Leading Blog


First Look: Leadership Books for June 2020

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June 2020. Don't miss out on other great new and future releases.

9781633697041Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader's Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss

Leadership isn't easy. It takes grit, courage, and vision, among other things, that can be hard to come by on your toughest days. When leaders and aspiring leaders seek out advice, they're often told to try harder. Dig deeper. Look in the mirror and own your natural-born strengths and fix any real or perceived career-limiting deficiencies. Frances Frei and Anne Morriss offer a different worldview. They argue that this popular leadership advice glosses over the most important thing you do as a leader: build others up. Leadership isn't about you. It's about how effective you are at empowering other people—and making sure this impact endures even in your absence. As Frei and Morriss show through inspiring stories from ancient Rome to present-day Silicon Valley, the origins of great leadership are found, paradoxically, not in worrying about your own status and advancement, but in the unrelenting focus on other people's potential.

9780231194525Startup Myths and Models: What You Won't Learn in Business School by Rizwan Virk

Budding entrepreneurs face a challenging road. The path is not made any easier by all the clichés they hear about how to make a startup succeed―from platitudes and conventional wisdom to downright contradictions. This witty and wise guide to the dilemmas of entrepreneurship debunks widespread misconceptions about how the world of startups works and offers hard-earned advice for every step of the journey. Instead of startup myths―legends spun from a fantasy version of Silicon Valley―Rizwan Virk provides startup models―frameworks that help make thoughtful decisions about starting, growing, managing, and selling a business. Rather than dispensing simplistic rules, he mentors readers in the development of a mental toolkit for approaching challenges based on how startup markets evolve in real life.

9781633699212Think for Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence by Vikram Mansharamani

Have you ever followed your GPS device to a deserted parking lot? Or unquestioningly followed the advice of an expert—perhaps a doctor or financial adviser—only to learn later that your own thoughts and doubts were correct? And what about the stories we've all heard over the years about sick patients—whether infected with Ebola or COVID-19—who were sent home or allowed to travel because busy staff people were following a protocol to the letter rather than using common sense? Why and how do these kinds of things happen? As Harvard lecturer and global trend watcher Vikram Mansharamani shows in this eye-opening and perspective-shifting book, our complex, data-flooded world has made us ever more reliant on experts, protocols, and technology. Too often, we've stopped thinking for ourselves. Mansharamani illustrates how in a very real sense we have outsourced our thinking to a troubling degree, relinquishing our autonomy.

9781626347120Strategy First: How Businesses Win Big by Brad Chase

In Strategy First, Brad Chase, the mind behind some of Microsoft’s largest and most successful initiatives, explains why building robust strategies is the imperative to business success. Chase leads readers through his easy-to-use strategy model, Strategy = E x mc2, which teaches readers the art of strategy—how to build and execute winning strategies relative to the competition. To supplement the model, Chase provides 5 key tips to strategy prosperity and over 50 examples from a broad range of businesses that help the reader think about how they can use his Strategy First toolkit. The author will inspire readers to examine the effectiveness of their current strategies, using the model that has served him in his distinguished career.

9781119550112Accountable Leaders: Inspire a Culture Where Everyone Steps Up, Takes Ownership, and Delivers Results by Vince Molinaro

Accountable Leaders is the real-world guide to propelling your business to extraordinary levels of performance and achievement. Leadership accountability is a major issue in organizations around the globe. Research has shown that teams and individual employees are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the degree of accountability demonstrated by their leaders. Effective teams need responsible and accountable leaders―the solution seems simple. Yet, thousands of businesses are struggling with mediocre performance and widening gaps in leadership. This essential resource provides practical and no-nonsense strategies to transform any organization into a cohesive, highly motivated culture of accountable leaders and fully committed teams.

9781599510217Winning Now, Winning Later: How Companies Can Win in the Short Term While Investing for the Long Term by David Cote

Short-termism is rampant among executives and managers today, causing many companies to underperform and even go out of business. With competition intense and investors demanding strong quarterly gains now, leaders all too often feel obliged to sacrifice the investments so necessary for long-term growth. Dave Cote is intimately familiar with this problem. Upon becoming Honeywell’s CEO in 2002, he encountered an organization on the verge of failure, thanks to years of untrammeled short-termism. To turn the company around, he and his team adopted a series of bold operational reforms and counterintuitive leadership practices that enabled them to “do two conflicting things at the same time”--pursue strong short- and long-term results. The outcome was phenomenal.

For bulk orders call 1-626-441-2024

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 32 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
— Walt Disney

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Whats New in Leadership Books Best Books of 2019

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LeadershipNow 140: May 2020 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from May 2020 that you don't want to miss:

See more on twitter Twitter.

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Grace to Show Respect Downstream World

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Leading Thoughts for May 28, 2020

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Chief Technology Officer at Better.com, Erik Bernhardsson on ruthless prioritization:

“What I have come to believe is that: prioritization is the most value creating activity in any company. Generating ideas and executing things is of course also important! But what I've seen to set apart great teams from good is a brutal focus on prioritization. This means generating an absurd amount of ideas and throwing 99% of them out of the window, to focus on the 1% that have the highest impact.”

Source: Never Attribute to Stupidity That Which Is Adequately Explained by Opportunity Cost


Alex Kantrowitz on the burden of execution:

“Drowning in execution work, today’s companies devote themselves to refinement, not invention. Their leaders might desire to run inventive cultures, but they do not have the bandwidth. So they deliver a limited set of ideas from the top, and everyone else executes and polishes.”

Source: Always Day One

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:37 PM
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Leading Thoughts for May 21, 2020

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


The New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks, on educating yourself:

“The biggest way most colleges fail is this: They don’t plant the intellectual and moral seeds students are going to need later, when they get hit by the vicissitudes of life. If you didn’t study Jane Austen while you were here, you probably lack the capacity to think clearly about making a marriage decision. If you didn’t read George Eliot, then you missed a master class on how to judge people’s character. The wisdom of the ages is your inheritance; it can make your life easier.

My worry is that, especially now that you’re out of college, you won’t put enough really excellent stuff into your brain. I’m talking about what you might call the “theory of maximum taste.” This theory is based on the idea that exposure to genius has the power to expand your consciousness. If you spend a lot of time with genius, your mind will end up bigger and broader than if you spend your time only with run-of-the-mill stuff.

The theory of maximum taste says that each person’s mind is defined by its upper limit—the best that it habitually consumes and is capable of consuming.

In college, you get assigned hard things. You’re taught to look at paintings and think about science in challenging ways. After college, most of us resolve to keep doing this kind of thing, but we’re busy and our brains are tired at the end of the day. Months and years go by. We get caught up in stuff, settle for consuming Twitter and, frankly, journalism. Our maximum taste shrinks. Have you ever noticed that 70 percent of the people you know are more boring at 30 than they were at 20?”

Source: A Commencement Address Too Honest to Deliver in Person


Management consultant and educator Gary Hamel, on seeing the future:

“Companies fail to create the future not because they fail to predict it but because they fail to imagine it. It is curiosity and creativity they lack, not perspicuity. So it is vitally important that you understand the distinction between “the future” and “the unimagined,” between knowing what’s next and imagining what’s next.”

Source: Leading the Revolution

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:57 PM
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No Brilliant Jerks: How to Deal with Maverick CEOs

No Brilliant Jerks

BOARDS and executives are feeling an unusual amount of pressure these days. And it’s not from covid-19—the squeeze started several years ago. Witness that the average cost of directors and officers insurance has almost doubled in the past two years and experienced a 70 percent jump in the 2019 third quarter.

There are many underlying sources for the increased stress and skyrocketing insurance rates. But these days a maverick CEO is often at the center of board and executive consternation and investors’ claims that leadership failed to protect the company. Elon Musk’s various Twitter meltdowns have created significant indigestion among stakeholders and in May, Tesla disclosed that Elon Musk would provide personal liability insurance for the company’s directors and execs to offset the increased costs and strain from legal challenges.

Increasingly, investors’ challenges come from allegations of an unhealthy workplace climate because a strong-willed CEO who created a corrosive corporate culture. Travis Kalanick's brash operating style and the toxic working environment he created led him to be tossed out of the company. After reviewing the culture created by Kalanick and seeing employee and shareholder reactions, one exasperated Uber board member proposed adding “no brilliant jerks allowed” to Uber's list of cultural values.

Adam Neumann's actions at WeWork are classic brilliant jerk moves. He is a smart, entrepreneurial visionary with great charisma. But he also established a corporate culture that was filled with large doses of alcohol and drugs (according to employees). Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen’s CEO, was fired because he created an extreme company culture—described by Der Spiegel as “North Korea without labor camps”—that drove employees to create and install illegal software that cheated on vehicle emissions tests.

Companies will always embrace visionary leaders that challenge the status quo and create great companies even if they create a hard-driving culture. Steve Jobs, an obstreperous CEO, returned to Apple after his ouster by the board to create a trillion-dollar giant. Reed Hastings created a powerful no-holds-barred Netflix culture, navigated through tough competitive challenges, and changed the entire media industry. Jeff Bezos envisioned and created Amazon—a company with an intense culture and an immense competitive footprint the likes of which no one has ever seen before.

To maintain company vitality, guide the creation of a healthy culture, and head off pressure from stakeholders, leadership needs to up their game with a maverick CEO to simultaneously support the game changing talent of the hard-driving visionary and maintain the structure, systems, and guidance required for effective corporate governance. To understand how that balance is struck, we talked with experienced board members and senior executives to capture the hard-won lessons of successfully working with a rule-breaking visionary.

Here are several of the lessons learned.

1. Close the door. Executive sessions with the CEO out of the room are essential. The SEC mandates these closed-door meetings, but they take on critical importance in a brilliant-jerk scenario. Executive sessions are the times when the board grapples with if, when, and how to get involved.

2. Curate the culture. Cultural erosions at VW and Uber were not detected early enough, and destructive behaviors spread throughout the company. To give culture the attention it deserves and head off corrosive environments, boards establish a committee to actively oversee goals, incentives, practices, and processes that drive behaviors and the company culture.

3. Mind the gaps. One of the most important functions of the board is supplementing the change maker’s managerial gaps. Whether the founder is young and inexperienced, or just has not been exposed to key functions, the board has the responsibility to provide guidance to the CEO on how to supplement their leadership toolbox. Consider adding a senior executive that can join and balance out the leadership role like Schmidt did at Google.

4. Be contrarian. The CEO’s brilliance generates the electricity that energizes a company’s success, but not everyone can be right all the time. Challenging ingenious leaders and keeping them focused on the critical activities is one of the leaderships most important jobs. “Often the board does not act sufficiently suspicious. Only a small percentage of directors are good at pushing back. They tend to trust the CEO too much” was the observation of a seasoned board member.

In the course of our discussions with leaders we identified three framing principles you need to embrace to put the best practices to use.

An authoritarian trailblazer requires special handling. Traditional corporate governance principles are needed but must be supplemented with additional practices. With an inspired and highly controlling powerhouse at the helm, boards, investors, and employees need to be ready for a different kind of journey.

Your actions depend on the type of visionary you are dealing with. Dominant, disruptive visionaries are not all the same. With some, there is a risk of getting in the way and curtailing the value they could create—you need to use the best practices to help them attain their vision. With other types, complacency is a huge mistake. Left unsupervised, their behavior could obliterate value and possibly destroy the company.

The best defense is a good offense. Boards and executive leaders should act to avoid the pressures that can be generated from a disruptive CEO—not wait until they are feeling squeezed.

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Leading Forum
Rob Shelton is a globally recognized Silicon Valley–based consultant, author, and speaker on entrepreneurial excellence, breakthrough innovation, and scaling to drive rapid growth. Over the past 40 years, Shelton served as trusted partner and adviser to board members, CEOs, and senior executives at leading organizations in the valley and around the world. Connect with Shelton via theconundrumpress@gmail.com.

Marc J. Epstein, PhD was, until recently, Distinguished Research Professor of Management at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University in Houston, Texas, as well as a former professor at Stanford Business School, Harvard Business School, and INSEAD. Dr. Epstein has written extensively on corporate and nonprofit board governance, and the role of boards of directors. Connect with Epstein via theconundrumpress@gmail.com

Rob and Marc are coauthors of The Brilliant Jerk Conundrum: Thriving with and Governing a Dominant Visionary.

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A Brief Interview with Ram Charan 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask

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Maintaining Social Interactions with Your Teammates

Long Distance Leader

IN The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership, we included 19 Rules for remote leaders to follow. The first rule was the foundation for everything else: “Think about leadership first and location second.” The principles for successful leadership are the same, whether you are down the hall from your team, in the cubicle next to them, or they are working remotely.

The practical application of leadership first, location second, is to adapt what has worked in the past to the new remote working situation. One of the big changes as we move to a remote working situation is maintaining social interaction. We’ve been asked to practice social distancing. While physical distancing has been needed, we want to promote social closeness and interaction even at a physical distance. Making this happen will require you to be intentional and creative.

Replacing the Spontaneous Interaction

Much of the successful social interaction at work comes from spontaneous conversations that happen throughout the day. It includes peeking your head around the corner to share a joke with someone nearby, sharing your weekend activities with a colleague while waiting for the pot of coffee to brew, and sharing a cup of coffee on a short break. Interactions like those help transform a group of individuals into a team united in reaching a common goal.

When teams work remotely, however, those spontaneous conversations can no longer happen organically. Yet that social interaction is still critical to team development. How do we replace that when we are working remotely?

Using Technology to Help

Technology can be part of the answer. The communication platforms you are using can be used to create the same kinds of conversations we had at the office. What is required is awareness and permission. Most people think those tools are for work purposes. The fact is that the social interaction we are talking about is actually a part of the work itself! While we must value productivity, we must also let team members know it is still ok to reach out, share a joke, or just catch up. In fact, it may be more important than ever.

Some Simple Examples

Here are three simple examples. While you can use any or all of these, the purpose is to kickstart the creation of what will work for your team in your situation.

  • Recreating the watercooler. We have a channel on our instant messaging platform (we use Slack) dedicated to non-work talk. Called the Watercooler channel, it is a place for the kinds of conversations that would happen spontaneously in a traditional work setting. We talk about sports (when they are happening), our weekend, the exploits of our kids, the latest meme we enjoyed ... anything but work.
  • The virtual coffee-break. If Bob and Larry liked to share a cup of coffee during a break, they can still do that remotely. Bob just needs to reach out to Larry and invite him to have a conversation using the webcam. They can chat about how their homebrew is better than the office and all the other things they used to talk about in the break room or in their offices.
  • Virtual lunches. As a remote team before the shutdown happened, we have long used our webcams for meetings, lunches, and celebrations. Why not have people grab their lunch and eat together? We have done this with people, having lunch (or breakfast, depending on the time zone) and enjoying each other’s company. With 12 members of our team gathering, in some ways, these lunches are better than face-to-face because there are few side conversations.

Use these as your starting point, not a complete list of strategies to maintain social interaction and closeness, even while you and your team are physically distancing. Share this article with your team as a way to jumpstart a conversation about what you can do as a group to stay together while working apart.

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Leading Forum
Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of the Kevin Eikenberry Group. He is the creator of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System and the co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute. He is the coauthor with Wayne Turmel of The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. He is also the author of the bestselling books, Remarkable Leadership, and Vantagepoints on Learning and Life, and coauthor with Guy Harris of From Bud to Boss: Secrets of the Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership.

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Remarkable Leadership Eikenberry From Bud to Boss

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Innovate Forward

Innovate Forward

INNOVATION has always been important. In a world of pandemic, it’s the only way forward.

Technology is the raw material that 21st-century innovators need to build new business capabilities, to develop exciting new products and services, and to create workarounds for the physical distancing measures we will likely endure for the foreseeable future.

Six powerful new technologies, all reaching maturity simultaneously in the early 2020s, will each act like a new color in the palette of creators, designers, and innovators. Leading companies will combine these technologies in creative ways to solve business problems that couldn’t be solved using traditional digital technology. They will use them to develop new products and services, to build new channels, to elevate their talent, to increase their business resilience, and to develop entirely new business models along the way.

In no particular order, these six technologies are:

Artificial Intelligence (AI):

Rather than needing to be programmed to solve problems, AI learns from examples. It creates its own rules based on training data. That means AI can be used to solve problems that we don’t know how to solve ourselves. AI has led to breakthroughs in machine vision, voice interfaces, next-generation robotics, predictive analytics, sensing, business optimization, and a variety of other tasks. It is used to boost the capabilities of employees by augmenting their creativity, intuition, decision-making, and other capabilities, essentially giving them superpowers. What business problems will you solve using artificial intelligence? What new products and services will you create with it?


The digital world is becoming ever more intimately connected with the physical world that we inhabit. SAP estimates that by 2030 the world will be filled with over 100 trillion sensors: Cameras, microphones, temperature, pressure, moisture, and other sensors that allow the digital world to understand what is happening in our world. Sensors are used to make products, infrastructure, and environments, more intelligent and more responsive to human needs. Smart objects and wearable devices bristle with sensors. Sensors coordinate the activities of humans and machines as they work together, semi-automating business processes. How could you use sensors to get eyes on your business and develop exciting new products and services?

5G and Satellite Networks:

As we have all experienced during pandemic-enforced captivity, broadband bandwidth matters. This decade, two networking technologies will bring broadband internet to every corner of the earth. In cities, new 5G wireless networks will be the first generation of cell network designed to connect more than just phones. Parking meters, factory equipment, self-driving cars, and many other devices will be connected. Outside cities, 5G won’t be widely available. For rural areas, new low-earth-orbit satellite constellations will blanket the globe in high-speed connectivity. By the end of the decade it will be possible to connect every person and everything on earth. What will that mean to your business? How will you reach the next 4 billion people as they come online?

Autonomous Machines:

This is a catch-all term for robots, cobots (collaborative robots), drones, self-driving cars, and other autonomous vehicles. A new generation of smart robots use sophisticated sensors and AI to navigate the same spaces as humans, safely. That means business can use them to solve a new set of problems. Robots don’t get sick like humans do, and autonomous delivery vehicles don’t carry disease like a human driver can. Autonomous machines will take on repetitive, dangerous physical tasks and provide a new way for brands to reach consumers. Why expect customers to visit your store when you can send your autonomous mobile store to them?

Blockchain Technology:

This is one of those technologies that is much-hyped, poorly understood, and whose time has yet to come. Early technology issues limited blockchain’s utility—it wasn’t scalable enough and consumed too much energy. Those problems are now largely solved, and Blockchain will soon start to solve real business problems. Blockchains create trust digitally, so strangers can do business without needing a third-party intermediary. Blockchains also introduce the idea of token economics, a mechanism for aligning the motivations of many parties involved in a value chain. Expect blockchain to underpin brand-oriented supply chains that give brands more control over their suppliers. Supply chains will also use blockchain to meet consumer demand for proof over how and where products were made. Be ready.

Augmented Reality:

Virtual reality (VR) is fun for playing games. But beyond simulation, training, and a few important medical applications, it has few practical business applications. VR headsets immerse people in a 100% digital world but cut them off from their physical surroundings. VR’s big cousin, augmented reality (AR), blends digital objects and information into your view of the world. You remain connected to your surroundings and so AR is better suited to business applications. The technology is not quite ready for prime time yet, but a few years from now it will create an entirely new class of worker, the augmented worker—a hybrid of human intelligence, experience and manual dexterity combined with machine intelligence that is connected to the incredible resources of the cloud. AR will provide a new computing interface for the 80% of workers that work with their hands or who work in highly mobile environments, and for whom computing is not a part of their everyday work lives today.

The current crisis requires us all to think and act differently. The best way to catapult ourselves out of recession and to build resilience into our businesses is to embrace technology innovation. New technology will change the way we work. It will transform how we develop, market, sell, distribute, support, and monetize products and services.

Great leaders will inspire their teams to embrace innovation at every level of their organization. To streamline operations and control costs. To build new channels and ensure your customer journey is 100% digital, end-to-end. And to develop exciting new products and services that reignite demand and catapult you out of the economic downturn on a growth path.

Innovation is the best and only way forward.

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Leading Forum
Steve Brown is a futurist, author, and executive consultant with over 30 years of experience in high tech. He is the former futurist and chief evangelist at Intel Corporation. Steve’s consulting practice helps companies to be more prepared for the future, to become more resilient, and to drive innovation into every aspect of their business. He helps leaders to improve their technology literacy, create a thoughtful digital strategy, and inspire business transformation that leads to improved profitability. He is the author of The Innovation Ultimatum: How Six Strategic Technologies will Reshape Every Business in the 2020s, a how-to guide on innovation and digital transformation. Steve holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in Micro-Electronic Systems Engineering from Manchester University. He was born in the U.K. and became a U.S. citizen in 2008. He lives with his wife in Portland, OR.

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What Kind of Innovator Are You History Speaks on Change and Innovation

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Leading Thoughts for May 14, 2020

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Kevin Kelly, the founder of WIRED magazine, recently turned 68 and offered 68 lessons on life. Here are six:

“Learn how to learn from those you disagree with or even offend you. See if you can find the truth in what they believe.

Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love, keep asking them, “Is there more?” until there is no more.’

The purpose of a habit is to remove that action from self-negotiation. You no longer expend energy deciding whether to do it. You just do it. Good habits can range from telling the truth to flossing.

Separate the processes of creation from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgment.

If you are not falling down occasionally, you are just coasting.

Over the long term, the future is decided by optimists. To be an optimist, you don’t have to ignore all the many problems we create; you just have to imagine improving our capacity to solve problems.”

Source: 68 Bit of Unsolicited Advice


Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour on not comparing yourself:

“You are driven by your heart, you’re driven by your talent, and you’re driven by your instinct. And if you start to question and look at what people are doing to the left of you or to the right of you, you are going to lose that clarity of thought. Listen to the information. In the end it has to come from who you are. Own your decisions and own who you are but without apology.”

Source: Anna Wintour MasterClass: Anna Wintour Teaches Creativity and Leadership

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:15 AM
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