July 30, 2012

Enterprise Compassion

There are products, sales, marketing, people, share price, competition and many other factors that keep business people up at night. In the documentary The Corporation, producers examined the modern-day company. They evaluated its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person.

They concluded if the corporation was human, her ultimate goal would be to make money above all else. If that is the sole purpose of your company, be nervous. Fiscal health is imperative but without strong internal customer service, it will be a struggle.

If you don’t treat people well, they won't stick around, or worse they may stay and have a hand in your demise. Treat them right with strong and fair leadership and those profits will actually increase.

We all share an inherent human need to belong which doesn't stop when entering the work area.

Kneale Mann


July 26, 2012

Learn from Them

We live in an interesting time. We may work in environments which feature people from several generations. This poses challenges and opportunities. Millennials can learn from older stakeholders. Leadership can gain fresh perspective from younger colleagues who appear fearless in an era when adaptability seems effortless to them.

I have the unique privilege of working with leaders of all ages from around the world. They often need to collaborate virtually across sectors and experience demographic, geographic and language differences yet share one trait which is a desire to learn.

Too Soon Old

This is a poem attributed to a man named Dave Griffith. Some have claimed a dying man in a nursing home wrote it. What's important is what we learn from it.

What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking, when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise
Uncertain of habit with faraway eyes
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, I do wish you'd try

Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing sock or shoe
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding the long day to fill
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse you're not looking at me

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still
As I do at your bidding as I eat at your will
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he'll meet

A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep
At twenty-five now I have young of my own
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home
A man of thirty my young now grown fast
Bound to each other with ties that should last

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone
But my woman is beside me to see I don't mourn
At fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee
Again, we know children my loved one and me
Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead
I look at the future, I shudder with dread

For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I've known
I'm now an old man and nature is cruel
It's jest to make old age look like a fool
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigour depart
There is now a stone where I once had a heart

But inside this old carcass a young man still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys I remember the pain
And I'm loving and living life over again
I think of the years, all too few gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last

So open your eyes people, open and see
Not a cranky old man, look closer, see me

Perhaps this may lend more insight and compassion for ourselves and those around us in business and in life.

Kneale Mann


July 23, 2012

Marshmallow Logic

We don’t want to wait until next quarter to see if that new initiative worked. If there’s an easier way, we generally pick it. Credit cards and impulse buys are tied at the hip. Three year olds have more patience than most grown-ups.

You see it on the social web. People start a LinkedIn group or Facebook page and wonder why new customers aren’t stampeding into their arms in a matter of days.

Want it Now

It occurs in the business world when a group has an idea and wants investors and customers to flow to their door. There's seemingly endless examples in leadership when someone reaches another achievement and wants the rest of the team to immediately embrace it.

It can be found with high potential leaders who want to fast track to VP stripes and omit all that pesky work that’s involved in earning them. It’s the guy tailgating you in traffic or the kid who wants to grow up too fast or the woman who can’t believe there are people in line at the gas station when she needs gas, and the list goes on.

Two for One

Imagine if you can have one million bucks right now, tax free. Interested? Well before you jump at it, you can choose the second option which is two million bucks, tax free. The catch, you have to wait a month to get it. The choice is a million now or two million in 30 days. The decision seems obvious. Or does it?

More than forty years ago at Stanford University, Walter Mischel and his team conducted a study on deferred gratification. The premise was simple. Each child was offered a choice – one marshmallow now or two later. The facilitator then left the child in the room with the treat for 15-20 minutes. More than 80% couldn't wait.

Wait and Succeed

Mischel’s team analyzed how long each child resisted the temptation and whether or not doing so was correlated with future achievements. They followed many of the kids for the next few years to document any patterns.

The marshmallow experiment has been challenged, replicated and accepted. Some of the brightest have studied will power and linked our ability to control ourselves to our health, wealth, leadership abilities, and success.

How's your patience?

Kneale Mann

flickr | walter mischel

July 19, 2012


Inspiration can often be unexpected. Recently, I was renewing my passport and while leaving the office I looked at my old one that had been with me for every flight, hotel, packed bag, cancelled flight, security check, delayed flight, and journey since 2007. Five years of fun, adventures, stress, bad food, opportunities, laughs, setbacks, great meals, and new friends.

