Leadership Lessons from a Walk Across Spain

Learning from the Camino

 

“The Camino is the ideal training ground for leaders.”

That’s the line on the back liner of the book jacket that pulled me into a surprising story. How to practice leadership with “a pilgrim’s heart, a wayfarer’s grit, and a navigator’s gift for reaching the destination.”

Exactly.

Reading leadership consultant Victor Prince’s book, The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain , was a way to take that journey without actually walking that far. For the hours reading the book, I walked with Victor and took in the lessons and applications for leadership. Victor graciously talked with me about his journey. Before his leadership work, Victor Prince was previously the COO of the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a strategy consultant with Bain & Company.

 

“It’s no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” -Francis of Assisi

 

Make the Leadership Decision

Why did you decide to do the “Camino”?

I do long distance hiking and biking trails as a hobby. I focus on trails that are long and have accommodations along the way and don’t require camping. The Camino meets both those criteria, and I finally got to it when I was able to take a month off during a sabbatical. The Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez film, The Way, also got me interested. I knew the trail had ancient roots, and many people got an epiphany when walking it, but I was more focused on it as just the next trail I would check off my list.

 

Leadership Lesson: tell your team about your goals and the reasons you are pursuing them.

 

You received a passport for your trip with 7 leadership lessons that struck you. As you made the journey, how did these impact you?

At first, I was focused on the main purpose of the pilgrim credential (pilgrim passport), which is to collect the stamps from hostels along the way to prove you walked the route. As a goal-driven over-achiever, I loved the daily sense of accomplishment I got with each nightly stamp. I only noticed the list of the 7 values pilgrims were asked to live by while on the Camino after a few days of walking. They captured the spirit I found in other pilgrims. They were simple things like, “Make others feel welcome,” and, “Think about those who will follow you.” They also struck me as exceptionally thoughtful values to follow even while off of the Camino. As I had alone-time walking, I reflected on how these values would have been helpful for me to live by in my past roles leading teams at work.

Copyright Victor Prince, Used by Permission

Would you share an example of how perspective can change on this journey?

One of the values is, “Welcome each day – its pleasures and challenges.” While walking an average of 15 miles per day for a month, a pilgrim on the Camino experiences many challenges as well as pleasures. I learned to put challenges into perspective. My most challenging day on the Camino came after a 24-mile day that resulted from a mistake in my planning. When I started the next morning, I was tired, sore and grumpy as I stared at a big hill I had to climb. It was a hot July day. I started to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew with this whole walk. ‘What on earth am I doing walking across Spain?’ I asked myself. I slogged on and when I got about halfway up the hill, I saw a marker for a pilgrim who had died on that spot. That put my challenges into perspective. I realized that, while this was my worst day on the trail, this adventure was something I knew would be difficult but that I had chosen to do. That made me realize that a bad day doing something I love is still a good day. When I got to the top of the hill, I snapped this picture which changed my life. I used this picture to headline my blog about the Camino that went viral around the world and led to this book.  The fallen pilgrim named on the marker never made it to see that view, but he inspired me and I dedicated this book to him. The leadership lesson I learned from this is to put bad days at work into perspective.  A bad day at work is better than a good day without a job.

 

7 Values to Live By

  1: Welcome each day, its pleasures and challenges

  2: Make others feel welcome

  3: Share

  4: Live in the moment

  5: Feel the spirit of those who have come before you

  6: Appreciate those who walk with you today

  7: Imagine those who will follow you

 

Lessons from the Camino

10 Challenges that Defined the Company Disrupting the World

Disrupt the World

Chances are you’ve been on it today. More than 1 billion users visit it daily. Most of us start our day and check our personalized news feed, see who is celebrating a birthday, and keep up with our friends and family on the platform. It’s worth over $400 billion and is in the rare air of companies like Google and Apple.

Of course, I’m talking about Facebook (join me here). It’s not only changed the way we consume information, but also how we interact with the world.

In Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World, Mike Hoefflinger takes us from the start of 2009 and its 150 million users to its explosive growth over the next several years.

