How to Trust a Leader

There is more than one way to know if you can trust a leader. But one key way is find their crucibles.  If leader isn’t willing to talk about them or can’t seem to remember any, a red flag should go up in your mind.

Teddy Roosevelt had some penetrating thoughts on leaders who seemed to have escaped suffering:

“I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

We Are Fragile

We are fragile.  Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  I know some won’t go here with me, but let’s not pretend that it doesn’t apply.  So wherever you are now, give yourself room to be open.

This post came to me after hearing about a tragedy.  One where hope was lost in one person’s heart and mind. 

So, since we’re all leaders, let’s consider the following:

  • Everyone who hears the words of your voice has the potential of catching a virus.  The virus is you.
  • If you think that human beings were designed to endure harsh words, commands, and the like, I would beg you to reconsider or resign.
  • You may be the only person someone believes in.  Therefore, continue to inspire no matter how much it costs you.
  • If your agenda does not allow you to purposely rub off on those who follow you, then throw out the agenda.  You’re in the legacy building business, whether you know it or not.
  • If you’re helping people realize their dreams, don’t stop there, get into reproduction and replication.
  • Don’t forget the forgotten.
  • Leadership implies responsibility, not privilege (thank you Peter Drucker).
  • Your story is worth telling, so don’t keep it to yourself.

Could you bring the light back to people who see only darkness.  I’m not talking about changing people, just showing a brilliant light and letting the chips fall where they may.

My prayers go out to those today who’ve lost hope.

Conspiring Circumstances


Talked to my friend Robin this week and we discussed the idea of conspiring circumstances.  You know, the things in life and work that always seem to come up to mess up.  It used to vex me, but it doesn’t any longer.

Some years ago, ironically, when I slaved in , I always saw circumstances as things that would eventually be eradicated (like polio or the black plague).  But my naive leadership ways kept me from understanding the role circumstances play in this motion picture called life.  Thankfully, I got older and wiser.  I began to understand that it would be better to expect conspiring circumstances, than to be shocked by their appearances.

The key is expecting them-really.  I’m not recommending paranoia or always looking over your shoulder.  But I am recommending a retro-view of your life to discover what part circumstances have played in the scenes of life.  Hopefully, you’re the better for the experience.

We’re so obsessed in our culture with being happy, being secure or arriving at some destination.  If you hold onto those desires, you’ll be dismayed and sad when circumstances come on to thwart you.  Listen, I’m not saying that you can’t be happy or secure.  Just remember the seasonal nature of things.

  • It should be a new paradigm where you accept that there will be times of unhappiness (which can actually lead to greater happiness).
  • It should be a new paradigm that says security is best found in risk, not some idea that you can set up controls to make life safe.
  • It should be a new paradigm that says the ride is infinitely more important than the destination.  Focusing exclusively on the destination causes a missed life.

So the next time you get that promotion and the applause is uproarious, stop and remember how circumstances can, and always will, conspire as you make your way through.

The Power of Micro-Blogging

I use Twitter daily (look for me under “Epic Living”).  One of the people who follows me asked my thoughts on micro-blogging in the corporate arena.  I wanted give my thoughts around that and why you should embrace it as well.

First, micro-blogging is a cool way of giving your “fans” and idea of what you’re doing on a micro level-no pun intended:-).  On Twitter you have 140 words or less to do that.  You can click here to learn what I wrote there this morning.

So what about corporations/businesses using a tool like Twitter?  I think it would be a tremendous tool to communicate and to connect.  Imagine your company provides a piece of hardware for the iPhone.  Your CEO just got back from a conference where he met with Steve Jobs.  Steve told your CEO how pleased Apple was with your company’s service levels.  As an employee would you like to see a micro-post like the following?

    “Everyone, just had a conversation with Steve Jobs.  He’s amped about our service levels.  More to come.”

That kind of communication not only encourages and engages, but gives real-time information.  It’s better than email and IM, because in places like Twitter, you are in a community that has a look and feel of community.  And if you haven’t already noticed, people crave community.

