December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

"In my beginning is my end."

T.S. Elliot
Early 20th century American-English poet/playwright

A reminder that everything ultimately ends, or at least changes to become something else, including all in your career and business.

On this last day of 2010, the day before the first day of 2011, well you should recognize this in your business life.

I wish you all your best year yet, only to be surpassed by those that will follow.


December 30, 2010

Think Small To Get Big

"Big jobs usually go to men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones."

Ralph Waldo Emerson
19th century American poet

Advice to those just beginning your careers.

Don't shy away from the jobs you think are beneath you're ability.

Quickly get on with them, do them faster and better than most would expect, and if there is an advancement path for you to be on, you will be moved up.

And if there isn't, you will soon see that is the case and can go elsewhere.

December 29, 2010

The Art of Business

"Art is either plagiarism or revolution."

Paul Gaugin
19th century French artist

In business as well.

We most often "borrow" from others occasionally coming up with something entirely new.

When it is the latter we have a steep hill of doubt to climb before others see the revolution as we do, rather than just another folly.

December 28, 2010

How About You?

"More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin."


And more than that, the courage to continue.

Most anyone can begin, and all of us can quit, but far fewer have what it takes to keep going.

Something to think about as we approach one more new year.

December 27, 2010

Running From Rather Than To

"I know what I am fleeing from, but not what I am in search of."

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
16th century French philosopher

Ain't that the truth.  

And as bad as not knowing where we want to go is, little of what we flee from/fear, turns out to have been worth the angst and effort.

So, the lesson is, carefully examine our fears, putting aside the inconsequential, dealing with the remaining few, all the time never losing sight of the need to simultaneously focus on our goals.

December 23, 2010

Time To Rethink? Before It's Too Late

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of a majority, it is time to reform."

Mark Twain
19th century American humorist/writer

Once again, with apologies, I edit.

It is time to consider reform.

Being with others who agree on something does not itself indicate the need for change.

Being with others who agree on something, and who are also not willing to continually consider alternatives, is another story altogether.

December 22, 2010

Employee Relations: Trust Or Cut Bait

 "If you suspect a man, don't employ him, and if you employ him, don't suspect him."

Chinese proverb

As is often true with these quotes and proverbs, this feels reasonable in theory but a bit difficult in practise.  

There are gray areas where we only begin to doubt a person, not yet to the point of even suspecting them, certainly not being convinced they are untrustworthy.

Too soon to act.

But I would couple with this with another saying which urges resolution over ongoing status quo.

"Fish or cut bait."

December 21, 2010

People Not Things!

"The history of the world is but the biography of great men."

Thomas Carlyle
19th century British historian

And women.

This is also the key finding of my research into the process of change.

Everything centers on people.

Every change, both good and bad, has at it's core, individuals.

If you want to change something, start by focusing on the people who will be necessary to do whatever it is you want to do.

Without them, nothing will happen.  Nothing!

December 20, 2010

The Role of Revenge

"Revenge converts a little right into a great wrong."

German proverb

Just as it does in our personal lives, so too does revenge play a role in our business decisions, with the only question being, to what degree?

It shouldn't because in theory, all we decide to do and not do should be based on unemotional facts, but that's not the way things work all the time.

To what extent are you guided by a desire to get even?  

December 17, 2010

Learn Now Or Pay Later

 "A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials."

Chinese proverb

While this suggests two things (one's openness to criticism ("friction") and the inevitability of challenges), of even greater worth for me is the unsaid wisdom that ties the two together.

The more likely we are to accept suggestions of ways we can improve, the less likely it is we will later make mistakes resulting in "trials."

December 16, 2010

On Being Your Own Boss

"By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day."

Robert Frost
Early 20th century American poet

A variation of something I've often said about the time I've spent running my companies.  

I'm in charge, no one tells me what to do.  Only I pick which 20 of every 24 hours I will work.

Thinking about starting your own company?

Think carefully.

December 15, 2010

Reaching Only For What You Can Already Touch?

"Don't let your will roar when you power only whispers."

Thomas Fuller
17th century British clergy/author

I have mixed feelings about this.

