Who in Your Life Deserves a Gold Medal?

Winning Gold

The Olympic rings must be magnetic, pulling me in every few years. Whatever the event, I’m fascinated by the competition and by the stories of the athletes. They are irresistible. The fact that the world comes together, for just a few weeks, is incredibly inspiring.

 

“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.” – Dan Gable

 

If you’re a student of success, the Olympics offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand drive, determination, and discipline. Every individual has a unique story of overcoming obstacles. You don’t make it to the field without years of practice. You also don’t make it without a team of supporters.

I especially love watching the podium during the award ceremonies. As the medals are placed around the winners’ necks, and especially when the anthems are played, you glimpse the sheer joy of victory. It’s common to see tears, the emotion raw at that moment. And then, if the camera catches it right, you also see some of the others who are also part of the success. Friends, family, and coaches are beaming with pride.

 

“By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.” -Voltaire

 

Champions Behind the Scenes

As the games in Rio draw to a conclusion, I think about all of the people who help us succeed every day but never get a medal. These people are instrumental in shaping us. Maybe it’s a mom or a dad, a teacher, or a friend who is always there. You may have had a mentor or a special boss who inspired you to do more than you thought you could. If you’re as fortunate as me, it may be your spouse who deserves the Gold.

 

“The joy of leadership is helping others succeed.” –Roger Stilson

 

Why not take the time to recognize some special people? Who deserves a Gold Medal in your life? Go ahead and share this post with them. Tell their story in the comments (it’s really not that hard to leave one! You can sign up for Disqus, sign in with your social media account, or sign in as a guest) or in your social media stream.

 

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“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” –John F. Kennedy

 

“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.” –Veronica Roth

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Winston Churchill

21 Tips for A Successful Job Interview

How to Have A Successful Job Interview

If you have had experience interviewing others, you may have seen some surprising things. I know I have:

  • The candidate who stopped mid-answer to answer a text. And then did it again.
  • One man had resumes with him and handed me one that was stained with coffee.
  • On several occasions, the interviewees asked questions so basic that it was obvious that they hadn’t even done a cursory internet search on our company.
  • One person, incredibly late for the meeting, started aggressively by asking why we didn’t have enough parking to accommodate all visitors.
  • I vividly recall someone so negative about their prior employer that it made me pause.
  • And there’s the person who took the time to write a thank you note, but sent me the wrong one (he was obviously interviewing elsewhere).

There are some basic interviewing tips that are worth noting. I like this infographic by Company Folders of 21 tips. It may seem basic, but it’s a great checklist to review before your next interview.

Because it’s great to be memorable. But only for the right reasons.

Interview Tips


“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” -John Dewey


“Success depends upon previous preparation.” -Confucius

Why You May Need A Wicked Strategy

 

What do you do if you face a problem so complex that it can only be described as wicked?

Is it possible to confound competitors?

 

How Companies Conquer Complexity and Confound Competitors

John Camilius, author of Wicked Strategies: How Companies Conquer Complexity and Confound Competitors outlines a number of ways that managers can handle the most difficult problems. Camilius is the Donald R. Beall Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Pittsburgh.

 

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” -Winston Churchill

 

For those who don’t know your work, what is a wicked problem?

In the early seventies, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber, two professors of design and urban planning, recognized that there are certain problems that are not amenable to resolution by traditional, accepted problem-solving techniques. They evocatively labeled these problems as “wicked” and identified ten distinguishing characteristics. Ten characteristics are difficult to remember, and over the years, I have whittled them down to just five.  If a problem displays these five criteria, you can be pretty sure you are facing a wicked problem.Wicked Strategies John C. Camillus

The first characteristic is deceptively simple and requires some thought:  Is the problem one that is substantially without precedent, something that you have not encountered before?

Second, are there multiple significant stakeholders with conflicting values and priorities? You need to go beyond the traditional big three stakeholders—employees, customers and shareholders.  Non-government organizations, multiple layers of government, creditors, communities in which you are located, political parties in power and out of power are all becoming more significant and demanding.

Third, are there several causes and are they interactive and tangled?  For instance, the future of social media is driven by a complex brew of technology advancements in hardware and apps, changing demographics, evolving social and cultural mores, government regulations, privacy expectations, geopolitical developments, educational practices, disposable income, and economic and social mobility.

 

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.” -Irwin Corey

 

Fourth, there is no sure way of knowing you have the right answer. Another way of phrasing this is that there is no stopping rule—you can continue searching indefinitely for a “better” answer.

Fifth, the understanding of what the “problem” is changes depending on the “solution” being considered.  In other words, the problem and the solution are interactive. For instance, entry into a country that does not permit foreign multi-brand retailers might be accomplished by creating a cash-and-carry model for small retailers or by being a minority partner with a local retailer or by entering an entirely new business employing a distinctive competency such as logistics. Each of these responses to the wicked problem of accessing the huge purchasing power of emerging economies’ populations creates a wholly different set of issues.

