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
i:  LinkedIn
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.

Monday, August 10, 2015

I Did It!!

I have a lot on my Experience List (lots I've checked off) but one major goal was to speak in every U.S. state, every Canadian province and on every continent except Antarctica (where I can't wear my stilettos!).
And I'VE DONE IT! Just got back from Montana, the last state I needed to hit this milestone.


Montana was everything I dreamed it would be: wonderful people, breathtaking beauty, spectacular mountains...and dead, stuffed animals everywhere!

What's on your experience list?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Slack to Improve Team Collaboration by Dave Nelsen

Here's something to think about: You and all of your company's employees spend, on average, a little
more than 40% of your time working email. Is there anything in business that consumes 40% of your resources, or even 4% of your resources, that you've never tried to optimize?
Here's another thing to consider. Email was invented in the 1960s. Back then none of us had ever imagined an iPhone, or a PC, or a CD player, or a pager, or a VCR or a microwave oven. Heck, I'm not sure I'd yet seen a color television. One of my friends did have a black and white television to which his parents had applied a translucent color overlay. The top 20% was blue and the bottom 20% was green. It turns out that few programs feature a shot showing both grass and sky but if they did, then yes, my friend had a color television. Mostly, people on his TV just looked ill.
So a lot has happened technologically since the 1960s. We've stopped sending telegrams (fun fact: the second 'T' in AT&T now stands for 'T' ... as there are no more telegrams). We've stopped using VCRs. While I use its technological replacement, the DVR, even that is threatened as I now stream from Netflix, Apple, and Amazon, or use YouTube. We've stopped wearing pagers. We've even relegated CDs to the past and are now moving beyond their replacement, MP3s + iTunes to streaming services including Apple Music (love it!), Pandora, and Spotify.
And yet we're still using email. Oh yes, and microwave ovens, although they have evolved; they rotate your food and figure out how long to cook it automatically. And there's been massive technological progress in microwave popcorn.
Back to email.  
It's more or less the same technology I first experienced in 1982. And so I've supplemented it with Dropbox, Evernote, Wunderlist, and texting...on my MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and of course "the cloud." Do you think perhaps it's time to say goodbye to email? Absolutely! So what then?
Say hello to Slack. First, to establish its credibility as an important company/product, Slack is funded by a veritable Silicon Valley dream team comprised of Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners,
Kleiner Perkins, and Google Ventures. It doesn't get any better than that.  
The Slack product was launched in 2013 and, according to Wikipedia (so it must be true), attracted 8,000 customers in the first 24 hours. Hopefully, none of these companies (or the hoards that came afterwards) are your competitors. It's simply shocking that a small team of smart coders could create a system that's actually better for employee collaboration than email...more than half a century later. (Now I'm making myself feel old.)  
So what is Slack? Go to and find out. Watch the video created by Sandwich Video, about how they themselves use Slack after they were hired by Slack to create a video about how companies use Slack. Talk about recursive self-references. Wow!    
As I've advised with other new communication tools (Yammer, Chatter, anything social media, or social networking), find a few volunteers in your organization to run a small-scale trial among themselves. Not to be too stereotypical but they probably won't be the employees who were using email back in 1982. Actually, it's a good bet that they weren't even alive in 1982. Interestingly, that year was the beginning of the Millennial generation.  
After 30 days have them report on the pros and cons of Slack vs. email. My guess is that the ‘pros’ will prevail and your competitors will hate me. But your employees won't.


