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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Creating Reality

I was sitting in a meeting listening to a social scientist creating a reality with his mouth. He was flashing his eyes, pointing his fingers, threatening doom.

I noticed he didn’t have any experimental data or observation, he had a string of slogans and epithets, which having lost their original data and observation didn’t make sense to me, having done some actual research and gained certifications using the tools in his area of opinion.

He was long on threat, short on facts.

I couldn’t get up and leave without disrupting the meeting, so I started to ponder. If I wanted to create a reality with something other than my mouth, what would I use?


Had I seen people create a reality with their ears?

Suddenly, I knew I was on to something as ALL the people I respected for creating reality had listened until they knew what they were talking about. This was an important point.

The guy at the front of the room was getting louder, more excited, more threatening, more finger slashing, as he sensed he wasn’t making much progress. Then I recognized his weaker magic.

150,000 years ago, when shamans first started negotiating and explaining the unknowable, they all had mouth sounds, threatening gestures, and sudden moves. But the more powerful explainers also gained the ability to leverage their power by slamming sticks into the ground, while whirling and shouting.

And I am a golfer.

Tips 4 The Big Chair – Up your magic!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Word Inflation

A while back, I collaborated on a project to produce a document suitable for public dissemination.

I noticed that when collaborators sent back edits and improvements to the draft's author, each received a comment like: 'Awesome Changes!', or 'This will really make our document Awesome!', or 'The new formatting is Totally Awesome!'.

In reality, the changes did make the document incrementally better, but this exchange made me think about the non-communication that has developed from the over use of laudatory remarks for non-laudatory work.

This feedback to the originator is analogous to giving a trophy to everyone on the team, regardless of their contribution or skill level – it's a cheap 'feelgood' for showing up but does nothing to help the player (collaborator) improve their output. If a slap-dash revision is greeted with the same accolade as a masterwork improvement, what does the collaborator learn about their contribution?

Valid feedback is a precious gift from the giver because it shares an engaged point of view. The remark 'thanks, that clarified the point' provides value, as does 'thanks for the edit, but I did not see much improvement over the original wording'. How does Awesome convey either message? Any message?

I certainly hope you feel this post was Awesome, and will comment appropriately.

All Around the Town - Sales Lab Presentations

Monday, September 23, 2013

Learn...And Share

I spend a lot of time reading on the internet, while that little voice in my brain is haunting, “Is this a good use of your time?”

Suw Charman, one of my first favorite bloggers told of one of her editors asking, “Why do you read so much? Just write something.”

I have written about the best ways to generate useful knowledge on a reliable basis.

We need to learn more, including better context for what we already know. When I am reading, I am first looking for solutions to my current projects. Then solutions for my coming projects.

Because I don’t work alone, I also find things that will help the people who help me. Many things I read I send to people I am working with.

That has a nonobvious advantage of over time giving us a common base of reference for what we are doing.

When I am starting a new project, I read up on it. I’ll even crack open a Gmail and write the terms I’m researching, and then follow the ads that appear.

Once, when I was selling a company, the owner told me there was one industry analyst firm for that vertical. Using the Gmail ad research approach, I discovered that there were three, and we were using the one who had a 12% market share. That was a useful six minutes.

A twenty year client is switching from selling financial products to publicizing early human origins. We’re both reading a lot of new books. I’m getting a lot of valuable information on successful organizations, some of them 200,000 years old.

He complimented me on my discipline sharing things I was learning that helped him, which was how I started thinking about this post.

Peter Drucker said that in the manufacturing age, power came from hoarding information. In the information age, power comes from giving it away.

The first time I read that I liked it. Now I’m starting to understand it.

What is your learning regimen?

Sales Lab Resources Hidden Treasure

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lennie’s Market

God sells all things at the price of labor”
Leonardo da Vinci
Way before open source!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Ego Stack

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to sit down with His Excellency, George Washington, to learn about leadership. As a surveyor, planter, rancher, scientist, distiller, builder, warrior, and dancer, he placed a high value on direct expertise, which allowed him get successful results from subordinates, and quickly correct situations that weren’t going to work.

When he was directed to re-employ the recently captured and released General Lee with due regard for his “seniority,” Washington complied. And when the strategic brilliance of releasing General Lee became apparent as he outran his men, retreating in a rout, Washington’s attitude was more fearsome than the men’s fear of death. They rallied, and followed Washington back on the field, taking advantage that the enemy was out of position and out of energy having chased the Americans to what looked like a sure victory.

