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Category: Leadership

Your 2017 Summer Reading List: Books and Podcasts for Leaders

You pick up many new and fascinating concepts while at college. Most lectures eventually are forgotten, but some things stay with you forever. One memorable bit of advice a professor gave me was that good ideas should be shared, studied, and reused.

Summer is the perfect time to read about the strategies of successful leaders. So take some time in the next few weeks–while curled up in a sleeping bag or lounging poolside—to dive into a good book like one of these to guide your communications and leadership development.

  • True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership—Bill George and Peter Sims. True leadership requires you to be true to yourself. Bill George and Peter Sims take the stories of entrepreneurs and titans of industry to show how following your internal compass can lead you to succeed and inspire.
  • O Great One!: A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition—David Novak. David Novak outlines the simple yet meaningful effect of acknowledging and appreciating the actions of one’s colleagues. This amusing, straightforward book is a must for anyone who aspires to lead.
  • The Storytellers Secret—Carmine Gallo.  Gallo is one of my personal favorites because he writes about communications. This book showcases stories and techniques from some of today’s most successful brand leaders. A fantastic resource for anyone who wants to make an effective presentation or speech.
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action—Simon Sinek.  A tie-in with the popular TED talk of the same name, this inspiring book charts the common connections of effective leaders and influencers.

For those of you who dread reading, try a podcast.  Here are two of our favorites. The TED Radio Hour is a collection around a central theme.  Each TED Talk is a little jewel.  No matter your interests, this podcast will spark creativity and fresh thinking.

How I Built This is a kind of “my true life story” interview with the creators of some of the world’s best loved brands. The backstories and challenges are sometimes more inspiring than the success their businesses achieved.

Your 2016 Summer Reading List: Five Books for Business Leaders

May 2016 blog photo - beach

I recently attended an event recognizing the University of Georgia’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2015.  The guest speaker was Tonya Harris Cornileus, Vice President for Learning and Organizational Development at ESPN.  She made a strong impression.  Her speech centered on a book that influenced her life and her leadership, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

I’ve listened to countless luncheon speakers over the years tell stories, share insights on their personal journeys, and provide checklists for higher performance.  Using a novel as the centerpiece of the speech was an unexpected, but effective choice.  It reminded me how long it’s been since I read anything to strengthen and refocus my leadership skills.

With beach season on the horizon, consider bringing along one book that will inspire you to grow or further your communication style.  Here are five of my favorites (because none of them are long or complex):

·         Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard—Chip and Dan Heath. Change is challenging, and it’s non-stop. Chip and Dan Heath talk about how difficult change is in our companies, our careers, and our lives, and how to overcome our resistance and make change happen.

·         A Short Guide to a Happy Life—Anna Quindlen.  A very quick read (think 20 minutes) about appreciating the small things that sometimes go unnoticed in our over-scheduled, bustling lives.

·         Delivering Happiness—Tony Hsieh. The Zappos story, told from the beginning, is a compelling business read because of the brand’s amazing success.  But the real takeaway is that if you get the company culture right, success follows.

·         The Storytellers Secret–Carmine Gallo.  Gallo is one of my personal favorites because he writes about communications. This book showcases stories and techniques from some of today’s most successful brand leaders. A fantastic resource for anyone who makes presentations or speeches.

·         The Five Dysfunctions of a Team—Patrick Lencioni.  This book is in a fable format. It’s easy to pick out your team’s dysfunctions and use practical steps to achieving team health. Teamwork is the ultimate competitive advantage.

 

A User Guide for 2016

snowy road

I have a tattered clipping in my wallet that I fish out each January to read instead of writing New Year’s resolutions. I don’t know where it came from or how long I’ve had it (by the looks of it, more than 20 years). It reminds me of my goals as a leader, a parent, a friend, a business partner. I hope it will inspire you as well.

 
A new year is a new beginning, an open road. Make the most of it.

On this day:

 
• Mend a quarrel
• Search out a forgotten friend
• Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust
• Write a note to someone you miss
• Encourage a youth who has lost his way
• Keep a promise
• Forget an old grudge
• Examine your demands on others and vow to reduce them
• Fight for a principle
• Express your gratitude
• Overcome a fear
• Consider others’ perspectives when making a decision
• Take two minutes to appreciate the beauty of nature
• Tell someone you love them

 
(Author Unknown)

Answer this question to empower your business

Do you ever wonder why certain people in human history have been so influential? Why Martin Luther King, Jr.? Why the Wright brothers? MLK wasn’t the only African American that suffered racial persecution. The Wright brothers weren’t the only ones interested in flight (in fact, they were at a disadvantage when it comes to funding and education). So why are certain people, or companies, able to be so much more successful than others, who are fundamentally no different? It’s because they think, act and communicate differently than everyone else.

