October 31, 2012

Be Unpopular

It was May 2010. I was in a room full of smart people wondering how I snuck by security. I sat quietly to learn. At some point during the first morning, someone asked a pointed question that was quick and sharp. Erika Napoletano was funny, strong, and smart. I had a chat with her weeks later and my suspicions were confirmed.

Leadership isn't about being popular, it's about being fair and balanced and inclusive and having the ability to stand for something others can believe in. If that makes you popular, that's fine but if popularity is your only goal there will be trouble.

Now watch how Erika reminds us being popular shouldn't be the goal. There are some bad words in her TEDxBoulder Talk. You may be offended and she may not care.

Kneale Mann

TEDxBoulder | Erika Napoletano

October 27, 2012

Do We Have Choices?

When I think about strong leadership, words like inclusive and collaborative come to mind. But we can lose balance and let small hurdles get in our way. And if we're not careful, we can slip into complain mode which seems to draw a crowd.

We can continue down a destructive path or take a breath. Sometimes bad news is actually bad but often we allow setbacks to be bigger than they need to be and we lose all perspective. We can say the same about the people who distract us as well.

As leaders, we have choices to make every day. If we take time for think time. those decisions may be easier to make. 

Kneale Mann


October 25, 2012

Are You Doing the Human Work?

There is a chasm between your products or services and your customers. Without strong internal customer service, your interaction with the outside world will be flawed. If you don't do the human work, the tasks and tactics will suffer.

I was buying gas a couple of weeks ago and the guy behind the counter was annoyed I had gotten in the way of his work. I apologized for interrupting him.

Entities and Enterprise

The world is shrinking. Our behavior can be viewed through non-verbal cues that lead to misunderstanding. And we often hide behind the very technology we claim is helping us communicate better. It's telling to watch some unravel on the social networks where human connections can appear to be as strong as face to face.

In the enterprise, virtual teaming is on the rise so it has become critical to be aware of all the human work we’re doing to build our companies. Leadership is more than improving a bottom line. Without compassion and collaboration, the ideas and hard work alone won’t get you there.

Their Opinion Counts

Years ago, I was working with a large corporation that conducted an employee wide survey. The top concern was management’s inability to deal with non-performance. People notice when you aren't treating them well. If the human work subsides, productivity will be compromised. If you stop caring about your people, they will stop caring about the work.

If you sense the team is off course, it may not be for reasons you think. Products, services, and strategy could all be sound but the most critical piece might be missing.

The human work is the most important element of the job.

Kneale Mann


October 23, 2012

Inspirational People #7

We seem to be good at finding impactful words then throwing them around in all situations. One of them is inspiration. Those who inspire you shouldn't be downplayed. They give you perspective and guidance, ideas and experience, deep thought and clearer outlooks. Leadership begins with us but others can help on our journey.

A few weeks ago on this site, we began looking at people who inspire us. Email me yours and we’ll add them to the list. The rules are simple: Is their information valuable to my work or life? Is the author doing actual work to back it up? Do they challenge me, make me think, and/or make me move to do something?

What Do You Think?

Today we look at some who inspire my friend and colleague Jason Dykstra who is a conflict management consultant specializing in relational issues. He takes these conflict situations and turns them into creative solutions. He deals with these relational conflicts primarily in three areas; Family, Congregations and Workplace situations.

Jason and I have had some good chats and tweet exchanges. He’s an inspiring and engaging guy. Here’s a few who inspire him.

Sean Aiken  

Between February 2007 and March 2008, Sean completed an epic journey around North America, working 52 jobs in 52 weeks. His journey took him across North America to find his passion. He trekked more than 46,000 miles, slept on 55 couches, tried every job he could including; Bungee Instructor, Advertising Executive, Stock Trader, Baker, NHL Mascot, and raised over 20 grand for charity.

His website OneWeekJob continues to grow and Sean is now spreading his message through his book, speaking appearances and consulting others on how they can help those around them. He also spoke at TEDx Vancouver which is posted below.

Julia Rosien  

Julia is the founder and Chief Idea Officer of SocialNorth, a social media strategy firm as well as founder and owner of GoGirlfriend, a travel-based website for women. Julia serves on various boards of directors and is 2012 president for Withit.org, a non-profit organization for women in the home and furnishings industries.

