Gone Forever

Dsc00660With a year coming to an end it seemed appropriate that I would have a vivid nightmare this morning.  Ok, some of it was more like a dream.  I’ll explain…

Here goes:

My wife and I are making plans for a vacation (I think somewhere in the Caribbean…this is what I meant by the dreamy part).  It felt great…

We needed to call the travel agent back to correct some information, but as I call out to my wife for clarification of the correction she’s swimming in the most beautiful ocean you could imagine.  Swimming free and happy.  As I’m talking to the agent, I start thinking of an island near Florida.  But I can’t remember the name of the island.  Suddenly, a friend from a former work group appears to provide a map.

I couldn’t help but ask him about the old group.  He goes on to describe how it looks like nothing I would recognize…for the worse.  I swear I could feel the sadness in my sleep state.  Totally dismantled and fallen down.

I’ve stated before that you should not fall in love with your employer.  One key reason is business is not about love, but money.  If you own the show you might choose to blend the two, but most shareholder-owned companies operate purely from a profit perspective.  I am not endorsing or indicting this…you decide for yourself.  I can tell you from experience…falling in love is dangerous.  If it comes to an end you’re gonna need to get over it.  Just like a love affair…

In some ways the nightmare from this morning may be a fitting ending to many things.

We Should Fly

122806_baldeagle Found this photo today courtesy of Fox News.  A bald eagle flying over the Manhattan skyline.  Couldn’t help but think of Seal’s song "Crazy:"

"In a world full of people, only some want to fly…isn’t that crazy?"

Out of the ordinary and inspiring!

What’s Your Story

OK, stop what you’re doing and write down your story.  Don’t be afraid or skeptical!

What is your story?  What have you done?  What do you know how to do?  What are your great feats (this one is relative)? 

Just brainstorm…don’t worry about who will read it…right now.

Did you come up with anything?  If you took my advice about not to being afraid, I bet you found the following:

  1. You’ve accomplished more than you thought.
  2. Your life IS a story.
  3. You might need some mentoring/coaching (everybody should have one of these).
  4. You have the makings of a great resume/credentials.
  5. You’re worth (internal) more than you thought.

Isn’t it great to be awake?  Your 2007 will be great too…if you let it.

Merry Christmas Hank

Hank_baby_1 This might be a very merry Christmas for Hank McKinnell (the former CEO of Pfizer).  As the article from TheStreet.com illustrates he’s going to leave Pfizer a "richer" man than he was before he arrived.  His package will total close to $200 million.  Not bad for…well, you decide for yourself how good he was and whether he’s worth $200 million.

For the record, if you make customers, employees, and shareholders money then you’ve earned your windfall.  If you perform and produce results you should be paid accordingly.  If you don’t, we have some nice parting gifts for playing.  Pfizer’s results speak for themselves.

Merry Christmas Hank.

Why Apple?

This article from Forbes is an interesting review of a new book on Apple.  Ever wondered why Apple seems to be continually growing?  A culture of innovation seems to be the difference maker.  Of course risk taking ranks up there as well, but certainly new ideas and new products are key.  Why doesn’t GM or Citigroup move in this direction? 

So how do you foster a culture of innovation?  I don’t claim to have all of the answers for that, but one thing is for sure you have to believe that you can never be comfortable.  Some call that growth…I would agree.  Human beings like things to stay the same.  Human beings like things predictable.  Ironically, life doesn’t live this way.  Funny how businesses/organizations hit their version of success and then they relax mentally.  They perceive success as a place to protect.  That is the beginning of the end.  An organization begins to see risk and innovation as a threat.  Oh sure, they’ll make innovation a "talking point" in a meeting, but truth is they really don’t want to rock the boat.

Risk taking and innovation are the essential elements of phenomenal growth.  Yet, the smartest people in the room can’t seem to get their arms around that.

I’ve Got The Power

Enter Bill Smith…master of all he surveys.  The people around the table give him his due.  No one would expect anything different, after all he is the senior, senior, executive vice president.  Bill really doesn’t care what you think (even if he says that he does).  This is his show and he’s got numbers to hit and people to impress.

Someone raises a hand to question the unrealistic sales projections.  Bill quickly states that you’re either for us or against us.  Certainly, Bill knows this will not build loyalty and dedication?  But he presses on anyway with a plan to "win." 

The seeds of failure have been planted.  There’s no shoot coming from the ground, but roots are taking hold.  No one quite understands…

The above could be one of a million stories anywhere in corporate America.  If you’re a teacher in business school or a CEO that cares, then get your leaders in a growth program where they can learn how to handle power.  Why wait until failure sets in?

The Big Five

What are the five most important things in your life?  How much time have you spent on them in the last week?  The answer to those two questions will reveal a lot about where you’re going…or not going.

Changing VCs

Guy Kawasaki’s blog entry on Venture Capitalists is telling.  The article from the San Jose Mercury News is the primary source, but Guy always has great insights.  As evidenced by his VCAT entry from November 29. 

I hope many of the young and inexperienced are paying attention.  Growth and learning implies pain.

A Nice Average

By now you may have read that Goldman Sachs had a record quarter for earnings and such.  What you may not have known is the average pay per employee.  This article from Bloomberg gives some detail about 2006 pay figures for the 24,000 plus employees of Goldman.

Seems like these folks are rewarded for results.

No More Secrets

Do you keep secrets?

Secrets are the doom of great leaders.  They hinder our ability to lead and inspire.  Why?  Because secrets are usually masks of insecurity and fear.  Sure, we can make lots of money, be admired by many or even have the ear of the famous.  But eventually our secrets will catch up with us.  Lives will be wasted and the world left wanting.

What I’m getting at is the stripping process needed to unleash who we truly are.  That process of removing all the layers we accumulate over time.  You know the type…playing the role of the corporate chameleon. 

Bagger Vance talked about finding the "authentic swing."  You can’t find it if you’re keeping secrets.