Morphosis of Capitalism into Crony Capitalism– The Crony Capitalism Index: The Choice: Cronyism or Open Markets…

Crony capitalism (as distinguished from ‘open markets’ capitalism) is an economic system in which the marketplace is substantially shaped by ‘cozy’ relationship among government, big business, big labor… Under crony capitalism, government bestows variety of privileges that are simply unattainable in open markets…

According to Neil Irwin; if there’s one thing that populists on left and right of the political spectrum both agree on; its disdain for crony capitalism. It’s a distaste for the cesspool of government influence, in which big-business lobbyists canoodle with lawmakers to get their way. It’s anger at corporate welfare enriching the biggest companies at expense of the little guy…

Crony capitalism is a pejorative term used to refer to corrupt business dealings carried out by government officials in a capitalist economy… It refers to success in business based on crony-clot relationship between businessmen, government officials… The word crony means friend... So, what do politicians, government officials… normally do when they become elected? Yes, they show favoritism, cronyism…

According to Nick Sorrentino; realities of crony capitalism and open markets capitalism, if not opposites, are fundamentally opposed to each other… Crony capitalism in the purest form is the marriage of government and private special interests for the benefits of the few… but, however its defined– crony capitalism is phony capitalism, its perverted capitalism. The rap is that many of the problems people face on day-to-day basis, such as; lack of jobs, rising prices, corruption… is a result of capitalism…

When governments and powerful private interests collude the result is a cocktail of market distortion. Crony capitalism takes many forms including; regulatory capture (regulated interests actually using government power to squelch competition), zoning, licensing, bribes, paybacks, and hundreds of other ways. The one thing all of these ‘tools’ have in common, however, is that they are used by the politically connected few to extract money and power from the unconnected many…

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The crony capitalism index is measurement designed by The Economist publication for indicating how the livelihood of people from certain country (includes 23 countries)… with capitalist economy are affected by crony capitalism… However, the index has many limitations hence it’s not recognized international… The index aims to measure increasing trends in the number of economic ‘rent seekers’ (Note: In economics, rent-seeking is the spending of wealth on political lobbying to increase one’s share of existing wealth without creating wealth…

The idea of rent seeking was developed by Gordon Tullock and the expression rent-seeking was coined by Anne Krueger. The word ‘rent’ does not refer here to payment on lease of property, but stems instead from Adam Smith’s division of incomes into profit, wage, and rent)… The assumption is that because of the favorable political policies set by the government, tycoons are increasing their wealth and interest… As a result, they get a larger part of people’s fruits of labor, instead of generating more wealth for society as whole… The index only counts the wealth of billionaires…

According to The Economist; the index is only a crude guide to the concentration of wealth in opaque industries compared with more competitive ones… Also, the index fails to reflect other important industry segments, such as; military-industrial complex… which diminishes its accuracy… According to Nick Sorrentino; to go completely down the (anti) cronyism path and examine cronyism in all of its aspects, it would inevitable exposes the insidious ties with government…

In the article Our Crony Capitalism Index; Planet Plutocrat by The Economist writes: Inventing a better widget, tastier snack or snazzier computer program is one thing. But many of today’s tycoons are accused of making fortunes by ‘rent-seeking’: grabbing a bigger slice of the pie rather than making the pie bigger. In technical terms, an economic rent is the difference between what people are paid and what they would have to be paid for their labor, capital, land (or any other inputs into production) to remain in their current use. In world of perfect competition, rent would not exist: But, to test the claim that rent seekers are on the rampage, we have created the ‘Crony Capitalist Index’…

The approach was builds on work by Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Aditi Gandhi and Michael Walton of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, and others. We use data from Forbes to calculate total wealth of those of the world’s billionaires who are active mainly in rent-heavy industries and compare that total to the world GDP to get a sense of its scale. We show results for 23 countries, which includes; five largest developed ones, ten largest developing ones for which reliable data are available, and a selection of eight smaller ones where cronyism is thought to be a big problem.

In the survey, higher the ratio the more likely the economy suffers from a severe case of crony capitalism… Included are the industries that are vulnerable to monopoly or that involve licensing or heavy state involvement… These industries are more prone to graft, according to bribery rankings produced by ‘Transparency International’, an anti-corruption watchdog. But boundaries between legality and graft are complex, for example; a billionaire in a rent-heavy industry need not be corrupt or have broken the law… Industries that are close to the government are still essential and can be healthy and transparent, without having cronyism…

It’s interesting to note that billionaires in crony sectors are having a great century so far, for example; in the emerging world wealth doubled relative to the size of the economy, and is equivalent to over 4% GDP compared with 2%, 2000. Developing countries contribute 42% of world output but 65% of crony wealth… However, there are shortcomings, e.g.: (1) not all cronies make their wealth public, e.g., drug lords… (2) some sectors characterized as rent seeking are more open to competition in certain countries and vice versa, and some open industries may be more subject to rent-seeking… (3) only the wealth of billionaires are included, whereas, many cronies may not be billionaires but multimillionaires, but it’s still rent seeking and it’s huge…

The index is only a rough guide to the concentration of wealth in opaque industries compared with more competitive ones… Despite the boom in crony wealth there are grounds for optimism. Some countries are tightening antitrust rules and there are a few hints that cronyism may have peaked…

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In the article The Economist Misses the Point on Crony Capitalism by Peter Schweizer writes: The Economist does a fine job of defining rent-seeking, but their bizarre methodology suffers numerous limitations (three of which The Economist recognized), and misses the broader point of what the oft-used phrase ‘crony capitalism’ even means and why lovers of open markets despise its rise…

At ‘Government Accountability Institute’, they define ‘cronyism’ or ‘crony capitalism’ as the instances when government gives certain entities favorable rules, tax monies… that others don’t enjoy… The reason they investigate and expose cronyism is that when government gives an unfair advantage to a politically connected business or other groups, it ends up undermining true competition, which is the heartbeat of economic freedom…

Put simply, when government picks winners and losers it disrupts open markets, doles out taxpayers’ money in the form of corporate welfare, and sets up incentives for politicians and companies to engage in corruption, kickbacks… Unfortunately, The Economist’s index is not constructed to capture the critical moves cronies make. Indeed, a more complete cronyism index would include metrics such as; the number of government-backed loans a company or individual has received, subsidies or set-asides, and the number of concessions scored by so-called ‘offensive’ lobbying efforts…

Part of the problem lies in fact that The Economist has championed certain government causes and environment activities that are the very things that fuel cronyism and corrode true open market competition… Also, the crony capitalism index isolates business sectors like– casinos, oil and gas, and real estate as crony sectors while ignoring markets, like; high-tech, healthcare, entertainment… However, people should be clear on what crony capitalism is, and what it is not. Sadly, The Economist’s methodology misses many of the key variables that drive cronyism…

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In the article Crony Capitalism by Bruce McQuain writes: Crony capitalism has as much to do with real capitalism as praying mantises have to do with real prayer, quote by Donald J. Boudreaux… In fact crony capitalism has little to do with capitalism at all. It’s simply ‘cronyism’ and once you understand what is being described, it can exist under any system that has a government… That’s the one ingredient that is necessary for it to exist.

Under open markets capitalism, the government’s job is to play referee, that is, enforce legal contracts, prevent and punish fraud… And, that requires regulation to exercise those functions… But when it gets beyond those parameters, it has a number of effects which have little to do with capitalism or an open market. When government gives up its role as referee in favor of a reciprocal relationship with those it regulates, then that’s cronyism… But, how does cronyism develop?

According to ‘public choice theory’ the root causes is regulatory failure; when regulatory agencies begin to identify with the interests of the regulated rather than the public they are charged to protect, e.g.; crony capitalism ensures the special access of protected firms, industries… to capital… businesses that stumble but are doing what is politically favored are bailed out, which leads to moral hazard and more bailouts in the future…

According to Donald Beoudreaux; dispels the myth that crony capitalism is a version of free market capitalism or, in fact, has anything whatsoever to do with it… Capitalism, i.e., open markets capitalism– is infused with laws most of which are self-enforcing… The chief problem with crony capitalism is– it injects significant amounts of lawlessness into the economy, transforming capitalism into something that it’s not, entirely different and dysfunctional. 