It might be telling us to temper our aspirations when we are not in a position to achieve them, or does it go even further, suggesting we should never reach beyond what we can already grasp?

If it is the second, how would we ever get beyond the starting point?

Few I know, and certainly not me, began from a position of power.

December 14, 2010

Where You Headed?

"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.  "Which road do I take?", she asked.  "Where do you want to go?", was his response.  "I don't know", answered Alice.  "Then", said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

Lewis Carroll
19th century English mathematician and novelist

I chose the complete quote rather than the more business oriented abbreviated version most all involved in planning will recognize from planning literature, to remind us that goal setting is just as critical in our personal lives as it is in our business lives.

Where do you want to go?

December 13, 2010

Helping You Helps Me

"Don't tell your complaint to one who has no pity."

Irish proverb

If your business results in customer complaints, is your goal to deal with them because you must, or do you wish to resolve issues to the satisfaction of those who complain?

Your answer defines what could be called your "pity", which at the same time could also be called your own "self-interest".

If the former, don't be surprised if you have fewer and fewer complaints, the result of having fewer and fewer customers.

December 10, 2010

The Clock Ticks Even In Eternity

"Forever is a long bargain."

German proverb

And for most things, an impossibility.

Do you account for for longevity in your business decisions?

You should.

December 09, 2010

The Business of Kindness

"To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business life."

Samuel Johnson
18th century British author

Looking back over my career, including all the interaction I have had with so many people, I cannot recall much thought given to the roll, or lack thereof, that kindness plays in business.

This is not to say that others were not kind to me or me to them.  They were and I was.  

But having read this quote I now wonder how much of that was purposeful versus a byproduct of normal human interaction.

Should we attempt to be more kind in business?

December 08, 2010

The Win To Those Who Prepare

"The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity."

Erich Fromm
20th century psychoanalyst/social philosopher

Excellent advice for anyone starting his or her career.

The days of lifetime employment, if they ever existed, are now gone.  Whatever security you have you will make.

But don't fear that.  Understanding that is what is, is half the battle with the other half being, you must prepare accordingly.

December 07, 2010

Beware The Fine Print

"It is in the treatment of trifles that a person shows what they are."

Arthur Schopenhauer
Early 19th century German philosopher

"Trifles" suggests things inconsequential but when it comes to business, are you always certain you know what is and is not important?

Be careful, it's the small stuff that can take you down.

December 06, 2010

What About Tomorrow?

"You are young at any age if you are planning for tomorrow."


And this is not just about how we should live our personal lives as we age; it applies to everything, certainly including our business lives.

How many people do you know who could show you their life's plan, assuming you asked to see it?

How many do you know who could show you their business or personal occupational plan?

The numbers (unfortunately) are similar and certainly low.

December 03, 2010

The Power of Changing Your Mind

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."

George Bernard Shaw
Late 19th, early 20th century Irish writer

As many of you know, I am working on a book regarding "change", and felt this quote well represented me a few months back.

Until that point, I had been working one way, making what was to me, acceptable but very little progress.  The sum of my excuses for lack of output was greater than my output.

Then I re-thought things resulting in a different approach.  

Today, the book is essentially written, I am in the editing stage with considerably more to do, but much more done than would be true had I not "changed my mind."

Changing your mind.  It works.

December 02, 2010

She Knows!

"Counsel woven into the fiber of real life is wisdom."

Walter Benjamin
Early 20th century German philosopher

And wisdom is exactly what you'll get from Andrea Belz.

Meet her up close and personal to see how true that is.

Join her for her book launch party 7:00 PM, Friday December 10 at:

695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, Cal 91101

December 01, 2010

If Only I Had The Time . . . You Do!

"Time is the only critic without ambition."

John Steinbeck
American author

You can complain about not having enough time but in the end, how much you do versus what you say you will do is completely up to you.

November 30, 2010

Do As I Say! . . . Always?

"The ship that will not obey the helm will have to obey the rocks."

English proverb

True, but how do we know when obedience becomes blind and counter-productive?

As a manager, how much challenge do you allow from your subordinates?

November 29, 2010

Irrelevance is Relative

"Poetry often enters through windows of irrelevance."

