Content by Robert Morris
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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)
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5.0 out of 5 stars
"When you remember what you love, you will remember who you are [and then] you can do anything." Cathy Guisewite, April 15 2015
I checked the etymology of the word "mentor" from a few reliable sources. Here is what I learned: "wise advisor," 1750, from Greek Mentor, friend of Odysseus and adviser of Telemachus (but often actually Athene in disguise) in the Odyssey; perhaps ultimately meaning "adviser," because the name appears to be an agent noun of mentos "intent, purpose, spirit, passion" from Proto-Indo-European lexicon (PIE) mon-eyo- (cognates: Sanskrit man-tar- "one who thinks," Latin mon-i-tor "one who admonishes." The classic definition, then, combines several of the functions of what we would today call a teacher, coach, mentor, and supervisor.
Gillian Zoe Segal has gathered contributions from thirty prominent persons -- including Warren Buffett, Anderson Cooper, Wendy Kopp, J. Craig Venter, Helene Gayle, and Michael Bloomberg -- who, channeling a 12th century French monk, Bernard of Chartres -- generously share their thoughts and feelings about the "giants" on whose shoulders they have stood. As Segal well realizes, these same contributors are themselves giants who now provide their shoulders to countless others. I commend her on her organization and presentation of an abundance of information, insights, and counsel. It is a brilliant achievement.
Segal makes brilliant use of a reader-friendly device at the conclusion of each chapter: insertion of a few "Pearls." Here in Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmer's Market at which merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now present a few brief "pearls" of wisdom from the "necklace" co-created by the 30 contributors throughout the book's lively narrative.
"Reputation is very important. I ask the managers of my companies to judge every action that they take not just by legal standards (which, of course, is the first test) but also by what I call the 'newspaper test.' How would they feel about every given action if they knew it would show up the next day in their local paper, written by a smart but kind of unfriendly reporter and read by their families, friends, and neighbors? If it passes that test, it's okay. If anything is close to the line, it's out." Warren Buffett (Page 20)
"I tell journalism students there are three main steps to take: First, figure out what gets your adrenalin going. Next, figure out a way to make a career out of your passion. And finally, outwork everyone around you. (Come in earlier, leave later, and volunteer for everything that others don't want to do. Don't wait to be asked to do something. Take it upon yourself and do it.) But you're only going to be able to outwork others if you're genuinely passionate about what you are doing. Otherwise, it's going to feel like, 'Why do I want to stay late when I could go out with my friends?' When you're much more interested in what you're doing than going out for a drink with friends, you've found your bliss." Anderson Cooper (Page 43)
"Understanding your strengths and weaknesses can take a long time and can even be a painful process, but it's one of the most important things to do in life. I feel fortunate to have found a career that I am passionate about and am thankful that I allowed myself to switch course and dedicate myself to this new path. But the lesson to take away from my story is not to change paths the moment you discover something's difficult for you. [Note: Many young people have no interest in anything that isn't "fun."] If you give up at first blush, you'll never succeed at anything because nothing worth doing is easy. Give whatever you do your full effort, but at the same time keep your eyes open. If you discover, even by accident, what you're truly spectacular at and can pursue it, I recommend doing so." Nitin Nohria (Page 107)
"It's essential to strike the right balance between confidence and humility. If you don't have enough confidence in the rightness of your pursuit, you'll give up too easily. But you must also have enough humility to recognize your own limitations and be receptive to learning from others. When I started Teach For America, I knew I didn't have any experience in what I was setting out to accomplish so I had a very open mind and looked for help and advice from all quarters. You have to have an ethic of continuous improvement. It's almost impossible to get everything perfectly right out of the gate." Wendy Kopp (Page 128)
With all due respect to the importance of self-help, here is a wealth of practical wisdom provided by a variety and diversity of sources. What they share can be of incalculable value, especially to school, college, and university students who now prepare for a career or to others who have only recently embarked upon one.
Gillian Zoe Segal also stresses another, equally important point, one to which the title of one of Marshall Goldsmith's recent books refers: "What got you here won't get you there." I presume to add that whatever got you here won't even let you remain here in months and years to come. That applies to individuals as well as to organizations. Getting there, wherever and whatever ""there" may be, obviously requires a determination to sustain continuous improvement, guided and informed by the knowledge and wisdom provided in this volume.
If you are in need of an appropriate gift for a school, college, or university student or recent graduate, look no further.
