Enlightened Conflict

have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss

October 13th, 2017

red shoes_adventure_by_zvaella

 

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“We all have one foot in a fairytale, and the other in the abyss.”

 

—–

Paulo Coelho

 

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My anger at the world coils inside of me.

It’s a directionless seething, there’s no name or face to aim at.”

 

————–

Claire Zorn

 

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Well.

 

color outside the linesLife demands us to draw a lot of lines.

 

And more often than we would like to admit … it demands we place one foot on one side of a line and the other foot on the other side of the line.

 

That may not sound … well … right.

Or maybe the best thing to do.

It may even sound like I am suggesting you ‘straddle the fence.’

 

This isn’t straddling … this is about being grounded or balancing oneself.

 

If you don’t place one foot solidly on either side, you can be quite easily consumed by the extremes of Life which are, more often than not, found on only one side of a line.

 

If you don’t place one foot solidly on either side, you can be quite easily consumed by others who seek to consume what you may think you don’t really care that much about <but you should … and actually do when you care to think about t enough>.

 

If you don’t you can be quite easily … well … consumed.

 

I guess what I am saying is that Life demands you pragmatically be active in drawing some lines so that you have some sense of when you are getting too … well … “too”. So you can have some sense of … well … where to actually place your feet that is meaningful.

 

Maybe what I am saying is that many of us have no problem ‘making a stand’ but if you really aren’t sure where your line is then it is quite possible you aren’t really sure you are taking your stand in the right place.

 

Maybe think of it this way.

 

It’s kind of like making sure you have things in perspective when you take a stand.

 

It’s kind of like demanding realistic hope.

It’s kind of like demanding some hopeful despair.

It’s kind of like demanding you believe in some fairytales and some abyss-like darkness.

 

It’s kind of like demanding lines for yourself so you can deal with the lines Life is going to demand of you.

 

Look.

 

I don’t really believe there are angry people … they just have so much anger within themselves that their line is drawn differently than others.

 

I don’t really believe there are dreamers … they just have so much imagination within themselves that their line is drawn differently than others.

 

But here’s the deal.

 

You have to draw some lines.

 

draw your lines and choose your side moralThere has to be some reality to ground some imagination.

 

There has to be some truth to ground some questioning.

 

There has to be some principles to ground some rebelliousness.

 

There has to be some fairytaleishness <I made up that word> to balance out some of the inevitable abyss.

 

You do have to have one foot somewhere other than where your other foot resides.

 

I know.

I know.

 

That sounds a little of whack from conventional wisdom because far more often you hear “both feet on the ground” and shit like that.

 

But if you have two feet on the line … well … you have chosen to stand on a thin balance beam and will teeter your entire life. That is tiring & dangerous.

But if you have two feet on one side … well … you have chosen a life of fairytales … or a life in the abyss.

 

All that said.

 

Yes.

 

There are times you draw a line and make a choice to shift both feet solidly onto one side. I would suggest this is a situational decision and not a “living Life” type decision.

 

That is right and that is wrong.

That is good and that is bad.

That is normal and that is not normal.

 

Those are most likely the moments in which Life says “now, in this time and place, here is the line … on which side to you choose to stand?”

I would suggest sometimes we fuck this up by confusing a ‘Life one foot here & one foot there’ decision and a contextual situational decision. What I mean is that in that time and place you may try and keep your fairy tale foot in place and your abyss foot in place … and mistakenly take on a different type of decision demanding a different type of line.

 

That would be a bad decision.empty shoes

 

In that time. in that place. In that moment.

 

You shift your feet.

 

Sigh.

 

I never suggested lines were easy. Just that Life demands we draw a lot of lines. I would suggest that if you do not draw some lines you will find yourself lost in anger coiled within, or maybe constantly living a less than fairy tale life dreaming it all away, or stuck in some dark abyss seeing no way out.

 

Yeah … lines come in pretty handy at times. Pretty handy in managing Life. I can tell you <for sure> that lines can be pretty handy at helping you decide when something should end … and something should start.

contrarian customer-centric thoughts

October 10th, 2017
free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarian

………. another Bruce contrarian thought piece …….

 

——

 

‘To prosper soundly in business, you must satisfy not only your customers, but you must lay yourself out to satisfy also the men who make your product and the men who sell it.’

 

——

Harry Bassett

 

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“We are all manufacturers – making good, making trouble or making excuses. “

 

——

HV Adolt

 

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So.

 

compete head hurtsI have probably had to think about, and talk about, the business concept of “customer centric” more in the past month or so than I have had to do in the past decade or so.

 

I have seen so many customer-centric presentations over the years that made my head hurt I am surprised my head hasn’t exploded yet.

 

Don’t ask me why but the oft-horridly interpreted and often mis-implemented concept is making a comeback.

 

Customer centric, simplistically, is the concept of creating a positive customer experience at every point of the pre sale, sale and post-sale.

 

It’s a word we’ve been using for decades <dates back to direct marketing in the 1960s & largely credited to a marketing guy named Lester Wunderman> and most of us in business don’t really think too much about it because we think it is kind of an obvious ‘given’ in business.

 

The problem is that customer-centric has been mangled to a point where we actually have to figure out some wacky ways to define it <most people use it in the sense of putting the customer at the center of everything that is done>.

Frankly, I’ve never met a business person who said their company wasn’t customer-centric.

 

Everyone talks the talk <and have convinced themselves they actually are>.

Well.

I imagine the topic keeps coming up because research with customers keeps telling these business people convinced they are customer centric that … well … they actually are not.

customer experience delivery gap Bain-and-Company 2005

 

The most famous of the debunkers is Bain and Company who shared this enlightened graph back in 2005:

 

 

 

It showcases the delivery gap between how customers perceive customer service and/or customer experience and how executives perceive the performance of their organization in that context.

 

 

Suffice it to say … that gap, which can be scarily extreme, debunks the myth of customer centric in practice when a company simply looks in a mirror and says “wow I’m good looking.”

 

Here is where contrarian Bruce steps into this game.

 

Most business people sincerely want to make customers strategically important to how they go about their business, but they also know what they see from most “customer centric experts’ is bullshit.

 

Therefore, they do the best they can and know that … well … theory is difficult to pragmatically, effectively, implement.

 

Here is where I differ from most of the customer centric experts:

 

  • The most important letter in customer centric is “I.”

 

legacy learn imagine hope mctague“I” as in “what I am good at” and “what I can actually do really frickin’ well” and as in “what is my Inner truth.”

 

Oops.

 

None of that is “what does my customer want.”

 

Look.

 

I never suggest ignoring the customer but I do suggest that before you ever sit down and talk about any customer centric things philosophically, and practically, you better be sure you know what you are good at, what you can actually do and what are the ‘truths’ <good & bad> of your own organization.

 

Most experts talk about “customer satisfaction” and I talk about thinking of the customer as someone with ongoing annoyance interspersed with occasional boredom and indifference.

 

Whew.

Now that sounds tough for any business person out there <and slightly depressing>.

 

But I tend to believe rather than try and build some rosy view most businesses should face … well … reality.

 

The reality is that once you establish customers SHOULD have high(er) expectations they are bound to go largely unmet.

 

Sorry.

That’s truth.

 

That is an unfortunate truth because the majority of customer centric practices choose to try and establish their own “best” to be judged by and … uh oh … they rarely actually keep up with the actual best of the best <because that “isn’t our positioning or what we are about” or because “oh, that is not our industry” or they simply just cannot match the best of the best>.

 

Setting high expectations means meeting the expectations of “customers” who will define everything by … well … EVERYTHING they encounter & experience.

A B2B customer will start thinking “experience” based on how the Starbucks barista treats them or how the Apple online assistance rep treats them.

