CategoryCommunication

7 Leadership Lessons from Winston Churchill

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Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was a soldier, writer and statesman who led England and the Allies to victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. His life spanned from the Victorian Age to the Space Age. He authored 37 books, producing more words than Shakespeare and Dickens combined. When Western Civilization was threatened by the ominous expansion of totalitarianism, Churchill defended liberty against tyranny, exuded a confidence in victory and provided something freedom-loving people across...

What you are Willing to Tolerate becomes the Standard

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Jeff Bezos refers to Amazon’s customers as “divinely discontent.” Ten years ago Amazon customers were satisfied with 3-5 days shipping. At some point expectations shifted to 2-day shipping. Now many demand Same Day delivery. How long before Same Hour delivery is the norm? In his 2017 Letter to Shareholders Bezos had this to say about Amazon customers: “Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature.” One of the ways great leaders stay ahead of ever-rising...

Vision is Fixed, Strategy is Flexible

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The movie “Lincoln” (2012) focuses on a critical period during the Civil War – January 1865 – when President Lincoln makes a high-stakes attempt to pass the Thirteenth Amendment through the House of Representatives. It was clear by this time in the war that the Union would prevail. Lincoln thought it imperative that the U.S. Constitution abolish slavery once and for all, so that as southern states were readmitted to the Union, there was no question about the status of African...

Use this Richard Feynman Technique to Increase Your Team’s Productivity

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As World War II broke out, the physicist Richard Feynman was recruited to Los Alamos to assist in the development of the first atomic bomb. He was tasked with calculating the energy released by the nuclear explosion. Machines were brought in from IBM to assist in the task. Although state of art in their day, they were crude mechanical calculators that used punch cards to execute complicated calculations. The Army dispatched a group called the Special Engineering Detachment to operate the...

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Team Chemistry

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In the movie, Miracle about the 1980 US men’s Olympic hockey team, there is a scene where head coach Herb Brooks is evaluating talent. At one point he turns to his assistant coach Craig Patrick and says: “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.” Brooks was searching for that elusive element: Team Chemistry. What is Team Chemistry exactly? It is something that has vexed coaches, players and fans for ages. It appears that successful teams have Team Chemistry...

What the Amish can Teach Us about Technology

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I had always understood the Amish to be a community that chose to live permanently in the technological past. That is, at a certain point in time, the community said “no more” to new technology.  From that point forward new technology was rejected out of hand. However, the Amish relationship to technology is more complicated. The author Kevin Kelly has written about this.  The Amish are constantly evolving with respect to technology. Thus, the Amish don’t use cars or bicycles for...

It’s Not Who’s On Your Team, It’s How You Work Together

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If your boss came up to you today and asked you to form a team for a high-profile strategic project, what would be your first task? If you’re like most people, your thoughts would immediately turn toward whom to select to join your team. After all, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the most important factor for any team is the quality of the players. If you want a super team, fill it with superstars. Just look at the Golden State Warriors. Now suppose your boss gave you a further...

How My First Boss Saved Me From Failing

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I was 23 years old, in my first professional job and I was failing big-time. My boss had recently handed me a list of five-hundred names and phone numbers and instructed me to cold call them. I picked up the phone and started dialing. I felt a palpable sense of fear and anxiety as I reached for the phone to make each call. I experienced a wave of rejection the likes of which I had never before seen. I was demoralized. My boss could see I was floundering and ready to quit. After a few days, he...

Innovation, Risk & Failure at Pixar

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In a recent interview, Ed Catmull, the cofounder of Pixar, shares his views on risk, failure and culture. The entire interview is worthwhile, but I found Ed’s perspective on these three issues to be especially insightful and applicable to all industries. Taking Risks The nature of innovation requires risk taking. This creates a fundamental tension for leaders who are simultaneously tasked with providing clear, stable leadership and managing a process that creates something new and of...

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