Mike Hoefflinger is a 25-year veteran of Silicon Valley. After working directly for Andy Grove at Intel and as general manager of the Intel Inside program, Mike moved to Facebook to serve as Head of Global Business Marketing. During his nearly seven years there, the teams he built helped dramatically grow Facebook’s advertising business. He is now an executive-in-residence at XSeed Capital.

I recently spoke with him about all things Facebook.

 

FACT: Facebook generates more traffic to YouTube than any other source including Google.

 

Behind Facebook’s Unprecedented Rise

What are some of the factors behind Facebook’s unprecedented rise to its worldwide phenomenon status?

Any story of Facebook’s rise starts with Mark Zuckerberg. While it would be difficult to acquire his vision and intuition, we can learn from how he goes about moving Facebook forward. With Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and connected in place since its earliest days, Zuckerberg has always preferred doing to talking. Whether it is building and launching thefacebook.com, staying calm during stormy product launches or competitive episodes, making big decisions to grow the business, self-disrupting the company via large acquisitions to protect itself, or betting on futures others dismiss or don’t see (such as VR/AR and connecting the next billion Internet users), dogma and fear never swamp the doing.

 

Fact: Facebook tops 1.25 billion users per day.

 

Would you share some statistics on Facebook’s current reach? How often we access it? How it compares to other media?

It’s difficult to over-state how large Facebook has become. Not only does it serve more than 1.94 billion people a month—about two-thirds of all Internet users in the world—it serves two-thirds of those every day, on average once every waking hour. No wonder it is the single most popular mobile app ever. And while that would be impressive, the company is also home to three of the next five most popular global communications tools: WhatsApp at more than 1.2 billion users a month, Messenger at more than 1.2 billion, and Instagram with more than 700 million. With consumers on the way to making mobile the most important medium ever—it is forecast to eclipse the amount of time we spend per person on television in 2020—Facebook is its pre-eminent force.

 

CEOs Who Transform How We Live

What can we learn from great CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg?

Zuckerberg has become a member of a very small group of CEOs in the last five decades who run consumer technology companies that invent the future for us, create the things we cannot live without, and touch hundreds of millions, and sometimes billions, of lives: Intel’s Andy Grove, Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Alphabet’s Larry Page and Tesla’s Elon Musk. After observing them the last 25 years in Silicon Valley, I’ve detected three things these product-centric founding CEOs have in common:

(1) They pursue an achievable-unachievable mission—something so big it cannot be completed, but one that offers moments of success along the path to bring confidence and momentum to employees, customers and observers.

(2) They are able to see—and willing to pursue—things that are very clever, but appear foolish in most minds initially. This way they avoid the food-fight of ideas everyone else thinks are clever, a road to nowhere of ideas that not only appear foolish but actually are. They usually know something—especially about technology and customers—that no-one else does.

(3) They are running 21st Century Medici Academies that attract the best talent. 500 years before Silicon Valley, the Medici family of Renaissance Florence built facilities, bestowed patronage and hosted discussion forums for the brightest minds of the period, including Michelangelo, DaVinci and Botticelli. The vision, scale and success of these modern-day CEOs make their teams highly attractive for today’s builders with the biggest dreams.

 

The Speed Factor

9 Leadership Lessons and Quotes from Star Wars

 

Leadership Lessons from Star Wars

Forty years ago, on Wednesday, May 25th, 1977:

The Brady Bunch Hour ended.

Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.

And George Lucas released Star Wars.

Star Wars debuted on only 32 screens in the United States, but it would launch careers, become a multi-billion dollar franchise, and change the movie business.

There are many leadership lessons in Star Wars:

  1. There’s strength in diversity. Look different, think different = strength.
  2. The power of simplicity. Discard what’s unneeded.
  3. A team is stronger when individuals are in balance and strong.
  4. Surround yourself with the best people.
  5. Go for your dreams!
  6. Leadership is about duplicating the positive power within.
  7. Look beyond initial appearances.
  8. Focus.
  9. Mastering self is the beginning of the leadership journey.

 

I could go on and on.

Every one of the movies is filled with great quotes full of these life lessons. Here are a few of my favorites.