How could a passport renewal create such a rush of memories? Perhaps it’s why we have pictures that trigger the emotion we felt at the time they were taken. It's not good to feel your best is behind you, but lessons and memories are part the deal.

Memories not Mementos

No matter what expertise we deploy, we can’t change the past. But it can teach us and remind us. It can clear a path to what could work in the future. Think about how you can apply that lesson to your leadership journey.

It’s the people who touch our lives and the experiences we most recap and recall. That booklet filed with paper reminded me to get back in touch with a few friends, remember good times, and think of lessons learned which weren't pleasant at the time but were necessary to reach the next milestone.

We need to give the past the respect it deserves, but on our way to the future, we can't forget to enjoy the now.

Kneale Mann


July 15, 2012

We’re All The Same

You may want a raised bungalow with a pool while she has her eyes set on that new condo building downtown, but it’s not about the stuff, it’s about the stuff inside. It’s about the stuff that drives us to find passion in our work and relationships.

Climbing some corporate ladder begins to lose its luster after a while. There has to be more. We need to strive for growth in areas other than titles and compensation. Yes, we want to make a living but the key word is living, not sustenance.

Show You The Money?

I could triple your salary then take away all of your freedom and creativity, and you may enjoy some new toys for a while but it won’t last long. The victories and challenges we think back on are rarely linked to salary or position. Anyone who got there, had to struggle to get there. There are no short-cuts, there are no lottery tickets, there are no replacements for doing the work.

I have the unique privilege of working with leaders from Canada, Belgium, Germany, the U.S., and China and we may not be as different as we suspect. I often refer to a quote that makes a lot of sense. Maybe it will resonate with you.

No matter how many mistakes or how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t even trying. 
Tony Robbins

Kneale Mann


July 13, 2012

Anyone Can Do That

A few years ago, I was meeting with two colleagues and the discussion moved toward a mutual acquaintance who had just released a new book. Someone chimed; “Writing a book is easy, anyone can do that". My reaction; “Oh cool, when is yours coming out?” The topic was swiftly changed.

That conversation came to mind recently as I've been discussing with a few people about the possibility of writing a book. Despite publishing close to 750,000 words since this site was launched, it's not a simple undertaking. Discussions continue.

Easy Peasy

If you want to write a book, it’s somewhere in range of 60-100,000 words. There are editors and publishers, re-writes and research, long hours and marketing, events and online, retail and so on. No, not anyone can write a book. And few write a successful one. I know colleagues who have and it's a ton of work.

It's simple to opine something is easy when you haven't actually done it yourself. We can all scream from our chair when the pitcher floats a 90mph fastball high and inside handing the other team a three run homer. Anyone can pitch in the bigs, right? It’s effortless to scoff at a speaker for getting on stage because anyone can speak in front of a crowd, right?

Opinions as Opiates

I think Malcolm Gladwell is right. It takes about 10,000 hours to become proficient at something. That, by no means, makes us an expert. But we inch on to dangerous soil if we begin to make claims about something we actually know nothing about.

Some are quick to point out what leadership should be doing, what government should be changing, what those in an industry they know nothing about should be undertaking. Instead, we should learn from each other's perspective and experience which is the essence of collaboration.

No, not everyone can do that. And that is a good thing.

Kneale Mann


July 10, 2012

Are You Disruptive?

If you speak with someone in the high tech world, the discussion may get around to disruptive innovation. This is where you develop something that changes the status quo yet becomes what a few then many then a lot of people seem to begin to need or want. The turntable, the iPod, the microwave oven, power door locks, the tablet, etc.

We can’t fathom a world without the Internet. The thought of having to drive across the country rather than fly in mere hours is left for those odd occasions you want to take a scenic road trip.

Developers Unite

José Bowen is the Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas. He has been studying music for more than 30 years and is a Pulitzer Prize nominated writer. Bowen challenges our current view. He says that Beethoven and Bill Gates have more in common that we thought and explains his theory in his recent TEDTalk.

How often do you lead disorder to establish innovation?  

