Intelligent, Innovative and Experienced

Greetings.  We all know that great leadership is essential to the success of any company or organization.  Skilled leaders set the tone, drive vision and strategy, build strong teams, engage and inspire employees at all levels, instill confidence in customers, keep an eye on the future, nurture innovation, take calculated risks, etc.  So it's often interesting to see how companies talk about, or write about, their leaders.  Case in point, a fast-growing company named comScore which has, in a few short years, created a very successful niche in the world of digital media as a leading provider of "marketing intelligence solutions that enable its customers to understand, measure, leverage, and profit from the web and mobile technologies." 

And here are the exact words that caught my attention:

"comScore has attracted a team of intelligent, innovative and experienced individuals who share a strong desire to achieve goals that have never been accomplished before."

Followed by a set of very impressive resumes for the company's executive team…

It certainly sounds impressive!  After all, wouldn't any customer want to work with a business that is led by "intelligent, innovative and experienced individuals?"  It sure beats working with one led by people who are "clueless, behind the times, and have no relevant experience."  Though I'm a bit little less certain that I would want to work with a company that is focused on "achieving goals that have never been accomplished before."  Unless, of course, there is a direct correlation between those goals and the key results I need to achieve.  Still, comScore's bold statement raises the value of leadership as a marketing and sales strategy.  And that is a very important idea, because we often base decisions about who to do business with on the technical power of competing products, services and solutions.  Or on cost and operational efficiency.  Or on the nature of the customer experience.  Or a combination of the three, depending on our needs and budget.  And that makes sense.  But doesn't world-class leadership trump them all?  Because it is the best bet in assuring that our real needs as a customer will be understood and met.

We win in business and in life when we appreciate the real value of leadership as the glue that connects the needs of our customers with the talents and potential of our organization.


Politics as Unusual

Greetings.  It's mid-term election day in the U.S. and a chance for citizens to give their feedback to elected leaders.  It's kind of like getting a performance appraisal every two years for a host of things that are and aren't totally within your control. This includes a wide range of seemingly intractable challenges that require real leadership, innovation, collaboration, curiosity, open-mindedness, and even a bit of genius to resolve.  Skills that are in less than abundant supply judging by the behavior of most members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.  But, then again, nobody's forced to be a politician.  Though the picture below did give me reason to pause and question the central premise supporting this blog and all of my work to help companies and organizations to unlock the brilliance in all of their people.

If you're a regular reader of the Surrounded by Geniuses blog you know that I believe everyone has the potential to be a genius.  But our current state of political discourse makes me wonder if this notion needs to be amended.  

In a very basic sense, politics should be all about customer service and delivering compelling value in meeting the vital needs of constituents, the nation as a whole, and the world we must figure out how to share. And, it should be about acting responsibly in using limited resources to address these needs in new and better ways.  Because politics as usual isn't helping us at all.  And the folks who sign up for the job–and the egos and special interests that drive them–rarely have this purpose in mind.  In a place that should be all about servant leadership, it's striking that we find so few thoughtful leaders.

Politicians are geniuses
We win in business and sometimes in politics when we focus on doing the right things with a spark of genius.  And when we never forget what really matters to those we have the privilege to serve.

Cheers and please make sure to vote!

Enlightened Business Summit

Greetings.  On October 25 – 29th a unique and exciting business conference will be taking place with over 20,000 attendees from around the world.  They won't be gathered in a big convention hall or hanging out in a gigantic virtual lecture hall. Instead, they'll use the innovative Maestro Conference platform to participate live and interact with each other and 40 top CEOs, bestselling authors, pioneering entrepreneurs, and business thought leaders–all for free.  And since I spend most of my time thinking about innovation, learning, collaboration, and creating truly valuable experiences for customers, it sounds like a very interesting idea.

I'm also delighted to have been asked to be one of the Summit presenters alongside leaders such as Tony Hsieh of Zappos, John Mackey of Whole Foods, Bill George (the former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic and now a Harvard Business School professor), Tim Ferriss (author of "The Four-Hour Work Week"), George Zimmer of the Men's Warehouse, Christine Lynch, Casey Sheahan of Patagonia, Roxanne Emmerich, Stephen Covey, Chip Conley, and Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi.  Why they picked me is anybody's guess, but it should be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to share and exchange ideas on leadership, innovation, and unlocking genius.  

The Summit itself is designed with mainly 30-minute talks interspersed over five days, including my session on October 26th at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, so you can still take care of all the really exciting stuff in your in-box while gaining insights from some very interesting people.  And you can participate live on as many calls as you like and interact with both the presenters and the other participants.  Or, you can listen to all of the sessions after the event by accessing the full library of recordings.

To learn more about this unique learning experience CLICK HERE


The Brilliance of the World Cup

Greetings.  In a few days the world's most remarkable sporting event will begin with the simple kick of a ball and the hopes and dreams of 32 nations that were skillful and fortunate enough to qualify for this year's World Cup.  And for a month, a large percentage of the planet's eyes, ears, and hearts will be glued to TV screens and computer monitors in homes, offices, restaurants, bars, community centers, social halls, public plazas, and anyplace else that people gather to cheer for their favorite teams and players.  They'll also watch at all hours of the day and night, depending on where they live, in the hopes of seeing great games, great plays, and especially great goals.  Goals announced with the unique passion that only soccer or football can bring–especially when screamed in delight by some of Latin America's finest announcers.  This is truly the world's sport, played and revered by more than 90 percent of it's inhabitants on dirt lots, city streets, rural pastures, perfectly manicured fields, and everywhere in between.

And amid all of the press, the hype, the predictions, and the building of stadiums and other preparations made for this historic event, it will essentially be a month of magic that is based on the simplest of games–made complicated only by trying to figure out exactly what it means to be "off sides."  Otherwise, the rules and the pitch (i.e., "field") are pretty basic and pretty clear.  So whether you call it football, futbol, futebol, fotboll, futbal, fodbold, le football or simply le foot, futboll, sakka, jalkapallo, soccer, or any other name, now is your chance to experience something special.  After four years of waiting the World Cup is back, making its first ever appearance on the African continent.

Even if you're not a soccer fan, it is well worth your while to spend some time watching the World Cup.  You might even find it to be a valuable activity at the office.  And while you're watching, try to figure out what makes this event so special and what insights you might gain to help make your company or organization more special too.  Besides the obvious lessons in teamwork and strategy, there's a lot to be learned about innovation, improvisation, and seizing opportunities.  And, you're also likely to discover new perspectives on leadership, loyalty, engagement, and poise under pressure.  So enjoy the experience…it's bound to be brilliant!

Fifa 2010

We win in business by captivating the hearts and minds of those we choose to serve.  By kindling their passion and dreams of greatness. Thirty days of magic are set to unfold.  Will you and the geniuses you work with be watching, cheering, and learning?


Books Worth Reading: “Outcasts United”

Greetings.  There are plenty of business books about teamwork, leadership, and dealing with change.  And many of them are very good.  But a great way to unlock our individual and collective genius is to find ideas and insight from very different people, places, and walks of life.  And in the process to realize the unique bonds that make us all human.  That's why I love books like Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town by Warren St. John.  It's a remarkable story of a youth soccer team–made up of refugees from war-torn countries–that comes together in a small and declining American town under the leadership of an equally remarkable Jordanian woman.  But it's also a compelling story about what it means to work together, build community, understand and appreciate differences, and learn to adapt and change.  It's definitely worth your time, and might be a powerful way to engage your colleagues in thinking about the things that really matter.

Outcasts Cover