Men Need to Lean In Too

I am a fan of Sheryl Sandberg’s best seller Lean In. Specifically, the counsel she offers women to help them take charge of their lives is compelling. Sandberg speaks of the struggle for equal pay, equal treatment, and equal voice in the workplace and she provides specific advice to help women come into their rightful leadership roles with more confidence. In my view, however, the book is just as valuable to men as it is to women. I believe if more men read the book they will not only better understand the institutional challenges facing women—and to work to level the playing field because it’s the right thing to do—but they will also benefit personally from many of Sandberg’s insightful suggestions.

Among the many great ideas offered, the following stand out for me:

  • Acknowledge self-doubt and realize at times you may need to fake it to make it
  • Understand the relationship between likeability and success
  • Learn to withstand criticism
  • Build mutually supportive relationships in and outside work
  • Practice self-advocacy
  • Look for mentors by first being a great mentee, and mentor others
  • Bring your whole self to work
  • Learn to really listen
  • Be a role model of integrity in everything you are and do
  • Utilize “nudge techniques” to bring about important changes

The only area where I might differ from Ms. Sandberg’s hypothesis is in her assertion that “Having it all is a myth.” I

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prefer the view offered by Dr. Arlene Cardozo in her 1986 book Sequencing in which she asserts “you can have it all, but not all at once.” In this area, to Sandberg’s credit, she offers sage counsel in the chapter “Don’t leave before you leave.” Her message: Be all-in, and give it 100% every day you are at work. This is true for women and men.

Personally, I chose to leave the rigors of corporate life for a period when my oldest son entered high school with my daughter two years behind. I stepped off the ladder during several prime earning years knowing that my heavy workload had impacted family time during their early years. I knew that once college started I would not have the opportunity for a different level of family connection again. In this way, I was able to have it all, just not all at once.

In my view, Sandberg’s Lean In offers excellent advice to women and men. I think that if more people utilize her advice, both women and men will benefit.

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A Business Alliance for the Future

Do business leaders get it? Do they understand the critical role business must play to address today’s biggest challenges, including melting glaciers, widening income disparity, disappearing rainforests, and the global economic crisis? My answer to these questions is yes, and I’d like to share some good news.

Specifically, there are a number of business associations working for positive change in the business realm. These organizations are adding members regularly and are working to promote a future in which success is defined in terms of the triple bottom line—people, profits, and the planet.

Representing a full range of companies from startups to multinationals, these associations are supporting and sponsoring a change in how business decisions are made. They view the impact on society and the environment as equal to that of financial gains and are creating a paradigm shift for business as we know it.

Next month, on March 17–19 in Santa Barbara, 50 leaders from 26 of these organizations along with four global outreach groups are meeting together for the first time at a summit to find ways to better leverage their individual work with the understanding that business needs to be the driver of positive change in the world.

As a participant in this first-of-its-kind summit, I’d like to acknowledge the following organizations (and members) for their important work to date and their foresight to join forces to accelerate change. I urge anyone reading this blog to familiarize yourself with these powerful teams and to determine where you could add your voice to create a more positive future.

This influential group

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of business associations is taking an All-In approach, integrating discipline and support with creativity and insight, all rooted in a firm foundation of values. For true sustainability in business, I believe this is the only way forward.

More to follow…

Business Associations
American Sustainable Business Council
Aspen Institute
B Team
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Business as an Agent of World Benefit
Business for Social Responsibility
Charter for Compassion International
Conscious Capitalism, Inc.
Emerging Changemakers Network
Esalen Institute
Fair Trade USA
Future 500
Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative
Great Work Cultures Big Tent Initiatives
Green Biz Group, Inc.
Institute for Sustainable Enterprise
Net Impact
New America Foundation
Opportunity Collaboration
Socially Responsible Investors
Social Venture Network
Transitioning to Green
World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM)
World Business Academy
World Business Council for Stainable Development (USA)
Young Presidents’ Organization

Global Affiliations / Service Organizations / Outreach
Clinton Foundation
Democracy Unlimited
Pachamama Alliance
White House Office for Social Innovation and Civic Participation

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Unconventional Values

“It’s just business” is a phrase I have heard many people use in my professional career. For me, this phrase has become a red flag. In my experience, more often than not the individual using this phrase is signaling their choice to separate personal and professional values, a practice I believe has a broad and negative impact.

