Whatever you’re doing this week, wherever you live in the world, it’s worth pausing for just a few minutes to reflect on the importance of July 4th. Whether you want to start a business, gain a following, or learn about leadership, you can learn powerful lessons from the birth of the United States.
Here are some quotes to inspire your reflections:
“Better to fight for something than live for nothing.” –George Patton
“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” — Marilyn von Savant, highest recorded IQ in the Guinness Book of Records
Nicole is the kind of executive you trust with your biggest, craziest projects. She figures things out when everyone else throws up their hands in frustration. If it’s wild and ambitious, or difficult and seemingly unsolvable, Nicole is your go-to person.
Despite her long history of strategizing and launching successful projects, Nicole kept getting the same unpleasant feedback in performance reviews. She was celebrated for her heroism at the launch phase, but criticized for her inability to be a solid day-to-day manager, once her projects were operational.
Year after year she tried to hone her managerial skills, attempting to morph into the type of executive who deftly oversees an established program. But boredom overtook, and she’d find herself distracted by the prospect of a brand new challenge.
She’d think something was wrong with her, believing she must lack ability or strategic thinking. The guilt dragged her down at work – and at home.
“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” -Marilyn von Savant
Your sweet spot is an actual thing, not just an abstract idea.
It’s doing the things you love to do the way you love to do them.
It also happens to be where you deliver by far the most value. Your sweet spot talents are so indisputable it is criminal to waste your energy elsewhere. This is where you have vitality and inspiration, oxygen coursing through your system.
Unfortunately, conventional wisdom leads you to believe you’re supposed to care about improving your weaknesses. This is nonsense. It’s a path that leads to mediocrity. And ultimately, it’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster, physically and mentally. It drains your oxygen supply, depleting your energy, creativity and enthusiasm for life.
Digital transformation. We read about it often. Organizational leaders struggle to determine the possible threats, the impending changes needed, the opportunities that are possible.
Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner’s new book, What’s Your Digital Business Model?, provides a strategic framework for thinking about these issues. Peter is a Senior Research Scientist and Chair of the Center for Information Systems Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Stephanie is also Research Scientist at the same institution with a specialty focusing on how companies manage organizational change caused by digital disruption.
I had the opportunity to speak with them about their research and new book.
How would you rate most organizations readiness for the era of digital disruption that we are in and are facing?
Most organizations we talk to and research know they have to change to stay relevant and have improved in some areas (perhaps they’ve worked on business process optimization or they’ve automated a lot of processes). However, as customer experience demands have increased, we find that many older, bigger companies have not made the improvements and changes needed to address those demands. Plus the leaders of the average large company (more than $7B in revenue) identified that 46% of their revenues are under threat over the next 5 years if they don’t change.
Fact: large companies predict 46 percent of revenues are threatened in the next 5 years absent change.
The book is based around six questions we think every executive and organization has to be able to answer in order to be competitive in the digital economy. We started this research by interviewing leaders from large, global companies, asking them to describe their most important digitally-enabled business transformation initiative. From there we developed a model, tested the preliminary findings in more than 50 workshops with senior executives, identified capabilities needed, conducted several surveys to test those capabilities and show links to financial performance, and interviewed many companies to help us understand what it takes to transform a business. The book resulted from five years of research which shows that the senior executives of top performing firms honestly answered the six questions. To help, each chapter concludes with a self-assessment on one of the six questions. The reader can then compare their self-assessment results to top financial performers to help leadership teams understand the gap they have to close.
Of the six parts, is there one step that more organizations get stuck in than another?
Probably the hardest question for most organizations is having an honest conversation about whether they have leadership, at all levels, who will persevere and successfully deliver the business transformation. Along the way the culture will have to change and adapt to the new digital business model and often this means changing people at the top. But it is not just the top layer of leaders that has to change. Successful transformation requires getting the whole company to behave differently – from the board to the lowest level of employees. For example, DBS Bank in Singapore, which was one the Euromoney’s most digital banks in 2016 has managed to get 14,800 of their 22,000 people involved in a digital innovation activity every week.
