Friday 30 October 2015

What Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Achieved With His $197M Gift to Employees


Last week, newly-anointed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced via tweet that he would give a third of his stock options, that's approximately one percent of the total issuance with a market value of $197 million as of October 28, to all Twitter employees.
While he still holds an additional two percent of company shares, this unprecedented act of generosity holds some valuable lessons for leaders.

1. He'll retain Twitter's most valuable asset.

There are a variety of assets that companies value, including intellectual property, exclusive customer contracts, unique service offerings, proprietary manufacturing technology and business processes or differentiated market locations. Those are all valuable assets but they require employees to maintain, enhance and commercialize that value.
Dorsey recognizes that his highly-skilled workforce is Twitter's most valuable asset in the long term, which is why he gave them the options grant as a retention incentive. An employee's options grant tends to be broken up into percentage blocks, with each block vesting annually over a set number of years.
It's an effective long-term incentive (LTI) tool that Dorsey selflessly shared to keep his people at Twitter and help keep them happy.

2. He boosts employee morale.

A company wide options grant can boost employee morale in at least four ways.
First, it gives employees an attainable performance target to align their day-to-day activities toward. Second, it transforms them from company employees into company owners. No one cares more about a company than an owner.
Third, it helps instill confidence in employees that they are valued and matter to the broader organization. Fourth, it can inspire a sense of esprit de corps that they're all in it together.
Leaders like Dorsey see the value of engaged and incented employees.

3. He is building a culture focused team.

Additionally, Dorsey's leadership by example sets the tone of conduct across the entire organization.
Employees will not soon forget such an uncommon demonstration of generosity towards them. They will understand that teamwork, generosity and consideration of others are all part of the Twitter DNA, and one leader was responsible for setting that tone.

4. He is telling investors they matter.

Whether it's a start-up raising venture capital or a publicly-traded company accountable to its investors, shareholders matter.
One of the amazing leadership aspects of Dorsey's gesture is that his block of options is not dilutive to current shareholders. In other words, Dorsey's stake in the company was already publicly disclosed, so the amount of his options grant was already factored into the stock purchase decision of existing shareholders who had already bought the stock.
However, Dorsey could have just as easily had the company issue a new block of six-to-seven million options for employees that would have been dilutive to shareholders. He didn't do that but instead pulled from his own resources. That's a remarkable example of shareholder stewardship and leadership.

5. He burnished Twitter's reputation.

Every leader is responsible for the reputation of the organization. Dorsey's selfless act has already resulted in a significant amount of positive media coverage and public perception.
Whether intended or not, Dorsey's $197 million gift to his "tweeps" is a significant deposit in the metaphorical "Bank of Public Goodwill." That can only benefit him and Twitter in the future should they ever need to make a "withdrawal" from that account due to an unforeseen crisis or issue.
While some may discount or criticize Dorsey's selfless action claiming he didn't do enough, the reality is that he didn't have to do anything for employees. But because he did, he deserves a lot of credit as a visionary leader who cares.
Who knows, he might inspire other leaders and CEOs to follow suit.


Crowdfunding is changing lives in a big way.
One of the most noticeable entrepreneurial innovations of the 21st Century is crowd-sourced funding. If you have a good idea but don't have an angel investor waiting in the wings, you may be in luck. Via the Internet, you can set up an account to solicit and collect donations or investments to support your project. The largest, most popular crowd-funding sites, such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, get frequent references on social media as even celebrities use them to support their projects. Moviemaker Spike Lee used Kickstarter to raise more than $1.5 million to support a movie project. And business start-ups use crowd sourcing too, including one very successful campaign in support of an affordable 3-D printer.
People love a good idea, and if you have one, crowd-sourced fundraising might be the way to go. But it doesn't have to be an art project or a business start-up. It can be an idea to improve the quality of life for struggling populations, like a filter to help anyone, anywhere, convert dirty water into clean water.
Here in the US, when we want a glass of water we turn on the tap, and out it pours. But 783 million people on this planet do not have access to safe, clean water, and that number is growing each year. Most of us take clean water for granted, but residents of South Carolina understand how quickly that can change, having just endured a temporary interruption of potable water as a result of flooding. When you don't have access to clean water, getting it becomes your first priority. If you can't find it, and you're forced to drink unsafe water, you can easily end up with diseases and parasites. Such is the plight of entire populations in Cambodia, Africa, and other developing areas.

