Monday, March 31, 2014

Transform Yourself and Your Organization Deeply

(brochure cover)

Immerse yourself in a leadership development program for senior executives that is rooted in ideas and practices developed by Weatherhead’s top ranked Organizational Behavior Department. Emerge from this transformational experience with a new realization of the power of your leadership. Join the hundreds of executives who have benefited from our proven approach to developing great leaders.

This program, which is being offered in Cleveland, Ohio, United Arab Emirates, or in New Zealand, will take you on a learning journey through the four levels of leadership:
Transform yourself

Increase your self-awareness and learn how to effectively apply this self-knowledge to the management of yourself and the leadership of others.

Transform your team

Learn how to harness and inspire people in teams to surpass their collective individual possibilities. Discover approaches that intrinsically motivate teams to passionately share their energy and efforts to achieve a common goal.

Transform your organization

Discover the power of Appreciative Inquiry, a proven approach to accelerating and sustaining organizational change by redirecting focus to core strengths.

Transform society

Explore the role leaders have in the community at large, and in turn how organizations are affected by societal forces from healthcare, to regulation, to the environment, to philanthropy.


For executives and managers who work in the Middle East, or are interested in traveling to this region, the Leadership Deep Dive program is offered in Dubai on the dates below.  It's a 9-day program, conducted over 3 sessions:
  • September 23rd - 25th 2014
  • November 17th - 19th 2014
  • January 13th - 15th 2015

Please contact me at, for more information or to enroll.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Insead Professor Randel Carlock on Meditation

Meditation is about more than spirituality these days, and it is in fact becoming a bigger part of the business world - so much so that business schools like INSEAD are bringing it into the classroom. Randel Carlock, INSEAD professor of entrepreneurship and family enterprise, joins INSEAD Knowledge to explain why.
Lead.  Teach.  Meditate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Swiss Re Nia Joynson-Romanzina on Diversity

Gender diversity can be a polarising topic in big companies. Swiss Re holds some important lessons on how to foster a diverse environment with flexibility and inclusiveness for everyone.
Nia Joynson-Romanzina, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Swiss Re, talks about the company's commitment to diversity of thought and opinion. This is the platform on which cultural shifts and greater inclusiveness happen. Swiss Re doesn't get hung up on numbers to evaluate diversity, such as women on the Board, but instead gauges how well they've held to that commitment. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ex-CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo on Nokia Downfall

How Nokia lost its world-dominating position has been the subject of much debate. Is it an issue of stronger competitors (i.e., Apple and Google)? Did Nokia lack the right strategy, or the ability to implement strategy? With the benefit of hindsight, former Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo paints a picture of a once-pioneering company failing to rise to new challenges.
Kallasvuo says the usual stuff about volatility and competition to explain the downfall of a once-dominating company. But he speaks very tellingly about organizational cultural and human nature: The more successful a business is, the less willing people are to take risks, make changes, and innovate openly. It is, in part, the Innovator's Dilemma that Clayton Christensen spoke about. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ben Huh on Risk and Opportunity

Any business, new or otherwise, must work within its available and-or accessible resources.  In this respect, Ben Huh has key lessons learned to share, for example, on the notion of risk.  Entrepreneurs are not so much risk takers, as they are risk managers: We love opportunity, but we hate risk.  In this regard, making smaller bets and making good mistakes are crucial.  What constitutes a good mistake?  One that is not so hefty as to collapse a business, and one that we can learn effectively from. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Scott Stratten on People and Relationships First

I really like Scott Stratten's no-nonsense, common sense ideas on how we ought to conduct ourselves in doing business and marketing our stuff.  For one, it reminds me of what I learned from a colleague on LinkedIn Larry Easto:  build relationships, before client relationships, before business development.  

To build relationships, we need to engage earnestly in conversation, listen actively to each other, show respect and earn trust.  All of this takes time and effort, yes.  But it's the foundation of business.  It also reminds me of the well-known author (Stephen Covey) and book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:  In  particular, Seek first to understand, before being understood.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Clay Shirky on Collaboration, Abundance and Aims

From the invention of the printing press to the telephone, the radio, and the Internet, the ways people collaborate change frequently, and the effects of those changes often reverberate through generations. In this video interview, Clay Shirky, author, New York University professor, and leading thinker on the impact of social media, explains the disruptive impact of technology on how people live and work—and on the economics of what we make and consume.
Reference: The disruptive power of collaboration: An interview with Clay Shirky.

This is a taut interview, replete with key ideas about how we are coming to work together, in an era of new media and high technology.

My takeaways

The thing about social media and blogging is that we don't need to have a polished or complete idea, before we put something out there.  The very value of such platforms is (a) presenting something and (b) commenting on it, and thereby developing it further.  It is so easy to do both, and it's totally free.  That's the new collaboration Shirky speaks to.

I know that the oil and gas industry has entered a veritable era of abundance, that is, with its ability to extract so-called unconventional resources (e.g., shale oil).  While the impact on business models in this industry is clear, it may not be so straightforward in other industries or for some companies (rf. Kodak, Border's, and Blockbusters).  CEOs must examine this new landscape vis-a-vis their aims, business and people.

Finally, Shirky's last set of points is crucial, and resonates well with Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm.  You see, we plan things as if (a) the future were certain or controllable and (b) we actually knew and therefore could predict the future.  Fools Paradise, I'd say.  Instead, we must acknowledge that planning is an ongoing process of monitor, review and adjust.  We will know more about how things go, as we go along, and then we must course-correct as necessary.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lessons from Warren Buffet to Shareholders

WSJ's Anupreeta Das gives her take on the top three takeaways from Warren Buffett's 2013 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.
First, Buffet remains bullish on US economy, and believes its best days are still ahead.   He asks, Who has benefited over the last 237 years by betting against the US?

To explain Das' second takeway: Buffet eschews short-term investing.  He researches companies very well, and looks at them as long-term propositions.  So in this deal with 3G Capital, it isn't a matter of selling but buying more shares of a company (Heinz) with truly fine products.

Third, Buffet is a straightforward, uncomplicated businessman and leader: If you perform well, you gain his confidence.  Clearly Todd Combs and Ted Weschler have.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Franco Harris on Business Integrity and Knowledge

The NFL Hall of Famer [and former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris] on the sage advice he got from another Pittsburgh great, baseball legend [and former Pirate] Willie Stargell.
Stargell's advice is about behaving with integrity and being a proper role model for young people.  Harris extends that advice further by making sure that products he sponsors are indeed fit for young people and that he truly understands the business behind these products.  Thus he isn't just a shell of a spokesman, getting paid highly for products that he may not fundamentally know or value.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Abigail Disney Carves Out Her Own Name

The award-winning filmmaker talks about growing up in the shadows of her legendary family and how she's championing social change through film.
Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, who, with his brother Walt, founded one of the best known iconography in entertainment and juggernaut in business.  I don't know how common it is, but she is yet another person working to establish her own name, in the face of a larger-than-life family name.  We can empathize with her dilemma and struggle: She apparently gravitated to social and existential themes, which were antithetical to the highly cheerful Disney world.  Plus, this world must've been "uncool" within her Jean-Paul Sartre circles.