 

Yup.irritation indifference

 

If you follow much of the customer centric bullshit being fed you, you will end up facing well informed customers who will be in a perpetual state of indifference and/or irritation.

 

  • Indifference will hit those customer centric practices that customers know are underperforming, and that they can avoid due to sufficient availability of the best of the best. If you’re working for one of those underperforming customer centric practices, the scary thing is not just selling less (or nothing). It’s that indifferent customers will stop being forgiving; they will stop being cooperative and giving you feedback on how to be more like other, better performing competitors. They’ll just leave and never return, without telling you why.

 

  • Perpetual irritation is just as bad: this will occur when customers are forced to buy from an underperforming customer centric practice, due to limited or no availability of what they already know is the best of the best.

 

 

In this light, pay special attention to fake loyalty and postponed purchases:

 

 

  • Fake loyalty: customers will continue to purchase from underperforming customer centric practices if the ‘real thing’ isn’t available. To the underperforming customer centric practices, all may seem quiet on the western front, until the best of the best suddenly does become available. Good examples of fake loyalty can be found in the airline industry: millions of frequent flyers around the world know that Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Emirates offer a superior experience, but since these airlines don’t fly on all routes, customers have no choice but to fly with subpar airlines now or then, or all of the time. Count on them to vote with their wallets every time new routes are added by these ‘best of the best’ carriers, even if they’ve never flown with them before.

 

 

  • Postponing purchases: some ‘best of the best’ customer centric practices like Apple actually manage to indirectly convince customers to postpone certain purchases. Many customers would rather wait for the iPhone or MacBook Air to become available, than to buy a new phone or laptop.

 

So … what should someone do?

 

The power of “I.”

 

inner truth brand position - Copy

….. Bruce’s consumer version of Inner Truth ………

Let me start with a Brucism — I have not found a lot of successful businesses that suck at everything.

In other words … if you have had some success, particularly if you have had some sustained success, it is likely you have <a> some significant expertise in something and <b> pleased some customers in some ways.

 

I am relentless on having businesses find their Inner Truth. It is often a difficult discussion <because it means admitting you are not good at everything> but by finding, isolating an embracing your business Inner Truth it permits the business to find its value core.

Once you find your value core you are able to insure you foster the attitudes & behaviors that feed into that value equation.

In addition, it insures the business leverages off of that foundation for any new ideas or “asks” of the organization itself with regard to new behaviors and decisions.

 

I have said this before and I assume I will say it a gazillion times again … “stop wishing you were something else and start loving who you are.”

That’s sounds like some bullshit Life coaching advice but the truth is more businesses, especially the ones who start discussing customer centric philosophy, should embrace this advice.

 

To be fair <before I begin my constructive enlightening rant> … the foundational aim for any customer centric practices has been and remains the same as always … to express singularities which consistently distinguish the offering of products and services.

 

And within these singularities … or distinctness … people will seek values, leadership, assurance, clarity … and personality <or character>. Maybe better said … some promise.

 

 

Growing a customer centric practices means it has to fulfill a clear promise. Promises are simple and complex. But suffice it to say, in this case, you make a promise and deliver upon it. Simple as that.

 

Here are some basic steps simplify <or at least clarify> some things that make up the foundation blocks for growing the customer centric practices based on “the power of I”:

 

company assessment

The first step in growing a customer centric practices is to assess the customer centric practices ‘parent’ <the organization itself>. There are several methods for obtaining this information from the end-users but suffice it to say that if you don’t know your company <culture, belief system, aspirations> you will never rear your customer centric practices properly. Never has the quote “be true to thineself’ ever rung more true.

 

good and bad research pepsi

research

Whether you think you need it or not … do some ongoing research.

Research will not only provide qualitative information from key stakeholders, including internal and external customers and influencers, but also flesh out the raw concept that resides in the vision.

The number of interviews will vary according to the typical number of end-users that would have an opinion about your company’s image as well as those ‘inside’ who have an image of what you do well.

The total number of potential end-users may be very small in b2b compared to a consumer product such as toothpaste but suffice it to say you seek to find the gaps & non-gaps of expertise between the organization and end users.

You are seeking some consistent feedback … so you hear the same feedback over and over.

The information collected from the survey is the foundation on which your customer centric practices platform will be established. You may find that once all the results are summarized, the information is very much in-sync with your organization’s internal perception of itself.

 

<note: don’t fool yourself into believing the exercise was a waste of time or a worthwhile effort in this situation … it is not only a sanity check but it also alleviates a lot of second guessing at a later date and plays a significant role in aligning everyone on what matters>.

 

 

Anyway.shared intentions lead people

 

In my experience … 90% of most customer centric discussions that businesses are faced with will begin with the customer.

 

That is the wrong place to begin.

 

Everything begins, and ends, with who you are and what your expertise is and what you can actually deliver. Beyond that … well … customer centric is worthless if you don’t get that right and accept, and embrace, that.

 

 

 

 

Which leads me to the next thing most customer centric experts never tell you <and I am fairly sure most of them don’t think about>.

 

  • Accepting Unevenness.

 

Unevenness?

What do I mean?

customer centric model

 

Well.

 

 

It seems like almost every customer centric discussion seems to incorporate some circle, or some 360degree view, in which you envelop a customer with all the love <functional and emotional> they need to create the utmost satisfaction and undying loyalty.

 

Unfortunately that is just theoretical bullshit because reality is just not that neat.

 

Just as there is no such thing as a well-rounded person there is no well-rounded business in the reality of … well … the real business world.

 

Most customer centric bullshit suggests you need to not only protect yourself on all fronts but also ‘project yourself’ on all fronts.

 

This is crazy.

 

Businesses don’t build themselves that way. Shit. People don’t build themselves that way. You are good at some things and not a good on others.

 

That said … the underlying absurdity in most customer centric modeling is in its suggestion of ‘evenness.’

customer centric learning concept knowledge ignorance

 

The traditional customer centric circle diagram concept suggests you push everyone out toward what they don’t know <boundary of ignorance>.

 

However.

 

Enlightenment, and gaining knowledge to overcome ignorance, is just not that neat.

In fact … it is frustratingly un-neat.

 

Frustrating in that every time you learn something … ignorance still remains … outside your existing knowledge base. And this translates into a state of being perpetually dissatisfied <or the glass is never completely full with knowledge> which obviously can be either encouraging, or discouraging, with a person’s attitude to continue learning.

 

Businesses consistently attempt to fulfill their role in this ‘customer centric process’ by focusing attention on the inside of the circle and keeping everyone carefully inside the boundaries. They do this under the guise of “company consistency.”

 

I imagine the good news is that this helps keep employees from falling off the edge into irrelevant material & learning <and it insures all employees gain knowledge in a logical order> but it also, negatively, impedes upon <a> the way most individuals gain knowledge (which is they follow what interests them) & <b> any knowledge or learning that could be attained outside the sphere of consistency.

 

But here is the really bad news.

 

Organizations are not neat round circles of knowledge. Why? Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, organizations are made up of people, not concepts or robots.

 

As I first wrote about back in 2010  <and have spoken on the topic a number of times> the truth about people is that they become more expert and informed on certain topics at the expense of others. The well rounded circle that might have characterized the “perfect customer centric organization” needs to be replaced by … well … reality.

 

circle of knowledge customer centric learn expertise

The reality of any organization is one of a profile of an expert <or passion on a topic> in some particular domain, and not others, and therefore you will never end up with a perfect circle but rather an ellipse or some wacky trapezoid <or something>, in other words, the circle of knowledge & expertise of any business has inconsistent edges/boundaries.

