Unconventional Creativity

The concept of creativity is often connected to innovation and imagination, or the ability to construct a new form or mental picture. This gift of creativity is bestowed on a limited few. And while businesses benefit greatly from the talents of those extraordinary individuals who consistently demonstrate an ability to think of new things, companies also benefit greatly when a more unconventional type of creativity is practiced. The good news is, this powerful form of creativity can be learned.

Unconventional creativity is actually based on the root word create and is defined as the ability to manifest the future. Unconventional creativity offers every individual in your organization a powerful tool to dramatically increase the probability of your company’s success.

Creativity can be internal and/or external. Internal creativity occurs when an individual thinks and feels. External creativity occurs when a person speaks, writes or acts. Here is more on these four powerful ways to practice unconventional creativity:

Inside out – Feelings provide a great window into your unique and personal truth. Your feelings are expressed through an accurate personal barometer—your body. Your body does not mislead you. When you choose to trust your instincts, intuition, and “gut feelings,” you learn that you are perceptive. When you choose to listen to your sixth sense, you align the creative process with your personal truth. Decision making is an everyday occurrence in business, and often involves a precise and measured method. But failing to take into account your gut feeling on decisions—especially big ones—is a mistake.

Also part of inside-out creativity, active thinking is the conscious awareness of the creative process. You can choose to manage your thoughts. You have the ability to change negative patterns when you first become aware of them. Train yourself to use optimistic future scenarios, while focusing on the positive nature of what is happening now, to build energy that can help you create your future and the future of your organization.

Speak your mind – Spoken words have inspired and incited. Speeches have always been an effective tool to influence people. Relationships can be strengthened or weakened based on the care used with the spoken word. Choose to select your words carefully, acknowledging the energy behind the important practice of verbal communication and the impact words have on the future you are creating.

Power of the pen – People have long understood the power of the pen as a creative force to influence others. The energy created by the written word to influence others, and its impact on life, is indisputable. Examples include the Tao Te Ching, the Koran, and the Bible. Your written word, whether email, memo, or a formal report, has the power to determine the direction of your future. Less well understood is the power of the written word to positively influence your own behavior and to create your own future. When you write your goals, you increase the probability of reaching those goals with the energy created by writing them. Similarly, when you write your fears and concerns, you release the hold those negative emotions can have.

Fake it ‘til you make it – How you act offers the most visible form of creation. Conscious action often builds on the feelings, thoughts, speech, and written energy that precede it. You are held accountable for your actions more than you are for the other forms of your ability to create. Action is powerful. When you are having trouble creating the future you want, you can choose to simply act the part and the feelings, thoughts, and words will follow. Do you know people who seem to have “tailwinds” that help move them along in everything they do? When you act in a fashion synchronized with who you truly are, you will find that things seem to happen more easily for you, too.

Author Frank Outlaw offers a reminder of the interconnectedness of these powerful creativity tools with a powerful poem:

Watch your thoughts they become your words,
Watch your words they become your actions,
Watch your actions they become your habits,
Watch your habits they become your character,
Watch your character it will become your destiny.

In summary, you are a Chief when you use your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions—each in alignment with the others—to create a new path forward, which will be recognized by others for its congruence and its vision. As a Chief with this kind of vision, you will be a true leader. The power in this type of nonconventional creativity cannot be understated. Every person in your organization can use this type of creativity to manifest a better future for your company.

This is the third of a series of five blogs about the All-In Roadmap elements:

Unconventional Discipline
Unconventional Support
Unconventional Insight
Unconventional Values

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Unconventional Support

Support can increase the probability that an individual will contribute to the success of a group at her/his full potential. Webster’s Dictionary defines support as, “the act of showing that you approve by doing something; or to give help or assistance to.” Over my career, I have had the opportunity to work for and observe companies that took their role of supporting employees very seriously, and others that seemingly ignored all but basic support. It was no surprise that the results produced by these organizations seemed to be directly tied to their approach to support—the better the support the stronger the results. The key question now is whether those companies that offer traditional support are doing enough to meet today’s challenges? I believe the answer is no.

Traditionally, companies would offer employees a wide range of support beyond simple compensation. These included health insurance, retirement programs, savings programs, life insurance, vacation, and many forms of family support. In addition, many companies would provide support for employees to expand their skill sets both with company-sponsored training and tuition assistance for outside education.

In light of today’s dynamic business pressures, many companies are cutting back on support in the belief that belt tightening is in the organization’s best interest. Beyond questioning the failed logic of this assumption, I suggest four best practices of unconventional support that have been proven to help organizations succeed.

Meet the market – Companies that will succeed in the future are those that maintain a focus on market-based pay information as seriously as they focus on market shifts with customers—and pay at market rates. Your business success will be linked to the quality of your people. You can’t hide talent. With increased market transparency, you can bet that if you aren’t paying at market, your best employees will know about it.

Set people up – Encourage managers to take a more aggressive position in setting people up for success. In larger organizations, recognize managers who consistently enable members of their team to get promoted. Encourage co-creation of development plans that will ensure your employees have the skills they need to succeed. Remove obstacles that inhibit performance. Listen to your workforce—you’ll learn valuable information.

