Eaters and Bakers

Abundance Books Collaboration


Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment is brilliant and yes… enchanting… for its practical yet insightful content. In his chapter on trustworthiness he discusses Bakers and Eaters. He describes eaters as people who want a bigger slice of an existing pie, while bakers want to make a bigger pie. With eaters it is always a win or lose game; somebody is going to get more of the pie. Bakers believe everyone can win with a bigger pie. They enjoy the benefits of the bigger slice and don’t get hung up on the perfect split.

This completely connects with my experience and I do everything I can to stay away from the eaters. You can recognize them because they try and conceal intent, think they can “outsmart the other party” with clever or cute negotiating techniques, and mostly think they’re of superior intelligence. Their effort is always to take more than the “other side.” Bakers try to really understand what everyone one wants and tries extra hard to expand the size of what might be available. This is the essence of comparing abundant versus scarcity people. Bakers are fun and trustworthy because they declare what they want to achieve and actively work with others to do the same. The mind set and focus is on growing and sharing versus protecting and taking.

This does not imply we shouldn’t be shrewd and good negotiators but “shrewd” does not equate to “screwed,” ourselves OR others. Stay away from anyone who brags about “putting one over on someone”…you’ll likely be on that list one day too.

Character Move: How much are you and I eaters versus bakers? Are we surrounded more by bakers or eaters? What action can we take to surround ourselves with bakers?

Bake in the Triangle,


That Moment: Look for It; It is Looking for You!

Accountability Organizational leadership


Greg Brown, the current President and CEO of Motorola Solutions, was speaking to about 1500 channel partners at a recent conference. He was extremely engaging and personable as he recounted the personal pain he experienced shortly after taking over as CEO of Motorola Inc. effective January 1, 2008. The position was something he deeply aspired to but shortly after assuming the top job, the company began to fall apart.  The combination of market pressures on the cell phone business and the deep recession left the company reeling and spiraling downward. The stock was at an all time low and everyone one was upset: investors, customers, suppliers, and of course employees. Brown talks of losing 35 pounds in 45 days and staggered under extreme personal stress. One late night, another sleepless endeavor, found Brown pacing his living room. Eventually his wife, whom he’d been with since high school, came to his side and firmly but constructively confronted him. To paraphrase his wife, “Greg, you are pacing around here carrying the world on your shoulders and making yourself the center of all that’s wrong. The people of Motorola don’t know what’s what. What the 60,000 employees want out there is for you to lead!” Greg Brown goes on to describe that as “the moment” – that inflection point where he chose to start acting differently. The story of a turn around and splitting of the company into two thriving entities concludes the tale. 

In the world of being more self accountable, sometimes we need “that moment.” It is usually a time where we say to ourselves …enough! I am going to start now. One step at a time but I am resolved to make things better. It is me. I’m the one who can and will do it. There are going to be no more excuses. No one else including me is to blame. But, I’m in charge of myself.  You may recall one of my earlier blogs where Jamie Bruner, the current CEO of Kinetix Living, left the world of being over 300 pounds to become a fitness champ and leading purveyor of nutrition and wellness. He bent over in a restaurant and slit his pants from stem to stern …enough …that moment. Literally, that night the change began. That moment.

Character Move: look for that moment. It’s looking for us. Decide that today or this hour or this minute is going to be the time to start that change. Be accountable. Be honest. Start now.

That Moment in the Triangle,


Seriously, Are You Getting Enough Oxygen?

Accountability Management Teamwork


 You may have heard about Project Oxygen. A team of statisticians at Google gathered more than 10,000 observations about managers, across more than 100 variables, and crunched mountains of performance reviews, feed back surveys and reports, concluding in a comprehensive, research based, data driven analysis and framework on leadership effectiveness (for more read NYT, March 13 Business section). They have spent a year rolling out the results and translating them into a training system. Working for a weak manager is one of the major causes of employee turnover and low morale. The ability of the organization to recruit, hire, promote, and develop to the learnings of Project Oxygen can have a profound impact on Google’s competitive advantage and market leadership. The summary of the key lessons learned are not surprising but the heft of the research reinforces ways of leading I personally align with:

Applying the values of the Character Triangle supports the above analysis. The more one embraces and applies accountability, respect, and abundance, the more likely and easier is the connection to Google’s Big 8!
Character Move: if you want to be a strong leader, start applying purposeful practice in all 8 areas. Get feedback on each element and develop from there. It is not too late or early in your career to start.         

Leading in the Triangle,


Trauma & Abundance: the Beginning or the End?

Abundance Community


I am often asked to explain how it is possible to live with abundance after a trauma or tragedy. The 9.0 earthquake in Japan is a devastating and terrifyingly extreme example where the belief in being abundant is challenged to the core. Yet the incredible perseverance and human grace demonstrated by the Japanese seems to reinforce rather than detract from the strength and spirit of this value in practice. As an example, the absence of looting is juxtaposed with heart warming generosity. No one should minimize the pain associated with the earthquake in any way. It is a tragedy and crushing example of personal trauma beyond belief.

