Don’t Ignore the “Small” Opportunities

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How many opportunities (including BIG ones) are you leaving on the table because you’re ignoring the small game?

I was just reading an interview with Paul McCartney’s bass player, Brian Ray (and what kind of pressure must that be—playing bass for one of the greatest rock bassists of all time?!). The interviewer asked the obvious question: “So, how did you get the McCartney gig?” I think Brian’s answer is a great business lesson for all of us. Here’s what he said:

“In ...

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What It Takes to Be a Champion

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Marathon match scoreboardJune 23rd, 2010 is a date that will go down in Wimbledon history. This is the date that two guys whom you’ve probably never heard of—Nicolas Mahut and John Isner—battled for ten straight hours in a match that had to be completed the following day because, well, because it got dark!

Ten straight hours! Even before it was completed the ...

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Stop Lying About “Going to Work”

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There’s a guy at my gym whom I call Burl. Not because he’s burly, like you’d expect a gym regular to be, but because he looks like Burl Ives. (For you younger readers, Burl Ives was a rotund, congenial-looking man, whom you may know as the voice of Frosty the Snowman. He was not known for his rock-hard abs.) Burl is there every morning, sitting on an exercise bike, watching TV. Not actually exercising, mind you. I’ve never seen him ...

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The Unseen Details Make the Difference

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How committed are you to the quality of your work?

If you go to the British Museum (and you really should, you know), you will see the Elgin Marbles. These are a collection of ancient Greek marble sculptures that used to grace the Parthenon. (And by the way, contrary to popular belief, the “g” in “Elgin” is pronounced like the “g” in “goat,” not “gin.” Mmmm, gin.) These are magnificent statues, but what’s really amazing is what you see when you ...

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Are You a Real Leader? Here’s One Test

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For fifteen years, I produced a sketch comedy TV show in Seattle, Washington. And for fifteen years, I was routinely asked the question, “What, exactly, does the producer actually do?” Many times, this question was asked by my mother. My stock answer was this:

“The producer is the person who apologizes the following day.”

As hilarious as this answer might be [How hilarious? On a scale from 1 to 10…about a 4], it’s only partially in jest. The producer is the person ...

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Are You a Leader or a Coward?

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I hate to be the one to point this out, but most of the corporate businesses in America are run by cowards. [You: “Wait a minute, Stainton. I run a corporate business and I’m not a coward!”] Really? You think not? Then answer this question—honestly: What drives most of your decisions? [You: “Well, let’s see. There are many elements: the profitability of the company, the cost/benefit ratio, consumer expectations….”] Bull. It seems to me that most corporate decisions made in ...

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Are You Passionate About Your Work?

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Let’s see, what’s Paul McCartney been up to lately? Well…

  • He just kicked off a new European tour with an energetic three-hour show in Hamburg.
  • He just spoke to the European Parliament about climate change and healthy eating.
  • He just wrote a new song for the new Robert De Niro film.
  • He just announced that he’s been writing lots of new music, and will have a new CD out in 2010.
  • Oh, and he’s also planning a major U.S. tour for next year.

All of this, ...

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Ask the Magic Question

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I have a confession to make: this has been a lazy week for me. Because of a combination of the holiday, travel, and some other nice diversions, I haven’t been as focused on business as I should have been. My guess is that you’ve been there too. Maybe not this week, but at some point you’ve been there. You’ve mentally “checked out,” and just like that, the momentum was lost. It’s like when you stop going to the gym for ...

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3 Things, in the Right Order

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I was just reading the June issue of Mensa Bulletin, the magazine of American Mensa (whose standards are clearly much lower than you’d think), and in it is a feature about the best advice its members have ever received. One in particular, submitted by Bernard Kitt, Ph.D., caught my eye. He writes:

There are only three things to remember:

  1. I will be happy
  2. I will make some money
  3. I will make other people happy

One hundred percent of the people ...

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Have You Set the Bar High Enough?

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How good is good? Consider the Beatles’ Let It Be album. It contains three #1 hits: the title track (Let It Be), Get Back, and The Long and Winding Road, along with several other wonderful songs (e.g., Two Of Us, Across the Universe, and I’ve Got a Feeling); the album itself went to #1; it won a Grammy for Best Original Score (since the album was basically the soundtrack to the movie of the same name),; and, if all that ...

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