Wednesday, November 27, 2013


There is a quote in the TV show, Game of Thrones, that stuck with me.  The Queen Mother says to her young son, who has just become King, that he better needs to understand the commoners. She says to him, "People not like us expect to lose important things in life."   What she was saying is that those not in royalty can find themselves living their life expecting to lose, not always holding a manifest destiny to winning.  The business world is the same.  

Those on top, expect more.  Those who are struggling, smaller, and trying to keep their head above water, appreciate and look at their business differently. The front page of the New York Times business section today, reminds us of a time in Silicon Valley, 1999, when all was great and nothing could get in our way to success. We knew no risk.  We expected only the best.  And, when it went away, and we were humbled, we appreciated and became more thankful of what he had, what we had learned and what we could expect going forward. 

The lesson?  

We need to keep ourselves in check and recognize that losing will bring greater appreciation and thankfulness, so how can we cultivate that spirit of humility and gratitude, even in the best of times?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Business Tagging

"Kilroy was here."  That was a popular "tag", or graffiti back in the day.  Apparently Kilroy started in World War II and lasted for decades.  Now, we tag everyday.  We "check in" on Facebook or Foursquare.  We post or tweet a picture to prove we were someplace and in our own little way we are putting our"mark" on a place or an event. Business is one of the few places in life that we mostly just "pass through", without much emotional or historical connection.  

I remember watching a consultant pull out of the audience someone who was high ranking in his company.  He was the Chief Accounting Officer of a very large and prestigious company.  He brought him on the stage and interviewed him about his job, his impact, and the legacy he was trying to build within the organization.  The Officer felt pretty good about the what he was doing and that his legacy would stand in the company.  The consultant humored him and then asked, "What was the name of the person who had your job before you?"  The executive answered quickly.  The consultant then asked who was in the job before him? The executive stood their baffled as he had no clue.  The consultant made his point about legacy building within companies. 

If you work in a big company, ask the same about your own job.  Do you know two to three generations before you who was in the job and what they accomplished and left behind?  

If we run businesses, this is the time to stop and think about what "tag" that is indelible that someone can feel they will have always left behind.  Figure this out and you will have unlocked something special and certainly long lasting.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I was sitting in a meeting the other day and I listened to one person condemn another (of course the person being condemned was not in the room) and without hesitation another person jumped on the the bandwagon to be shortly followed by another person. It was a bit of a bloodbath.

With one small push back that maybe this wasn't a fully fair assessment that was taking place, everyone backed down and adjusted their stance.

This interaction reminded me of how easy it is to tear someone down and how hard it is to get people to instead build others up. We are quick to condemn and we are fast to pass the blame and tag others for maybe what we should be stepping up and owning ourselves.

I've found that those who fluidly condemn others are not the same people who take accountability and accept their lumps when they should. These are also the same people who others either fear or even avoid because they worry that whatever is being said about others is also said about them when they leave the room.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


No one gets to be good at what they do without layering one skill and experience on top of another until they come to a place where they are really good, or even a master of what they have been working towards.

As much as it would be great to get good by just showing up, we have to layer and layer until we finally have built up enough to draw upon so we really know what we are doing.

There are many people who are not willing to spend the time and energy to build the layers. Either they don't believe that they should have to put in the time and efforts, or they are just too lazy to put in the hard work. Layering takes time. Layering takes patience. Layering takes an attitude of not believing that we don't need any more experience, any more practice, any more coaching, or any more discipline.

 Those that do layer and understand the importance of this are the ones who are able to have a few layers peeled back or punctured and still have much to work with going forward.

We must learn to layer and learn to do so with each and every opportunity given to us.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


There may not be a harder technology challenge than finding the perfect match.  Industries have been built from this need; biotech, digital tech, agriculture, just to name a few.  In digital technology we are always hunting for the perfect match, whether that be through dating sites, through job sites, and broadly between retailers/manufacturers and customers. 

The perfect match is one where two parties decide they want the same thing. T

his is hard work and with today's technology algorithms we get closer and closer to the perfect match.  Some will call them "recommendation" or "discovery" engines, but these are also all about matching what I like to what I might not yet know I will like. 

Matching is so important to all that we do that we should ensure that the understanding of the science of matching is resident within our companies. 

If we aren't almost obsessed with the pursuit of the perfect match then we are probably missing out on business.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Simple Syrup

Remember the movie Mary Poppins? Some will say, I don't remember the movie, but I saw the play on Broadway a few years back?  Regardless, Mary sings a verse, "A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down so nice..." 

We should all remember that as we deliver messages to employees, customers and partners.  The best "sugar" is usually that which is made of a "simple syrup" and this holds up true as well when we are communicating.  Breaking down messages to the most basic and simple is hard work and too many times we are too busy to think ahead so we go into a meeting or presentation and before we know it we are getting that blank stare of "I'm not following" and then then first question can be summed up as, "What did you just say?". 

These are high stakes moments that we can't take for granted.  We only get so many times to make something clear and simple before we lose credibility that can't be regained. 

If we are not spending twice as much time in preparation as it takes to deliver the message, then I can assure you that what you communicate will not be simple enough to be understood.