 

 

 

What this means is that organizations are more like uneven spikey boundaries of expertise & knowledge organisms.

Thinking about your organization with regard to attempting to implement some customer centric concepts will help a business better understand their learning flaws, and learning challenges, but maybe more importantly … better understand their areas of expertise.

 

I say all that because you invariably need to grow your customer centric practices … well … unevenly.

 

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“In short, not only are things not what they seem, they are not even what they are called!”

 

———

Francisco de Quevedo

 

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Lastly <leveraging my last thought off of the unevenness point>.

 

In a hypercritical world <online critiquing driven world> 360degree perfection is a fool’s errand … and, frankly, impossible.flawed and still worthy optimal new people best

 

The more successful path to being the best you can be is … well … be the best you can be on the things you know you can actually be the best you can be day after day after day.

This builds value and believability.

 

Unfortunately most customer-centric gurus start this discussion in the wrong place.

They almost always begin by identifying “weaknesses” or “where we need to improve/be better”. In other words … they begin with what is not an inherent expertise, or something the employees apparently don’t particularly want to do, and make a decision to invest energy attempting to make the organization … well … something they are not naturally.

 

Unfortunately most customer-centric gurus start this discussion in the wrong place.

Customer centric discussions far too often focuses solely on those pesky demanding customers <remember indifference, irritation and unrealistic expectations>. In other words. You are likely to be chasing perpetually dissatisfied, or indifferent until they are dissatisfied, people.

 

That is crazy. Absurd.

 

The better way to be the best customer centric organization is actually to identify what the company does best, that increases customer satisfaction, and say “how can we make our best better” <so we can ‘own’ that expertise>.

 

Some people may read this as “settling.” Or if they want to be harsher suggest that I am stating something ‘lesser than’ a best customer service focused organization.

 

I would tell these ‘some people’ I am a pragmatist and have a tendency to focus on the truths of reality.

 

What do I mean?

 

ideas break the mold new think conformLet’s face it.

 

In the past a company <or their customer centric practices> could get away with not performing at its peak on some things.  Or maybe taking a day off performance wise.

You could because customers didn’t experience full transparency of the best, the cheapest, the first, the most original or the most relevant.

 

Well.

 

That’s all over.

 

And things are bound to get even more radically transparent. I wrote about this years ago and called it “the expectation economy.” http://brucemctague.com/expectations-as-an-economy   Reality dictates you focus on the few things you can master and be an expertise on, offer expectations on those, don’t overpromise on others <even if competitors do> and be ‘customer centric’ by being authentically honest where you are consistently okay and authentically set expectations where you can deliver upon a ‘customer centric promise’ day in and day out.

Reality dictate your customer centric philosophy comes to life in an uneven pattern which actually can stand under the scrutiny of spotlight criticism.

 

In the end.

 

Let me go back to the most important letter in customer centric is “I.”

In this case it is “ideas.”

 

Ideas are the new currency in business, any business, including the service business. If you have a business focused solely on “making the customer happy” you are on a fool’s errand. In today’s interconnected world expectations <and what makes a customer happy> are driven not by your competition nor any realistically relevant industry benchmark … but rather by whatever that customer has uncovered anywhere in the world to establish a benchmark.

If you and your business try to ‘follow the customer expectation’ one-by-one … well … one will quickly become a ‘none’ <as in out of business>.

 

Regardless.

 

Suffice it to say if you are not in the business of generating new ideas to refresh your ‘customer centricity’ you are not competing in the same world as the rest of the businesses out there.

 

I end today’s thought on customer centric with that last one sentence paragraph because inherent in almost any customer centric discussion is NOT any discussion on ideas but rather “satisfaction.”

 

Satisfaction, at its core as a concept, is about “reaction.” In other words, if I am seeking to increase customer satisfaction I therefore seek ways to understand how I can do it <from them> and … well … do it.

 

Ideas are proactive.

 

And maybe that is the most important word, and thought, in this entire diatribe – proactive. 90% of the customer centric presentations I have ever seen have dripped with ‘reactiveness’ … reacting to what customers want in order to make them happy & satisfied <assuming your ultimate value is driven somehow by effective reactiveness>.

 

This makes my head explode.value timeline

 

Reactive value is the lowest value you can achieve.

Conversely.

Proactive value offers you the highest value you can achieve.

 

I will not argue that an effective customer centric organization has to have some good reactive mechanisms in place to show responsiveness to needs but I will argue with any customer centric expert who stops there. True customer centric business is beating the customer to the spot – with ideas, solutions and service.

That is a proactive model. And that is what maximizes value to a customer, breeds real loyalty and … well … insures the business itself constantly pushes out on its own boundaries of ignorance by increasing its circle off knowledge.

 

Anyway.

 

What I do know … or am 90% sure … is that you will not hear or read any of this from the traditional customer centric ‘experts.’ That either makes me a moron or … well … a contrarian.

 

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“I am the sea and nobody owns me.”

———-

Pippi Longstocking

 

a pragmatic primer for leading a business

October 6th, 2017

 

ideas thinking group community enjoy the tactic business

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“In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans.

 

Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.”

 

Robert Glover

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“Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

 

—–

Saul D. Alinsky

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So.

 

I was fishing around for some new ways to talk about leading a business <I get old habits new habits forward back progress life choice secretsbored with using the same words and thoughts over and over again> and I came across the Saul Alinsky quote … the second one I used upfront.

 

It resonated with me because I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in some company “forward thinking strategy” meeting discussing how we would expand the business … stretching not only beyond the existing functional strength of the business but also stepping beyond the existing expertise of the employees.

 

This is usually cloaked in the infamous “oh, if we can do this, we can certainly do this” statement … or the even more dangerous “we have always figured it out” mantra.

 

To be clear … progress is always tricky. And leading progress almost even trickier.

 

But, if you want it to be less trickier, ‘feeling secure’ is almost always a great step toward increasing the odds of success.

Now.

You can secure the … well … security … in a number of ways – some reality based and some emotionally charged ways.

 

And that is where Saul Alinsky comes back into the leadership discussion. He big plans ruler universewrote a book called Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals in 1971.   He wrote it as a guide to community organization <uniting “Have-Nots”, in order for them to gain social, political, legal, and economic power>.

 

What I loved about the Rules, beyond the rules themselves, was that Alinsky believed, when organized and directed well, the community can determine & achieve its purpose & goal. That thought, to me, is exactly the attitude a leader attempts to create <supporting a vision offered by the leader> within an organization.

 

What I loved about the Rules is the rules themselves are actually signposts for how to have a company compete in the marketplace.

 

That said.

 

Let me share the rules and some brief thoughts with the rules. The Rules:

 

 

  • “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.

 

Far too often … despite the fact 99% of businesses unequivocally state “our difference is our people” … a business forgets to actually build their power off of flesh & blood.

watch people behavior what they say and doMoney comes and goes.

Machines and infrastructure does what it does.

 

But people, flesh & blood, is the true power. It pays, as a leader, to never forget that.

 

 

  • “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

 

Every business I have been involved with has had an expertise. Uhm. The difficulty is that far too many leaders & managers wish the organization had a different expertise or they aspire to some other expertise.

I, personally, love the thought of isolating a company expertise, consolidating the inside expertise and using it like a battering ram in terms of progress.

People love doing things well and being appreciated for the expertise they have <and not diminished by suggesting they should have another expertise>.

 

 

  • “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

 

When I saw this one I almost chuckled. It is so good, so solidly strategically right … and I would guess 95% of businesses never think this way. Oh. They may be happy  identifying a “this is what we are better at than they are” and competing with that in their hip pocket … but I struggle to think of any business I have ever been involved with who has sat down and said “let’s go outside their expertise <and consciously accepting they have an expertise.”

