Friday, August 22, 2014

Jacqueline Whitmore on Coveted Listening Skill

Jacqueline Whitmore, Founder of Etiquette Expert, is right that you don't have to be an extrovert to succeed.  Indeed there is a host of personalities that make up leadership and success, including introverts.  But as Lauren Covello suggests in her lead-up, regardless of personality we do have to convey confidence.  Where we fall on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, such as the extroversion-introversion dimension, doesn't mean we must behave or interact in a lockstep, bound manner.  So while someone outgoing can work a room full of people easily and gracefully, the more reserved person can do the same with a bit of skill development and practice.  Introverts are more inclined to listen, as Whitmore points out, and that's such a crucial thing in a corporate or social milieu where people simply have difficulty listening to each other.  But if this skill is lacking in any other personality, they too can learn it and adopt it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Arthur Joseph: Both Message and Messenger Matter

Arthur Joseph, Founder of Vocal Awareness, offers sound advice about how leaders ought to carry themselves.  It isn't just what we say, but also how we say it.  It isn't just the message, but the messenger as well.  Communication really is the whole constellation that goes into getting our message across and connecting with others.  Our physical self matters, for example, speaking with good breaths and good pace.  Also, what Joseph suggests about sitting up with a string above your head is this: In T'ai Chi we hold postures and do movements, while imagining there is a string attached to the very top of our head.  That string is pulled taut, but gently, from the ceiling (or sky), and the result is a more upright, more open demeanor for leaders.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Boston Beer Founder Jim Koch on Leadership

Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company, gives his best leadership advice after three decades at the helm of the brewhouse that makes Sam Adams beer.
The leadership lessons Koch learned are organic.  That is, they are outcrops from what he has experienced in running a company and working with people:
  • The leader is never tired, and never has a bad day.  The leader has to have more energy and spirit than everybody else, because you cannot expect more of your people than you expect of yourself.  
  • Culture and values can substitute for resources, like good equipment, food or supplies.
  • People don't care what you tell them, instead they care about what you do.  You're always visible.
Indeed being a leader can be a tall order.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dinner Lab CEO Brian Bordainick on People First

This is sound advice from Brian Bordainick.  It was management guru James Collins who found out many years ago that great leaders put people first, before mission, vision and strategy.  Such leaders make sure they have the right people on the bus, and in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus.  Hiring slow, firing quickly certainly resonates well with Collins' findings.  What helps to ensure company success over decades of time is a leader who cares deeply about people but are tough as nails around results.  If you fall short or encounter problems, a CEO like Bordainick will take the time find out what happened and work with you to succeed.  But an issue that recurs may simply mean that you don't belong in that company.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Non-Rational Approach for Entrepreneur Partners

Caroline Ghosn and Amanda Pouchot
Ghosn and Pouchot met with Minshew and spent 85 minutes describing why they thought she should no longer be CEO. 
They claimed that [Kate] Minshew was emotionally volatile, prone to outbursts, and not viewed positively by people outside PYP. As an example they cited an email to Pouchot in which Minshew claimed how disappointed she was that Pouchot had not completed a project on time. 
Minshew was stunned. As she said, “I was blindsided; it came as a total shock. Whatever they suddenly decided about my competence, it was contradicted by the deals I had put together, the team I had built and the investors and supporters I had lined up.”
Reference: A Cautionary Tale: Friendship, Business Ethics, and Bad Breakups (Acts III and IV), by Peter Cohan.

A Non-Rational View and Approach

Sometimes things simply have to shake themselves out, and people in the midst of it all must have at it, and go at it, in whatever they see fit.  So while engaging an attorney makes sense, as Cohan suggested, he or she may not make one stitch of difference as far as making a business venture work.  People will be people, and if fate deems their future together as one of peaches and cream, then so be it.  Otherwise, if they are not meant to be, or if their business venture isn't meant to be, then none of it will be.  Coaches, advisers or mentors may have it in their minds that they can actually effect a particular outcome for their clientele, such as these four bright, dynamic ladies whom Cohan talks about.  But as it turns out, they may have little impact on what is to come.  In essence, it may be about a higher purpose or a matter of God's will, which none of them can readily discern or grasp.

It may take a lot of time and effort for entrepreneurs to get to this deep of an insight as Hamlet did

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Rational Approach for Entrepreneur Partners

Kate Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos
Things don’t always go smoothly when four work colleagues decide to start a company. That’s why those colleagues should hire a lawyer to hammer out an agreement that will describe clear steps for resolving conflicts that might arise. That’s no fun at all — except when you compare it to the alternative.

Simply put, the participants were fighting with the ferocity of bottled scorpions over the spoils of their year-old startup despite the complete absence of any spoils — except for the possibility of avoiding lawsuits financed by the offspring of one of the world’s leading automobile executives.
Reference: A Cautionary Tale: Friendship, Business Ethics, and Bad Breakups (Acts I and II), by Peter Cohan.

A Rational View and Approach

There are fundamental steps to take first, well before engaging a lawyer to hammer out an agreement among would-be entrepreneurs.  It's a matter of talking through what it means for you and your partners to launch a business, that is, personally.  It's putting your thoughts and aims, excitement and fears, if any, on the table.  It's inquiring openly about what you expect from each other and responding honestly and constructively to these expectations.  None of this psychology stuff may be compelling to entrepreneurs hell-bent on a business idea, but these are critical for their ultimate success.  You may need an experienced coach, adviser or mentor to facilitate this process.  But once sufficiently undertaken, you can bring in a lawyer to formalize via obtuse legalese language a deeper, more elemental agreement that you and your partners have forged.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Online Conversations and In-Person "Tweetups"

Two key points from this Short Takes on Melanie Spring: First, social media is not just about posting, but actually more about conversation: for example, responding, commenting, and asking.  Second, I gather that her company's "DC Tweetups" were meaningful and productive.  There must be a balance between online and in-person.  Some people may value or prefer one over the other, but I see them both as integral to a business.  What balance to forge depends on you and your company.