At the same time it may be heartening to understand the following. There is evidence that some will understandably deeply struggle after personal trauma, while others will actually propel forward and derive personal growth from the experience. The following is an excerpt from a Harvard Business Review blog written by Shawn Achor that provides great insight into this:

“Research has illuminated differences between people who experience growth after trauma and those who do not. First, these individuals continue to believe that their behavior still matters, which is one of the components of optimism. If you have experienced a trauma, find one concrete action — something you know you can do — to decrease the negative feelings associated with the trauma. For example, if you had a heart attack, decide to give up desserts on Sundays. This gives your brain a “win,” allowing it to keep moving forward.

Second, post-traumatic growth blooms best in a soil of deep social support. If you have experienced a trauma, try to actively invest in your social support network — rather than passively waiting for that network to invest in you in the midst of hardship. Everyone has their own timetable for recovery, but post-traumatic growth can begin to occur at any point in the grieving process — whether it is one day or ten years later. Social support speeds the process of recovery.

Third, change the way you describe the trauma to yourself. For example, when I was at Harvard Divinity School, I went through two years of depression. At the time, it was terrible. And I could leave the story there. But that misses out on the reality that post-traumatic growth occurred. Because of that depression (not despite it), I began to understand what gets in the way of us creating positive change in our lives, and that jumpstarted my interest in positive psychology and helping people change their mindsets and their habits. If it were not for depression, I would not have the understanding, or the compassion, to help people like I can today. Learning to tell myself that story — rather than the pessimistic version of what happened — has been key to my growth.

Trauma is always bad — but it’s also the beginning of the story, not the end.”

None of us wants to have to be put to the test on this but when and if we are; there is a choice in the after zone of personal tragedy. Mourning and grieving is necessary. We also are best served with a mind set of moving forward and the belief that our contribution still matters, along with activating a nurturing support system.

Character Move: have enormous compassion for ourselves and others when trauma strikes. Know that at some time after the mourning and grief, we have a chance and choice to “grow on.” It can be a beginning.

Beyond Trauma in the Triangle,


Can You Act with Kindness Too Soon?

Abundance Kindness


I was at a conference recently and heard Pasquale “Pat” Croce, the former president and CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball club, speak. His incredible personal journey is an inspiring story in its own right and I encourage you to learn more.

Pat jumped on the conference stage and exploded with energy, exhorting an enthralled audience of 1,600 business execs to live with more purpose and passion. “SPEND IT” was the first challenge from Croce. And he went on from there, “What are you waiting for?”

Pat told one story that really had an impact with me.  He tells of a time during his role running the team when he was, of course,  extremely busy. However Pat still read all his emails and paused on one from a 10 year old boy.  The email read this way (paraphrasing) “…Hi Pat, when you’re not too busy could you call my friend Bobby who is in the hospital and not feeling well.”

According to Croce, mostly because he wanted it off his to do list, he asked his assistant to email the boy back to get a phone number. Pat then goes on to call the hospitalized boy who was recovering from brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. The sick child’s mother answered the call and after some disbelief that it was Croce (who was literally a house hold name in Philadelphia) handed the phone over to her bed ridden 10 year old son. Pat and the boy immediately engaged in a comfortable conversation, as if they had known each other for years. After about 5 minutes of chatting, the phone is handed over to the mother, whom to Croce’s discomfort, was sobbing. Pat asked her what was wrong and through her tears, she went on to explain that words spoken by the boy were his first since the operation a few weeks before. While his speech was expected to return post op, until the conversation with Pat, there was no evidence it would.

Croce’s point – it is never ever too soon to act with kindness. Do it now.

Character Move: Spend it now! Act with kindness right after you read this. It is never too soon.    

With Kindness in the Triangle,


Freakin’ Control & Control Freakin’

Abundance Organizational culture Organizational leadership


The software platform company started a presentation I attended with their philosophy of being: open, social, and mobile. I think this philosophy is core to their huge success. I also recently heard Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, speak. This phenomenal online retailer has a philosophy of being completely open. The Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has a vision of being the platform for world wide transparency and democracy. This transparency and workplace democracy is the way successful organizations and employees are evolving. What is the impact of this openness revolution to you and me?

Have you ever worked with someone who wants total control on everything related to what they do at work? With these folks information is not allowed to be exchanged or action taken without pre-approval from this person. Stepping outside the boundaries, even by accident, can result in being “banished from the kingdom.” These people are usually hard working and well intended. Unfortunately they will likely have a fall because the “sword cuts both ways.”  They will eventually make a fatal decision and will find themselves standing alone. The idea of excessively controlling information for power and control, at a personal or even company level, was never a great idea but in today’s world it is no longer a useful precept.

Character Move: Take a hard look at your personal work. Where can you be more open and transparent in ways that help you, your team mates, and your company?

Transparent in the Triangle,