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Mark Twain lived a life without regrets. How about you?

At Leadercast 2015 in May, Andy Stanley spoke about bravery and encouraged everyone to concentrate on the “WOW” of every idea, not the “HOW”.

Always asking “HOW” saps the energy from new ideas and grounds it in the impossible before it’s even born.


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Give it a chance. Don’t think “How will I ever do that?” … rather … “Wow! That’s a cool idea. Let’s see if we can find a way to do that!”

Mark Twain said it well. Let’s see if we can do it it well.


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3 Tips to enhance your Elevator Speech

With thanks to Carmine Gallo, his recent post, The Three Elements of an Inspiring Pitch, reminds us of the power of emotion in telling our story to an interested community. The three critical elements of a pitch that he identifies – Understandable, Memorable and Emotional – are valuable in all forms of communication … and as we know, Communication IS Leadership.

In the Exkalibur Leadership Forum, we’re currently discussing Carmine’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, which is an excellent primer that extracts, in clear, practical terms, the essence of how Steve Job’s creates his powerful presentations. If you want to improve your presentation and communication skills in every aspect of your professional life, this is a great place to start.


Vol. 69: Blog me a river …and start now!

Blogging is the cornerstone of your Social Media strategy

Online product displays are fine; but how are you really making a connection?

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.– Lee Iacocca

When I visit the websites of many of my Bay Area clients, I often find broad product offerings and detailed product specifications, accompanied by routine background and contact information … but rarely do I find a blog with which the company communicates with its customers.

Social media has exploded

The world of social media has blown the doors off traditional means of communicating with customers and employees. YouTube is now receiving more than one hour of recorded video for each minute on the clock – with over 2 billion page views – and it just celebrated only its fifth anniversary. In just over six years, Facebook has garnered more than 400 million subscribers and continues to grow.

With powerful social media tools like these, as well as LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Digg, del.icio.us, Buzz, etc., most middle-market companies are overwhelmed by the choices. But most of them are not moving fast enough because – be dead sure of this – these tools, advancing at an increasingly faster pace every day, are here to stay and flourish. If you’re not part of that conversation, (more…)


Happy Birthday, America!

Today is usually a day for hot dogs, parades and festive celebrations of the birth of this wonderful nation we inhabit.

In that spirit, I’d like to dedicate this holiday to a dear family friend, Cpt. Kevin Mott, an Army Ranger who was badly wounded in Afghanistan this week and is returning to the U.S. for treatment. Our hearts and prayers are with him and his family for a rapid and full recovery.

Another day, we can debate the wisdom of our foreign policy and the wars in which we’re currently engaged … but today, I’d like to pay tribute to Kevin and the men and women with whom he serves. We stand straighter because of their bravery and commitment and shed tears for their innocence and selflessness as they put themselves in harms way for the country to which they give so much and from which they ask so little.

They aren’t encamped on a comfortable bar stool celebrating Independence Day. They’re carrying out their mission in the unforgiving terrain of the Korengal Valley and Kunar Province of Afghanistan, without electricity, plumbing or running water, (more…)


Vol. 65: Keep Your Prices Strong!

The Slippery Slope of Price Discounting

Look at your value proposition; some have raised prices

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

– Oscar Wilde

These days, when you ask a business executive “what’s on your mind,” pricing is on the short list. Is this the right price for this item? Am I getting the markup I need to be profitable? How much will the price affect the buying decision? Does the economic environment require that I drop my prices? Are they too high? If I lower some, won’t I need to raise others? What if the mix changes and the higher priced items don’t sell and the lower ones do? What’s my competitor doing? Why do people shop here in the first place? Ad infinitum.

Pricing is both omnipresent and eternally vexing. It’s at the core of a profitable business, the management of the supply chain and the strength of your brand. In its most pernicious form, however, (more…)

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He saw it coming ….

When someone tells you no one saw it coming … you can usually assume they mean “I” didn’t see it coming.

By now, many of you are familiar with the story about Michael Burry, the Stanford Hospital surgeon who uncovered the flailing mortgage market and made a fortune betting against the continued surge in mortgage offerings, usually buried inside a CDO – Collateralized Debt Obligation. Michael Lewis featured him prominently in his new book, The Big Short, and 60 Minutes also recently profiled him.

Burry’s recent NY Times Op-Ed piece is interesting reading and a good reminder that most everything you’d like to know is knowable … if you look hard enough and do your homework. Most of us are too lazy, though, and the lemming syndrome continues to befall the investor looking for easy pickings.

I’ll be back soon to comment further on the Goldman Sachs case, particularly now that they’re becoming the favorite whipping boy of the dreamcats in Washington.


Freakonomics – The Movie

“Incentives are the cornerstone of life.” Remember that phrase?

Many of you have read my posts, or heard me discuss the fascinating insights of Freakonomics, the best-selling book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner about the power of incentives and how often they produce unexpected and unwanted results. The sequel is called Super Freakonomics.

For those of you who may be cast members in the diorama described by the article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid“, you should be thrilled to learn that Freakonomics is coming out soon as a documentary film. Should be pretty cool.

While we’re waiting, try this exercise in your organization. (more…)


Get to work … and thanks for working

Getting the impression that I may have caught up on a little HBR reading over the holidays? What makes you think so?

I did read The Power of Unwitting Workers recently, though, and thanks to so many of you for contributing … unwittingly … to energy conservation and other worthy, albeit clandestine, activities. Like the other side of the pillow, this article is pretty cool.

It describes several circumstances where employees, and others … unknown to them … contribute benefits of all kinds. Power Walking to take advantage of the piezoelectric effect (how about that 25¢ word?). Would you believe that all of the CAPTCHAs  we complete almost every day have helped to transcribe nearly 150,000 books a year (or that CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”). Read the for more interesting stuff … and, students, if you’re planning to take the SAT anytime soon, thanks for working your butt off to figure out 10% of the questions that aren’t scored at all.

BTW, with the CAPTCHA acronym construct described above, it does gives all of us a chance to create any old acronym we want, doesn’t it? How about IBBSTWIFLI (“I’ll be back sometime tomorrow when I feel like it.”)