 

Crushing a competitor is always fun but ignoring an opportunity to outflank them is stupid.

 

 

  • “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

 

rule book leading a company behaviorOk.

 

Here is why I loved this one.

I loved it because bullshit & hollow rhetoric and promises/claims are strewn throughout the business world. I can guarantee, with 95% certainty, I could pick up any business’s vision & strategy & ‘rules of the road’ binder and find a significant amount of hollow shit. What would happen if I consciously attacked one of my competitor’s hollow shit? Make them live up to their own book of rules?

I am chuckling.

 

You would crush them.

You would crush them in two ways:

 

  • External perceptions: everyone knows almost all businesses make hollow promises but get aggravated when it becomes too obvious that the promise really is hollow

 

  • Internal perceptions: almost every employee simply accepts that some of the company rhetoric is bullshit but they accept it because it doesn’t really affect them. But if the hollow rhetoric becomes obvious AND a pain in the ass … discontent grows. Bitching at the water cooler increases.

 

This is an awesome leadership thought.

 

 

  • “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

 

I admit. Ridiculing your competition is fraught with peril. However … having i was not made to be subtle me Brucesome swagger and vocalizing your swagger is … well … infuriating to some competition. It puts pressure on them.

Ridiculing, specifically, what a competitor believes is their most potent weapon will … well … infuriate them.

 

Pick your path wisely … but there is absolutely nothing wrong with swagger, infuriating your competition and putting some pressure on them.

 

 

  • “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

 

Far too often some strategic guru envisions some tactic that will be smashingly successful and then attempt to imbue some excitement within the people who will actually do it. I think the best strategic thinkers find tactics that people enjoy AND can be smashingly successful. Unfortunately this is harder than you would think. But nothing really good is easy.

 

 

  • “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

 

Amen.

A lesson we forget every day <and should not>.

 

 

  • “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

 

work value replaced effort smarts businessTactical adaptation is possibly one of the most underrated strategic decisions a business can make. While we talk a good game on this in today’s ‘digital world’ the truth is that most of us chase numbers more than we think about outflanking and expertise advantages. That is kind of the bane of the ‘big data’ world.

 

Numbers are good in judging things but, in the end, people & behavior are not numbers and no matter how good a tactic may appear in a number it can always be replaced.

 

 

  • “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

 

I am not an empty threat guy, however, ‘power is what the competition thinks you have.’ My point here is not to make shit up and offer empty threats but rather the more you can make a competitor think, and worry, about the wrongs things the better off you are.

 

Stoke their imagination.over thinking mess

Make them have high falutin’ meetings pondering “what if” scenarios.

 

I wouldn’t do this to replace any of the other rules … but in combination?

 

Whew. This is good stuff.

 

 

  • “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

 

Sometimes in today’s business world we treat tactics like spaghetti we throw against the wall and hope something sticks. I am not suggesting a business should invest gobs of energy developing operations to maintain constant pressure in INDIVIDUAL tactics but I am suggesting that strategic tactics tend to coalesce and operations can be developed to support them.

I imagine the real point here is hollow tactics may generate some numbers for you but they don’t really make any dent into the competition <which, inevitably, is the key to leading an industry>.

 

 

  • “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

 

I love this thought because, let’s be honest, we have become a mamby pamby business world. What I mean by that is at the first glimpse of any significant negativity we tend to retreat or retrench. Pushing through a negative is not standard operating procedure in a business today.

 

Let me be clear on this one.

If you do Rule #5 well, you will infuriate your competition. An infuriated competitor reacts <usually with some desire to inflict some negative pain> — they will violently react. If you stay the course, maintain your expertise, well … you can push through and own a positive.

More businesses need to remember this.

 

 

  • “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

 

the end game overI call this “consolidating a win.”

I cannot tell you how many times <but far too many> I have seen a business “lose after winning.” It is maddening, depressing & demoralizing … and completely avoidable.

Far too many businesses chase the success assuming they will be able to take a breath and take advantage of the success in a relatively timely fashion.

This is where ideas die.

 

In the take-a-breath moment.

 

This happens for a bunch of well-intended reasons … the most likely one is everyone invests their energy on the attack and a successful attack rather than diverting any energy & time to “what do we do when we are successful” other than maybe a framework of ‘what will happen.’

 

Unfortunately … frameworks do not consolidate.

The solution to this is so obvious I scratch my head as to why more businesses do not do it. Businesses always have two basic levels … the outside structure and the inside structure. The outside is the face of the organization and most typically is the one that pushes through and creates the ‘wins.’ The inside operations gets shit done … I have always had an ‘inside operations team’ well briefed and ready to go and insert them into the breach as soon as the win has occurred and have the ‘fresh team’ consolidate.

I could write an entire ‘consolidation strategy’ piece but suffice it to say your business gains value in a number of dimensions by doing it this way.

 

The larger point with this Rule is ‘don’t lose a win by not having a plan for when you win.’

 

 

  • “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

 

Well. Let me share the thought that first hit me on this … “a brand is a promise delivered in the store everyday” <this was The Limited’s phrase>. The point is that a business doesn’t exist if it doesn’t deliver upon what it promises.

 

That said … this is an important rule. As in a REALLY important rule that I bet crushed by objectives short term bludgeon99% of companies do not even think about let alone adhere to. Most businesses target another competitor’s users & customers and go about trying to steal them <persuade them to switch>.

 

Well.

 

What about instead we attacked the company, the support network … the “promise” as it were … and make the people who actually deliver the promise start doubting, or start feeling less than secure, or just “less good about their brand & promise”?

If we did this, we create a gap, isolate as it were, between what the customer thought they wanted and what they perceive they are getting or would get.

 

I love this rule.

 

I admit I had never thought about t this way before … but from here on out it is part of my leadership toolkit.

 

———

 

 

Okay.

 

control goal is to create something that will live together vision Life business

Those are some good rules for business.

 

But you know what?

 

It all comes back to the first Rule and my first quote.

 

Flesh & blood is the real power in any business and … people are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans.

 

Honestly … I don’t think most leaders ignore the fact the people in their organizations are important but I think we don’t elevate them to ‘flesh & blood is the power’ status.

And that is where the Rules come in.

Inherent to each rule, and the success therein, resides with … well … the flesh & blood. That is a pragmatic reminder for leading a business.

 

 

just please act like a grownup

September 15th, 2017

pretending to be a functioning adult exhausting

======================

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”

 

=

John Connolly

 

===========

 

“Refusing to grow up may be a form of rebellion. But really growing up could be a revolution.”

 

Susan Neiman

 

==================

 

Well.

 

organizational exhaustion batteryTrump is exhausting. Not his presidency, not his administration, not his lack of policies or lack of any intellectual thought … just Trump.

Trump is exhausting.

 

I have decided he is exhausting because while I have continuously woken up every day hoping that today would be the day he would actually act like a president … okay … maybe just like a business leader … okay … I actually just want to wake up and see him act like an grownup … a grown up.

 

Today, just another day, he wakes up and starts tweeting about London terrorism <which the UK prime minister and Scotland Yard have to respond “not very helpful”>, about an ESPN anchor, about his stupid wall, about … well … too numerous to count. And it isn’t just his lack-of-any-real-thought 140 character tweeting it is also his tween tone, teen sensitivity and teen words/grammar/punctuation.

 

He is not even the junior class president … he is just the gossip girl between classes.

 

Think about it.trump sophmoric dennis

 

Everything is unfair.

He is sad.

Girls confuse him.

I told you so.

I wish everyone would pay attention to me.

Create drama <to Armageddon-like levels when possible>.

