Good morning,

Welcome to Sword Tips, the Exkalibur Newsletter for April 28, 2022. I’m glad you’re here.

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This week, we’re emphasizing the importance of clear communication, particularly considering the many constituents … employees, vendors, customers and shareholders … leaders must serve. We also address the growing lack of self-awareness I see among leaders and more ideas for employee engagement. Of course, Elon Musk is still in the news with the purchase of Twitter.

We’ve also got some important health updates, a new feature of Sword Clicks to quench more of your curiosities, a TV show you do not want to miss, insights about our musical memory, Gamesmanship and a special gift for you Oreo lovers.

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Leadership Insights

What We've Got Here is a Failure to Communicate

You may not have heard this phrase, but it’s from the 1967 film, Cool Hand Luke, a Paul Newman film you shouldn’t miss.

The dialogue comes from a famous scene where the captain of the prison chain gang extols his charges with his own brand of leadership.

“Some men you just can’t reach,” the Captain says, as he reminds the prisoners of the beat down administered to a few other recalcitrant souls in an earlier scene.

“What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate!​

Cool Hand Luke

When you read What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate, you’ll get access to my Communication Matrix, which provides a great starting point to establish a communication strategy for all of your constituents.

Business Brief

Elon Musk. Again?

Yup. Again.

You’ll recall that last week, we talked about his rebuffed bid for Twitter and his status as the world’s richest billionaire.

What a difference a week can make since Twitter’s board has now approved his $44billion acquisition of Twitter, which will take the company private.

What's in store for Twitter?

While Elon musk’s purchase of Twitter has not closed, speculation runs rampant about what he will do with it. I agree with the public comments and interviews I’ve seen so far:

  1. He wants to get rid of the spam bots.
  2. His objective is to make the code “open source” so people can understand the algorithms used to promote/demote their tweets. Facebook could take a lesson from this.
  3. He seeks to authenticate everyone on the platform. This is a long overdue idea and should help get rid of the posers and others hiding their identity solely because they want to troll the landscape anonymously and berate contributors even though they have no followers of their own and rarely post anything of substance. Another idea Facebook should consider.
  4. One of the biggest concerns people have is how much moderation will prevail. Musk seems to think Twitter is the future “Town Square “and there should be very little censorship. It’s hard to disagree with this position. Nonetheless, the issue will become conflated by the haters who don’t want to see President Trump back on the platform. I suspect that controversy will linger for a long time, but of course, it directly contravenes the free speech that Musk seeks to promote.
  5. Although there is speculation Musk may start charging for subscriptions, that remains uncertain. I support it because it would keep out most of the trolls who have no genuine interest in a thoughtful discussion. Along with the authentication of individuals, that seems the best approach to encourage meaningful conversation among real people with real ideas.

I was surprised to learn that Musk’s Twitter takeover ranks as the 3rd largest tech acquisition of all time. According to Fortune’s Where Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover ranks in the biggest tech acquisitions in history, it’s just behind Microsoft’s January deal to buy the gaming giant Activision Blizzard and Dell’s 2015 move to acquire the data storage leader EMC involved more money.

What do you think?

Is it Just me or is the Lack of Self Awareness Growing?

I chose this article, You can only respond to what you notice, specifically because I so frequently encounter leaders who lack self-awareness.

You might say, “So what? Maybe they ARE self-aware …but they don’t care because they’re on a mission and don’t want to be distracted?”

Possible but unlikely. There are a lot of leaders “on a mission” … but if they are blindly pursuing their goals, they’ll miss the cues that they’re off track. The leaders I’ve seen who lack self-awareness, in various degrees, usually talk more than they listen but don’t seem to realize it. It isn’t that what they’re saying is wrong but that they’ve missed how many around them have tuned out. As a result, the message falls on too many deaf ears and the leader’s effectiveness continues to decline.

Take a look. This article hits it on the nose.

