January 31, 2012

What Inspires You?

We all find our places to get inspiration. It can come from books, quotes, colleagues, family or friends. We may see something in passing, overhear a conversation or connect with something online. Inspiration may not at first look like much but percolate and re-emerge later.

I started doing something on Twitter late last year and continued it into 2012. It was a simple tweet to begin each day with something inspirational and at times funny or silly. This began as a personal kick in the butt. Some days need a bigger kick than others.

List from January 2012 

1. First day of the rest of your year
2. What now?
3. Be kind to each other today
4. Let's get to it!
5. Connect with 5 new people and 5 people you haven't seen or talked with in a while
6. Be true to you
7. Never underestimate the power of helping someone
8. Cherish friendship and the lives that touch you
9. We must discard what is slowing us down and focus on what will help us grow
10. Don't let busy be your excuse
11. Be who you are, say what you feel. Those who mind don't matter,
      those who matter don't mind. (Dr. Seuss quote)
12. Imagine. Create. Share.
13. What will you do today that will make a positive change in your life?
14. Surround yourself with people who strengthen you then reciprocate
15. Think of five people who can help you.      
16. What are you doing today that will affect tomorrow?
17. Winter is not our friend (It was a particularly cold winter day)
18. Invest in activities that will strengthen you
19. Reach out to three people you want to help today
20. Let's say yes or no and not get stuck on maybe
21. Make time for you time
22. Are you ready for some football? (NFL playoff reference)
23. Welcome to the Year of the Dragon
24. Make time for think time
25. Trust yourself. You've earned it
26. Who will you inspire today?
27. Help and ask for help
28. You have the answer
29. Don't be so hard on yourself
30. Others' perception is just their perception
31. Don't wait, pick up the phone

Let’s keep inspiring each other 

Kneale Mann

image credit: vanseodesign

January 30, 2012

Do You Dress for Success?

Someone asked me recently for my thoughts about provocative attire at work. And it led to a conversation about dress codes in general.

You don’t expect the plumber to show up in a suit and tie while you wouldn't see the CEO attend the board meeting in a bikini. Some organizations have a stated dress code while others have a more unwritten guideline. Casual Fridays in one sector may be leather loafers and cashmere sweaters while in another industry it could mean shorts and t-shirts.

Some educational institutions have dress codes which require students to wear a uniform. This may seem a bit strict for some but have a look around the board room of a financial company and count the white shirts and navy slacks.

Your brain, experience, creativity, imagination and passion are much more important than your attire in my opinion but some may disagree so we should take a moment and read the room.

I wish you success no matter the uniform.

Kneale Mann

image credit: guardian.co.uk

January 27, 2012

Does This Scare You?

In 1999, the Cluetrain Manifesto was ahead of its time and in a lot of respects it remains there. Like so much of the book, one passage that is even more relevant today...

“We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. 
We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it.” 

They Are The Future. We Must Deal With It.

Kneale Mann

visual credit: phdworldwide

January 24, 2012

Is it Business or a Hobby?

In the last four or five years, I have met more entrepreneurs than the previous two decades. Some is through my work and some is the time spent on the social web.

We can get intoxicated by the numbers and paralyzed by the activity. Many have confided that they have spent a lot of time trying to build their online presence yet business isn’t where it needs to be and it’s time to get serious. Building business takes time and hard work. Building a strong online presence for your business can seem like an endless climb.

Collaboration: Working together to achieve a goal, a process where two or more people work together to realize shared goals.

I was speaking with a colleague recently about how to do a better job articulating offers and reaching prospective clients. She said, "It’s time to sell the hobby farm”. Of course it wasn't a shot at farming, which is an essential part of our survival but rather a metaphor that relates to figuring out how much time we are spending building a business versus how much we spend messing about and calling it business. Think of the wasted meetings and busy work compared to time spent actually growing your people and the company.