 

 

<sigh>

 

 

You would think I would have been smart enough to know that this is the new normal for us but the same normal for Donald J Trump.

 

I mean, what the hell, I wrote the following in March 2016 <yeah … 18 months ago … seems like a lifetime in Trump squirrel years>:

 

—————

 

And then, after my first response, I laughed. I laughed because I sudden realized that every teen in America must be celebrating in the halls of their high school.

 

Trump is one of them.

 

<and imagine the kitchen table conversations now taking place where parents are counseling their children only to hear “you are being so unfair !!! … I was just retweeting what was on the internet … c’mon Mom … Donald Trump does it … you are being unfair …!!!”>

 

Look.

 

stop tweeting trump batmanSit around a bunch of older folk and pretty soon the conversation will ease its way into how the younger generation is addicted to their phones, they cannot think for themselves, twitter is the universe of the mindless illiterate generation, twitter is the death of grammar & punctuation and they believe everything they see on the internet.

 

Suffice it to say, older folk have a tendency to believe handheld technology is destroying young people’s minds <the implication is that ‘sensible grownups would never do the things that immature, selfish, entitled young people would do.’

 

<please note … I do not agree and that when I am involved in this discussion it is typically around that lat comment that my head explodes>

 

Anyway.

 

Trump is what older folk actually fear & believe.

Trump embodies teen twitterology.

 

He cannot stop retweeting and cannot stop from commenting on anything and he tweets before thinking … and retweets anything that comes across his phone that looks interesting to retweet <regardless of whether he has actually checked that it is real or not> .

 

He can summarize his policies, with detail, in maybe 2 tweets issued as he sips his coffee in the morning.

 

After the coffee kicks in it will take about 6 tweets to change the previous 2.

And later in the day he gets to go on air and discuss how the world is unfair <only to him>.

 

This is Trump’s doom loop of consistent inconsistencies whereby the next tweet update absolves responsibility for the less than thoughtful tweets up to that point.

And, of course, it would be unfair to judge him on his 25th tweet when he is already on his 1250th tweet.

 

Wow.

 

 

Dear weakDonald, have you thought about enrolling in high school again so you can troll the hallways as a bully and be the most important boy in the sophomore class?

 

His immaturity almost makes teens look mature in contrast.

 

<source: teens celebrate trump as new leader (‘cause he is just like us) March 25th 2016>

————————

 

Trump’s tweening behavior is tiring.trump tweet mouth loser

 

Exhausting.

 

I just want him to act like a grownup.

 

That’s it.

 

Yeah.

 

The bar is that low.

 

Is that too much to ask?

 

I ask this because I know that being a grownup & “grownuphood” <a little different than adulthood> is all about becoming someone and something … and unbecoming someone and something.

 

The truth about growing up is that we are constantly developing and un-developing and we continue to survive the missteps and step backs and figure out where & how to excel with momentary glimpses of what ‘could be’ … and that is what grownuphood is all about.

 

And that is the ‘growing up’ I fear Donald J Trump is not doing <nor has ever done>.

 

 

If I could talk to Donald J <most likely using lots of pictures> I would tell him that grownuphood is much much better than okay. It is really good. It is much better because while some call it the burden of responsibility I call it “the freedom to enable my destiny.”

 

Yeah.

Destiny kind of demands some grownupness <sorry about that Donald J>.

 

But the prize of grownuphood?

 

You do with your destiny what you want … you can  get angry if it doesn’t happen the way you want but suffice it to say … grownuphood is great because it is YOUR time to make it happen.

 

And I wish grownups would reclaim grownuphood and let the youth have their youth.

And I wish Trump would claim some grownuphood and let the youth have their youth.

 

trump lower tweetBut … this is Trumpville.

 

A place where little makes sense.

 

That is where we seem to live today.

 

Look.

 

He can be an idiot of he wants.

He can be incompetent <because he is>.

He can be an empty intellectual vessel <he is>.

 

But for god’s sake … just please start acting like a grown up.

 

outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count

September 13th, 2017

 

vague definition unclear indistinct

===========

 

“The world is not as simple as we like to make it out to be. The outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count.

Nothing is really truly black or white and bad can be a disguise for good or beauty … and vice versa without one necessarily excluding the other.

 

Someone can both love and betray the object of its love … without diminishing the reality of the true feelings and value.

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting where all frontiers are artificial where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again … or finish suddenly forever … like an unexpected blow from an axe.

 

Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality … is death. We have such little time when you look at Life … a tiny lightning flash between two eternal nights.

 

Everything has to do with everything else.

 

Life is a succession of events that link with each other whether we want them to or not.”

 

—–

Arturo Perez Revarte

 

==============

 

 

Vague sucks.

 

outline vague certain uncertaintyAnd, yet, I would argue the majority of people only really have some vague outline of how the world works, or how effective or ineffective a leader is, or even only have a vague outline of any specific relationship between cause & affect.

 

This vaguery exists because it takes a lot of work to parse the details, and the appropriate details, and the ‘right’ details to make the outlines less vague and more tangible.

 

Is this work valuable ? Sure.

 

Is this work necessary to increase some certainty in Life? Sure.

 

But the majority of people have shit to do <other than this type of work>. That is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

What this means is that in this ‘vague outline’ people inevitably create a vague/semi solid outline belief. From there they look around on occasion and question that outline. The questions raised either support the vague outline or raise doubts and … well … more questions.

 

All the while this is happening more information barrages the vague outline. In this barrage is a confusing mix of real, fake and quasi truths. All these confusing things do in the people’s minds is, contrary to belief, not confuse but rather make the person more dismissive of the incoming confusion and steadier in whatever vague outline they may have constructed.

 

Once again.

This is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

Ah.

 

But at some point the questions gain some gravitas. This can happen several ways but let me point out two:

 

  • The questions themselves coalesce into some easy to understand ‘blob’ from which people who have a vague outline decide … my vague outline is wrong <or sucks>. Let’s say that this is the point at which the doubts and questions begin to outweigh the beliefs that created the vague outline.

 

 

  • Someone weaves a narrative using the doubts & questions into a relatively succinct, believable and non-hyperbolic driven framing of an outline which people look at, scratch their heads, go “hmmmmmmmmm …” and decide this new vague outline will replace the one they had in place. Oh. To be clear. This narrative must not only use the doubts & questions to dissolve the current vague outline but must also offer an alternative vague outline <outlines need to be replaced not simply destroyed>.

 

 

The first never happens fast enough to people who just cannot understand how and why some people have decided to live with some vague outline <that just seems ‘not really a smart outline’ to them>.

 

The second is not as easy as it appears. It isn’t as easy because problems are rarely as clear as we would like them to be and a narrative never lives without the context of all the barrage of real, fake and quasi truths impacting and denting and solidifying a vague outline that already exists. Or someone weaves a  great narrative to destroy but forgets to offer an alternative.

 

In other words … everything has to do with everything else.

 

I imagine I have two points today.

 

 

First.big-decisions-stress-uncertainty

 

We humans have come to accept a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to our lives and our decisions. This uncertainty is also built into the vague outlines we tend to construct for ourselves. What this means is that the construct of our beliefs and thoughts and ideas may be certain to us and, yet, its silhouette accommodates some uncertainty.

 

I began today by unequivocally stating that vague sucks. And I believe 99% of people would agree that it sucks. but in today’s world the majority of people have enough shit to do that they slot their thinking thoughts time. in one slot they place unequivocal certainty type thoughts. In another slot they place the “I will always be uncertain about this shit and thank God there is someone else at some higher pay grade than I who can be certain about it.” and, lastly, we slot all the shit in which we have formed some vague outline which accommodates a certain degree of uncertainty.

