September 25, 2015
It's that time of year when publishers release copious amounts of business books. You've probably seen them popping up in the airport book shops. As a voracious reader and blurb-giving-author, I have the opportunity to review dozens of them between July and September. My interests range from sales & marketing to leadership to futurism to success. I look for a book that challenges conventional wisdom, offers a rich perspective grounded in fact and most of all, advice that I can put into practice.
This fall, there are three books in particular that I'm excited about and highly recommend:
The Challenger Customer by Brent Adamson, Matt Dixon, Pat Spenner & Nick Toman: This is the follow up to the fantastic Challenger Sale. In this book, the CEB team reveals how difficult it is for companies to buy services or change suppliers. This is due to a rising number of decision makers involved in every major purchase, and the disfunction that comes from diversity of agendas. Their solution is for marketing to create challenger content that acts as "a dog whistle" which attracts mobilizers inside prospect companies. These mobilizers often display signs of skepticism or demand action as go-getters. But they are the key in driving consensus and ultimately change. This is a must-read for any B2B marketing or sales professional. But note: The authors will challenge your current attempts to establish your company as a thought leader with barrages of content. In their eyes, "looking smart" isn't nearly as effective as "proving you are wrong" when it comes to content marketing that finds the mobilizer.
Vaporized by Robert Tercek: This book will take you on a journey of technological disruption, which few companies have mastered. Tercek is a certified futurist, with a career arc that spans from founding MTV International to consulting with the most elite tech and digital media companies in the world. He chronicles the vaporization of print, television and all types of media ... and why companies either found success or failure in the transition. Then he explains that "anything that can be infrastructure will be," using companies like AirBnb to illustrate the unfair advantage that comes from being digital. He reveals insights into the App Economy, Peer-To-Peer media and Big Data. But unlike most futurists, he won't leave you hanging. The end of the book offers a solid blueprint for navigating the vaporization of all things service, and how you can convert disruption into a game changing opportunity.
Grit To Great by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval: This book is all about the power of pluck and determination when it comes to leading others, being an entrepreneur or succeeding in the face of adversity. The authors reveal the attribute that Michael Jordan, Alibaba's Jack Ma and Michael Bloomberg share: Grit. In a world of look-at-me or stand-out-in-a-sea-of-sameness, Thaler and Koval offer a different viewpoint: Grit is about sweat not swagger. You are nothing special. Grit is cultivated over time and is the result of practice and design. The book lays out a series of steps, mostly decisions you need to make, that lead to a higher level of grit, which is easily converted in greatness (confidence, effectiveness, innovativeness). From the Lead To Learn conference, Thaler offers a glimpse into the book's content in this video clip.
September 16, 2015
There are many ways we can improve our ability to drive employee engagement and loyalty. We can pay people more (that doesn't scale), let them off easy (that's bad for business) or play tough-coach with them (that's bad for your employership brand.)
During the course of my career, I've found a better way to manage or lead: Turn up that noticing knob to 11! By that, I mean that we should go out of our way to notice contributions and thoughtful deeds. Giving recognition for the little things makes a big difference, especially for Gen Y (Millennial) employees.
It's not something that comes easy, though. We live in a world where non-stop news cycles, full inboxes and social media clamor for our attention. We work heads down, only noticing that which can be measured. But most contributions at work are not obvious. When one of your employees rallies a team to solve a big problem, do we notice this leadership exercise or do we wait to see if the problem is solved? When someone mentors a co-worker, do we notice that?
Then there's the two clicks down problem of recognition. Too often, we only notice what our direct reports (or favorite employees) do. But a leader should engage with all of her followers, not just the chosen few. At Barton Protective, CEO Tom Ward made a daily practice of "catching someone doing something right!" That's how he practiced management by walking around. Whether it's a custodian or cashier, turn up your noticing knob to spot laudable performances. Recognize people publicly too, as it only magnifies their pride-at-work.
There's a side benefit to turning up your noticing knob: You'll realize how many loyal and talented people you have on your team. Their efforts, noticed, will send a powerful message to you: You are not alone in this battle! This is important for leaders too, because confidence in team translates to confidence in general. And that's rocket fuel.
One way to turn it up: Every morning, instead of jumping on email when you first wake up, take 10 minutes to recollect the previous day to identify someone who's made a contribution worth recognizing. In the beginning, this exercise will identify the same old crowd, but if you do this long enough, heroes at work will emerge from the edges. This practice not only helps you start off your day with an attitude of gratitude, it viscerally forces you to keep your eyes open every day for people that are making a difference.Tweet