This is an excerpt from Be Chief: It’s a Choice, Not a Title by Rick Miller. For over 30 years, Rick served as a successful business executive in roles including President and/or CEO in a Fortune 10, a Fortune 30, a startup, and a nonprofit.
Being Chief requires us to develop insight. It is as much about being as it is about being Chief. Insight is a key to increasing your confidence, effectiveness, and, since your power increases as you connect what you do to who you are, deepening your self-understanding through insight will deepen your power. Insight can come from the simplest experiences and from the places you least expect it. Always be on the lookout for gems of insight that can guide your path in life.
There are five ways a leader can learn more about themselves. Specifically, Chiefs choose to be:
Be Present: When you become totally aware and conscious, you can use all of your senses to learn everything possible in the current moment. Specifically, when you give 100 percent of your attention to the people you spend time with, you will find that your relationships become much more fulfilling.
“Insight is the understanding that comes from self-awareness. -Rick Miller
Be Still: Contrary to many Western cultural norms, perhaps our most important choice is to develop the deeper understanding and truth that comes with being still. To maintain inner balance, choose the tranquility and peace of stillness. In that peaceful state, you will develop the ability to trust and have confidence in your own voice.
“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen-that stillness becomes a radiance.” -Morgan Freeman
Be Accepting: When you choose to accept people and circumstances for who and what they are, you can escape the frustration of trying to change them. Try to take a nonjudgmental approach to people to open yourself to the potential of clarity and deeper relationships.
When you accept the past and remain receptive to circumstances and people, you can open yourself to the possibilities of learning from all situations and from every individual. When you accept your current reality with a certain degree of detachment, you will find that things come to you with a fraction of the effort otherwise required.
“The power to be Chief is a choice. It doesn’t come from a title-it’s a choice anyone can make.” -Rick Miller
Do you want to tap into your inner creative voice?
Do you want to power your creative thinking?
Power Your Creative Thinking
I love reading about the world’s greatest innovators. Whether it’s an innovative individual or a company, I am fascinated with the stories behind history’s greatest breakthroughs and inventions. Recently, a terrific new book on the subject crossed my desk and captured my attention. After reading it, I had the opportunity to converse with the author. The insights in this book can help any company improve its innovative culture and any individual become more creative.
You share four lenses or perspectives on innovation. The first is challenging orthodoxies. There are many examples of people who stand up and say there is a better way. Perhaps that child with a rebellious streak may have a great future?
Almost by definition, innovators tend to be contrarians and nonconformists. As Steve Jobs put it, they “think different.”
“Almost by definition, innovators tend to be contrarians and nonconformists.” –Rowan Gibson
I just saw the movie “The Imitation Game” about the work of Alan Turing during the Second World War. This guy was obviously a genius, and a pioneer in the field of digital computing. He almost single-handedly built a machine that broke the German Enigma code, which undoubtedly helped the allies win the war. But Turing had no regard for prevailing wisdom, or for military authority, or for anyone else’s way of doing things. He believed only in his own revolutionary ideas.
Copyright Rowan Gibson; Used by Permission
So, yes, maybe that rebellious school child has a great future. Turing’s headmaster told his parents he was wasting his time at school because he wasn’t willing to be educated in classical thinking. Einstein was so rebellious he was actually expelled from school. But it was that rebelliousness toward authority that led him to question Newton’s seemingly unassailable laws of motion. Richard Branson was another rebel at school and eventually dropped out at age 16—going on to create Virgin Records.
If you recall some of the other famous individuals who were featured in Apple’s “Think Different” ads, such as Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Martha Graham, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Pablo Picasso, they were all misfits and rebels. The saw things differently from others. They wanted to challenge and change the status quo.
There are just so many examples of companies that have innovated very successfully by challenging deep-seated orthodoxies: Swatch in the watch industry Dell in the computer industry, Southwest in the airline industry, IKEA in the furniture industry, Enterprise in the car rental business, Zara in the fashion industry, Chipotle in fast food, IT’SUGAR in candy retail, and the list goes on.
A recent example is Beats by Dre. They asked themselves why every other field of consumer electronics—TVs, laptops, smartphones—was being dramatically improved, while people were still listening to music with cheap, low-performance earbuds. What if there was a market for premium headphones, costing hundreds of dollars, that would reproduce music the way artists wanted their songs to be heard? And what if those headphones could be marketed as a fashion statement, not just as an audio accessory? Luke Wood, CEO of Beats by Dre, told the press, “People thought we were crazy. They said the marketplace would never support a $300 headphone.” Well, once again, here’s to the crazy ones. Today, premium headphones are one of the fastest-growing categories in the consumer electronics industry, making up over 40 percent of all headphone sales, and Beats owns over 60 percent of that market. Last year, Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion.
Copyright Rowan Gibson; Used by Permission
2. Harnessing Trends
The second lens or perspective is harnessing trends. How do you spot the trend in time to ride a new wave?
Well, you have to be very sensitive to what is changing in the world. It’s not about having a crystal ball and trying to predict the future. It’s more about having a wide-angled lens that allows you pick up important trends and then exploit them in some way.
Data science can “call presidential races, reveal more about your buying habits than you’d dare tell your mother, and predict just how many years those chili cheese burritos have been shaving off your life.”
John is the Chief Data Scientist for MailChimp.com, the email service powering subscriptions marketing campaigns. MailChimp also powers blogs like this one, allowing you to sign up and receive blog posts in your inbox. John has also worked with a range of organizations from the FBI and Department of Defense to global corporations including Coca-Cola and Intercontinental Hotels. You can follow him on Twitter @John4man.
John, who did you write this book for?
I wrote Data Smart for anyone who wants to learn the cutting edge analytic techniques that businesses like Amazon and Facebook are using to turn their data into revenue.
And when I say “learn,” I don’t mean just “learn about.” In Data Smart, readers use actual techniques, such as artificial intelligence and data mining, to solve real business problems. That way the reader can get a sense of how to apply them to their own work. Think of the book as on-the-job training.
That’s why each chapter works through a data science technique in Excel – spreadsheets are a safe environment that readers feel comfortable working and following along in.
He who would search for pearls must dive below. -John Dryden
I wrote Data Smart for anyone from business intelligence analysts to programmers to quantitative marketers to sports analysts to C suite executives. For anyone who truly wants to learn analytics, this is the most accessible book for gaining a foothold in the discipline.
Misconceptions about Data Science
Give us your definition of data science. What’s the biggest misconception people have about your field?
Data science is the use of transactional business data (think sales data, website traffic, social interactions, ad conversion data, employee performance data, etc.) to make decisions that result in revenue growth for the business.
There are a few big misconceptions about data science. First, the field isn’t just for those who do online advertising (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, or Google). No, a brick and mortar mom-and-pop shop can benefit from artificial intelligence models too. For instance, if you run a hotel, being able to forecast demand in light of your prices and competitors’ prices is invaluable. And that’s true whether you’re a single hotel or Intercontinental.
Second, you don’t need a Ph.D. to do data science. Some of these techniques, like customer segment detection, are analytically tough, but anyone with the motivation and some spreadsheet skills can learn how to do it.