You might say why not just send an email?  But at the same time someone could have said to Google, why not just stick to search.  Great tools are created when you go into paths not yet worn.  I guess that’s why they call it innovation.

Here are some thoughts on how micro-blogging could help an organization:

  • Community would/could be built and cemented-with customers and employees.
  • Organizations would see engagement rise-significantly.
  • Organizations would become more fluid and less rigid.
  • Courage would be found, because you’d have to take on HR and Legal.
  • Customers would have a compelling story to follow.
  • Customers would become more loyal.
  • Money follows those who do something engaging.

To Blog or Not to Blog

When I spoke to the OWL group last week, there was some conversation around corporate blogging.  The substance of those conversations were mainly around the lack of understanding about blogging-specific to organizations taking the leap . 

In my speech I referenced a study from Forrester Research that I found on Lois Kelley’s blog.  You can look at her post here.  The study brought to light what’s wrong with corporate blogs.  Namely, they’re bad.

Here’s what I think is wrong with many corporate blogs, and how to make them better:

  1. The sites are too institutionalized.  It’s as if risk is the black plague.  If HR (for an internal blog), Communications, and Legal are hovering at every turn, you probably are just writing press releases.  Which, as we know, kills conversation.  My recommendationis to embrace risk and change the world.  Stop playing it safe.  And by the way, your organization will make more money too.
  2. Many corporations are afraid of community.  A consistent refrain in my conversations last week with the OWL folks revealed organizations being fearful of negative comments from employees or customers.  My recommendation is to remember that your organization is already being talked about, so why not be in front of the conversation vs. behind it?  Employees and customers might be inspired by an action like this.
  3. Organizations just want to be hip.  Someone at a conference told the CEO to get into social media, and an edict was formed.  It made for good talking points, but lacked commitment and desire.  My recommendationis to not start something you don’t really want to do.  Stakeholders get real suspicious of fashion.
  4. The wrong person is doing the writing.  Without guidance on the why and how, a blog can be a very stale affair.  My recommendation is to consult with us and take a look at this post from Nina Simosko on communication.  She gives a wonderful example of effective writing in a blog.
  5. No passion.  I’ve been asked by more than a few people about where I find things to write about.  It’s an easy answer to give; I’m very passionate about what I write about.  Therefore, it runs through me like a raging river.  Shouldn’t every organization have a similar state of mind and heart?  My recommendation is to check the pulse, go back (if needed) to where you started, and then reignite the passion.  

Ode to Dr. Mike

It seems appropriate to do one last post on health this week. I’ve given glimpses of my thoughts on good health, but it wouldn’t be complete without giving a nod to my family doctor.  Dr. Mike is an MD, but one who sees healthcare as a partnership between he and the patient.  In other words, he can’t be the fix for everything, I have to manage my eating, my exercise, my stress management.

The most important part of my “partnership” with Dr. Mike, is the learning.

When I first began seeing Dr. Mike in the Fall of 2003 he gave me some radical advice (at least I thought at the time).  He told me to do some type of exercise daily.  It was radical because I was knee deep in the hoopla of my corporate America experience.  I thought I didn’t have that type of time, nor did I find exercise as intriguing as trying to conquer the world.  Fortunately I learned (still learning).

It’s funny how some seeds of advice are planted long before we understand the importance.  I’m fortunate to have a doctor like Mike.

Here are some things I’ve learned from Dr. Mike:

  • Your health is a gift, better take care of it.
  • Your body was designed to move, so you’d better get moving.
  • Some times you need to just tough it out.
  • Start exercise early in life.
  • Laziness is a dangerous habit.
  • Watch what you eat and what’s in what you eat.
  • Talking about better health does nothing to improve your health.


The Beauty of Tuscany

Tuscan Vineyard

As stated many times, I am lover of wine.  I am especially fond of red wine.  The health benefits, the taste (when the palate is given a chance to embrace), and the story of the different growing regions make for stimulating thought.

James Suckling is a senior editor, writer and taster for Wine Spectator.  I found this post on his blog and wanted to share it with you.  He paints a beautiful picture of life and Tuscany.