When I like or respect somebody, it is usually because they are demonstrating useful skills.

Two years ago, I met a young man who wanted to start a different kind of organization. He couldn’t do it all, so Jack and I added what we could do. Others added what they could, because they saw so many doing good work. His organization flourished. 

As he has adopted a grander business style, his successes have dropped.

I have seen that first level commitment to demonstrated excellence drive several of the more successful organizations I have helped.

But what’s next?

The first level of the Ego Stack is doing what needs to be done. After listening to George Washington, I wonder if there is a second step.

Twenty years ago, our government wanted contractors who had both federal and commercial credentials. It was an internal theoretical wet dream, but we were happy to comply. My client was a NAVY contractor, and had a looming succession/liquidation issue.

In a couple of years, we built a blue chip list of raving commercial clients, so our company was bought by a much larger contractor. As a consultant, I was off the hook.

Then they called back and wanted to hire me at my 20 hour/month rate for 40 hours/ week, to create their Y2K practice.

I already knew my team, so I studied up on this Y2K, and put in their first four projects. Big times! We were saved!

I got called up to my president’s president, a retired admiral, who had brought a cast of flunkies to his secretariat, which was in a building that had no other company employees. He told me that while my record was acceptable, he needed me to stop selling our existing customers and start selling many more people who didn’t know us in order for me to make his planned numbers.

I said, “Let me get this straight, Admiral. You want me to sell a solution we don’t yet know how to provide to people who don’t know us? Let me get back to you with a business plan.” He thought that was a capital idea.

I went back to my division president customer, related the fantasy, and said, “I better leave before you get fired.” He reluctantly agreed. So pasha lifestyle doesn’t work in the ego stack. Beyond first level execution, I haven’t seen much work.

I serve on a couple of boards, where I get to observe higher level ego stack. I also read about some.

I am particular entertained by the delegator. His whole role is to get somebody else to step up and do something. It’s usually the assignment from hell, since the delegator has no idea how it should be done. The typical response is, “OK, whatever...” And then nothing occurs.

Then there is the moosher. If we have two solutions and choice has to be made, the moosher says, “Let me take the best parts of each proposal and then EVERYONE is happy.”

As explained by Richard Nixon and then mocked by The Stones and others showed, compromise solution is neither.

As Don Rumsfeld wrote, When you are capable of making a decision, make it.

I observe the more grandiose layers of the ego stack occur in organizations that see themselves as impervious, waddling toward their future. And anyway, the stuff I’m doing won’t come due until after I’m retired.

The other point of view is Art Money’s ego stack puncturing mantra. “Well, what have you done for the fleet TODAY?”

Keep it simple, Stephanie.

Catch A Meme And You’re Sittin’ On Top Of The World

Monday, September 16, 2013


I was sitting in a meditation talk, next to my favorite meditator. He said, “Do you meditate?”

Yeeesss,,,kinda, but it’s not a sitting meditation like gurus, I tend to meditate in motion.

I was working out with a trainer and we had developed an excellent age-specific workout for me Then he wanted to change it.

I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I don’t want you to get bored.”

I figured I wouldn’t get bored, I wasn’t working out to entertain me.

That was four years ago. I’m still taking that 90 minute workout every chance I get.

What I call meditation, carpenters call “layout.” Layout is figuring out the next moves and making sure you are ready for them.

Some layout is for the next day. Some layout is for the next week, month, or quarter. I can tell when my layout is working as pieces keep falling in place and work gets done with minimum drama.

There is a fair amount of random happenstance in my life. Every day.

I like to work out first thing in the morning, because by 9:30, I generally have a metric buttload of high priority random pushing me off course.

However, because I have a plan, I can deal with the random and usually deal with the planned. For everything that is lost, other things are found. Recognizing the good found is the definition of luck.

I wouldn’t recognize a lot of the gifts without layout.

So what does your meditation look like?

The Dune Leadership Lessons – Galactic Leadership

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The New Game of Work

Future Shock in the ‘60s said we can't accommodate so much change before a melt-down; but change happens fast and it takes time to recognize and adapt. We did not melt-down, we coped.

Traditional old processes, like Information Interviews – mainstay of job transitions, don’t work anymore – much of the info is on the internet, LinkedIn and other social sites manage distant relationships. Now computers do what used to be entry-level jobs.

What to expect in the next 3 years:
  • Do it yourself (DIY)
  • Fix yourself – reorient how you get and use information and vision
  • Scale – small or large; do you need an expert? Or will you rely on yourself?
Fail Forward Frequently (F3) – Do projects: experiment and learn; experiment again.

