Teams

To Lead Creative Teams, Think Bowling

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Creativity and innovation are the currencies of the future. This is not a surprise any more than it is debatable. The rate of change has never been as fast as it is today, and it will only get faster. Nobody—not even the so-called “futurists”—really knows what’s coming around the corner, so the only defense (which is also the best offense) is to nurture and cultivate the creative talent in your organization. Creativity is the ultimate skill set for dealing with ...

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What if Lennon Hadn’t “Hired” McCartney?

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What if, on the day John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met, Lennon (who was the leader of his own band, The Quarrymen) had said, “You know, this McCartney fellow is pretty good—but I’ll bet if I look around I can find somebody cheaper.”

If that had happened, there’s a very good chance that ...

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How To Lead a Creative Team

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I’ve never run a pre-school daycare, but for fifteen years I was the boss of ten multi-Emmy Award winning comedy writers, which amounts to pretty much the same thing. As the Executive Producer of Seattle’s sketch comedy TV show, Almost Live!, it was my job to keep a highly creative team motivated and productive. I learned a lot of things along the way, but primarily I learned that a creative team needs two seemingly incompatible things in order to thrive: ...

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Are You Playing to Your Strengths?

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Why do we spend so much time focusing on the things we don’t do well? Honestly, we beat ourselves up all the time. It seems that no matter how many things we’re good at, we choose to dwell on the weaknesses:

Alan (despondently): I just can’t hang pictures. Look at these. They’re all crooked. I’m going to kill myself.

Kari: Are you crazy? You’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize, cured swine flu, and you’re currently starring in the ...

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Why Team Infighting is a Good Thing

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The audience never saw the fights, but I remember them vividly. As the producer of Seattle’s long-running (15 years!), legendary comedy TV show, Almost Live!, I saw the fights almost every week. They would happen in the editing room, at the writer’s table, in the rehearsal studio. Sometimes they’d be happening downstairs in the Almost Live! offices while the studio audience was being seated in the studio upstairs. They varied from mild to intense—and I loved them! As a leader, ...

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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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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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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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Leading Your Team to Better Music

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Have you ever played in a rock band? Or, for that matter, any kind of musical group: jazz ensemble, symphony orchestra, marching band, 3rd grade kazoo orchestra? I’m currently rehearsing with a semi-professional (emphasis on “semi”) rock band for a couple of upcoming gigs (and yes, we’re playing a healthy selection of Beatles!), and here’s what I’ve found over the past few weeks: If you’ve ever been involved in any kind of musical combo, playing with other musicians, then you ...

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