Under crony capitalism, government excuses the politically influential from capitalism’s laws. Thus unleashed from the impartial discipline of the invisible hand, the politically influential become criminals… So don’t let the enemies of capitalism get away with calling it crony capitalism. It’s ‘cronyism’, pure and simple, and it exist with any form of government… Increasing regulation isn’t going to change that dynamic or curtail the developed system of cronyism, as we currently know it…

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Capitalism, as an economic system, has its origins in mercantilist thought in Europe during the beginning of the 15th century– decline of feudalism– and beginning of the industrial revolution in 1780… According to Vijay K. Mathur; crony capitalism has acquired some of the traits of 15th century mercantilism, in which the wealthy are now engaged in rent seeking behavior that is making them and politicians rich…

Crony capitalism undermines competition in the market, corrupts the democratic process and leads to concentration of income, wealth in the hands of the few… I hope that voters wake up to the insidious development of crony capitalism and demand changes in tax and spending priorities and laws, and rules and regulations from their elected representatives, in order to prevent rampant rent-seeking behavior and concentration of wealth…

According to Devin Foley; the mechanisms of crony capitalism are numerous, such as; bailouts, stimulus, special loans, too-big-to-fail, political appointments, tax breaks, campaign contributions, ‘sole-source’ procurement, connections, grants, government-union cooperation, exemptions, government sponsored enterprises…

Unlike under open markets capitalism, crony capitalism often make it more profitable for business to spend resources lobbying government for handouts in the form of; grants, loans, tax advantages, protections against competition…

in order to increase profits. In turn, the government’s willingness to hand out special privileges; promotes themselves and the politically well-connected rather than those who seek to earn preferences of investors, consumers based on merit… Thus, crony capitalism creates a system of privatized gains and socialized loss…

Evidence-Based Management– Fact-Based Decision-Making: Forget Folklore, Fads, What You Think is True: Get the Facts…

Evidence-based management is a way of thinking, looking, acting… at the world. The mind-set rests on two disciplines: 1.) a willingness to put aside belief and conventional wisdom– the dangerous half-truths that many embrace– and instead hear and act on the facts; 2.) an unrelenting commitment to gather the facts and information necessary to make more informed, intelligent decisions and to keep pace with new evidence… and use the new facts to update practices…

According to Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton; if doctors practiced medicine the way many companies practice management, then there would be far more sick, dead patients and more doctors would be in jail… managers are seduced by far too many half-truths; ideas that are partly right but also partly wrong and that damages companies over and over again. Yet, managers routinely ignore or reject solid evidence… Evidence-based management (EBM) is a process that explicitly uses current, best available evidence in management decision-making. Its roots are in evidence-based medicine– a movement that applies scientific method to improve medical practice, and the essence is–get the facts about what works… that’s the whole idea behind evidence-based management…

In traditional management we fall back on basic methods, for example; come up with an idea, try it out, test it, measure it, modify it, based on what you learn… And, evidence-based management can help with this process by looking for risks, drawbacks… in what people recommend; which may avoid making decisions just based on untested, strongly held beliefs… rather than the facts. This is all fine and good but it’s simply not reasonable to expect managers in today’s fast-moving, competitive business environment to slog through masses of research data, studies… On the other hand, making decisions based on often unverified, incomplete information is one of the things that makes management an art…

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However, at end of day, managers have to pull together information, recommendations… as best they can and make their own decisions… According to Stephen Gill; my immediate reaction to evidence-based management was; Duh! What have companies been doing for the past hundred years of modern management… managing by the-seat-of-their-pants? I suppose the answer is, ‘Yes’…  

If you ask corporate leaders if they use research to make their decisions; most if not all, would say– of course I do’. Most leaders already believe that they practice evidence-based management, but they tend to look for data that confirms what they already believe to be true and disregard the rest of the data that might say otherwise…

The issue is not that leaders choose to ignore evidence; it’s that they, like most humans, suffer from a ‘confirmation bias’ and a ‘illusion of cause’ (i.e., action causes outcome)… The challenge is to help managers become more aware of bias, and overcome their flawed way of thinking…

In the article Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton write: A bold new way of thinking has taken the medical establishment by storm in past decade; the idea that decisions in medical care should be based on the latest and best knowledge of what actually works... According to Dr. David Sackett, he is the individual most associated with evidence-based medicine; defines it as the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients…

It may sound laughable, after all; What else besides evidence would guide medical decisions? If you believe that then you are woefully naive about how doctors have traditionally plied their trade: Yes, the research is out there– thousands of studies are conducted on medical practices and products every year… but unfortunately, physicians don’t use much of it.

Recent studies show that only about 15% of doctors’ decisions are evidence based… Instead, very often doctors rely on old common practices, for example; obsolete knowledge gained in medical school… long-standing but never proven medical traditions… methods gleaned from experience that they believe in and are most skilled at applying… information from hordes of vendors with products, services to sell…

The same behavior holds true for business managers looking to cure their organizational ills. Indeed, we would argue that business managers are actually much more ignorant than doctors about the most appropriate business cure, prescription… and, they’re less eager to find out. If doctors practiced medicine like many companies practice management, there would be more unnecessarily sick, dead patients… and more doctors in jail or suffering other penalties for malpractice…

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Many experts say, it’s time to start an evidence-based movement in the ranks of business managers. Admittedly, the challenge may be much greater in business than in medicine… Simon and Garfunkel were right when they sang; man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest… It’s hard to remain devoted to the task of building full proof, evidence-based cases for action when it’s clear that good storytelling often carries the day. Indeed, often we reject the notion that only quantitative data should qualify as evidence.

As Einstein put it; not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted… When used correctly; stories, cases studies… are powerful tools for use in building management knowledge, but there are limits beyond which they are ineffective…

According to Gordon MacKenzie; good stories have a place in an evidence-based world, e.g.; in suggesting hypotheses, augmenting other (often quantitative) research, rallying people who are affected by change… As with medicine, management is and will likely always be a craft that can be learned only through practice, experience…

Yet, we believe that managers (like doctors) can practice their craft more effectively if they are routinely guided by logic, facts, evidence… and they must relentlessly seek new insight knowledge, wisdom from both inside and outside their companies, and keep updating their assumptions, knowledge, skills…

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In the article Evidence-Based Management Can Make Business Competitive by Chris Malcolm writes: Evidence-based management is a process in business management that emphasizes planning, problem-solving… based on careful research, analysis… rather than intuition, ideology… Popularized by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, it emerged from research into clinical practice in medicine, and its principles may help businesses approach their operations more rationally, and even improve their competitiveness in the marketplace.

  • Evidence-Based Decision-Making: Encourages business leaders to go beyond their personal experiences, avoid management fads and treat their own ideological beliefs with skepticism… When managers check their beliefs against real-world data, they will be less likely to make costly mistakes based on misleading impressions…
  • Experimentation and Learning from Mistakes: Test assumptions through experimentation, testing… before approving expensive, large-scale projects… Even failures provide reliable evidence on which to base future decisions… Mistakes learned can cut wasted time, resources… and affect a company’s bottom line…
  • Seeking New Information: Seek new knowledge, insight… from both inside and outside the company… Managerial, organizational openness to new ideas can help a company improve its market position. By systematically exploring alternatives to its normal ways of doing business, a company can discover more efficient ways to operate, and even develop entirely new business models…
  • Potential Problems with Evidence-Based Management in Business: The fact is that relatively few business managers practice it… To put EBM principles into practice, managers must wade through mountains of information-evidence, much of it incomplete, misleading or only partly relevant to particular business. In addition, EBM may diminish personal authority of business leaders by elevating facts over intangibles, such as; experience, business savvy…

Evidence-based management is a simple but not new idea… It just means finding the best evidence, facing the facts, acting on facts… rather than doing what everyone else does, or what you have always done, or what you thought was true… According to Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton; leaders must have the courage to act on the best facts they have right now, and the humility to change what they do, as better information is found… Yet surprisingly few leaders actually do it.

