Time Trap

Calculate (use a daily journal over two weeks) how much time you’re spending on which of your offerings: marketing, creating new IP, delivering, etc. Then calculate the percentage of your income each of those offerings represents. I often find that people are spending 70% of their time on an activity that generates 15% of their business. The probability is that you’re spending time on them because you alway have, or you like them, or you haven’t thought about it. Either …


Have You Found It, Yet?

H.L. Mencken characterized philosophy as “A blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.” That’s what I think of every complex consulting approach I’ve ever encountered. The value of what we do is speed and simplicity. That’s the value that a fee should be based on, not a 14-step model or a thousand surveys. Otherwise, there’s another quote that appertains: “A consultant is someone who comes in to study a problem and remains to …


Whose Fault Is This, Anyway?

The Red Sox fired their manager—who has won three leagues championships and a world series—because they lost in the playoffs this year. They lost because their players didn’t perform well, not because of horrible moves by the manager. Yet, the buck stops there in sports, where you have autocratic rule by the owners. Just the opposite in business, where senior people blame and fire those under them, even in egregious situations such as Equifax and VW and Welles Fargo. If …


Squirrels

Our prior white German Shepherd, Koufax, caught his first squirrel at the age of two. He went on to make 16 kills in 6 species that we confirmed. I’d estimate the true total was three times that. He was a lovable, great dog who loved to hunt. His successor, Bentley, has longer legs and is slightly lighter, and is clearly faster. At the age of five he hasn’t caught anything that we’ve ever seen and I doubt anything that we …


Keeping Your Head Above Water

I’m watching the ocean from our suite. If you’re standing in the surf you remain in control and can make intelligent decisions about how to handle the waves and the undertow. However, if you’re just a few hundred yards farther out, with perhaps 40 feet of water underneath you, your options are severely limited, and the wind and tide might be impossible to overcome. Certainly a few miles out they would be, and without special equipment you’d be lost. In …


Doom Loop

When I was speaking regularly—two or three keynotes a month—I found a slew of human resources and learning and development people who were fanatic about using questionnaires (“smile sheets”) to assess whether the audiences liked the speaker. I remember I was introduced at Toyota once as “the highest ranked speaker in our history.” Companies such as IBM, Nissan, and Mercedes used these with great punctiliousness. Company such as Merck, HP, and JPMorgan/Chase did not. These low level people (who were …


To Be Continued?

We just binge-watched Westworld, which a lot of people had recommended, and we greatly enjoyed it. It’s the kind of raw stuff that could never be on network television. However, after the first, confusing episode we nearly abandoned it. I’m willing to work through uncertainty and strange plots, but I don’t respond well to an arrogance that I thought the producers were exhibiting toward their audience. Our friends said, “The first episode or two have to be tolerated, but after …


Making Change

In the last couple of months, I’ve noticed clerks and cashiers in California, New Jersey, Nantucket, and Rhode Island struggling to make change. The register tells them that the bill was $26,85 and that $50.00 was submitted, therefore the change is $23.15. The clerks take the twenty from the till, but then have some trouble with the three singles and the fifteen cents. The put the money in their palms like marbles, and their mouths move as they count. Forget …


Why I Am Not Running This By You

I have some bad news. Consensus is about something you can live with, not about something you would die for. It’s not unanimity. Most times, consensus is simply an idealistic vision which has virtually no bearing on the quality of the decision at hand. Too many of your clients (and, perhaps, you) are wasting time trying to get buy-in and commitment from people who simply don’t matter in the long run. Ineffective and frightened leaders strive for “consensus” to protect …


Dismissed

In US Navy tradition, when a commander loses faith in a subordinate’s judgment, that subordinate is removed—almost always a career-ending move. The admiral running the Pacific Fleet has just removed the three-star admiral running the Seventh Fleet, which has had four separate accidents over the past year involving two destroyers and two cruisers. (The Seventh Fleet has only 12 destroyers in total,  and there are only 22 cruisers in the entire US Navy, globally.) That might not be a bad …