A few solutions to Employee Engagement

We’ve written often in Sword Tips about Employee Engagement, the Great Resignation and all spaces in between. I’ve shared the Gallup Poll about the State of the Workplace, and if you keep reading there, you’ll find another study from the Cengage Group.

Howard Schultz’s recent return as the CEO of Starbucks offers another powerful lesson … a valuable but simple one that’s easily overlooked.

Schultz is currently on a tour to LISTEN to Starbucks employees, including baristas as well as managers. This is Schultz’s 3rd time as CEO, but this time he isn’t dealing with financial issues since the company’s earnings of $4.2 billion last fiscal year were the second highest ever, according to the Wall Street Journal. Instead, the company is dealing with dissatisfied employees, including a push to unionization.

Fortunately, Schultz knows that to build trust, you have to listen. When you read In His First Week Back as Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz Made a Brilliant Move. It Just May Save the Company, you’ll learn how his is implementing this simple but powerful strategy.

There’s a new kid on the block in Employee Engagement …  investing in the financial wellness of employees. Read Want Engaged Employees? Invest in their Financial Wellness.

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Enjoy Your Summer Holiday!

Accountability in Action

Is Your Memory too long? It's time to shorten it!

It doesn’t do much good to review the success of your projects or initiatives … and then  constantly remind people about those same failures or shortcomings.

Read Start Drinking. Coffee First. A Chilled Mug of Amnesia Next. One chug a day would be good.

Got Questions?​

Each week, I will answer a reader-submitted question related to leadership and behavior in the workplace. If there’s something nagging at you, click this link to send your question and I will take a run at it in next week’s Sword Tips (without attribution).

Sword Clicks of the Week

If you don’t know where you’re going but you’re making good time … these will get you somewhere ….

 ⚔️ Sesame Street is trying to revolutionize education on a global scale.

 ⚔️ Knives are humanity’s oldest tool and now there’s a wooden knife stronger than steel.

⚔️ Really not good if you live around here. Who Can Afford Napa Now?

⚔️ Damn. I forgot to watch the Midair Pilot-Swapping Stunt. Dangerous. Clever. Failed.

⚔️ It’s kinda for kids, but still … it’s about how to translate pigs’ oinks into English and about a boy with uncombable hair. Cool.

Tip of the Hat to the Past

Occasionally, I’ll run into an article related to something covered in a previous Sword Tips issue. Here are a couple of them:

 ⚔️ Two weeks ago, we talked about how Easter and Passover often shared common dates. I mentioned that the dates are calculated in some strange ways. You can unravel them in The Ancient Math That Sets the Date of Easter and Passover.

⚔️ In the same edition, I offered several sources to serve as primers about Cryptocurrency. I mentioned the series from Nat Eliason entitled Tokenomics. Tokenomics 4 is now available: How to Launch a Token (Tactics, Questions, Wen, etc).

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We are thrilled to offer VIP access to our leadership newsletter for 14 days. No risk. No obligation. SIGN UP HERE.

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To Your Health. 🍾🥂

A National Health Crisis

April is National Stress Awareness Month and a recent March poll commissioned by the American Pschological Association identified the top sources of stress:

  1. The rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation (e.g., gas prices, energy bills, grocery costs, etc.) (cited by 87%), followed by
  2. Supply chain issues (81%),
  3. Global uncertainty (81%),
  4. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (80%), and
  5. Potential retaliation from Russia (e.g., in the form of cyberattacks or nuclear threats) (80%).

That led the APA to this conclusion:

It is the unusual combination of these factors and the persistent drumbeat of a crisis that shows no sign of abating that is leading APA to sound the alarm: We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come. You’ll find a lot more valuable insight on the APA website.

You’ll find a lot of valuable insight from the American Institute of Stress and on the APA website.

It’s also World Immunization Week

There’s been a lot of controversy about vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, but vaccinations have also proven to be the most effective way of eradicating disease.