It would be easy to say this is only a concern of small business owners but this type of mentality can infiltrate leadership within all sizes of enterprise. Large organizations can fall victim of the activity verses progress conundrum. We can stay busy or we can help each other inside our organizations and across industries and the social web.

Let's Connect Not Collect

Kneale Mann

image credit: lego 

January 21, 2012

Clay Shirky says SOPA and PIPA are Bad

Millions have been vocal online lately about two pieces of legislation in Congress in the United States. One is SOPA - the Stop Online Piracy Act and the other is PIPA - the Protect Intellectal Property Act

Mainstream media have been trying to figure out a way to stop us from sharing (and in some people’s minds, stealing) content for years. This has taken the Napster issue to a level no one ever imagined. If you create content, I think you should be compensated. But it's not as simple as to label us thieves with a sweeping piece of legislation.

Mega sites like Wikipedia and Google created online petitions against SOPA and PIPA and millions signed them. At the moment, the U.S. Congress has chosen to put these decisions on hold. But this is clearly not the end. And it won't remain on American soil so this affects everyone, even those of us who live elsewhere.

Clay Shirky discusses SOPA and PIPA in this TED Talk

Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED | Clay Shirky

January 20, 2012

No One Wants a Boss

As our days are filled by commiserating about that stuff that may be missing from our work, we must look at the top. If you work long enough, you will eventually be given more responsibility and perhaps other people who will look to you for direction. Most don’t want you to dictate their actions but rather guide them and back them up. A friend emailed me this week about her boss who feels compelled to raise his voice in every meeting like the alpha male pounding his chest to remind the minions who’s in charge. Perhaps you've met this guy.

Collaboration Personified

Simply because people stay is not evidence of strong leadership. Most people need money twice a month to pay for those pesky things called bills. Organizational attrition is rarely documented if one or two people leave every couple of months but over the course of a decade, how much of your team has been replaced? Do you think it could be linked to weak leadership?

A lot is written and said about the power of human connection but we need to mean it and dig deep on it and live it and embrace it for real. No stakeholder will believe a well crafted mission statement that says people are important if it’s not proven through action. You can’t pretend to care simply to get someone to do their job.

Do As You're Told

If you have kids, you have experienced a time when they defied you, acted up against your direction or disobeyed you. Discipline can be a justified response but what is the real issue going on? In the enterprise, if an employee has a temper tantrum, they are often reprimanded and sometimes dismissed. It’s not tolerated. But why is it endured when "the boss" flips out?

An org chart and a business card does not constitute leadership. The human network is more vital than ever before. Your team does not want a boss. They don’t want to fear you. They don’t want to walk on egg shells around you. They don’t want to hate their jobs. They need you to lead and help them grow. People will mess up, because they are people just like you. Your team will make mistakes, just like you. Your company will have challenges, just like you.

If you need to remind them of your job title,
you may have already lost the room.

Kneale Mann

image credit: news.com.au

January 17, 2012

Fear Be Gone

The human mind is a marvel of engineering we may never understand. We can run countries, survive 127 hours trapped in a cave or overcome monumental odds. Our brain can also keep us from succeeding, present obstacles that may not be there and create deep depression.

In business, you know that everyone in your company has a powerful force that can create magic and solutions. It can also produce damage and destruction manifested in subtle ways such as sick days, wasted meetings, lack of leadership, butt covering, that’s not my department and I didn’t get the email. I’m busy can quickly replace did you get the report finished while I’m not available can substitute standing by your decision.

Imagine for a Moment   

It’s been said that fear is a powerful motivator but as the saying goes it is often false expectations appearing real. Imagine, just for today all of those layers were removed. No more fear of failure, fear of leadership, fear of success, fear of speaking out, fear of losing your job, fear of that client hearing that their idea won't work, fear of standing up for yourself, fear of (insert here). I think I'll give it a shot, how about you?

Now imagine that same world where everyone took responsibility, owned the issues under their direction, allowed direct reports to honestly contribute to the process and stopped being fearful that someone may find out they don’t have all the answers.

