Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alot for a Little

I am amazed at how excited Patti gets from the discount she gets off of her gas from her grocery shopping.  At our place in Rhode Island, Stop-n-Shop gives a discount on cost per gallon at participating gas stations.  The most I have seen the discount add up for redemption has been $.60/gallon.  A ten gallon fill up equals a $6.00 discount.  Not bad, or so it seems. To get to that $6.00, she has to spend $300.00 in groceries.  So, one way to look at it is that this value is really more like getting a 2% rebate.  The beauty of this program is that they have transferred a savings from something expected to something not expected. The point here is that for very little, the positioning has significant perceived value to the consumer.  It begs the question, what do we have in our business that when transferred to some other area where discounts, sales or rebates would be unusual, that it would be perceived as very high value. 

(For a further faith-based application of this post you can visit here)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Milk or Wine?

Opportunities are like wine.  They can be taken advantage of now, or they can sit and under the right conditions, and get even better. 

Problems are not wine.  They are milk.  They don't get better with time, they get more spoiled, stinky and can turn into something that ruins lots of other things around them. Those that say that a problem deferred is a problem solved forget that their procrastination will only come back to bite them later.

Looking at those things in front of us and asking ourselves, will this get better or worse with time and being willing to honestly accept the answer can be a true competitive advantage.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit here)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Caddying The Load

Finishing up the last weeks of summer can feel like you are carrying three months of work back into the office. No matter how hard you try to ensure that you have "kept up" there are things that just got pushed to the back burner all summer and when talk turns to Labor Day, well, here comes the work.

Carrying the load and the bags of work is all part of the job.

For some people that is what they do, they "carry" the bags of others. And, they usually get looked down on because that is their job. I have been in many a job where it was my responsibility to carry the bags of my bosses and I always felt that it was an important part of business and an honor. It's kind of like the caddy for a pro golfer. Without them, a pro golfer wouldn't get too far. They are there for knowledge, instinct, advice, counsel, nerve-calming, encouragement, and strength.

I know a very high profile executive in a very high profile job right now who could use someone like this. He needs someone with him to fill in the gaps in his skill set and his intuition. Without someone to help him he has a hard time navigating certain areas. With someone by his side, he is the full picture. The problem is that he thinks he is the full equation regardless and doesn't recognize his deficiencies.

Many a person is like him and miss so many opportunities because they don't let others carry the bags and some of the load.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit: here)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Early The Next Morning

I am not just a morning person, I am an "early the next morning" person.  The distinction and difference is that when I have something important to get done, I will wait until early the next morning to work on it or to get it completed. 

Against the advice of those who tell us how to rest and sleep best, I take what I have to do to bed with me, let it sit in my mind, knowing that early the next morning I will be able to tackle it in the quiet before others rise and as the sun and the birds welcome the day. It is when I work best and when I am clearest in my head.  Early the next morning also allows for me to be done with that matters most before the mundane and the urgent take over the day. 

I remember distinctly once taking this approach to a problem I was trying to solve, only to find Patti standing at the door of my office at 3:00AM asking me what I was doing and me being wide-awake telling her that I had figured out what we (me and others) had been trying to solve.  Later that morning when others got to the office I had more prepared and solved then they imagined could happen. 

It was a very good morning and has always reminded me of what can happen "early the next morning."

(For a further faith-based application of this post you can visit: here)

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Year Today!

I was thinking over the weekend that I have a different "New Year's Day" than when the calendar does.  Of course, I look at January 1 as the official New Years, but for me I count the year as September 1st - August 31st.  I'm not alone in using that calendar, but it's not because I am an anxious and giddy schoolchild looking forward, or dreading, that first day back to school.  For me, I have found this annual pattern because the beginning of September signifies when Patti and I come off of our summertime in New England and head back to the West coast.  Lots of new activities pop up, meetings are set for strategies and plans, etc.  For me, it feels like the beginning of the year and and sadly, the end of August the end of year. 