I’ve the pleasure of spending time with Julia and talking about her work, her passions, and most importantly what makes her inspire others. She loves her family, cares about the people around her, and I know from seeing her morning tweets that begin every day, she is determined to make it better than yesterday.

John Michael Morgan

John calls himself the Chuck Norris of branding which in itself is great branding! My theory on the topic is that brands cannot be created, that’s the audience’s job, but we must set the scene in order for the experience to be valuable to them.

John is the author of "Brand Against The Machine" and his clients range across the globe to include Fortune 500 companies, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and start-ups. John has started 3 successful businesses both online and offline. And he says he began studying branding and marketing when he was a teenager.

Thanks for the inspirational list, Jason! We must do the work that makes us passionate and cannot stop until we find it.

Kneale Mann

TEDxVancouver | Sean Aiken

October 19, 2012

What's Your Big Idea?

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream despite overwhelming opposition and it cost him his life. Steve Jobs built a company that changed the game. Mother Teresa served her religion and her people with dignity and grace. Oprah Winfrey smashed the glass ceiling while creating a unique brand.

Those are big ideas. And we all have them. They don't have to cure a disease or move a generation but we will never know their potential until we explore them, share them, and see where they'll go.

Ideas come to us constantly

Tom Peters says; “The new idea either finds a champion or it dies. No ordinary involvement with a new idea provides the energy required to cope with the indifference and resistance that change provokes.” Change is work so you won't gain consensus from the start.

The next time you can’t seem to shake the idea, let it percolate and rest. You won't have all the parts figured out at first. Give it more time to develop. No big idea has ever or will ever be embraced by everyone right away. But throwing it away the moment it meets a naysayer is a waste of an idea that could be big.

Resistance to new ideas is easier than embracing them.
The trick is not to resist our own too quickly.

Kneale Mann


October 17, 2012

Nog for the Noggin

About three weeks ago, I was in a store and saw it. The smugness was evident. It made no excuses for its early arrival. Right there by the chocolate milk it proudly stood in defiance of the calendar. Egg nog - a strange concoction that isn't custard but isn't a milkshake. Its familiar yellow hue and viscous properties are quite unique.

Halloween and Thanksgiving hadn't arrived and here was egg nog, usually reserved for the "holiday" season. So it seemed appropriate to review the bold and brazen list of things I published here this past New Year's Day.

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 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 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

Enjoy the nog

Kneale Mann


October 15, 2012

What's Your Ask?

The core of leadership begins with you, with me, with each and every one of us in our own lives. If we’re fortunate enough to live in a place where freedom is cherished then we have the chance to make it better, to not follow our dreams but create them.

It's not easy to make changes. It's much simpler to sit and put up with what you may think there's no choice over but you begin to believe the story in your head.

Extended Community

We are more connected than ever. We are growing virtual teams and connections that can help us. It may not happen immediately or all at once, but one small step right now can get things moving.

So if you are not satisfied, feel stuck, don’t know where to ask for help, who to talk to, where to find what you want, one thing is clear, doing nothing is simply not an option. Conceding that your situation rules your life and not the other way around should not and can not be your only option.

Let’s get up, grab life, reach out for help, and have some fun!

Kneale Mann


October 13, 2012

Dream Like a Child

There is no doubt the marvel of a child’s mind. It is full of possibilities and wonder. It can imagine worlds that may not exist and it doesn't limit itself by self-doubt and profits. We take art classes in grade school where we can express ourselves yet as we get older we are told to get serious and competitive.

Running a business and providing strong leadership is hard work. Our perspective is often the single reason we have conflict instead of collaboration.

Raghava KK is an artist, an idealist and a creative spirit who has gone through a lot in his life but has retained his childlike spirit.

Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED
Originally published: Sept 2011

October 10, 2012

Inspirational People #6

Ideas are all around us but how many are heeded and how many are ignored? That’s why I started a series of posts on this site a while ago to highlight inspirational people.

There are three simple rules. Is the information valuable to my work or life? Is the author doing actual work to back it up? Do they challenge me, make me think, and/or make me move to do something? Share those who inspire you.