What day could we have in that world?

Kneale Mann

image credit: petermaas | original: mar 2011

January 15, 2012

Are You Committed to Your Future Self?

We all know we’re going to die. We all know, if we live long enough, we will get old. We make decisions every day which will affect our future. Daniel Goldstein explains how our decisions today will affect our tomorrow. What decisions will you make today in your life, your business and your leadership of others?

Daniel explains our struggle between our present and future 

Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED | Daniel Goldstein

January 13, 2012

What Would They Do?

Garbage day is Fridays in my neighborhood. The city rotates recycling weeks between paper/cardboard and cans/plastic and every second week they take perishable items in a green bin. When there is a holiday, pickup moves to Saturday. Your place may have a similar schedule.

According to the schedule, last Friday was a regular pickup day but with the Holidays I was all messed up on whether that affected the schedule. I looked at the other houses and no one had garbage at the end of their driveway. I had to make a decision before heading to my meeting. Was it garbage day or not?

Ignoring Our Gut

I thought I had misread the schedule or missed an announcement. If everyone else had waited to put out their garbage, maybe it was a holiday schedule. I checked the city website again. It didn’t look like a holiday week. I looked outside again – nothing. I decided to go with the schedule and put out the garbage.

We sometimes make decisions based on the behavior of others. It may be a stretch to compare garbage day to business strategy but there is a correlation. In my case, I was looking for others to make my decision and we often do it in the enterprise. Leadership is hard work. Sometimes we allow outside factors influence us more than our intuition.

Price Tag Wins

Seth Godin calls it a race to the bottom. Providing great products and services becomes less important than increasing market share and no one knows who's following whom anymore. In our quest not to be wrong, we miss opportunities.

By the way, the plastic and cans were collected. For the first time I can remember, I was first on the block to put my trash at the curb. Instead of trusting my own decision, I made a conclusion from an assumption.

That never happens in business, right?  

Kneale Mann

image credit: ctv

January 10, 2012

The Soul of Leadership

While the U.S. is embroiled in election chatter, it’s interesting to watch the topic of leadership being tossed around like a pawn on a chess board. Many claim they are uniquely qualified to lead so let’s dig a little deeper into what it all means.

Think about your mentors, those people who have helped in your life and career along the way. They found somewhere deep inside you to motivate your strengths and help you realize your goals. These aren’t people who did your work for you but pushed you to do your work better in your way. You may have in turn become a mentor for others which brings tremendous satisfaction.

What Leadership Means

Leading without a title is the suggestion of Robin Sharma or as a mentor once said to me; "do the work and the gig will follow". Tony Robbins says we need to be armed with the strategies to accomplish our goals while getting out of own way. Most of us nod our head in agreement but we’re often left wondering how to actually do that.

Malcolm Gladwell opines there is no such thing as a self-made person. Generations past have afforded us opportunities to succeed. None of us does this alone not matter how it may appear. While Marcus Buckingham reminds us that we need to stop working on our weaknesses and focus solely on our strengths. Imagine an organization where your good work is encouraged and your shortcomings turned into prospects for others on the team who thrive where you may not.

Important Leadership Element

Envision your company as a family unit. How are you preparing your team for success and leadership? Is it a collaborative atmosphere or one of fear? Are strengths celebrated more than weaknesses highlighted? Does everyone have a clear vision on culture and objectives?

Balance and fairness look good on a well crafted business plan but in the heat of the battle, they can be tough to maintain. But they must remain top priorities because without it, you will be left with managers and bosses while leadership will be accidental at best. If you are in a lead position, make time for your people or watch the very thing you are working to build begin to crumble.

Instead of "lead, follow, or get out of the way", how about we all lead and see how that goes?

Kneale Mann

image credits: thechessworld

January 7, 2012

Does This Move You?