Take a look at this brief video (<2m) from the World Health Organization and learn more in A Brief History of Vaccination.

Unraveling the COVID-19 mysteries ....

Who knows how many billions have been invested in the pursuit of a solution(s) to the ravages of COVID-19?

It’s not over and I suspect we’ll see recommended annual vaccines like we do for the flu.

The battle continues, but this is an interesting look at the 6 Covid mysteries experts hope to unravel.

Satisfaction & the Pursuit of Happiness

Don’t miss this insightful article about satisfaction and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe it sounds corny or mawkish … but it isn’t.

In How to Want Less by Arthur C. Brook in the Atlantic, you get to reprise Mick Jagger singing Satisfaction, as well as to better understand how challenging it is to be satisfied despite the achievement of your goals.

What Am I Watching?

I hope you haven't missed Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is the “biggest hit, the most-watched show on television across cable, premium, and broadcast last fall and the fount of an ever-expanding creative universe,” as descbribed in ‘Yellowstone’ Is the Country’s Biggest TV Sensation. Why Are Critics Shrugging?, by Chris Vognar in Texas Magazine.

I love this show, and its 1883 prequel, and look forward to what’s ahead. (I discussed Yellowstone in my earlier essay, Great TV from 2021 and beyond. (I don’t know about you, but I have not found movie or TV critics to be very helpful over the years, failing to consider shows I like and recommending movies I don’t.🤓)

Trust me on this one. If you haven’t seen it, get moving, cowboy! You’ll love it.

On a lighter "Note" 🎶🎼🎵​

Aren’t you amazed at how much music you remember?

I don’t know about you, but I have always been fascinated by how easily I remember hundreds of songs and lyrics from the distant past … and yet forget everything else.

Nielsen estimated in 2017 that Americans spend over 32 hours/week on average listening to music. (I’m a little skeptical about that number. Is that conscious listening or sitting in a coffee shop when music is playing over the speakers?)

This super interesting article, Why We Remember Music and Forget Everything Else, explains a lot about this phenomenon … and also includes another Wordle-based game to test your musical memory. 

The Grammy Awards Discover ...

I’d never heard of Arooj Aftab’s poetic Grammy-winning song “Mohabbat” which was recorded entirely in Urdu. She’s the first Pakistani singer to win the award.

Interesting music for sure. You’ll find access to it with a lot of interesting sidebars in Behind the South Asian folk and jazz blends that won a Grammy.

You’ll find her Grammy winning song in video form here.

How does music affect us?

TED has put together what I’ll call an album of How Music Affects Us.

On this page, you’ll find a series of 9 interesting videos including these:

  • The Transformative Power of Classical Music,
  • How to Truly Listen,
  • Building a Musical Muscle, and
  • Hidden Music Rituals around the World.

They’re worth a look.

Do This!

Don't say I've never done anything for you ....

So, how do you open your Oreos? Image credit: Pixabay.

A few MIT researchers apparently have a little extra time on their hands.

If you’re unable to eat Oreos without twisting it so you can eat the two separate parts, you’re in luck.

The MIT team applied a standard test in rheology (huh?) and found that the cream always sticks to one side. 

Grab some cold milk and start licking your lips as you dive into the physics of the Oreo cookie in Physicists finally unveil the best way to twist open an Oreo cookie.


Obsessed with Wordle? Let me help you out.​

Here’s a handful of other games using a similar structure.

Dordle: Guess two mystery words instead of one

Quordle: Guess four mystery words

Octordle: Guess eight mystery words

Latin Wordle: Exactly what it sounds like

Nerdle: Like Wordle, except it’s numbers and math calculations

Semantle: Guess the word based on semantic similarity (devilish)

There’s one more I can’t wait to play, but you’ll have to check out Why We Remember Music and Forget Everything Else which is above in the On a Lighter Note section.

Make it a great week - and Don't Stop Leading!