When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade
100 years ago this week—January 10, 1915—Marshall Pinckney Wilder died. He was an American dwarf actor and humorist. Wilder was born with achondroplasia or dwarfism and also kyphosis or curvature of the spine. He became the first celebrity who attained fame in spite of his disability. He wrote a lot and always signed his letters, “Merrily Yours!”
In 1883 he made a trip to London and performed before the then Prince of Wales who later went on to become King Edward VII. He quickly became a favorite of the English royal family.
Wilder's career eventually branched into vaudeville and in 1904 embarked on a round the world tour. In a memorial to his life, The King of Jesters, Elbert Hubbard praised him for his optimism and achievements in the face of his disabilities. He wrote:
He was a walking refutation of that dogmatic statement, Mens sana in corpore sano. His was a sound mind in an unsound body. He proved the eternal paradox of things. He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand.Hubbard coined the concept "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." It was later popularized by the likes of Dale Carnegie who used it in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Carnegie's wrote:
If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade.
What it Takes to be Excellent
The Bleacher Report created this well done video: Cristiano Ronaldo—Greatness Awaits. It’s an inspiring look at what it takes to be excellent—at anything. The video concludes with:
And legends aren’t born from mediocrity. They are born from excellence. They are born from being the best. From being the hardest working. Legends are born from failure. They are born from falling down time and time again and having the grit to get back up again. Legends are born from adversity. They are forged in the crucible of struggle. Heroes come and go. But legends, legends live forever.
Try to See Things My Way
This short film is from storyteller Jason Headley. It's titled It's Not About The Nail. "Don't try to fix it. I just need you to listen." Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what.
A Father's Advice: F. Scott Fitzgerald on What to Worry About
In the hundreds of letters authored by F. Scott Fitzgerald that have been collected, we have this one dated August 8, 1933. In it, he offered the following advice to his 11-year-old daughter Scottie, while she was away at camp. It is still good advice today.
I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy--but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed page, they never really happen to you in life.
All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare's in which the line occurs Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds....
Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
With dearest love,
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Get Real. Get Outside.
In a print campaign directed at people immersed in the modern digital world for garden power tool company STIHL Australia, we are encouraged to discover the simple joys to be found outside. “Get Real. Get Outside.” It was developed by Whybin\TBWA\Tequila (Australia).
Keep Calm and Carry On
Stuart and Mary Manley are proprietors of one of the most beautiful secondhand bookstores anywhere—Barter Books—in the northeast corner of Northumberland, England.
After being forgotten for more than 70 years, they rediscovered, in a box of old books bought at auction, a rare original of the now famous WWII poster Keep Calm and Carry On.
Produced more than 70 years ago, this poster was one of three propaganda posters produced by the British government in the spring of 1939 in the build up to World War II. To be used in a time of crisis or invasion, this poster was never officially issued to the public. All of the posters were printed in two colors, using a “special and handsome” typeface, which would be difficult for Germany to counterfeit, along with the crown of King George VI as the only graphic device.
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I, Steve: Jobs in His Own Words
I, Steve. Organized by topic, this is a great (and sourced) collection. Here are a few:
• I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.
• My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.
• People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
• People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that are there. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
•If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whatever you were and throw them away.
• Ultimately, it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing. Picasso had a saying: good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas, and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.
• Things don’t have to change the world to be important.
Of Related Interest:
Steve Jobs 1955-2011
Hay Group's 2010 Best Companies for Leadership
Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, released its 2010 Best Companies for Leadership Study and Top 20 list. The study ranks the best companies for leadership around the globe and examines how those companies develop current and future leaders.
According to Hay Group’s study, all of the Top 20 companies report that everyone at every level of the organization has the opportunity to develop and practice the capabilities needed to lead others, compared to less than 70 percent of all other companies in the study. In addition, 90 percent of the Top 20 companies report that people are expected to lead regardless of whether they have a formal position of authority, compared to only 59 percent of other companies.