Decision-making is the essence of management, which explains why so much attention continues to be focused on how to do it better. In recent years, much is written about evidence-based, or fact-based, decision-making. The core idea is simply that decisions are supported by hard facts, sound analysis… and these decisions are more likely to be better than decisions made on the basis of instinct, folklore, informal anecdotal evidence…

Many organizations are heeding the call and are investing heavily in big data infrastructures, analytic tools… assuming that evidence-based decisions will result in better over all decision-making… However, there is a downside; the primary risk of making decisions by relying exclusively on hard evidence-just the facts is that the algorithms, models… used to transform evidence into a decision can provide an incomplete, misleading representation of reality…

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According to Bret L. Simmons; I am strong advocate of evidence-based management. But, it can be very difficult to implement, for example; when doing research for evidence to support  management  decision-– I often, after reading an article in an important journal or study… have one of three reactions when I think of how I would explain the relevance of the research to practicing managers: 1.) Huh? What the heck did they say? 2.) Ok: I get it, but what am I supposed to do with it? 3.) Is that it? There is really nothing radically new or different with it... Even more challenging– the best researchers-experts often disagree about the meaning of the same evidence…

According to William Kelvin; EBM changes how managers– think, act… It’s a way of seeing things differently, and to manage in ‘reality’ without emotion or bias… EBM uses only hard facts, it discards opinions rejects it as total nonsense… There is no room for dictatorial, opinionated, discriminate thinkers… who often feel they already know all the answers… In many cases, managers pay little or no attention to quality-source of evidence that they rely on to make decisions.

As a result, decisions are mostly based on so-called ‘best practice’, which may include; unreliable, non-relevant sources of information, e.g., experiences, stories, success, failure… Whereas, an evidence-based decision seeks to guide managers in thinking in terms of; clear logic, key facts, unbias data… and validated sources, which all supports the best possible decision-making… According to Richard Feynman; first key principle is not to fool yourself when making decisions when, in fact, you are the easiest person to fool…

Business Knowledge is Inspirational But Useless Without Action– Knowing-Doing Gap: Not Doing in Spite of Knowing…

Knowledge-Action Gap: Companies must develop an attitude of ‘action’; knowing is fine but ‘doing’ is what counts… According to David Star Jordan; wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it… once we have the knowledge base of how to do something, we must do it and know why… Many companies under-perform because they don’t turn knowledge into action… whereas smart, successful companies do…

According to Martha Beck; don’t substitute talk for action… talk, talk, talk… substituting talk for action is perhaps the most common way companies fall into the ‘knowing-doing’ gap. Many businesses spend so much time creating strategies, mission statements… but they don’t actually implement anything… They plan, analyze, discuss, debate… and then count this ‘word-spinning’ activity as ‘action’… In these exercises companies think they are working towards a ‘goal’ when in fact they are just spinning wheels…

Each year, companies spend billions of dollars for education, training, management consultants, seminars, research, books… management acknowledges that from these activities they are more enlightened, wiser… but in most cases, this knowledge is very seldom actually implemented… as a result there is very little tangible impact on the organization…Why does knowledge about what needs to be done– frequently fail to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge?

According to Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton in their classic business book, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action; point out that problem in most organizations is not knowing what to do, but just doing it… Companies need to develop an attitude of action; understanding, planning, deciding are just first step; actually ‘doing’ is what counts… The key to success in business is action, but in many companies, people are rewarded for talk — and the longer, louder, and more confusingly, apparently the better...

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Why Smart Companies Fail to Turn Knowledge into Action: According to Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton’s book, The Knowing-Doing Gap; there are several reasons why companies fail to transform the accumulation of knowledge into actionable results. Knowing ‘what’ to do is simply not enough; when companies find that ‘talk’ substitutes for action, or when memory serves as a substitute for thinking, it’s likely that very little action is taking place…

Other inhibitors to action are found by taking a deep look into company culture, for example: Is fear prevalent? If so, fear may prevent individuals from stepping up, taking the actions that can lead to company growth and development… It’s true that ‘knowing what to do’ and ‘doing what one should do’ are in fact two different things…

One of the most important insights from research is that knowledge that is implemented is much more likely to have been acquired from ‘learning by doing’ rather than ‘learning by reading, listening, even thinking’… Most companies understand the issues, understand what needs to be done to effect performance, but they just don’t do the things they know should be done… 

People are always fascinated by successful companies. Many business books have a large dose of ‘what successful companies do’… and such information certainly can be helpful. But learning by reading, learning by training programs, and learning from university-based degree programs will get you only so far… There is a loose, imperfect relationship between knowing what to do, and ability to act on the knowledge: Competitive advantage comes from being able to do something others can’t do. Anyone can read a book, attend seminar… The trick is in turning the knowledge acquired into business action… Having an action orientation and actually taking appropriate and relevant actions are the basis for company success…

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This means companies must learn by doing, as well, as by reading, thinking… If people learn from their own actions, behavior… then there won’t be much of a knowing-doing gap because you will be ‘knowing’ on the basis of ‘doing’, and implementing that knowledge is substantially easier, more effective…

Acquiring knowledge through practice, performance, and even failure is indispensable for organizations of all sizes and types… Thus, at one level, the answer to the knowing-doing problem is deceptively simple: Embed more of acquiring new knowledge by actually doing the task, and less in formal training programs that are frequently ineffective.

As one comprehensive study for the development of executives, concluded: One learns to be a leader by serving-doing as a leader, but this practice is rarely followed– this reveals the philosophy of– ‘if you do it, then you know it’…

In the article Knowing-Doing Gap by A. V. Vedpuriswar and V. Pattabhi Ram write: The trouble is not lack of knowledge. The trouble is not about ‘not knowing’. The trouble is about ‘not doing’ in spite of knowing… According to Sumantra Ghoshal in his book, A Bias for Action; he explains how executives often found it very difficult to do purposeful action, and they kept postponing important initiatives… Managers often have a fair idea of what to do, when faced with a problem. They have their own rich experience plus insights of their colleagues.

They read lots of books published every year. They seek advice of management consultants armed with the latest tools and listen to gurus who constantly lecture on new concepts. But often, even with all that knowledge, nothing happens: There is little action… This ‘knowing-doing gap’ can be traced to a basic human propensity; the willingness to let talk substitute for actionWhen dealing with a problem, people act as if discussing it and preparing plans for action are the same as actually fixing it… Smart talk, as opposed to action, is prevalent in many companies… You may not like what I say; but the fact is that most B-school graduates remain talkers rather than doers, even after joining an employer…

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The daily life of an executive revolves around meetings, teams, consensus building… So the more a person talks, the more valuable he appears. People who talk confidently and freely are likely to be judged by others as influential and important… It’s hard enough to explain how to put a complex idea into practice when we understand the idea, but it’s impossible when we don’t, many managers don’t know what they are talking about… Whereas, in companies that avoided the ‘knowing-doing gap’, executives focus on a few key priorities that have clear implications for action…

These company leaders preferred plain language, simple concepts: They valued common sense… Plain talk, simple concepts are more likely to lead to action. You can disagree with a simple plan but you can’t claim confusion as your excuse to ignore it, or not do it… The successful companies don’t necessarily have the best strategy, brilliant ideas… but, they are good at implementation… Great companies believe that actual experience is the best teacher… And, they convert the ‘process of doing’ into opportunities for learning…

In the article Rule #18: Knowing Ain’t the Same as Doing by Tracy Betts writes: In the book ‘Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self ‘ by Alan M. Webber, he states: Rule #18: Knowing it Ain’t the Same as Doing’, and he asks the question; if we live in a knowledge economy then what kind of knowledge is most valuable? He goes on to discuss two ways of knowing, for example:

  • The kind of knowing that comes from reading and thinking: The kind of theorizing that experts excel at, or…
  • The kind of knowing that comes from doing: Unlike the first form of knowing, which starts in a person’s head and stays there, this form of knowing starts in the hands and moves up to the head and then back down again in a knowing-doing loop…

I believe that understanding the difference between the two ways of knowing is important to any organization… In my mind the ‘knowing-doing’ loop is key to success… When we are assessing an idea or evaluating a project within a company, simply ‘knowing’ is not enough, one should ask: How have we applied this knowledge before? What happened? How does it affect what we trying to accomplish? If we haven’t applied this knowledge before, who’s going to test it? Both kinds of knowing are important– if we are constantly ‘doing’ and not taking the time to– read, think, theorize… than we risk losing depth, new ideas… However, reading, thinking, theorizing… without ‘doing’ creates nothing but terrific thoughts, ideas… stuck in someone’s head…