Matt Ridings is the co-founder of SideraWorks with partner Amber Naslund and sent along some people we should know.

Saul Kaplan

As Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory, Saul created his non-profit organization to explore and test new business models and system level solutions in areas of high social importance including health care, education, entrepreneurship, and energy independence.

Saul is immersed in the social web through his blog, regular contribution to the Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg Business Week, and author of The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant when the World Is Changing.

Jason Fried

37 Signals started as a web design company that has become one of the leaders in the collaborative space. Jason and his co-founders Carlos Segura, and Ernest Kim have created products such as Campfire, Backpack, Highrise, and Basecamp. This is a cool company that continues to be connected to users and customers for the purpose of providing great service, asking for feedback, and advancing their solutions.

Jason is also the co-author of Rework with David Heinemeier Hansson which outlines why business plans are actually harmful, why you don't need outside investors, and why you're better off ignoring the competition.

John Hagel

Author, consultant, and infomediary (a word invented in his book NetWorth), John founded the Deloitte Center for the Edge Innovation, the International Academy of Management, and the Aspen Institute. He is also involved with the World Economic Forum, and Innovation Exchange. Other than that, he's not doing much. Ha!

Reading more about Jason, John, and Saul is a good kick in the butt. Let’s follow our dreams, collaborate with smart people, and stop wasting time on excuses.

Thanks Matt!

Kneale Mann


October 8, 2012

Your Body Speaks

We think our words carry us but it’s so much more. Body language, avatars, phrases, and tone, all contribute to our nonverbal behavior which others will measure. Often those behaviors dictate our emotions.

Dr. Amy Cuddy is a Harvard professor who endured a traumatic experience which profoundly changed her life. Since then, she has studied human behavior and body language with remarkable results.

Leadership requires confidence but at times we feel over our heads. Amy suggests we fake it ‘til we become it. Watch and see how much you can learn about yourself.

Kneale Mann

TED | Amy Cuddy

October 5, 2012

Let's Decide Later

A choice can require additional data or more time. Members of the team need further deliberation to make an informed call. The customer has to check budget allocations. You're unsure it’s aligned with the overall strategy.

Waiting can be justified but excuses can also be the reason we wait. Some decisions require time, others aren't made because we're in the way.

We look for leadership to be decisive and crisp. It’s about helping people get better, keeping everyone on track, and getting stuff done. But it isn't always smooth in real life. How often have you finally pull the pin on something to discover it wasn't a big deal after all or you feel a sense of relief you made a choice?

Here’s some inspiration as we deliberate

The only person you really have control over is yourself.
Deborah Reber

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.
Tony Robbins

When you make the right decision, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks.
Caroline Kennedy

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
Peart, Lee, Lifeson

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing,
the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt

Peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.
Rita Mae Brown

Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women.
Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.
Brian Tracy

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let's make some decisions!

Kneale Mann


October 1, 2012

Spring Into Fall

A daily routine I started late last year was to post a saying or thought each morning on Twitter which may make you think, do, move, or create. Some are insightful, some from great leaders, some silly, and some derived from pop culture.

Here's the list from September 2012

Two ears, one mouth. Dance like everyone's watching. A day to relax, a day to reflect. Would you rather improve on your strengths or work on your weaknesses?

Leadership is not found in an annual report. Don't waste too much time worrying about what you could have done, it's done.

Go easy on yourself, you deserve it. What will you do for you? Never underestimate how much you can accomplish. We will never ever forget. (9/11 reference)

Let's keep our best foot forward, going back won't help us. Help someone without the need for payback. Leadership demands that we make tough choices. Alan Autry

Life/work balance shouldn't be a theory. If you worry too much about the past or future, you may miss now. Meet five new people this week, you'll be glad you did.

Laugh at yourself often. Our perspective can often obstruct our view. Busy is a choice. Reflect on three things that went well this week and how can you build on them.

Embrace you wisdom. Learn from those you lead. Asking for help is a strength. Spend less time doing email and more time helping your team.

Leadership is listening. Dream. Do. Repeat. Never underestimate the power of your ability. Data, experience, and opinions are helpful but don't forget your gut.

Pick up the phone and call them, they'll appreciate it. Breathe.

Go forth and inspire

Kneale Mann

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