This week Adam Bryant interviews Marla Malcom Beck, the chief executive of Bluemercury, a beauty products and spa services retailer. I really appreciate her no-nonsense, common sense approach to life and business! Regarding hiring she states, “In about two minutes, I can ascertain skill based on what they’ve done… Will is about hunger so I’ll ask what do you want to do in five or 10 years.”
Brent Frei, the co-founder of Smartsheet.com, a project and software management company, looks for people who are “mentally athletic and agile.” He prefers attitude and aptitude over experience. I like his perspective, a lot!
An article by David Busis in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times entitled ‘Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe,’ is very interesting. The author is frustrated and uncertain about his career while a college buddy has made millions doing what he loves as an entrepreneur. Mr. Busis and his wife vacation with his buddy and his new flame setting the stage for discomfort as everything seems better for his buddy than himself.
Robert Reid, the C.E.O of Intacct, a cloud-based software company, believes that most issues with execution come down to training and process. He states, “If somebody is not doing what you expect or you have a different viewpoint, you need to seek to understand what’s going on and help them.”
I really appreciate Thomas Friedman’s perspective on a wide range of issues! In his post in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times, Mr. Friedman summarizes the climate change issue. Essentially, climate change awareness and action as nations is crucial to our future and the future of mankind. He writes, “as the I.E.A warned, “no more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050″ – otherwise we’ll bust through the limit of 2-degree Celsius rise in ocean temperature that scientists believe will unleash truly disruptive ice melt, sea level rise, and weather extremes.”
The New York Times Sunday Review feature article on happiness by Arthur Brooks concludes that we must learn to love people not money, power, status, or sexual pleasure. This seems pretty evident to some and yet it’s super-challenging for many in a culture addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Reality TV, and video games to name a few. The challenge with happiness is that we must cultivate good habits over long periods of time. Essentially, I teach non-avoidance, a way of living that means we live and express out truth! Wow, that’s not easy. I often tell clients that if they are ready I can teach them how to be happier and more fulfilled but it requires substantial work on their part. The majority of people I’ve coached in over two decades of working with people have quit well before they graduated. In other words, they didn’t want to work that hard.
Adam Bryant interviews Hannah Paramore, president of the Digital Agency. Several things she said resonate with me: one is how important it is to take personal responsibility. I am working with a client now who has a pattern of running the negative emotions of jealosy and envy. I’m trying to teach him to shift his thought process and change a devastating cycle of emotional states that leave him weak and ineffectual. Taking personal responsibility for our emotions is at the core of successfully navigating relationships in business and intimacy. If you blame others for anything you are effectively giving your power away and acting like a victim. Powerful people make tough decisions and do something about situations that are not working for them. This may not be easy but it is the only way to take control over your life and business.
Gina Centrello has a great attitude! It’s obvious from her interview with Adam Bryant, the New York Times Corner Office guy. Ms. Centrello stresses over and over the value of hard work, curiosity, and teamwork. She believes that the success of the organization hinges on the harmonious interaction of its key members and strives to create an atmosphere that fosters teamwork!
I’ve been coaching more and more athletes on the mental game over the past several years! A reoccurring theme is what to do with criticism. It’s part of a larger discussion on mindfulness. When we are able to slow down our thought process and become more aware of our mental and emotional states we then have the capacity to unhook from our reactions and change our thoughts. This applies to parents as much as business people or athletes. Suppose you are pitching a solid game and have one rough inning and your coach comes to the mound all pissed off. He says a few words, goes back to the bench and kicks the water cooler. Do you let that rattle you? Get under your skin? Or do you pay attention to your breathe, settle down and redirect your thoughts to throwing a strike on the outside corner? It’s similar in extreme examples like road rage? Do you let someone’s idiocy get you going or do you pay attention to your breathe and redirect your thoughts to the possibility that this other person is dealing with an emergency?
