The Obstacle Is The Way; Turning trials into triumph.

I recently read a great book called "The Obstacle is the Way" by Ryan Holiday.  The book addresses how to use many of the elements from the philosophy of Stoicism to confront and overcome life challenges and trials.  While I don't personally subscribe to all the tenets of stoicism, I do believe Holiday has some very solid principles that if applied could change the way you see the world and help you be much more successful in overcoming barriers. Below are some of my notes from reading the book. Read more »

Shopper Marketing Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, March 25th, I was honored by being inducted into the Shopper Marketing Hall of Fame.  It was a special night and I was truly humbled to share it with so many friends in the industry in addition to my wife, Mary. Shopper Marketing is still a young, vibrant industry that never seems to stop having an identity crisis. There are many folks who've been in this space far longer than I have, but when I started in 1997, no one had Shopper Marketing in their title. Today almost all Fortune Read more »

Why Leaders Eat Last

Why do only a few people get to say “I love my job”? It seems unfair that finding fulfillment at work is like winning a lottery; that only a few lucky ones get to feel valued by their organizations, to feel like they belong. Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders are creating environments Read more »

Why a CEO’s job is to design a strategy, not decide a strategy.

Too often we think of the work of creating a strategy as making a choice or decision. Creating a great strategy is not about deciding which is the best option amongst a list of alternatives. No such list of clear choices exists in today’s business world. Today the work of strategy needs to be approached as a design problem where various interdependent factors such as talent available, business intelligence, leadership, organizational structure, and the financial model are considered as a total Read more »

Uncommon Quotes for Leadership and Life

I keep a folder on interesting quotes that I come across that either add some humor, shed some light, or provoke ideas.  Here are some of the more uncommon quotes I thought you might enjoy or find useful. “Nobody forgets where they buried the hatchet.”  - Hubbard “Distrust all those who love you extremely upon a very slight acquaintance and without any visible reason.” - Lord Chesterfield “It is the nature of all greatness not to be too exact.” - Edmund Burke “Adversity Read more »

The Fog of Work: Why the Why is important for top performers.

I recently posted on the Mercury 11 Blog about the Fog of Work and the importance of having a clear why.  There are over 100,000 CEOs in the U.S. who lead companies with 100 or more employees.   At 100 employees, it is nearly impossible to effectively motivate and lead an organization in this agile, fast-paced world without a clear purpose and an even clearer communication of CEO intent. The military has known for years that clear communication of leadership intention is more important than Read more »

Burst your own bubble: Learn what employees want from you.

Being a CEO is a tough and complex job.  Few people tell you what is really true and often you see only the truths that support your beliefs.  Speaking from experience, it is easy to get insulated into a bubble where the folks around you tell you what you want to hear vs. what you really need to hear. Here's some bubble-busting insights: Most employees know far greater what is really going on than you give them credit! Employees can sense when a CEO or top leader is clueless. Employees Read more »

A Late Quartet: Lessons for Top Teams From Beethoven’s 131

I've always felt chamber music offers a rich metaphor, full of insight, that can be applied to any team seeking high-performance flow. Last night I watched the movie A Late Quartet staring Phillip Seymour Hoffman. After a classical string quartet's 25 years of success, they face the strain of changing roles and life transitions. What I like most about this film is how we discover the unique roles in the quartet - First Violin, Second Violin, Viola and Cello interact in live give and take, to Read more »

To Appraise or Not Appraise? That is the question.

I've been in a few conversations lately around the importance of doing or not doing performance appraisals or 360's for employees. I had a boss who did NOT believe in providing performance reviews as he believed "you already know where you are weak and need improvement, and probably aren't going to change, so why harp on it?  It is far better to focus on helping you make your strengths stronger than coaching your weaknesses"  went the rhetoric and logic. Growing up professionally under the Procter Read more »

Walk toward the barking dog!

I heard an old saying many years ago from a friend of mine and executive coach Steve Graves, “walk toward th barking dog.” 
What the metaphore means is that in every organization and situation of change there is this barking dog that is meant to…

I heard an old saying many years ago from a friend of mine and executive coach Steve Graves, "walk toward th barking dog."  What the metaphore means is that in every organization and situation of change there is this barking dog that is meant to... Read more »