individuals, is "business" anything other than buildings full of empty desks?


Yes, but let's not lay it off on some abstract such as "business". No, it was, is and will always be, we individuals whether we are acting in our professional or personal lives.

If we don't like the way things are, we can change them, starting with ourselves.

October 14, 2009

Maybe After A Gunfight, But In Business?

"Never apologize and never explain-it's a sign of weakness."

John Wayne

As jarring as this will sound to many of you, it is a philosophy practiced by many managers. Too many in my opinion.

Start with the premise that apologizing or explaining is a "sign of weakness." We are all, at various times, "weak", if we define "weak" as deficient in certain ways.

Who isn't? But being weak does not mean we can't take corrective action to become strong.

Isn't that the whole point of SWOT analysis?

October 13, 2009

The Price of Worry

"We have to fight them daily, like fleas, those many small worries about the morrow, for they sap our energies."

Etty Hillesum

Jewish Thinker/Writer

Died November 30, 1943, Auschwitz

That we all worry is no revelation, nor is saying that worrying, needlessly or otherwise, affects our performance.

The goal should not be to not worry but to only worry about what is important, about things over which we can exert some control.

So easy to say, so difficult to do.

How does worry affect your business life and what, if anything, do you do to control the negative affects of worry?

October 12, 2009

Self-Confident: Are You?

"A gold medal is a nice thing-but if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it."

From the movie, "Cool Runnings"

Business translation: If it takes a success to make you successful, you never will be.

How's your self-esteem?

How about that of those who work for you?

October 09, 2009

Needing to Win . . . Just Because?

"Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning."

Erwin Rommel
WWII General, German Army

How many discussions, debates, arguments, disagreements have you been in where following this advice would have produced a more favorable outcome for you, the other party or both?

October 08, 2009

Start-Ups: The Temptation to Go It Alone

"In business for yourself, not by yourself."

Ray Kroc

McDonald's Founder

Ironically, many who go into business for themselves, do so thinking they will finally be free of having to work with others.

Often they are, at least for the short time it will take most of them to go out of business as a result.

Ready to break out?

On your own or alone?

October 07, 2009

Whom Do You Trust?

"Doubt whom you will but never yourself."

Christine Bovee


To the best of my recollection, I've never posted a quote I didn't at least in part agree with . . . until now.

This comes under the heading of "feel good, love yourself" and while at its core, I understand and agree with the basic message, taken literally, never doubting yourself, never questioning your own views, is the antithesis of good management.

Now, with that disclaimer, leaders must also have tremendous confidence in their own ability.

How do you balance the two?

October 06, 2009

All Things Must Pass . . . But Not Necessarily Now

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

Roman Philosopher

Yesterday's post and comments made me think more about the inevitable beginnings and endings in business.

While inevitable, which and when it will be for you depends a lot on what you do and don't do.

October 05, 2009

Tearing Down the Wall: Now What?

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with stormy difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew."

Abraham Lincoln

Translation: We have problems and the old ways will not solve them.

Could be Abe was talking about today don't you think?

So what about you? Same old ways or getting ready for a new future?

October 02, 2009

Risk/Reward: Striking a Balance

"There is nothing more difficult than to take the lead on the introduction of a new order of things."

Niccolo Machiavelli

16th century Italian Philosopher

In the Army we used to say, never volunteer to take the point.

But if no one does, how do things move ahead? And while those out front may be the first to fall, are they not also the first to arrive if they don't?

Another example of the need to balance risk/reward.

How do you do that?

October 01, 2009

Managing Self-Worth: Can You, Should You?

"We all are something, but none of us are everything."

Blaise Pascal
17th century French Mathematician/Physicist

Self-worth is critical; without enough of it the individual's ability to contribute to what will ultimately be the accomplishments of the group, is limited.

But too much of it, which sometimes leads to the belief that one's contribution is more important than that coming from others, can be worse.

Do you attempt to manage self-worth among your direct reports?

Do you for yourself?