March 30, 2018

Technological Leaders

Virtual teaming is one of the fastest growing aspects of business today and it will only continue to grow. In our executive recruitment agency, we work with clients and candidates around the world.

Enterprise leaders are overseeing vast teams of people across large geographical areas and sometimes many are working from their home office. In his TEDTalk a few years ago, Gary Kovacs discussed the pros and cons of living in a connected world.


March 26, 2018

We Need More!

The annual strategic meetings are on. The big boss says profit margins need to widen. The new product line has to help increase market share. The southwest division has to pick it up on sales results. The list goes on.

The desire for infinite monetary growth permeates the room. No one is allowed to say this may be a flat year because of market shifts and customer demands. No one would suggest business comes with ebbs and flows as does life.

More of more!

In the developing world, it appears the need for prosperity and material possessions is a core belief and desire. Do we really need the four bedroom house on half an acre? Will granite counter tops bring us nirvana? Are 34 dress shirts enough? Can profits increase infinitely? Will we ever have enough?

We know buying stuff keeps the economy going and all of us employed. We need to ensure we can sustain our lives now and into retirement but the desire for something that we can’t even define is creating widespread unhappiness and uncertainty. Perhaps the bigger decision is to figure out who we want to spend our time with and what experiences we want.

Or we could continue deploying the hope and wish strategy.

March 21, 2018

The Mind

We live busy lives; or do we make them busy? We have much to think about; or do we avoid not thinking about anything? The brilliant Alan Watts shared much wisdom during his time here. He passed away 45 years ago yet his insight still rings true; perhaps even more today. In this lecture, he discussed the complexity of our minds.


March 16, 2018

What is Inspiration?

You can find it in books, in music, in films, on TV and websites. It's uttered from the greatest minds of human history. If you look long enough, you can find it virtually everywhere. But what does inspiration mean to you? Does it inspire you to read about a rags-to-riches story or about someone overcoming physical challenges? Will it make you move into your truth if you view a movie where the heroine conquers all?

We know what inspiration is, but that isn't enough. We need to find a way to apply it to our lives, our situations, our challenges, or it's just a bunch of words. Inspiration is not likes on your Instagram post or followers on Vero.

words vs actions

One definition is; the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. Another is; the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

So is inspiration simply taking a deep breath? I don't think that's enough. And I don't think it's enough to know the definition. I've often said –  and often forgotten –  that inspiration doesn't appear with balloons and streamers. It happens in small increments. It could be one word or a gesture or an image that pushes us forward.

I recently posted about motivation and maybe that's an important ingredient to inspiration. If we know what we want and know how to get it but don't move, what's the point? I can post inspiring words or we could go for coffee and I could offer some advice, but will that inspire us? Inspiration is a big word but it doesn't have to be zero-sum. It doesn't take the climbing of a mountain or landing that million dollar deal for us to be inspired. Often it's the small things that matter most.

rinse repeat

We look to heroes who have done great things which inspire us but in my view the application to our own lives is the critical element. I'm going through something right now I've been through before and the same fears have crept into my consciousness.

I'm not yet through it, but I've had to remind myself the steps I took the last time, take that deep breath, and move.

we are human

In 2014, Fortune posted a list of their 50 Greatest Leaders and though there are inspirational people here, they aren't without flaws or mistakes. So perhaps the key piece of finding inspiration is within ourselves and to discover it isn't a perfect path or one single action?

So let's keep listening to that music and reading those books and watching those movies because life is a series of mistakes and actions and inspiring moments we create. Let's inspire each other with those small things so we can get to those big things.

And let's celebrate those moments when they happen.

March 13, 2018

Beliefs and Actions of a Great Leader

He remains consistent. She makes people her top priority. He asks for help.
She manages up. He encourages differing points of view.

She ensures a collaborative culture.

He clearly articulates vision. She understands internal customer service is directly related to external customer service. He owns setbacks and shares victories.

She doesn't need to always be right. He knows it's not a straight road.
He knows culture will build revenue. She doesn't need to have the final say.

He eliminates favoritism. She sets realistic boundaries. He explains the tough decisions.
She remains fair. He doesn't manage, he leads. She holds herself accountable.

He holds the team accountable. She can apologize.
She leads by example. He possesses vision for now and the future.

She believes clear communication is critical.

He gives at least a quarter of his time to helping his people.
She challenges comfort zone especially her own.

He accepts full responsibility.
She remains humble but confident.

He gives great internal customer service.