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The more ‘action’ you take the more ‘progress’ you make! Knowing it and doing it are two different things! You’ve heard this saying– ‘knowing’ is half the battle… Well, ‘doing’  is the other half… According to jennyb; having the ‘knowledge’ to do well in business is important. Having the ‘courage’ and the ‘ambition’ to ‘execute’ what you ‘know’, and the momentum-commitment to continue– is what many people lack in business… Confucius says; the essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it… Archie Danielson says; intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings…

Just as we learned to talk and walk by taking ‘small steps’, we must learn to grow the business by taking small steps.  But, once we know how to do something we must keep doing it… It does no good just to study how people walk, if we don’t ever stand-up ourselves and put one foot in front of the other to get somewhere… Ralph Waldo Emerson says; without ambition one starts nothing and without work one finishes nothing... dreams are tied to action: When you ‘do’ what you know you should, you will create a change in the business…

There is no knowledge advantage unless a company also has an action advantage… The procrastinators need to understand that action counts more than elaborate plans and concepts… In a world where sounding smart has too often come to take the place of doing something smart, there is a tendency to let planning, meetings, and talk substitute for implementation… People like to say all of the smart stuff, to give the right answer… That’s often because some company cultures makes it dangerous to take action…

According to Oksana Tashakova; there’s a big difference between ‘knowing what to do’ and ‘doing it’… Business books fly off the shelves every year, research studies and training programs are purchased, yet few things really change within companies. Most of this knowledge isn’t really new. Most of this business knowledge is classic. Yet companies fail to implement these practices… What is important is not so much ‘what’ we do– the specific people management techniques and practices; but ‘why’ we do it– this underlying philosophy provides a firm foundation for good practices… So, do it and know why you do it…

Facing Naiveté in Business; Necessary for Success or Reason for Failure: Balancing Extremes of Naiveté and Cynicism…

Naiveté is necessary for success in business, so say some experts; while others say ‘no’, it’s the reason for business failure… In dictionaries, naiveté is defined as a state or quality of being naive; its lack of sophistication, worldliness… it’s synonymous with– deceivability, dupability, gullibility, innocence, weakness… hence, such a mindset will get anyone into big trouble at some point…

According to naivety.org; there are countless disappointments as a result of naiveté… it can be a best friend or a worst enemy… although, we can’t control it but maybe we can understand it… Business is a constant race to produce more… and now more than ever, innovative visions are needed to sustain the future… Naiveté is a bridge to optimism, trust, creative ideas… Never blame a person for suggesting things you find too ambitious, too optimistic or just impossible… as being naive. Blame those, who don’t have courage to be imaginative or explore the impossible…

The traditional business thinking is focused on incremental improvements, which is not only very boring, but also prevents– breakthroughs, creativity ideas… beyond the established paradigms. According to Sonia Simone; naiveté is about rejecting stupid definitions of maturity… It’s about brushing aside rules that no longer make any sense (if they ever did)… Naiveté is about seeing a bigger picture… it’s about being brave enough to ignore the conventional advice that does not apply… Naiveté is not willful ignorance, but it’s about– curiosity, learning… It makes lots of room for experimentation, thoughtful observation… But, it has no patience for being reckless or just jockeying for status… in the name of paper success. 

images41RW3TPZIn the article Too Much Caution Means Not Enough Risk by Henry Doss writes: Naiveté is a powerful state of being, especially for the entrepreneur– nothing is more precious and more at risk than a sense of wonder and sense of possibility, these are enriched by naiveté. The true entrepreneur (or the true intrapreneur, for that matter) is almost always characterized by an inability to see negatives, certain blindness to obstacles, disregard for barriers.  For them, it’s almost as if they are unaware of limitations. And, being blind to obstacles, they will tend to run straight at them,  and often right on through them; while calmer, more practical heads hold back…

Often times this is not so much a function of courage, or intent, but it’s simply naiveté about obstacles, consequences, and for example, often we might say; If only I had known then… A naïve state is what keeps the entrepreneur alive, optimistic, energized and in the game. Without naiveté, there is more caution and less  experimentation; more management, and less leadership.

Probably, there is also less real success. Naiveté is power behind risk, and without it, the entrepreneur is in danger of becoming the jaded manager… That’s because– time, experience, miles… tend to make even the most imaginative and visionary entrepreneur less naïve, and more aware of negative consequences…

When that happens; caution– the Kryptonite in the entrepreneur takes over: That’s the risk-taking, innovative visionary who started a business with little more than a napkin sketch, a notepad and a coffee shop is replaced by the cautious bean-counter, intent on nailing that second round of funding. That near-Quixotic adventurer is replaced by an office-inhabiting financier…

Naiveté is a powerful state, but it must be distinguished from a simple lack of self-awareness or simple ignorance. Naive is not the same as dumb. A naïve visionary is ambitious; an un-self-aware visionary is foolish.  A naïve leader brings others along on a mission; an un-self-aware leader takes lemmings to the cliff. A naïve entrepreneur will prevail; an un-self-aware entrepreneur will just consume resources…

The difference lies in intentionality, because it’s quite possible to intentionally cultivate and enrich naiveté… Naiveté is the lens through which possibility is magnified. It’s a healing balm for failure. It’s a source of energy; cultivated, enriched, treasured, understood… Naiveté powers up a sense of wonder and excitement: With it, the entrepreneur is always engaged, active, growing something; without it, the entrepreneur may be limited, afraid, holding back…

 

In the article Between Naiveté and Cynicism by Douglas E. Welch writes: Too many people, these days, are living at the extreme ends of the cynic/naïve scale… They have lost the ability to dream. Life has become an endless toil of protecting themselves from all the people out there who want to harm them in some way… While I can certainly understand these feelings, especially in people who have suffered greatly, the truth is, such cynicism only breeds a stale life, cut off from new ideas, new opportunities. By denying themselves the ability to dream, these people have doomed themselves to a drab and dreary life with nothing to look forward to, nothing to work towards. In an attempt to protect themselves from pain, they are actually making the problem worse…

Conversely, some people are so naïve as to beggar description. They deeply believe; every piece of advertising copy, every keynote speech, every glitzy business plan and then find themselves in a deep depression when the reality does not match the dream… Your goal should be to find some sense of balance between these extremes. You want to be cynical enough to weed out– bad, immoral or illegal opportunities while still remaining naïve enough to listen openly and honestly to the ideas being presented… You are being naïve enough to listen and dream a little, but cynical enough to do research before jumping into the deep end… Some where between extremes of cynicism and naiveté lies the true path; listen openly but evaluate critically…

In the article Brilliance Of Naiveté by Mike Myatt writes: Perhaps we should all be a bit more naïve… there is a certain brilliance to naiveté that leaders would be well served to embrace. In my work with the Gordian Institute I have found that most challenges exist due to a failure to explore different paths and perspectives. Many leaders display uncanny propensity to protect status quo, thinking rather than challenge it. Failing to exhaust the limitless potential of creative thinking is a sign of weak leadership…

Leaders who possess an open mind, who are driven by an insatiable curiosity, and who are more interested in ‘what’ is right than ‘who’ is right tend to be much better leaders than those leaders who enjoy being the smartest person in the room. I’ve always said, if you’re the smartest person in the room you’ve built the wrong team. The best leaders I know spend their time taking about, thinking about, and learning about what they don’t know.

They are open to new views, differing or even dissenting opinions, learning from anyone regardless of age, title, position… While leadership intelligence doesn’t have to be an oxymoron, it certainly can be. When a person begins to believe their own smoke, they have placed themselves on a very slippery slope. I believe there is truth in the statement; ‘a person can be too smart for their own good’…

It has been my observation that hyper-intelligent people can tend to think themselves into trouble, and out of opportunities with great ease. Whenever I find myself discussing issues of intellect, ego, leadership… it reminds me of a cartoon which reads: Rule #1: The boss is always right. Rule #2: When in doubt refer to Rule #1. When you find yourself justifying, rationalizing a position based solely on intellectual reasoning without regard to culture, practical realities… you may be too smart for your own good…

Just as a lack of belief in ‘gravity’ won’t prevent falling, simply believing a particular opinion or theory to be fact, does not mean it is… Often times the problem with intelligent people lies simply in the fact they have come to enjoy being right, and often fall into the trap of preferring to be right even if it’s based on delusion…

So how do you know when you’ve crossed over to the dark-side and can’t tell difference between fact and fiction? The bottom line is this… the gift of intellect is an asset to be thankful for, but only if put it to good and productive use… It’s not an excuse to be lazy, arrogant, mean-spirited, delusional… Don’t let your intellect stand in the way, but use it to support and develop other people, which will increase your chances for long-term success… Hence when in doubt have a little naiveté, it will serve you well…

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Some people have managed to hang onto what is called ‘beginner’s mind’ (i.e., Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind) in Zen practice, which says; in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities but in the expert’s there are few… By constraining what’s possible, we tend to just repeat the known possibilities, and those happy accidents that we experience from time-to-time are less likely to occur… So how can we stay in touch with this ‘beginner’s luck’ long after we have enough experience to know better and become cynical?