5.0 out of 5 stars
"There is a significant difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak." Simon Sinek, April 14 2015
Note: This review is of the paperbound edition, published in March 2015.
The communication process that Mark Goulston introduces in this book (first published in 2010) can help almost anyone get to almost anyone else who would be otherwise inaccessible. Dorothy and her friends were advised to follow the yellow brick road. Goulston advises his reader to follow the five-step 'persuasion cycle.' There won't be any flying monkeys to worry about but there may be distractions so focus on the basic nine rules he identifies and master the twelve 'quick techniques' he recommends.
In essence, this is how the process should go: Convert the given person(s) from (1) resisting to listening, (2) from listening to considering, (3) from considering to willing to do, (4) from willing to do to doing it, and (5) from doing it to being glad they did'and will continue to do so.
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Goulston's coverage:
o The Persuasion Cycle (Pages 7-10)
o The Secret: Getting Through Is Simple (10-13)
o Amygdala Hijack and the Death of Rational Thought (16-17)
o Mirror Neurons (19-23)
Note: You may wish to check out Gregory Hickock's The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition.
o How Well Do You Know the People You Know? (41-43)
o Why Does "Feeling Felt" Change People? (48-51)
o The "Interesting" Jackass (57-59)
o Don't Just Act Interested -- Be Interested (59-63)
o Moving a Person Away from Distress (70-71)
o The Perils of Corporate Dissonance (83-85)
o Show Them Your Neck (89-93)
o Needy People (95-98)
o Bullies (99-102)
o Narcissists, and, Psychopaths (103-106)
o The Empathy Jolt: How It Works, and, When to Employ It (126-129)
o The Comeback Kid (153-154)
o Negotiating Versus Relating (156-159)
o The Never Again Tool (173-174)
o "Thank You" Versus the Power Thank You (181-183)
o Three Stages: Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability (201-203)
o The Six-Step Pause (213-214)
o Reach the Gatekeepers (218-220)
Goulston is a keen student of human nature. His insatiable curiosity drives him to understand what works, what doesn't, and why in especially complicated human relationships. (He also wrote two books to help people get out of their own way.) In Section I, he includes a remarkably substantial briefing on what can be learned from research in neuroscience that helps to explain how to convert people from 'No' to 'Yes.' He introduces and discusses each of the aforementioned nine 'rules' in Section II, then shifts his attention in Section III to 12 'Easy-to-Use Tools for Achieving Buy-In and Getting Through.' For those involved with a change management team, the material; in this section (all by itself) is worth far more than the cost of buying a copy of Just Listen for every member of the team.
Much of the material in the fourth and final section will probably have much wider relevance than the others do because Goulston shares his thoughts about how to manage effectively seven especially challenging situations. Almost all of those who read this book will have encountered each of them at least once and perhaps several times. For example, 'the team from hell' in Chapter 24 and 'the narcissist at the table.' I also highly recommend Chapter 29, 'Getting Through to Yourself' which, in my opinion, should be added to the Foreword or at least relocated into Section I.
I now presume to offer these suggestions.
1. Read 'Getting Through to Yourself' first (Pages 209-214), then proceed through the narrative.
2. Highlight key passages during a second reading and review those passages later in combination to the 'Usable Insight' and 'Action Step' devices with which ark Goulston concludes each chapter in Sections II-IV.
3. Keep a lined notebook near at hand. My preference is the MEAD 'marble' but any other will do. Be sure to record comments, questions, and suggestions as you read. Your notes will be far more reliable than your memory.
4. Continue to record notes when you begin to apply what you have learned from the book.
5. After about 3-5 months, re-read the book and then what you have recorded in your notebook.
Then contact Mark Goulston at the e-mail address provided on Page 234. Provide an update on whatever is of greatest interest to you. For example: the material in the book that has proven most valuable to you'and why; the biggest challenges you have encountered when applying what you learned from the book'and how you responded to those challenges; and perhaps, what you haze learned about yourself since reading/re-reading the book and then putting at least some of the material to work. Trust me, he will be delighted to hear from you.
5.0 out of 5 stars
How to create “the ultimate employee experience”, April 14 2015
It is no coincidence that most of the companies annual ranked among those that are most highly respected and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value within their industry. What is their "secret sauce"? Years ago, then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, explained the secret of Southwest Airlines' success: "We treat our people great, they treat our customers great, and our customers treat our shareholders great."