Supersize recognition – You can’t do enough, formally and informally, to recognize those people who excel. People feed off recognition. Both formal programs that publicly recognize performance (and, likewise, programs that recognize lack of performance) and informal efforts to recognize the day-to-day efforts of your team members will go a long way to building a cohesive and responsive team.

Create a retention problem – Announce that you co-own the challenge of increasing the value of each employee in your company. Tell people that your goal is to work with them to increase their marketability, and that you are willing to step up to create such a great environment that it will be undesirable for them to leave.

Unlocking employee potential is the biggest challenge facing companies today. Proper support is the key enabler. I’ve given you a starter set of nonconventional ideas to implement support, but there are many more practices that can help move this ball forward. Please share any ideas you have about support success strategies.

Thanks!

This is the second of a series of five blogs about the All-In Roadmap elements:

Unconventional Discipline
Unconventional Creativity
Unconventional Insight
Unconventional Values

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Unconventional Discipline

Discipline can increase the probability of a desired outcome. Webster’s Dictionary defines discipline as, “the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior.” In the past, many organizations divided discipline into two elements—planning the work and working the plan. And while few topics have received more attention as critical components to effective business management, the key question now is whether traditional discipline is sufficient to match today’s challenges. I believe the answer is no.

Traditionally, senior leaders would start to plan the work for a coming year with a structured and disciplined approach. These leaders would envision the next phase of an organization’s growth and strategize how best to deploy their assets to reach their goals. Depending on the organization, others might develop detailed action planning steps in support of the strategy along with dashboards of leading and lagging metrics to gauge and control. Typically, groups would spend considerable energy teaching everyone in an organization about the plan via clear, consistent, compelling, and one-way communication. Leaders on the front line would be charged with working the plan, focused on implementing and measuring to enforce compliance.

In light of today’s dynamic business conditions, I suggest three unconventional best practices that have been proven to help disciplined organizations succeed.

First, increase the diversity of input when building your plans. Successful companies today are disciplined at engaging a far greater number of people in the strategizing and planning phases than ever before.  Organizations benefit from including a far greater diversity of views and experience from all workers, particularly from the talented group of millennials, whose perspective is vastly different from that of previous generations. Receiving such varied input allows for a more complete view of the plan, often accounting for circumstances and factors that might have been missed had the planning phase merely maintained the status quo. Business as we know it is changing, but we can be ready for it by asking for input from the right people.

Second, shorten the time between your planning cycles. Nimble organizations are moving away in a disciplined way from traditional annual planning cycles and substituting a much more streamlined, semi-annual or quarterly process to adjust plans and or resources to take advantage of changing markets and customer dynamics. Month-to-month is the new year-to-year. While change has always been a constant, the rate of change is steadily increasing. To keep up in an ever-evolving business environment, how we plan must also change.

Third, build a culture that anticipates changes and excels at mid-course adjustments. Successful companies today use discipline and process to make sure all employees feel empowered to question plans any time they believe market conditions or assumptions used to form the plans have changed. These groups also build a capacity and skill sets needed for constant change. Each element of my All-In Roadmap—discipline being one element—is interconnected with the others. In this case, discipline requires support, another All-In Roadmap element. A team that masters the art of adjustment will require support from above to feel comfortable voicing concerns with the current plan.

Despite being a loaded word, discipline is a good thing. A company is stronger when discipline contains the assumption that opportunities to teach come at any time and from anyone in the organization (acting as a Chief). When discipline comes with the assumption that a company can enforce a plan with appropriate flexibility, that company is far more likely to prosper.

This is the first of a series of five blogs about the All-In Roadmap elements:

Unconventional Support
Unconventional Creativity
Unconventional Insight
Unconventional Values

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Veterans—Chiefs without Titles

Last month I was fortunate to spend time with an amazing group of men and women—alumni of the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. Over three days in Dallas, Texas these true heroes gathered to support each other and to add valuable skills necessary for them to continue to succeed in business. As one of the “instructors” at this national conference, I ran two sessions titled “Driving Next-Level Growth in Tough Times.” While I am sure I helped session participants, I am also very sure these veterans taught me as much as I taught them.

As a group, these role models for servant leadership were amazing. Despite the challenges they suffered in service to our country, they entered my class with a strength of spirit that was immediately apparent. Each veteran had a gentle smile, yet a steel resolve to fully use the opportunity given to them. In the military, they had been divided by rank. In my view, in business training they were now united under a single title—Chief. I use the term Chief to identify an individual who takes charge with full accountability for their choices.

You might imagine that the first strength of returning veterans is discipline, and you’d be right. These professionals can most certainly “plan the work and work the plan.” They are also well trained to adjust when the situation warrants change. These skills form the foundation of great business leaders, but they are just the start of what these Chiefs showed me.