“The Top 20 Best Companies for Leadership are at the forefront of a significant shift away from hierarchical organizational operating models,” said Rick Lash, Director in Hay Group's Leadership and Talent Practice and co-leader of the Best Companies for Leadership Study. “Leadership in the twenty-first century is about leading at all levels; not restricting it to title. As organizations become flatter, the best leaders are learning they must check their egos at the door and become increasingly sensitive to diversity, generational and geographical issues.”
See the complete PDF summary.
They found that the best companies are moving more quickly and completely than other companies to flatten their structures and prepare their managers to lead effectively within it. Specifically they drive collaboration and cross-functional leadership and innovation, actively seek greater cultural diversity in their leaders and workforces, and they show a strong focus on developing leaders within their organizations. In the process, they are gaining important competitive advantages.
2009 Report: What Organizations Value in Leaders
30 Surprising Facts About George Washington
IN Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow calls Washington “the most famously elusive figure in American history.” In 928 pages—the longest single-volume biography of Washington ever published—Chernow wants to render George Washington real and credible. And he succeeds. Chernow offers these facts about George Washington.
Free E-books on Communication and Pricing
This weekend you might want to read a couple of good e-books. And they're free!
First, there is The Leader Differential: Five Steps to Thrive (Not Just Survive) by David Grossman, founder of The Grossman Group, a Chicago-based internal communications agency. This 21 page e-book is essentially an internal communications primer that offers corporate leaders basic (but effective) tips for communicating with employees in a way that will result in measurable outward company growth. Here are a couple of thoughts from this e-book:
Reflect on what others are seeing and reading every time they interact with you, and develop the awareness not only to act the role of the leader you want to be, but to role model the actions and characteristics that you would like to see in others.And one of the biggest complaints employees have in these uncertain times is that they are not getting enough information or they get what turns out to be simply misinformation cloaked in openness. How much information is enough information? Grossman states:
Naturally, it depends on the situation, but in the case, for example, that you’ve got a big elephant in the room—a reorganization, a high-level executive change, a merger or acquisition, a round of layoffs, or anything else that could be seen by employees as directly threatening their positions at your company—tell them what you know, what you don’t know, when you’re going to find out additional information, and stamp out myths or misperceptions. The key here is transparency, which means addressing the issue at hand before it spirals out of control.Grossman provides guidance in how much to communicate and then how to control the message.
Next, check out Todd Sattersten’s Fixed to Flexible. This 37 page e-book is about cost, price, margin, and the options we have for how to sell. From the introduction:
Fixed has been replaced with flexible. Control of a product category, distribution channel or branding message no longer exists. While this is being heralded as a boon for customers, companies have been slower to adapt to the new terrain. Companies with multi-national presence and individuals with multitudes of projects both need to create a new set of strategies.This ebook collects the commercial aspects of cost, price, and margin and presents a variety of alternatives about how to make your way in the world of infinite choice.
What Organizations Value in Leaders
Bloomberg BusinessWeek.com and Hay Group have released the results of their annual survey which ranks the best companies for leadership and examines how those companies develop leaders.
Last year the quality that the Top 20 companies valued most in their leaders was execution—the ability of leaders to achieve results through others. This year, the most valued quality is strategic thinking. "This year's emphasis on strategic thinking suggests that, like an individual recovering from a personal upheaval, businesses today are taking stock: reviewing their options, rethinking their strategies, considering new opportunities and innovations." It also suggests more long-term thinking.
See the complete PDF summary.
"While the data suggest there is no one best way to grow leaders, the companies that do it best share certain key characteristics. The top 20 companies address leadership development on multiple fronts, from articulating how leadership behavior needs to change to meet the challenges of the future to managing their pools of successors for mission-critical roles. And, despite the chaotic, crisis-strewn atmosphere of the past year, they've continued to make leadership a top priority."
George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior
If you're considering some personal development goals for 2010, you couldn't go wrong reviewing the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior once copied down by George Washington.
By age sixteen, Washington had copied out by hand the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. Presumably they were copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by young Washington's schoolmaster. The first English translation of the French rules appeared in 1640, and are ascribed to Francis Hawkins the twelve-year-old son of a doctor.