Brenda Kowske was the principal researcher on the "New Rules" studies in 2013 and 2014. The information and insights those studies generated reveal the best metric s for determining what she characterizes as "the ultimate employee experience." Rodd Wagner wrote this book based on what he learned from these and other research studies. Of special interest and value to him are the New Rules of Engagement℠ and the New Rules Index (BI Worldwide). As he explains, "Call them the New Rules of Engagement. They address issues of individualization, fearlessness, pay, well-being, and enjoyment of time on the job." They reflect what leaders and managers need to know about transparency, meaning, employees' perceptions of their future, and recognition. They distinguish real collaboration from platitudes about teamwork, and democratization from the old suggestion box. They show how critical it is for employees to have the chance to do something incredible. They inoculate against widgetry. They are the company investments that create employee intensity."
Wagner and his research team associates identified the continuous range of New Rules levels in four groups: Demoralized, Frustrated, Encouraged, and Energized. (The defining characteristics of each are best revealed within Wagner’s narrative, in context.) Wagner offers this book as a guide to better understanding human nature on the job and to understanding each of the New Rules that emerged from the team's extensive and intensive research. It's a guide for ferreting out and fixing all the ways your company treats its people like widgets" rather than as human beings.
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Wagner’s coverage:
o The Widget worldview (Pages 1-9, 76-79, and 165-167)
o Burnout (4-5, 31-32, and 69-73)
o Reciprocal employees and mutual trust (14-15, 20-21, and 30-31)
o Competition for talent (16-17, 41-42, and 60-65)
o Great Recession (17-21, 48-50, and 227-228)
o Good health (67-79 and 225-226)
o Coolness (81-94)
o BI Worldwide (91-94)
o Meaningful work (109-122)
o Future orientation (123-135 and 227-228)
o Employee recognition and appreciation (137-114)
o Collaboration (149-162)
o Participatory work environment (163-174)
o Extreme activities (175-188)
o Employee engagement (191-192)
o Happiness (203-210)
o Methodology for the New Rules (212-233)
With regard to the 12 New Rules, they are best revealed within the narrative, in context. However, I want to devote some attention now to a few of Wagner's key points. Just as BMW endeavors to build "the ultimate driving machine," he and his colleagues set out to build a survey instrument that measured the ultimate employee experience. He believes that organizational surveys "are the most cost-effective and accessible method [among several] for learning the levels and drivers of employee engagement." The research team completed this four-step process:
1. Create Survey Statements with which respondents agree or disagree using a relative scale.
2. Choosing Survey Respondents (see Pages 215-217)
3. Collecting Information
4. Analyzing the Data
The 12 New Rules are based on responses from approximately 7,000 employees in the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Latin America, China, and India.
Obviously, no brief commentary of mine could possibly do full justice to the nature and extent of information, insights, and counsel that Rodd Wagner provides. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of this book. Whatever their size and nature they may be, all organizations need to establish and then nourish a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. In other words, one that offers "the ultimate employee experience." I wholly agree with his concluding comments that also serve as the conclusion of this review:
"Your people are not your greatest asserts. They're not yours, and they're not assets. They are someone's son or daughter, brother or sister, mom or dad. They're people -- people for whom you have a crucial stewardship and with whom you are building a personal legacy that will last long after you have retired. Do right by them, make them happy, and they will be the major force behind the success you sharer with them, and the best part of being privileged to be a leader."
I also highly recommend an earlier work, 12: The Elements of Great Managing, that Rodd co-authored with Jim Harter, published by Gallup Press (2006).
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters." Albert Einstein, April 14 2015
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Einstein's observation as well as one of my favorite Warren Buffett insights: "Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it's true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy."
It is no coincidence that most of the companies annually ranked among the most highly admired and best to work for are also among the companies annually ranked as most profitable with the greatest cap value in their competitive marketplace. Some of their leaders may lack charisma but none of their leaders lacks the character and integrity to which Einstein and Buffett refer.
Fred Kiel wrote this book because he saw a need to offer "concrete reasons for rethinking our ideas about effective leadership and to map out the direct connection between strong character, principled behavior, and sustainable business results." He would be among the first to agree that leadership without character has a very short duration. Character-driven leadership - at all levels and in all areas, especially in the so-called C-suite - is essential to the "sustainable business results" to which Kiel refers.
