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10 Lessons from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting

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 1. “All you had to do was figure that America was going to do well overtime.” – Buffett Buffett kicked off the meeting by providing the audience with “a perspective on how you might think about investing.” The entire audience leaned in. Isn’t this why we all traveled to Omaha? On March 11, 1942, young Warren Buffett made his first stock purchase. He was eleven years old. Warren held up a copy of the front page of the New York Times that day.  It was filled with bad news...

How Bucky the Bean Counter Created a World-Class Culture at Nike

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From a very young age, Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, went by the nickname “Buck.” His father had always referred to him as such, and the name stuck. Even when he ran track for the University of Oregon his track coach, the legendary Bill Bowerman (and Nike’s other co-founder), called him Buck. As Nike grew more successful so did Phil’s stature in the business community, and Phil was increasingly referred to as “Mr. Knight.” But there was one group of early Nike employees who never got the...

Ulysses S. Grant: 12 Leadership Lessons

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1. Find a Profession Where Your Passion Meets Your Purpose. The same man who decisively and strategically lead over a million soldiers through a brutal Civil War, was unable to manage his brother’s leather goods store in Galena, IL in civilian life. Context matters. Grant was not just twice as successful or three times as successful as a military leader compared to a business leader, he was a thousand times more successful. Finding the profession most suitable to your talents and most...

A Company that Builds People First and Machines Second

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Bob Chapman is not your typical leader.  Take, for example, the mission of Barry-Wehmiller, the $1.5 billion company where Bob is Chairman and CEO: We build great people who do extraordinary things. You might be confused if someone told you that Barry-Wehmiller builds capital equipment and delivers consulting services, because what Bob will tell you is “building great people is our business.” Many companies espouse the importance of building and developing talent by investing in people, but few...

Leadership and EQ

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In the past, it might have been true that leaders could succeed simply because they were smart. But that’s no longer all it takes. While technical skills remain important, our emotional intelligence (referred to as EQ or EI) is just as important as our IQ. In fact, research shows that a leader’s emotional intelligence has a direct impact on the success of an organization. Daniel Goleman, a thought-leader on the topic of EI, says this about emotional intelligence: “If your emotional abilities...

Slow Down to Speed Up

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Your cell phone rings. Your laptop alerts you that you have a new email just as you login to participate in an online meeting, while eating a sandwich you purchased from the shop down the street about three hours ago. Does this sound like a typical day during your week? If so, you’re not alone. According to Tony Schwartz, 25 to 50% of people report that they feel burned out at work. Read this post, The Magic of Doing One Thing, to learn more about the consequences of splitting your attention...

The 8 Most Important Qualities of Leadership at Google

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For most of Google’s history, and especially in the early years, it took a laissez-faire policy toward leadership. The company hired smart engineers, promoted the most brilliant into leadership positions and then pretty much left them alone. The assumption was that they were smart and would figure it out or ask questions if they needed help. As Google evolved, it became apparent that some managers thrived in this environment more than others.  In a recent article, Laszlo Bock, Google’s...

When Brainstorming, Start with the Bad Ideas

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 At one time or another we’ve all been invited to attend a brainstorming session, where the leader stands up in front of a whiteboard, pen in hand, and says something like, “Innovation is critical. We need to come up with some good ideas to stay innovative.  So who wants to start?” As any survivor of one of these sessions will tell you, what transpires over the next few hours is often generously referred to as “brainstorming,” while others might call it a waste of time.  The reason these...

Feedback is a Gift

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“Get a feedback loop and listen to it. … When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.” – Randy Pausch (1960 – 2008) was a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and a best-selling author, who achieved worldwide fame for his speech The Last Lecture, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and having only a few months to live. Most people, by now, know the story of Randy Pausch and his Last Lecture.    The book was a best-seller and the video of the lecture...

Something to be Thankful for: Your People

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As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow with our families, now is an appropriate time to take account of the many things to be thankful for at work.  As a leader, what comes to mind for me is the debt and gratitude I have for the people I have the honor to work with everyday.  So how do I, as a leader thank the many people around me who not only contribute to my success, but more importantly to the success of the organization?  One way is to simply say “thank you.”  But another more...

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