Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Michael Useem on what got you here won’t get you there or reinventing yourself as you move forward:

“The factors that led others to select you to manage a team, an office, or even an enterprise, are going to change as markets and methods evolve, pushing you to the edge, and making it vital to continually consider the additional leadership capacities required now. The best capacities of an earlier time thus remain informative but also incomplete for the challenges we face ahead.”

Source: The Edge: How Ten CEOs Learned to Lead–And the Lessons for Us All

II.

Alaa Garad and Jeff Gold on how disruption and crisis require strategic learning across the organization:

“Leaders must engage in learning that is continuous and strategic, that has to include a willingness to embrace critical thinking to avoid … functional stupidity whereby leaders can prevent learning and change for the sake of maintaining and sustaining an order that they avoid justifying. In a similar manner, some leaders can be accused of hubris, show contempt for criticism from others and become capable of inflicting damage on their organizations.”

Source: The Learning-Driven Business: How to Develop an Organizational Learning Ecosystem

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi on leadership:

“The fundamental role of a leader is to look for ways to shape the decades ahead, not just react to the present, and to help others accept the discomfort of disruptions to the status quo.”

Source: My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future

II.

Gaurav Bhatnagar and Mark Minukas on fear:

“Fear is neither good nor bad. It is merely an emotion you feel when you get an outcome that is different from what you expect. The story we create about fear matters more that the fear itself. We control those stories and can craft either a negative one of doom and gloom or see fear as a cue for growth. When we are able to do the latter, fear becomes a path that leads to a better future.”

Source: Unfear: Transform Your Organization to Create Breakthrough Performance and Employee Well-Being

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Amelia Dunlop on elevating the human experience:

“Elevating the human experience is about acknowledging intrinsic worth as a human and nurturing growth through love. Sometimes the person we need to see most worthy of love is ourselves. Sometimes it is another person. Sometimes it is a group of people who have been unseen.”

Source: Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work

II.

John Parker Stewart and Daniel J. Stewart on understanding effective leadership is something you learn as you go along:

“One of our wonderful colleagues, John Zorbini, often said that if leadership were a car, you would think it must be a classic red Ferrari with the way we traditionally talk about it—or even the way we all think to ourselves about it. We sometimes put the idea of leadership on a pedestal and speak about it reverently. It’s the idea that when you become a leader, you are blessed with instant knowledge, judgment, and prestige.
“But, Zorbini pointed out, if leadership really were a car, it would be a beat-up old truck. It would have dents and dings. Maybe the side panels would be different colors and the interior worn out, but it would have four wheels, move, and get the job done. It’s functional, but not glamourous, and the messiness of learning to lead is visible.”

Source: LEAD NOW!: A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Pastor Will Johns on seeing the world through the lens of gratitude:

“Gratitude is a lens that changes the perception of everything in your life. Your world will be transformed. You will begin to see good things you’ve never noticed before. You will begin to feel joy for things in your life you knew were good but never fully appreciated. You will be able to count your blessings even during difficult circumstances. Gratitude will affect your essential perspective of and attitude toward life. And it will bring you the happiness you have been seeking your entire life. However, it doesn’t happen naturally.”

Source: Everything is Better Than You Think: How Gratitude Can Transform Your Life

II.

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton on how the best leaders know how people contribute and actively look for reasons to express gratitude:

“It is about seeing good things happening and then expressing heartfelt appreciation for the right behaviors. On the flip side, managers who lack gratitude suffer, first and foremost, from a problem of cognition—a failure to perceive how hard their people are trying to do good work—and, if they’re encountering problems, what they are. These ungrateful leaders suffer from information deficit.”

Source: Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Geoff Tuff and Steven Goldbach on the need for flexible thinking:

“We must dispel the notion that strong leaders don’t change their positions … or, dare we say, learn. Flipflopping when you have new information – flexing your thinking in an explicable way – is absolutely a hallmark of effective leadership in the face of accelerating change.
“Good leaders have an intuitive sense of things that must be true for their organizations to be successful and consistently check whether these conditions remain true in the external environment. They are on the lookout for things that could destroy the business model they have created. And if something changes that gives them pause, they aren’t afraid to make adjustments. When your business model may be at risk of implosion, it’s a very good thing that leaders changed their tune.”

Source: Provoke: How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws

II.

Historian Adrian Goldsworthy on concerns over the growth of organizations:

“It is only human nature to lose sight of the wider issues and focus on immediate concerns and personal issues.… All human institutions, from countries to businesses, risk creating a similarly short-sighted and selfish culture.
“Success produces growth and, in time, creates institutions so large that they are cushioned from mistakes and inefficiency.
“In most cases it takes a long time for serious problems or errors to be exposed. It is usually even harder to judge accurately the real competence of individuals and, in particular, their contributions to the overall purpose.
“For the vast majority of people, their work is less open to the public gaze but is similar in that the real consequences of what they do are not obvious.”

Source: How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Scientist Edward O. Wilson on the unification of knowledge:

“The ongoing fragmentation of knowledge and resulting chaos in philosophy are not reflections of the real world but artifacts of scholarship.”

Source: Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

II.

The late professor and writer David Foster Wallace on focus:

“Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about “teaching you how to think” is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”

Source: This is Water

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Journalist George Leonard on mastery:

“How long will it take me to master Aikido?” a prospective student asks. ‘How long do you expect to live?’ is the only respectable response.
“Ultimately, practice is the path of mastery. If you stay on it long enough, you’ll find it to be a vivid place, with its ups and downs, is challenges and comforts, its surprises, disappointments, and unconditional joys. You’ll take your share of bumps and bruises while traveling – bruises of the ego as well as of the body, mind and spirit – but it might well turn out to be the most reliable thing in your life. Then, too, it might eventually make you a winner in your chosen field, if that’s what you’re looking for, and then people will refer to you as a master. But that’s not really the point.
“What is mastery? At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path.”

Source: Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment

II.

General Gordon Sullivan and Michael Harper on what to do in uncharted territory:

“The old maps, the old ways of doing business, will not work in today’s new territories. Simply improving an existing process will not solve a problem. This is the failure of the ‘R-words’—reshaping, reengineering, reinventing, and reposturing. Doing the same thing you have always done—no matter how much you improve it—will get you only what you had before. The old ways lead to the same old failures.”

Source: Hope Is Not a Method: What Business Leaders Can Learn from America’s Army

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Louis L’Amour on pausing to take stock of yourself and ask: Where am I going? What am I becoming? What do I wish to do and become?

“Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow. The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.”

Source: The Walking Drum

II.

Peter Drucker on personal responsibility:

“It is the mark of a mature person to ask: ‘What do I want to get out of life?’—and to know that one gets out only as much as one puts in. Tomorrow it will be the mark of a free person to ask: ‘What do I want to get out of organizations?’—and to know that one gets only as much as one puts in.”

Source: The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society

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Not every internship works out, let alone an unpaid internship. Internship experience can range from coffee runs to hands-on project management. Regardless of the actual responsibilities you have in your role, an internship is what you make of it. My most successful internship was the one I took straight out of graduate school that inspired the idea behind a big-name Hollywood entertainment business.

I sold the business that would turn into Gofobo.Com to Terry Hines and Associates before even turning thirty. It’s one of my greatest achievements, and the story of how I got to the finish line might come as a surprise. My journey of success did not start with a trust fund, but with an unpaid internship and a “no.” 

The origin lies in pushing myself during every stage of my life— from working the paper route as a child, being a janitor in my high school, to signing up for countless other volunteer positions as a young adult. This tenacity reared its head as I began to encounter roadblocks that now serve as a cornerstone in one of my earliest success stories.

No Job is Too Small

I took an unpaid internship at Allied Entertainment after I got my MBA, promoting movie screenings and mailing paper tickets to those who secured them. Sorting through movies like Harry Potter and The Notebook in the backroom, noting who actually showed up and who did not. A seemingly menial task, right? 

