This is the 80th edition of Getting to the Point, the weekly Exkalibur Newsletter which we’ve been publishing for over a year.
It’s taken several forms, but we’ve arrived at a format that makes it easy for you to access the complete newsletter online, both now and in the future. As always, please let me know if there is something we’re missing that will be helpful to you.
The sole purpose of Getting to the Point is Helping YOU Become a More Effective Leader. For each of the pieces included in our Business Brief segment, for example, there’s an important point I want to share that applies equally to all leaders and businesses. While to some it may seem that Getting to the Point is a random collection of disparate articles, I hope you’ve seen more than that.
Today, in addition to celebrating a San Francisco Bay area success story in Amy’s Kitchen, you’ll be reminded about the understated value of expanded employee training in the story about Best Buy’s resurgence. Challenges to your business can come in many forms, which is why the Pinot vs. Pot story and Amazon’s 45,000 robots are presented as reminders to be forever vigilant about threats to your business from any direction.
As always, there’s much more in each newsletter … some to inform our life and our world …and some to kick back, take a break and have some fun.
I hope you’ll stay with us and let me know what we can do better to serve you on your Leadership Journey. I can’t wait to share with you the release of our first online Leadership course, which I hope will further contribute to helping you Become a Respected Leader … so you can Become a More Effective Leader.
Table of Contents
- Featured Article
- From the Halls of Exkalibur University
- Business Brief
- Geeking Out
- Around the Web
- What’s So Funny?
- What They Said
- What I’m Watching
- Wide World of Sports
- What We’re Reading (Fiction)
What the Future Holds? EXTRAORDINARY CHANGE!
In An interesting talk by the MD of Daimler Benz, here’s the first 3 high points:
- Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5–10 years.
- Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.
- Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.
And More Revolutionary Changes Here ….
In These 8 CEOs are changing the way we work, there are some fascinating insights into a handful of emerging companies with leading-edge technologies.
You may already be familiar with Box and Slack (the collaboration tool used by the team at The Exkalibur Organization) but there are also rapid advances coming in the world of robotics – something we have regularly featured here – as well as AI, cyber security and more.
Great article with some interesting perspectives on our future.
Question: Do you agree with these predictions or do you think they’ve missed something?
The Prizefighter & The Preacher
Among some of us dads, we often remark,
“Dads never get any credit.”
Dads teach their kids how to play ball, run, catch, dodge … but if they score a run, a touchdown or a basket … and the camera zooms in on them, don’t they always say …
Have you ever heard the phrase,
“… as good as Dad and apple pie?”
Nope … I think you catch my point.
So, I think it’s time for a little tribute to Dads, and like you, I think my Dad is a great role model.
My father lived a full life … as both a professional boxer and a minister … and when you read, The Prizefighter & The Preacher, you’ll learn about his remarkably diverse career (and at least one of the drawings he submitted to a local art contest where humility was in scarce supply).
It’s a classic that still makes me laugh out loud.
The Greatest Generation
My father was a member of the Greatest Generation … and I’m sure you’ve noticed it among others … that one of the prominent characteristics of men of that generation is humility. Yes, the same humility that is the centerpiece of 5X leaders famously described in Jim Collin’s landmark book, Good to Great.
If you want to learn what that looks like up close and personal, don’t miss the chance to learn about the humility that was essence of my father’s character and the 5 Lessons it offers for setting humility as the cornerstone of your leadership approach.
Question: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your father?
Be a Respected Leader to be an Effective Leader
Finally … the online courses I have told so many of you about are just around the corner.
From our broad curriculum, we’re starting with Leadership … in the true spirit of what the The Exkalibur Organization is all about … Helping YOU Become a More Effective Leader.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out a FREE introductory course that reflects one of our core beliefs … that you have to become a Respected Leader before you can be an Effective Leader. In this course, we’ll offer 7 Remarkably Simple Steps to Earn Respect.
The email series will include two Office Hours sessions to go a little deeper on some of these concepts and answer any questions you may have. We’ll also include a Private Group, which I will visit every day, to give you an opportunity to network with others and ask questions whenever they occur to you.
