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Portrait of Jennifer Kahnweiler

The Rise of the Introverts

February 19, 2014

Jennifer Kahnweiler was interviewed by the American Management Association.

I am often asked why we are hearing so much about introverts. “They are everywhere”, someone told me recently. No, they have always been everywhere but now you are noticing their existence … I call it the “rise of the introverts”. Part of it is the influence of the new wave of leadership where people are not command and control anymore. There’s more research coming out that says that people who are more humble, quiet and calm tend to get more results without a lot of noise, with those loud rattling of the sabers.

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Cover of "To Sell is Human" by Daniel Pink

To Sell Is Human

February 14, 2014

Daniel Pink is a master of the art of the amplification of curated research. Like his kindred spirit, Malcolm Gladwell, Pink has taken keen insights in real life, organized them into a theme, woven the theme together with interesting and germane research, and capped it all off with regular doses of great advice.

This is not a book about sales — at least not in the classic sense. Instead, To Sell Is Human is a book for people who want to improve other’s lives and make the world a better place. I’m guessing that includes just about all of us.

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Employee Talent Hiding in Plain Sight

February 11, 2014

We have a tendency to think that past performance is an indicator of future results. And yet, we know this isn’t true in other realms. The financial industry warns us with every earnings call and SEC filing that past performance is not an indicator of future results. However, in building our organizations and in leading others we make exactly this mistake.

We can use Matthew McConaughey’s career as a lens to explore how someone’s potential might be hiding in plain sight. McConaughey had some early career success and seemed to be coasting on a wave of celebrity. He was popular, no doubt, but deemed only a mediocre talent by most critics.

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Man trying to work out how to get a square peg into a round hole.

Have we been looking at 'cultural fit' all wrong?

February 6, 2014

Most of the time — especially when we are looking to hire someone — we put a lot of emphasis on cultural fit. We’ve got a round hole and we go looking for a round peg.

I’m afraid that we’ve got the idea of ‘fit’ backwards. You don’t go looking for someone who fits. You start by articulating what fit looks like on your team and then go looking for someone willing and able to adapt.

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Team Dynamics: Learn, Improve, Repeat.

January 31, 2014

Continuous Improvement” is a mantra for just about all areas of our businesses and — if we’re ambitious — our lives. Companies make huge investments in everything from lean manufacturing to agile software development knowing that the best way to make things better is through steady and continual improvement. We reengineer our business processes to have feedback loops so we can learn from what we have done and build on those learnings.

Learn. Improve. Repeat.

It’s a no-brainer, right? The relentless pursuit of perfection, as Lexus would say. Everything is fair game. Nothing is exempt from the beneficent outcomes of continuous improvement…

Well, almost nothing.

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A triangle of three people drawn on a yellow sticky note with a circle of arrows pointing to each one.

Advice to Writers (and Leaders)

January 29, 2014

Tim Siedell (aka BadBanana) is one of my favorite personalities on Twitter. His tweets are always good for a smile.

Last fall he was interviewed by Jon Winokur on a site called Advice to Writers. Tim’s insights strikes me as great advice for leaders too.

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Let's Make 2014 The Year of the Strong Organization

January 8, 2014

"The only way to change the world is through strong organizations. No visionary leader, no charismatic leader can change the world unless they know how to build an organization and a team around them."
— Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

We all need a livelihood. For most of us, that means going to work at companies and in organizations. Unfortunately, too many of those organizations manage to suck the life out of us. It doesn't have to be this way. I kick off 2014 with a call to put an end to the dysfunction and the insanity. Dilbert has been published since 1989. Why haven't our organizations evolved at all in the last 24 years? Why is it still funny?

Join me in making 2014 the year of building great organizations.

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The Rhythm of Productivity – Reprise

January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

As the holidays wrap up this week, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead.

A cycle of annual and quarterly planning sets the strategy that you execute with a weekly and daily rhythm. You think ‘big picture’ and chart your course broadly at the beginning of the year. Then, on a quarterly basis, you make more specific plans that help you reach those ‘big picture’ goals.

Next, every week you lay out specific activities that you are going to work on, and finally, every day you identify tasks that must be done.

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How To Take Stock And Plan For A Breakout Quarter

December 11, 2013

I love to hike. There is something deeply satisfying in loading a few provisions into a backpack and heading off into the hills. I have had the good fortune of hiking in the Colorado Rockies as well as the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Hiking is both an exhausting and exhilarating activity. The pack is heavy and rarely comfortable. The trail is often steep, the terrain rocky. There are times when each step is a slog. You make progress by keeping your head down and putting one foot in front of the other again and again. You find your stride.

Eventually, it’s time for a break. You reach a vista where you loosen your pack and refresh yourself with water. And then you look up. The view is amazing. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how far you’ve traveled. Looking ahead, you see the path clearly in front of you. You catch your breath, revel in your progress, affirm your course, and don the pack for another march.

The rhythm of productivity follows a similar path.

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Pair of stylish quad roller skates on color background.

Lessons from the Roller Rink

November 21, 2013

I love to roller skate — indoor skating in a good rink with great music and a primo floor. There’s nothing like getting lost in a song while you glide effortlessly a few inches above the floor.

I’m pretty good at it too — or at least I was back in the day. During college I even taught classes. I still have the syllabus tucked away somewhere.

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