Some Early Thoughts on Leadership

I came across a couple of excerpts that I used to have up on my wall when I was a signals officers. They were printed out on a dot matrix printer, which should tell you how long ago that was.

Reminders of the demands of leadership…

How to sack a divisional commander: Tewkesbury, 4 mAY 1471

LORD WENLOCK not having advanced to the support of the first line, but remaining stationary, contrary to the expectations of Somerset, the latter, in a  rage, rode up to him , reviled him, and beat his brains out with an axe.

– Richard Brooke – Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes p. 104 – Oxford University Press

it is not infrequently the case that when an officer falls on the battlefield, enquiries are made as to which side shot him

…Brigadier-General Richard Kane, warned in his memoirs that officers who ill-treated their men could expect to “meet their fate in the day of battle from their own men.” He is by no means the only military writer to sound this caution. There is a story of a major o the 15th foot who, on the field of Blenheim, turned to address his regiment before the assault, and apologized for his past ill behaviour. he requested that, if he must fall, it should be by the bullets of the enemy. If spared, he would undertake to mend his ways. To this abject performance, a grenadier said: “March on, sir; the enemy is before you, and we have something else to do than think of you now.” After several attacks, the regiment carried its position and the major, gratified, not doubt, to be still alive, turned to his troops and removed his hat to call for a cheer. No sooner had he said “Gentlemen, the day is ours” than he was struck in the forehead y a bullet and killed. There was a decided suspicion that the bullet was no accident.

E.S. Turner – IBID p. 145

What Are Your “Kept Promise Indicators”?

“Dental Brand Promises — make three promises and then measure if you’re keeping them (Kept Promise Indicators – KPI!) – then grab a Net Promoter Score (NPS) while you’re at it. This dental practice has nailed it with this simple survey – see picture below:

“Notice how specific and measurable each promise is – can you say the same for your three brand promises? And we learned from Steve Martin, co-author of The small Big, that three is the ideal number of “reasons to buy” – more influencing than 2 or 4 or 10 reasons! Thanks to Rockefeller Habits 2.0 fan Tony Gedge, owner of Marketing Pirates of Dentistry, for sharing this example.”

And thanks to Vern Harnish “The Growth Guy” for sharing this example on his blog

It’s Not a Bus

…maybe it’s a Viking ship. Because people aren’t just sitting around, they have to pull together. Or maybe it’s a space-ship. You decide. Then get the right people on it.

So You’ve Got the Right People on the Bus. What If It’s Not a Bus Anymore?

Leaving a Legacy

It’s about who you leave behind

Indecision is the Enemy

Indecision is the enemy


We often feel as though things look like this: 360 degrees of choices. “What if I pick the wrong thing and then I’m headed in the wrong direction?”

But really, deciding where to start is the enemy of starting. The thing you pick doesn’t have to be the thing you do for the rest of your life. (Hint: it probably won’t be.) But you have no idea how the things you learn now will benefit what you end up doing in the future.

You can’t steer a parked car. Pivot as needed. Pick an option and go! Starting is progress. Indecision is the enemy.

– I’d love to know who wrote this. If you know the source please drop me a line and clue me in.

Two Thoughts on Creativity

To have a good idea you must first have lots of ideas

Linus Pauling

…prototyping is not about the prototypes we create, but the interactions that our designs invite

John Won

The Beauty of Our Humanity – Ten Things I Know to Be True #11

When I came to New York city, and saw the iconic skyline, I made the off-handed remark that it didn’t seem to me to be any bigger than my hometown downtown of Calgary.
Since then I’ve learned how wrong I was.We’ve spend five days exploring Manhattan Island, and we haven’t made it past Midtown yet. New York isn’t a city, it’s a collection of cities, all jammed up against each other. And then last night we popped out for the subway down the street from *the* most famous jazz club in the world, the Blue Note. And I had the privilege of watching three musicians who made me literally cry for joy.
Tonight I learned that we human beings connect with more than words or noise. I watch three people connect on  a level so deep and profounditseemedtometo be a religious experience. They used music but also sight, being seen, body language, and facial expressions. They used trust, experience, and focus to create something transcendent. They expressed joy, friendship, and love with every movement, glance, and smile.

I understood why “evolution” seems such a weak word. A coughing, sickly word without energy or mass, without the emotional weight needed to inspire. That such a deep connection, unity, intimacy,  “couldn’t” (but did) happen by natural selection. That we have no sense of the deep time, age, scope, and scale of the universe, nor do we realize the rarity and beauty of our place in it.