 

My point here is we tend to make this a binary discussion where the reality lies in a more complex mix of vagueness & clarity, certainty & uncertainty.

 

Second.

 

uncertainty-principle-here-thereCertainty, in and of itself, has degrees … it is not a simple black or white binary.

 

People can have vague outlines AND have questions with regard to their outlines … and not want to ditch the outline. “How can you still believe that?” may be one of the most misguided and unenlightened questions that has ever existed.  It completely misses the point in that it assumes ignorance, stupidity or some negative trait in order to hold on to some vague outline regardless of doubts.

A vague outline is a choice.

No more and no less.

We question choices all the time and, yet, remain with the original choice despite some fairly extensive doubts.

I say this because that said … it is silly to point out doubts and questions as a reason to ditch a vague outline. My easiest example is President Trump. His followers have a vague outline of what they like and believe about him. We scrutinize them for doubts and questions and when they share them we immediately pounce and suggest “then how can you still believe in your vague outline!?!” <usually said with a slight overall disbelief & wonder>.

Within their lives of doing shit that is important to them they created a vague outline of who and what Trump is, or isn’t, and … well … uncertainty was built into their certainty. The moment they will begin to disbelieve their vague outline is when the uncertainty overpowers the certainty. Until then … we should stop acting confused that someone believes what they believe.

 

Anyway.

 

I love the quote I opened with even though I hate vague. The truth is that we all live with some vague outlines albeit your vague outline may actually be one of my non-vague outlines, and vice versa. And when they are in conflict then … restless spirit fly vaguewell … there is conflict.

 

All that said … while vague sucks there is a reason we do it … and this reason is not stupid, nor unenlightened nor ignorant.

It is just damn practical to have some vague outlines.

 

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting.

 

 

Life is restless.

Our vague outlines need to accommodate some of its restlessness. Not recognizing that is either naive or foolish.

 

leadership, resentment and impact on delegation

September 8th, 2017

resentment definition

============

 

“I eventually came to understand that in harboring the anger, the bitterness and resentment towards those that had hurt me, I was giving the reins of control over to them.”

 

Isabel Lopez

 

==================

 

“Beware of those who are bitter, for they will never allow you to enjoy your fruit.”

 

Suzy Kassem

 

==============

 

 

Well.

 

Spite and resentment is one of the least discussed business ailments in the resentment fear angerbusiness leadership and organization world.

 

What I mean is that businesses around the world <including the good ole USofA> are strewn with middle management and upper management who carry a full backpack of resentment. This backpack has a nifty well designed logo on it — victim.

 

I would imagine <this is a guess> that this significant sprinkling of people in the business world carrying around the resentment of being victimized in some form or fashion do not hold the most senior spots but rather they hold the responsibilities most dangerous to the overall health of an organization – middle management.

 

They are most likely not at the top because those people got the positions they deserve <mostly>.

 

The ones who carry resentment are the ones who have been promoted “too slowly” or maybe haven’t been “recognized for the talents they offer” or maybe have been passed over by “someone who doesn’t know half the shit I know” … and then … to their satisfaction … they have FINALLY been promoted.

 

They take the step up but before they do … stop at the bottom of the stairs to pick up their backpack of resentment … and then accept the step up.

 

I often think of this as the ugly underbelly of ‘entitled’ or “finally getting what one deserves.” This is … uhm … in other words … resentment. And resentment carries a nasty quiver of grievance arrows to shoot when given the opportunity.

And grievances have a nasty habit of being one of those things that like to be addressed and not ignored.

 

Now.

 

Some people confuse this with “carrying a chip on their shoulder” which is what got them to where they are today.

 

Uhm. That’s bullshit.

 

People mistakenly conflate “carrying a chip on their shoulder” with ambition.

resent chip on shoulder

 

It’s not as simple as that. In fact … that simplistic ‘go about business like they have a chip on their shoulder’ is actually just a lazy attitude toward motivation.

 

It is more often than not some self-created ‘boogieman’ someone has created in their mind in order to go out and be your best. That’s bullshit. If that’s all you have for motivation … well … that’s just not good <for you and the people you work with>.

 

Yes.

In small doses a ‘chip on your shoulder’ can give you some well needed nudges to “I will show them” attitude at some key moments.

 

No.

Large doses, or constant, “conducting myself with a chip on my shoulder” attitude simply makes you … well … an asshole.

 

You become an asshole because this 100% chip on shoulder attitude actually makes hate, in some form or fashion, the energy to drive everything – it creates an outsized sense of grievance which you bring with you wherever you go.

This grievance not only seems to pour from every pore in this person but also seems to appear every time this person makes a decision <if not in the words they say>.

 

Yeah.

 

The resentment people can be crafty.

 

resentment are wsps in memoryCrafty in that they justify their behavior not just based on their outsized chip but more often that they are standing up for all who have been overlooked and begrudged of what they were entitled to by some unfair system or ‘cadre of assholes driven to let mediocrity thrive.’

 

It’s another version of us versus them but with a total selfish foundation.

 

In addition.

If they are good at masking their resentment, each decision, taken as mutually exclusive of all other decisions, can maybe be explained as a ‘personal issue being addressed’ or sometimes even simply an impulsive instinctual decision.

 

That’s bullshit too.

 

I am not suggesting all employees burdened by an unhealthy weight of resentment are actually bad managers and business people <in a pragmatic competent sense> but they do have a nasty tendency to have built this façade of some “personal brand” which they have honed over time as they have been ignored & overlooked so much so that all decisions and choices get instinctually filtered through this personal brand filter.

 

Nothing is impulsive, nothing is “resentment driven” and nothing is “addressing a grievance” … it is all simply driven by the personal brand.

 

What makes this behavior confusing to people <in terms of trying to discern motivations and the sense that there is an unhealthy amount of resentment incorporated into the management style> is that there is no long term strategy … it just assumes that all transactions meet the brand therefore, in the long run, it is good.

 

Exceeding expectations is defined in a transaction by transaction basis and secret ingredient is resentmentweapons used to meet expectations <responsibilities> are justified a means to an end. In other words these managers can screw anyone they want professionally but if within that specific project, assignment or transaction the greater organizational expectations are met or exceeded … well … this manager has “won.”

 

Oddly … this behavior creates an odd sense of consistency … & inconsistency. It can often appear inconsistent in that the actions, behavior & decisions are not particularly driven by any business philosophy or ideology … or even based on what is right or wrong.  This drives the appearance of inconsistency.

The consistency is grounded on vindictiveness. This doesn’t mean any and all actions are vindictive just that if the opportunity arises to address some self-defined grievance and the window of opportunity to be vindictive opens … well … this person will jump through that window.

 

===============

 

“I must fight with my weapons. Not his. Not selfishness and brutality and shame and resentment.”

 

John Fowles

 

===================

 

waste time on resentment an blame energy businessHere is the problem with all that I have shared today.

 

Resentment is part of the devilish trinity of bad shit in a business environment – fear, anger, resentment.

All the yesterdays make this person angry and humiliated and, frankly, they feel like they have been taken advantage of.

 

It creates a negative emotional foundation from which all behavior and actions are leveraged from.

 

I could argue that this is a cultural thing. Something like a “culture of entitlement” in which people feel like they are promised promotions & money simply because they work hard.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

Individuals are responsible and complicit in this attitude and behavior – culture does not force them to do anything and think anything on this issue.

 

I could argue that this is some version of culture encouraging a larger sense of victimhood.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

It is not victimhood if you shoulder your own responsibilities and are ‘punished’ if the chips do not fall your way.

 

I could argue that thus is some warped version of culture encouraging unrealistic expectations.

I will not.