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of his coverage:
o ROC Is for Leaders -- At Any Level (Pages 8-9)
o Coming to Terms with Character (15-18)
o Profiling the CEO Character, and, Plotting the Character Curve (18-20)
o Connecting the Links in the ROC Value Chain (28-32)
o Updating to Leadership 2.0 (37-40)
o Exploring the Software at the Heart of Human Nature (42-46)
o Telling a Coherent Life Story (54-58)
o The Keystone Character Traits (63-66)
o The Worldview from the Vantage Point of Success (69-73)
o Decision Making and Character-Driven Leadership (84-92)
o Establishing Strategic Focus, and, Enforcing a Culture of Accountability (92-95)
o Leading the Way Toward Maximum ROC (99-102)
o Leading the Executive Team
o Building Workforce Engagement (118-122)
o Building on the Bedrock of Character (124-125)
o The Return on Character for Employees (135-141)
o Becoming a Virtuoso Leader: A Six-Step Process (157-189)
o Creating an Executive Team with as Shared Sense of Vision and Strategy (195-198)
o Looking for World-Class Leaders (212-215)
I agree with Kiel that almost anyone can become a Virtuoso leader by completing the process explained in Chapter 7. Long ago, I realized that all character-driven leaders have a "green thumb" for "growing" associates entrusted to their care. That is the key to establishing and then nourishing a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. Those who aspire to become a Virtuoso leader should be able to rely on the support and encouragement of a character-driven supervisor while completing the aforementioned process. If there is none, they should seriously consider joining another organization.
Fred Kiel is to be commended on the abundance of information, insights, counsel, and personal experiences that he shares in this book. He makes brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices, notably an "ROC Takeaways" section at the conclusion of each chapter. This is an especially effective way to review key points and will also facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of relevant material later.
Hopefully, many of those who read this brief commentary will read and then re-read the book. Not everyone who does so will become - or even aspire to become- a C-level executive but all of them will, I hope, make and sustain a heartfelt commitment to character-driven leadership, both at work and everywhere else available to them. Meanwhile, I ask them to keep in mind this observation by Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
How to convert almost any workplace into a “hunting ground” for breakthrough ideas, April 13 2015
In his latest book, Hunting in a Farmer's World: Celebrating the Mind of an Entrepreneur, John Dini makes brilliant use of the two core metaphors, the hunter and the farmer, when sharing his thoughts about two quite different mindsets. The business world needs hunters but at also needs farmers. In fact, Dini suggests -- and I agree -- that, during the last four centuries and especially during the last two, the business world has been a farmer's world. That is to say, executives tend to be managers rather than entrepreneurs, focused primarily on increasing the efficiency and profitability of the status quo.
As Jeremy Gutsche suggests in Better and Faster, hunters need to complete three steps to formulate disruptive ideas: understand the essential conflict between hunters and farmers, explore six patterns of opportunity (i.e. convergence, redirection, reduction, acceleration, cyclicality, and divergence), and then "capture" the idea that can lead to eventual success. He explains how and why farmers can be trapped by complacency, defending the status quo while hostage to what Jim O'Toole aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." They are vulnerable to hunters who are insatiable, curious, and willing to destroy.
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Gutsche’s coverage:
o Awakening Your Inner Hunter (Pages 14-16)
o Hidden Secrets, Starting Fresh, and a Billionaire Author (40-43)
o Choice, Challenge, and the Underdog (46-49)
o An All-Conscious Search (52-54)
o Chaos Creates Opportunity (64-67)
o The Shotgun Approach (73-76)
o Convergence: At Trend Setter, and, Sub -Patterns (80-84)
o Divergence (85-87)
o Lawsuits, Rumors, and Jet Racing (93-98)
o Beautiful People Only (98-102)
o Sub-Patterns of Divergence (105-108)
o From "Bling Bling" to Boring (117-120)
o Getting Nasty (120-123
o Sub-Patterns of Cyclicality (127-129)
o Manufacturing Desire (138-142)
o Sub-Patterns of Redirection (142-145)
o The Power of a Niche (153-155)
o Sub-Patterns of Reduction (160-162)
o Acceleration: Three Rounds (174-179)
o Let's Create a Business (190-196)
What Gutsche offers is a cohesive, comprehensive, cost-effective system by which to generate, evaluate, reject or refine, and then implement what can prove to be breakthrough ideas. The business world needs both farmers and hunters. Members of each group can make unique and substantial contributions to the success of the given enterprise. Farmers must avoid the traps of complacency, repetitiousness, and protectionism and hunters must avoid the traps of excessive satiability, curiosity, and destruction. The challenge for business leaders is two-fold: to get the best out of each group, and, to sustain an appropriate balance in their collaboration.
Just as there are several different "roads to Rome," it is also true that there are several different patterns or approaches to opportunities for success. Gutsche focuses on six (previously identified), any one of which can be very effective. Extending the metaphor a bit, let's view a farm as a company, as indeed all of them are: it needs what most of its workers produce to be profitable and remain in operation. However, it also needs other workers who constantly hunt for other acreage to acquire, and, for better ways -- methods as well as equipment -- to treat soil, plan crops, protect them, harvest them, and then go to market with them. Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations need to continuously generate lots of ideas at all levels and in all areas of operation.
A few years ago, I was retained by a Fortune 50 company to design what would become a "suggestion box" on its intranet. Initially, all employees were invited to post their suggestions: "How can we get more done in less time, do it better, and save money?" Later, the invitation was extended to customers and suppliers: "What can we can we do that would make it easier for you to do business with us?" Soon, on average, more than 500 suggestions were submitted each week and the total reached about one thousand until interest slowly evaporated. Several dozen suggestions led to substantial improvements and were generously rewarded. Of much greater importance, the workplace became what Gutsche characterizes as a "hunting ground." Whereas better thinking was previously conducted outside the suggestion box, over time the workplace replaced that box.
Good ideas can be found almost everywhere but, with rare exception, great ideas are the result of a collaborative process, a modern day equivalent of the alchemy that was so widespread during the Middle Ages. I commend Jeremy Gutsche on the wealth of in formation, insights, and counsel he provides. Just about all business leaders need to convert their workplace into a "hunting ground" can be found in his book. Bravo!
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller, April 9 2015
In Jason Jennings' latest book, The High-Speed Company, he draws upon 11,000 interviews of leaders in all manner of organizations. He responds to a critically important question: "How to create a sense of urgency among the workforce while achieving and then sustaining profitable growth?" The pace of this book's narrative correctly suggests the velocity at which changes occur in which has become a global marketplace, and, the velocity at which leaders must respond effectively to those changes. According to Jennings, the people who lead the fastest and best-performing companies don't see the world's problems, opportunities, rewards, and costs through the lens of what they mean to them. "They understand that true happiness and satisfaction come when we focus on others. They are, at heart, caregivers who see their purposes as being the best stewards of the resources, both tangible and intangible, that have been entrusted to them and making sure that all assets are used efficiently, effectively, and profitably."
And now his most important insight: "The single shared trait that I'd been looking for was [begin italics] stewardship [end italics]. It was also the essential last piece of the puzzle for creating urgency and growth in a nanosecond culture." Great leaders dare to serve rather than aspire to gain and retain power. This is precisely what Cheryl Bachelder has in mind when describing the leaders she admires most. They were great to work for but also led their teams to remarkable results. "Their motives go beyond self-interest. They challenge you to pursue daring, bold aspirations that create an exciting place to work. They shun the spotlight in favor of serving a higher purpose. They evidence principles in their daily decisions. You not only love these leaders but also perform your very best work for them."
Her comments remind me of my favorite passage in Lao-tse's Tao Te Ching:
"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves."
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Bachelder's coverage:
o Where Did I Get This Idea for Writing the Book? (Page 6)
o Loving Those You Lead (23-26)
o The Difficulty of Serving, and, What's In It for You? (26-29)
o What Mindsets Lie Ahead for Dare-to-Serve Leaders? (29-32)
o Focus on the Vital Few (41-43)
o Bring Out the Best in People (48-54)
o The Courage to Measure Progress (54-57)
o Why Does Meaning Matter? (63-64)
o Journey to Personal Purpose (67-73)
o The Impact of Personal Purpose (73-75)
o Sharing Personal Purpose, and, Acting on Personal Purpose (75-77)
o The Six Popeyes Principles (82-96)
o Study of Leadership (106-108)
o Reflections on Reality (108-113)
o Leaders Are Bold (116-119)
o The Point of Purpose (136-139)
o Human Dignity (142-144)
o Personal Responsibility (144-147)
o Humility (148-150)
o The Stewardship of Leadership (153-156)
The key to organizational success often depends on the nature and extent of a special kind of leadership to which Jennings referred: stewardship. That is, leadership by women and men who go through life feeling "it's mostly about others." Robert Greenleaf characterizes them as servant leaders. Dan Goleman would say they have highly developed emotional intelligence. Jim O'Toole would say that their values and behavior are guided by a moral compass. Bill George suggests that the great leaders are authentic and follow what he characterizes as their True North: an internal compass that guides them as a human being at their deepest level. "It is your orienting point - your fixed point in a spinning world - that helps you stay on track as a leader. Your True North is based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, the sources of satisfaction in your life. Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership."