Ron Kaplan, the C.E.O. of Trex, a manufacturer of outside decks, learned from his father that the number one job of a leader is to “make the staff feel secure” which comes from your presence, integrity, and reliability. Being focused, fun, and real the mantra of my website communicates a certain presence, style, and way of being! I love congruency and authenticity as a way of guiding others and living successfully!
I was in a nine hole golf match last week in Westport, Connecticut not LaQuinta, California where I took this picture last month. On the ninth hole with the individual and team matches all squared I was casually talking with my playing partner, a retired finance guy, and really enjoying the moment especially the camaraderie of playing with a really nice guy. I asked him to range find the distance to the stick after driving the ball down the middle. He told me it was 138 yards to the back left pin placement. Choosing a pitching wedge, I recall going into pure focus mode, completely empty of all thought. I took an effortless swing and hit the ball directly into the setting sun having that flush feeling of striking it solidly. A moment later, my opponent yelled from across the fairway that the ball was “In The Hole!” I held my hands up, did a little salsa waggle and high-fived my playing partner having effectively ended both matches. Afterwards, we decided to play up 16 to play the last three holes before dark. On 17 my partner said he didn’t make his usual two birdies. I asked him if that was his intention and he said that he tries to make two birdies every time he plays. I shared that I intend to have at least one experience of Magic every time I play! He responded by saying I had clearly pulled it off holing out from the fairway!
Each week I do a quick little blurb on Adam Bryant’s interviews in the New York Times Sunday Business section. This week he interviewed Jody Greenstone Miller, the co-founder and chief executive of the Business Talent Group, a provider of project based talent. I enjoyed her open and honest style but what stood out for me most was her desire to hire optimistic people who are problem solvers not just problem spotters.
According to Amy Chua and Jeb Rubenfeld, Yale law professors and authors of What Drives Success? A New York Times Sunday Review feature article, success in certain ethnic groups has to do with three underlying principles: 1) A superiority complex 2) An inferiority complex 3) Impulse control. For instance, believing that certain groups are chosen, better than or more elite can add extra confidence for individuals to persevere when times are tough. Feeling not good enough, not smart enough or not successful enough can add extra drive or motivation. Without the ability to delay gratification or learn to control one’s impulses, people won’t work hard enough in the now to secure longer term success. This article is very interesting and worth considering. Some statistics are especially interesting like Nigerians who make up less than one percent of the Black population in the United States yet in 2013 nearly one quarter of the black students at Harvard Business School were of Nigerian ancestry.
Sitting at a sports bar at JFK watching Seattle dominate the Saints I found myself in a conversation with a bright young woman who just graduated from Occidental University in Southern California. I had asked Mia what her tuition was at this small liberal arts school and she replied 55 thousand. I told her about this article that I read in the Wall Street Journal Review section addressing the easy availability of student loans through government backing had allowed universities to raise tuition beyond reasonable levels. As a result, far too many coeds graduate with excessive debt in a soft job market. Suddenly, a former Tufts professor interrupted politely agreeing with me that the system was indeed broken but he argued that the primary cause was related to prodigious course offerings that make individual per student costs as high as 75 thousand at many private universities. I added that administrative bloat was clearly an issue as well as non facility costs have soared too. This professor was en route to Brussels having taken a job for NATO in large part because the system is now making it harder to enjoy teaching as well. He told me that tenure is more challenging than ever and schools pay increasing numbers of adjuncts less.
It’s been an amazing year of tight finishes as the Sports section of the Sunday New York Times highlights! Tom Brady is on the cover for a reason. The Patriots have been especially good at winning in the last seconds or on the final drive! I love watching football on tv for a variety of reasons: players play hard, coaches work hard, careers are short, greatness is rewarded and great finishes make it all the better! I often use football analogies when coaching clients, even non-athletes. I talk a lot about the foundation of success: eating right, exercising, meditating, and being proactive! The more we focus on what we want and do the necessary work involved, the more likely we will achieve it. This is what Tom Brady does!