According to Emmanuel Ording; probably the hardest and most effective way is to give ourselves permission to fail, and fail often. If you have permission to fail, you have permission to try, and you learn more from the failures than from the successes. For example; think about all your failures on the way to learning– how to tie shoes as a child. When was the last time you failed that much at anything? And, look at you now; you are an expert at tying shoelaces, or are you?

According to Adrain Reed; being a business analyst creates the permission to call out the ‘elephants in the room’ and ask the deep, dark, naive questions that others avoid… and when done well, those naive questions can yield some extremely interesting outcomes and create useful debates that can help to clarify some very important business issues… There are many questions that could be asked, but here are just a few possible examples of relevant naive business questions; Why are you in business? What is the company’s mission? Who is the customer? Why do they buy from you? How are you different from the competition? How is your market changing? Why do you sell they way you do?…

Along with a lot of hard work many businesses, whether acknowledge it or not, must attribute a lot of their success to a surprising simple factor; naiveté… Great companies are not built on luck.. but perseverance in many areas that they don’t know very much about… simply put– they don’t know what they don’t know. So, sometimes, one of the biggest strengths of a business is just having a good dose of– Naiveté…

Leadership Vs. Management– Distinction is Absurd, Superficial: Shift Emphasis to– Creating, Building, Teaming, Doing…

Leadership Vs. Management; kill the word ‘manager’… kick it, shoot it, just be done with it. One of the oldest running myths in the business world is that leaders and managers are somehow different, but in fact– leaders are managers, and managers are leaders…

According to Ronald E. Riggio; leadership and management are fundamentally different, well sort of… while we may be able to divide tasks into those that require ‘management’ (i.e., decision-making, record keeping…) and the more abstract aspects of ‘leadership’ (i.e., creating vision, inspiring followers…) the truth is that anyone who supervises others needs to be both manager and leader, to be effective...

According to Peter Drucker; the excesses of modern corporations are directly related to bloated concept of leadership… businesses have more than enough leaders; what they really need are more competent managers who can do the hard work of– decision-making, planning, coaching… The typical business leader is like the leader of a marching band– they wave a stick while other people do all the work…

According to Greg Schinkel; have we shifted reasoning too far towards developing leaders instead of developing effective managers? Differentiating management and leadership typically involves labeling managers as perpetuating status quo, while leaders blaze new trails and inspire employees to follow them towards grand vision. In reality, we need solid management and supervisory skills to actually get work done and deliver value to customers and results to the bottom line…

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It was once believed that leaders were ‘born not made’, this has given way to a widespread assumption that leadership is something that can be learned and therefore taught… Since the 1970s an industry has grown up to meet that demand, one that is valued at $50 billion by Forbes. There are nearly 400 accredited business schools in U.S. alone and many more around the world, teaching a curriculum driven by thousands of leadership experts who make a very decent living writing, speaking, teaching the fundamentals of this relatively new topic…

According to Henry Mintzberg; we have an obsession with leadership, by focusing on a single person– leadership becomes part of the syndrome of individuality– that is undermining many organizations… and, by the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else… In business, there is surprisingly little evidence that directly links leaders to performance of many organizations.

According to James Meindl; research found that the actions of many leaders, CEOs, accounted for just 15% of the variation in a company’s performance… According to Krystyn Tully; leadership is important, for sure; but, so is management… If you’re trying to do something important, then the idea of leadership is a distraction: It’s irrelevant… Just put your head down and do the best you can… History can decide if you were a true leader, manager, or whatever… you’ve got more important things to think about…

In the article Leadership vs. Management: Dangerous Distinction? by Bob Sutton writes: Thousands of books are written on leadership and management– and there are several academic journals devoted entirely to the subject… In the process of reviewing much of the literature– I’ve been bumping into an old and popular distinction that has always bugged me, i.e.; ‘leading vs. managing’…

According to Warren Bennis; there is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important: To ‘manage’ means– to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct… Whereas, ‘leading’ is influencing, guiding in a direction, actions, opinions… The distinction is crucial... Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing… Also, as I continue to re-read the leadership literature, it suggest that some leaders see their job as just coming up with big, vague ideas, and then treat the details of implementation as mere management work for other workers to do…

I am all for grand visions, strategies… but, the people (leaders) who seem to have the most success are those that have a deep understanding of the details required to make them work– or if they don’t, they have wisdom to surround themselves with people (managers) who can offset their weaknesses, and who have the courage to argue with them when there is no clear path between their dreams and reality…

I am not rejecting the distinction between leadership and management, but the best leaders do something that might be most properly called– a mixture of leadership and management, or at least lead in a way that constantly takes into account importance of management… Some of the worst senior executives use distinctions between leadership and management as an excuse to avoid learning-knowing details so they can more clearly understand– the risk, rewards… and select the right strategies… According to Bennis; to do the right thing, a leader needs to understand what it takes to do things right…

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In the article Leadership is Overrated by wally writes: The great cry of management literature for the last twenty years has been: We must have more leaders! We must have more leaders! It’s nonsense… Pick up the dictionary and look up ‘leader’…  It will probably be something like this; leader: one who leads. .. Note, that we are talking about a leader as being defined by what they do… The fact is anyone who is responsible for performance of a group is a leader, because people follow the leader’s example; that’s what leaders do, they set the example, the direction… If people follow you, then you’re a leader…

You can lead well or you can lead poorly, but you’re leading and that’s about defining, implementing the group’s– purpose, direction, culture… When you’re making those kinds of decisions, when you’re setting the example which defines culture, or when you’re talking to people about– why and what they do is important… then you’re doing leadership work, and you are a leader… Whereas when you are managing, which involves setting, implement priorities… that isn’t any more or any less noble than leadership work… Both must be done and done well… So, don’t be misled by the jargon and hype; If you are responsible for a– company, group, team… then– you are doing leadership, you are doing management, you are doing supervision…

In the article Underrated Managers, Overrated Leaders by Harvey Schachter writes: In many organizations ‘leadership’ is considered the high-level, which is distinct and far more important than ‘management’… According to Henry Mintzberg; leaders who separate leadership from management are a danger to the organization… Too many leaders are disconnected from what is going on in organizations.

He points to the late Steve Jobs, celebrated as a leader and visionary, who changed the world with his innovations… Mr. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., was hailed as the ultimate leader. And, his lack of people skills has been viewed as evidence he was a terrible manager. His success seems to prove the point that strong leadership trumps management: If you’re a great leader, you can be a crappy manager and still succeed…

But Prof. Mintzberg has a different view: Steve Jobs was truly extraordinary. I am not sure that you would call him a leader, other than perhaps in a tech sense… He was not a natural leader of  people. That happened through his intricate knowledge, management of the product of the organization… Also, according to Prof. Mintzberg; Jack Welch, who has been called the best executive of the past century, but he didn’t leave any legacy other than a better-managed corporation than the one he inherited when he took the helm at G. E.