Doing project for first time, it takes more effort and time than the next time. We learn from the first one and make the second one better. Learn and Apply.

Same is true doing something alien and strange for the first time – like new technology. Enough said?
What’s here now and what’s nextChris Anderson: MakersDavid Weinberger: Too Big to Know – two books about manufacturing and information acquisition changes that are radically affecting our world.Traits of a leader:
  • Relentlessly tell yourself the truth and require it of others
  • Surround yourself with people committed to change
  • Keep reading, keep learning, keep doing, and keep sharing.
Economy is about 80-20 right now, but not evenly distributed – 80% below before but 20% is on fire. Why? Absence of buying customers. The winners are providing what customers need and want.The new game is more focused on you, rather than an organization. If you are not doing something worthy, start doing something worthy. The era of merely being a follower has ended – contributors welcome, others are 'retired'. For tasks – add technology not people. Meet Boots’.

After 30 years of high water in the pond, we are now seeing the shopping carts & tires. Eliminate waste and 'cheap' inefficiency (serious change requires redesign – no avoiding it).

Business is NOT about being a bench-warmer and getting a ‘show-up’ trophy at the end of the yearBusiness is all about getting results, paying bills, and reinvesting for tomorrow.

Success comes from doing real work – not from the poseurs - no matter how articulate - who are not producing. Do it alone or collaborate, but share to build better with more efficiency
What To Do Each Day:
  • What goals are you working to achieve – make progress
  • How are you acquiring knowledge – apply it – share it
  • Stay current with:
    • your profession
    • your industry
    • technology, business, and the global marketplace
  • Talk with customers to find out what they want and need – then provide it
  • Anticipate the next 'better mousetrap'.
Will any of this help in the marketplace? You Bet!

Every day you must make progress toward the goal. After all, the marketplace is always in motion – stand still and you're losing ground.

The good news about rapidly changing technology is everyone must start at the beginning! As with mastering a new game, it requires investing time and effort.
It's new, so no one has an immediate edge...they must learn it too. Past experience can speed success, but so can focus and devoting time. First adopters have an advantage; subsequent adopters can get in as well – harder but possible. Late adopters must have that better mousetrap to enter – think of Apple with the iPod and iPhone.

The new game of work requires an open mind and creativity, rather than sticking to the traditional approach – for example if you were in HR, would you hire Seth Godin? Stick to puzzle piece recruiting on outdated specs vs. shopping for potential.

The new game rules also:
  • Always provide value
  • Sales – what do they want - I met him; he gave me a lapel pin; I gave him a show to present his program
  • Share and Be Visible – write a blog, comment on a post, show up and contribute
  • The 20 – 2 – 1 Rule: twenty face-to-face meetings a month; two blog posts a week; one event you own a month.
  • Have a Top 10 – what you're good at.
  • Who's successful? Get up and do what they do.

After all, work is like a game – do the right thing and get better – you win; coast and PacMan will eat you!

Join us Tuesday September 10th at 6:30 PM for theCapital Technology Management Hub (CTMH) meeting (it's FREE) at Teqcorner in McLean, VA. Sales Lab'sRainmaker 21 – Your Dealer Network, 300 seconds of enlightenment, preceding the headliner presentation,What is the New Game of Work? by Jack Gates,Sales LabHow to Register - CLICK HERE

Monday, September 9, 2013

Supporting Cast

Some of the feedback from readers of Knowledge Work was, How did I get time to get out of the office, away from the office?

I realized I have some strong feelings about where work happens, including a 15 year old screen saver that floats You Don’t Make Any Money In Your Own Office across my computer screen any time I lose focus.

A great deal of my success comes from knowing and cultivating experts. I observe that some people cultivate experts, some don’t, and the ones that do are generally more successful, able to succeed in a wider range of situations. The rest of success comes from luck and personally doing a lot of high quality work.

I am strongly organized to make maximum use of outsiders, and still do my own work.

Typically, I organize my day to be with the people who can show me what I need. That generally means being out of the office when other people are available to be seen. Yup, face-to-face.

But we’ve got all this technology! Ever see a flame war on social media or email? Somebody not paying attention during a conference call, OK EVERYBODY not paying attention on a conference call?

I remember one time I was selling enterprise videoconferencing, so of course management wanted communication by videoconferencing. What a saving! What efficiency!

Our team was in our conference room proposing an unbeatable offer on a multi-million dollar offering. Suddenly the “identified buyer” looked out of the picture, to the side, then looked back at us and said, “I’ll have to call you back.” Shut ’er down.