 

Take a look at this chart. This is the Golden Circle, as inspired by business author Simon Sinek, and it explains how we act as businesses and leaders. Let’s define the terms: What: Every single company in the world knows what they do. Simple. How: Some of those companies know how they do it. Internal processes, etc. Why: What is your cause, your purpose, your belief? Why do you do what you do? Most companies act from the outside-in, because the What and the How are the easiest parts of the circle to define. For example:

  1. What: We make personal computers.
  2. How: They’re user friendly, affordable, and reliable.
  3. Why: To drive revenue, thus making the company successful.

Following the circle in this manner is a roadmap for… failure. It’s simply not inspiring, whether it’s to your employees or your customers. “We make great computers that you can afford, therefore you should buy one” is their sales pitch. I mean sure, it might work to an extent, but it’s not a sustainable business model. Profit or revenue can never be the Why of your business. Profit isn’t why you work, it’s a result of your work. The Why isn’t the end result, it’s your company’s heartbeat. It’s your true industry leaders, like Apple (in personal entertainment/technology), that see the circle from the inside-out:

  1. Why: In everything we do, we challenge the status quo and think differently.
  2. How: We’ll create beautiful products that are simple and effective, no matter the cost.
  3. What: We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

Customers buy the why. Customers want to buy products from a company that believes what they believe. And that’s why we won’t just buy computers from Apple. We’ll also buy their ipads, ipods, speakers, monitors, etc. The company communicates to the world in a way that inspires their customers. You might be saying to yourself, “I’m not an entrepreneur or business owner, so this doesn’t really apply to me.” Wrong. We can all use this circle to help us communicate and act more genuinely with our colleagues. By doing so, we will produce a more motivated, engaged team of employees. But it starts with uniting everyone under the Why. Why are your colleagues getting out of bed and coming into work in the morning? Hopefully, it’s not just for the paycheck.   Martin Luther King, Jr. used the Golden Circle to great effect and he wasn’t selling a product. MLK attracted 250,000 people to show up at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. It’s an astounding number, especially when you consider he didn’t have tools to spread the word like email and social media. But there’s a reason why so many people wanted to come hear him talk that day. It wasn’t to hear a plan on how to fix America’s racial divide. It was to hear him say “I believe.”

What’s at the core of your company? Are your core values entrenched in your team? We help with that! Let me know what we can do for you by reaching me at joe.patrick@insight-communication.com.

Best practices: How an NFL team is embracing millenials

Chances are that if you are reading this blog, you’ve probably already investigated how to engage millenials in the workplace. When we think about engaging millenials, we usually illicit mental images of young folks looking bored or struggling in a corporate conference room. What we definitely don’t think of is football players. In this case, we’ll look at the San Francisco 49ers, the franchise who is making a huge commitment toward its most important personnel, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Not only is the NFL big business, but there might not be another industry that’s more dependent on millenials to drive the success of the company. The playing staffs of NFL team are comprised almost solely by millenials — broadly defined as those aged 18-34. The Smart Phone Age.

What’s eye-catching here aren’t just the techniques the 49ers are using to accommodate this new generation of players, but the open-mindedness and courage the front office and coaching staff has in breaking down historically successful protocols in its business. After all, the 49ers are one of the winningest teams in the NFL, colleting five Super Bowl titles from 1981 to 1994. Regardless, Head Coach Jim Tomsula has changed the team’s meeting schedules to adapt to millenial’s shorter attention spans and propensities to multi-task.

49ers Head Coach Jim Tomsula isn't afraid to break from tradition to reach out to his more youthful players.

“The [experts] are telling me about attention spans and optimal learning,” Tomulsa told the WSJ. “I’m thinking, ‘My gosh, we sit in two-hour meetings. You are telling me after 27 minutes no one’s getting anything?’ ”

But as opposed to some business leaders, inside the NFL and out, the 49ers felt it was prudent for their coaching and support staff to adapt to the player’s habits, not the other way around. In this effort, they’ve stopped handing out paper schedules, and now all meetings are sent straight to a player’s online calendar. Instead of the old two-hour meetings, they’re now segmented into 30-minute blocks, with 10 minutes in between for free time.

Some business leaders feel it’s important for millenials to adapt to the working environment of their generation, one that didn’t grow up with smartphones and advanced computing. But at what cost? The goal of any business leader should be to create a working environment in which employees can produce to their maximum potential. And not only that, but great leaders understand that the most important employees to cater to aren’t the ones with corner offices — they’re the ones who are on the front line of the business. Sadly, it’s these employees who are often the lowest paid, and thus the most neglected.

Everyone from psychologists to elementary school teachers can tell you that the impact technology has made on the human race is real. It’s not a far-flung theory, and it’s not a simple case of young people being lazy. Not only are attention spans getting shorter, but higher rates of ambidexterity are occurring, which is thought to be caused by children now typing, texting, and playing games with both hands on touch screens.

“Our whole lives, we’ve gone with a paper and pad,” Tomsula said in the WSJ. “Next week, a young person’s phone will be outdated. We decided we have to be on top of that.”

What are some other best practices when it comes to engaging millenials? Let me know at joe.patrick@insight-communication.com.