M.C. Richards
20th century American poet/writer

And what is "irrelevant" is often a matter of opinion, subject to change tomorrow.  

Take education for example.

That you learn is more important than what or how you learn, a contention I agree with indirectly suggested to me by Julia Watson of in 9 Brilliant Business Minds And Their Totally Irrelevant College Majors.

November 26, 2010

Be Convinced . . . And Prepared To Change Your Mind

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

Winston Churchill

And this is not just true in politics and religion but in business as well.

The first order of business should be to believe what you advocate with the second being that you are open to alternative views.

A tight rope many cannot walk.

Can you?  Do you?

November 24, 2010

I'll Tell You What You Need To Know

"No member of society has the right to teach any doctrine contrary to what society holds to be true."

Samuel Johnson
18th century British author

If taken literally, wouldn't this result in only more of what we know or believe we know, with little or no innovation?

In both my personal and business lives, I want to hear every opinion possible no matter how contrary to what I think.

I can discard the useless and will certainly recognize and coop the useful.

November 23, 2010

The Right Attitude

"Oh give us the man who sings at his work."

Thomas Carlyle
19th century British historian

Best not to take some of these quotes literally, this being one of them.

Unless I'm running a choir, I don't need singing workers.

But that was not Mr. Carlyle's intent anyway.  This has to do with upbeat, good natured workers and that will be a positive in any company.

November 22, 2010

Constant Change

"A state without the means of some change is a state without the means of its conservation."

Francis Bacon
16th century British statesman/philosopher

In business, a company not comfortable and able to deal with constant change will not survive.

Not only is nothing forever, anymore, very little is even for a little while.

November 19, 2010

Just Do The Job(?)

"The cure for boredom is curiosity and there is no cure for curiosity."

Dorothy Parker
Early 20th century American satirist

Keeping employees engaged and interested in their work is in management's best interest, but is doing so also their responsibility?

November 18, 2010

No, But I Can Explain

"It's not whether you win or lose it's how you place the blame."

Oscar Wilde

Or how you explain why you did not accomplish something important?

There are legitimate excuses for not getting things done but if you find you must more often than not explain your lack of performance, your success/failure ratio may be upside down. 

If so, the reasons will soon no longer matter.

We all get paid for what we accomplish, not for explanations of our failings.

November 17, 2010

What You Do, Not What You Say

"Every man is the son of his own works."

Miguel de Cervantes
16th century Spanish writer

Our words say what we will do, but what that actually turns out to be is how others will judge us.

November 16, 2010

You Talkin' To Me?

"The world is run by C students."

Source unknown

Probably true but if not, this is.

The world is populated by mostly C students and if you intend to sell us something (B2B or B2C) you need to remember that with your marketing.

So what do you do?  More like what you don't do.

I've quoted my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Mathew Kim, on this before but his advice is worth repeating.

Speak not so you can be understood but so you cannot be misunderstood.

November 15, 2010

Here's Where You Went Wrong . . .

"They condemn what they do not understand."

Marcus Tulius Cicero
1st century BC Roman politician

Now, when it is me being criticized I see the wisdom in this however when I am constructively pointing out someone else's faults, I don't.

How about you?

November 12, 2010

Going Alone

"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let's say you're considering quitting your job, going on your own.  Does this seem to support that decision or serve as a warning that you may want to rethink things?

The oxymoron is in the last four words "economic security and independence."  

You'll have a degree of independence although less than you think.

Economic security?  Not as much, taking longer to achieve than your plan predicts (you do have a plan don't you??)

How do I know?  Been there done that.

November 11, 2010

Did You Hear . . . ???

"Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you."

Spanish proverb

Something to remember the next time you say something personal about yourself to someone who just said something personal about someone else to you.

November 10, 2010

If Not Positive, What Then?

"I am an optimist, it does not seem much use being anything else."

Winston Churchill

I am also naturally an optimist and probably like this as a result.  But I also think it is generally true.

Do you?

November 09, 2010

You Don't Understand, But Why?

"Who is so deaf or so blind as he that will willfully neither hear nor see?"

English proverb

Good question, but how do we recognize purposeful managerial "blindness, deafness"?

When does managerial conviction and principles become managerial obstinacy?