The good news is that there is a seemingly endless list of positive values that individuals demonstrate most comfortably in their personal lives. These include, but are certainly not limited to, authenticity, compassion, honesty, kindness, service, and trust. When asked, most people will say they live their values outside the confines of familiar territory. The bad news is that too often human behavior tells another story.

Too many of us make very different choices when in unfamiliar surroundings or when dealing with unfamiliar people. To maintain self-esteem, we become good at rationalization. One bad decision leads to another and soon we find that our actions contradict our values. I do not believe that the majority of bad decisions start with people who wanted to do evil, as the growing number of white-collar crimes might suggest. Instead, I believe many of these individuals merely started down the slippery slope of believing “it’s just business.”

We need more among us to act in a clear and consistent manner so that our values are never in question because they are apparent in all that we do. When our values are what get us out of bed in the morning and what help us sleep at night, everything about what we do, the people we connect to, and our relationship with ourselves will change. I have worked with many clients who have chosen to let their values lead their actions, and their results show it. To accomplish this level of alignment, there are several choices we must make.

First, we need to take time to consciously reflect on and become clear about the values that hold the most importance to us.

Second, we need to become far more comfortable talking about and displaying our values so they are clear to others. I recommend actively talking to others about our values—as opposed to keeping them to ourselves—as a way of reinforcing the important foundation our values play in all that we do. The unconventional practice of beginning each task, project, conversation, or transaction by first checking in with our values will continually raise the bar at all the right times.

Many notable and successful organizations have made the visibility of their values a top priority. Whole Foods prominently posts their values in each store. Zappos displays them on delivery packages. In business, we need to be sure that our values are not only prominently displayed on the wall, but that they are also included on the agenda—every single day.

Third, we need to practice carrying out our values in our day-to-day lives and to reinforce that behavior in others when we see it.

Our values must form the foundation of everything that we do in order for us to be effective and successful both personally and in business. When we are strongly rooted in our values, and when we make that commitment apparent to others, our positive impact in the world multiplies. When it becomes conventional for businesses and individuals to both more visibly talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to their values, we’ll all be better off.

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

Unconventional Discipline
Unconventional Support
Unconventional Creativity
Unconventional Insight

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Unconventional Insight

It seems as if every media outlet these days is offering an article, blog, book, or talk on happiness. Virtually everyone has a view on the formula for bliss. Most provide conventional advice for what you can do to increase the probability of true contentment and success. Fewer emphasize the critical connection between what you do and who you choose to be. Very few offer a roadmap to help you on the important life journey of self-knowing, or insight. Respectfully, I offer the view that both individuals and groups will be happier when this form of unconventional insight becomes the norm.

In my experience, there are five powerful ways for you to increase your insight.

Be present – When you are totally aware and conscious, you can use all of your senses to learn the most possible in the current moment. Try to maintain your total focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy the quality of experience that results when you are not thinking about the past nor focused on the future. Your ability to be totally attentive and in the moment energizes any activity you choose to focus on, including building your self-awareness.

Be accepting – When you choose to accept people and circumstances for who and what they are, you can escape the frustration of trying to change people and/or change the past. When you accept the past, as well as remain open to circumstances and people, you open yourself to the possibilities of learning from all situations and from every individual.

Be still – Contrary to many Western cultural norms, perhaps your most important choice is to develop the deeper understanding and truth that come with the inner balance of being still. With all the noise that surrounds you regularly, you have the wonderful opportunity to find a quiet place to listen to the voice that matters most—your own. Your ability to develop trust and confidence in your own voice will offer the greatest potential to learn who you truly are.

Be generous – When you choose to be charitable with your possessions, your money, and your time, you will experience a powerful inner peace. By achieving the important balance between giving and receiving, you eliminate much of the possibility of arrogance, and you will remain genuinely and truly humble. Humility will help you remain open to a greater understanding of who you are.

Be grateful – It is easy to be grateful when things are going well. It takes inner strength and composure to remain grateful when facing one of life’s difficult periods. You have the choice to remain appreciative of the opportunity to learn lessons from the challenges you are asked to face. By doing so, your experience can be transformed and you will learn more about your true self, which will bring about happiness.

What is perhaps most unconventional about this approach to insight is the progressive combination of these individually important attributes, each of which is a choice you can make. By choosing to be increasingly more present, accepting, still, generous, and grateful on a regular basis, you will heighten your understanding of yourself and tap into a deeper meaning of happiness that is unshakable.

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

Unconventional Discipline
Unconventional Support
Unconventional Creativity
Unconventional Values

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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.


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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