Please Put on a Pink Mustache!

Accountability Growth mindset Transformation


Key Point: A pink mustache is coming our way. I promise… It’s not “if”, but “when.” And it’s a good thing if you’ve become or are working at becoming a relentless, INVENTIVE LEARNER. You and I have to embrace the idea of constantly reinventing our applied competencies to fully participate in the most relevant conversations, and frankly contribute enough value so that we can thrive financially and otherwise. We must not only learn but translate our learning into inventive, perhaps even disruptive ways of bringing more value to others.

Have you heard of Lyft? They just received an additional $250 million dollars of seed money to aggressively expand their disruptive business model. Lyft, similar to Uber, offers a web based system to give people rides and the Lyft cars “wear” a big pink mustache on their grill.

lyftOn the way to the San Francisco airport I was in a traditional taxicab and asked the driver if his business was impacted by Lyft and Uber. “Down 50 percent almost over night,” he said. “I’m working twice as long for less money… Barely making ends meet… These guys found a loop hole in taxi regulation and we’re getting screwed…” “What are you going to do?” I ask. “I dunno…” he says.

The fact is you and I often need a ride, but as Lyft proves, we don’t need taxis by default. Most readers know I work for a bank. People need banking, but they don’t necessarily need banks. There are some “pink mustaches” coming at the banking industry. I also work in the world of human resource management. Organizations don’t necessarily need traditional HR functions and jobs. They need leaders who can help optimize the contribution from people towards a continuously evolving desired future state. If you’re in HR, look for the pink mustache on your horizon. Every industry… And subsequently, every job, is in the same boat (“car”). If you want to blow your mind more on this idea, start exploring some robotic websites.

Character Moves:

  1. Unglue your head and feet and do MORE to embrace having an inventive learner mindset. This might sound exhausting, but ideally it’s exhilarating. Do not be fearful. Just accept that you and I have to COMPLETELY reinvent our “value set” every 12 to 24 months. If you’re thinking and/or doing the same thing you were two years ago… There could be a pink mustache waiting for you over the hill. Stay true to your purpose, life mission and core values but relentlessly reinvent your personal offering to the world. How well are you doing at that today?
  2. With intention, pay more attention. Set your phone down and actually observe what’s going on around you. To come up with new ideas on how to best reinvent yourself, you need to observe the world with fresh, empathetic eyes. After you’ve taken some time to THINK and OBSERVE, pick up that phone and use it to keep a journal and document what you have observed. Do this at least once a week. This will help guide where and how you will apply that inventive learning.
  3. Be mindfully curious. ASK, “What’s going on here?” What’s going on with the value I bring to others? Questions allow for space in the brain. If you’re not curious about something, then there’s nowhere for your observations to go. As an inventive learner you should ask questions to help nail down the value you’re bringing to solve problems. Why are people paying you? For what? How could that be disrupted? Why are people attracted to you? Or not attracted? What are you giving? Taking?
  4. Allow yourself to be an explorer and experiment as you add to your personal offering. The best part of being a relentless, inventive learner is that this mindset and framework will by its nature make you more valuable. By having a process for personal value creation you will be part of designing pink mustaches, not running away from them.

Inventive learners in The Triangle,



Google O8 Leadership, Glassdoor Transparency and You

Collaboration Organizational leadership Respect


Key Point: I just listened to a presentation from Robert Hohman, the CEO and co-founder of Glassdoor. He is passionate about workplace transparency. Explore the Glassdoor site if you haven’t already… You will instantly understand the value. Hohman emphasized his three beliefs about the Internet’s relation to everything.

1. If it can be shared, it will be shared.

2. If it can be rated, it will be rated.

3. If it can be free, it will be free.

The other day I had the opportunity to visit with Google at their Mountain View campus. Their view about leadership is this: Everyone has the right to expect to work for a superb leader. To put this belief into action, they have established what they call the “Oxygen Eight for Great Managers (O8).” Here’s a breakdown:

1. Be a good coach: Guidance and feedback will push you to grow and still make you strongly appreciated.

2. Empower the team and do not micromanage: Trust and be there to guide/answer questions.

3. Express interest/concern for team members’ success and personal well-being. Be incredibly authentic and caring: Promote individual team member success and ensure everyone on the team becomes valuable.

4. Be productive and results oriented: Be relentless at moving obstacles and making decisions in a timely manner.

5. Be a good communicator: Create extremely open dialogue… Permit issues and concerns that would be concealed in most organizations.

6. Help with career development: It’s about growing, acquiring and sharing experiences, not just getting promoted.

7. Have a vision: Collaborate to create, share and act on a vision.

8. Use technical skills to advise: Have the competence and willingness to roll up your sleeves and help.

Google’s O8 may not exactly fit you or your organization, but in typical Google fashion, there’s a lot of science, irreverent collaboration and research behind each principle that makes each step right for their business model. My premise is that all eight would make great sense for most enlightened companies.