I met Misty Birchall at Pub Cakes. I love Misty’s business card, which describes her as “owner, founder, and bad ass.” She is certainly all of that and more. Misty’s Pub Cakes was started as an outlet for her incredible creativity. Making great tasting cupcakes from beer, Misty’s entrepreneurial spirit and drive make her someone to bet on.

I met Lawrence Salone from the Post Trauma Institute of Louisiana. Lawrence’s business card has no title on it but that doesn’t matter. Spend a little time with him and you’ll feel the passion of someone totally committed to support the over 300,000 returning veterans in Louisiana. You would also be inspired by a true servant leader.

I met Art Salindong from Trabus Technologies. Consistent with so many other vets, Art’s business interests are a deep reflection of his values. Those values (integrity, commitment, respect for people, and partnerships) are prominently displayed on the website right next to the company overview. Trabus provides professional and technical services to federal, state, and local governments.

I also met Al Telese who founded Networking Warriors of America. Like Lawrence, Al left the service with a passion to help others who served. He describes himself as a no bull$#!% kind of guy who gets stuff done for vets when others can’t. His mission statement says it all: “Bridging the gap of the Who, What, Where, and How to get the benefits you deserve.” Al’s sense of insight is strong. He knows who he is and what he’s doing.

As we celebrate Veterans Day for the sacrifices these true heroes each made on our behalf, let’s also celebrate these true Chiefs for what they can continue to teach us: discipline, creativity, support, values, and insight. These leaders continue to inspire us all as true role models of servant leadership.

Thank you!

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10 Ways to Build an Adaptive Culture in Your Organization

Rick Miller featured in Vistage Executive Street online publication:

START_QUOTE_30t_smIn this post-Great Recession era, too many companies are suffering from a lack of growth in revenue, profit, and job creation. Company leaders are facing unparalleled technology shifts, increased competition, changing government regulations, and accelerating globalization.

So how can managers respond to unprecedented challenges and create increased innovation, jobs, and top- and bottom-line growth? Some would tell you that new challenges require whole new leadership tactics. I disagree.

The truth is that unprecedented challenges (just not these particular ones) are nothing new—change is a constant. Fortunately, leaders can create growth despite these challenges. Research has proven that an unconventional approach can enable company leaders to sustain high performance, even in the face of great change, by creating a change-adaptive culture.

Specifically, in 2011 Jim Heskett and John Kotter published Corporate Culture and Performance, sharing an updated version of the seminal work they first offered more than 20 years ago. It provides great insights for today’s leaders.

The authors offer impressive data to support their central assertion: If you build an adaptive culture, rather than simply a strong culture, you can create long-term economic performance. The results of the dozens of companies studied over 11 years are compelling.

Heskett and Kotter go on to offer specific advice on how to create this type of culture. They focus on actions (discipline, support, and creativity) and attributes (insight and values) that lead to performance-enhancing and change-adaptive cultures.

Here are the top 10 ways you can build an adaptive culture in your organization:

  1. Create a need for crisis and a need for change and a new direction
  2. Communicate consistently and broadly
  3. Display an “outsiders” propensity to embrace change and new ideas
  4. Reinforce the importance of innovation
  5. Build and maintain an “insiders” credibility
  6. Institute a balanced focus on the success of customers, employees, and shareholders
  7. Establish leadership or the ability to produce change as an important focus at ALL levels
  8. Decentralize decision making where possible
  9. Promote carefully and demote when necessary
  10. Operate as a servant leader

I have personally seen the benefits offered by this approach in organizations from all sizes and in all industries. For example, an internet startup facing a market crash grew revenue from $1M to $11M in just a year while a multinational tripled its revenue growth rate from 5 to 15%, growing to $5B while facing intense market competition. In each case,

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both employee and customer satisfaction reached new levels.

With so many companies facing challenges, will more follow the proven path forward outlined by Heskett and Kotter?

Only time will tell. The path is not easy. It has been rare that organizations have committed to the discipline, support, creativity, insight, and commitment to values required to build truly change-adaptive cultures. Those who chose to follow the path consistently benefited with strong results.

With the levels of complexity and challenges ever growing, leaders would be well served to make this unconventional approach a little more conventional. Should you try it?

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Find Your Future Chief (But Why Wait?)

“Find Your Future Chief” was the headline in an ad by Dow Jones currently being used to attract companies to advertise in the Wall Street Journal’s Career Opportunities pages. I like the headline, but I think it is directed at the wrong audience. Instead of prompting potential interviewers to find their future Chief, I’d much rather encourage the interviewees to find their own ability to be Chief. Being Chief right now is more important than waiting for someone else to decide it’s time for a title.

I believe being Chief has nothing to do with level or title, and everything to do with your choices. In fact, here are five things you can do to be Chief now, whether or not you have a job and independent of your level or title if you do:

Develop discipline. By establishing your own sense of discipline and being accountable for planning the work and working the plan, you will be more effective at how you go about your day, how you plan the weeks and months ahead, and how you strategize your overall goals. Like a muscle, discipline is developed and honed over time, but it can also be part of every day. Begin to notice the areas of your life that could use more discipline. Then figure out what you need to do and how you need to do it. Next, implement your plan and measure your progress. Finally, you will need to make adjustments depending on the success of your strategy.

