Ever feel frozen in place?
Have you seen something take off and then get consumed with worry about what’s next?
How do we create an encore worthy of that success?
Ken Goldstein’s new book, Endless Encores: Repeating Success Through People, Products, and Profits, tackles the difficult topic of creating continued, repeatable success. His various corporate roles make him uniquely suited to share his perspective on success. Currently, he is Chairman & CEO of SHOP.COM and previously he was Executive VP of Disney Online and Publisher of Broderbund.
How to Create Repeatable Success
You wrote a fictional story about a topic that seems to haunt many: repeating success. Why did you choose this topic?
I think there are two challenges that weigh heavily on our minds at work: first, how do we achieve success, and second, once we achieve some success, is that the last success we are going to have? In many senses, the second challenge is much more haunting than the first. When we’re initially trying to break through the noise and get noticed, we have nothing to lose, so our leaning toward risk is high and our openness to the unusual is ungated. We are open to helping others, and we welcome their help because together we are stronger. Once we have a reputation of any kind, fear starts creeping into the mix. No one wants to be a one-hit wonder, but often we become our own worst enemy and unintentionally box ourselves in. We worry about our next thing being compared to our last thing. That worry can filter our creativity, our bias to action, even our kindness toward others as competitiveness takes over. None of that negativity helps us win again at all, it just clouds the way forward. That’s why I chose this topic. So many people I know are consumed by it, overwhelmed by it, and sometimes frozen in place. The colleagues I’ve helped in person in a leadership capacity have continued to move forward with the new, and I thought if I could capture that spirit of innovation in a story with real characters, I could inspire others to keep looking forward and only forward.
Why We Learn More From Failure
Why is success difficult to repeat? After all, if you did it once, you can follow the same process . . . or not?
Here’s what I have discovered repeatedly: You can almost never recreate a success, but it is absolutely predictable that you can recreate a failure. That’s why we learn more from failure than we do from success. In failure, we learn what not to do again. It didn’t work, so put that on your list of things you don’t need to try again. In success, if we do the same thing again, or even a modest alteration, we will not create the same inventiveness or excitement that we did with the original. Something can only be unique once, and success is usually unique. That’s why it is so hard to repeat success, because no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, all that is in the past, and you must start from zero. It’s also why I say you’re not really failing if you’re learning, because the learning is what sends you back to try again. When we embrace the empowerment and humility of starting over, releasing defensiveness and facing the blank canvass with a set of trusted colleagues, we have the best shot at repeat success, which is the same shot we had at first success. Accept that and innovation is all you need to worry about (and that’s plenty).
Build a Mission That is More than Words
What’s the best way to have a mission that is “more than words”?
When a company’s mission statement is in a binder on the shelf or buried in the company handbook, it’s dead text — it means nothing and empowers no one. Shared values are what drive people to work together and innovate. A set of shared values allows a mission to be more than words, but only if those around us embrace the values with authenticity and conviction. We live in a cynical world where conflicting data and untested opinions are communicated broadly in real time. If we say “our people are our most valuable asset” and then lay off 20% of our staff because of a bad quarter, was that a shared value? If we say, “We cherish integrity here,” and then our CEO resigns for unexplained reasons around a publicly broadcast compensation scandal, what happened to our commitment to integrity? Walk the walk, lead by example, and you can get the people around you to rally to any cause you share, but you must share it as a set of consistent actions (emphasis on “consistent”), not a slogan.
“Long-term leaders spend the majority of their thinking about talent.” -Ken Goldstein
3 Steps to Building a Winning Team
5 Tough Choices
What are the toughest choices you face as you lead yourself and others into the future?
That question was the focus of new, original research by Bill Jensen and his team. The research shows that certain choices will make you stronger and give you a brighter future. Bill has spent over twenty-five years learning how work gets done. In his latest book, Future Strong: How to Work Unleashed, Lead Boldly, and Live Life Your Way, he outlines these five choices and how the answers will shape your future.
Only 29% said they can achieve their dreams where they currently work.
Choice One: The Heartbeat of the Past
Let’s talk about the past. You ask, “Will you hear the heartbeat of your past choices?” How do we effectively learn from our past in the Future Strong way?
I’ve spent my whole life asking questions that nobody was asking.
There are already lots of people hyperventilating about how disruptive technologies — wearables, deep analytics, Internet of everything, artificial intelligence, robotics — are going to create futures that are amazingly different from today.
But no one was talking about the choices each of us must make to create our own future in the midst of all that. So my team and I interviewed and surveyed over seven thousand people across the globe, asking each person deeply personal questions about building personal futures.
One of those questions was, “What makes you, you?”
We uncovered what leadership guru Warren Bennis once attributed to all great leaders — people who are Future Strong leverage their past as a tool to leap into their future. They call upon crucible moments from their past: experiences that forged or tested how they view the world. We found that most everyone who leaps into unknown futures, and boldly goes where they have not gone before, does so by calling upon the courage and wisdom from those crucible moments.
One e-learning pioneer learned how to be creative from her childhood friend Albert Einstein. One venture capitalist, who practices servant leadership, drew upon the kindness he received from strangers when he fled his war-torn country as a child. A media and technology leader learned fast decision-making from his teenage successes and crashes as a semi-pro skateboarder. Me…I call upon my mom’s death to truly appreciate how precious life is. Each of us has one or two or three life-altering moments we can call upon.
To effectively leverage those moments in our lives, we each must truly understand our own hero’s journey — moments from our past when change was thrusted upon us. Initially, most of us deny or resist the new truths; then there’s a moment — the crucible moment — where we embrace how to make that change part of who we are.
So hearing the heartbeat of your past choices is about truly knowing yourself well enough (by the way, about 80% of us think we know ourselves, but really don’t) to call upon deeper courage and wisdom than you thought you had.
“Focus on the only thing, past, present and future, within your control.” -Bill Jensen
Choice Two: Who To Become
Detecting Deceitful Leaders
Have you ever had an uneasy feeling that a leader is not as genuine or sincere as you would expect? There are numerous signals and behaviors that distinguish a genuine leader from someone who is simply trying to achieve a personal—perhaps deceitful—agenda. If you observe carefully, you can find what is causing the uneasy feeling.
Listed in the following comparison are ways to distinguish between genuine leadership and a person in a leadership position who has hidden motives. Some behaviors are stated in the extreme— just to emphasize the point. Deceitful leaders are also very good at what they do, so observe them closely.
“Behaviors can distinguish a deceitful leader from a genuine leader.” -Bruce Rhoades
Comparison: True Leaders and Deceitful Leaders
- Leaders bring people together for common goals. Deceitful Leaders divide people and focus on narrow issues that may be part of an unstated, deceitful goal.
- Leaders encourage open, direct communication. Deceitful Leaders display a low tolerance for open communication. They control information.
- Leaders solicit and consider opposing views and positions. Deceitful Leaders exhibit little tolerance for opposing views. They may reject opposing views or ideas without consideration and limit debate.
- Leaders use larger goals to energize and unite people. Deceitful Leaders use divisive, negative characterization of issues and groups to energize followers.
“Leaders use larger goals to energize and unite people.” -Bruce Rhoades
- Leaders are transparent, have an open agenda and stated purposes. Deceitful Leaders carefully manage issues and what people hear. They often have a hidden agenda.
“Deceitful leaders carefully manage issues and what people hear.” -Bruce Rhoades
- Leaders stick to values, principles and ethical guidelines. Deceitful Leaders will use the “end justifies the means” to achieve objectives.
“Leaders stick to values, principles and ethical guidelines.” -Bruce Rhoades
- Leaders listen attentively. Deceitful Leaders talk more than listen. They occasionally shout or “preach.”
- Leaders show respect for each individual. Deceitful Leaders respect only those who are like-minded and disenfranchise those who are not like-minded.
“Deceitful leaders respect only those who are like-minded.” -Bruce Rhoades
- Leaders want individuals to thrive and work from principles and values. They encourage individual initiative. Deceitful Leaders want control and dutiful obedience; “punishing” those who are “out of line.” Individual initiative is rarely appreciated.
“Leaders want individuals to thrive and work from principles and values.” -Bruce Rhoades
- Leaders use facts and logic. Deceitful Leaders use emotions (with bias toward negative ones).
- Leaders share data and influence with clearly stated facts, options and conclusions. Deceitful Leaders state conclusions and positions with limited substance and fact. They may use charged rhetoric or misleading data.