She stays focused on goals not emotions. He shares the victories and the challenges.
He asks for the same efforts he gives them. She never stops learning.

March 8, 2018

Your Good Life

If we want to invest in "the good life", where should we put our time and energy? Robert Waldinger outlines riveting data from a 75-year-long Harvard study of adult life that continues today. It seems clear; a happy life is not measured by a larger paycheck, more stuff, higher investments, or financial net worth.


March 3, 2018


They say we have to do what we're passionate about and what will motivate us. Is that a job? A salary? A promotion? A career change? A new relationship? A new city?

To say we have to follow our passion isn't the entire task. Dan Pink looks at 50 behavioral triggers that motivate us.



February 28, 2018

Is it All About Sales?

Over the years, I have heard versions of the same story from business owners, colleagues, clients, and friends. It’s sometimes a defensive remark, other times a plea for help, and often an automatic response to just about any question about their business. It's understandable because we are all impatient.

"We don’t need good people, we need revenue!"

Whether you're involved in a start-up or a global Fortune 100 enterprise, revenue health is important. No one expects companies to run at a loss but if people aren't important, poor morale and a shrinking bottom line will result.

"We don’t need culture, we need cash!"

Culture is not about high priced chairs and fresh pastries in the lunch room; it’s about open collaboration and clear leadership from everyone in the company. Simply yelling at sales people to make more calls won’t get it done.

"We don’t need leadership, we need sales!"

Engaging the team and involving them with decisions will help them understand what’s at stake. In the quest to make more money, companies need to remember the importance of their single most precious resource.

"We don’t need collaboration, we need profits!"

There are countless data outlining the chasm that exists between the terms “manager” and “leader” and you need the latter. Vision and focus are required and it takes leadership to get great work accomplished.

"We don’t need strategy, we need income!"

Customer service is critical but must begin inside the company. Yes we are all in sales but if you claim your company a "sales organization", it will seep into the culture and you won't have much more than a sales department.

Without strong leadership, a healthy culture, and cooperative collaboration, the chase for revenue remains long and painful.

February 21, 2018

Sixty Thousand

We have an average of 60,000 thoughts every day. Do we need milk? Should I call her? Did the presentation go well? Perhaps the parkway will be a better route? Thoughts after thoughts after thoughts that often overlap and drown us with indecision.

We have as many choices in a day as well. Yet we add more thoughts to our already busy brain hoping we can make the right decision each and every time. We don't listen to our intuition. We know what we want but we either don't think it'll work out or we continue to find reasons our logic may be flawed. Or worse, we try and predict the reaction of others.

Watch out for the Lizard

We call it a gut call. It comes from the reptilian complex in our brain; some call it the lizard brain. It's that burning feeling you get when you know you're right but then doubt creeps in. We may believe we're using logic but we're often not.

We get lost in the worry about judgement from others, concern of being ridiculed, or our own general hesitation. The late Alan Watts remarked on this in his lecture "Choices".

Watch, listen, then choose.


February 17, 2018

HBR – Leadership Mistakes

Being a leader has absolutely nothing to do what what it says on your business card or company org chart. A few years ago, the Harvard Business Review asked a simple question. Here are some valuable responses.


February 13, 2018

The Human Guest House

This was written by poet and theologian Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (known as Rumi) six hundred years ago and the message is as valid today.

We all have struggles and stress; issues and challenges, and it's tough to see clearly at times but that is where we grow. It's been a challenging year for many I know, me included, on various fronts. The words of Rumi are worth reviewing.

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably,
he may be clearing you out for some new delight

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

February 10, 2018

Unnecessary Noise

We all know we are flawed and make mistakes. We know we don’t have it all figured out. And we know there's work to do. But part of finding clarity is discovering the joy in work rather than the seemingly unattainable finish line.

Clutter makes us nervous and stressed. It can derail us from our goals. Clarity can help us find our baseline. To gain clarity, there are three questions you can ask yourself;

1. What do you stand for?
2. What will you not do?
3. Why do you do what you do?

February 7, 2018

Life is Risky Business

Manage risk, financial risk, reputation risk, market share risk, relationship risk, shareholder risk, the risks of risks, the risk of focusing on risks, the discussion of risks, the endless what if's that stall our journey risk.

Perhaps we perceive it will be difficult or worse, not successful. We often fear our own abilities and guts to take that ride. One of the worst emotions I think we can possess is regret. The idea we didn't act on can often be the one that stops the flow. The safety of inaction becomes our comfort zone.