Perhaps we don’t always pick up the true situation with some of these electronic tools.

So in addition to getting out, I find I am doing work when others are not available. That speeds up my progress. I’ll usually have assignments in before opening of business...because I have other places to be.

One time I was working in an office, smoke coming off the keys. A lonely peer asks, “Can I interrupt you for a minute?”

That’s two,” I replied.

I use 7 to 9 am to harvest a fairly extensive roster of incoming communication. This morning, one of my advisers said I was unusually disciplined sharing incoming communication with others who could use it. That’s a major part of cultivating a network of experts.

I’ve had to watch subordinates. I guess my bosses thought they might steal the silverware. How do I know you’re working if I can’t see you?

I’ve come to believe that I should spend my time with subordinates making sure we share a common understanding of what they are doing, and how to judge acceptable finished work.

Then get out of the way.

When I get a subordinate doing mostly excellent work, my next level is to turn that work into something more important and fulfilling for them, often by introducing them to an appropriate expert. FIELD TRIP!

I spend my time on subordinates who don’t bring a personal commitment to excellence recruiting their successors. I don’t create somebody else’s excellence. That’s like pushing rope.

Funny thing though, excellent subordinates and I find workload starts taking less and less of the day. That’s a corollary of Parkinson’s Law - Work expands to fill the time available. Leaving time for improving our situation, like The Swamp on M.A.S.H.

How are you getting more out of our information economy?

Rainmakers – Audience tested five minute exercises in excellence.

Please join us Tuesday September 10th at 6:30 PM for the Capital Technology Management Hub (CTMH) meeting (it's FREE) at Teqcorner in McLean, VA. Sales Lab's Rainmaker 21Your Dealer Network, 300 seconds of enlightenment, preceding the headliner presentation, What is the New Game of Work? by Jack Gates, Sales Lab. How to Register - CLICK HERE

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Paper Prototyping

I want to share what may be the core innovation technique, Paper Prototyping.

This is a low-cost secret, appropriate when ideas hit, in bed, working flat out, sitting in boring meetings, traveling in a crowded Metro.

Ideas are slippery suckers. Take it from me, if you don’t write ’em down, they tend to get away, maybe never to return.

Seems to work equally well for technical solutions, logistics planning, words and music, and creating strategy.

Paper prototyping is economical. Almost any trade show is giving away writing sticks and pads of paper. I prefer notebooks for long tern concept storage (important stuff - URLs and phone numbers; books I want to find) and pads for quick concepts and immediate distribution. Paper is ready quickly and doesn’t require recharging pesky batteries.

Paper prototyping moves effortlessly from text, to lists, to graphics in the same documents. There are some sophisticated systems for adepts, I keep mine as simple as possible to concentrate my sophistication on each subject at hand.

Well, I generally carry colored pens to amuse myself. Red used to be for phone numbers, now red is for prospective blog topics.

I make an electronic record when I get to the point where I am going to share with more than one person.

What other advantages do you have for Paper Prototyping?

Please join us Tuesday September 10th at 6:30 PM for the Capital Technology Management Hub (CTMH) meeting (it's FREE) at Teqcorner in McLean, VA. Sales Lab's Rainmaker 21Your Dealer Network, 300 seconds of enlightenment, preceding the headliner presentation, What is the New Game of Work? by Jack Gates, Sales Lab. How to Register - CLICK HERE

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Players and Doers

Players learn the commands for the video game and run up the score.

Doers learn how to do something to get results.

Players value image – being in the right place, knowing the right people, being included in the right projects.

Doers value completion – collaboration moving the project forward, process improvement to gain efficiency, acquiring new project-applicable skills, completing the task or project.

Players are viewed by coworkers as poseurs – accomplished at the unimportant, yet highly visible.

Doers are viewed by coworkers and management as 'THE go to' person – makes it happen, gets it done, achieve results AND looks for the next project.

I'd take a team of Doers over a company of Players every time. Why? When the philosopher, Larry the Cable Guy, said it best: Git R Done – he was talking about the Doer!

Join us Tuesday September 10th at 6:30 PM for the Capital Technology Management Hub (CTMH) meeting (it's FREE) at Teqcorner in McLean, VA. Sales Lab's Rainmaker 21Your Dealer Network, 300 seconds of enlightenment, preceding the headliner presentation, What is the New Game of Work? by Jack Gates, Sales Lab. How to Register - CLICK HERE