Water For Life, a non-profit, is repurposing an existing technology to help families provide their own clean water. Using the same technology employed in kidney dialysis machines, Water For Life distributes fist-sized filters capable of filtering 150 gallons of water per day. And they are using crowd sourcing to fund that effort.
The other way to get clean water, typically, is to dig wells. But that is labor intensive and has its own challenges, including high cost and risk of contamination. For the (donated) cost of about $50, a single filter allows a family to collect a bucket of dirty water and run it through the filter into a second bucket. The result is clear, safe water. And the filter can be cleaned easily through periodic back flushing. One filter means clean water, every day, for a family of five, for up to 10 years. That not only saves lives, it frees people to pursue other activities such as cooking, education, raising a healthy family and earning a living.
Thus far, Water For Life has delivered more than 4,000 filters in 16 countries and it's just getting started. They are now raising funds using IndieGoGo and have raised $30,000 as of this writing. If they can succeed at raising money through crowd sourcing, maybe you can, too. And while you're making money, why not make a difference by giving the gift of clean water?

By Katherine Arline

As an employee or a manager, you are likely accustomed to receiving performance reviews from managers. However, if you focus exclusively on the "top-down" portion of your performance review, you may be missing opportunities to improve your relationships and performance. The self-assessment is a critical tool for fostering conversation and improving communication with your managers and peers.

Self-assessments, also known as self-appraisals or self-evaluations, are a popular way for employees to offer their own analysis of their strengths and weaknesses in the context of a formal performance review. The self-assessment lets the employee discuss what important projects have been completed, share new skills and techniques acquired and remind employers of all the great work they have done since the last performance review.

A self-assessment is also the perfect opportunity for employees to show their managers that they understand where they can improve. While no one likes to point out areas of weakness, some employers have more respect for their staff members who are able to honestly assess their shortcomings. Employees who think they are doing great in all areas of their job are often too shortsighted to understand that, in reality, they are not meeting expectations.

Julie Rieken, vice president of marketing and customer experience at evaluation software company Trakstar, noted that employees should connect their actions with a manager's goals.

"If your manager needs to hit a certain number, share how you played a role in hitting the number," Rieken said in a blog post. "While it might be nice that you learned to sew parkas for chipmunks, skip listing that accomplishment unless your manager has been tasked with manufacturing chipmunk parkas from corporate. Accomplishments you list should connect with business objectives."

Be concise. While employees might be inclined to write about each step of the successful project or task, it's best to be brief. The work should stand on its own. This is just a time to make sure the boss remembers that the employee did it.

Be honest. Honesty is another critical aspect of writing a self-review. It's more than likely that the boss knows when a good job was done, so trying to highlight a project or task that was just OK, rather than great, won't have much impact. In fact, it likely will show the people in charge that the employee doesn't truly have a grasp on his or her own performance or understand the difference between satisfactory performance and truly exceptional work.

Part of being honest also means pointing out some areas that could be improved. Timothy Butler, a senior fellow and director of career development programs at Harvard Business School, advises employees to use developmental language when critiquing the areas in which they need improvement.

"You don't want to say, 'Here's where I really fall down,'" Butler told the Harvard Business Review. "Instead, say, 'Here's an area I want to work on. This is what I've learned. This is what we should do going forward.'"

Butler also encouraged employees to use their self-evaluations as a time to ask their boss for career development opportunities, even if the employer isn't asking the employee for it, because if you don't ask, it likely won't happen.

Be professional. Finally, employees need to remember to always be professional when writing a self-assessment. This means not using it as an opportunity to bash the boss for poor leadership skills or criticize co-workers for making their life more difficult.