Leaving my mental year at the end of the summer also always makes me appreciate what blessings we have in this life and how I can look forward to summer returning as quickly as I felt it flee.  Our businesses also may have fiscal versus calendar years so we get another new year put upon us. 

Consider how fresh and new each month, each week, or even each day can be if we bring to it the feeling of the beginning of a new year.  So, on this Monday, let's look to the new year that is in front of us and start today in making the most of it!

(for a further faith-based application of this post you can visit here)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Protected Interests

We all want to do well at work. We all want to also be rewarded for doing well. It is when we think we are doing well and we are not rewarded to our expectations that we tend to get antsy, upset, disheartened and worse yet, disenfranchised. We then make decisions on how long to stay at the same job and how hard we will work and how much we will or won’t put of ourselves into the job at hand.

We all have examples of when we think the rewards and recognition doesn’t match up to our expectations and how we feel when that happens. It is a very hard conversation to have with our employers and sometimes we don’t even know with who we should have the conversation. Should it be our boss directly or some intermediaries like an HR person? Regardless of who it is, it is still a difficult conversation to have and one that if you can avoid entirely, then all the better. But what are we to do in the situation where something has to change? Other than the leverage of leaving the company, which is not the purpose or the desired outcome, there is not much we can say to potentially change the results. 

On the other hand, there are rewards to be gained if know the game that is being played. The key to the rewards desired is in knowing, fulfilling and protecting the interests of our employers. This sounds so simple and should be easy to do. But, it is not as clear as it looks on the surface. What are sometimes hard to discern are the true interests of the company, the ones that when pressed and threatened that the company would be stopped in their tracks. Listen carefully to what you hear your boss and CEO saying about where the company is putting its resources (human and financial) and align your work to those goals and objectives. If you are seen as one who is committed to protecting those interests you will be rewarded.

(For a further faith-based application of this post you can visit here)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The adage is, "Where there is a will, there is a way."  That's mostly true, but maybe not always. 

I am sure that the Boards of American Airlines and US Air don't feel that way this morning with the news that the Justice Department wants to block their merger.  That probably feels like it is out of their hands at this point, but still if they have the will to do it, then with some compromises and changes, they can probably make it happen. 

Having the will is easier said than done. 

Sometimes the will means decades of work, or the draining of every cent we have and more, or giving up weekends, or subordinating our egos so that others can succeed.  The will is not an easy thing to have and something that we have to really understand if we are truly willing to to do what it takes, or not. 

I told a friend this about a project he is working on, "Somethings are better left not started, than to start it and not finish". 

It takes some will to start, it takes all-in will to finish.

(For a further faith-based application of this post you can read more here)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blurred Lines

No, this is not a post about the hit pop song of the summer.  This post is about what happens everyday in our work that causes all kinds of problems but can so easily be avoided.  Blurred lines are the discrepancies between what someone thinks they are supposed to be doing and what is actually expected that they do.  Let me give you an example:

"Can you update the group next week on our deal flow?"

"Sure, I've got it."

Next week the CEO asks for the update on the deal flow:

"I'm here to give that update"

"Great, can you pass around the reports?"

"I, uhm, didn't actually prepare any written materials. I thought I was just supposed to give an update".

"How can we understand the flow if we can't see the deals in process.  Go back and get this ready for next meeting and in the meantime, I guess we will just have to wait on you (said snarkily)."

In the debrief the conclusion is that this was a series of honest mistakes but no one is happy and the business has stalled because of blurred lines of what was supposed to have happened and what didn't.  A few clarifying questions would have solved the whole problem.  When in doubt, there is a high chance of blurred lines happening.  Following up with one question can nail it all down,

"So I am sure I have this right, what would be the definition of a home run success from what you are asking me to do?"