There are no special products that he developed, no new industries or even segments of industries he created. He was a manager– highly gifted one– and because of that he was very successful... So, why are so many executives (leaders) disconnected with their organization? It’s because they bought into the going notion they would rather be leader than manager, thus they need not know– any of the nuts and bolts… but just provide vision…

In the article Manager as Leader by mike writes: The false dichotomy between leaders and managers stems from the absurd notion that organizations need ‘leaders’ at the top, and staff of ‘managers’ at all other levels below them– it’s a modern form of Plato’s class distinction between ‘kings/philosophers’ (leaders), ‘guardians’ (managers), and ‘workers/ slaves’… It’s early form of Taylorism… According to J. Adair; leadership vs. management is one of those topics that re-appears over and over again. I have fallen victim to many long discussions where both parties were so assured of their correctness they just keep repeating clichés, such as– ‘leaders’ lead people, ‘managers’ manage tasks… there is a difference; but, difference is not all that great because– managers are leaders, just as leaders are managers…

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We must all stop looking, waiting, anticipating… for the emergence of better leaders and, instead, take responsibility for the quality of our own organizations! It’s common practice, no matter at what level people are in the organization (i.e., employee, supervisor, manager, VP…); they all chant the same mantra; if only we had better leadership we would not be in position we are today! Variations on this theme include; When upper management get their act together; I’ll be able to do my job correctly!

Another favorite; It’s got to start from the top! Surely, every organization needs a person who will remind them of– what the organization is trying to achieve, and why it’s important… but, leadership must come from all levels within an organization… and, not just from one person designated as the ‘leader’. According to Colleen Sharen; importance of leadership is vastly over-rated, leaders are not the silver bullet solution for most problems, issues…

According to Henry Mintzberg; emphasis on leadership has led to emphasis on style over substance, and ‘leader’ over ‘follower’… By the excessive promotion of leadership we, in fact, demote everyone else. We create clusters of followers who must be driven to perform, instead of leveraging the natural propensity of people to cooperate, collaborate… in groups…

However, by all indications general public, businesses, academics… are convinced we need leadership… Maybe because we need to believe that someone knows what to do in these crazy, complex, confusing times… Perhaps we need to jettison the platonic ideal of the one perfect leader… According to Mintzberg; suggests that there are few effective managers, and maybe we need to ditch the idea of– leaders, managers, followers... What could be more natural than to see organizations not as mystical hierarchies of authority, but as communities of engagement, where every member is respected and so returns that respect…

We’re told how important it is to be a leader. Every college in U.S. claims to be ‘creating tomorrow’s leaders’… We’re told to ‘develop our leadership skills’ if we want a good job or to get ahead in life… Leaders are important, we’re told… but, too many leaders and not enough followers is a problem.

Nothing gets done if everyone is in charge… Leaders without followers are useless… When Henry Mintzberg was asked; What type of leadership would you recommend for the 21st century? he answered without delay: Less leadership and more people who actually do stuff…

World’s Greatest Salesperson– Best of the Best in the World of Sharks: They– Dream It, Visualize It, Achieve It…

World’s greatest salesperson; Three salespeople were bragging who is the greatest. The first said, that he is so good he sold a color television to a blind man… The second bragged he sold a HI-FI stereo system to a deaf man… The third said he sold a Cuckoo clock to a blonde lady… The other two said, so what? The third salesman added, but along with the Cuckoo clock, I also sold her one hundred pounds of bird seeds!

According to Og Mandino in his book ‘The Greatest Salesman in the World’; rewards of success are great if one succeeds, but rewards are great only because so few succeed– if you are not willing to take risk, don’t expect much return… The world’s greatest leaders, in fact, are the world’s greatest salesperson– to be a great leader you must be a great salesperson… According to John Maxwell; a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way…

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Think of some of the world’s most influential people, ever; Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Charles Darwin, Nelson Mandela, Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Abraham Lincoln… even mythical character Jesus Christ, they all sold their vision and inspired others through their words, actions, salesmanship... According to Trent Leyshan; every day the greatest salespeople sell themselves on: Why they need to get out of bed with spring in their step. Why they won’t let challenges and setbacks consume them. Why their customers will buy from them and not their competitors. Why they will ultimately succeed, no matter what, at what they do… Hence, the ‘sell’ must always start with a meaningful, why? Be mindful, that without a strong why, no one will buy… It was said that we are all created in likeness of God… Well, he is without doubt the world’s greatest salesperson, ever…

In the article Why Dalai Lama is World’s Best Sales Person by Baldwin Beerges writes: Every year, Dalai Lama raises millions of dollars for the Tibetan cause. A gripping story about people who have been without a country since the 1950s… So, what makes the Dalai Lama the greatest sales person in the world? He doesn’t offer product, service… but, he manages to attract millions of dollars every year for what seems to be an impossible cause.

Even though he is the top scholar of one of the world’s most complex philosophies, he clearly worked out way to resonate with most people. He tells powerful and compelling stories that get people emotionally involved. I don’t know about you, but this really makes me think hard about what the essence of selling is really all about… My personal recipe for great selling has three main ingredients: Useful + Genuine + Consumable = Authority… Apply it, as do the greatest salesperson:

  • Useful:  Even though we aren’t all Buddhists, the Dalai Lama still shares tips and ideas that can help us all live happier and more meaningful lives…
  • Genuine: We get emotionally involved by liking him because he is who he is. He lives a simple life and always practices what he preaches. He also has a refined sense of humor that is contagious…
  • Consumable: He shares the ideas that come from a complex philosophy in a context that makes it easy for all of us to understand his message…

In the article One Thing Greatest Salespeople All Have by steve denning writes: Six years ago, a major firm conducted a six-month double-blind study of its sales force. The goal was to determine what behaviors separated the top salespeople from the average ones… Selling with ‘noble purpose’ turns out to be not only more successful, but hugely more profitable… The salespeople who sold with noble purpose, who truly want to make a difference to customers, consistently outsold the salespeople who focused on sales goals, money…

According to Lisa Earle McLeod ; ‘selling’ and ‘noble’ are of course two words that usually don’t occur in the same conversation, let alone the same sentence,but, the world is changing… We know businesses that engage in ‘customer capitalism’– focus on adding value to customers– tend to make more money, provide better workplaces, do more for customers than businesses that just aim to make money…

When businesses see their sole purpose as making a profit, they tend to view the customers as ‘objects’… they are no longer human beings– they are anonymous targets and prospects whose sole purpose is to help the business make money… By contrast, purpose-driven salespeople understand their customers’ environments, goals… better than quota-driven salespeople do… 

Selling with ‘noble purpose’ is not about ignoring profits, but profits are a result, and not the goal… It’s  ‘True North’; it puts customers front and center of every conversation… The question that the world’s greatest salesperson always ask: How will this customer be different as a result of being engaged with your business? This answer should ignite a chain reaction that drives the greatest sales performance– you will change a customer’s life– make it better, make it different… as a result, it sheds a much different perspective on your selling activities…

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In the article Greatest Girl Scout Cookie Salesperson, Ever by Zachary Crockett writes: Every year Girl Scouts sell about 175 million boxes of cookies. In a mere seven weeks, the program nets $700 to 800 million in revenue, making it third largest cookie company in the country. But the Girl Scouts’ sales force differs from that of its competitors; clad in iron-patched uniforms, toting wagons full of ‘Thin Mints’… over 2.3 million girls aged 5-18 take to the streets to peddle cookies…

Over time, some of the youngsters have made national headlines, e.g.; one girl sold 117 boxes in less than an hour… others sold cookies thru online markets, such as– eBay, Craigslist… Most impressively, an 11-year-old from Oklahoma broke the single-season cookie selling record of 18,000 boxes (the average scout sells between 150-200 boxes per season). This accomplishment got us curious: How on earth does a Girl Scout sell 18,000 boxes of cookies? The answer took us back nearly three decades where a teenage, who became ‘Cookie Queen’– re-imagined the way the organization’s crunchy treats were sold. The little huckster was so successful that she sold to two U.S. Presidents and was hired to give speeches to salespeople five times her age…

This is the story of Elizabeth Brinton, the greatest Girl Scout cookie salesperson ever… From 1978 to 1990, Elizabeth Brinton sold 100,000 boxes of Girl scout cookies– a feat that, to this day, has never been replicated. During her peak season, she doled out baked goods to clients like– Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Sandra Day O’Connor… graced pages of Los Angeles Times, Washington Post… and was such a cultural staple that the TV game show ‘Jeopardy’ made her into a question…

In one speech, at a sales convention, she revealed her keys to successful selling, she says: I believe that my success is attributed to the five basic traits of the professional seller– No. 1: set high goals… No 2: sell yourself and your products… No 3: know your product well and believe that your product is the best… No 4: know your territory and customers… No 5: accept the fact that some people will still say, no…

More recently, Brinton’s 30-year ‘single-season record’ of 18,000 boxes was dismantled by Katie Francis, an 11-year old cookie mogul from Oklahoma City. In an eight-week period, the young lady unloaded 21,477 boxes– 384 boxes per day. At $5 per box, she raised $107,385… According to Katie; there are three ingredients to her saletime, commitment, and I ask everybody I see However, she has a long way to go before selling 100,000 boxes but with her new mentor, Elizabeth Brinton, anything is possible….