Three guys, forty-four days, eleven countries, eighteen flights, thirty-eight thousand miles, an exploding volcano, two cameras and almost a terabyte of footage. The guy in the shots is Andrew Lees, the other two on the crew are Rick Mereki and Tim White and music is by Kelsey James. These were commissioned by STA Travel Australia.

Some suggest these were filmed on green screen, others say it’s a hoax. How about it’s well done and brilliantly clever? Interesting how some feel compelled to tear down an idea when they didn’t think about it themselves.  

Watch these and get inspired

Eat. Move. Learn. Shall We?

Kneale Mann

visual credit: Andrew Lees | Tim White | Rick Mereki  

January 5, 2012

Data with a Soul

We’ve gotten very good at navigating a busy life. There are deadlines and bills, meetings and projects, phone calls and deliverables. Yet we aren’t near as good at sharing ourselves from a deeply personal level.

Think of everyone you know and make a list of the people who could call you at 3am and you would get your coat and meet them and lend a hand. Now think about how many people you know who would tell you the absolute truth. Is the list getting smaller?

Touchy Feely Not Allowed?

Right or wrong, we know most don't think we can run successful enterprise through true openness and emotional expression but that’s how we are wired. So therein lies our global conundrum. Few corporations will let you admit you aren’t sure about a decision. Even fewer will allow you to share your personal interests, fears, dreams and desires.

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and she has devoted much of her work in the past decade on vulnerability and how authenticity can help us in business and in life.

Dr. Brown explains in this video of her TEDx Houston talk.

Kneale Mann

visual credit: TEDxHouston

January 3, 2012

It's a New Year - Now What?

To millions, Christmas and New Year's are the most depressing and stressful events of the year. We have created expectations that far exceed what we may be able to replicate in reality and it can be tough.

The old adage that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family rings true for too many and that includes the workplace. My Holidays were filled with time spent in person, on phone and online to catch up with some of my favourite people. I hope you did the same. Not just at this time of year!

Later is Now

Most are back to work today looking at a list made in the haze of too much champagne that has now been added to the growing catalogue of items left to get to after the Holidays. If you're one of them, now is the time to decipher whether you made the to-do list to really do now or simply procrastinate in December.

Lists are simple to make. I have made more than my share over the years. They are filled with promise and possibilities written in a brave moment of clarity meant to push me through to completion only to fall short because the action was far more involved than writing about it. Let's try less and actually do more.


Kneale Mann

image credit: animationideas

January 1, 2012

Ideas for 2012

Travel more Forget the past Turn your phone off Some day is not on the calendar Don't wait for approval Talk about them Say sorry Excuses won’t help you Dream big. Do bigger Be gracious Thank your parents Make quick decisions Trust yourself Numbers are irrelevant Read more, skim less Stop comparing yourself to others Make eye contact Their opinion is just their opinion Smile more Take one digital day off a month Enjoy the ride Stop doing anything that weakens you Keep an open mind Busy is a victim word Plan ahead then be flexible Respect your own time Write something every day Move from what if to why not It's okay to be wrong Ask for help Hang with winners Don't rest on past accomplishments Reach higher Follow through Meet five new people each week Take time off It doesn't matter what they say There are no instant wins No excuses Help someone without their knowledge Go for it Ignore the news Don't waste your time on naysayers Sing often Let them be right Tell others about someone fabulous You’ll never been done Say thank-you Have dessert for dinner Trust your gut Do something ridiculous Sit quietly Be more tolerant Success is not a number Focus on your strengths Start now Laugh at yourself Take the victory Get some sleep Less talk, more do Do something scary Do nothing Go for a drive Cherish friendship Negative thoughts are a waste of time Be yourself The bucket list is meant to be lived Mistakes are allowed Your resume is not you Yes you deserve it Don't wait No one can want it more than you Lead with passion Take yourself out for dinner  All we have is now

Let's Have an Inspiring Year!

Kneale Mann

image credit: cbc
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