This is an individual issue.

Expectations are defined personally … society and culture doesn’t tell you what to expect … you craft that expectation all by your lonesome. And, I have news for everyone, while Life & business can be pretty cruel and unfair, in general, those who have ability and work hard do not typically get overlooked or left behind. Hate to tell the “resentful managers” but … well … I feel pretty confident suggesting that as a basic business truth.

 

never remember the cost of resentment

The only thing I will argue is that someone who has a big backpack of resentment should never be a leader.

 

Why?

 

Anger today.

 

Resentment of yesterday.

 

Fear of tomorrow.

 

That is the trio of partners in crime in this sad story. I have to tell you. I am fairly sure no business wants those three sitting in any one office every day in their business.  And I am absolutely sure these are not qualifications one seeks in a new employee.

 

getting squeezed

August 30th, 2017

 

 

===================================

 big_squeeze

“Paranoid?

Probably.

But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”

 

Jim Butcher

 

===

 

“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”

 

Evelyn Waugh

 

===

 

“Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.”

 

William S. Burroughs

 

=======================

 

Ok.

 

This is about life as a business leader.

 

but i am the best leader i told you soOk.

I do not care how good you are … you will get squeezed.

If you suck, you get squeezed often. If you are good, you only get squeezed on occasion.

 

But good or bad … all business leaders get squeezed at some point.

 

What do I mean by squeezed?

 

In general, the responsibility world as viewed by a manager is a fairly vast place because it rarely is defined solely by direct reports or even full departments you manage but rather all dimensions emanating outwards from every decision you, or your employees, may make.

 

The good news about this is that within all that vastness there is a lot of room to let some of the more horrible or horribly mundane crap just slip by.

 

The bad news occurs when all of a sudden the world shrinks and you feel squeezed and evaluated by the what you had considered fairly mundane up until that moment.

 

And this can happen a lot easier than one may think.

 

Between politics in the office, relentless evaluation from outside the employee believe non believe business lead manageorganization as well as inside the organization and the normal ebbs & flows of everyday business which seem to almost simultaneously uncover grains of truth and cover grains of truth the vastness of what you actually do can become small pretty quickly under all this scrutiny.

 

And if you are not careful … you get squeezed into … well … not nothingness but certainly “lessness.”

 

I would suggest any manager worth a shit will almost always fight back <or respond>. It is almost a survival instinct but it can also be an ego instinct.

 

Regardless.

 

You gotta sharpen your elbows and create some space for yourself in between what all the scrutiny is suggesting <which often feels a lot like demanding> and what your current role is outlining as the right way to think and behave.

 

But here is the hard part.

 

And it is kind of surprisingly hard.

 

It is fairly easy to sharpen your elbows and fight back … but without some thought you are simply fighting — fighting with no purpose other than it feels good to fight <or you are fighting simply out of thoughtless, or less than thoughtful, survival>.

 

transformational leader 1And while fighting back in and of itself is somewhat satisfying because you feel like you should … it is less than satisfying because it has no real focus or purpose. It doesn’t have any ‘long game’ aspects involved <and if you have any desire to be a good leader/manager you have to be able to view beyond the present moment>.

 

I would argue this is where ‘knowing what you want and knowing who you are rears its ugly head.

 

Suffice it to say when you get squeezed you are gonna respond in some way.

You have to.

Because if you are a manager managing the shit in the present it is a fairly small window in which to work. That small window gets even … well … smaller if you are getting squeezed by the past and future challenges. This is what you will inevitably see as some response options:

 

 

  • Tripling down on what you believe makes you look good <this is image … putting on a good face … “talking the talk”>.

 

The risk on this one is that … well … you may be trying to look good on something you may not actually look good doing. In addition. If you are a crappy actor people ll see what you are trying to do.

 

  • Doubling down on what you are actually good at <usually with words and sometime directing people to do shit>.

 

The risk on this one is that what you are good at may not actually be what is needed to get out of the squeeze. You are definitely, and defiantly, playing to your strengths but it just may not be what it takes to penetrate the weakness in the squeeze.

 

  • Flee <absolve of responsibility>.

 

The risk in this is … well … you are a leader & a manager and you have absolved yourself of responsibility. If you cannot make the responsibility stick with someone else I can guarantee that the responsibility will stick with you like your shadow wherever you flee.

 

  • Find a different enemy so that the squeeze decides to go elsewhere.

 

The risk in this is being “anti” something is pretty easy but standing for something is really hard <and most people know that>. I could actually suggest in some ways being anti is lazy.

 

So.

 

All of that leads me to the best way to get out of a squeeze.

 

  • Stand for something.

 

The risk in this is … well … not really a shitload of risk unless you elect to stand for something stupid, bad or idiotic. But if you do this right … convince yourself that what you are standing for is something worthwhile but also mentally accept it may not perfectly align with your group norms as well as societal norms … but still be the right thing to stand for.

 

All that said.only the paranoid survive complacency

Unfortunately getting squeezed can also encourage another outcome & response – paranoia.

 

In fact … I almost called this paranoia (enemies everywhere).

 

I almost did that because paranoia is possibly the worst reflective response to being squeezed. What I mean is that once you have been squeezed a portion of you may start worrying that there is some hidden cabal or agenda ‘out to get you.’

But I did not call it that because paranoia is only one possible response to getting squeezed.

 

I would suggest that paranoid carries a fairly negative connotation. The reality is having a slight thread of paranoia <lets say “proportionate to your depth of confidence”> can often keep your head out of your own ass and more on a swivel watching what is going on around you.

 

Some would suggest it keeps you aware of your “what if” muscle. I would suggest it can keep your “if it can go wrong, it will” muscle.

 

Paranoia, when living in a healthy state, often helps your view of all the potential outcomes and solutions, with a thought of “proactiveness” to head off shit before I even exists.

 

Obviously, if paranoia is your only response to being squeezed and is your constant state of mind, that is neither healthy for you or the organization.

 

======================

 

 

“Paranoia is just the bastard child of fear and good sense.” (Charlie)

“Poor thing. Let’s adopt it, give it a last name and raise it right.” (Jace)

“You want to get it a puppy, too?”

“Sure. We’ll call it Panic. It and little Paranoia can play together at the park and scare the hell out of all the other kids.”

 

 

D.D. Barant

 

===========

 

In the end … all managers and leaders get squeezed at some point. I would also suggest that how you navigate ‘the squeeze’ early in your management career will set you on a certain type of path with regard to how you manage being squeezed. And, just like with any pattern, the more often something works the next big thing lots of small thingsmore likely you will be to continue doing it.

 

Yes.

 

I will agree that sometimes a new challenge later on in Life will force someone to reflect and ‘rise to the occasion’ and shed some of the lesser aspects of who and what they may have been up to that point … but most people just stick with what they believe got them to where they are.

 

All I can say is that being squeezed has a tendency to squeeze out whatever character you may have within – some will be disappointed by what is squeezed out and some will be pleased. Just know that whatever is squeezed out can be seen by everyone.

 

the deplorables defined

August 30th, 2017

trump voters deserve not waste of space

 

===============

 

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

 

Isaac Asimov

 

==============

 

“So I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush when I say that you were warned about this man—and you ignored our warnings.

We were right; you were wrong.

 

The masses, it turns out, sometimes are asses.

Sometimes the people who actually pay close attention to politics know more than the disgruntled populists and nationalists who are willing to gamble on the future of this great republic—and on the reputation of a conservative philosophy that goes from Aristotle to Burke to Buckley—in order to boost a reality show host.

You elected your guy, and look where it got us.”

 

Matt Lewis <Republican Conservative>

 

================

 

 

Ok.