Be a supporter. While it might seem a role reversal, a great Chief must be a supporter for others. When you behave in ways that are consistently supportive of others, you will be better able to connect to people. When you align how you talk with how you feel, think, write, and act, your authenticity will be apparent. When you inspire others by doing the right things, the right way, they will see a great leader. When you enable those around you to grow, and when you encourage even the most basic positive attributes in people, you will develop stronger relationships, both personal and professional.

Discover your creativity. I define creativity as the ability to manifest, or create, the future. You have the ability to create your future every time you feel, think, speak, write, and act. When you connect each of these, one to the other, you are at your creative best. When you are having trouble creating the future you want, you can choose to simply “act the part” and feelings, thoughts, and words will follow. Do you know people who seem to have “tailwinds” that help them in everything they do? When you act in a fashion synchronized with who you truly are, you will find that things seem to happen more easily for you, too.

Cultivate insight. Insight is the understanding that comes from self-awareness. And confidence comes from the insight of understanding who you truly are. This powerful insight can be challenging to discover in a world that appears to move faster and faster each day and is filled with challenges, opportunities, and seemingly endless to-do lists. Your ability to be present—totally attentive and in the moment—energizes any activity you focus on and any reality you choose to create. Perhaps your most important choice is to develop the deeper understanding and truth that comes when you are still. In addition, by cultivating acceptance, generosity, and gratitude, you will develop the insight required to be Chief.

Define your values. Finally, a strong set of values will be the foundation of your relationships. I don’t assume to know what values are most important to you, but I encourage you to find them for yourself. I can offer a set of values—the four universal value principles—that I learned from my wife to guide your choices in life: truth, service, equality, and connection. Please take some time to discern what values are most essential to your well-being, and bring them to the forefront of your interactions.

Each of these elements can be implemented today. Being Chief now, no matter your level or title, will increase your productivity, make you happier, and help potential interviewees. The choice is yours.

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How a Growth Roadmap Drives Financial and Personal Growth in Turbulent Times

Rick Miller featured in The Wealthy Business:

START_QUOTE_30t_smHere’s the good news: Many companies are announcing record profit levels. Now for the bad news: Too many of these same companies are saving their way to profitability rather than driving top-line revenue growth as employee engagement continues to fall. While markets have risen, there is a clear concern about whether this growth is sustainable. In my experience, revenue, profit, and personal growth are all attainable and sustainable in tough times using a proven Roadmap.

As a senior business turnaround specialist, I have worked with teams facing daunting business challenges ranging from poor culture and product shortfalls, to external issues like illegal competitive activity and market crashes. In each case, I relied on the All-In Roadmap as a guide. Independent of industry or whether I was in a startup or multinational, each time our team succeeded.
roadmapI created the All-In Roadmap, providing evidence that strong performance can be sustained even in tough times by focusing on a set of actions and personal attributes. A famous fighter once said that a plan is fine until you get hit in the mouth. In my experience, when things get tough it’s both the plan and your execution that determine success. The All-In Roadmap includes a balanced focus on five areas: discipline, support, creativity, insight, and values.

Success requires a key component—discipline. I define this as an orderly pattern of behavior that increases the likelihood of a desired outcome. For example, you must develop effective dashboards that include leading and lagging indicators. Do you have detailed plans linked to your strategy? Can you adjust quickly? Do you maximize the probability of your team’s success with strong discipline?

Support is the act or process of promoting the interests of another. First, truly successful leaders offer great support by being the example. Are your words consistent with your actions? Is your team properly trained for the battle and recognized when they achieve goals? Do you go the extra step and take responsibility to “set others up” for success? Do you do all you can to support your team?

Creativity is defined differently in my model. The All-In Roadmap advocates that creativity is actually the ability to manifest or create the future. It is up to you to “make things happen.” Do you listen to your gut feelings? Do you manage your thoughts? Do you speak your words carefully, write deliberately, and act in a way that will align each of these? Do you create fully and consciously?

Insight is the power or act of seeing intuitively that comes with self-understanding. You are most effective when you engage in actions that are consistent with who you are. Here are five ways you can learn more about yourself. Can you choose to be present and focus on the task at hand? Can you be still long enough to get in touch with your own voice? Can you accept what is? Are you generous and grateful? How well do you really know yourself?

Values are the foundation of great relationships. And great relationships can be characterized by a number of values including compassion, forgiveness, respect, empathy, and kindness. How visible are your values? Can team members clearly see your values in how you speak, write, and act? Do you respect the values of others?

Although my approach is research-based, it has also been called unconventional. Regardless of one’s opinion, it works. It’s why I was hired by AT&T in 1995 as the first outsider in 100 years to take over a poor performing business unit. Three years later, employee and customer satisfaction reached record levels while the revenue growth rates grew from $3B to $5B.