There is much more in-depth coverage of critical Leadership issues to follow, so I hope you’ll stay tuned and let us be part of YOUR journey to Become a More Effective Leader.
Question: Is there anything you’d like to see us cover in our upcoming Leadership courses?
Amy’s Kitchen Starring on CBS
We’ll take this opportunity to offer our congratulations to Amy’s Kitchen, a local Petaluma, CA company started by Rachel & Andy Berliner, who are credited with fueling the organic food movement on their journey to creating a $500 million company.
Take a moment to watch the video in CBS’ Real Food series about their role in the growth of the organic food movement which has grown to a $47 Billion industry by 2016.
Apparently, Pinot and Pot Don’t Mix Well
“When the Wagner family bought property in Yamhill County, a land of rolling hills, winding roads, and grapevines southwest of Portland, Oregon, they expected to have to obtain permits to break into the marijuana business. They didn’t anticipate that months later, they’d be caught in a battle with neighboring grape growers who say weed and wine don’t mix.”
At Amazon, the Robots are Competing for Jobs.
We can’t talk about retail without including Amazon.
In a fascinating article, Grasping Robots Compete To Rule Amazon’s Warehouses, here’s a few things that might surprise you:
“Amazon employs 45,000 robots, but they all have something missing: hands.”
Starting yesterday, the Amazon Robotics Challenge started …
… “tasking teams with picking up objects ranging from towels to toilet brushes and moving them between storage bins and boxes. The handiest contestants stand to win prizes from a pool totaling $250,000—and perhaps a shot at helping refine what happens when you ask Alexa to restock your paper towels.”
Amazon has become increasingly focused on mimicking the environment in its warehouses, requiring in this years’ competition that the robots have limited room to maneuver and learn about what objects they need to handle only 30 minutes before starting.
You’ll also find a few cool videos about this technology.
An interesting perspective that Amazon is on a hiring spree, aiming to hire more than 100,000 workers by the middle of next year, repeatedly emphasizing that robots are a supplement to their workers, NOT a replacement.
The Fortune Global 500
The Fortune Global 500 list is out, and perched on top, for the fourth year in a row, is—drum roll, please—Walmart.
“… with $485 billion in revenue, Walmart didn’t have any real competition for the honor. No. 2 on the list, China’s State Grid, finished $170 billion behind. And Shell and Exxon, contenders five years ago, have dropped to 7th and 10th place, respectively. Even when combined, their revenues are still less than Walmart’s.”
In the competition between the U.S. and China, the U.S. is still well ahead, with 132 companies on the list, down two from a year earlier. China is up to 109, from 103 last year. But most of those are state-owned monopolies—like State Grid at No.2, Sinopec at No. 3, and China National Petroleum at No. 4. The companies to watch are the private ones, like Huawei (83), Alibaba and Tencent, which joined the list for the first time at 478.m
But that doesn’t mean the giant retailer can sit on its laurels. Amazon is on an epic tear up the list, moving to 22nd this year from 44th the year before and 340th at the start of the decade.
The Magic in the Warehouse: Costco
Late last year, Fortune published an article profiling the history of Costco and their commitment to never mark up their goods more than 14%.
In the wake of the passing of one of its founders, Jeff Brotman at the age of 74, this article is worth reading to understand the culture, strengths and challenges of this marketplace behemoth.
Costco’s Thriving. How About Best Buy?
When I look around the retail world, I quickly wonder how Best Buy has survived, given the failure of almost every one of its big-box electronics chain predecessors.
One lesson to take from this is Best Buy’s emphasis on …
… “better training its employees so that they can explain products to shoppers, which Joly [Herbert Joly, new CEO since 2012] believed was critical because new technology often is confusing to many consumers.”
In Why the grim reaper of retail hasn’t come to claim Best Buy, there are some interesting highlights:
- “Under his [Joly’s] turnaround plan, Best Buy has rebounded to remain one major U.S. retailer that’s holding its own in the face of Amazon’s relentless growth and the conventional retail industry’s slump.”