November 08, 2010

Can You Be Both Effective And Liked?

"Good nature is worth more than knowledge, more than money, more than honor, to the persons who possess it."

Henry Ward Beecher
19th century American politician

As it relates to management, what is "good nature"?  

A lack of anger, maybe being liked by many if not all?  

Can a business leader in difficult times, both achieve expected results AND be seen as "good natured"?

Does "good nature" relate to management?

November 05, 2010

Time Enough

"Time stays long enough for those who use it."

Leonardo da Vinci

Thinking back over my career, I believe "I didn't have enough time" was the number one reason my direct reports gave me when they hadn't completed something when expected.

Sometimes they were stating fact and they didn't have enough time; however, I doubt that was true in less than 1 out of 5 cases.

The other times?  They simply didn't manage themselves well enough (and yes that applies to me as well.)

How about you?

November 04, 2010

More Than Honesty, Now What?

"It is wise to disclose what cannot be concealed."

Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
18th century German historian

Ok, I'll accept that but the hard part is knowing what to do and say once some controversial piece of information has been revealed.

There will be consequences to your workforce, competition and/or customers; what will you do about that?

How much of this (determining what to reveal followed by deciding what you will do once you have) do you consider when planning?

November 03, 2010

Put Up Or Shut Up Time

"Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions."

Edward R. Murrow
20th century American newsman

And now, the day after the US elections . . .

Memo to those elected:  What have you got?

November 02, 2010

So, How'd That Work Out For You?

"In politics . . . never retreat, never retract . . . never admit a mistake."

Napoleon Bonaparte
18th century French General

On this election day in the US I thought it appropriate to include a political quote, one I believe with a message to business people as well.

However not sure this is the best advice in that Napoleon died three years after being imprisoned and exiled to the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, 2,000 KM from any land mass, for what even he recognized as his intractable leadership style.

Memo to US politicians:   Take heed, there's room on the boat.

November 01, 2010

Your Contribution?

"No person was ever honored for what he received.  He was honored for what he gave."
Calvin Coolidge
30th president of the United States

True in business as well and not just corporate charity.  How much of what, and to who, do you personally give in your work life?

October 29, 2010

A Person Of Action Or Indecision?

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking."


One of those "brain candy" statements easily refuted, and still, there is a lesson in this for us all.

While at some point you have to act, all too often we act first, think later, based on half-truths, assumptions and too little information.

October 28, 2010

The Change Debate: Which Side Are You On?

"The chains of habit are generally too weak to be felt, until they are too strong to be broken."

Samuel Johnson
18th century British author

One of many, often contradictory quotes having to do with change, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" being an example from the opposite point of view.

We all have to choose and for me, embracing rather than resisting change is the best course of action.

How about you?

October 27, 2010

Who Would Know Better Than Darwin?

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

Charles Darwin
Suggested by Manish Kulman

If ever there was an endorsement about the importance of one's relationship to change, this is it.

Proactive or reactive, when it comes to change, which are you?

October 26, 2010

You Did It Once And If Need Be, You Can Do It Again!

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by each experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."

Eleanore Roosevelt
20th century American columnist, lecturer and humanitarian

That being true we all should be considerably stronger given the events of the last 24 months, assuming we don't forget that we once confronted fear and survived.

Do you remember?

October 25, 2010

Follow Me, Follow Us?

"None of us is as smart as all of us."

Japanese proverb

Very Zen, makes sense on many levels, however taken to the extreme, such thinking can lead to inaction, missed opportunity.

How do we balance the expected good from inclusiveness with the benefit that can come from following a decisive leader?

October 22, 2010

Committee Effectiveness

"To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent."

Robert Copeland

I've been on a few committees where I wish this had been true, including some where the outcome would have been better had I been one of the two not there.

But in general, the effectiveness of a committee has more to do with the ability of its members and the clarity of its mission.  

Get that wrong and even a committee of one will fail.

October 21, 2010

Too Fast, Too Slow

"Quicker by taking more time."

In auto racing this is called slow down to go fast, meaning, driving faster than your ability, the car, road, or some combination of these will allow, will cause you to lose the race.

It's no different in business.