At a time when so many organizations face challenges, consider using a proven Roadmap to ask the right questions. Revenue, profit, and personal growth are all attainable and sustainable, even in tough times.
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Being Chief When You are Not (Always) In Charge

Being Chief is not about level or title—instead, it’s about choices. But the simple truth is, we live and work in a world with people of many different levels and titles, and where everyone has a boss. From the entry-level trainee, who seemingly reports to everyone, all the way up to the CEO (who reports to the board), everyone answers to someone. We don’t always have the ability to unilaterally choose what we want in the workplace. So, how can you succeed at being Chief when you are not in charge?

We’ve all been faced with situations that, despite our best efforts, involved decisions made against what we, ourselves, would have chosen. During these times, the best we can do is to remember the prayer first offered by American theologian Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. For the truly enlightened few, this may be enough.

For those interested a little more guidance, however, here are some tips that have worked for me as I learned to increase the impact I could have beyond the scope of a particular assignment:

Envision broadly – See the opportunity from beyond just your part of the organization.
Plan inclusively – Incorporate support groups in any strategy session.
Measure outside the lines – Keep track of support-group key measures and performance.
Shamelessly adopt – Find the best practices from peer groups. Adopt them, and recognize the originators.
Communicate consistently and consciously – Use words to connect.
Own it – See yourself as a Chief with responsibility across organization lines.
Live it – Make your values visible, in particular with regard to teamwork.
Assume the position – Always put yourself in your boss’s seat before

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you bring an issue or decision “up.” Bring the person in charge multiple options with pros and cons before you offer your recommendation.
Be empathic – Remember that you may be working for someone who is also not in charge, in that their word is not final. Have some empathy for your boss, too.

The good news is, more and more organizations realize that to stay competitive they need to decentralize decision making so those with the most first-hand knowledge are in charge on a particular issue.

Now I’d like to hear from you: How much would your team say they are in charge of?

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So You Want to Be a CMO

Rick Miller featured in Direct Marketing News online publication:

START_QUOTE_30t_smWhat choices can you make to unlock the potential of every member of your marketing staff? Many studies have confirmed that leaders can create and sustain next-level performance by focusing on a specific set of actions and personal attributes. Using these studies and adding a reality check from my personal frontline assignments as a senior operating executive, I have developed a simple set of choices to help you bring out the marketing chief in every member of your team. I refer to this tool as the All-In Roadmap.

The critical parts of the All-In Roadmap include actions (discipline and support), attributes (creativity and insight), and values. Positive choices in each of these areas will enable your team to perform at the next level—as Chiefs.

Discipline is an orderly pattern of behavior that increases the likelihood of a desired outcome. Whether you’re managing a team or simply managing your own projects, good discipline is always the right starting point. You must plan the work and then work the plan, while also developing effective dashboards with metrics for important leading and lagging indicators. Successful marketing requires not only a focus on many moving parts—strategy, competition, research, budget, endless details, etc.—but also the ability to quickly adjust your plans as needed. Do you maximize the probability of your team’s success with strong discipline?

Support is the act or process of promoting the interests or causes of another. Truly successful leaders offer great support for others, and support begins by being the example. It is often said, yet infrequently practiced, that great leaders must “walk the walk.” You can inspire team members with the consistency of your actions as a way to teach everyone more about who you are. Support can include the practice of asking questions to guide less experienced staff toward new ways of thinking. Or, formal and informal recognition can help encourage risk taking. Finally, you can take responsibility for enabling team members’ success. Take the attitude, and perform the actions, required to set your team up for success. Do you do all you can to support your team?

Creativity is the ability to bring things into existence. Creativity is no stranger to the field of marketing, but I offer to you an unconventional definition. All-In Leadership advocates that creativity is actually the ability to manifest, or create, the future. To be successful in marketing, there are five ways to be creative: Listen to your gut feelings, choose to manage your thoughts, speak your words carefully, write deliberately, and act in a way that will align each of these. If you find yourself having trouble creating the future you want, you can choose to simply “act the part” and feelings, thoughts, and words will follow. It’s important to acknowledge your accountability to create internally (through feelings and thoughts) and externally (in talking, writing, and acting). Do you create an optimal culture for your team fully and consciously?

Insight is the power or act of seeing intuitively that comes with self-understanding. You are at your most effective when you engage in actions that are consistent with who you are. Insight can be challenging to discover in a world that appears to move faster each day and is filled with challenges, opportunities, and seemingly endless to-do lists.

There are five ways you can learn more about yourself, and thereby learn more about your team. You can choose to be present (focus on the task at hand), still (get in touch with the only voice that matters—the one inside your own head!), accepting (don’t fight it), generous, and grateful. These acts may seem contrary to everything that goes on in your current workplace, but once implemented, they will open up new insight that can take your team to previously unreachable heights. Do you regularly invest time to quiet your mind to hear your own voice?

Values are the foundation of great relationships. Great relationships can be characterized by any number of values including compassion, forgiveness, respect, empathy, and kindness. Each of us has the choice to bring positive values to all our relationships—with team members, customers, owners, and partners. The values of truth, service, equality, and connection are universal value principles that can offer a great framework for your organization. Can team members clearly see your values in how you speak, write, and act?