Risk often focuses on what will, would, or could go wrong. It's a preemptive strike, a proactive measure, to protect the outcome. The biggest risk is when we use it to endorse inaction. I know of what I write only too well. Maybe you can relate.

The biggest risk is the bet we fail to make on ourselves.

February 3, 2018

Fearless Action

Much has been written and said about taking chances, failure, and ultimate success. If you were to ask any person who has attained any modicum of advancement, they would probably tell you about the many times it took to make it. The setbacks, roadblocks, and challenges were plentiful.

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others."
Jonathan Swift

You know that feeling you have right now in the pit of your stomach? That’s the voice you may not be listening to but you should, I should, we all should. Then act on it. Our fear stops us from moving. Our worry that it won’t work out makes us freeze.

"Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become."
Steve Jobs

Now think of a time you listened to your intuition and you started to move. Suddenly the doubts dissipated and things began to work out. Once you made the decision, it was clear what you needed to do. There were hiccups and twists, but you kept going.

"Vision with action can change the world."
Nelson Mandela

We need to remember that one step today toward our goals will take us one step away from our fears. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to move and the more our doubts will grow. Few among us are immune.

Your gut knows what to do.

January 29, 2018

Collaborative Culture

As much as it’s funky to have exposed brick, a foosball table in the lunch room, and lattes at 3pm, those won’t ensure your company has engaged employees who will do passionate work. Culture is much deeper. It’s a feeling and an instinct that can’t be forced or faked. And it takes work to upkeep. Every day. From everyone.

Here are seven areas to consider in making your company a great place to work.

Give – No matter the survey, compensation always makes it into one of the top reasons people stay or leave a company. But if money is the number one concern of employees, you have a serious issue. Pay people properly.

Define – What makes people want to bring their best every day and feel appreciated? If you can’t explain it in a sentence or two, dig deeper.

Value – What does your company stand for and what won’t it do? Two significant questions that seem easy enough to answer yet most struggle with them. We want to be a part of something that aligns with our values.

Open – Not all decisions can be made by committee. In fact most people want leadership to guide the way, but keep communication open enough for people to feel you genuinely want their input and ideas.

Stretch – Departments are created for a reason. Sales focuses on revenue while product design improves the offering. But don’t box people in so they can’t offer input to areas where they might not be subject matter experts. Some of the best ideas may come from the most unexpected places.

Lead – From small companies with a handful of employees to the Fortune 50, the relationship people have with their direct report and the people closest to them in their day-to-day work experience, will be the single biggest reason they stay or leave. Model the behavior you want from others.

Together – Teamwork and collaboration are a core elements to great culture. We want to belong and contribute so afford everyone the chance to do both.

Like trust, respect is earned not mandated by an org chart. So if you want great company culture, create an atmosphere of respect and trust and watch what happens.

Or work on your foosball skills

January 24, 2018

Stop the Busy

We live busy lives often being busy doing busy things with others getting busy on busy tasks. But how often do we take time for think time or better yet, do nothing?

Andy Puddicombe is the co-founder of Headspace, a project that aims to demystify meditation and make it applicable to everyday life. For more than a decade, Andy’s meditation training took him all over the world.

Andy became a fully ordained monk at a Tibetan Monastery in the Indian Himalayas. In his TEDTalk, Puddicombe explains the importance of making time to do nothing.


January 21, 2018

Labels and People

I'm an extrovert introvert who enjoys collaborating in team and group environments but also needs and enjoys some chill time on my own to recharge. I’m an ENFP (Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) which means I focus on intuition and external connections. But there is a strong internal piece which is key to process how I feel about things and how they fit into my value system.

I live in the world of possibilities – which can trip me up on follow through – but I see life as a gift and literally wake up every day looking forward to the possibilities. I have my share of down times and self-doubt which again is typical of someone driven by emotion and connection.

Mix it up

When I look at the 20 or so people I spend the most time with, it’s a mix, which is typical of an ENFP as I get energy from others and the varied traits they bring. And some of the closest people in my life are actually introverts. If you know one or are one, you know the label isn't completely accurate. The ones in my life are incredibly personable, engaging, and funny. Introvert means shy and withdrawn and I disagree with those broad labels.

I have a colleague who is an introvert and prefers to solve issues at work one-on-one in plain language through conversation and collaboration while her boss wants every report in triplicate to outline the effectiveness of the analysis of the plan. One gets energy from relationships while the other can’t operate without reports and structure. Sadly, the highest ranking official wins the day and the organization loses an opportunity for both to thrive.

Person to Person

One of my best friends – who is definitely an extrovert – is a very successful investment advisor who does most of his work on the phone or with clients rather than sitting in his office doing paperwork. His energy comes from being with and helping people and he does it all day long.

So if you have someone on your team who isn't like you, celebrate that, celebrate them, and get to know their way, their perspective, and their view on the world.

Teamwork and culture are not achieved by insisting everyone homogenizes into one sanitized process but rather by respecting personality traits and gifts. The combination can be magical which is why open collaborative leadership is critical.

Labels are for clothing not people.

January 16, 2018

The Revenue Diet Plan

A large cheeseburger with condiments is approximately 600 calories; an hour of high impact aerobics for a 200lb man will burn about 600 calories. A slice of pumpkin pie is about 350 calories; an hour of ice skating for the same man will burn about 340 calories. We know we need to eat better, work out more and take better care of ourselves but (on average) we don’t do that.

Often companies will look at the success of a certain campaign or promotion to get a sense of customer reaction or appetite. This kind of strategy is both flawed and short-lived. Patience is a virtue but rarely a business plan. We love cheeseburgers but don't want to gain weight; we want revenue but know it doesn't happen without effort.

Fries With That?

We want the customers now but can have trouble seeing the long term benefits of a sustained effort throughout the year. We wonder how these available channels can help us without realizing our contribution is critical to the equation. You and I have the collective patience of a three year old.

We are not built for strategy or long-term thinking. If things are bad, we want them to be good, immediately. If money is tight, we want money, right now. If someone promises that this campaign will help us get us out of this slide, we are happy to listen, right now. We want the burger and pie without the growing waistline.

Maybe this year we need more salad?

January 13, 2018

What Does This App Do?

Since the dawn of human existence, we have been working to improve our lives. There are better tools, advanced medical procedures, cleaner water purification, improved supply lines, more advanced urban development, and enhanced communication tools.

We live in a time where there are more scientists alive than in any other time in history, combined. There are reports that the world’s population could reach 10-12 billion.

The Shrunken Globe

We can send complicated documents across the globe with the press of a thumb on our mobile device. Our ability to share ideas is now instantaneous. And we are attempting to digest more content every day than we can ever consume.

So it’s curious when we get stuck with how to reach new customers, find new collaborative partners, and share ideas with those who will want to work with us. It has become an embarrassment of riches in a time when patience is scarce. And perhaps that's what is causing more clutter than good?

The Best Social Network

We seem to be able to grow our personal and professional networks on the social web yet the question remains how much human connection is going on? One way is to utilize a handy app that is in every smartphone – the phone.

This may sound revolutionary but the more things get complicated, the more we may need to simplify. And there is one way to make things far more simple.

Try the phone app; you'll surprise them all.

January 9, 2018

What's Holding Us Back?

I've done a rather unscientific study with colleagues, friends, and clients, and it’s clear many are taking a good look at their lives from all aspects – work, family, finances, love, spirituality, health, exercise, dreams – and making a plan to improve what is needed and move away from what is not helping them.

We need to take full responsibility for our behavior in all aspects of our lives and with whom we share. And the old adage you can’t bring your life to work is hopefully taking its last few gasps of life. Bring all of you to all you do or don’t bother.

Eyes Forward

Maybe it would be wise for us to take a few steps back and give thought to the people on our team and in our company; the people in our life who are enriching it and those who may be holding us back.

I have a friend who says she hasn't dreamed or created in a while. I would challenge that she may not have given herself the belief to act. Perhaps that’s what we all need right now? Perhaps we need to stop the busy and start paying closer attention to the humans around us and most importantly ourselves.

The results may blow us away.

January 3, 2018

Enjoy This Ride

The new year is fresh and many of us are looking it with optimism, but how often do we look at the past to compare it to what's ahead of us rather than focusing solely on possibilities ahead? One of my go-to songs is from a band called Morcheeba, it's entitled "Enjoy the Ride".

I think we spend far too much of our time looking back and looking forward and not enough time enjoying now. Now is not always fun and the ride is certainly not always smooth – in fact, it’s often quite bumpy. But if we pay more attention, we may stop chasing shadows in our work, our companies, our relationships, and our lives.

Maybe we'll enjoy this ride.

© 2018 Kneale Mann | | people + priority = profit
Leadership Development Business Culture Talent Development Human Capital