Kneale Mann

TED | José Bowen

July 7, 2012

It Wasn’t Me

It might be something deep in our core, but it’s rare when you hear someone immediately own a problem. The culture here is terrible is translated that everyone but the person delivering this quip is responsible. That meeting went long is never caused by the guy who pointed it out. Things need to change around here has an underlying tone that the change needs to come from others, not the one who suggested it.

We don’t need leadership that crumbles whenever there is a crisis but it can be the toughest part of the work you do. Years ago, I saw an enterprise wide employee survey that stated the number one concern of stakeholders was management’s inability to deal with non-performance.

It's easy to point out the mistakes of others.
It's much more difficult to fix our own. 

Kneale Mann


July 5, 2012

That Culture Thing

Time and time again, employee and human resource surveys show us compensation is not the sole driver for our work. We all want to make a good living but if it’s the main reason people work at your company, you may have bigger issues.

If you think you can make people happy with their 2% increase during annual review time, you may have lost the room.

Compensate people properly but pay close attention to why they come to work every day. Ask them, get their feedback, and act on it. The majority are unhappy at work and it’s not necessarily because of the work!

Good with People

It’s all that human stuff that few have time to talk about because they have to deal with the deadline for the client who needs that report by 3pm. However, it is that very human stuff that will eventually affect your relationship with that client.

Those who think they can fool their customers or clients with a smile while they're internal customer service is crumbling, need to give it more thought. What happens outside of the organization begins inside it.

Culture is Critical

It doesn’t matter the industry or level of complexity, pay people properly, give them time to have a life, and remember they have hopes and dreams and feelings and a need to have purpose too.

Some claim that’s too touchy feely and we will agree to disagree. Leadership is about the human side of getting the job done. It begins with understanding the layers of people. And none of us needs to go any further than ourselves to get those answers.

Then we can get back to products and services.

Kneale Mann


July 3, 2012

Are You Inspired?

Malcolm Gladwell calls them Outliers, others call them lucky breaks, and some refer to them as fateful events but to break the tie, let’s simply call them accelerators. These are the events, people, opportunities, mentors, and moments that create more horsepower. It's what we do with these opportunities that matters most.

Leadership comes from within as well as from external sources. He inspires us because others have helped him move faster, live more, work harder, and conquer adversity. She surrounds herself with inspiring people who push her so she can be strong to do the same for others.


Meet Arthur Boorman through the lens of Steve Yu and Ken Young. If you haven’t seen this, take a few moments and do so. If it inspires you to move, you can also help them finish the film. And then do something you've always wanted to try.

But be careful, you might actually succeed.

Kneale Mann

Inspired: The Movie

July 1, 2012

30 Ideas for Life and Business

Everyday on Twitter I share a saying or quote, quip or idea that may inspire you. Some are deep, some are silly but all are meant to make us think for a moment.

Here’s the list from June 2012

• How will you turn your dreams into action?
• Attempting to change the past is futile
• Enjoy an offline day once in a while
• Be yourself, everyone else is taken. Oscar Wilde
• Would you rather create a quick win or a win-win?
• Never underestimate the power of your next step
• Could today be the day?
• Hitting people over the head, that's assault, not leadership. Dwight Eisenhower
• Your curiosity needs more attention
• Those who matter don't mind
• Help someone today and expect nothing in return
• Take a moment to say thank-you
• If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama
• If you seek strong leadership, provide it.
• It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln
• Leadership is not on a business card or an org chart
• Thanks Dad!
• Turn what if into why not
• The answer you're looking for is inside you, once you get quiet and listen
• The art of communication is the language of leadership. James Humes
• The accomplishment of your dreams lies with you
• The difference between those who get it done and those who don’t is action
• Now is all we got
• Turn off technology and turn on your mind
• The function of leadership is to produce leaders not followers. Ralph Nader
• Busy is a victim word
• If you promise good service to customers, promise the same to co-workers
• If you stop now, how will you know if you can do it?
• You are where you think you are. If you don't like it, change your thoughts
• Curiosity can be your biggest strength

And Happy 145th Birthday, Canada!

Kneale Mann

© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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