Leadership

Does Your Vision Pass the “Cool” Test?

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Your vision statement sucks. (And yes, it’s because of statements like this that I have no friends.) But c’mon, let’s be honest. Most vision statements suck. And if most vision statements suck, then, statistically, yours probably does too. That’s because most vision statements look something like this:

We will be the premier provider of value-added, customer-focused solutions in strategically chosen markets.

Okay, first of all, what does that even mean? And second of all—who cares? I mean really, if you were on ...

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How to Get “Buy-In” for Your Ideas

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For 15 years, I was the producer of a sketch comedy TV show in Seattle. Each week we would have a “pitch meeting,” where we would sit around a table and read our new material, hoping to get it onto the show. Although the ultimate decision was mine, it was actually a pretty democratic process: if we laughed at something, it had a good chance; if we didn’t, it was out. Some pieces were clear winners or losers, but most ...

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How Much Are Your Blinders Costing You?

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Don’t look now, but you may be going through life with blinders on. Actually, we all are to some extent—some of us more so than others. What do I mean by this? Well, I grew up in Amish country, where horses and buggies are a common sight. Because horses have amazing peripheral vision and are easily distracted, the Amish put blinders on the horses so that they can only see straight ahead. This is a very good thing for a ...

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Stop Playing Tic-Tac-Toe Leadership

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I had a wonderful phone conversation yesterday with a fellow Beatles fan whom I’ll call “Rich,” because that’s his name. As is generally the case when Beatles fans (or, in this case, fanatics) talk, the conversation soon turned to Beatles trivia. Rich asked me some great questions, and then he wanted me to ask him some. I asked a few, but he kept saying, “C’mon—make them harder!” I asked some tougher ones, but he kept at me: “Make them harder!” ...

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Your CEO Style: Are You Ringo or Keith Moon?

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I just finished reading a New York Times column by David Brooks where he discusses which traits and abilities are most important for a successful CEO. He cites a number of surveys and studies, and they all (at least the ones he cites) seem to generally agree on what it really takes to make it as the head honcho. Somewhat counterintuitively, the best CEOs (that is, the CEOs of the best performing companies) don’t tend ...

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5 Bits of Business Wisdom from Mom

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Happy Mothers Day! The Beatles wrote a song called Your Mother Should Know (it’s on the Magical Mystery Tour album), so I thought it would be appropriate on this day to talk about five things that mothers do know that business leaders should know as well—but sometimes don’t. Because, after all, mother knows best!

  1. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t rush recklessly into the “traffic” of your business: decisions, new ventures, partnerships, etc. Make sure you know what ...
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The Magic of Lifelong Learning

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When is the last time you learned something new? And I’m talking about real, purposeful learning (as in, say, learning Italian) as opposed to mundane, everyday learning (as in, “Really? Cousin Mary’s having a baby? How wonderful!”) I’m talking about the kind of learning that takes a conscientious effort, and that really works the old brain muscle. If you’re like many people, your answer probably begins with some variation of, “Well, let’s see. I left college in….”

And that’s not good ...

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The Most Important Skill for the Future

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I saw a billboard the other day that said something to the effect of: “The top 15 careers of 2025 don’t even exist today.” Whether those numbers are accurate or not, they’re almost certainly in the ballpark. The point is, we can’t predict with any certainty what the challenges and opportunities will be even a few years down the pike. After all, in the 60s nobody was predicting anything remotely like the computer industry or the Internet, not to mention ...

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The Dangers of Business Bowling

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My mother was raised on a plantation in Haiti. Interesting upbringing, to be sure, and there are many stories—some involving voodoo. This isn’t one of them. This is a story about bowling. (You: “Why, Bill, if you have freakin’ voodoo stories, would you choose to tell one about bowling?” Me: “Because this one has a point…and besides, the voodoo stories are too weird.”) So here, as a lesson for business leaders, is the story of my mother’s bowling catastrophe.

It was ...

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Keeping Your Eye On The Ball

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I attended a benefit concert last night—An Evening with the Music of John Lennon—featuring a pantheon of rock musicians from bands such as the Cars, Yes, Queen, Alice Cooper, Foo Fighters, the Commodores, and others. One of the driving forces behind this concert was my friend Alan White, the drummer for Yes who also played drums with John Lennon and George Harrison (he’s the guy who plays drums on Lennon’s song Imagine). Thanks to Alan, I had the opportunity to ...

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