Wednesday Q/A on Personal Leadership

Organizational culture Organizational leadership Personal leadership

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To or readers, 

Welcome to our second installment of a Lorne Rubis Q/A series. We’ve accumulated some popular leadership questions, and below are Lorne’s answers to them. We plan to release these every-other Wednesday. We’d like to encourage you to participate, see below on how to contribute! 

  1. Hi Lorne! As most great companies know, we should hire, fire, and live by our corporate values. When faced with a leader, or better yet a CEO, who exudes the notion, and acts on, hiring, firing, and living by short term-outcomes, or short-term profitability takes precedence over all metrics, what do you recommend is a good approach to help such leaders see the values-based approach, and the long-term benefit of such?

“Sometimes these CEOs are most effectively influenced by personally experiencing successful organizations with a long term more purpose/values based strategy at a personal level. This means site visiting these companies, and talking to their leaders/employees so the ‘short term’ leader sees a better path. There are lots of facts that support long term/values-based strategy. However, these people are often less influenced by ‘facts’ than by some emotional epiphany. Surrounding the CEO with other influencers on these site visits often accelerates the mindset change. The tricky thing is to find a way to influence the CEO to seriously make these visits and to find the right companies to connect with. A seasoned outside consultant that has the contacts at the other companies and can facilitate the right debrief is often necessary. Sometimes you just have to hope for a CEO change, and/or leave if the impact of staying in this environment is toxic. Wish I had an easier answer.”

– Lorne

  1. Hi everyone, I would like to ask Lorne what to do or how to proceed when there are bullies in the work environment. What to do when they are peers and what to do when they are bosses?Thank you!!

“This bullying issue is very troubling to me . It seems to be exacerbated by social media, and public leaders that get lots of media for behaving that way do not help.

Bullying and peers: We have to specifically point out the behavior that is troubling to us and insist on hopefully constructive, yet fierce conversation with the person(s) bullying us. If we let it pass and just put up with it, nothing will likely change. The important thing is not to accuse or blame the bully, rather to point out the very specific behavior you are experiencing and the negative impact it is having on you (and others). Ask the other person first what they think you might do differently so they might treat you differently. Hopefully, the other person will join you in moving forward and propose different actions on their part as well. However, do not be surprised if they do not respond as thoughtfully as you might hope. Often it takes time and more than one conversation. Sometimes nothing works, and you have to make a choice: Put up with it or leave .

If the bullying escalates to the point where you feel harassed you may have to get outside help by approaching ideally a very capable HR professional and/or escalate to higher level leaders. I get very frustrated when I hear of bullying. We have a right to work in psychologically safe environments. Wish I could give you a magic wand.

Bullying and bosses: This is often somewhat trickier than peer bullying because depending on the nature of the leader, they can deal with bullying by negatively impacting your career. However, I believe the same constructive confrontive approach needs to be taken with a bullying boss. The one precaution I might take is that you document every detail of the behaviors and summarize any meeting you have on the matter. If you have a trusted and very capable HR professional, you might advise in confidence that you are having a conversation with your boss about the matter (he or she might have some additional insight).”

– Lorne

We hope you enjoyed this Q/A session. We’d like to keep these coming, so if you have any questions, please submit them to CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com, or DM us @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter. We look forward to many more, every other Wednesday.

 

My Message to Students (And You)

Accountability Contribution Purpose

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Key Point: Live the life you want, NOT the life you think others expect you to live. This advice is based on research from the wishes of the dying. The biggest regret or “do over” mentioned by those in palliative care is that they spent too much time looking for approval from others, rather than being fully intentional. This is easier said than done. Parents, teachers, family, friends, all play a big role on what we could and should do with our lives.

If you examine the slide at the top of this blog, you can see the intersection and sweet spot that most often results in the most happiness. Doing what you’re good at, love to do, give and receive value for – is a great spot be in. My argument is to also work on the very core of that intersection. Work hard to discover your purpose or “why.” What is your life’s mission? (I’m not specifically talking about a job, or even career). What are your core values? These beliefs guide your daily behavior. What are yours? Who are your others – the positive impact people that you hang with? Who cares about your well being? Who are your loving critics? This includes organizations you invest your time in. All this is never ending personal discovery, and constant work. Your purpose, values and others evolve. We are never done.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Write out what you’re good at and love to do.
  2. Outline how you give and receive value (including a pay check or monetary gain).
  3. Outline your purpose and values.
  4. Specifically name five others who help you thrive, and how organizations you involve your time at are contributing to you.
  5. Stand back and give yourself some reflective time. What ah-ha did you get from putting this down on paper?