 

Quotes from Star Wars Films:

 

“The force will be with you always.” –Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

“Never tell me the odds!” –Han Solo

 

“Do or do not. There is no try.” -Yoda

 

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda

 

“Who’s the more foolish: the fool or the fool who follows him?” –Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?” -Yoda

 

“The force, it’s calling to you. Just let it in.” –Maz Kanata

 

“You know what I always say: speak softly and drive a big tank.” –Hondo Ohnaka

 

“If no mistake you have made, yet losing you are…a different game you should play.” -Yoda

 

“In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.” –Obi-Wan Kenobi

7 Leadership Lessons from the Political Arguing

Finding the Positive or Are You Sick of It, too?

I’m not sure about you, but it’s hard for me to take much more of the political fights happening throughout my social media world. It’s obvious that we are in unchartered territory here in the United States because I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

 

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss

 

Even a simple comment by one person can erupt into a full-blown fight. Naturally, logic is often missing from these so-called conversations.

I’ve seen many people un-friending and un-following people who don’t wholeheartedly agree with their “right” position.

On the other hand, I’ve seen true leaders emerging in the midst of it all. What do leaders do when an unexpected blast of political winds threatens to overwhelm?

 

“Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” –Stephen Covey

 

Leaders Emerge

I’ve seen leaders ask more questions to understand and clarify. Instead of proving someone wrong and the rightness of a position, I watched someone modify language and communication. Or, try this: Start with the positive before you believe the worst about someone. And especially gratifying was when two people agreed to actually talk. Yes, talk—you know, when you are actually sitting down, face-to-face and having a real conversation instead of a social media onslaught. What an idea! Finally, I was particularly pleased when someone took my counsel. My advice was to see if you could argue the other side passionately and factually. That required research and time, but I was told it was an incredibly enlightening process. He didn’t change his mind, but he did reach a common understanding with his friend.

 

“Leaders start with the positive, always believing the best first.” -Skip Prichard

 

I’m taking these simple lessons beyond these arguments to use in my everyday life:

  1. Ask more questions
  2. Clarify positions
  3. Assume positive intent
  4. Reduce emotions by hearing the stories behind the raw emotion
  5. Modify language from extreme positioning
  6. Increase face-to-face conversations
  7. Learn to articulate the other side with passion and facts

 

I can’t say that I’m not frustrated with it all. I still cringe when I see someone post a question as bait ready to hook someone into an argument. At least now I’m hoping for a more positive resolution.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.” -Laurence Sterne

 

The constant negative political talk had me pen a little poem about it all.

Here it is:

3 Leadership Lessons from Santa Claus

Leadership Lessons from Saint Nick

All year long he’s preparing for a single night.

Of course, he doesn’t do it alone. His faithful wife is by his side, a full partner in making Christmas a success. And the industrious elves are at work, focused, skilled, determined to meet the imposing deadlines. Oh yes, we can’t forget the reindeer, a critical part of his delivery team.

Christmas Eve is show time. There’s no room for excuses. It’s not possible to delay. Time waits for no man, not even Santa.

Santa’s leadership is fully on display on Christmas Eve.

1. Let go of the baggage weighing you down.

By the end of the night, everything is gone. He doesn’t hold on to anything. Every single bag is delivered, leaving him with an empty sleigh. Because of this, the year ahead offers unlimited opportunity, a fresh slate, a new outlook.

Are you holding on to baggage better left to the past?

 

Lesson from Santa: Let go of baggage weighing you down.

 

Lesson from Santa: Giving to others frees you up for new opportunities.

 

2. Remember the good and forget the bad.

Santa has kept a record. Sure, we know he supposedly sees the good and the bad, but no kid ever reports getting a bag of coal Christmas morning. I think he has an excellent memory for the good things, the kindnesses he sees, and he forgets a lot of the bad stuff. Santa focuses on the positive and uplifting.

Are you willing to overlook faults, forgive wrongs, and remember the best of people?

 

Lesson from Santa: Forget wrongs. Celebrate kindness.

 

Lesson from Santa: Focus on the positive.