You can find more formal details here: 
To contact Dave directly:

Friday, July 10, 2015

MikkiLeaks: Honoring Our Heroes by Phil Liebman

My driving purpose in life has me working with CEOs and other top executives because I believe they all have the potential to be my heroes. And I have hopes that I can help you become my hero as well. This begs the question: Who are YOUR heroes? I had always disliked being asked that question. I struggled to point to any one person and definitively say he or she is my hero. I would find myself making it up to suit the context of whatever discussion we were having.There were plenty of people whom I greatly admired but few I knew well enough to consider their actions heroic. I could count my mother and father and my mother's father among the heroes in my life, and could rattle off some great heroes out of history but struggled to identify living heroes beyond those I knew intimately.
Then about ten years ago when I became a TEC/Vistage Chair I came to realize that the people I admired most were the people I had been inviting into my professional world and into my groups. These men and women, through their inventiveness, dedication, and skill at accomplishing things, and above all else their caring, were doing more to benefit society than I had previously experienced when I idealistically immersed myself in politics and government. I came to see that through their ability to create value and solve problems these business leaders were better able to benefit the social, economic and cultural needs of our communities and the world. And the evidence of their good work is all around, in the dedications on libraries, hospitals, university research centers, and even a few towns named for them. I had discovered who my heroes truly are.
Do you ever think of yourself as a hero? Or whom you might be a hero to?
Are you courageous? Do you have an insatiable desire to do or to make things better? If so, you could certainly be one of my heroes. What does it take for someone to be one of yours?
A Final Thought on One of My Heroes 
I began working on this month’s contribution to MikkiLeaks over the long Independence Day weekend. One of my historic heroes happens to be Benjamin Franklin. Beyond being an inventor, a statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin was also a successful businessman and entrepreneur. In 1727 in Philadelphia Franklin established The Junto, a club for mutual improvement. Its purpose was to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs. They also were a charitable organization that made a subscription public library of their own books. Franklin credited his business success on having this resource available to him, and Juntos, built on the same principles, exist to this day around the world. In good measure it is quite similar to the resources provided to the CEOs I work with through my Vistage Groups and is experienced worldwide by more than 18,000 Vistage and TEC members. Perhaps it's a resource you'd like to explore.

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 or Visit

Friday, June 12, 2015

Don't Call it an iWatch by Dave Nelsen

I ordered my Apple Watch on the first day one could: April 10, 2015. Unfortunately, I didn't rise in
the middle of the night to do so at the earliest possible hour. So I had to endure an interminable 4 - 6 week wait. The watch finally arrived on Friday, May 15. In case you're curious, I got the larger (42 mm) version with a stainless steel case and black leather magnetic closure band. It runs $699 but throw in AppleCare and taxes and you're well north of $800.
My first impression was that it was beautiful and much easier to set up than I'd expected. Maybe you read the article by the New York Times reporter who claimed that it took him four full days to start to get the hang of it. That's probably because he tried to test virtually every major function and app ASAP. That's not how the rest of us will get started. It's easy and intuitive if you go one function at a time.
The main thing I like about the watch is that it's always with me, even when my phone isn't. That first day I was doing an online registration for one of my vehicles and needed the current mileage from my car's odometer. I left my iPhone sitting on my desk and walked out to the garage. Of course, that's when an important call came in (doesn't it always). Normally, I would have missed it and a game of voicemail tag would have continued. But not this time. I was still within Bluetooth range of my iPhone (reportedly up to 300 feet) and my wrist started ringing. Magic.
Which reminds me about a few things that you need to know. First, the Apple Watch also includes WiFi which can greatly extend the range. But that emphasizes a key point. The vast majority of Apple Watch functions rely on the iPhone. You can't even set it up without first pairing. So if you own a Samsung Android smartphone, you'll have to get the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch instead. I hear that it's pretty cool too.
Back to the Apple Watch and my favorite features so far. That's always the second question I get from someone seeing it for the first time (the first being "Can I see it?"). Mostly, it comes down to using it as an iPhone remote control.
For example, two weeks ago I was riding in a shuttle from Monte Verdi to Montezuma in Costa Rica while listening to Jimmy Buffett songs in shuffle mode (I just had to work that in). FYI, I have exactly 50 Buffett albums containing 589 songs, albeit with lots of duplicates. The iPhone was in my pocket. Whenever a repeat came on, no problem. Just use the Apple Watch to skip to the next one. What album was that song from? Just check the song name and album title on the Apple Watch. Need to change the audio volume ... You get the idea.
When I run I use the Nike+ app. In the past I had to hold the phone in my hand in order to see my stats in progress (or depend on the more limited audio readouts). Now I can put the phone in my armband and glance at the watch instead. AND I can see my heart rate too, although not in the same app. For whatever reason (likely privacy), Apple does not allow third-party apps like Nike+ to access health data.
Flying from Pittsburgh to Denver a week ago I used a boarding pass on my Apple Watch. And in Denver I paid for my venti Americano at Starbucks using it instead of the iPhone (or even the more primitive credit card which can too easily be hacked). Pretty much anything in your Passbook app can be used on your Apple Watch.
Still, the Apple Watch doesn't have all the desired apps yet. Most notably it doesn't yet track your sleep and doesn't include my favorite social GPS app, Waze. That said, I'm very optimistic about the future of Apple Watch. If you haven't tried one yet, get down to your closest Apple Store. Tell them that Dave sent you.