Finding the sweet spot in Personal Leadership

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is outstanding advice. While we may not still spend time in a classroom, I think the point is that we never stop being students when it comes to personal leadership development. We might internally voice what our values are, know who our others are, and spend time reflecting. But physically creating a cheat sheet for yourself, and outlining this on paper may truly deliver that ah-ha moment you’re looking for. This seems to be a homework assignment with no due date, because the final draft can always be updated.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Other Side of Epic Failures  

Abundance Courage Resilience

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Key Point: Risk and reward go together like two sides of a coin. If you want to experience great rewards, you need to take calculated risks. The last few blogs have been examples of some personal, epic failures. I want to balance that perspective with some of the rewards associated with taking those risks. Please allow me to share a few of them:

Epic Failure 1: Fortune 50 Company

  • Worked directly for the Chair/CEO and facilitated strategic discussions like determining whether to purchase 25 percent of Time Warner; Facilitated the potential outcome of splitting the company into two distinct entities (growth and value). Both resulted in tremendous value increase for shareholders.
  • Participated in the growth of the wireless/cable telephony business in eastern europe and observed entire countries dramatically change commerce and personal communications.
  • Experienced and observed the board of directors meetings/private dinners of this company and connected with iconic board members like Mary Gates (Bill’s mom), the chair/CEO of Dow, 3M, vice chair of Ford etc .
  • Worked daily with incredibly talented office mates like Tom Bouchard ( became world wide HR of IBM) , John O’Farrell (Now partner in big time Silicon Valley VC, Andreesen Horowitz).

Epic Failure 2: Catalogue IT Company

  • Learned how to sell low margin IT infrastructure to both consumers and business.
  • Established a reference and framework for transforming a mid-size company in mid flight.
  • Led a team of believers to win the contract to procure IT for all of MICROSOFT ($100 million plus/annum), and helped the company crossover to a true IT Business reseller.
  • Experienced the nuances and operating responsibility of running a publicly traded company end to end.

Epic Failure 3: Voice over IP startup:

  • Learned what running a hungry tech startup meant/felt like.
  • Experienced the challenge of selling emerging technology into a legacy market.
  • Appreciated never to take anything for granted and to be grateful for all.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Remember that risk and reward go together and the key determiner of success is YOU. Others may have a view and even data as evidence one way or another. However, the criteria of success that is most important is your own .
  2. The biggest regret expressed by the dying, based on research by palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware, was the wish to have the courage to NOT live the lives others expected. Be intentional about what YOU want to do; not what you think others want you to do.
  3. Consider the following quote by Meg Cabot; ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, BUT THE CAUTIOUS DO NOT LIVE at ALL!”

Have the courage to live in Personal Leadership

Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s amazing to realize how many of the courageous people died in WWI and WWII. Think about it. Now, we’re the generation that lives way after, but hopefully not without remembering those who truly were not cautious and saved the world for us.

–  Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Culture Cast: Analyzing the Current State of Recognition, Acknowledgment and the Reward System

Personal leadership Podcast

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Hey Culture Cast fans! On Season 2, Episode 6, Lorne and Lynette discuss and analyze recognition, acknowledgment and the reward system. It’s not just about “what you did,” it’s about “how you did it.” Join the discussion about the value of giving and receiving genuine recognition from you, your peers and employees.

Please listen on Soundcloud and iTunes, and don’t forget to rate and review.

If listeners have any questions or thoughts, feel free to email the podcast at CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com. As you can see, we’ve started a Q/A series that will be posted every other Wednesday, and will likely be addressed in future podcasts as well. Please feel free to contribute. 

Also, please follow the podcast @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter, and advance the conversation.

A Series: Learning From My Epic Failures (Part 3)

Growth mindset Resilience Respect

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Key Point: Timing is everything. And sometimes things happen that can best be explained as plain, bad luck. Epic Failures No. 1 and No. 2 outlined in my last couple blogs, ironically played into No. 3. When I was with the Fortune 50 Company, (US WEST), I met lots of brilliant Telcom engineers and business people. A few of them I really respected started a voice over the internet startup, and they asked me to join the team. This was essentially Skype (before Skype), circa late 90’s, and the “dot.com” world was on fire. I was being recruited by all kinds of startups, and company valuations were crazy high. Stock options/payouts and buyouts/IPOs, were the news of the day. It was a modern day gold rush, and many of the so called .coms were proven to be .cons. They were being hyped with little or no profit performance. Still, the bubble seemed unstoppable, and we believed our new company (AuraServ) was better and different than a lot of the other hype out there.

AuraServ seemed like a no lose deal. Great technology, an excellent value proposition, superb management team, funded by one of Silicon Valley’s premiere VCs, etc. I then was the COO of a technology company (epic No. 2), and had earned a ton of stock options. However, I was in my early 50’s, our girls both in private U.S. universities, Garrett still in high school. Probably not the best personal time to take a big risk. On the other hand, my due diligence determined (along with the assessment of many others I got advice from) that this was a sure bet. And, if I was going to be part of a tech startup, it seemed like now or never? The plan:  I would sell my options upon leaving my current company (a little back up nest egg). Then, with this new voice internet powerhouse, I would experience building a super company with great purpose and potentially make a financial home run, too.