The thing is: being down in the nitty-gritty of this kind of work is the best way to see what’s going right or wrong. I was the one to notice that at screenings we would either have too many or too few people show up. In the growing digital age, I realized this was a prime moment to transition to electronic tickets. In short: my “aha” moment may have happened on unpaid time, but boy did it pay off.

Good ideas are good ideas, and they come from everyone in the workplace. After all, it is the lack of confidence that will shrink you down, not your job title. If you treat your work like it is insignificant, you will feel insignificant yourself. However, if you treat every action like it can be groundbreaking, it will be. The sooner you take that lesson, the sooner you will see results.

Go Against the Flow, It’s Worth It

I brought the idea of electronic tickets to the CEO of the company, absolutely itching with eagerness. After all, who wouldn’t want that easy data at their fingertips? Well, apparently not him— or at least not yet. He brushed it off, saying to keep going about business as usual. It’s easier to do things as they have always been done. 

This didn’t sit right with me though. My business motto has always been to give my 100% effort, even if that means undertaking a more daunting task. Only then can you expect and see results. It’s the way I live my life most authentically: giving it my 100% over and over again. After all, hard work pays off; there’s a reason why that cliche exists in the first place. The idea of just continuing along one path because it’s the most familiar felt like a long-winded oversight. 

Faith unshaken, my vision of these electronic tickets just couldn’t go away. I knew it would make a splash in the market and was in an area no one else had explored yet. So, I went down the discouraged path and carried on with my idea anyway. I reached out to a friend from college who was similarly excited about the future of this project and we got to work. 

“There’s no shortage in remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them.” – Seth Godin

Be Relentless

I trusted my gut feeling that the CEO’s “no” wasn’t a dead end. I recognized I had done the research and that my concept wasn’t foolhardy, but relentless. And being relentless ends in results. 

I know firsthand that putting in the time and effort will help see a project through. I’ll be up at the crack of dawn to get my projects finished as soon as possible, trying to check as many things off a list as I can. That’s right, I was that kid in college who finished his homework for the whole semester over the first two weekends so I can spend the rest of my time focusing on other extracurriculars.

So, over the course of two years, we worked hard. We got up early and stayed up late. Ran our pencils dull as our eyes glossed over computer screens. And thank goodness we did.

Stay Good-Natured and Listen

This story ends when I’m in my late 20s, standing in a boardroom at the end of my two years of persistent work— no longer the unpaid intern. I was an accomplished businessman face to face again with the original man that told me to drop the idea behind gofobo.com. This time, however, I had sold the idea of gofobo.com and it merged with Alliance Entertainment, becoming what it’s known for today. That’s when he told me he’d “never turn me down again.”

Make a name for yourself this way. Don’t be afraid to be bold— one day those who doubted you will no longer be your superior, but your equal. Forge partnerships with everyone. Every individual in your company is valuable with their own unique, original, and potentially groundbreaking ideas who deserve to be heard and taken seriously. 

Yes, even the unpaid intern.

Read more: addicted2success.com

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Teresa Amabile on how to kill creativity:

“Organizations routinely kill creativity with fake deadlines or impossibly tight ones. The former create distrust and the latter cause burnout. In either case, people feel overcontrolled and unfulfilled—which invariably damages motivation. Moreover, creativity often takes time. It can be slow going to explore new concepts, put together unique solutions, and wander through the maze. Managers who do not allow time for exploration or do not schedule in incubation periods are unwittingly standing in the way of the creative process.”

Source: Harvard Business Review: How to Kill Creativity

II.

Authors John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison say we often don’t even know what we are looking for or the questions to ask to get there, so it calls for a different approach:

“We need serendipitous encounters with people because of the importance of the ideas that these people carry with them and the connections they have. People carry tacit knowledge. … You’ve got to stand next to someone who already knows and learn by doing. Tacit knowledge exists only in people’s heads. As edges arise ever more quickly, all of us must not only find the people who carry the new knowledge but get to know them well enough (and provide them with sufficient reciprocal value) that they’re comfortable trying to share it with us.”

Source: The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion

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