Move TO your future not AWAY from your past

Photo by Fellowship of the Rich on flickr.

People seem to be motivated by one of two forces.  Either toward or against.

Both can be equally powerful motivators, but one seems to last.

Why are you in motion?

When I interview people for a job, I often ask questions about how the individual made career decisions.  Some job changes were motivated by moving AWAY from something—a bad boss, a negative work environment, low pay.  Other people make a change to move TOWARD something—a new opportunity, the ability to make a bigger impact, a better use of talent.

Though it’s not scientific validation, I’ve found that the people moving TOWARD the new opportunity are more successful, happier, and continue on an upward career path.  These people are energized by the future, by what’s to come, by what’s possible.

Contrast that with the people moving AWAY from a job.  It seems that the very same things that they didn’t like about the one job magically seemed to follow them to the next!

Moving TOWARD is more powerful than moving AWAY.

Leadership Lessons from Over 50 Thought Leaders

People + Books = 1 Changed Life

 

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was one of my great influencers.  He repeatedly said that, “You will be the same person you are today in five years but for two things:  the people you meet and the books you read.” Every year, I am privileged to have the opportunity to read so many incredible books and meet fascinating people from all walks of life.

Last year, I launched this blog with the idea of sharing insights, ideas, and inspiration from many sources. On the one hand, I’m disappointed that I was only able to share a fraction of all of the people who influenced me. On the other, I’m glad that I started doing it because now, as I look back on it, I’m the one who benefited the most. Charlie was right. All of the books I read and all of the people I met did indeed change me.

Here are a few of the people who shared their experience and wisdom. If I can learn a fraction of what they know, I will be better equipped to lead in the coming year.

Before you start the new year, take the time to meet some of these people and take their leadership lessons with you. Instead of “interview in progress” you will find a “great life in progress.”

Leadership, News & Politics

 

Dan Rather (his life in the news)

Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State)

Barbara Simons (on the dangers of new ballot machines)

Senator Bill Bradley (on how we can all do better)

 

Business Leadership, Strategy & Execution

 

John Baldoni (purpose, leadership)

Jill Geisler (Make Work Happy)

Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos on culture)

Cynthia Montgomery (strategist)

Jim Huling (on the 4 disciplines of execution)

Geoffrey Moore (how to cross the chasm and rethink the future)

Faisal Hoque (BTM CEO on the power of convergence)

Chris Grivas (which creative style are you?)

Shep Hyken (7 strategies of amazing customer service)

John Baldoni On Leadership

If you are a student of leadership, you will likely know the name John Baldoni.  His manybooks including Lead With Purpose, Lead Your Boss, How Great Leaders Get Great Results and Lead By Example all line the bookshelves of my office.  If you somehow missed all of his books on leadership, you may have read his work in publications such as Inc.com, Fast Company, Forbes, CBSNews/MoneyWatch, Bloomberg/Businessweek, and Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post.

What I like most about John’s work is that it is practical.  I can put his advice to use immediately.  His latest book is The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation.

John, this pocket guide seems to distill so much of your work in bite-sized tips.  What motivated you to write this pocket guide?

This book is the result of my work with executives I have coached over the past decade or so. As I say in the dedication to the book, my impact on them has been small but their impact on me has been large.

You start the book with self-leadership, then move to working with colleagues and finally an entire organization.  Why is self-leadership always the starting point?

One cannot lead others without leading oneself. So where does that begin? With self-awareness and self-understanding. So often I work with executives who are capable leaders and are giving to others but they end up shorting themselves. This section focuses on things to do to develop your critical thinking, awareness and presence. All are critical to leadership.

Harvard’s Cynthia Montgomery Asks: Are You A Strategist?

Photo by Konstantin Lazorkin on flickr.

Cynthia Montgomery’s new book, The Strategist, will challenge you to rethink your approach to business strategy.  For over twenty years Professor Montgomery has taught at Harvard Business School.  For six of those years she led the strategy track at Harvard Business School’s executive program for owner-managers, personally helping business leaders around the world with strategy formation.  Her experience is that rare blend of the academic with the practical, and her new book offers business leaders the benefit of her extensive experience.

Every year, I read numerous business books and can say that this is one that won’t be relegated to a shelf.  It’s a blueprint, a guide to leading your company with greater success.  Nothing is spared, and you will question not only your company strategy but also your personal leadership of the strategic process.  See if you can answer with clarity the following questions:

Are you a strategist?

Why does your company matter?

Are you the leader your business needs?

Is your strategy filled with generic statements and empty clichés?

Do you know where your company is going and why?

After reading the book, I was personally challenged to rethink strategy.  I recently had the opportunity to ask Cynthia about her work and her vast experience in strategy formulation and leadership.

Dan Rather on Leadership

A Life in the News

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dan Rather on stage in New York.  It was a surreal moment for me.  After all, I grew up watching the network news trio of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings.  I had watched Dan Rather interview world leaders.  Tough interviews.  Now I would be interviewing him about his life, which he has chronicled in Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, a book I couldn’t put down.  And that’s a good thing because I read it several times along with everything else I could about Dan Rather before our interview.  I always prepare, but I definitely stepped it up knowing I was interviewing one of the world’s most prominent news anchors.

Years ago, I had casually met him once before in a hotel in Dallas.  He was covering a story, and I was attending a Board meeting.  I found myself in the elevator with the news legend.  We only spoke a few words and we were both off running in different directions.  I recalled his personal warmth but also could sense his intensity.

Before our on stage interview, we were to meet in the little green room backstage.  I was waiting when I heard his trademark baritone voice through the curtain.  He was very personable, humble and focused on everyone else.  At 80, he is as sharp as ever.  We started talking and I wish I had every minute on tape.  His firsthand account of modern history is riveting.  I asked him if we could sit down and turn on the camera for a few minutes before we jumped on stage.  He agreed.

Dan Rather worked for CBS for 44 years and anchored the CBS Evening News for 24 of those years.  At the same time, he appeared on 48 Hours and 60 Minutes II.  He currently anchors Dan Rather Reports on AXS TV.  Dan Rather has won numerous Emmy Awards for broadcast journalism and the Peabody Award.

In this backstage eleven-minute interview, we talked about the story that had the biggest impact on him, whether work-life balance was possible, how having rheumatic fever as a child shaped him, and finally his views on journalism today.

I started our talk with the discussion on the subject of leadership.  Having personally known so many presidents and world leaders, what would Dan Rather say were the characteristics of a leader?