April 19, 2012

The Art of the Quest

Jim Collins, in both Good to Great and Built to Last talked about the BHAG – the Big, Hairy Audacious Goal – as one of the drivers of companies to achieve excellence.  Perhaps that’s true, especially if those goals are singular enough and simplified enough for an entire company of 100-1000-10000 employees to rally around. I have also observed over the years that both star performers and strong leaders drive themselves by setting large goals.  Sometimes they are Hairy or Audacious.  Sometimes they are just Big.  I suppose sometimes they are all three.  Regardless, I think successfully managing to and accomplishing large personal goals is a sign of a person who is driven to be an achiever in life – and probably someone you want on your team, whether as a Board member, advisor, or employee, assuming they meet the qualifications for the role and fit the culture, of course. I’m not sure what the difference is between Hairy and Audacious.  If someone knows Jim Collins, feel free to ask him to comment on this post.  Let’s assume for the time being they are one and the same.  What’s an example of someone setting a Hairy/Audacious personal goal?  My friend […]


January 27, 2009

Book Short: Long on Platitudes, Short on Value

Book Short:  Long on Platitudes, Short on Value I approached Success Built to Last:  Creating a Life That Matters, by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, and Mark Thompson, with great enthusiasm, as Porras was co-author, along with Jim Collins, of two of my favorite business books of all time, Built to Last and Good to Great. I was very disappointed in the end.  This wasn’t really a business book, despite its marketing and hype.  At best, it was a poor attempt at doing what Malcolm Gladwell just did in Outliers in attempting to zero in on the innate, learned, and environmental […]


October 18, 2008

Book Short: The Anti-Level-5 Leader

Book Short: The Anti-Level-5 Leader The Five Temptations of a CEO, another short leadership fable in a series by Patrick Lencioni, wasn’t as meaningful to me as the last one I read, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive (post, link), but it wasn’t bad and was also a quick read. The book to me was the 30 minute version of all the Level-5 Leadership stuff that Collins wrote about in Good to Great and Built to Last. All that said, it was a good quick read and a reminder of what not to do. The temptations are things that […]


January 4, 2007

Book (Not So) Short: Raise Your Hand If You’re Sure

Book (Not So) Short:  Raise Your Hand If You’re Sure I couldn’t get the catchy jingle from the 80’s commercial for Sure deodorant (you remember, the one with the Statue of Liberty at the end of it – thanks, YouTube) out of my head while I was reading the relatively new book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End.  Written by HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kantor, Confidence is one of the few business books I’ve read that’s both long and worth reading in full. The book has scores of examples of both winning and losing streaks, from […]


October 15, 2006

Book Short: You’d Never Run Your Business This Way…

Book Short:  You’d Never Run Your Business This Way… I am an unabashed conservative, so you might wonder what I was doing reading  A Country That Works, by union chief Andy Stern, the President of SEIU (Service Workers International Union) this weekend.  Well, part of it is that my mother-in-law Carmen works for him.  Part was that he was quite inspiring during his recent appearance on the Colbert Report a week or two ago.  And part was that I always like reading about different points of view, especially with the current, somewhat dismal state of the Republican leadership in Washington. […]


March 29, 2006

Book short: Myers-Briggs Redux

Book short:  Myers-Briggs Redux Instinct:  Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA to Achieve Your Business Goals, by Tom Harrison of Omnicom, is an ok book, although I wouldn’t rush out to buy it tomorrow.  The author talks about five broad aspects of our personalities that influence how we operate in a business setting:  Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.  These traits are remarkably similar to those in the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that so many executives have taken over the years. It’s not just that you want to be high, high, high, high, and low in the Big 5.  Harrison […]


October 31, 2005

Book Short: Reality Doesn’t have to Bite

Book Short:  Reality Doesn’t have to Bite I just read Confronting Reality (book; audio), the sequel to Execution, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.  Except I didn’t read it, I listened to it on Mariquita’s iPod Shuffle over the course of two or three long runs in the past week.  The book was good enough, but I also learned two valuable lessons.  Lesson 1:  Listening to audio books when running is difficult – it’s hard to focus enough, easy to lose one’s place, can’t refer back to anything or take notes.  Lesson 2:  If you sweat enough on your spouse’s […]


September 22, 2004

Political versus Corporate Leadership, Part II: Admitting Mistakes

Political versus Corporate Leadership, Part II: Admitting Mistakes The press conference this past spring where President Bush embarrassingly refused to admit that he had ever made any big mistakes, other than to reiterate his gaffe at trading Sammy Sosa when he owned the Texas Rangers, brings up another issue in this series: is it good for leaders, both political and corporate, to admit mistakes? On the corporate side, I think the ability to admit a mistake is a must. Again, I’ll refer back to Jim Collins’ books Good to Great and Built to Last, both of which talk about humility […]


August 30, 2004

Political versus Corporate Leadership, Part I: Realist or Idealist?

It’s election season, the GOP convention is literally in my backyard, and while this is not a political blog, I can’t help myself. As we as Americans grapple with the question of who we want to be our next leader (or at least those people who live in the 11 annointed swing states do), I have had a lot of thoughts lately about the question of what makes a good leader, and what the differences are between successful leadership in politics and successful leadership in business. James O’Toole’s article on President Bush on page 31 of the September issue of […]