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Archive | August, 2010

Vol 72: Seven Swing Thoughts to Overcome Adversity

“Thankfully, perseverance is a good substitute for talent” — Steve Martin

7 Swing Thoughts to Overcome Adversity

The recent 92nd PGA championship ended tragically for Dustin Johnson based on a questionable and controversial call. What virtually every observer, from fans to PGA champions, saw as a sandy area of the rough outside of the ropes was declared by rules officials as a sand trap even though spectators were standing in it. Under the rules of golf, that resulted in a two-stroke penalty because a player can’t ground his club in the sand. It cost him a chance to participate in a three-hole playoff for the trophy in one of golf’s four major championships.

It was heart-breaking to watch and even brought a roar of disapproval from the usually reticent golf crowd. For most casual observers, it’s a distinction without a difference  …  but in the rules-driven PGA tour, it was a judgment call without heart or soul. Mr. Johnson’s disappointment now competes with Armando Galaragga’s recent loss of a perfect game in baseball.

What do we do when we suffer a major disappointment, e.g., the loss of a major client we served so well or the departure of a valued employee to whom we thought we had extended every opportunity? (more…)

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Congratulations to Benziger Winery

Benziger Winery has been named Business of the Year by the Sonoma Chamber of Commerce. They won the award for outstanding industry contributions and their commitment to the community, something that many of its fans … like me … know well.

Benziger Winery opened its doors in 1980 and is an industry leader in many areas like organic farming and biodynamics, recently receiving the exclusive Growing Green Award from National Resource Defense Council. I have had the pleasure of working with Tim Wallace, the CEO of Benziger, who is a thoughtful leader committed to family and community, and have served with him on several panels addressing issues in the wine industry.

Congratulations to Benziger Winery for the well-deserved accolade. It’s not often that companies committed to family and community also make great products and create raving fans but Benziger continues to delight its customers with wonderful varietals and warm hospitality.

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General Pride? Dr. Hubris? Welcome to our Strategic Finance lesson

Wouldn’t you know that after I’d just finished posting about the soldiers of the 7 Deadly Sins Army … notably General Pride and his two prized henchmen, Major Envy and Major Jealousy, and their infection of the $10 trillion merger boom that mostly failed its shareholders … that I’d discover an article by Richard Thaler, University of Chicago professor about The Overconfidence Problem in Forecasting.

Pride is considered the mother of all sins … and Hubris is its evil twin.

Thaler recounts how overconfidence in forecasting is a common thread that weaves a nefarious tapestry in corporate America. He reports on a study by three financial economists that found that CFOs of major corporations are not too good at forecasting … rather, they were terrible at it. CEOs, in turns out, aren’t much better … and studies as far back as 1986 … imagine that … found that hubris … overconfidence with a capital H … is to blame for the bloated premiums paid to acquisition candidates. As I’ve reported earlier, Pride is considered the mother of all sins … and Hubris is its evil twin.

He closes his article with one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Can I get an Amen?

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Leadership & Management are Inseparable

Are you making the mistaking of treating leadership and management as synonyms? We talk a lot about leadership in Sword Tips because Exkalibur is all about helping you “pull the sword from the stone through understanding rather than strength” by focusing on the leadership principles and practices that distinguish high performance companies.

Leadership involves plumbing as well as poetry.

But it’s easy to forget that the adage about leaders “doing the right things” … and managers “doing the things right” … is not meant to set those roles apart, rather to emphasize that they are two sides of the same coin, essential roles that must be performed by a successful leader. How many times have we seen leaders who are completely surprised by the disappointing outcomes they’re not managing? (more…)

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Strategic Finance? 7 Deadly Sins infect merger boom!

How many times have we heard about a failed marriage, scuttled by pride … greed … jealousy … envy … or other misdeeds flowing from the interminably deep well of human shortcomings? Too many, I’m sure, but those denizens of the 7 Deadly Sins brigade also besiege the world of mergers and acquisitions.

I haven’t written about this enough, I realize, as I read the M&A Losers in $10 Trillion Deal Binge …. providing yet one more example of the failed mergers that incite shareholder rebellions. We know the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so that doesn’t count for much. We expect CEOs and their directors to exercise their fiduciary responsibility to US by making sound decisions that are not scuttled by some array of the 7 Deadly Sins. (more…)

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“There you go again” ….

I think that line is attributed to Ronald Reagan’s impressive debate performance against Jimmy Carter in 1980 … but just the same, it applies to the stream of recent articles about business lending in the middle market.

The WSJ discusses a report that banks have eased their credit standards in recent months. Of course, there’s no metrics to confirm that, or what it means … and you’ll waste a lot of energy finding middle market businesses that concur. More realistically, there is little demand for credit because businesses have little confidence in economic growth in the near term. (more…)

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Unicorn meat? Delicious!

Tim Berry called my attention to a great post on the ThinkGeek site. If you’re hungry, dig in … dig in, that is to the hilarious post showing the “cease and desist” letter they received from the National Pork Board claiming that they infringed on the slogan “The Other White Meat”.

You’ve got to read the ultra serious letter from the law firm, even the first page, along with ThinkGeek’s rebuttal. What a hoot!

I wonder what they’re serving in the lawyers’ dining room?

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Start-Ups Create Lasting Jobs

A recent report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation entitled After Inception – How Enduring is Job Creation by Start-ups?”, uncovered several notable findings about the job creation power of start-ups:

  1. The number of start-ups that flourish and create jobs balances the jobs lost by companies that close.
  2. 80% of the jobs created in the first year are still here after 5 years.
  3. Companies that start during recessions general catch up in hiring after the recession ends.

So what? (more…)

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Vol. 71: The 7 Key Attributes of Successful New Leaders

I am easily satisfied with the very best.”    — Winston Churchill

A number of my clients and colleagues have recently ascended to greater positions of leadership at the top ranks of their companies. There’s suddenly even more to do, but have they paused long enough to consider how they should start … or even if they need to do anything differently?

Here are seven key attributes of successful new leaders you can embrace to give yourself a running start. (Existing leaders will also benefit from reading along and making course corrections where necessary.)

1. Credibility is foremost

Without it, you’ll look over your shoulder and find no one there. (more…)

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Luddites Unite – You’re History!

If you don’t think social networking is on an intergalactic trajectory, you haven’t met my nieces and nephews. Ages 8-11-14. NOT from a technology-driven family … so for those of you who are, strap in!

Facebook – old news! Facebook chat – “call me on my cell, Uncle Lary, and I’ll boot up my laptop so we can chat,” my 8 year old nephew proclaimed. Download apps to turn your phone into a walkie-talkie? Check. Waiting at the front door all day for the delivery of your new cell phone, in the color purple? Check. Kick your uncle’s butt in every video game, including the slower ones that I actually understood like golf? Check.

Their grasp of technology is not what’s remarkable. It’s how deeply embedded it is in their DNA (more…)

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