I commend Cheryl Bachelder on the abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel she provides, based on her wide and deep experience with major corporations that include Yum Brands!, Domino's Pizza, RJR Nabisco, the Gillete Company, Procter & Gamble, and currently Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. at which she serves as CEO.
Whatever its size and nature may be, however, every organization needs Dare-to-Serve leaders at all levels and in all areas. How to develop them? Read the book. It not only explains the "how" of that process, it also explains the "why": to drive superior results by serving others.
5.0 out of 5 stars
A brilliant survey of the neuroscience of financial transactions throughout history, April 8 2015
Kabir Sehgal is not a neuroscientist nor am I and countless others who read this book. Its subtitle refers to the rich history of "money" but I think a more appropriate word is "currency," often -- but not always -- in the form of coins. Consider the ancient aphorism that, "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Sight (albeit limited sight) is the coin of that realm. You get the idea.
Sehgal strategically inserts dozens of relevant quotations throughout his lively and eloquent narrative, including this gem from Voltaire: "It is more easy to write on money than obtain it; and those who gain it, jest much at those who only know how to write about it." I have no ideas whether or not Sehgal has gained affluence but he can certainly write well when sharing his thoughts about "an ancient topic in new ways" while "hearing the different frequencies of money."
He succeeds in achieving his stated objective: to present "a multidimensional and interdisciplinary portrait of currency through the ages. It seeks to deepen your understanding of the history of money, and to show how it continues to shape our future in often imperceptible ways. I hope this book wsill explode your perception of money, and help you coin new ways to think about it." He certain gives his reader "new ways to think about it. These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Sehgal's coverage:
o The Currency of Nature (Pages 21-24)
o The Human Connection (24-29)
o Symbolically Thinking (34-37)
o Let's Get Rational (42-47)
o Brain Man: Brian Knutson (55-63)
o In Brains We Trust (63-65)
o The Gift (75-83)
o Sinister Bonds (89-92)
o Silver Civilization (103-106)
o A Democracy of Owls (111-117)
o Dragon Money (133-139)
o All About the Benjamins (144-148)
o Getting Softer: The Civil War (148-150)
o Getting Softer: The Great Depression (151-153)
o To Invisible and Beyond 160-161)
o The Bear Cause (166-180)
o The Bull Case (180-189)
o No Two Masters (203-213)
o A Test of Man 216-220)
o Symbolic Attachment 225-226)
Readers will appreciate the abundance of information, insights, and counsel provided in this volume. Those who share my high regard for Coined are urged to check out two books by Peter Bernstein: Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk and The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession, in a second edition, both published by John Wiley & Sons (2012). Our ability to navigate an always-uncertain future depends almost entirely on how well we understand the nature and extent of forces that will guide and inform it, and once again shape us.
These are among Kabir Sehgal's concluding remarks: "Regardless of how we look at money, it stares back at us. But it isn't waiting. It's always moving, shifting, and encroaching on various parts of our lives, and we often don't realize it. Only with deliberate reflection can we see how its history has shaped us, from helping to control or democratize a society, to obtaining the resources necessary to live. This symbol of value activates our minds, steers our bodies, and helps determine the fate of our souls."
For reasons indicated, I think Coined is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's really quite simple. Double your rate of failure." Thomas Watson, April 7 2015
Until reading this book, all I knew about "leading with grit" was learned from the results of research conducted by Angela Lee Duckworth and her associates at The Duckworth Lab, University of Pennsylvania. As she explains, "Our lab focuses on two traits that predict achievement: grit and self-control. Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions. On average, individuals who are gritty are more self-controlled, but the correlation between these two traits is not perfect: Some individuals are paragons of grit but not self-control, and some exceptionally well-regulated individuals are not especially gritty."
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Henry Ford's observation long ago that "Whenever you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right." Laurie Sudbrink wrote this book to help as many people as she can to "navigate through the tough times and free themselves from the chokehold of negativity." However, the wealth of information, insights, and counsel she provides will be of little (if any) value to you unless and until you believe -- REALLY believe -- that you can achieve success, however you define it. Sudbrink introduces an acronym, GRIT®, that refers to four principles: Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth. Applying these principles will help you create personal accountability, inspire yourself and others to make a best effort, enhance team performance, and develop authentic leadership. All four are important because they are interdependent.