“Successful transformation requires getting the whole company to behave differently – from the board to the lowest level of employees.”
You have a unique vantage point both due to your leading SiriusXM Radio show and your role as Director of Career Management for the Executive MBA Program at Wharton. What trends are you seeing across professional job searchers today?
People want a job that inspires them! Compensation will always be important. However, professionals are willing to make some sacrifices to find work that is meaningful or flexible, or that puts them on the path to a career that is more satisfying. Many mid-career professionals landed in a job after college and climbed the ladder, only to realize that the path they chose isn’t fulfilling. Others have discovered careers that may not have existed a decade ago and still others have experienced life changes, such as having a family, which have led them to seek something more flexible.
“Lifetime regrets are more painful than delayed gratification.” -Dawn Graham
What is the “new normal” in America for most people in terms of changing jobs?
The great news for career switchers is that the market is becoming more accepting of trying new paths. The rise of the gig economy, portfolio careers, and entrepreneurial pursuits have opened the door to non-traditional career paths. The average tenure in a company is about 4.2 years, so long gone are the days of the 30-year retirement gift. In fact, while yearly job hopping is still frowned upon by employers, so is staying at a company for too long, especially if you’ve not shown significant progression or diversity in your assignments. After 10 years, hiring managers in new companies start to wonder if you’re adaptable enough to function effectively in a different culture, so it’s more important than ever today to pay attention to taking charge of your career.
Research: up to 80 percent of employee turnover is due to poor hiring.
Tom is the EVP, Head of Innovation for Zenith Media. His role is to understand new technology, behaviors and platforms and ideate and implement solutions for clients that take advantage of the new opportunities these make possible. He was also voted the #1 voice in Marketing by LinkedIn with over 580,000 followers on the platform. An industry provocateur and commentator on the future of marketing and business, Tom recently wrote Digital Darwinism as a wakeup call to traditional businesses.
I recently spoke with him about his book.
““Digital isn’t a thing, it’s everything.” -Tom Goodwin
The subtitle of your book is “Survival of the Fittest in the Age of Business Disruption.” What defines the fittest?
I believe the fittest companies are those with the balance of a solid business plan for today and for the future. This can either be because they’ve established a defendable niche for now and ahead (like Amazon or Tesla) or because they have a team and culture that is able to adapt to the changing marketplace. Good examples of this are Facebook, Netflix, and Google. Fitness both in nature and business is about agility and the ability to change as the world does, but also about the quality of the business model today. There are too many companies that are widely celebrated, like Dollar Shave Club or Movie Pass, that offer hockey-stick user growth and happy customers, but don’t appear to have a semblance of a business model that can ever make money.
“The fittest companies are those with the balance of a solid business plan for today and for the future.” -Tom Goodwin
Mature companies often have a huge desire to innovate and launch various initiatives. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen them make in their pursuit of innovation?
Most innovation failures come from companies who do one of two things wrong. The main one is not going deep enough. They offer surface level improvements on the façade of a deeply troubled foundation. Retailers who need to close stores or entirely rethink distribution models or procurement flows, end up making a store in San Jose with a smart mirror, as it’s way faster and cheaper and offers distractions. Or car companies that celebrate apps where you can start engines remotely, while they are behind on electric propulsion. The issue is that most CEOs don’t have the time or thirst for risk to make proper changes.
The other issue is innovation with no sense of purpose. It’s adding a chatbot because your boss read about them one day. It’s an airline launching a mood-sensing blanket that gets press. It’s the VR experience to try to get promoted. We need to know why we are innovating and maximize against that.
“There are too many companies that are widely celebrated that offer hockey-stick user growth and happy customers, but don’t appear to have a semblance of a business model that can ever make money.” -Tom Goodwin