So here is my belief… Clearly stated leadership principles like Google’s O8, PLUS transparency as promoted by companies like Glassdoor, will connect inside and outside of organizations. People will expect to know the leader(s) they are assigned to. They will make choices based on the transparent, authentic knowledge of how effective leaders are measured against openly stated key principles and values. They will want data, unfiltered and honest information about leaders before they commit or become engaged. They will not expect perfection, but will want the real deal. Leaders need to prepare for this open, straightforward, transparent evaluation to be posted in internal company platforms AND on external sites. It will be shared, and you will be rated.

Character Moves:

  1. Be prepared to accept the principles of transparency becoming a more relevant and vital part of being a team member and leader of others.
  2. How do you think you would do against the O8 if peers, bosses and direct reports evaluated you? Why would you want to work for the “you” as rated? Develop a plan to improve your “score” now… Before it’s shared.

Transparent leadership in The Triangle,


The Certainty of Uncertainty

Accountability Resilience Transformation


“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” ~ John Allen Paulos

Key Point: Life is full of surprises and can change in an instant. “One day you’re a hot shot Stanford grad working as a software engineer and obtaining your MBA from Kellogg at Northwestern, experiencing what feels like an accelerated trajectory to success, and the next you’re waking up in the hospital and being told you just had a stroke as a result of a rare condition called Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM). That’s what happened to Ben Munoz in 2006, at the mere age of 29.” Munoz ‘story and what followed is documented in this Forbes blog.

Unfortunately, most of us are well aware of similar stories where some event in seconds or minutes dramatically alters people’s lives forever. In almost every case the event is unexpected, unplanned and very painful; sometimes devastating. The overall impact and outcome ultimately depends on how people choose to think and act after the “moment.” Fortunately, what can at first seem like the worst thing that’s ever happened can become life’s greatest teacher, and gift.

We have also heard stories where people’s lives are changed in the most fortunate ways; the chance meeting that begins an enduring relationship, the big sale that saves a company, project assignment that leads to a promotion, the big buy out that makes many people rich, and so on. The lesson is the same in that this “moment” can really become the “best” thing.

And then there are the craziest things that happen. I’ve written about standing on stage in front of hundreds of people being licked by cheetahs… Yes, the big cats you see at the zoo. Who could have even imagined that? Or the night I ended up in a country tavern, with a hundred plus fun loving people wildly cheering as I engaged in a leg-wrestling contest with another CEO? I couldn’t have made that event up in the wildest dream.

If we think we’ve created a controllable, predictable life, we can rest assured that’s an illusion. Nothing stays the same forever. One constant, however, is you and me are at center stage and we are in control of how we act. That great, tragic, crazy and/or mundane thing that happens is often out of our control and in some case, beyond our imagination. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan and act with intent. Of course it is self-accountable to be proactive, and that action often leads to a desired outcome. But even the best plans must accept the uncertainty of other possibilities.

This uncertainty “truism” can keep us up at night, obsessing over ways to protect ourselves from anything that might go wrong. On the other hand, it can motivate us to practice acceptance, life in the moment, and to embrace the full adventure of living. What’s coming tomorrow might not be easy… Or it might fulfill us in ways we can’t imagine. What’s certain is that it will come. When it arrives, how will you respond?

Character Moves:

  1. Replace entitled expectations with purposeful intent. Instead of expecting the future to give us something specific, focus on what we’ll do to create what you and I want to experience. By constantly moving forward, focusing on our purpose and reason for LIVING, we have a constant. Our values, character, mindset, and purpose can be an anchor and rebuff to certain uncertainty.
  2. Be confident about our coping and adapting skills. This isn’t the same as “expect the worst” or even “the best.” It’s more about assuring ourselves that we can handle any difficulty or good fortune that might come. There are probably things that we’ve persevered through and “handled” in the past. Whatever takes place, be confident that we can deal with it. Often, it isn’t the uncertainty that bothers people. It’s their tendency to get lost in false expectations appearing real (i.e. unwarranted worry or fear). Why? We benefit when we simply accept that life will throw a lot at us, and we have the ability to navigate through anything.
  3. Practice mindfulness and ACT… Move forward. Don’t wait. When we obsess about a tomorrow that hasn’t happened, we’re too busy judging what hasn’t occurred yet to fully experience what’s taking place right now. It’s the same when we dwell on the past. We usually become obsessed with judgment: Was it good or bad? When we focus on the present and move forward, it’s perhaps the best antidote to uncertainty. 

Certain uncertainty in the Triangle,