Readers will appreciate Sudbrink's skillful use of an end-of-chapter, step-by-step device she calls SHIFT:
1. First, scan each chapter before reading it;
2. Next, hone in on one or two areas of greatest need and value to you;
3. Then envision the potential impact of success;
4. And begin to formulate a specific plan to achieve it;
5. Finally, DO IT.
My own opinion is that the first steps should be to scan the table of contents and read the Introduction and/or Preface before proceeding to the first chapter. Reader's choice.
Also long ago, Thomas Edison observed, "Vision without execution is hallucination." Fortunately, Sudbrink accompanies you through each of the five stages of SHIFT. These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Sudbrink's coverage:
o The Choice Is Yours (Pages 2-11)
o GRIT® Self-Awareness Test (11-13)
o There Are Many Paths to Find Your Truth, and, Look Objectively (26-30)
o Change Your Story (32-33)
o The Impact of Truth (37-39)
o Accountability Is an Act of Integrity (55-58)
o Why Do People Lie (61-64)
o Be Selfish, and, Consider Others (68-72)
o Accept It and Let It Go (81-84)
o Let It Flow (98-100)
o Finding Purpose (104-108)
o The Five Steps of Change(tm) (116-129)
o Barriers to Listening (135-138)
o Understand the Why (139-141)
o Communicate with Confidence, and Inspire with Your Message (157-159)
o Structure Your Message (164-166)
o Empower Team Communication (178-181)
o Just Ask (184-186)
o The Value of Connecting (196-200)
o Attitude Is Everything (206-208)
o Leaders Set the Direction, and Know the Where and the Why (218-223)
o Creating a Culture of Feedback and Recognition (225-230)
I agree with Laurie Sudbrink: "With GRIT®, we don't need to be a hero. The reward of the life we now have is enough. We wake up in the morning eager to start our day, knowing we will enjoy it, and excited to make a difference in other people's lives -- and our own."
The challenge, obviously, is to master the skills required by the success we seek. We need what Carol Dweck characterizes as a "growth mindset," one that allows us to people believe that our most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work--brains and talent are just the starting point. This attitude develops a love of learning and a resilience that are essential to any major accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. So can you.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Aristotle observed, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”, April 7 2015
Given his background as director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center and FBI National Security Branch, Philip Mudd seems to be uniquely well-qualified to explain “high-efficiency analytic decision-making [i.e. HEAD] and the art of solving complex problems more quickly.” The strategies and tactics he discusses can help leaders in almost any organization – whatever its size and nature may be -- to consider questions such as these that are, obviously, far easier to ask than to answer:
“What is the question that must be answered”?
“What is the problem that must be solved?”
“What do we want this answer or solution to achieve?”
“What are the drivers of this process?”
“How will progress be measured?”
“What do we need to know?”
“Most reliable sources of information?”
“Verification of data?”
“Traps to avoid?”
As I worked my way through the narrative, I was again reminded of the process that resulted in the “Camp David Accords” in 1978. After twelve days of secret negotiations at Camp David, Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed two framework agreements at the White House, witnessed by President Jimmy Carter. When asked how, after thousands of years of bloody warfare, the two nations could reach the historic agreements, Prime Minister Begin replied, "We did what all wise men would do. We began at the end."
Time and again, Mudd stresses that point. It is one of the core principles of the HEAD process. Moreover, he correctly advises his reader that mastering that process will take time and patience as well as persistence. "Just as the greatest pain that punishes your body comes when you first start down the road to fitness and a healthier life, the worst part of exercising your mind using this analytic process will come at the outset, and you will be tempted to get off the mental treadmill when you start reading this book, because the mental exercise hurts." With diligent exercise of the principles, however, "your mind will become more agile over time, and this process will become second nature. You may even find that you enjoy it. Just not at first."
