Archive for January, 2009
OK, dear readers – I've never tried including a video file in a post before, but I need your feedback. This is a clip created from a presentation I did a couple of years ago to a group of bankers in Barbados. I'm planning on putting it in the soon-to-go-live website for my new book (at beingstrategic.com)
Here's my question. I want this clip to 1) give viewers a sense of who I am, 2) engage and intrigue them, 3) if they're looking for a speaker, motivate them to contact one of the bureaus that reps me (there will be links on the website). How well does the clip do that, and how could it do that better?
Thanks in anticipation for your insights and suggestions —
Download Erika Strategy Clip 1
OPEN Forum by American Express OPEN | Failure Is the New Success.
I love this video. It’s ostensibly about failure, but it’s really about how to get through failure to success.
I found it extraordinarily inspiring, personally and professionally. And I think it’s such an important lesson for the times: we ARE going to fail as we look for ways to craft our next iteration as a country. If we don’t fail, it means we’re being too traditional and reactive, too safe.
Interim failures will be necessary on a national level, a company level, a personal level. I hope our failures don’t paralyze us with fear. And I really hope we don’t waste our time on hand-wringing, or playing hot potato with the blame. I hope we make the habit of “fair witnessing” our own mistakes: being objective about what happened, figuring out how to make it work better the next time, and trying it again.
I know the hard work starts now: our President, his team, and all of us have to find our way out of the hole we're in. It will require, as he said, hard choices, personal responsibility and clarity of purpose.
And yet, even now, as we roll up our metaphorical sleeves, there are already so many indicators that this is a new beginning. For instance, I read an article in the NYT this morning about the diversity of Barack and Michelle's extended family. I've tried to reproduce the graphic here, but you can also find it in the article.
In business, I always take it as a very good sign of things to come when the senior team of an organization starts to evolve from being made up entirely of baby-boomer white men, to a mix that looks more like the rest of the US and of the world. It means to me that an important psychological barrier has been broken…that the powers-that-be in that organization have gone from "thinking diversity is a good thing" to simply wanting to have the best people for the job, no matter what they look like, how they live their lives, or where they were born.
And it also means, almost invariably, that this more diverse and expansive team is going to think in fresh ways and come up with new and better solutions.
I'm crossing my fingers that this wonderfully varied new First Family signals the same things for our country.
Writers praise Barack Obama’s inaugural address – Los Angeles Times.
There are so many things I could say about today. A singular, joyful, complex, evocative day.
I was so moved by our President’s speech. It resonated with me deeply, both emotionally and intellectually. And, even as I was listening, I enjoyed it tremendously simply as a piece of writing.
Then I found this great article in the LA Times, where a variety of writers talk about his speech: they use the power of language so beautifully to talk about the power of language.
I can only hope the strength and clarity of his words is matched by the strength and clarity of the transformation that he will catalyze, and that all of us will bring to fruition.
I was directed to this blog by the very wonderful VSL (Very Short List).
NOTE: if you don't know about VSL, I suggest you go there right now and sign up for their intriguing and fun daily email. (A caveat: my brother Kurt is one of the founders. But it's still objectively wonderful.)
In any case, the blog above consists of posts telling how various super-productive, innovative, effective and/or efficient people organize their time. I'm finding it absolutely fascinating. First of all, it's just a great behind-the-scenes look at interesting lives.
But it also just reinforces my theory that every single person has to discover his or her own path through life. The individual approaches to high achievement range all the way from John Grisham, who, while he was a lawyer, got up and wrote every day at precisely 5:30am, five days a week — to Saul Bellow, who seems to have had no schedule at all, allowed every sort of interruption into his writing, and then would get so focused that he barely noticed a nosebleed creating splatters of blood on his shirt as he typed.
Here's to finding what works for you…
"Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself": FDR's First Inaugural Address.
I've been quoting FDR's "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" line to all and sundry lately. I really believe it's true: I'm watching fear motivate all kinds of goofy, panic-stricken, bad-for-business decisions. And I'm watching other people take a deep breath, put aside fear, and just figure out how to operate in the current circumstances – and how to succeed.
So I decided to look up the actual speech from which that quote came – and his words are eerily applicable to our current situation. Here's the opening paragraph:
I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.
Being in fear is tremendously distracting and limiting. Fear shrinks our point of view: we don't see things clearly; we miss important facts; we have a hard time stepping back and looking at the broader frame. Fear can rob us of our clarity when we need it most.
It's critical to remember, in situations like our current economy, that you can manage your fear by managing your self-talk.
25 Years of Mac: From Boxy Beige to Silver Sleek.
I first saw this article right before Christmas – Guy Kawasaki tweeted about it. My first computer, bought in 1986, was an early (boxy beige) Mac. I bought it because I liked the commercials: I felt they were speaking to me — a young professional who wanted to have a computer, and get comfortable with using it, but who wasn’t a geek or a gearhead, and had no interest in spending a lot of time getting up to speed. I wanted to take advantage of this new technology without having to earn a whole new way to operate.
And it definitely lived up to its marketing promise: within a few hours I was computing. I was enchanted by what I now know was the GUI interface, with its normal-life icons: a trash can, and a folder, a document. The documents go in the folder; folders sit on the desktop; if you don’t want something you put it in the trash can. Now that’s just how it works for everybody…but 20+ years ago it was revolutionary.
And, as it says in the article, the people at Apple continue to build the Mac’s popularity by telling us it’s far cooler than the alternative…and then making it so.
What a great, simple example of how to keep a brand vibrant: keep offering – in a clear and engaging way – something people want, and then make good on the promise.
Good News Network.
I was just sitting here, full of a kind of quiet excitement, feeling as though 2009 is going to be a wonderful year. And I thought – It would be good to get some external support for this feeling.
So I googled "2009 good news" and I found this. It's pretty great.
We so often let TV, the internet, magazines and newspapers tell us what to think and how to feel. It's important to remember that 1) tragedy and scandal sell better than success and joy, and 2) cynicism seems hipper than hope. What the media chooses to tell us is most often motivated primarily by these two facts.
So let's create our own destiny. How are you going to make this an excellent year for yourself, those you love, your business, or the planet?
I, for one, am very glad to put the old year behind me. A more volatile period of time – on every possible level – I have never experienced.
So, here's what I hope and believe this new year will hold for us all:
- a real willingness to find new ways of living and working together on this lovely planet
- more love, hope and joy for each of us – individually and together
- creating our hoped-for future, personally and professionally – not allowing the economic boogeyman to dissuade us from going for what we want
- health of mind, body and spirit
And most of all, what I want this year and what I wish for each of you: appreciation.
To be alive, and to be able to connect with other people and somehow help them on their journey and be helped and supported by them in turn — this is an astonishing gift. To be able to experience it as a gift, to have that feeling of appreciation, is an even greater gift.
To making 2009 all that we hope it will be.