Today many, if not all of these rules, sound a little fussy if not downright silly. It would be easy to dismiss them as outdated and appropriate to a time of powdered wigs and quills, but they reflect a focus that is increasingly difficult to find. The rules have in common a focus on other people rather than the narrow focus of our own self-interests that we find so prevalent today. Fussy or not, they represent more than just manners. They are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together.
Check them out at Foundations Magazine.
In the Wall Street Journal, Jason Zweig writes about the specific application of a general issue: confirmation bias. It is a never-ending battle that affects all of us and is worth reading for the reminder. He offers specific ideas to counteract its pull that can be applied to whatever you are doing. Here are a few edited excerpts from Ignoring the Yes-Man in Your Head to introduce the issue:
In short, your own mind acts like a compulsive yes-man who echoes whatever you want to believe. Psychologists call this mental gremlin the "confirmation bias." A recent analysis of psychological studies with nearly 8,000 participants concluded that people are twice as likely to seek information that confirms what they already believe as they are to consider evidence that would challenge those beliefs.
ReQuotes: "You're gonna like the way they sound. I guarantee it!"
In the current issue of Direct magazine, you will find Herschell Gordon Lewis in his usual good form. This month he ponders “how successful certain events would have been if the principals had been shrewd and savvy enough to pick up some of our advertising and marketing talk.”
Here are several outtakes:
Protect Your Lunch with Anti-Theft Lunch Bags
As more and more people brown bag it, this handy little item might be of interest.
These sandwich size (food-safe reusable and recyclable LDPE) bags can actually be purchased from the. (no that's it - "the.") the. is the official marketplace for amusing and eclectic wares designed by the. team. Mihoko Ouchi and Sherwood Forlee make up the. team. They have other interesting products they have designed on their web site. Have a look.
Lunch with the FT: Tom Peters
In the weekend edition of the Financial Times there is a great interview with Tom Peters by Stefan Stern. It’s candid and worth a read. Here’s a sample:
Few have criticized what he does for a living as ferociously as Peters himself. “I say to people, ‘You got a bad deal, paying money to see me,’” he tells me. “I have utterly nothing new to say. I am simply going to remind you of what you’ve known since the age of 22 and in the heat of battle you forgot. You’d have to be one of those television preachers to believe that you’re going to work with a group of 500 people and change their lives. First of all, most of them agree with you. You’re not going to pay £1,000 [a head] to go and see someone if you think the guy’s a jerk.Later, Stern writes:
Fortified, I give him my best shot. Is management getting harder? “No,” he replies firmly – and in defiance of the conventional wisdom. But what about all that new technology, the end of deference, the increased pace of life, and the heightened expectations of employees? Doesn’t that all make management harder?You can find the quick, entertaining interview at the Financial Times: Lunch with the FT
Five Myths about the Oil and Gas Industry
In the final chapters of The First Billion Is the Hardest, T. Boone Pickens dispels five myths about the oil and gas industry:
Myth No. 1: Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will make us energy dependent.
Myth No. 2: Ethanol will save the day.
Myth No. 3: Big Oil is manipulating the price of gas at the pumps.
Myth No. 4: The lack of new refineries in the United States is a main contributor to high gasoline prices.
Myth No. 5: New Technology will enable us to discover enormous untapped reservoirs of oil.
He writes, “We are going to be dependent on oil for at least another fifty years; that means foreign oil, ad that means trouble. Either we need to be prepared to face those consequences or we need to get working on some alternatives.” He adds, “Our biggest problem is leadership.”
Tom Peters on the Definition of Leadership
Tom Peters’ offers his definition of leadership in the video below. He begins by expressing a truth that is more important than the definition itself. It is not often understood by those seeking to understand the shortcomings of leadership. “Leadership in the 21st century AD is exactly what it was in the 21st century BC. Leadership is about the development, the inducement of people to grow way beyond where they believed they could go. Nothing has changed.” Leadership hasn’t changed. Leadership is influence.
Peters’ definition is summed up in this quote from Robert Altman's lifetime achievement Oscar acceptance speech: "The director allows an actor to become more than they've ever dreamed of being." He says that great leaders are dealers in hope. He cites Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt as examples.
There's Servant Leadership and Then There's...
From The Philippine Star comes this old joke:
One day as 10 slaves were rowing a boat, the strain of every stroke showing on their faces, the first mate appeared on the deck. “I’ve got good news and bad news,” he said.
“The good news is we see an island so we’re going to stop, drink rum, hunt a couple wild boars and have a feast.”
The slaves whispered in happiness, all but one, who asked “what is the bad news?
“Well,” the first mate replied, “tomorrow the captain wants to go waterskiing!”
Rob May over at BusinessPundit.com has delivered on a great idea. He has created MBA-by-Blog.
The site will create a directory of some of the best and most educational business blog posts of all time. Primarily, it will be quite useful as a learning tool for specific business topics of interest to you. Additionally, as a repository of links to blog posts, it will become a great research tool.
You can vote on the usefulness of a post and you are encouraged to submit posts that you find have been useful to you. If you need to, you can suggest new categories to create a more refined topic index. So, as you scan the Internet, think about submitting the better posts to MBA-by-Blog. It will help to create a useful resource for everyone.
Rob, is also looking for editors to help with this process. If you would like to be an editor and can login once a week and read a few posts to determine if they are quality, send him an email.
BookTour.com: Find Out Where Authors are Speaking in Your Area
A welcome and promising new service to be found on the web is BookTour.com. There's nothing like seeing an author live to help you get an idea of what they're all about and to ask some clarifying quesions. Finding out when and where they will be in town is the problem. BookTour.com aims to solve this obstacle.
It is a resource for both readers and writers. Authors create their own page (biography, books, tour dates and availability) and any group looking for speakers can find them and contact them directly to arrange for an appearance. Relevant information for both authors and venues can be added in minutes through a simple fill-in-the-blanks interface. Connecting authors with potential audiences then becomes as easy as searching (by geography, book titles, subject, dates of availability) and sending an email.
Check it out. Your participation will help make it a more useful tool for everyone.
Snooze You Lose?
Like me, you probably worked right through National Sleep Awareness Week (March 5-11, 2007) this year. For many, lack of sleep is a source of pride. It seems to imply that what we are doing is too important for mere mortals. Getting the proper amount of sleep isn’t equated with a go-getter. Getting caught napping is downright embarrassing. Yet research shows that sleep is one of the most important activities of the productive person.
Professor Sara Mednick in Good Magazine asks, “Can afternoon naps save your life?” Apparently they can. “Scientists are discovering more and more evidence to suggest that a midday rest can improve your alertness, cognition, mood, cardiac health, and weight.”
Sleep affects your ability to learn and memory. Research would suggest that the more important you are the more sleep you should get. You need the extra time for your mind to process all you learn and do in a day.
We are in the midst of a fatigue epidemic that affects health, safety, productivity, and the bottom line. Sleep loss has been shown to increase our inflammatory and stress responses, which naps can bring back to normal levels.The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Here are some tips for good sleep:
The National Sleep Foundation reports that "a team of American and Greek researchers undertook an epidemiological study of 23,681 Greek adults with no history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer. They asked participants about the frequency and duration of their naps and about other variables that might affect heart health and found that those participants who napped regularly (three or more times a week, for 30 minutes or more) had a 37% lower risk of dying from heart disease. This finding was especially true for working men.
"Oftentimes getting adequate sleep at night is challenging. Napping offers a way to augment nighttime sleep, increase alertness, and possibly lower stress levels."
Take a nap!
Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer for Kids Ages 10 to 14
The folks at Gallup have developed a Strengths Finder for kids ages 10-14 called the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer. It is an instrument designed to help young people discover and develop the unique talents within them.
They explain: "The Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer is designed to help make a lifelong impact on youth based on decades of research. As a parent, it can be a challenge to identify your child's innate talents. This tool can enhance your insights into your child's discovery and growth process. It can help you understand your child's unique perspective of the world. And, it can help shed insight on what are his or her greatest talents—natural patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior—and how to build on those tendencies for success."
In my own experience, this is a helpful tool to help you to understand and encourage your child. I recommend having them take it once a year at this point in their life. The cost is $25 (online version) or $35 (printed version) and you get the following:
First, youth get access to the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer assessment—a Web-based program made up of items the participant rates based on how much each specific statement relates to him or her.
Immediately, an individual can print a Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer report based on his or her responses. This customized report reveals a person's top three themes—descriptions of his or her areas of natural talent. Also included in the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer report are action items for youth and adults. Action items are just that—ways to put talents into action.
Finally, two Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer guides—full of even more activities and ideas to help youth focus on what's best about them—are available:
President Clinton: The Final Days Video
This video was recently sent to us ... 7 years later, but it's good enough to see again. It is from the 2000 White House Correspondents Dinner. This is President Clinton's critically acclaimed lame-duck video, in which a film crew documented how he spent his final days in office. Certainly it can be said that Clinton has a sense of humor.
From that speech:
Now, I know lately I haven't done a very good job at creating controversy, and I'm sorry for that. You all have so much less to report. I guess that's why you're covering and commenting on my mood -- my quiet, contemplative moments; my feelings during these final months in office. (Laughter.) In that case, you might be interested to know that a film crew has been following me around the White House, documenting my remaining time there.
They Came, They Conquered, They Collected: What Dictators Collect
An article in Psychology Today by Caroline Tiger asks the question, "What drives the need for dictators to collect material possessions that are over the top?"
Tyrants collect money and power, but they also amass bric-a-brac like the rest of us. What, if anything, do their material leanings signify?
How Good A Boss Are You? Take This Test
Fortune magazine has provided a short online quiz to help you determine if you are a good boss or a bad boss. It's part of an article by senior writer, Anne Fisher.
She spoke to David Sirota, head of Sirota Survey Intelligence, who said, "A large part of what a good boss does is expedite things for employees - that is, help them get their jobs done by removing obstacles. This is not at all the same as 'making sure' they get their jobs done by raising the anxiety level. Most people are anxious enough already." She asked him, What makes a good boss, in employees' eyes? Here is an excerpt:
"All of our research consistently shows that people in general have three goals at work. First is fairness. They want to feel that they're being recognized and rewarded fairly for what they contribute. Second is achievement. People want to be proud of the organization and of their place in it. And third, camaraderie, meaning good working relationships and a sense of belonging to a team. If these three goals are met, you have enthusiastic employees.How good a boss are you? A good manager understands how employees feel about their jobs. You may think you understand what your workers want, but do you really know what motivates them? Take the Fortune quiz!
Best Airline Recipes
Four humorous fake not-books – including Chicken or Beef? The World’s Best Loved Airline Recipes and Whoops. I Was Wrong by GW Bush – are the focal point of Abebooks.com’s birthday celebrations.
Abebooks.com—probably the best place to look for used, rare and out-of-print books—is 10 years old and running a high profile multi-faceted marketing campaign across three continents. The non-existent books—which have the tagline If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist—are being showcased in newspaper and magazine advertisements in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Making Marriage Work by Henry VIII and Everything You Wanted To Know About North Korea But Were Afraid To Ask by Kim Jong Il complete the line-up of not-books, which were designed by advertising consultancy Rethink and printed by Trafford Publishing, a leading on-demand publisher.
Available from Abebooks.com, the blank not-books can be purchased for $2.17 each.
What Is Your Personal DNA?
We found out about this tool from Jodee Bock's blog. It is personality test which is as they claim, "free, fun, fast and accurate." It's called personalDNA. It is actually a very quick, innovative process and was quite accurate for those in our office.
A great feature on this site allows you to ask other people to assess you once you've taken the test yourself. It is enlightening to learn how those close to you see your personality by sharing results from your feedback page. You can also assess someone else's personality, and send that person the results.
Take the test at: personalDNA.com. At the end of the test, you'll get a thorough personality assessment, along with a personality map and a personalDNA strip.
Best Brand Development Documentary
We ran across what must be the most creative discussion of developing your brand. It's titled "Your Blossoming Brand." It's by the people at Big Fat Brain. Their web site has been nominated for a Webby and we think it deserves it. After viewing the introduction (45sec), click on the television in the lower right-hand corner promoting "Public Service Announcements." Then sit back and enjoy a thoroughly unique education in brand development. (1min 45sec)
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