You can find more formal details here: 
To contact Dave directly:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

MikkiLeaks: In Search of Intelligent Life, by Phil Liebman


In Search of Intelligent Life
by Phil Liebman   

Just when I showered-off the stench and dried off after last month's back-flip into the deep web for my readers, the headlines were screaming with news regarding the standoff in Congress over privacy versus security and the USA Freedom Act. I cringe every time I hear the words "intelligence community" and "government" used in proximity to each other. Now, I may be just a bit crazy, but how crazy is the big-leaker, Edward Snowden? Many see this political crisis as being entirely his fault. Some see him as a treasonous criminal - but others want to declare him a national hero. What's really crazy is that Snowden has been tearing-up the speaking circuit while in exile by appearing via video feed to a wide range of audiences around the world, and even here in the United States. Snowden might be crazy - but he certainly isn't stupid. There is inescapable irony in the fact that the NSA he betrayed is dependent on tight lips while the other NSA (National Speakers Association) embraces those who blab. This guy is apparently hard-core NSA through and through.
Have you ever noticed that "crazy" and "intelligent" are often compatible characteristics? How often does it seem that the most brilliant people are also cracker-barrel nuts? It's not that they are deliberately being "outrageous" - they simply cannot help themselves. It was Steve Jobs who said, "The people who are crazy enough to believe they can actually change the world are the ones who actually do."
It turns out that to understand the relationship between intelligence and success in life you have to deep dive into what intelligence really is. Which takes me back to the brilliant insight of former President William Jefferson Clinton when he famously suggested that the conveyance of the truth can depend on what the meaning of "is" is. Clinton showed us that intelligence and common sense sometimes leave town on different tracks.
And that leads me to where I want to begin this train of thought: intelligence is generally how we distinguish the human race from other life on our planet. Yet my golden retriever seems much smarter than some people I know. It turns out we actually know much more about intelligence and the implications for human potential than we did just 25 years ago when in 1990 the concept of social intelligence, or as it was to be coined, "Emotional Intelligence," first came to light. It suggests that core intelligence or IQ is not the singular predictor of anyone's success in life. Interestingly, long before science developed a standard for measuring human intelligence, any parent could readily see how much or little "common sense" their child exhibited. IQ is accepted to represent what you were born with while common sense is acquired, or even "whooped-into" any kid who wasn't "smart" enough to figure out how to develop that for him/herself. Nowadays beating common sense into people doesn't seem all that smart - just ask Adreinne Peters - who discovered that playing for the NFL doesn't qualify him as a child-rearing expert.
Emotional Intelligence (EIQ, or more commonly referred to as EQ) can be measured by a variety of assessment tools including the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQI). There are also numerous free resources that can be found online. The great thing about EQ is that it can be improved by increasing self-awareness and by learned behaviors. Even better news is that emotional intelligence seems be a better predictor of one's personal success than core intelligence - so testing and retesting could actually be a smart thing to do.
So what is intelligence? A simple dictionary definition is "the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills." Basic intelligence is about processing the information we are exposed to in some way that we can make useful. But it doesn't speak to whether the person who is just getting by is actually brilliant at sleeping late and staying beneath the radar or whether the brilliant mind that could discover the cure for cancer will ever find or create the opportunity to emerge into someone who will actually achieve that. Those aspects of intelligence are more closely linked to the social context of emotional intelligence and suggest such things as the ability to defer gratification and therefor to devote yourself more diligently to an intended outcome, or the ability to collaborate or communicate to inure the good will and support of others.