Then it happened: The .com market bubble burst almost overnight and severely discounted and penalized most technology stocks, including the company I left. My stock options were now ALL under water and I had to exercise them within a time frame that was unfavorable (no nest egg and a BIG ouch). And, if you are old enough to remember that time, almost all investment capital immediately dried up. Even though AuraServ was getting customers and meeting revenue commitments, we could not get our next round of funding. Uh oh! We ran out of cash, and out of business. Over 100 employees now without work. Disappointed people I deeply cared for who believed in me. Our family investment, gone! Holy %#!*!  It took me two months without a pay check to ensure every person working for me that wanted to have a job, found one. Now, I had to recover personally. It was a miserable time for me. 

The good news with a supportive wife and family, a little good luck, personal perseverance, and hard work, I bounced back and became the CEO of another company. While the AuraServ outcome was disappointing, I was proud of the results we achieved and learned a lot about myself. I recognize how much I am a blessed and fortunate man with way more than anyone could ask for.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Sometimes all the due diligence and analysis are impacted by events totally out of one’s control. Be mentally prepared that this could happen at any time. Know your risk tolerance. How much are you willing to lose? How resilient are you if the worst happens? Well run organizations intentionally manage risk. We need our personal risk plan too. Do you have yours? By the way, the flip side of risk is opportunity.
  2. The essence of purposeful living involves progressing on things that the market or other commercial endeavors cannot take away from us. Love, purpose, family, adventure, learning… Everything material goes away in time. While we all know that, sometimes we get to practice experiencing it before we die. And I believe we become better for it.
  3. Please read Dan Pink’s new book, “When,”which puts more science behind the issue of timing. 

Grateful and Resilient in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: In Tony Robbins’ new book “Unshakable,” (which is primarily about financial wealth), he emphasizes the importance of “real wealth” extending to being emotionally, psychologically and spiritually sound, too. Other wise words I’ve heard recently pertaining to when things get tough: “Tend your garden. No one can take that away from you.” Certainly something to keep in mind when you’re in the grind. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

A Series: Learning From My Epic Failures (Part 2)

Organizational leadership Purpose Respect

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Key Point: See the intro from Part 1 in this series for an explanation as to why I’m sharing these stories. I hope you find an insight or two.

It was 1996, and I had recently become the COO of a publicly traded (NASDAQ) computer reseller. I was promoted from the VP of Sales position. To my surprise, the Chairman and CEO who hired me was abruptly removed, and the company was now being led by the principal shareholder, who I had no real history with. (He is an exceptional businessman, and I came to admire him). He had never run a company in this market before. What we both realized, was that the organization had to be completely transformed. We had to urgently reinvent ourselves from a catalogue company, selling computers primarily to consumers, to a direct sales company selling computers and IT infrastructure to businesses. This market was being defined by IBM, Dell and Microsoft. The internet e-commerce world was just beginning. Apple under John Scully was struggling. CDW and Insight were leading the business reseller channel. Catalogue selling computers to anyone was rapidly disappearing. Everything was uphill for us.

My natural strength as a leader was to enrich the culture and increase the engagement of our team of 600+ folks. I threw everything I knew into recognizing, informing, developing and including employees. I leveraged every ounce of my leadership team’s energy to muster productivity improvements so we might compete more effectively. So, here’s what I learned in retrospect: Focusing on getting people to work more productively within a flawed business model is the wrong thing to do. While we were vigorously changing the entire business framework, I would have doubled down on that effort. This work has to be done at the top of the house. I was unwittingly asking too much of people before the strategic foundation was dramatically improved. (I recognize that this is very tough, kinda like changing the engine on a plane mid-flight). There is a difference between hard work and things being too hard. When the customer value and business model is right, hard work and productivity improvement builds momentum. When things are just too difficult, extraordinary effort results in survival more than progress.

(P.S.  Based on the work started by the Chairman and our leadership, the company did reinvent itself and thrives today, some 20+ years later).

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. When you leave for what looks like a great opportunity and promotion, really look under the rocks and do your due diligence before saying yes. You may get a title and pay raise only to find that the strategic model makes it really hard to win. The reverse is also true.
  2. Make sure the trifecta of company purpose, business model, and values are right for you. If not, you might end up asking way too much of yourself and teammates. Hard work does not mean everything needs to be like walking in mud.

A great business model in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I wonder how many Millennials really consider the company’s purpose, business model and values while they attempt to work their way up the ladder. This is a great reminder that no matter what position you hold at the organization you work for, it’s better to keep turning over stones to see what you’re really standing on.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis