Monday, October 12, 2015

MikkiLeaks: I Did This On Purpose by Phil Liebman

In accepting the noble and dangerous assignment of investigating and exposing truths for Mikki-Leaks, my promise to you, my readers, has been to provide the information you need to know on a need to know basis, with hopes that I may help you become heroic business leaders. So what do you need to know about having a purpose or knowing as much about “why” you lead as “how” you lead others? 

It’s easy to dismiss the “need” for a clear sense of purpose driving our businesses as the fodder of self-help books and the mumbo-jumbo of self-proclaimed business gurus. No person or business ever became successful by simply writing a vision or mission statement. How we think may be critical to how we perform, but the idea that we “Think and Grow Rich” is no more plausible than believing that hope is a viable strategy.   

I believe it is clear that nothing worth accomplishing has ever been achieved without the dedication of hard work, commitment and, like it or not,  some luck. So why, then, does having a deep sense of purpose make a difference in achieving your best or realizing your potential? How is having a purpose all that different from hoping for the best? 

I would address the question by suggesting that purpose is what aligns our thinking with the necessary action to be taken. Purpose links directly to planning. In fact, it is what guides our plans. Without purpose the actions we take tend to be random or misguided. Luck becomes a more needed ingredient in accomplishing what we set out to do. But leading with purpose we can understand what we need to “be” in order to do what needs to be done. In other words the characteristics that enable us to plan for what we want to happen, plan around what we do not want to  happen and even plan for the unexpected, all come from understanding the purpose behind our actions.  

On a day-to-day basis, what we plan are simple decisions we make by habit. A good example could be when to have lunch and what to eat. The simple purpose is to make sure there is time to grab a bite and then decide based on what you feel like or would prefer to eat, or sometimes just what is simply convenient to our circumstances. I don’t really feel like eating my yogurt but don’t have time to go out and get a sandwich. Or I don’t have time to sit down and have a sensible, healthy lunch so I’ll whip through the McDonalds drive-through and eat while driving to my appointment. 

Having a greater purpose provides further guidance. Rather than a Pavlovian reaction to it, either by the fact that it's noon or simply that we feel hunger (followed by stuffing our face with either whatever is convenient or tempting), we might instead determine that eating is really about health and nutrition. A Big Mac, fries and a Coke would solve the hunger, and perhaps be an efficient use of time but not be at all efficacious if the purpose driving my thinking about lunch suggests that I need more than fat and empty calories. In fact, I might prefer to stay hungry than make a poor choice based on how I see the need for a mid-day meal to “perform.”  Or, I might even be prepared with some healthy choices packed with me in my car for just such circumstances. 

The same is true with every set of choices and decisions we face. We can up the level of performance only when we have a clear idea of what is truly important. That translates into understanding not only the purpose of our actions but what it is we ultimately intent to achieve or accomplish. This is efficacy. 

There really can be little doubt that for your company, or any company, to sustain a high level of performance there must be a driving force. That driving force is a matter of leadership. For leaders to perform in a highly effective manner, you must connect to some sense of purpose and then be able to instill that purpose into the DNA or the habits of the organization. The greater the purpose is, the stronger the driving force will be. 

It is imperative to separate cause and effect when thinking about purpose. Making money or profits is not the purpose-driven cause - it is the consequence of having accomplished something that is ideally valuable and hopefully worthwhile.Knowing why your company is designed to do whatever you do is the foundation of purpose. The more noble the purpose, the less the possibility that the cause is contrived. In fact, the greatest causes tend not to be had by people - people tend to be had by them. The cause has its teeth in the leader of the organization and she cannot shake its grasp. That might be a lofty notion and I am not suggesting that success in what we do requires that kind of passionate engagement with a cause but I am quite certain that to improve your company’s performance, and yield greater profits as a result, you must have a sense of purpose beneath your feet and in front of the people you lead. Once you have defined your purpose and the purpose for your organization - you can then fully define your role and the role of your employees in accomplishing whatever it is you do. This is the key to driving the highest level of real performance possible. It may be the single key to unlock the greatest potential of yourself, your people and your organizations. 

My purpose now is to adjust my disguise and slip effortlessly out of sight in search of the next thing you need to know.

Recommended Additional Reading: Harvard Business Review published a piece by Nick Craig and Scott Snook titled “From Purpose to Impact.” It is available at It furthers the thinking as to why “purpose” is vital to any organization’s success in wonderful and explicit detail.
Phil Liebman is a Vistage Group Chair, a Fellow at the Thayer Institute for Leadership Virtuosity and the Founder of the BullFrog Group - helping CEOs become better leaders. You can reach him by email at - or by phone at 845.262.8611
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w: TheBullFrogGroup 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

From the Brilliant Dave Nelsen, SOCIAL MEDIA GURU GUY!

Travel Apps

While I don’t have an objective measure to prove it, I believe that I am at least twice as productive as I was 5 years ago because of the various apps I use on my smartphone and tablet. I’m constantly surprised at how many business owners haven’t yet embraced this amazing new technology.

Here’s a typical example of how I use apps for improved productivity, in this case for travel.

Yesterday, I did morning and afternoon keynote presentations for groups in Houston, TX. At 4:00 PM. As I headed out into the unbelievable Houston rush hour traffic using Uber (a transportation app) to the airport, my TripIt app told me that my flight was cancelled. This was a serious problem. I had to be in Canton, OH by morning or I’d miss my next speaking engagement.

So I fire up my FlightBoard app, which shows every flight out of Houston during the next four hours. I see that Delta has a 5:50 PM departure running 15 minutes behind schedule and I can make that because Waze (my social GPS app) has a deadly reliable estimate of my arrival time at IAH (5:03 PM in case you’re curious).

So I fire up my Kayak app and discover that the Delta flight to Pittsburgh (via Altlanta) is available for less than $200. I buy the ticket and then launch my Delta app to get my boarding passes. I add these to my Apple Passbook app so they’ll be available on my Apple Watch when I reach the airport.

I board my Delta flight bound for Atlanta and we pull back from the gate 15 minutes late as projected. Unfortunately, within one minute, the pilot stops the plane and shuts down the engines. I can’t help but remember that DELTA is an acronym that stands for Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport, but this time it’s not actually their fault. It’s a thunderstorm that has the entire airport under ground stop.

Finally, the lightning passes and we take off to Atlanta. As soon as the wheels touch down, I switch my iPhone out of “airplane mode” and receive a TripIt update. I’ll transcribe it for you here:

TripIt Pro [10:00 PM]: DL54 arr term N, gate E-35. 8m to make conn @ ATL DL1072 term N, gate E-16.

In short, I’ve got 8 minutes to make my connection. Did I mention that I’m sitting at the very back of the plane because I purchased my ticket just 90-minutes before departure?

FlightBoard also tells me that the Pittsburgh flight is indeed leaving in 8 minutes but upon finally disembarking, I run to gate E-16 anyway. Not surprisingly, when I get there the gate area is deserted, save for one friendly agent who says “Man, I held it for you as long as I could.” I’m sure it wasn’t even close.

So now I call my travel agent’s emergency 24-hour hotline for help. According to the agent, the next flight to Pittsburgh, Akron, Cleveland or anywhere close departs Atlanta at 8:30 AM tomorrow. This is really bad news, as my 3-hour keynote in Canton is scheduled to start at 8:00 AM. I’ll miss it entirely.

So back to FlightBoard. Miracle! It’s now 10:20 PM but the 10:04 PM Delta flight to Cleveland is showing a 60-minute delay. My travel agent can’t see it (or book it) in her system because it’s past departure time. FlightBoard shows the gate is B3. While I’ve got plenty of time to make it there, I run anyway. Long story short, I make the flight with time to spare. I’m the only guy on the plane who’s happy that it’s running behind schedule.

Before we take off, I use the Hertz app to book a car in Cleveland, and the Marriot app to book a Springfield Suites hotel in Akron. My Google Maps app shows that the hotel is roughly 2/3 of the way along the preferred route to my meeting in Canton, so I’ll have just a 30-minute drive in the morning.

Yes, it was short night but the iPhone alarm roused me on time, the Waze app found me the fastest route and informed me (always with a half mile advance notice) about police locations, objects on the road, and such. And Gas Buddy found me a place for a final “bio break” and energy drink just before my destination.

It all worked out OK and the client was delighted. Five years ago, this happy ending would have been impossible. Embrace your apps business people.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

MikkiLeaks: Musings From A Musement Park on The Jersey Shore

Lessons From a Happy Panting Golden Retriever on a Hot Summer Day…
Well, it’s no secret. They are here. Actually they’re back: The Dog Days of Summer. The phrase conjures some weird images for me - especially being an unabashed dog-lover. And in particular being in love with a certain Golden Retriever named Bella. Her rich luxurious tasseled coat and feathers seems to be a cruel adornment on the 3-H (hazy, hot and humid) days we have here in The Hudson Valley. Her fun and sun loving proclivities leave her panting long after she retreats like a spoiled brat back into the shelter of our (thankfully) air-conditioned home. The secret is that I feel the same way.
I thank my lucky stars for air-conditioning. And we can thank one star in particular, Sirius, the dog star for the actual reason the hottest part of the summer in the northern hemisphere is called “the dog days.” Sirius is the brightest star in the Earth’s night sky and the prominent star in the constellation Canis Major, or Greater Dog. The reference can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greeks with mention made by Homer in The Iliad to the discomfort of summer under the dog star bringing of “heat and fevers to suffering humanity.”
The ancient Romans referred to the “days of the dog star” to describe the sweltering heat of summer. The Old Farmer's Almanac traditionally identified the Dog Days as beginning July 3 and continuing 40 days. Bella reminds me to keep my head down and keep smiling, in spite of the heat. We’ll miss the summer when it’s past and the winter makes me rue our frigid late-night walks that always seem too long for me and not long enough for her and that thick coat of hers.
My promise and duty to my faithful readers of Mikki-Leaks is to help you know what you need to know and think about what you need to think about and expose the secrets some among us would prefer you not to learn about. It isn’t that these “powers that be” don’t want you to know - it may be that they prefer you to believe that you do know, rather than have you inclined to be curious and inclined to be constantly learning and growing. There is an old saw, “knowledge is power,”  but don’t be misled. It’s a dirty little trick foisted upon you by those seeking to remain in power. Real power comes from curiosity and learning. When we approach the world from a place of “knowing” we are typically hopelessly locked in our beliefs and opinions and dangerously unaware of what we don’t know and need to know. When we are confident in what we believe we know we cut off the need and even our ability to learn. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “
All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Learning allows us to interpret, unlearn and then reinterpret things to evolve our understandings about and our relationship with the ever-changing world we must navigate through. There is no human truth that will set you free. Curiosity might.  
In my leadership work as a Vistage Chair I recognize this state of stubborn and certain knowing as a CEO disease rampant among people who for one reason or another have assumed their post as leaders of their respective organizations. So how do we balance the “need to know,” or at least the need to look as though we do, with the need to be a role model for perpetual growth and learning? And isn’t this necessary in order to have our organizations and even our lives perform to their potential?
Learning equals life. We cannot grow without learning. This is true of both physical and intellectual growth. Babies, human and animal in the wild, all must “learn” to suckle, to recognize their mother, to communicate their needs and wants and to mobilize themselves. Without all of these things they will fail to thrive and eventually could not survive. Instincts don’t replace learning, they simply direct it. In our youth and beyond we continue to learn how to grow in order to survive. We learn to interpret our surroundings and the world. We learn to care for our needs. We learn to recognize danger, measure risks and nurture our curiosity in order to discover opportunities and solve the problems we uncover. Some of us learn to lead others. And some learn to lead great organizations, even nations. I refer to people as either “knowers” or “growers.” When we stop learning we stop growing and at any age that is to our peril. What are you doing do learn and grow? Are you leading others by making it necessary for those you care for and about to help them realize their potential? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “Treat a [person] as he appears to be, and you make them worse. But treat a [person] as if they were what they potentially could be, and you make them what they should be.” It would be my guess that the secret to great leadership, and perhaps leading a fulfilled and successful life, is to contribute to the potential of the people we can serve. It is what I am aiming to do with you here. So before the enemies of the truth discover where I am hiding and try to extinguish my insidious curiosity I will escape to my air-conditioned safe-house and wait out the remaining dog-days of summer.