People with even average core intelligence and high degrees of emotional intelligence seem to feed off of, and at the same time, inspire others. Combine a truly great mind with a highly socially competent being and you have all the ingredients for greatness one can imagine.
Albert Einstein suggested, "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." Well, imagine that! I'm not looking to show-up Einstein, but my own study of problem solving and idea generation has shown me that the best outcomes come from a combination of critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. The best solutions and opportunities are borne of the perfect blend of IQ and EQ in combination, ideally from several contributors working together.
This led me to what I think is the biggest secret I am leaking to you here today, thanks to the great work of a good friend of mine. It's the idea that operating out of a sense of purposeful contribution is what connects people's social intelligence with their greatest potential for success. If IQ is about how you process information, and EQ is how you make what you process work in the context of the world you live and operate in, it is knowing why, and for whom you do what you do, is something larger and truly beyond your own interests that truly distinguishes the most successful and influential people in the world.
Suzanne Livingston has spent many years developing her concept of what she calls the Contribution Approach™. Starting with the perspective that why people do what they do is as or more important than what they do, Suzanne observed that people naturally want to work together with other people who strongly believe what we strongly believe. If you want a clear and well-researched explanation of how this works read "Start with Why - How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action", by Simon Sinek or look up his TED talk. Suzanne's early work dealt with shifting the selling paradigm by helping move from transaction-based leveraging principles to contribution-based relationship building. She saw that when people are clear about what their unique contribution to others is through what they do or provide then those who would benefit from that are naturally more receptive to the possibility of engaging with the that person. There is no need to leverage and sell in the conventional sense. But in order for that to occur, your sense of contribution must be authentic: what you do is not about yourself, it is about your contribution. It's not just the contribution you make - it is connected to the belief that what you contribute is absolutely vital and necessary with the same fierceness that a mother bear is devoted to her cub. Dr. Lee Thayer describes that as being "had by your cause" as opposed to having a cause. It is irresistible to us and become irresistible to others.
Recently, collaborating with Suzanne, I began to see that her Contribution Effect is an important expansion of understanding and working with our EQ. When we can focus our attention, not only on the social context in which we operate, but on that context being larger than ourselves, and it is truly "why" we do what we do there is common ground and interests that enable us to connect on a much higher and fundamentally more engaged level with the people who believe what we believe and want what we want. Working with, or doing business with these people becomes a matter of a shared purpose and a common good.
I believe that Contribution Intelligence may be the most critical level of intelligence we have at our disposal. And it's really no secret that the most successful people in the world function with this sense of giving, paying forward and serving a greater good. It is the reason why I write Mikki-Leaks for you.
I've spent much too much time spilling my guts and singing like a canary out here in the open for one month. For my own safety, and yours, I had better go back into hiding. Remember - shhhhh.

Some resources sited in this Month's column:
Simon Sinek - Start with Why on TED
Suzanne Livingston - on LinkedIn

