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Archive for December, 2008


Take Two, They’re Small

Small Business Marketing Advice for 2009 | Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing.

If you have small-to-midsized business, and are wondering how to thrive in 2009, here are some great little wisdom-bites from some marketing heavy-hitters.

If you’re a Twitterer, there are lots more ideas on the Twitter thread #snack09.

Posted in learning


21st Century Fireside Chats

YouTube – 12/24/08 President-elect Obama’s Weekly Address.

You may not know that almost-president Obama has been doing a weekly 3-4 minute Youtube address since the middle of November.

This one, from yesterday, I liked particularly.  No matter who you voted for, I think you might also find it inspiring and eloquent.

I’m seeing this holiday season as a bridge to something better – though we may all have to go through some difficulties to get there.  I believe our nation, and the world, are open to real change in a way we may not have been till now.

I invite you to be a part of that change; to bring your best self to whatever needs to be done, and not let fear or self-protection slow your steps.

Posted in Community


Santa Needs a Good Consultant

Santas’ management challenges.

Here’s a very funny and weirdly realistic-sounding corporate Christmas tale from my friend Wayne Turmel.


Posted in Organizations


Reflections on the Season

I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas (though the more sophisticated part of my brain calls out “Clichéd! Sappy!”).  My parents weren’t Christians – my dad was an amused agnostic, and my mom a rather strident atheist masquerading as a Unitarian – but they saw Christmas as an opportunity to cherish and celebrate all that they saw as most meaningful in life: generosity and kindness, family, hope and love.

Merry_Christmas_800 This year the circumstances of my life are very different than for the past twenty-five Christmases, and I find it’s making me think deeply about what is most meaningful to me about this season.  The family rituals I nurtured over the years are partially or completely unraveled, as my children, now grown, create their own lives and rituals, and now that I no longer have a marriage to serve as the fulcrum for my Christmas rhythms. It has been difficult.

And yet, to my pleasure, I find that the essence of what I most treasure is still there, tucked deep into me by my parents’ care and guidance: I love this season for its message that we can and must be kind to one another; that family is a gift; that generosity gives most to the giver.  That love deserves a special season to acknowledge its power and beauty.

So, with that I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, whatever your religion, and whether or not you celebrate the particular holiday.  May your days be filled with joy.

Posted in Community


The top 10 business bestsellers

The top 10 business bestsellers.

My ‘World Is Flat’ moment of the day: just stumbled on the Business Standard website listing of the top ten business bestsellers in India.  Growing Great Employees is third on the list!

Kind of amazing.

Posted in News


Obama Being Strategic

Now that the dust has settled a bit on the election (feels like ancient history, vs. 6 weeks ago!), I find myself still thinking about what a great example it provided of one person being strategic and the other not — and the power of that!

People who are strategic, in my experience, approach an important situation by getting clear on the problem they’re trying to solve before they start throwing out solutions.  It seems to me Obama went into the primary season very clear on his essential challenge: How can I persuade the American people that I’m the best person to be the president of the United States?

Once you understand the problem you’re trying to solve, being strategic also involves knowing what you have to work with – what you can bring to bear to address your challenge. Obama took a long, clear-eyed look at his current reality: his own strengths and weaknesses, and the circumstances around him that might support or impede him addressing his challenge.  Being able to look at one’s current state without flinching is essential to being strategic.  Obama seems particularly good at this.  In his first post-election press conference, when he casually used the phrase “mutts like me,” it was a startlingly simple and neutral statement of fact about a complicated and emotionally fraught subject. The personal attacks leveled at him over the past six months didn’t seem to phase him; I believe he’d already reflected upon and made his peace with all the possible things the Republicans might throw at him.

Then, it seems to me, he created a vision – a very clear vision – of what the US would look like, feel like and do if he were the president.  Out of his clear vision emerged clear speech.  No question about it, Obama is a uniquely eloquent and skilled speaker – but no amount of technical capability can make up for a lack of substance. Every time he spoke about the future he envisions for us, for our country, millions of Americans felt drawn by the depth and breadth of that vision for the future.  Articulating a compelling and inclusive picture of a hoped-for future is an essential element of being truly strategic.