 

I probably get in more heated debates over Trump voters than almost any other deplorable Trump votertopics discussed these days – with both Trump voters and non-Trump voters.

 

I even know why it happens … we generalize and we label.

 

And in generalizing we force a Trump voter to defend other Trump voters, who most likely voted for Trump for some other reason than the one they are defending, and the non Trump voter paints all Trump voters with the worst of the worst attributes <the truly deplorable aspects>.

 

This is crazy.

No.

This is stupid.

 

The majority of Americans don’t have a label attached to them other than “get up and go to work and get shit done” people.

People rarely self-identify as a CNN watcher or Fox watcher or MSNBC watcher … or a republican or democrat … or any fringe group when you meet them.

 

We apply the label on them … we generalize for them.

 

But most people are labeled by … well … community, family and what they do to earn a living every day.

Sure … elections force most of us to take some stand but most of us embrace that stand with some unease. We would rather be defined by what happens in our day and lives than by whom we elected to vote for.

Most of us have our own imperfections and flaws without having to explain, or be defined, by some imperfections and flaws of someone who we voted for.

 

Most of all the label stuff is crap.

 

And maybe what is worst about labels are they suggest most Americans have to be “x” or they are “y.” That is complete and utter bullshit.voters people america speak out

 

I can be tough on immigration and still be compassionate.

 

I can have government les involved in healthcare and still make sure a safety net is available for all people.

 

I can increase my military budget without being some “hawk” who wants to drop bombs on everyone.

 

I guess my real point is that most Americans want it all and chafe when it is suggested they have to choose one thing or another. While TV pundits went out of their way to suggest this last election was a ‘binary choice’ the truth of the matter was that the decision on who to vote for was more likely a complex more-than-binary choice.

 

Which leads me to the Trump voters.

 

Up until now I have leaned heavily on the fabulous CBS News Nation Tracker Poll <CFM Strategic Communications panel survey> which outlined that the nation’s view of Donald Trump as President breaks down into four categories – Believers (22%), Conditionals (22%), Curious (21%) and Resisters (35%).

 

The first category are true believers who think Trump is on the right track. Conditionals generally support Trump, but may not approve of everything he does or says. The Curious are opponents, but could be swayed depending on Trump actions. Resisters see no hope in Trump and oppose him across the board.

 

But now there is a new piece of research out which breaks Trump voters into 5 groups which I will use to make my point again.

 

To summarize it I offer these 5 numbers to keep in mind:

 

American Preservationists (20%): 12 million people

  • These are the core ‘always-Trumpers’ … this is also the group who think anti-white discrimination is a much more prevalent problem than is discrimination against any minority group <which is, realistically, false>

 

 

Staunch Conservatives (31%): 19 million people

  • These are the core Republicans who would most likely vote for any Republican even if it was an alien

 

i have a voice opinion vote participate

Anti-Elites (19%): 11 million people

 

  • These have relatively cooler feelings toward Donald Trump and nearly half had favorable opinions of Clinton in 2012. This group shifted most dramatically, however, against Clinton by November 2016.

 

 

Free Marketeers (25%): 15 million people

  • Small government fiscal conservatives, free traders, with moderate to liberal positions on immigration and race.

 

 

the Disengaged (5%): 3 million people

  • This group does not know much about politics, but what they do know is they feel detached from institutions and elites and are skeptical of immigration.

 

 

USA population: 326.5 million people

USA adult 18+ population: est. 250 million people

 

<note: I used 60 million Trump votes to simplify my math and come up with people numbers>

 

The other thing I always keep in mind is that nowhere along the way, primary & general elections, has Trump ever won the popular vote. In the primaries Republicans voted in significant numbers for anyone but Trump <almost 2/3rd of primary votes did not vote for Trump>. My point in all these numbers is that Trump voters are not just an American minority/splinter of the whole but a relatively small <but loud> group.

 

Regardless.

 

Here is the topline good news … I would estimate we have less than 20 million, idiots Trump voters smart people stupid fucks breakdown of populationmy guess is maybe 15 million, truly deplorable people in the USA … say maybe 6% of adults. Here is the bad news … we tend to suggest those 6% are representative of all Trump voters <as well as all that is ignorant, deplorable and bad about USA>.

 

Anyway.

 

We screw up numbers in generalizations all the time.

Not all Trump voters voted for the same reason nor do they have similar issues.

 

It’s just like discussing “the 99%.”

 

The 99% are a mix of the wretched of the earth, the everyday schmucks who want to do the right thing and a fairly large group of upper middle class <doctors, university teachers, journalists, senior management, politicians>. It is the mixed bag of people who, without them, the 1% would cease to exist.

Lumping them all together in the 99% is almost suggesting that is America’s middle class which then suggests opportunity is equal to all <and the 1% should be everyone’s objective>.

 

Trump’s voters were a mixed bag of people with some good reasons to pull he lever for Trump and some bad reasons for pulling the lever for Trump.

 

Anyway.

 

I purposefully called this piece today “deplorables defined” to make a point. Of course not everyone who voted for Trump is deplorable … and Hillary never suggested such a thing. But … gosh … maybe we should have listened to her a little more closely … and maybe we should have listened to the entire speech … and maybe, just maybe, it is possible she was right:

 

——————

 

“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

 

—————-

sigh charlie

Sigh.

 

Of course, none of us really did pay attention to it all <even the mainstream media which was supposedly all in her camp> and paid the price of not doing so by missing her statement about empathizing and working for better lives for those Trump supporters who aren’t scum-of-the-earth deplorable dumpster fire pieces of shit.

 

Would I have used the word “deplorable?”

 

No. probably not.

She probably should have been more specific and named them out, as the Alt-right, misogynists, white supremacist, KKK, and Nazis. But you know what? We are dancing on the head of a pin. ‘Some’ deplorables voted for Trump, ‘some’ deplorables still support trump and ‘some’ deplorables are irredeemable.

 

Ok.

 

Let me spend a moment more on ‘deplorable’.

While I, personally, would have not used the term with regard to some Trump voters I believe the only true mistake Clinton made was apologizing. She should have tripled down with clarifying & defining … and suggesting <in some way> we all have a deplorable ‘voice’ inside us whispering fears and untruths and … well … the bad shit we think about people who do not look like us.  And point out that Trump whispers, in a bombastic way, to our deplorable inside … and we shouldn’t permit him that victory <because Americans are better than that>.

 

By the way … I do believe that. And while there certainly are some truly deplorable people in the USA I would like to think 99% are redeemable not because they need to be redeemed but rather they need to understand they can ignore that voice inside and still get ahead and ‘win.’

 

In the end I offer two numbers.

 

15 and 30.

 

If you scour some of the more random assessment of the population and their views with regard to Trump you will find these two numbers <or close to them> constantly bubbling up.

 

15 percent Trump15%.

 

This would be the % of people who would follow Trump like lemmings over the cliff. He could bomb Alabama and they would find a good reason he did it <note: these are not all deplorable people but deplorable people reside within this number>.

 

 

30 Percent Trump30%.

This would be the % of people who wouldn’t follow Trump if you told them you would win the lottery. He could apologize every day until the day he died and they would still find a reason to suggest he pissed on Mother Theresa’s grave.

 

Anyway.

 

I don’t know Trump nor do I wish to ever meet the man but if I could whisper these numbers into his head … I would. They reflect the precarious nature of his presidency <or his reelection>.

I am under no illusion that Trump truly has any desire to unite the country but the numbers reflect the fact America is not deplorable by nature and the bigger message opportunity, to inspire people, is to remind them of that.

 

 

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

===

 

 

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

====================

 

“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

===

 

Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

===============

 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

=======

 

Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

————

 

Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict