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Leadership Lessons from “The Godfather”

Seriously, how could I refuse?  In an April 2, 2012 article in Fast Company by Lydia Dishman, some sage advice is shared with executives in growth organizations on the merits of leadership Mafia style.

1.     Build a Powerful Community

Whether it’s your friendly funeral home director or doing a favor for a new LinkedIn connection, it is true that helping your peers will benefit your business in the long run.  We are all short on time but one good turn deserves another and builds a “goodwill” account that can come in handy when facing your next financing, looking for a top notch sales person or addressing management struggles. I prefer to not keep a ledger on this sort of thing but your network will be much faster to respond when you’ve been responsive to them.

2.     Hold People Accountable

Showing weakness leads to assassination. Ok, that’s a bit severe but in business or life, there are moments where bravery is a requirement and the path of least resistance is a killer.  A wise person told me once, hire slow and fire quickly.  FTE’s are a huge investment and a weak link in any area of a growth organization is like a cancer that causes far more damage than meets the eye.  I’m a big fan of ripping a band-aid off quickly, whether it’s a bad consultant or employee, don’t wait the cost is more than you can imagine. Continue reading


The Extraordinary Software Development Manager

Seth Godin’s post for March 12, 2012 Extraordinary Software Development Managers”

Rings true (as most things Seth Godin says).  He compares software development to building a skyscraper (versus throwing a party). In this brave new world (compared to the 1990’s) so many product concepts are built on a software platform. SaaS solutions and the recurring revenue they generate, are the rage, and the preferred business model in a digital world.

Godin’s comments mirror my own experience having worked with a variety of software-based companies over the past decade—some did well, some not so well. The basis of success for the winners centered on the development team–and the maturity with which the team and the software were managed.    Like a skillful architect the software development manager must piece together an ever-changing strategy providing investors and the company with a real plan including costs, timelines and deliverables.

Continue reading


Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk

Come on, we all thought he was hot—those high-heel black boots and the way he was always able to get the blue skin girl with the mini-skirt and 1960’s hairdo!  Apparently James T. Kirk offered more than fashion advice as pointed out by Alex Knapp’s March 5, 2012 article in Forbes Magazine regarding Capt. Kirk’s leadership prowess James T. Kirk.

  • Never Stop Learning—We are never too old to pick up something new or change the way we approach a situation.
  • Have Advisors with Different World Views—maybe not a Vulcan but certainly someone with different skills or perspective. A sure sign of wisdom is surrounding yourself with people who are better at certain aspects of business than you are.  It takes some self-awareness and comfort with your own strengths and weaknesses but in the end you don’t want to be with a bunch of yes men.
  • Be Part of the Away Team—get your hands dirty doing the work and then the doers will respect your ability to lead. Kirk always put himself in harms way first. Employees respect your knowledge of the business and your understanding of what they contribute.  We all love that show “Undercover CEO”, same concept… Continue reading


Social Media; “What He Said”

In his blog, Seth Godin writes about the Trap of Social Media Noise. Truth be told, most of what Seth says is so dead-on, I looked this one up just to see if he agreed with what I wanted to say. Fortunately, he does.

These days, most of my new clients begin our relationship wanting to know what I think about social media. Most times I feel compelled to ask, “What do you want that to achieve with social media in terms of your total marketing strategy?” The blank stare speaks volumes. Don’t get me wrong; there is a place and time for social media in any marketing effort but it in and of itself is no measure of success.

Like Seth Godin, I’m from the school of “what we say matters.”  The goal of any marketing effort should be clarity, not noise. In regard to social media or any marketing effort quality must win over quantity. Social media functions as a way to put your opinion (and your reputation) on the line with an audience who can make or break your company. Generating leads but no sales with a bait and switch strategy or followers with no value are both great ways to spend money with zero bottom-line impact.

Marketing is about creating interesting and high-impact content. Social media is a way to position yourself and your organization as a leader in your industry or market niche. Continue reading


Sh*t Entrepreneurs Say

Jeff Haden has captured some hilarious truth in a recent article in “Inc” focused on things that entrepreneurs says Sh*t Entrepreneurs Say. After years of working in start-ups as an employee and a consultant I have to admit he’s nailed it. With Steven Jobs passing the business world seems pretty caught up in finding a new model for figuring out the path to the Holy Grail.
Perhaps it’s age, but I have to tell you what our folks hammered into our undeveloped brains is better advice than most of what I heard in graduate school or certainly more useful than the current crop of entrepreneurs. I’m a big fan of basic blocking and tackling.

Most of what I share with my clients isn’t something new out of the latest “6 Steps to Success” book. Don’t get me wrong, I do read and still have the capacity to learn but the path to success for any start-up is paved with hard work. There’s just no way around that. A culture that doesn’t promote working smarter doesn’t benchmark based on results and views itself as too “groovy” is going to fail.

Some of my favorite comments from Haden are the following (with my take on what they really mean):

“R & D is only for people who don’t have a clear vision.”

It’s ok to pave a new channel but research to validate that your product has the same value to your target client as it does to you is critical. Sometimes you just love your baby more than anyone else…