In the article What Does It Take To Become the Best Salesman, Ever? by Dean Cipriano writes: Take a close look at one of the world’s greatest salesperson, Joe Girard. During Joe’s selling career he sold 13,001 cars, all at retail. And, all of them one car at a time. He had no fleet sales, no multiple sales, and no wholesale sales. He personally sold more cars during his career than most dealerships sell in their lifetime. From 1963 to 1977, Joe sold more cars on a one at a time than anyone else in the world… On best day he sold 18 automobiles. His best month, he recorded 174 sales. His best year… a total of 1425 vehicles.

All in all, he averaged about 6 retail sales/day. An amazing accomplishment! All of Joe’s sales have been certified by ‘The Guinness Book of World Records’… So, how was he able to achieve such astounding heights? The key is being a master of follow-up. You know my motto: Follow Up Until They– Buy, Die, Or Tell You To Go To Hell! I know I sound like a broken record… But this is just more evidence that it works… Joe’s contacts almost considered him a member of the family, and when they thought about buying a ‘new car’ immediately thought of Joe Girard... Wouldn’t you like customers to think about you in the same way? The bottom line; to be greatest salesperson  you must stay in front of the customer…

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What about you? What are you working for? What are your goals? Are they ordinary or extraordinary? Better yet, are they outrageously extraordinary? A great quote from an unknown source; if you don’t have a dream that’s so outrageous that you cannot possibly succeed, unless God Himself puts in a personal appearance– then, you are not alive…

According to Brian Tracy; most successful, ambitious people see themselves as capable of being the– best of the best’, ‘greatest ever’But, most important first step is to make commitment to ‘excellence’; make a commitment to be the ‘best’: Resolve today that you are going to be #1; become the most successful, greatest salesperson in your business, your industry, in the world… Keep learning new skills, abilities– each day, each week, each month– that moves you forward to being the greatest…

Among other experts, Zig Ziglar helped shape modern vocabulary of great selling, in particular, he encourages salespeople to commit to a lifetime of learning, training… and to be extremely shrewd when it comes to– setting and exceeding goals, quotas… to maintain a heightened level of motivation by constantly visualizing success…

Here are a few of his quotes: *Remember that failure is an event not a person… *You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want… *Expect the best: Prepare for the worst: Capitalize on what comes… *Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude… *If you can dream it, you can achieve it…

Barriers to Market Entry– Build a Great Wall, Prepare the Moat, Defend Your Market: Dissuade the Barbarians at the Gates…

A critical component for an effective competitive strategy is a comprehensive plan for– market entry, market position, market defense… sustainable business growth is the cornerstone of a successful enterprise, and it requires constant market defense by building barriers-deterrence to manage competitive entry…

Barriers to entry affects a market by making it less contestable… that is, barriers seek to protect-defend the power of a market ‘incumbent’ and establish a defensible competitive position, in order to dissuade potential market ‘entrants’…

Strategic market entry deterrence are actions taken by an incumbent business seeking to block-discourage potential ‘entrants’ from competing in a market even when it impacts profitability, in the short-run… According to Michael Porter; there are six major deterrence, namely; economies of scale, differentiation, capital requirements, cost considerations, access to distribution channels, government policy… and later he added; demand-side benefits, customer switching costs, expected retaliation… One of the most important strategic elements is the ‘timing’ of market entry… 

According to K. Gurumurthy and R. Gurumurthy; management must be prepared to consider the following business issues: Should a business be first to enter a market? Is it better to wait and learn from experiences of first entrant? What is proper balance between risks and rewards? If you are an incumbent, what can be done to prevent share erosion when a new player enters the market? If you are a later entrant, what strategies should you adopt to make entry successful? Studies show, in most cases, that first market entry provides a significant and sustained market-share advantage over later entrants…

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Also, it’s important to note that barriers-deterrence to market entry change-evolve over time… many of these so-called barriers become ineffective, vulnerable… and do little to dissuade potential entrants… however, the classic competitive strategies, such as; market leadership, consumer loyalty, branding… can deter potential entrants and make entry– very expensive, risky… these strategies that limit entry are some times called; a ‘moat’– capacity of a business to raise ‘moats’ (barriers to entry) will directly impacts a business’ competitive position and sustainability…

According to Robert Smiley; in survey businesses were asked whether they employed techniques to deter market entry: More than half of the respondents thought that entry considerations were at least as important as other strategic marketing and production decisions. Only 13% felt that market entry issues were unimportant… 

In the article Barriers to Entry by IES writes: Barriers to market entry are those aspects of a market that make it more difficult for a new company to enter a market profitably. Typical barriers to entry include– brands, patents, large assets required to achieve economies of scale, regulation, network effects, control of scarce resources… Economic theory states that without any barriers to market entry, incumbent businesses cannot earn sustainable profit beyond their cost of capital, because new entrants are attracted and will compete for profits down to the cost-of-capital. The stronger the barriers, the higher the economic profit potential…

Barriers to entry feature prominently in Michael Porters industry analysis; as a key determinants of industry profitability alongside competitive behavior and supplier-customer balance of power… When a business is crafting a business strategy; it’s important to ask: How will this strategy build barriers to deter competitive entry into our markets? For example, Coca Cola has built a huge barrier to entry through cumulative advertising over a hundred years. According to Warren Buffet; Coca-Cola has a deep ‘moat’ around their business and if you gave me $100 billion and said; Take away the soft-drink leadership of Coca-Cola, globally– I’d give it back to you, and say it can’t be done… 

When you are entering new markets the concept is critical: How to overcome barriers to market entry? In order to identify effective barriers to entry, put yourself in the shoes of a business that wants to enter your market… Then ask: What must I do to enter successfully? When you map out all steps, identify the ones most challenging, e.g.; costs, time, skills, culture… However, barriers can become vulnerable, e.g., a competitor’s ‘disruptive’ business models may completely change the dynamics of a market, bypassing the traditional barriers…

In the article Barriers to Entry, Profit, & Price by friedman writes: A high barrier to entry is one signal for the existence of a monopoly or oligopoly power… Normal profits cover the average cost of a business, whereas the existence of abnormal profits means the business can reinvest profits into R&D, increase the wages of workers, pay-out to shareholders… Also, abnormal profits may indicate existence of monopoly or oligopoly market structure… and, the market is less competitive, which means that the business has the potential to become a price setter…

For example; a barrier to market entry having leverage on prices, profits… can be identified in the automotive market for hatchbacks in Europe: Volkswagen is notable for their immense economies of scale, therefore posing a high barrier to entry for their share of the market… Also, their main rival PSA Peugeot Citroën is also able to create automobiles of a similar standard quality, price…

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Therefore, due to their market power, these companies have developed a high barrier to market entry, and in doing so Volkswagen and PSA have created an oligopoly like structure relationship in the hatchback car market… Now, for example, enter another auto company like, Kia; clearly to enter this market Kia would be in a very difficult competitive position– e.g., high marginal costs, restricted quantity of units, other structural costs… also, Kia lacks the same brand recognition as PSA or Volkswagen…

Barriers to entry are what ultimately causes the formation of monopolies or oligopolies, which then can have a significant impact on prices, profits… in a certain market (i.e., possible increase), and the overall competitive nature of the market… There are various methods of getting around the high barriers to entry, but it would require a firm to either; create disruptive innovation or significant investment to launch and compete in the market, for example; Kia could offer autos with newer technology, better engines, greater fuel efficiency, lower price… in attempt to win market share, but, issues between risk and reward still remain…

Overtime high barriers to entry can be mitigated as greater symmetry in the market develops, and the introduction of new technologies, tools…

In the article Corporate Sardines–How Incumbent Firms Pack Markets by Economist writes: Some firms may be cramming markets in order to keep rivals out… One of the first studies on the way firms compete for shelf space in store outlets was published in 1929 by Harold Hotelling: He showed that many businesses face important trade-offs in deploying assets, for example; locating outlets too near rivals and ferocious competition will impact profit. Or, edge too far away and large chunks of the market are lost… Hotelling’s theory explained why firms in some industries– ‘cluster’ while others ‘scatter’ their store outlets…

