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Latest Blog Posts

Stuck on broadcast mode

I'm sitting in a hotel lobby with my back to the nearly-vacant bar. Two businessmen are talking to each other about a potential deal they'd like to make. Correction: they're not talking to each other, they're talking at each other. In nearly an hour, I have heard...

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What we can learn from pledge drives

Here's a thought: An old sales adage goes, "Always be closing." I think it's wrong and here's why. I've been listening to NPR for the last 20 years. (At the same time, I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal.) And in those two sentences, I've probably convinced both...

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What if you just reduced irritants?

I had coffee with a seasoned and bright marketing executive last week.  He said something that stuck out to me: Most of the time, you can differentiate your company/product/service/brand by just figuring out what irritates customers about companies in your industry...

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Getting (and keeping) your stars on board

HBR's May 2010 cover article touts a provocative finding: 1 in 4 "high potential" leaders intend to leave their companies within a year. When I saw that finding, I both raised my eyebrows and nodded my head.  In some ways, it's surprising that up-and-coming leaders...

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What are you building?

March Madness wrapped up a week ago.  I was torn while watching the final.  As the youngest of five boys and life-long fan of teams like the Red Sox, I love underdogs. (Remember, before 2004 the Red Sox were perennial underdogs fighting the Evil Empire. I know that's...

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Real values

Anytime organizations are charting their futures, the topic of values comes up.  And when you bring it up, I can guarantee one thing: at least 40% of the room will give you that cynical look. Really? Another values exercise? Why is that? Here's my experience-based...

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Leading Through Bad News

It's almost the end of a quarter.  For many organizations, this quarter continues a string of difficult ones - and our typical focus on reporting quarterly results just reinforces that. Of course, some bad news doesn't follow a nice quarterly calendar.  One client...

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A Critical Distinction

Sometimes we confuse critical thinking with just being critical. There's nothing about critical thinking that says you have to be a jerk. In fact, really useful critical thinking inspires the hearer to raise the bar (vs. defend himself).  But many hours are wasted...

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What we can learn from curling

Before you make snarky comments about the title of this post (and yes, I've thought of a half dozen myself), think about this quote from a recent Wall Street Journal article about why the US curling team failed to medal in the Olympics: "We never really got on one...

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Good fights

I got some interesting responses from my last post on handling irritants. It led me to think more about the inevitable fights we have on leadership teams. We shouldn't be surprised when leadership teams experience conflict. Whenever there are important issues and...

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Handling Irritants

A while back, I was talking with an extraordinarily successful leader about his company.  As often happens with astute leaders, the conversation eventually swung to the quality of his leadership team.  He has been working hard to improve the prospects of his business...

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