Archive for 2013

In 100 Words: Cultivating Thankfulness

Friday, December 13th, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

It is natural to be thankful this time of year.  I believe we have greater joy in life when we live in active gratitude.  Appreciation enriches all of our experiences and relationships.  Can we consciously nurture grateful attitudes all year?  I believe so.  I think attitude follows right actions.  Here are several actions which help me cultivate thankfulness:

  • Serving others who need help.
  • Writing daily or weekly “thankful lists.”
  • Commending others for good things they are doing.
  • Spending time outside – in awe of something larger than myself.
  • Reading inspirational literature (primarily the Bible for me).

How do you cultivate thankfulness?

“Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”  (Robert Louis Stevenson)

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In 100 Words: Test Your Assumptions

Friday, November 1st, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

Every business is built on a particular set of assumptions – assumptions about customer desires, the best delivery solution, the competitive landscape, external trends and internal capabilities.  Considering these varied elements, and their shifting nature, we quickly realize every business model is merely hypothesis.

Over the next several months, companies will engage in the routine of strategic planning for 2014 and beyond.  This is a good time to test a business model hypothesis.  Leadership teams must have the courage to ask the question, “What underlying assumptions about our business are no longer valid?” and wrestle with the answers and related consequences.

“We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.”  (Stephen R. Covey)

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In 100 Words: Too Satisfied?

Friday, September 13th, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

We extol the virtues of satisfaction, and rightly so.  Satisfied employees and customers are key to our organization’s success.  Is there such a thing as being too satisfied?  Yes, in ourselves, and our organizations, it is known as complacency.  Ouch!

We like to be comfortable.  It’s not easy to push ourselves to keep learning, growing and improving.  Dissatisfaction seems to have a negative connotation, yet it can be highly productive – exciting people to right injustices or simply improve situations that are less than great.

Where have you become too satisfied and comfortable in your own life, work, habits and thinking?

“Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.”      (Aesop)

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In 100 Words: Debrief Discipline

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

Leaders should step back to analyze success or failure at the end of a project or goal period.  “Did we achieve the objective?”  “Have we identified root causes?”  “What role, if any, did fortune play in the final results?”  The simple rigor of capturing lessons learned improves future decisions and actions.  Debriefs often prove to be our most fertile ground for adaptive learning.

We neglect debriefs because we are:

  • Forgetful… sad, but true.
  • Too Busy… we think.
  • Too Excited… by whatever new objective lies ahead.
  • Avoiding Reality… it’s difficult acknowledging failures.

Instead, nurture a debrief discipline for your future benefit.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”  (Benjamin Franklin)

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In 100 Words: Three Forces to Master

Friday, June 14th, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

Effective self-management requires leaders to master a triad of distinct, yet complementary, forces:  time, energy and focus.  Time management practices alone are insufficient.  Research clearly shows our final work output improves when we align the long-known practices of personal time organization with our best available power (mental and physical energy) and concentrated attention (focus).

Simply put, as we prioritize our time on our first and best work, we must also plan how we will apply our peak energy in a focused manner.  We must learn our individual tendencies with each force and then consciously manage them in a coordinated effort.

Excellence is achieved by the mastery of fundamentals.”  (Vince Lombardi)


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In 100 Words: Eliminate Blind Spots

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

How honest is your view of your current situation?

Individuals, and thus the organizations they lead, fight the tendency to slip into a mindset of seeing what they want to believe.  It is far too easy to avoid tough conversations about data that contradicts our existing assumptions.  In turn, we over-emphasize upside conclusions drawn from ambiguous information.  We are masters at creating our own blind spots.

Here are four simple ways to eliminate self-created blind spots

  • Discount external praise.
  • Don’t drown out negative data.
  • Extend your normal scope of information inputs.
  • Ask others to challenge the “honesty” of your viewpoint.

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


In 100 Words: Repeat Yourself

Friday, March 15th, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

I often recite Samuel Johnson’s quote: “Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.”

CEOs and executive teams generally have a good idea of sound business fundamentals.  Very little “new” knowledge is new at all.  However, good principles and disciplines still get lost in the shuffle of daily executive decisions and routines.

Do not be afraid to repeat yourself or to have your team reread certain material.  Part of your job is to repeat yourself on a regular basis.  If what you are saying is important for the future of your organization, you can’t say it enough.

Remind on!

“Repetition is the mother of learning.” (Thomas Acquinas)

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In 100 Words: The Influence of Peter Drucker

Friday, February 1st, 2013 by AdvisorCatalyst

Amidst the plethora of new business writing published each year, it’s easy to lose sight of Peter Drucker’s significant influence.  Jim Collins said in a May 2006 speech that Drucker had a formative influence on every company he and Jerry Porras profiled in Built to Last.  In the introduction to his book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham notes that many people trace the “strengths movement” back to Drucker, who for years encouraged both individuals and organizations to focus on areas of strength.

Business advisors benefit greatly from a liberal sprinkling of Drucker’s writing in their reading regimen.

“I regard it as a compliment when some people call me the Father of Marketing.  I tell them that if this is the case, then Peter Drucker is the Grandfather of Marketing.”  (Philip Kotler)

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