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Archive for July, 2018

Guessing…

One of my strengths according to Strength Finders 2.0 © is “Context”:

You look back.  You look back because that is where the answers lie.  You look back to understand the present. 

Tom Rath

Unfortunately, I try to apply this strength in my business world but not so much on the personal side.  The business world seems objective whereas the personal side is… well… personal.

Nonetheless, I enjoy looking back and studying the tools, tactics and techniques that have proven successful for business leaders and companies alike.  I study past failures, too.  It’s interesting to me to find that the difference between winning and losing in the business world is often not based on what we guess it should be based on:

Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake. 

Savielly Grigonevitch Tartakower

And over the years, I have noticed much of the success in business has come about as much by accident as by any other means.  More times than not, leaders witnessed outcomes at their companies that were the direct opposite of their best laid plans:

There were times when we lost money on every PC we sold, and so we were conflicted – if sales were down, was that bad news or good news? 

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.

I remember reading The Google Story © and learning how one of the most powerful technology companies on the planet was formed – with great reluctance – seemingly guess work, by Sergey Brin and Larry Page.  To monetize their intellectual property, the last thing on their mind was to start a company.  So, when they launched a company and eventually went public, they did their best to guess what a company was, and was not, about:

Google is not a conventional company.  We do not intend to become one. 

Sergey Brin and Larry Page

At the other end of the spectrum… We all know of times where things are not working well at our companies, yet leaders were clueless on what to do about it.  Seems like guessing is still a core attribute among leadership:

An old adage was that companies typically spent twice as much as necessary of advertising but had no way to figure out which half to cut. 

Unknown Sage

We all might agree that leaders do the best they can to make educated guesses while leading our companies, but no one really knows for sure how things will turn out.  There’s an example offered by our Unknown Sage about the auto dealer who fired all his sales reps and sales went up!  That story reminds me of the current Wells Fargo situation – at least the firing part; not sure yet if their sales will go back up.

One of the primary lessons I have learned in any and all roles I have held in the business world is not to take myself too seriously.  Truth be told, that is sometimes easier to blog about than to operate by.  (There’s that darn personal side again.)  I have had, and continue to have, my share of diva meltdowns when things don’t go my way.  However, I am eventually able to get a grip – eventually – and return to normal.  I mean; I’m just guessing too.

And I would guess that since I (along with everyone else) don’t know it all; I (and everyone else) can relax at work and do the best I can at what I would guess to be the best.  Is that what you would guess?

GAP

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Rules and traditions…

Did you watch the U.S. Open golf tournament recently?  It was on Father’s Day and on Father’s Day I enjoy watching golf.  Years ago, I used to play instead of watching.  It’s a tradition my father taught his sons.  I passed that tradition down to my older son and he is continuing it with my grandson.  Golf can sometimes be painful even though traditional:

A golfer, searching for a ball lost deep in the rough, asked the caddie, “Why do you keep looking at that pocket watch?  It isn’t a watch”, the caddie said.  “It’s a compass.”

Unknown Sage

Like most major golf tournaments, the U.S. Open had its share of post-tournament commentary and debate.  Do you remember the hype?  What was the loudest; that the course was set up unfairly; that 28-year-old Brooks Koepka won for the second year in a row (a feat last accomplished 29 years ago); that Phil Mickelson broke USGA Rule 14-5?

Oh, you’re not familiar with USGA Rule 14-5?  You know – it’s that hitting-a-moving-ball rule golfers must abide by.  Golf has plenty of rules and traditions whether there is a title on the line or not.  Many of these traditions are passed down from generation to generation:

Golfer Tommy Bolt is known for his sweet swing and foul temper.  While giving a clinic to a group of amateurs, Bolt tried to show his softer side by involving his 14-year old son in the lesson.  “Show the nice folks what I taught you”, said Bolt.  His son obediently took a 9-iron, cursed, and hurled it into the sky. 

Thomas Roswell

Yes, losing one’s cool is considered a golfing tradition.  Even Phil Mickelson can succumb.  And when a golf celebrity, or any celebrity for that matter, loses their cool in public, the media must highlight it; debate it; and rerun it over and over again.  It’s a rule.