- “His first move was to match any rival’s prices, especially those at Amazon, so that in-store shoppers no longer needed to buy elsewhere.”
“We had no choice, we had to take price off the table and match online prices,” Joly said.”
Question: Is matching prices a good way to go … or a slippery slope of destruction?
Who Hasn’t Wondered About These?
… and enjoyed popping every one of those babies!
In How They Make Those Squishy Air Pillows Inside Amazon Boxes … we finally learn the whole story. There are lots of fun videos to see how these machines work.
- If you can’t afford the $1,000 to $2,000 for your own magical pillow machine, … you can always order your own pre-filled air pillows from Amazon.
Do your kidneys have a sense of smell?
You smell with your body, not just your nose according to physiologist Jennifer Pluznick.
- “[It] turns out, the same tiny scent detectors found in your nose are also found in some pretty unexpected places – like your muscles, kidneys and even your lungs.” In this quick talk (filled with weird facts), physiologist Jennifer Pluznick explains why they’re there and what they do.
This Might Sound Like It’s Only About Vaccinations … but ….
While this article, Misinformation lingers in memory: Failure of three pro-vaccination strategies is focused on a very technical vaccination study, the takeaway about our preconceived notions shows up throughout our lives.
- “Results show that existing strategies to correct vaccine misinformation are ineffective and often backfire, resulting in the unintended opposite effect, reinforcing ill-founded beliefs about vaccination and reducing intentions to vaccinate.”
Question: What have you learned about how to keep an open mind and not get stuck with ill-founded beliefs?
Why Do We Age? 3 Cheers for the Hypothalamus!
In A tiny part of the brain appears to orchestrate the whole body’s aging, we learn that scientists continue to struggle with this question:
“The hypothalamus plays a major role in controlling aging. Mice that lived longer also had unusually high levels of activity in their hypothalamus.”
Where do I sign up for the injection?
The Best College Town? Tell the Kids? Keep It A Secret?
Some pretty cool towns in The 20 best college towns in America … but you’ll have to decide whether to share this information as your kids prepare for college … or try to keep the secret so they might apply more academic standards to their college choice.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of this crazy show, but a buddy of mine told me about it. I should have known what to expect since he only likes shows with a roomful of nut jobs, and in Claws, you get that with frosting on top.
“Claws is a midnight-dark, wickedly funny meditation on female badness set in a South Florida nail salon. It follows the rise of five diverse and treacherous manicurists working at the Nail Artisan of Manatee County salon, where there is a lot more going on than silk wraps and pedicures. Claws is about good women caught in bad places with worse men. It’s the story of hardworking women trying to get by in this economy, set against the surreal, bright, gritty landscape of Florida and the luscious, absurd, extreme excesses of the crime world.”
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Extreme Sports? X Games? Got Nothin’ On These Guys!
In Finland Has a Sports Screw Loose, you’ll find some unusual sports that you might not think of even in your least sober moment:
- 20th annual Swamp Soccer World Championships
- Mosquito Killing World Championships in Pelkosenniemi
- Wife Carrying World Championships
- Air Guitar World Championships
Oh yeah … and the – World Sauna Championships were heavily contested in Heinola from 1999 to 2010, until a competitor died from third-degree burns.
Question: If you lived in Finland, which would be your favorite sport?
Final Target by John Gilstrap (Jonathan Grave #8)
I also love it when old friends, like Scorpion, Boxers and Mother Hen return to the page.
I’ve written about this series before when Friendly Fire came out last year. Grave is a hostage rescue specialist who only gets the impossible assignments, always behind the curtain with no rules and ultimate deniability.
In Final Target, Scorpion’s mission this time:
“Drop into the Mexican jungle, infiltrate a drug cartel’s compound, and extract a kidnapped DEA agent. But when Jonathan Grave and his partner, Boxers, retrieve the hostage and return to the exfil point, all hell breaks loose. Ambushed, abandoned, and attacked on all sides, their only hope of survival lies inside a remote orphanage where innocent children have been targeted for death. ”
If you love the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre, you’ll love Jonathan Grave and Final Target.