Going further

Employees may benefit from assessments that go beyond the office. Tools such as the Myers-Briggs Test and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter can help individuals understand the strengths and weaknesses of their personality type. In addition, such tests can help identify the personality traits of people who will likely work well together. Additional research can suggest ways to compensate for weaknesses, or help you understand the quirks of personality types unlike your own.

Finally, if your performance review or self-assessment reveals weaknesses that may be holding you back, don't be afraid to ask for help. Like admitting your weaknesses, asking for constructive feedback from managers can help cultivate strong work relationships.
As an employee or a manager, you are likely accustomed to receiving performance reviews from managers. However, if you focus exclusively on the "top-down" portion of your performance review, you may be missing opportunities to improve your relationships and performance. The self-assessment is a critical tool for fostering conversation and improving communication with your managers and peers.
Self-assessments, also known as self-appraisals or self-evaluations, are a popular way for employees to offer their own analysis of their strengths and weaknesses in the context of a formal performance review. The self-assessment lets the employee discuss what important projects have been completed, share new skills and techniques acquired and remind employers of all the great work they have done since the last performance review.
A self-assessment is also the perfect opportunity for employees to show their managers that they understand where they can improve. While no one likes to point out areas of weakness, some employers have more respect for their staff members who are able to honestly assess their shortcomings. Employees who think they are doing great in all areas of their job are often too shortsighted to understand that, in reality, they are not meeting expectations.
- See more at:
As an employee or a manager, you are likely accustomed to receiving performance reviews from managers. However, if you focus exclusively on the "top-down" portion of your performance review, you may be missing opportunities to improve your relationships and performance. The self-assessment is a critical tool for fostering conversation and improving communication with your managers and peers.
Self-assessments, also known as self-appraisals or self-evaluations, are a popular way for employees to offer their own analysis of their strengths and weaknesses in the context of a formal performance review. The self-assessment lets the employee discuss what important projects have been completed, share new skills and techniques acquired and remind employers of all the great work they have done since the last performance review.
A self-assessment is also the perfect opportunity for employees to show their managers that they understand where they can improve. While no one likes to point out areas of weakness, some employers have more respect for their staff members who are able to honestly assess their shortcomings. Employees who think they are doing great in all areas of their job are often too shortsighted to understand that, in reality, they are not meeting expectations.
- See more at:


by Don Goodman

Oftentimes soft skills are indicated with words such as team player, detail-oriented, creative, innovative, problem solver/critical thinker, visionary, responsible, dependable, flexible, effective communicator, resourceful, professional, and more. While soft skills are important to employers, simply labelling the resume with these words or saying it at the job interview won’t produce much results. On the resume, it may help improve your ranking with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) looking for keyword matches, but to the hiring manager reviewing your resume and conducting the interview, it’s simply fluff. You need to back it up with hard facts.
When soft skills are presented with hard facts it can help seal the deal. Here’s what you have to do on the resume and at the job interview:

1. Show it, don’t tell it.

Anyone can put down on the resume or say at the job interview that they’re hardworking, an effective communicator, highly organized, dependable, etc. If you really have those traits to offer, then think about what proof you have to offer to support the claim. Present it along with results you’ve produced for greater impact.

2. Use action verbs to highlight your qualities.

The message comes off more effective and it captures the reader’s attention when you start with an action verb. Avoid using a passive voice. Start with the results and leave the how to the end. For ex. Developed… or Achieved… sounds much stronger than starting with Responsible for….that led to ….as a result of leadership skills.

3. Back it up with numbers.

Including numbers is always a good thing on the resume and at the job interview. It helps provide a metric to measuring results and success as well as qualities, experience and skills you have to offer. On the resume, it can also help capture the reader’s attention because numbers jump out of a document full of text. For more tips, read: “4 Resume Writing Rules For Listing Your Accomplishments.”