Taken together, discipline, insight, support, creativity, and values comprise the parts of the All-In Roadmap. At a time when so many organizations and groups are in need of stronger leadership, I urge you to consider your opportunity to make choices proven to unlock the leadership potential in your team. It really doesn’t matter if you’re on top of an organization or somewhere below the top. You can help create a culture where every member of your team can operate as a chief. This roadmap has helped me unlock the potential of many diverse teams and I sincerely believe it will help you and your marketing team. The choice is yours. Good luck.

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Wisdom from a Great Chief—The Soul of Money

Lynne Twist will be a featured speaker at the TEDxWallStreet Conference on October 30, 2013. If you get the chance to see her live, or later on YouTube, you are in for a treat. I still remember the first time I heard Lynne speak at a conference focused on the future of business. Like the rest of the audience that day in La Jolla, I was struck by her experiences and her wisdom. Unlike those who use the term Chief to refer to people of a particular level or title, I use the term Chief to refer to anyone who is accountable for their choices and who is able to help others bring out the best in themselves. It was clear that I was listening to a great Chief that day.

As a veteran global activist and speaker, Lynne regularly shares stories from her work with leaders ranging from Mother Theresa to her mentor Buckminster Fuller. Lynne has spent decades on the front line working on world hunger, women’s rights, civil rights, and her current environmental focus working with the Panchamama Alliance. One common theme throughout her many diverse assignments has been her fundraising work. Lynne has developed an insightful view of money and of the business community that generates so much of it. She shares many of these lessons in her seminal book The Soul of Money.

Whether listening to Lynne speak or reading her book, Lynne will challenge your assumptions. Here’s an excerpt from The Soul of Money:

When we believe there is not enough, that resources are scarce, then we accept that some will have what they need and some will not. We rationalize that someone is destined to end up with the short end of the stick. When we believe that more is better, and equate having more with being more—more smart and more able—then people on the short end of that resource stick are assumed to be less smart, less able, even less valuable as human beings. We feel we have permission to discount them. When we believe that’s just the way things are, then we assume a posture of helplessness. We believe that a problem is unsolvable.

We often philosophize about the great, unanswered questions in life. It’s time we looked instead at … our relationship with money. It is there that we keep alive—at a high cost—the flame and mythology of scarcity. We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. Sufficiency isn’t about amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and we are enough.

Over the years … I have witnessed the phenomenal success of businesses where sufficiency is embraced as the guiding principle, making creative, efficient use of resources, and combining social responsibility with a deep commitment to service and quality. They haven’t abandoned the pursuit of profit or the commitment to increase market share. They have simply pursued their goals with conscious attention to integrity.

If you believe that money is the “root of all evil,” the definition of success, or anywhere in between, I encourage you to learn more about Lynne and her insights. We can all learn something from the wisdom of a great Chief.

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Greed on Wall Street—Time for Chiefs to Step Up!

An excellent article recently published in the New York Times outlined alarming news. Specifically, the law firm of Labaton Sucharow sent a questionnaire to 250 Wall Street industry insiders from dozens of financial companies. Respondents included traders, portfolio managers, investment bankers, hedge fund professionals, financial analysts, and investment advisers among others. While not claiming scientific survey status, the questionnaire results are telling. Highlights include:

  • 24% of respondents would engage in insider trading to make $10 million if they could get away with it.
  • 38% of those with less than 10 years’ experience would commit insider trading for $10 million if they wouldn’t be caught.
  • 15% doubted that their leadership, upon learning of a top performer’s crime, would report it to the authorities.

The article also references several studies to offer a potential explanation as to what led to these sobering results. According to one controversial study titled “Economics Education and Greed” published in 2011 by professors at Harvard and Northwestern, an education in economics surprisingly may be making the problem worse. “The results show that economics education is consistently associated with positive attitudes towards greed,” the authors wrote.

In order to reverse this trend of Wall Street community members seemingly more willing to engage in unethical behavior, Chiefs at all levels must be ready, willing, and able to step up! While the New York Times article references the whistleblower fund of taxpayer money set up to encourage reporting of known violations, I propose another way.

I believe Chiefs inside Wall Street institutions can wield sledgehammers, so to speak, and solve a lot of these issues from the inside. The large majority of Wall Street Chiefs are hard-working, ethical, and trustworthy individuals who need to increase their focus on eliminating this blemish on their collective reputation. They must demonstrate consistent actions to ensure that a culture of ethical behavior is the most visible attribute in an organization.

In addition to good hiring and strong internal audit practices, robust training programs and constant reinforcement can help companies of all sizes support good choices. From a cost/benefit perspective, focusing on ethical behavior may be the only area where it makes sense to “kill a flea with a sledgehammer.”

I believe regulation is necessary because with the amount of money involved, human beings are open to human frailties, but it’s time for Wall Street Chiefs at all levels to step up to self-policing. Bring out the sledgehammers.

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A True CFO is a Chief Fundamentals Officer

In my experience, the best CFOs take responsibility for far more than just “the numbers” in an organization. They also take a hands-on approach, and work the fundamentals of the business to drive its success.

I’ve had the opportunity to support several great financial leaders as a confidant over the past five years, but my view on what it takes to be a great CFO comes from what I learned from four strong individuals I worked with during my thirty years on the inside running businesses ranging from startups to multinationals.

My first job out of college was selling for technology company Sperry Corporation, which later became Unisys. My first exposure to a true business CFO came when I met Joe LaPilusa, who partnered with then Regional VP (and current EMC CEO) Joe Tucci, to lead the Eastern Region. In addition to traditional roles, Joe LaPilusa chose to involve himself in all aspects of operations, including sales strategies and customer relationships. Nobody was surprised when he was later promoted to lead the region as VP.

My next corporate assignment brought me to AT&T where CFO Rick Miller (not a typo—no relation) partnered with CEO Bob Allen to drive growth at Ma Bell. Rick came to AT&T from Wang Laboratories where he served as President, CEO, and Chairman. Rick began his career at General Electric where he earned a reputation as an aggressive business leader focused on details and execution. At AT&T, Rick’s deep and broad operational strength was invaluable running the $75B juggernaut.

In 2000, I left the world of (really) big business to serve as President and COO at the other end of the spectrum—at an internet startup. When I arrived, Opus360 was typical at that time—long on big dreams and short on operational excellence. One of our first moves was to strengthen the senior management team. We were fortunate to hire Pete Schwartz from Computer Associates. A former Marine Corp jet pilot, Pete brought deep operational expertise and experience that helped us grow our business when competitors were going out of business.

Later when I joined Lucent Technologies, I met then CFO (and current Pfizer CFO) Frank D’Amelio at a time when many were predicting bankruptcy for a company that had generated over $30B in revenue just two years earlier. Inheriting a disaster, CEO Pat Russo relied heavily on Frank to lead the charge. Frank ran the business like a cash business. He met with customers, supported people, and set the standard for transparency that became the bar for other companies to reach. In my mind at the time—Lucent wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for Frank.

Joe, Rick, Pete, and Frank are role models of great Chief Fundamentals Officers. If you work with similar professionals, you know how fortunate you are. Thanks guys.

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There are Marketers and Chief Marketers: Which are You?

Rick Miller featured in CommPro Marketing online publication:

START_QUOTE_30t_smBeing a Chief Marketer has nothing to do with level or title. Instead, it has everything to do with choices. Like Chiefs in other areas, Chief Marketers are leaders. They set the pace for others. They consistently make choices that demonstrate their value as they increase the value of those around them. They can be found in any part of any organization. So what choices can you make to earn your Chief stripes?

Research has confirmed that leaders (Chiefs) can create and sustain strong performance by focusing on a specific set of actions and personal attributes. Using these studies and adding a reality check from my experience as a senior operating executive, I have developed a simple set of choices to help you operate as a Chief Marketer. I refer to this set of choices as the All-In Roadmap.

The critical parts of the All-In Roadmap include actions (discipline and support), attributes (creativity and insight) and values.

Discipline is an orderly pattern of behavior that increases the likelihood of a desired outcome. Whether you are managing a team or simply managing your own projects, good discipline is always the right starting point. You must plan your work and then work your plan, while also developing effective dashboards with leading and lagging indicators. Success requires that you be able to quickly adjust your plans as needed while focusing on the many moving parts involved in marketing—strategy, competition, research, budget, endless details, etc. Do you maximize the probability of your team’s success with strong discipline?

Support is the act or process of promoting the interests or causes of another. Truly successful leaders offer great support by being the example. You can inspire team members with the consistency of your actions as a way to teach everyone more about who you are. Support also includes the practice of being curious. Ask questions to guide less experienced staff toward new ways of thinking. Also, formal and informal recognition of reserved staff members can help encourage risk taking. Finally, you can take responsibility to “set others up” for success. Do you do all you can to support your team?

Creativity has always been critical in the field of marketing, but I am offering you an unconventional definition of creativity. I believe creativity is actually the ability to manifest, or create, the future. To be successful in marketing, there are five ways to be creative: Listen to your gut feelings, choose to manage your thoughts, speak your words carefully, write deliberately, and act in a way that will align each of these. Acknowledge your own accountability to create internally (through feelings and thoughts) and externally (in talking, writing, and acting). Do you create fully and consciously?

Insight is the power or act of seeing intuitively that comes with self-understanding. You are at your most effective when you engage in actions that are consistent with who you are. Insight requires you to slow down at times to learn how to truly listen to your inner voice. There are five ways you can learn more about yourself. You can choose to be present (focused on the task at hand), still (in touch with the voice inside your own head), accepting (not fighting), generous, and grateful. These acts will open up your insight, which will have far-reaching beneficial effects for you, professionally and personally. Do you regularly invest time to quiet your mind to hear your own voice?

Values are the foundation of great relationships. Great relationships can be characterized by a number of values including compassion, forgiveness, respect, and kindness. Each of us has the choice to bring positive values to all our relationships—with team members, customers, owners, and partners. As you perform your marketing activities, can team members clearly see your values in how you speak, write, and act?

Taken together, discipline, insight, support, creativity, and values comprise the parts of the All-In Roadmap. At a time when so many organizations need great marketers, you have an opportunity to be your best. I urge you to consider choices proven to unlock your leadership potential. It really doesn’t matter if you are on top of an organization or somewhere below the top. Independent of level or title, you can operate as a Chief. The choice is yours.

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source

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BEING CHIEF Beyond Business—per Reverend Taylor

The following is a review of my upcoming book, BEING CHIEF, by Reverend Dr. Donald F. Taylor, Sr.:

START_QUOTE_30t_smIt has been my pleasure to read the book, BEING CHIEF, by Rick Miller. In my estimation, it is one of the very best that I have read. The theme of the book includes several very important points that will keep the reader involved and interested in the development of the concept being put forth.

Miller shares his All-In Leadership approach to deal with a very challenging topic—how can we be our best and help others do the same? He has come upon a very unique way of integrating sound principles of leadership with a thorough review of our own personality, motives, and desired outcomes. Among other recommendations, he proposes integration, rather than separation, of our personal and professional lives based upon a “common set of values.”

Miller states that his successful All-In Leadership and All-In Living concepts require that leaders make “… good choices involving families, communities, governments, social agencies, and educational institutions, as well as business.” I could not help but reflect on how pertinent his advice is to those leaders who also have responsibility in the religious realm. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this book might be on the required reading list for those who anticipate a life of service connected very directly with the cleric.

This book truly transcends culture. Among the books of this nature to which I have been exposed, I consider BEING CHIEF a classic. The book is about more than how to reach a leadership position in an organization; rather, it shows how everyone profits when sound leadership practices are put into place. It follows so very closely the dictum, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” To follow the All-In Roadmap outlined in the book is a win-win situation for everyone.

I am also impressed with BEING CHIEF because of the subliminal implications for minorities, women, and the unconnected talent in our society. These groups often find that encouragement and “normal” pathways are muted or non-existent.

I read the book with the presumption that it probably didn’t refer too much to me or to folk like me. However, before I got too far into the document, I began to feel that the document was, indeed, speaking to me.

The All-In Roadmap is based on five important questions and choices designed to “… help you create an adaptive culture in your group or company, where people will excel and growth will be the result.” This approach presents five basic choices that include in-depth discussion on discipline, the development of insight, demonstration of support, the use of creativity, and a call to actually visibly live our values.

Miller does not presume to preach but instead believes that a “roadmap” can help you and your team get from wherever you are today to wherever you want to go. All along the way, you are given choices. Your driving preferences, he states, may change along the way and his roadmap will lay out alternative routes in response. Sometimes the most direct way may not be the best way for you to go. At times you may want to slow down, speed up, or travel in a different direction in order to reach your destination. There are times you may need to make certain stops along the way. Rick provides discussions on these alternatives.

Probably the most remarkable thing about the book that Miller so elegantly writes about and teaches is that he knows how to think humanely. During this time of great transition our nation is experiencing, when so many are searching for ways to be more meaningful professionally and to reap the benefits of advancement for themselves and others, such a book is sorely needed.

I unequivocally endorse BEING CHIEF by Rick Miller. It is a powerful book.

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—Reverend Dr. Donald F. Taylor, Sr.

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Business Schools Implement a New Selection Criteria

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that many business schools nationwide are adding personality tests to the traditional application process. I applaud this move because it will require applicants to not only demonstrate intelligence and aptitude, but also what it takes to relate to others (and themselves) in the real world, a concept otherwise known as emotional intelligence (EQ).

Since 2010, the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business has required applicants to fill out a 206-question Personal Characteristics Inventory. “Companies select for top talent with assessments like this,” stated Andrew Sama, senior associate director of their MBA admissions. “If we are selecting for future business leaders, why shouldn’t we be [using] similar tools?”

Personally, I have had success using my own tool to evaluate people. Specifically, I have focused on i3K—intelligence, intensity, integrity, and kindness. I developed this tool early in my career at Sperry Corporation and have used it ever since. This tool looks at both IQ as well as EQ. I learned early on that EQ is critical to building high-performance teams.

When I later arrived at AT&T, I wanted to get an early read on my senior team. I found no shortage of data from the human resources department, but unfortunately it was of no value to me. According to the files, everyone was doing a terrific job and always had. That’s when I put i3K to work. I was able to get a much more complete picture of my team.

Notre Dame is not the only school to assess emotional intelligence. Yale School of Management has also begun testing volunteer applicants in order to gather data on what traits will predict future success. Even University of Ottawa’s medical school applicants are now assessed for EQ qualities. I expect many more schools, business or otherwise, to follow suit.

At the very core of being Chief we discover that a Chief must not only dictate orders, make decisions, and put plans into action, but must also be the example. In order to achieve this, emotional intelligence is required. Fortunately, EQ can be learned. Not only will business schools be testing for emotional intelligence, but I’m sure they will also be teaching it in the years to come. I look forward to the positive results of these changes.

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