This misunderstanding is our arrogance on display. The expression of connection and intimacy I witnessed last night, that is our beauty.

(Re)Starting Your Company #1 – Teach

Alexander the Great with his teacher Aristotle

Alexander the Great with his teacher Aristotle

Finding the right people to help you run your company is hard. Especially here in Calgary. Finding qualified and competent workers at all levels has been a challenge for years, with no end in sight, because of the boom economy.

Getting the right people is a strategic differentiator for your company. So instead of competing with everybody else, you might want to try something different.

Recruit your students. Don’t have any? Go out and teach or volunteer in your professional community. This is an extension of a previous suggestion for restarting your career – get out there and volunteer in the community.

One of my clients is a sales manager for a home-builder. In order to develop herself professionally, she volunteered to teach the local entry-level realtor’s certification. If you know anything about the Calgary real estate market, you’ll know that it was barely affected by the crash. Vacancy rates have been at less than 1% for a couple of years now. Lots of new agents are entering this hot market hoping to make their fortunes in sales.

But there are many other opportunities in this city. Even though the hiring pool is wide, sometimes it’s not  very deep. And no matter what the size of the candidate pool, we always wanting to be skimming off the top – to get the best available candidates for the money we’re paying.

Besides being a great way to stretch herself, authentically give back to the community, and enhance her personal and company’s reputation, she realized that she had a month-long opportunity to “interview” candidates for hours at a time in the evenings and weekends. The best ones – self-motivated, self-disciplined, smart, hard-working – are the ones she invited for a coffee chat.

By not making the excuse of too busy (she is a shareholder in the company and the mother of a young child), by developing herself and giving back to the industry, not only did she burnish her own and the company’s reputation, she also found a pipeline of likely candidates in a very tight market.

Want to restart the hiring pipeline for your company? Get yourself and your leaders out there.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

Presented without comment

Questions to ask your interviewer

How to Get Locked Out of the Abundance Economy

Power has always been about relationships, trust, influence, and control. Until now. Control is gone. Information, data, and learning is fluid, instantly accessible, and high quality to anybody who has an internet connection and half a brain. If you try to put yourself in a position of control, people will just work around you.

Getting locked out of the abundance economy

I was at a community motorcycle show ‘n’ shine last weekend. I approached a local, respected builder to see if he was interesting in being in an upcoming “hand built” show. Our Motorcycle company is sponsoring one this fall. He’s the kind of guy that gets invited to Sturgis. He sells his parts internationally. He’s good at what he does. But his response made me think he is an self-important ass.

He wasn’t interested, he said, in competing “against crap assembled out of catalog parts. I hand forge parts. I’d fabricate my own bearings if I could. Any custom shop that doesn’t own a lathe shouldn’t call themselves custom.” He pooh-pooh’d the local motorcycle building community.  He wasn’t interested in sharing what he does, his passion for his craft, or what “hand-built” means to him. Apparently he’s better than that, and the rest of us aren’t worth his time. Presumably because we don’t work to his standard.

He was more interested in sitting on his sofa and holding court. Literally, he had a purple velvet sofa under his booth’s awning.

This is the problem with making your craft (business, cause) your religion. Of having only “one true way”. People that want to learn, to build their skills, to give and create, be included – they get turned off. The tribe loses when these eager novices wander away after being scolded. These novices (who may very well have their own experience, perspective, and unique skills) go apply those talents elsewhere.

We all lose, and we’re all diminished by association. We lose the opportunity to make a lasting contribution beyond our own existence by being true leaders. By influencing and teaching others. By sharing our vision, and seeing others’.

The solution? Easy. And this is why I love my sweetie and partner: we’ll just bring in somebody bigger from out of town. There’s always somebody better somewhere else. And in today’s connected world they’re easy to find. She’d already been talking to a guy on the coast who teaches others how to weld their own frames. He’s more than happy to come out and share. And that was just the first guy we’ve reached out to.

So if you’re feeling like you’ve got things locked up, if you feel as if nobody can take your market away from you because it’s yours, that you’re entitled to something, then I’d like to back your competitors. Especially the young, upcoming ones that are creative, original, and inclusive.

You are never entitled to your market or your reputation. You have to earn it every day. Get off your velvet throne.

Bernie works with small, medium (and sometimes) large companies, start-ups, and volunteer organizations to help them set a vision that is executable, to be effective, and to surround themselves with people who will help them succeed. I believe the workplace is a place to thrive, not just survive. Call me if you want help transforming your business.