4. Follow through on your claims.

If you’re going to say you’re an effective communicator then you’d better support that claim with your phone communication, email communication and communication at the job interview. If you’re going to say you’re outgoing and have high energy then that’s going to have to come through also over the phone and in person. For traits like effective writer or great attention to detail, your resume and email communication had better be free of misspellings. Also, don’t miss any specific instructions included to the job posting on how to apply because that will counter what you say are your soft skills. Basically, any claims you make need to be followed through in your actions. It goes along the lines of the “Show it, don’t tell it” method.
Clearly, soft skills can never compensate for specific background experience requirements – the hard skills for the job, but it can help employers see why one candidate is preferable over another job candidate. When there are two candidates who hold similar experiences and skills, the employer will look at soft skills, which often help make up the likeability factor of a candidate. Don’t forget to include soft skills on your resume and at the job interview backed up with hard facts!

The 3 Biggest Secrets Entrepreneurs Keep


Looking in the mirror at the end of the day can be a painful endeavor for entrepreneurs. It’s that raw moment when they drop the “fake it till you make it” smile. They let their anxiety seep through their pores, and wonder out loud just exactly how much stress, frustration, life lessons and wrinkles they will physically endure before they hit their target numbers or shake hands with their next investor.

It’s that raw moment when entrepreneurs -- and this may include you -- come face to face with their secrets. These are the secrets you'd prefer no one else discover. And here, you may feel isolated, but you're definitely not alone.
The reason is that everyone keeps secrets, and entrepreneurs are no exception. In fact, there are three specific secrets entrepreneurs share that prevent them from achieving greater success, faster: imposter syndrome, self-criticism fixation and comparison condition. When not addressed, these afflictions truncate success. When they are overcome, however, not only do they unleash potential but help entrepreneurs meet and often exceed their goals.

1. Imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome occurs when entrepreneurs experience feelings of inadequacy and chronic self-doubt that persist even when a closer look indicates that the opposite is true.
Entrepreneurs often have the internal mantra, “I do not belong here. I’m not worthy of being taken seriously, and everyone will soon discover that I’m a fraud.” Unfortunately, many successful, smart, talented entrepreneurs believe they are neither good enough nor have enough to play in the coveted sandbox of "innovator and game changer.” These entrepreneurs end up behaving poorly in an attempt to cover up their fears.
What's more, those that fear being “caught” may avoid taking risks that could reveal their perceived inadequacies, or they'll settle for less, not believing they deserve better than mediocre results, mediocre talent or average opportunities. Those fears undermine their success by manifesting real-life mistakes and self-induced failures.
When entrepreneurs replace their feelings of inadequacy and paranoia about being discovered a “fraud” with a healthier, more realistic assessment about their strengths and contributions, they build self-confidence. When they focus less on their skill gaps and more on how best to leverage their gifts and talents, they create new value.
How might your own self-doubts be inhibiting your ability to lead?

2. Self-criticism fixation

A self-criticism fixation occurs when entrepreneurs are so hung up on their past transgressions that they can’t believe in their future excellence. Entrepreneurs are notoriously hard on themselves for early mistakes and failures. They often allow their perceived regrettable moments to cripple their potential or truncate their ability to successfully execute their next idea.
These hang-ups influence whom they hire and fire, how and when they make decisions and which relationships and partnerships they prioritize. They define themselves by mistakes instead of assessing the knowledge they have gained from past missteps and identifying how they turned that knowledge into wisdom to avoid subsequent, similar mistakes.
Letting go of resentments and grudges against ourselves is perhaps more difficult than letting go of others’ trespasses against us. Yet, it’s imperative for entrepreneurs to do exactly that. The point is not to avoid accountability, it’s to accept responsibility for the lesson. Once entrepreneurs realize that business and life are long learning curves, they can more readily let go of past mistakes and more expediently and effectively bring fruition to their next big idea.
If you were to love your followers as you love yourself, should your followers be warned?

