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7 Ways to Differentiate between a Lightning Bolt and a Bright Idea

Charles Dickens’ famous opening sentence continues …

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”

More than 150 years later, our business world is possessed of similar contradictions.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Sometimes the light you see at the end of the tunnel is sunshine; sometimes it’s another train coming.

In the distance – and in the dark – it’s very hard to discern the difference. Yet, missing that call has very fateful consequences.

Is This the Time to Take Risks?

In the midst of an endless flood of information and ideas rushing our way, how do we differentiate between a bright idea and a lightning bolt?

  • Is this the time to take additional risks?

  • Should we only survive – or try to thrive?

  • Are some risks more palatable than others?

  • How do we tell the difference?

Don’t miss the 7 Ways to Differentiate between a Lightning Bolt and a Bright Idea


5 Powerful Leadership Lessons from the Indianapolis 500

Our leadership prowess is always on the line but nowhere more powerfully than on the starting line at the Indy 500.

You’re all in, 24/7 for 365 days … with victory in a 33 car lineup about 3 hours away. Do you understand the leadership requirements to achieve victory in such a short period of time?


Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades

On Sunday, May 24, 2015 … and with a spread of only .1046 seconds – yes, that’s about 1/10 of one second – Juan Pablo Montoya overtook Will Power – (yup, that’s his real name, a good one for this stuff, huh?) – to win the 4th closest race in Indy 500 history.

(Last year was the 2nd closest when Ryan Hunter-Reay overtook Helio Castroneves to become the first American to win it since 2006.)

I’ve been following this race for more than 50 years

For over 50+ years, I have listened to … and starting with the first live, same-day telecast in 1971 … watched the Indianapolis 500.

Every year.

Without fail.

What do I know about cars?


Really, I should say Absolutely Nothing!
Keep reading to learn the 5 Powerful Leadership Lessons from the Indy 500


12 Holiday Morsels to Strengthen Your Business

Yes, the holidays are here and already the list of things to do continues to grow – completing the annual budget, planning parties, visiting with friends, figuring out what to get who for when … and so it goes.

Yet, my spirit remains strong, so I’ve prepared a menu of 12 holiday treats that I hope will slide down like Amaretto eggnog in front of a winter fire.

I’ve even scoured some of my earlier columns to find the most delectable morsels.

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” — Yogi Berra

So, here’s a smorgasbord of lessons learned – a few appetizers, a choice of entrees, a little dessert – from executives of both extraordinary capability and numbing incompetence  — that should grace your executive table for 2015.

1.     It’s never about you.

It’s always about them. Customers, employees, suppliers … family, friends, colleagues.

Be clear about it and thrive.

Get it backwards?


2.     If you don’t think you’ll ever have a management succession problem, you already have one.

Keep reading. There are 12 days. Remember?


What is Winston Churchill’s Productivity Secret?

Churchill Image: I am an optimist2“How did you get so much done?”

You’ve probably heard the question many times, asked of interview guests the world over …

“If you could interview anyone, living or not, who would it be?”

For me, that’s an easy question.

Winston Churchill.

What if I could only ask him one question?

I could ask him a million questions and talk with him for days, but if I’m only given one question, here’s the simple one I’d ask:

“How did you get so much done?”

Winston Churchill lived to the ripe age of 90

Today, Sunday, November 30, is the birthday of Winston Churchill.

He was born 140 years ago in 1874 … and died 50 years ago next month … yet his talent and prodigious output remains striking to this day. He has always been one of my favorite historical characters … and for many reasons.
Continue reading to discover Churchill’s secret


Happy Thanksgiving!


It seems like everyone is ready for a little R&R these days … and there’s no better time than the Thanksgiving holiday for a restful weekend with family and friends.

We can skip all of the pageantry for now ….

Thanksgiving kicks off a long holiday season … and … thankfully … it’s devoid of the frantic gift-buying, holiday card creation and party circuit pageantry that surrounds Christmas (unless you’re parked in a tent in front of Target waiting for the store to open).

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of fun in all of that … but don’t we often get to the end of the Christmas season … exhausted, drained and looking for another holiday to REALLY get a break?

Leave your trials and tribulations behind

So, let’s enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and take a moment to leave our trials and tribulations behind and reflect upon all of our blessings. We have a lot to be thankful for living in the greatest country on earth, with all of its blemishes, and for the families and friends who nourish our lives.

Savor these moments.

Enjoy each others’ company, catch a little football, watch Santa arrive in the Macy’s day parade … but don’t let the moment pass by without loving the ones you love and who love you … and enjoying and embracing the blessings that fulfill our lives.

Let the gratitude pour forth~

I offer my special thanks today to everyone who contributes to the blessings and favor that grace my life and extend best wishes to you for a restful and bounteous weekend with your families and friends.

Have a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday!


Be a Leader Worth Following: Leadercast 2014

SF Bay Area Image of Video
Every year for the last 12 years, Leadercast has organized a ONE DAY ONLY event focused on Leadership. This year, you can join over 120,000 leaders from around the world at this exclusive event.

The theme varies every year. Last year, it was “Simply Lead”. This year, it is “Beyond You”.

“Our jobs ask much of us. And so do our lives. Employees, families, our boss. We have every reason to focus on our own success.

And yet, leadership calls us to more.

Leadership is beyond the confines of our daily tasks. Beyond the borders of our roles and responsibilities. Leadership asks us to look beyond the everyday and consider the larger community around us – our employees, colleagues, neighbors, and cities. We are asked to look not only inward, but also outward. Beyond ourselves.”

Another Great Roster of Speakers

This year’s speakers offer an exceptional array of experience, talent and insights … from Malcolm Gladwell to Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, a $17 Billion Revenue company … and to Dr. Henry Cloud and Andy Stanley, two of the most heralded speakers from previous Leadercast events with more than 20 books to their credit. Learn more about the great lineup of speakers


If You Stop Asking these 10 Questions, You’re Toast


Do NOT Stop Asking These 10 Questions

Several years ago, I wrote about whether we needed another checklist of the 10 Stupid Things I can’t stop doing ..or the Top 5 things I need to do before I brush my teeth (really, nothing, do that first … please).

I ran across it recently and re-read the article by Marc Kramer entitled, The 10 Questions You Should Never Stop Asking.

What about … WHAT ONLY YOU CAN DO?

As an experienced leadership coach leading a group of CEOs as well as a separate group of senior executives, I’m constantly reminding leaders to focus more intensely on what only you can do.

You’ll need to register to read Continue reading about this powerhouse article


Rudolph led his team across the world. You can, too!

If you woke up this morning with sugar plums dancing in your head, most likely Santa made it down the chimney … and Rudolph is stretched out on the ottoman with a cup of spiced egg nog in hand.

“Seriously?” my wife said. “You’re really singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer while you’re getting dressed this morning?”

I’m afraid so.

Rudolph, The Entrepreneur?

Honestly, I have no idea how that song got into my head.

Maybe because Rudolph … along with Santa and Frosty … are the most iconic images of a secular Christmas?

Maybe because Santa brought me some cool loot?

Maybe because my daughter’s little yorkie, Lulu, is wearing her “Ludolph” outfit?

Maybe all that … but  for just a moment, I stopped to consider the words … mostly to figure out how to convince my wife that I hadn’t lost it  … yet ….

There’s a timeless message in Rudolph’s story.

Then, it dawned on me that there’s a very timeless message in this simple tune that applies to all of us entrepreneurs … and everyone else trying to find their way in this world. Here’s the message Rudolph has to share …


Leadership | How Are You Paving the Road to Superior Performance?

Two-faced head statueIn Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?, I posed the question: If measured by financial performance, can dramatically different organizations be equally successful?

In this short series about culture development, we’ll take a look at how sound business principles and cultural patterns often collide within an organization’s walls.

How can opposing cultures both succeed?

In many ways, it doesn’t seem fair that both charitable and churlish cultures can thrive.

It’s easy to embrace the benevolent culture created by Sid Rich (we’ll call it Company South, “S” for Sid) as profiled in the first article in this series.

His company deserves to be successful.

Wouldn’t it be great if that was the company you worked for? (more…)


Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?

Anger 2He threw a lead crystal ashtray at his son’s head?” I asked. “Thank God he missed.”

“He threw his secretary’s typewriter through a second story window – it wasn’t open – into a parking lot full of cars below?”

These are just a few of the stories I heard after I joined the firm.

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ever feel like you were a galley slave?

In short order, I recognized that the company’s cultural ancestors probably included a toga-clad, sweat-drenched galleon driver pounding out a cadence of “ramming speed” with a wooden mallet.

Their cost-containment strategy was medieval.

The company showed no obeisance whatsoever to any concept of structure or chain-of-command organization.

The chairman slurped a workaholic tonic that abused everyone in sight, brooked little disagreement and intimidated employees, customers and vendors with equal disdain.

Typewriter broken? Just don’t use that letter!

His miserly ways were never more visible than the occasion on which he lost his patience hearing about the infamous typewriter (remember those?) that wouldn’t stay fixed. (more…)