Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Power of 2 (or more)

"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?" -- Benjamin Franklin

I love books. I am still a fan of “the paper book” as I like the feel of a real book. I like using bookmarks, and a highlighter to mark-up points to ponder. eBooks are cool too and serve a purpose. I have purchased eBook copies of my favorite paper books. Yep, all types of books are cool.

Two books that I highly recommend:  Power of 2 and StrengthsFinder.

I make it mandatory for all new hires (employees or contractors) to send me their StrengthsFinder report. The test comes free with the purchase of the book. The insights on a person’s true essence are spooky accurate. You cannot fake the results!

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?

Chances are, you don't. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths.

To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in the 2001 management book Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book spent more than five years on the bestseller lists and ignited a global conversation, while StrengthsFinder helped millions to discover their top five talents.

In StrengthsFinder 2.0 Gallup unveiled the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more. While you can read this book in one sitting, you'll use it as a reference for decades.

Loaded with hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, this Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, and USA Today bestseller will change the way you look at yourself -- and the world around you -- forever.

Power of 2 is a book that takes research from the Gallup organization and develops a theoretical model of eight factors that make up effective/ineffective partnerships: complementary strengths, a common mission, fairness, trust, acceptance, forgiveness, communicating, and unselfishness. The model is applicable to both work and personal relationships.

The authors present a blended approach to the content that makes it interesting and useful. They provide key statements for each factor along with examples that support their model. In addition, they provide specific strategies the reader may utilize in improving his/her own approach to developing and maintaining effective partnerships. It's one of those books that I call a re-read---you read it once and can't help but re-read at a later date to enjoy nuances and further learning on the ideas presented.

These are not new books, but they might be the core of my entire business philosophy. I am big believer that we should play to our strengths. And I have learned that true success - nothing of any value in the world of business - comes from a single individual.

  1. Play to your strengths, and empower your people to play to their strengths.
  2. None of us is as smart as all of us.

My StrengthsFinder report says that I might be (to some) impossible to work “for” but I can be amazing to work with.  

We are social creatures. So, we should all “play to our strengths" and always remember that life (and business) is a team sport. and I’ll send you these two books for free.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Obstacle is the Way

There is a very cool book by Ryan Holiday: The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

I often give this book as a gift. It is my “go to” for anyone that works for me, with me, or anyone that I hope to work with. They say that you are who you spend the most time with. Well, I want to spend time with people who love this book. 

This book is a good read for getting over yourself, complaining, and doing something about your problems. I feel that this book was very practical, applicable (especially in today's society), and concise about stories of turning adversity into an advantage of examples from bad asses throughout history. Ryan does a great job of keeping the biographical examples brief and concise, then straight to the point of the lesson in each chapter. Ryan achieved what a lot of other authors who write about similar subjects, but better and more concise. It's an easy read and is a useful reminder for us all when we feel like the chips are down, that we can always flip the tables. It will definitely be a book I will always turn back to.

I recently witnessed “The Obstacle is the Way” in practice.  On March 10th - 12th the was invited to observe as 9 regions, 5 continents, 1000 hackers & The UN SDG Action Campaign connect, create and collaborate during a 48-hour global hackathon around 3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Why now? For the first time in our history, we are at a point where we have the tools, ideas and technology to solve the world’s problems and have a real impact on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Why us? It has become commonplace thinking that government cannot and should not be expected to solve all our problems. Today it is up to us to work together to build the future we need. We must help the the UN achieve its goals.

Why get involved? The most successful businesses come from pain points. We want to create and build successful yet sustainable and responsible businesses that tackle real problems for genuine impact. All successful ideas will be put on a crowdfunding platform to facilitate their growth. There are a few quotes that I love. One quote is that “Mistakes are Tuition” in that we learn from our mistakes. We “paid” for that mistake - so why not get the full value of our investment? I expect my staff and colleagues to make LOTS of mistakes every day. If we are not making mistakes, are we not learning, and if we are not learning, we are not growing.
But the better lesson is that indeed: the Obstacle is the Way. Problems are the Purpose. To attack a problem is to live a full and passionate life. To take on the big hairy audacious goals to save the planet, to take on the problems that will lead to serving others, to make a difference in the world - what a gift. It is our problems that gives us our life purpose.

I spent 72 hours at Microsoft at 11 Times Square - watching the best and the brightest minds “attack” the world's problems. And living their passion in the process.

Now what? We can do this. We got this. There is NOTHING that we cannot accomplish if we all work together. The Obstacle is indeed The Way.