When it comes to golf; rules and traditions take on an even more powerful role – they almost become laws:

Keiko’s Law of Golf

The only way to avoid hitting a tree is to aim at it. 

Unknown Sage

When I used to play, I remember hitting more than my share of trees.  I guess Keiko’s Law was among all of the other rules I traditionally ignored.

Of course, sitting down for four hours to watch golf on TV can ruffle a few feathers on the home front.  Fortunately, I’m a modern man; I DVD’ed that tournament.  We had the kids and grandkids over for a BBQ – a Father’s Day celebration.  There’s a rule in our household that weekends, and celebrations start with work.  My sons and granddaughter helped install new handles on our kitchen cabinets.  Afterwards we ate, drank, and celebrated.

When you own an old ranch house with horses in the back yard, there is always work to be done.  No matter what weekend, whether a birthday party or a holiday celebration, we invite the family over and … get to work.  It’s our tradition more so than golf.

I believe in hard work.  It keeps the wrinkles out of the mind and spirit. 

Helena Rubinstein

I enjoyed the chance to follow the Father’s Day tradition of golf that my father taught me.  It was also a day of celebration – and work – a tradition I have taught my children and grandchildren.  Next year I’ll vote for the golf part again; but everyone knows we will wind up working too.  I’m not sure if that’s a tradition or a rule.

GAP

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Independence…

Posted Jul 4 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

Happy Independence Day Americans!  Here’s to a fun (and safe) July 4th holiday.  Here’s to our country – “Land of the free and home of the brave”.

Our Founding Fathers had certain ideals in mind when they fought for our country’s independence.  They had a vision for the common man; free from oppression; living in harmony; pursuing happiness.  Question: Has that vision remained intact in recent times?  I hope so.

Today, the term “it’s a free country” too often takes on overly individualized interpretations.  Being free doesn’t mean we can do whatever-the-duck we feel like:

Freedom means choosing your burden. 

Hephzibah Menuhin

One of the burdens we Americans carry is the concern for and the caring for others.  The Statue of Liberty; symbol of our country’s liberty is inscribed:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

I don’t think “breathe free” means becoming overly individualized or undisciplined, do you?  Freedom requires continuous concentration and adhering to the rules:

Piloting your own plane may suggest a desire for freedom.  It usually takes a lot of self-control, however, to earn the money necessary to buy your own plane.  And once you are at the controls, concentration and rules are vital.  Undisciplined pilots do not live long.  

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.

Pick any popular pet peeve; texting while they drive; parking in handicapped spaces when they’re not actually handicapped; bringing their pet on a plane declaring it is an “emotional support animal” (which trivializes heroic service dogs performing invaluable service to those truly in need).  Does it seem like today’s list of “I’m special; the rules don’t apply to me” is getting longer?

I believe our country’s center of power lies not with the individual, but rather with each individual finding common ground for the pursuit of the collective good for all individuals.  John Wesley believes it’s not about “me”; it’s about how “we” share our fortune with those less fortunate:

Do all the good you can.

By all the means you can.

In all the ways you can.

In all the places you can.

At all the times you can.

To all the people you can.

As long as you can.

Yes, America is independent and the land of the free; but as it has been said many times, freedom is not free:

Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it.  It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it. 

Unknown Sage

America is the land of the free because of the brave.  And bravery is found in many more places than on the battle field.  We witness bravery every day in every way by average people who are proud to be an American!  We inherited that from our Founding Fathers:

John Hancock, whose name has become synonymous with the word signature, has the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence.  It is said that after he signed it, he turned to his comrades and said, ‘I don’t want the King to have any problem finding my name’. 

Laurie Beth Jones

So, let us all enjoy America’s independence today.  And then tomorrow, let’s go back to work – working to insure this country remains what our Founding Fathers envisioned.  Let us honor those with bravery – past and present – those who gave their lives for our freedom; our independence; our fortunes.  Let us continue to make this a country all of us – in common – are proud of.

GAP

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