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Archive for June, 2011

Jun
27

What’s Denmark Doing Right?

Just back from a truly relaxing and rejuvenating vacation in Denmark.  We stayed in a cottage near the sea about an hour north of Copenhagen. Throughout our time there, we were struck by how smooth, well-organized and clean everything was…without seeming regimented or bureaucratic. Here’s a picture of a kind of “normal” house we saw just walking down the street in a little village called Hornbaek. Beautiful.

I understand that the Danes are the self-reported happiest people in the world – and the folks we met certainly seemed positive, helpful and friendly, almost without exception.  Renting a car at the airport and dropping it off were almost eerily simple and non-stressful (and the sweet guy who gave us our car threw in a GPS for half-price because he wanted us “to be able to get around with no problems”), as were picking up and turning in the keys to our handsome, clean, and astonishingly well-equipped rental cottage.

I wonder what their secret is?  I’d like to package it and release it into the water system in New York….


Jun
3

A Real-Life ‘Being Strategic’ Story

I have a Google alert on the phrase ‘being strategic.’ It’s partly because I’m always on the lookout for references to my book and TV show; when people say good things, I want to thank them and, if it seems appropriate, to engage them in conversation.

But I also like to see how people are talking about and defining the idea of being strategic.  It’s fascinating to me how little common understanding we have of this concept – one of the reasons I wrote the book – and I learn a lot about how people think by reading the ways they use this phrase.

And occasionally, I’ll get led to a good or even great article about someone actually being strategic.  This one is an example.  Benjamin Sayer, the focus of the article, is a small business owner whose enterprise ended up coming out of the recession stronger than before, and the article explores why.  Basically, what he says is that he re-focused on his company’s true sweet spot; acted quickly and decisively to reduce unnecessary costs; and made sure he knew what his customers wanted most and was offering it to them well and consistently. Maybe I just like it because it’s what I advised people to do during the recession.

These steps may sound too simple to be powerful.  But my experience is that generally the most powerful acts are the simplest.  Simple is not the same as easy. It is often much easier to be complicated; to waffle; to do things by half-measures; to drift along in the path of least resistance; or to give in to fear and retreat into habit and defensiveness.

I love this example of well-considered, simple action; making core directional choices that would best move them toward their hoped-for future. That’s what I think it means to be truly strategic.