Friday, May 16, 2014

A Cough

Want to be "superhorse", California Chrome, has a "cough".  As he prepares for the second leg of the Triple Crown tomorrow in The Preakness Stakes, everyone is talking about the coughs that he had as he came off the racetrack yesterday after training.

It's clear, no one likes to hear a cough in a racehorse, in a person, or in a company.  A cough signifies nothing but bad to come. Sometimes, it's nothing and a little tickle in the throat passes, but when we hear a cough, we begin to worry and even step aside to not catch the cold ourselves.  Last year, while traveling in Costa Rica, one of the locals told me that when America coughs, Latin America gets pneumonia. 

No one likes a cough and more often than not those coughs that we see in the market, or with a company, or in a team are the beginning of something and shouldn't be ignored. 

How many times have we heard the cough, ignored it and and then later kicked ourselves for not seeing what later were so obvious signs?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chefs or Short-Order Cooks?

For most things at work, or in life, we can approach things in one of two ways: as a Chef, or as a Short-Order Cook. 

A Short-Order Cook takes orders and fulfills the assignment just as it is given to them.  They operate quickly, efficiently and can be counted on to deliver on time.  A Chef sees things differently, always considering options and other ways to achieve the order.  Creativity trumps efficiency sometimes and there is an anxious anticipation of the customer of what might arrive.  Because of this, a Chef gets a little more time and more leeway than the Short-Order Cook.  The similarity is that both know their customer.  For the Short-Order Cook; it's the waitress/waiter who is standing at the hot table waiting.  For the Chef, the wait staff are just a delivery vehicle to their ultimate customer; the diner. 

Seldom does someone ask the Short-Order Cook to come out and meet the table to receive their lauds.  But, also seldom does someone applaud the Chef who makes the table wait too long for their food.  The balance is tricky and it all gets messed up when someone tries to take the opposite role when to everyone else it is pretty clear what is expected. 

Which are you? 

Which does your company reward and recognize? 

Is your organization in balance with the right amount of Chefs and the right amount of Short-Order Cooks?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Anyone who has ever sold or marketed into an enterprise (company) big or medium sized fears one thing; losing their internal champion/supporter. A ton of work can go into landing a deal only to learn that the person internally who was leading the acceptance of your product/service is being moved into another job or leaving the company.  Where does that leave you?  Starting all over, unfortunately. So, the best approach is to ensure that you are "3-Deep" in every account.  That means, three people who are below the champion who also support the product so that is she/he moves on, you aren't caught with no one knowing who you are.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

We Have Just Returned...

"(Fill in name of Company) is buzzing with all the units we have in the office, and thanks to our trip to China last week, we have even more on the way. Here’s a quick update on the trip and the product.
Our co-founders, (Fill in Name (CEO)), (Fill in name) (CTO)), and (Fill in Name (Design Director)), returned last week from a great trip to China where they met with our manufacturer and reviewed the new hardware design. We saw some major improvements and are happy with the progress they’ve made. We’re finalizing the layout now, and the factory is getting ready to produce our updated hardware design en masse. That will start with (Fill in number) units for the beginning of (Fill in Month)."
This is a message that I get some version of once a month from someone who is entering the hardware business with a hot and highly anticipated hardware/software enabled product.
It's always a trip to China, Taiwan, Malaysia, etc.
I'm waiting for the first hot product that sends their update that says, "We just
returned last week from a great trip to (Fill in a state in the U.S.) where we met with our manufacturer and reviewed the new hardware design."
That's the one I will immediately want to buy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Understandable People: A Tribute to Dr. Gary Becker (1931-2014)

I'm going to be honest and a little vulnerable here today.  I need to let you know that one of the reasons I try and write this blog in common sense and practical terms is that I can't myself understand or comprehend much more than that. 

On a plane the other day someone had left a copy of The Economist.  That is one of the magazines that I know I should be able to read and enjoy, but I just can't.  Half the time I don't understand what they are trying to say and the depth and understanding of the economics behind the stories are usually over my pay grade. 

This is why I was so sorry to hear that Gary Becker died this last Saturday.  Some may not know him, but I felt like I did.  Professor Becker was a Nobel Prize winning economist, but more important for me, he was an economist who I could understand.  When he wrote for Business Week, I would read his every word and walk away with something that I could not only relate, but also apply in my thinking and actions. 

Our world is a complex one and we need more people, like Dr. Gary Becker, who can boil it down so that most of us can use our common sense to understand.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

When the Bucks Stops Here!

As leaders, managers, or in today’s world, even those who work someplace where we have influence over decisions that are made that could affect others, we need to be careful and constructive in those decisions.  We seldom see examples of leaders who step up when things go wrong.  Some will do it and admit that the buck stops with them, but they won’t accept the full responsibility, which many times would lead to a resignation or some other type of repercussion.  Last week we saw a leader do so though when South Korean Prime Minister, Chung Hong-won, resigned after the failed rescue of the ferry that capsized. I found this interestingly juxtaposed with the firing of a number of the GM senior execs, but not the CEO.  I know, she is new, but remember, she was on the senior team and has been with the company for 34 years. I’m not saying that she should have been fired, but when the buck stops, it must stop somewhere and the best of the best leaders know it stops with them. 

Anything short of that, can feel like lip service to leadership.