3. Comparison condition

Comparison condition is one of the worst forms of entrepreneurs' self-abuse. Many entrepreneurs are so busy comparing themselves to other businesses and other entrepreneurs, living in a world of “should haves” and “should bes,” that they lose focus on their own path to success. When entrepreneurs compare themselves this way, they end up taking detours, trying out other people's paths. They dilute their talent and ultimately lose their mojo.
When that happens, they drift too far, often burn out and lose their followers. In contrast, staying on your own path is integral to focus, productivity, performance and results. It’s hard to charge full-steam ahead when you’re always looking sideways.
What have you done when a case of the "shoulds" hits you? How have you adjusted the internal conversation to be healthier and more supportive of your own ideas? 
When entrepreneurs are willing to expose the secrets they keep -- if only to themselves, and then work through them -- they can positively and exponentially transform their business success. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs say they pay a high price to chart a new course. And that price may well reflect on the secrets they keep.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

What Couples That Stay Together Don’t Do 

by Matt Duczeminski

Being in a relationship requires hard work. There are so many things that you have to take into consideration in order to keep the relationship healthy, but you ultimately know every effort you make is completely worth it. Sometimes, though, it’s what you don’t do as a couple that keeps the two of you growing stronger and stronger every day.
They don’t complain to friends about their significant other
I’ve seen enough Seinfeld episodes to know that talking about your mate with your friends is only going to get you in trouble. You really shouldn’t talk about anyone at all behind their backs, but your significant other should be completely off limits. The only reason you should ever bring up your love to anyone else is if you have something amazing to say about them.
They don’t compare themselves to other couples
Strong couples have faith in their own relationship, and don’t feel the need to be ahead of the curve in any way. They live at their own pace, and make major moves when they’re ready. There really is no need to live by a timeline, or think about what stage in the relationship society says you should be after a certain amount of time together. Keeping up with the Jonses is so 1950s, anyway.
They don’t place blame or play the victim
Couples who always blame each other for shortcomings end up falling apart pretty easily, as do couples in which one person constantly makes a martyr out of him or herself. Couples should share the blame, and discuss went wrong when things go south. Working through your problems in a calm manner ensures that you’ll continue to grow together as a couple.
They don’t criticize one another
Everyone has faults, and strong couples know this. They don’t harp on one another’s shortcomings, and instead learn to accept them. The best couples are made up of two individuals who focus on strengthening their own weaknesses in order to make themselves worthy of the other person.
They don’t attempt to read the others mind, or expect them to read theirs
In other words, strong couples communicate. Like I said earlier, they are able to discuss what’s bothering them without fear of it turning into a massive blowout argument. It should always be a nice surprise when your significant other has read your mind (like when he knows you’ve had a long day so he prepares your favorite meal), but it should never be a requirement.
They don’t nag
Remember Married…With Children? Peggy was the absolute definition of a nag. And the Bundys hated each other. Don’t be that person that’s constantly telling the other one to clean up their mess, do the dishes, cook dinner. If it gets to a breaking point, of course you should bring it up and have a serious conversation about what’s bugging you (see above), but if every tiny little thing is starting to get to you, maybe you’re not as happy as you thought you were in the first place.
They don’t take things too seriously
This goes along with the last point. If your significant other left his shoes in the middle of the floor, or she forgot to put your clothes in the dryer like you asked, is it really worth making a big deal about it? Strong couples know when to let things go, because they realize the relationship is made up of two human beings who are prone to mistakes every once in a while. Give one another a break every once in a while, and you’ll surely be a much happier couple.

9 Things Managers Do That Make Good Employees Quit


It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.
Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.
The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.
First, we need to understand the nine worst things that managers do that send good people packing.

1. They overwork people.

Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.
If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. Raises, promotions, and title-changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.

2. They don’t recognize contributions and reward good work.

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.

3. They don’t care about their employees.

More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.

4. They don’t honor their commitments.

Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful. After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?

5. They hire and promote the wrong people.

Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.

6. They don’t let people pursue their passions.

Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. But many managers want people to work within a little box. These managers fear that productivity will decline if they let people expand their focus and pursue their passions. This fear is unfounded. Studies show that people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.