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Mudd’s coverage:
o Creating Decision Advantage (Pages 1-10)
o Thinking About Bias: The Analyst and the Decision Maker (13-17)
o The Tragedy of Somalia: What Should the Question Be? (33-38)
o Avoiding the Certainty Trap: The Deceptiveness of Yes/No Questions (45-47)
o Reducing Complexity: The Advantage of Driver-Based Analysis (64-71)
o Analytic Arguments: Reducing Complexity with Drivers (72-75)
o Assessing Data: Assigning Confidence Grades to Driver Baskets (116-119)
o A Case Study in Colors: Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and the No-Fly Zones (123-128)
o How to use the red-yellow-green approach to avoid traps (136-137)
o Anomaly Analysis: How to Use Discordant Data (141-145)
o Red Team Analysis and Alternative Thinking (145-149)
o Availability Bias (178-182)
o Sampling Bias and Anecdote Bias (182-186)
o Halo Effect (188-191)
o Four Biases: Superiority, Anchoring, Variable, and Predictive (191-195)
o Three Biases: Confirmation, Reasonable-Man, and Reverting-to-the-Mean (198-205)
o (Appendix B) Summing Up: A Practitioner’s Checklist (207-214)
This is a relatively easy read because Philip Mudd has done such a brilliant job of organizing and then presenting his material. His thinking is as sharp as his writing is clear. He provides a wealth of real-world situations that illustrate various dos and don'ts when using high-efficiency analytic decision-making in order to solve complex problems more quickly. However, as indicated, mastering the principles of the HEAD process will, initially, be challenging and probably frustrating for a time. That is why I urge everyone who reads this book to read it again, then frequently review key passages that have been highlighted.
In my opinion, leaders who master the HEAD process will gain for their organization a significant, perhaps even decisive competitive advantage. They will also gain a significant competitive advantage in their professional career.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
How to build a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive., April 7 2015
I agree with Laszlo Bock that leaders "who build the right kind of environments will be magnets for the most talented people on the planet. But it's hard building such a place, because the power dynamic at the heart of management pulls against freedom...Nobody produces their best work entangled in the Gordian knot of spoken and unspoken agendas and emotions. Google's approach is to cleave the knot. We deliberately take power and authority over employees away from managers." The decisions that managers at Google cannot make unilaterally include whom to hire and fire, how a worker's performance is rated, and how much of a salary increase, bonus, or stock grant (if any) is given to someone.
This unique policy essentially frees up the managers that Google wants to develop from making certain decisions unilaterally that undermine their ability to help build a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. As Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt explains, without being concerned about when, how, and why to use the traditional sticks and carrots, managers can focus on serving the "team." This default leadership style nourishes relationships between and among everyone involved.
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Bock's coverage:
o Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Pages 18-23 and 67-71)
o Google culture (29-53)
o Transparency (41-51)
o Values (46-48, 284-285, and 318-325)
o "Culture eats strategy for lunch" (51-52)
o Testing cognitive ability (91-93)
o Zero-compromise of hiring talent (104-113)
o Decisions based on data (127-135)
o Freedom in shaping work and company (135-146)
o Performance management (150-177 and 325-327)
o People programs (160-182)
o Interview questions (167-169)
o Two tails (178-203)
o Project Oxygen (189-196)
o Upward Feedback Survey (197-200)
o Learning Institutions (204-224)
o Accomplishments versus compensation (242-250)
o Employee Resource Groups (265-268)
o Sense of community (263-269)
o Relentless improvement (359-360)
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of material provided by Tom Davenport in one of his most recent books, Judgment Calls. He and co-author Brooke Manville offer 'an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance': [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics]. That is, 'the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control." Bock explains how and why decisions concerning use of the aforementioned "sticks and carrots" can become abusive...and often does. "The irony is that the best way to arrive at the beating heart of great management is to strip away all [such] tools on which most managers rely." My own experience suggests that people who can be motivated only by sticks and carrots -- or manage others only if having them available -- probably should not have been hired in the first place.
Long ago, 3M's then chairman and CEO, William L. McKnight observed, "If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need." At Southwest Airlines, there is a Culture Committee whose membership consists of C-level executives and baggage handlers, mechanics and flight attendants, accountants and gatekeepers. As former CEO Herb Kelleher explains, "Before people knew how to make fire, there was a fire watcher. Cave dwellers may have found a tree hit by lightning and brought fire back to the cave. Somebody had to make sure it kept going because if it went out, everyone would be in great danger so the fire watcher was the most important person in the tribe. I said to our culture committee, `You are our fire watchers, who make sure the fire does not go out. I think you are the most important committee at Southwest Airlines.'"
I mention McKnight and Kelleher because they are among the great business leaders upon whose shoulders Google's leaders now stand. Bock acknowledges, "We don't have all the answers, but we have made some fascinating discoveries about how best to find, grow, and keep people in an environment of freedom, creativity, and play." That is the environment within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. Moreover, it is also the environment with which others -- customers and client companies -- also want to be associated. He asserts -- and I wholly agree -- that Google's rules will work for almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.
The abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Laszlo Bock provides can help those who read it to achieve for themselves as well as their organizations a high-freedom workplace environment. Why accept less?