And then he created his strategies; made those core directional choices that would move him intact and victorious toward that vision.  Throughout this longest of all election seasons, here’s what I saw again and again:

Do a full-court press: Clearly, Obama decided to go broad rather than deep.  He decided to speak to as many of us as possible about the things he believed were most important. Tactically, he implemented this strategy by leveraging Dean’s fifty-state strategy, fully using the internet, and building an amazingly deep and impassioned team. The results are self-evident: a slew of newly-blue states and a resounding popular majority.

Stay on the high road: Even when his own people encouraged him to respond to the Republican attacks in kind, he stayed civil and entirely focused on the big issues: McCain’s people called him a terrorist-loving Muslim, Obama acknowledged McCain’s service to his country.  And certainly there were hugely tempting topics: the Keating Five, McCain’s well-known temper, Sara Palin’s religious views and ethical problems, just for starters.  But Obama stuck to his strategy – and it paid off.

Share the hoped-for future: Obama used the powerful combination of his vision, his rhetorical skills, and his steadiness to powerfully turn people’s attention again and again to the possibility of a better future for our country. He believed this would appeal to Americans more than fear and divisiveness. Fortunately, he was right.

In contrast, McCain was the opposite of strategic.  He seemed unclear about both his current reality and his vision (other than really, really wanting to be president, and seeming to feel that he deserved it). As to consistent choices: very few.  From his seemingly spontaneous Vice Presidential choice, to the embarrassing on-again-off-again campaign “suspension,” to his ambivalence about allowing others around him to use ever-more-desperate smear tactics. But then it’s hard to be anything but tactical and reactive when you don’t have a sense of the future you’re trying to create – and “not Obama” isn’t a clear vision for the future.

So, the next time you hear people say someone isn’t “being strategic”– think of Barack Obama’s astonishing journey to the presidency, and you’ll know what they’re looking for – and why it’s important.

Posted in Current Affairs


8CR Author Pow-Wow = Love + Learning + Inspiration

As I left the 800CEOREAD Author Pow-Wow last year, I started an internal count-down to the next one. This time I felt that even more strongly.

Such smart, curious people! Such great information!  Such a wonderful venue! Such a feeling of community! I am rejuvenated and inspired.

If you're a business book author, you should be there next year.

And here are some pics.  
Posted in Community


What We Do at Meetings, Redux

Here's how we spent most of the meeting – brussel sprouts were only a side amusement.  This pictures are your glimpse into the Minneapolis office of Proteus, our internal process, and my handwriting:

Posted in Work


What We Do at Meetings

Sunday and yesterday we had a GREAT meeting of the core staff at Proteus.  We were focusing on improving our systems and infrastructure to ensure they support and enable the growth we intend over the next few years.

We also had a variety of marvelous tangential conversations. Here's a picture that may tell you a lot about us.


At dinner we got to talking about how brussel sprouts grow.  My business partner Jeff had never seen them in their natural state, and I was trying to tell him that a stalk of brussel sprouts looks a little like a decorated Christmas tree. Nanci handed me a piece of paper and a pen, and I drew it for him.

He didn't quite believe me, so the next day he had me look it up on Wikipedia.  Here's the comparison.

All of us have on our desks this plaque:

"I am still learning"
        - Michelangelo

Supposedly, this was a favorite saying of his; one that he repeated throughout his long and prolific and unique life.  My colleagues and I strive to embody this principle; I love and value our wide-ranging curiosity.

Posted in News


A Carnival of Leadership Posts

Great Leadership: The Leadership Development Carnival – December 6, 2008.

Dan McCarthy has done a cool thing. (How did I miss this?)  It seems he has a monthly "carnival" of worthwhile posts focused on developing your leadership skills and capabilities.

I love compendiums – tell me that something is a "best-of" list of some topic in which I'm interested, and I'm there….it's so efficient!  One-stop shopping.

So, for those of you interested in ideas for becoming a better leader; a list of great posts, and maybe some new blogs for you to add to your permanent list.

Dig in!
Posted in Weblogs