7. They fail to develop people’s skills.

When managers are asked about their inattention to employees, they try to excuse themselves, using words such as “trust,” “autonomy,” and “empowerment.” This is complete nonsense. Good managers manage, no matter how talented the employee. They pay attention and are constantly listening and giving feedback.
Management may have a beginning, but it certainly has no end. When you have a talented employee, it’s up to you to keep finding areas in which they can improve to expand their skill set. The most talented employees want feedback—more so than the less talented ones—and it’s your job to keep it coming. If you don’t, your best people will grow bored and complacent.

8. They fail to engage their creativity.

The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it limits you.

9. They fail to challenge people intellectually.

Great bosses challenge their employees to accomplish things that seem inconceivable at first. Instead of setting mundane, incremental goals, they set lofty goals that push people out of their comfort zones. Then, good managers do everything in their power to help them succeed. When talented and intelligent people find themselves doing things that are too easy or boring, they seek other jobs that will challenge their intellects.

Bringing it all together

If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully about how you treat them. While good employees are as tough as nails, their talent gives them an abundance of options. You need to make them want to work for you.

Why Business Leaders Must 'Clean the Bathroom'


In his book Think Big Act Bigger, Jeffrey Hayzlett shares core lessons you need to tie visions to actions, get ahead of the competition, and achieve your business goals. In this edited excerpt, the author explains why it's critical to get your hands dirty every now and then.
How can you expect people to do the things you want them to do if you won’t do them, haven’t done them, don’t know them well enough to understand what needs to be done, or are completely disconnected from them?
Honestly, I'm most leery of the leaders who won’t do the day-to-day work and who shun or look down on the people who do. Don’t get me wrong: Your time must be used wisely. I want leaders to do things that make them most effective in thinking big and acting bigger—that’s why we need great people to help us, and you can’t stay on top of everything your employees do all the time, nor should you. But that doesn’t give you license to create an “ivory tower” within your business.
Most jobs must be below your pay grade, but you can't be so far above them all the time that you never look below. You can’t view any work or people connected to your business—those who work for and with you as well as your customers—as figurative “garbage.” To do so undermines the cadence of the company you just worked hard to develop and the trust of the people for whom you are ultimately responsible. You still need to remember what it's like to get your hands dirty—to stay connected to the work of the entire business so no one can ever think that you aren’t. That’s not just the mark of a great entrepreneur; it’s the mark of a great leader.
In my first book, The Mirror Test, I wrote about my battles with “Johnny Vegas Syndrome”—the evil outgrowth of success characterized by an Ocean’s 11 attitude: exaggerated swagger, excessive celebration, unbearably inflated ego, metaphorical swinging of chains, and an undignified belief that you're bigger than yourself and the community that surrounds you. A crippling business disorder, it strikes leaders following periods of sustained growth or after major triumphs. The only known cure is a metaphorical slap in the face or failure.
The only way to keep the syndrome at bay is for leaders to remember to pick up the garbage now and then. The other way eventually leads to inauthenticity, losing touch, and eventually going from growth to gone.
I actually clean the bathroom at our New York City office. I do it as a reminder to never see any work as demeaning or beneath anybody—and to stand as an example to everyone in my companies as a result. It’s a stake in the ground, and a visible one at that: If I'm willing to take responsibility for and do the most disgusting jobs, who can complain about taking out the garbage (literally or figuratively)? Who can complain when I say, “Clean up your desk”?
When was the last time you walked the floor of one of your businesses? Picked up the phone and talked to an important vendor or customer? Ate in the cafeteria or ate your lunch at a communal table? Read the systems, rules, or operating manual for your company? Sat and talked with people in your office who are normally filtered by your direct reports or assistants, not because you had to or for a review but just to listen? For far too many people, the answer is: “Almost never.”
I have metaphorically “cleaned my bathroom” everywhere I have worked, and you should, too. The following short sections detail the ways I "clean the bathroom" every day. Try these. You’ll find that once you do, they become an integral part of your personal corporate culture.
Connect. I send my own emails, texts, and updates—often individually, not blasts. All my social media posts come from me, and nearly all are posted by me. I even write my own thank-you notes and letters.
Immerse and attack. At my Team Logic franchise years ago, I found the systems weren't working. Rather than assign the task to one of my direct reports or hire a consultant, I became an expert in those systems myself. I shopped my company as a customer to test the front desk and sales teams. I went through every part of the business to understand where the problems were and how to fix them so I knew not only what needed to be done but also that it could be done.
Stay visible and get out there. At Kodak, I walked the halls to meet everyone I could, from the account executives down to the janitors—to understand what was really happening and hear what I needed to hear unfiltered by those who answered directly to me. Beyond the office, I went into Best Buys and put on its blue shirt to sell Kodak’s printers to learn what it took to do so, ensure it was being done right, and refine any missteps.
By doing these things everywhere I go, I've stayed connected bottom to top in the businesses I've worked for and with, reinforced trust with employees and colleagues, and become an elephant that never forgets what it’s like at the bottom of the ladder. Does that mean I won’t fail or fall victim to a Johnny Vegas-like business syndrome? Of course not—I’m human! Does it demean me in some people’s eyes? Perhaps. Haters gonna hate. But few ever think I am above the process even though I don’t want to see or be involved in most of it anymore. Fewer still would say I don’t understand things and fail to push forward in everything I do.