That will do blurriness.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit here)

Monday, August 12, 2013

charity:water - A Novel Approach We Can All Learn From

Yesterday's New York Times Sunday Magazine ran a great story on charity:water and its' founder Scott Harrison.  It is worth reading on many levels as Scott, who was an accomplished club promoter in NYC saw a need (clean water in Africa), felt a burden to solve the problem, and identified a gap in the market to meet the challenge (give people a way to see proof of their contributions).  Along with ensuring his funding through a very business like way of approaching the market, he has grown charity:water, as a non-profit to nearly $100MM in revenue and impact.  It's a fantastic story and we can all take lessons from Scott and his approach.  A non-profit that we can learn from in our for-profit businesses, that in itself is novel.

(For s further faith based application of this post you can visit: here)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Power of Availability, Part 2

Earlier this week was the first time I had been in NYC since they added CitiBikes.  I must say, I was amazed by the number of riders I saw using the bikes. But, I was even more amazed by the people I saw riding them.  Men, women, older, younger, dressed for work, dressed for hanging out, dressed for going out at night; all kinds of people using the bikes for what they needed to get from one place to another.

Before CitiBikes, they would have been in a cab, on the subway, or walking.  But, with a little availability of another form or transportation where they didn't need to buy, maintain, store, lock, or worry about their own bike, they were using a bike to get around Manhattan.  And, they were paying for it. 

What can we learn from this? 

What I see is that availability of everyday products and services, that when made accessible, that we will pay for the temporary use and fulfill a need.  Provide a bike.  How simple and to think how long it took us to get here.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Power of Availability, Part 1

I just returned from two days at GRAMMY Camp New York.  As Chairman of the Board of the GRAMMY Foundation, I absolutely love going to GRAMMY Camp and seeing the best of the best high schoolers pursuing their dreams of making it in the music industry. 

The New York GRAMMY Camp happens at Converse's Rubber Tracks Studio in Brooklyn.  Converse donates the week of the studio's time and support to the GRAMMY Foundation. Having this availability to be in a state-of-the art studio is just amazing and so appreciated. What's even more amazing is that Converse makes this studio available to any musician and best of all they provide the studio for free, without any strings attached; Rubber Tracks Apply . When I tell people this they are taken back with Converse's generosity and just how cool it is that with this one gift of availability they are building deep loyalty and commitment with their consumers.  One band that forever remembers the one time that they were able to record that one album because of Converse will wear Chuck Taylor's forever.

Availability of what we have to offer; be it space, knowledge, people, services, etc. are powerful, powerful consumer brand and loyalty building tools!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Show Some Curiousity

There is a guy I know who knows something about everything. No, really, he knows a little something about anything you mention. Sometimes it comes off a little as a "know it all" but I see it more as an admirable trait that he is curious and always learning.

An executive was saying to me recently that he is so caught up in what is going on at his job that he feels like he has become myopic to other areas of his life and other people. This happens to the best of us. We have all the intentions to stay connected with others, to network outside of our jobs, to read, travel, learn, etc. But, the days turn into months and the months turn to a year and we wonder where the time went. What we realize is that we haven't put our head up or done much beyond our own jobs in quite some time. It doesn't have to be this way.

We can all start today changing this pattern by just showing some curiosity with those who work around us. Just down the hall, right now, is someone who would love more than anything to talk a little bit about what they are doing right now and tell you what they have planned for the weekend.

All you have to do is ask.

(For a further faith-based application of this post you can visit:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Walking Directions?

Not a day goes by that at work there isn't some discussion about the "direction we should be taking". This conversation can be at the highest level about the long term strategy of the company or it can be about what we should do with a customer, a website feature, or even what direction we should take with people and the organization structure. Actually, the latter two points are the ones that get talked about the most. Just listen in on the conversations at an airport lounge and the same conversation about what direction to take with an employee, a boss, a candidate, etc. becomes universal across any company or industry. Just change the names and the conversation is the same.

Being able to agree on direction is very important and without it all kinds of strife and consternation occurs. Too many companies struggle and sometimes fail over just this issue. Way too many people fail at their jobs because they don't work a little harder to either understand what the direction is, or worse, they try and fight against the direction, only to find out that they become the odd person out.

It is essential that there is agreement on direction and we have to do out part to be a part of the agreement on which way we are taking; which way we are walking together.