March 29, 2013

Now That's Different!

"It is superstitious to put one's hope in formalities, but arrogant to refuse to submit to them."

Blaise Pascal
17th century French mathematician, physicist, philosopher

I spend a lot of time working in Asia; Japan, Korea and China in particular, where social "formalities" are complex.

Accepting them is not only essential to success in business, doing so is also enjoyable.

The next time you encounter "formalities" different from what you are used to, give it a try. 

Besides being important for whatever you wish to do, you may just enjoy the experience.

March 28, 2013

Rearview Mirror Planning

"You can never plan the future by the past."

Edmund Burke
18th century British political writer

This is a fairly common belief, particularly among those who do not understand planning.

It assumes plans will be based solely or primarily on what has happened as opposed to what may happen.

Doing that would produce a bad plan, however that isn't how you plan.

Actionable plans are those that clearly understand not only what happened but of greater importance why it happened, combined with what currently is and what is assumed will be, all refined as new information becomes available.

In other words you have to simultaneously see where you've been and where you are to plan for where you want to be.

March 27, 2013

Miracles By Any Other Name

"Out of difficulties grows miracles."

Jean de la Bruyère
17th century French satiric moralist

In business we substitute "challenges" for difficulties, miracles become "accomplishments".

Call it what you like; when things block your progress, identify them, plan to overcome them, and then do so.

Do that and you'll have your miracle.

March 26, 2013

You Are The Company You Keep

"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation.  It is better to be alone than in bad company."

George Washington
First president of the United States of America

I'll bet President Washington knew to do this because he didn't always do it himself.

But we can learn from our mistakes.

Be mindful of the company you keep before you become them.

March 25, 2013

What I Will, What I Won't

"All philosophy lies in two words, sustain and abstain."

1st century Greek philosopher

The trick is to know what you will abstain from, what you will work to sustain.

The choice is not always clear but is often difficult.

March 22, 2013

I Have Something To Say About That!

"Diplomacy is thinking twice before saying nothing."


Advice I would have been better off having followed numerous times in my career.

What about you?

March 21, 2013

Doing What You Wish Beats Doing What You Must

"If a man loves the labor of his trade apart from any question of success or fame, the Gods have called him."

Robert Louis Stevenson
19th century Scottish essayist/novelist

If you're just beginning your career, or even just thinking about what you want to do when you graduate, think about this a lot.

You have to make enough to live however you wish, but the cost of spending your entire life doing something you don't want to do will be much greater than you can imagine.

There are many things in life over which you have no control. This doesn't have to be one of them.

March 20, 2013

You Mean I Have To Be At Least One Of These?

"Your manuscript is both good and original. But the parts that are good are not original and the parts that are original are not good."

Samuel Johnson
18th century British author

True in business as well.

Companies, products, and even people, only succeed long-term by being at least one of these things, if not both.

March 19, 2013

One Size Does Not Fit All

"You cannot put the same shoe on every foot."

Publilius Syrus
1st century BC Roman writer

Whatever business strategy you've used successfully in the past will soon, if not already, no longer work.

March 18, 2013

I'll Have To Do Something About That

"People do not mind their faults being spread out before them, but they become impatient if called on to give them up."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Late 18th/early 19th century German poet/dramatist

I would have thought of something other than "impatient", for example, maybe "anxious"; however the outcome is much the same.

We recognize what we need to change without taking action to change it.

March 15, 2013

Yes I Did Didn't I!

"Political success is the ability, when the inevitable occurs, to get credit for it."

Lawrence J. Peter
20th century Canadian teacher/writer

I'm certain Mr. Peter was talking about government politics when he said this but it applies equally well in business.

Strike that.

Even more so in business.

March 14, 2013

The Pain Of Criticism

"I feel the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise."

Thomas Jefferson
3rd president of the United States

I think this is probably true for most of us.

And yet we can or should learn more from criticism than we do from praise.

That is if we're listening.

March 13, 2013

Why Do We Need To Change?

"Some folks won't look up until they are flat on their backs."


The "change management" corollary is that you won't until you first recognize you need to.

March 12, 2013


"Art is science made clear."

Jean Cocteau
20th century French author/filmaker

There is "science" in business that many do not understand.

From the language business people use to the contracts governing dealings.

The art happens when you make it so all do understand.

March 11, 2013

Non Negotiable Ethics

"Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral laws are written on the table of eternity."

Lord Acton
19th century English historian

There is a tendency in some to see ethics and morals in the context of time and circumstance; however what is and isn't ethical and moral is not negotiable.

If you manage things and/or people, before you act, first ask yourself, "Is this right?"

If you cannot answer "yes", and you consider yourself a just person, don't do it.

March 08, 2013

Is There A Rational Manager?

"Everyone believes very easily what they fear or desire."

Jean de la Fontaine
17th century French poet

So much in business is about what we fear or hope will happen.

How rational then is our decision making?

March 07, 2013

Management Mantra

"Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depends on simplicity."

4th century BC Greek philosopher

This first made me think of product development where simplicity is almost always a virtue.

Then I thought about it in the context of management.

There too, even more so. Simple is better.

March 06, 2013

What Drives Success?

"The only real valuable thing is intuition."

Albert Einstein
20th century  German-Swiss-US scientist

I'm bothered by statements of absolutes including those coming from a world-renowned scientist.

There are many valuable things that contribute to one's success. Intuition is among them but not the only one.

Do you think that is more true in business than elsewhere?

March 05, 2013

Not Happy?

"Those who cross the sea change only the climate, not their character."

1st century BC Latin poet

And this is true of other things in addition to character.

If you're not happy at work, before you change, make sure your unhappiness is not due to something you control.

If it is, you won't likely be happy somewhere new.

March 04, 2013

Give Up?

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."


There are times when one is defeated whether they acknowledge they are or not.

However there are many more cases where defeat is self-imposed.

Do all you can to know the difference.