 Influence is one of the most powerful tools that you can use to impact your personal and professional
Unfortunately, we are not born with the natural tendency to be influential. It’s a craft that is nurtured until mastered. Sadly, the mastery of influence is shrouded in limiting beliefs, and battled by resistance that others will impose.
I know this battle well. The struggle to affect your personal life as well as your professional life is difficult. There is no right path to take; you must simply take the path. But, more importantly, you must do the work.
To drastically increase your influence, do the following:

1. Ask a Beautiful Question

As an influencer, it’s our fiduciary duty to listen. But before we begin listening, we must approach each encounter as a student and ask what Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question, calls “the beautiful question”.
A question of this caliber opens the mind to richer discourse. It forces others to pause and allow the question to marinate and percolate. As the question simmers, each degree of adjustment brings about a cadre of hunches, impressions, and fragile new ideas.
As an influencer, here are a few beautiful questions to ask:
  • What does not fit?
  • What would an outsider do?
  • Do I understand why we do it this way?
  • What might be the long-term consequences?

2. Create a plan to be a good listener

As an influencer, you must spend the better part of your energy listening. This might sound counter-intuitive, but the most effective strategy to get people’s attention is for you to give them your attention.
“Listen. It makes you smarter.”
— Richard Branson
When you are genuinely listening to someone, when you are giving them your undivided attention, when you can summarize their conversation, when you can ask a beautiful question — you are demonstrating open-mindedness and respect.

3. Welcome disagreements

As influencers, we expect a healthy chorus of disagreement. I would even say that as an influencer it’s your responsibility to create an environment of disagreement. Why, it’s a healthy sign of critical thinking. Where ideas are being challenged, not for malicious intent, but in an effort to test the ideas’ viability.

4. Focus only on what really matters

As an influencer, your energy is limited. Therefore, it’s imperative that you focus that finite energy on projects where you can make the greatest contribution. There are a number of strategies you can adopt, but here are five that work for me:
  • Develop a clear “why” — this keeps you anchored to what really matters
  • Do it — because you are the only one who can
  • Delegate — often you will not be the best one to do the work
  • Defer — sometimes things are not actionable now
  • Weekly review — because you need to check where you are spending your energy

5. Build a plan for being proactive

As an influencer, you do not wait for a situation to find you. You must build a funnel to remain proactive:
  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Encourage disagreements
  • Focus on what matters
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
— Steven Covey

6. Set a powerful vision

As an influencer, vision is critically important. You must develop a vision statement that is compelling. If your vision statement does not excite you, how will you ever influence others? You must give yourself permission to envision the perfect future, by answering these two questions:
  • What do I want to see happen?
  • What would “it” look like in three years?
Once you are clear on your vision and the things you want, the how generally takes care of itself.