A note of warning may be in order. In the public policy arena, the wickedness of problems is hard to overlook. Problems such as immigration policy, violence against women, religious fundamentalism, and public education are overtly wicked. In the business world, however, the thing about wicked problems is that though they can show up anywhere, they are likely to be perceived as “tame” problems.

Wicked problems are certainly more common than most managers realize. Not recognizing that they were facing wicked problems, I believe, led to the dissolution of Westinghouse, the demise of Polaroid, and the decline of Kodak, RadioShack and Atari. Though wicked problems can occur anywhere, it is more likely than not that you will encounter wicked problems if you are a public company, operate globally, and are in a technology-driven business.

 

“Every threat to the status quo is an opportunity in disguise.” -Jay Samit

 

3 Megaforces Challenging Business

You talk about 3 megaforces that are challenging business. How do these trends help create wicked problems?

While there are a variety of forces and environmental factors that can create wicked problems, over the years I’ve identified three forces that are widely experienced which, in concert, are a major source of wicked problems. They are: the inevitability of globalization, the imperative of innovation, and the importance of shared value. The first two forces are well understood. Shared value, which has been brought to the attention of the managerial world by Michael Porter, is the notion that social benefit and economic value are synergistic. It also raises the issue of the appropriate sharing of value across diverse stakeholders.

The interactions of these three forces create strategic challenges that combine to create wicked problems. For instance, innovating to meet the needs of unserved, low-income customers across the world results—as the guru of disruptive innovation Clayton Christensen has affirmed—in disruptive technologies that can upend industries. Innovation also creates changes that differentially impact stakeholders, creating the likelihood of conflict between stakeholders as the organization transforms. The extreme complexity and uncertainty embodied in the global economy coupled with the conflicting priorities of multiple stakeholders creates unknowable futures. This roiling cauldron of disruptive technologies, conflicted stakeholders and unknowable futures is what spawns wicked problems.

I like to illustrate the interaction of these forces in a Venn diagram.

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Three Mega-Forces and their Strategic Challenge

These three forces can interact to create wicked problems in any context. Of course, other environmental forces can also breed wicked problems, but I have chosen to focus on these three because they are so ubiquitous and powerful.

I believe there are business contexts or “industries” that will be breeding grounds for wicked problems. Health, software, information technology, fossil fuels, water, automobiles, and public transportation are prime examples. Technological innovation, drastically changing regulations, geopolitical developments, and changing notions of social responsibility make these industries particularly prone to encountering wicked problems that demand that firms develop and deploy wicked strategies. 

 

“The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.” -William Ellery Channing

 

How to Deal With Uncertainty

100+ Quotes from Olympians for the Competitor in You

Quotes from Olympians

There are so many lessons to be learned from the Olympics: the dedication to goals, the perseverance, the hard work and determination, the grit, the fight to overcome pain and challenge to finish.

Every Olympian has a unique story worth sharing. Here are 101 quotes from Olympians to inspire you today.

You may not be competing in the next round of the games, but each of these quotes offers a motivational opportunity to fuel your own goals.

 

“The hard days are the best because that’s where champions are made.” –Gabby Douglas

 

“When you see someone win gold, you want to get out there and do the same thing.” –Andy Murray

 

“Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” –Gail Devers

 

“Part of being a champ is acting like a champ. You have to learn how to win and not run away when you lose.” –Nancy Kerrigan

 

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” –Michael Jordan

 

“Working hard becomes a habit, a serious kind of fun. You get self-satisfaction from pushing yourself to the limit, knowing that all the effort is going to pay off.” –Mary Lou Retton

 

“Being an Olympian, I always have this strong belief in excellence.” –Debi Thomas

 

 “If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”–Carl Lewis

 

“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.” –Serena Williams

 

“I don’t run from a challenge because I am afraid.  Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” –Nadia Comaneci

 

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit.  We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” –Wilma Rudolph

 

“True heroes are made of hard work and integrity.” –Hope Solo

 

“For me, it seems to help me take the pressure off if I don’t pay attention to what other people are telling me.” –Missy Franklin

 

“Rather than focusing on the obstacle in your path, focus on the bridge over the obstacle.” –Mary Lou Retton

 

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle.” –Sanya Richards-Ross

 

“The experience of being an Olympian is one that can never be taken away from you.” –Hannah Kearney

 

“As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we’ve been given.” –Mary Lou Retton

 

“Practice creates confidence.  Confidence empowers you.” –Simone Biles

 

“I work hard, and I do good, and I’m going to enjoy myself.  I’m not going to let you restrict me.” –Usain Bolt

 

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” –Michael Jordan

 

“The world never puts a price on you higher than the one you put on yourself.” –Sonja Henie

 

“Everything that I’ve ever been able to accomplish in skating and in life has come out of adversity and perseverance.” –Scott Hamilton