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


The Worldwide Crisis for Anyone Looking to Source Fairy-Dust
by Phil Liebman
Here is a scandal in need of being exposed. And you will have read it first and exclusively here in Mikki-Leaks, folks.
If so many people depend on fairy-dust as a “sprinkle-on” solution to their problems and fertilizer for opportunities – it would seem that it would be in great abundance – or even selling at a premium due to enormous demand. But disturbingly, it just seems to be off the market. How can this be?  Is someone hording the world’s supply?
I checked on – and they sell small bags – but just between you and me it looks fake. OK – so there is novelty Fairy Dust available for “princess parties” for your 8-year old. But I’m looking for the industrial strength magic potion – the kind that will turn my unimaginably ordinary Website idea into the next AMAZON.COM.   I even checked on – figuring surely someone in China knows a guy who knows a guy who can get me this stuff. But it seems that if it exists anywhere – it might be only on the “deep web” and requiring knowing how and where to acquire Bitcoin – to arrange delivery from some unsavory sordid source. Not even something this courageous author of Mikki-Leaks is willing to venture. But I bet Satoshi Nakamoto, the recluse legend in hiding who was exposed last year as guy who invented Bitcoin had plenty of fairy-dust to nurture and build his idea.
If I can’t source the stuff, I figure there has to be a work-around. Maybe the next great idea is whatever can replace fairy-dust. Fairy-Dust 2.0? I called an alchemist I know who is purported to at one time to have been a noted expert on Angel Dust (who so happens to currently also be an advisor to a chain of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and a few pot-boutiques in Colorado) – and posed the idea of developing synthetic fairy dust to him.  He suggested that everyone is going “organic” these days – so this was obviously a bad idea. Then it struck me. Maybe “The Next Big Thing” is organic fairy dust. Just the thought of it made me dizzy and feeling a bit like Tinker-Bell.
This dragged my thinking away from the deep web – and into the Deep Thought of Dr. Lee Thayer. Lee knows more about fairy dust than perhaps anyone on the planet. Why not reach out to the foremost expert? (His book “How Executives Fail” is a must-read primer for anyone looking to understand the absolute power of fairy dust. * see source below) Well, Lee let me on to a closely guarded little secret. “Fairy Dust” doesn’t exist. The novelty stuff on Amazon is really as good as it gets.
It turns out that organizations that surpass all others have known this all along. The have found organic alternatives in how they think, who they deliberately choose to become – and in the way they go about doing things. They perform better than their competitors because they make it necessary for themselves to do so. They undertake to prepare to be so fully competent that they not only outperform their competitors – they outperform themselves everyday.  If there is anything out of the ordinary – even resembling the power of magical potions – it is the connection their leadership has with a deep and unyielding sense of purpose. And the understanding of what it takes to prepare, align and conduct the people within their organization to perform at their highest potential – such that the organization can perform beyond it’s perceived boundaries.
Leadership is such a buzzword today – I almost hate to bring it up. How many books have been written on the topic? There are countless seminars, workshops – even full university degree programs dedicated to leadership – yet when we look around, why are there so few outstanding leaders among us? As Lee Thayer told us, it isn’t that those extraordinary leaders have gotten their hands on fairy dust – or likely even sold their souls to The Devil.  And more perplexing is why all this research, prescription and motivation for great leadership has not turned out into the world all the leadership we could ever need or handle?  Actually, another one of Dr. Thayer’s works, “The Competent Organization” might be more the answer than any of the solutions above.
The answers, much derived from Lee Thayer’s experience, is that extraordinary leaders know what very few others know. They understand that nothing you “know” is the answer. It’s about being constantly curious – and always learning. It’s about what you are thinking about – and whether you are thinking about the right things at the right time. It’s about what you are made of – whether you have the “right stuff” to demand excellence and constant growth from yourself and the people you lead. (If you don’t currently have what you need you may be able to find it within yourself – if you are willing to do the hard work that requires.) It’s about being the kind of leader that cares so unwaveringly about something greater than himself or herself – that they instill not only a great sense of purpose in the people that choose to surround these rare leaders  – but they also make it necessary and possible for those who can – to become extraordinarily competent, caring and committed as well. If you could bottle that – we could sell it by the barrel – and call it Newly Improved, As Seen On TV, All Natural, Organically Certified Leadership Power Powder. I got your “fairy-dust.”
Reporting from somewhere in the kiddie-pool section of the Deep Web – wearing inflatable swimmies and nose-plugs – looking for the “Next Big Thing” to leak to you – provided my swimmies don’t leak first.  You can also always find me at  Shhh… PRL

List of Secret Resources Cited in this Leak:
How Executives Fail – Available on :
The Competent Organization – Available on
Dora The Explorer Inflatable Swimmies @

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