7. Use your influence to bring out the best in others

As an influencer, your responsibility is not to be the smartest person in the room. Your only responsibility is to foster a culture of intelligence — to multiply the intelligence among your team members.
Early in a task, team members should discuss the knowledge each brings to the table. That changes the criterion for power from social influence to informational influence.
– Bryan L. Bonner and Alexander R. Bolinger

8. Increase your value through education

As an influencer, you must increase your value by thinking of yourself as a product, and upgrade yourself every year. You must see yourself as a competitive product with benefits, and liabilities, all waiting to be improved.
A good strategy for upgrading yourself is to ask, “What skills will give me more freedom in the future?” Once you have identified these, dedicate time to mastering them. And by mastery, I mean knowing the skill so well that you are positioned to help someone else solve their problems.

Final thoughts

So there you have it. My suggested list of characteristics that will make an amazing influencer. Which one are you going to start with first? My personal favorite is number eight.
My hopes are that you choose to become an influencer, because your professional and personal life will thank you for the dedication.

4 Things I Learned After My First Year as an Entrepreneur 


It’s been almost a year since I took the entrepreneurial leap and launched my executive coaching practice. I’m not going to lie, working for myself has been completely spoiling. Setting my own agenda, choosing the place and times to work, and determining the clients with whom I work (no social hand grenades) has been completely fulfilling.
I’m a big believer that in uncertainty lies opportunity. If the rules aren’t already written then write your own rule book, and if there is a book, make edits.

Sharing lessons is important. After all, nobody learns from their successes or really even question why they won something, they just accept it. Here are four things to consider before taking your leap into the entrepreneurial unknown:

1. Marketing isn’t easy.

Not in terms of marketing your product but yourself (self-promotion). Now, I’m not blanketing all entrepreneurs by saying this because there are certainly people out there who believe the world revolves around them. However, for those who live in reality and “get it,” selling yourself (not that way) isn’t easy.
Here’s the secret to not sounding like a you-know-what: don’t talk about yourself. Instead, highlight what it is your product or service provides and let customers make the connection for how it benefits them. This is a subtle yet important difference. People want to know how they’ll benefit from buying what you’re selling, and yes, who you are is a large part of that.
Consumers buy from vendors they like, trust, and respect. They also buy products and services that benefit them so be sure to craft your marketing message that way.

2. A strategy is different from an objective.

I wrote in another column what a sound strategy looks like, and just the process of thinking strategically can be a challenge if you’re more inclined to the executor role. Think of it this way: an objective is where you want to end up -- it’s your destination. Strategy is how you get there.
Consider, for instance, a ladder -- the kind you lean up against the side of the house to clean out the debris in your home’s gutters. When you lean the ladder against the house, the goal is to climb to the top (and not fall off). The rungs provide the means by which you get there -- the daily behaviors that help you execute the strategy -- and the rails of the ladder set the direction for where those rungs lead (they can only go one way). If, once you get to the top of the ladder you find yourself on the wrong roof, you simply shift the ladder.

3. Focus on what you, and only you, can affect.

Entrepreneurship is an investment in yourself, your beliefs, convictions and definition of value. After all, if you don’t believe your new widget is valuable then you wouldn’t feel compelled to sell it, right?
As an entrepreneur, you should focus on your area(s) of expertise, on what only you can affect, and allocate other tasks to outside professionals. Virtual assistants are great for this as they provide the subject-matter expertise to work effectively and efficiently in their roles while allowing you to do the same.

4. Stay fit.

Anybody who says there’s no time in the day to exercise simply doesn’t place fitness as a priority. It’s that simple. Being an entrepreneur is no different. What prevents people from doing the hobbies they enjoy is fear. They worry that if they’re not working on something geared toward business then they’re not being productive, and this is anything but true.
We all need personal time, it’s how we decompress from the pressure of the day so we can return the next day and work optimally. Learn how to manage your fear of missing out (or FOMO) syndrome and watch your stress levels plummet.
It's not an easy decision, but holding your feet to the fire and placing yourself in an environment that demands success certainly narrows down your priorities of what's important and what isn't. It also wields greater fulfillment. Choose wisely.