When businesses own multiple store outlets, new tactics are possible and new trade-offs arise, for example; if a franchise adds a new outlet it will ‘cannibalize’ the profits of existing ones, pinching its own customers, as well as, rivals’. But there are upsides, deploying more outlets soak up more demand, which preempt the competition… When there are big start-up costs, preemptive can keep rivals out… This helps explain not just a physical proximity of some businesses’ outlets, but also similarity of products, services… sold by a business…

Breakfast cereals are an example: in 1950 America’s six big producers offered around 25 types of cereal; by 1972 it was around 80 types; today it’s well over 100 types… Clearly, the underlying motive is to keep rivals out… In markets where customers value proximity over brand, outlets mushroom; however, when shoppers like more options, differentiated brands proliferate… To keep rivals out, a business must mop-up demand. That means give customers what they want…

In the article Impact of Competitive Entry on Market Expansion and Incumbent Sales by Vijay Mahajan, Subhash Sharma, Robert D. Buzzell write: A central issue, in much of the earlier research on market entry, is about explaining market share–how much is achieved by new ‘entrants’ or retained by ‘incumbents’. By contrast, very little attention is given to issues related to the effect of entry on market size and the growth potential of incumbents.

These issues encompass questions, such as: (1) Under what conditions does entry of a new competitor lead to market expansion, and by how much? (2) Does entry of new competitor affect the sales potential of incumbents and, if so, by how much? It would seem reasonable to expect that the entry of a new competitor into a market might result in expansion of the market, diversion of demand from incumbent competitors, or some combination…

The addition of entrants should expand total market size, since market entry is usually accompanied by increases in product, services… variety, promotional activity, distribution, reductions in prices… These changes usually attract new buyers and that leads to market growth, expansion… In an evolving markets, new entrants create additional demand and therefore, contribute to overall expansion of the market…

Market expansion also creates opportunities for incumbents to appeal to new potential buyers… In addition, when new entrants don’t contribute to market expansion, their main strategy is to appeal to buyers of incumbents, usually in established markets where brands often cannot be significantly differentiated… There, new entrants attempts to divert buyers of  incumbent’s products, services… through heavy promotion, price reductions… However, it may be argued that a most likely scenario in where new entrants contributes to both; market expansion and also diverts the potential buyers of incumbents…

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Understanding markets, anticipating future trends, directions… provides the knowledge base required to react, defend, control… a competitive position… According to Kenneth J. Cook; in markets that are easy to enter, sources of competitive advantage tend to wane quickly, whereas, in markets that are difficult to enter, sources of competitive advantage last longer… The ease of market entry depends on two factors: 1. Reaction of incumbents to new entrants… 2. Type of barriers that prevail in the market…

According to Steven D. Peterson; if the business is entering a new (to you) market, expect to face some barriers as you seek to compete with already-established businesses. At the same time, think about building some barriers of your own in an effort to up-the-ante for competitors seeking to follow you into the market

All businesses strive to develop some competitive advantages, barriers… but, relatively few are successful over the long periods… Innovation is almost always followed by waves of imitation… and relatively few first ‘movers’ are able to maintain their initial market position…

The simple truth is that most large expenditures designed to create competitive advantage, barriers… are unlikely to be successful, over the long-term, unless the advantage can be sustained… Market entry barriers are structural features of markets that enable incumbent companies to enjoy a ‘temporary’ competitive advantage…

Crazy Business Ideas– Great Innovations Live On The Edge of Ridiculousness: To Win Big– It Helps To Be a Little Nutty…

Crazy Business Ideas– Stumped for ideas for your ‘make-it-big’ business? Think Crazy… Crazy ideas in business can be a game plan for game changers… We are living through the age of disruption. You can’t do big things if you’re content with doing things a little better than everyone else, or a little different from how you did them before. In an era of hyper-competition and non-stop dislocation, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something ‘special’.

Today, the most successful organizations don’t just out-compete their rivals– they redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world filled with me-too thinking… According to unknown Texas genius; he put it simply: if all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got…

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Don’t use the long shadow of economic crisis and slow recovery as an excuse to downsize your dreams or stop taking chances. The challenge for leaders in every field is to emerge from turbulent times with closer connections to their customers, with more energy and creativity from their people, and with greater distance between them and their rivals… According to Bill Tayor; not every growth company is based in Silicon Valley or some other Internet hotspot. But the real lesson is more universal than that. The real story reminds all of us of the power of making big bets and staking out an ‘extreme’ position in the market… Company’s thrive because they carve out a truly one-of-a-kind presence in the market

Have you ever thought about an idea for the business, but sidelined it because it sounded crazy? Maybe you should reconsider… According to Sidharth Thakur; walking the proven path by following conventional ideas and systematic procedures aren’t the only ways to build a successful business. The business world is full of examples where businesses have made it big by deviating from the usual and thinking afresh.

There are many people who have come up with crazy business ideas and turned them into very successful business ventures: Who could have thought that a mere search engine (i.e., Google) would rule the world as advertising giant? Or, who would have thought of overnight shipping becoming a multi-million business for FedEx? There are thousands of businesses today that started off with some weird idea… According to Albert Einstein; problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them…

The lesson is simple– it’s not good enough anymore to be ‘pretty good’ at everything… The most successful companies know how to become ‘the most’ in their field– most elegant, most simple, most exclusive, most affordable, most seamless global, most intensely local… For decades, many organizations and their leaders were comfortable with strategies and practices that kept them in the ‘middle of the road’ and that’s what felt– safe, secure…

But today, with much change, much pressure, and many new ways to do just about everything, the ‘middle of the road’ is the road to nowhere… If you want to win big, you must stand for something ‘special’ — whether that’s– the widest selection, or most comprehensive reach, or most focused offerings, or most memorable services… All it requires is commitment to originality, and a willingness to challenge convention, and break from standard operating procedures; unfortunately that remains all-too-rare in business today, precisely because it can look a little ‘nutty’…

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In the article Crazy But True: Simple Ideas Turned Into Big Business by Staff PM writes: Many people patronize– Apple and Samsung– the high-profile, world-famous electronics business companies, but few people are aware that behind these skyrocketing, very highly innovative companies there lies– truly crazy ideas…

Although there’s no clear connection between these companies, one thing is common and that’s purely a business sense: They both transformed themselves from simple beginnings and desperate earning ideas to major international companies… Their crazy and yet witty ideas have left trademarks in history. Think about it:

  • Apple’s first product was an illegal phone box: Steve Jobs with Steve Wozniak started Apple Company in a sort-of illegal tone… According to Markus Ehrenfried, in the history of Apple says: In 1971 Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak designed a device called the ‘Blue Box’. It allowed– of course illegal– phone calls free of charge by faking the signals used by the phone companies. His friend Steve Jobs instantly realized that there must be a huge market for something that useful. Woz built the boxes and Jobs sold them to his fellow students at the University of California, Berkeley… It’s crazy– a transformation from a phone box, Mac Computers to iPhone, iPad
  • Samsung’s first products were fish, fruits, and vegetables: According to Caroline Telford; Samsung started on March 1, 1938 when Byung-Chull Lee, the founding chairman of Samsung initiated a business in Korea with a capital of only 30,000 won. The primary products of what was then Samsung were– dried fish, fruits, vegetables… traded from Beijing, Manchuria… It’s crazy– a transformation from perishable goods to electronic products…

In the article Strange But Successful Business Ideas by Sidharth Thakur writes: You don’t need big money to build a big business! Instead, what you need is a big idea. And the more strange or creative the idea, the more earning potential it seems to have… For example; think of something as weird as ‘microwavable pillows’ or ‘poop-scooping’; can these be viable business options?

Call them crazy, unusual, strange, use whatever adjective pleases you, but the fact remains that these and many other off-the-wall ideas have made some people very rich; just take a look at this short list of some strange business ideas that really took off… (Note: All of these achievers are just average people and most don’t have any business management qualifications… But who cares about– education or qualifications– they are successful businesses anyway)…

So here, just to name a few of the weird and yet successful products: Doggles–Eyewear for Dogs: Dating Website for the Married: Dog Poop-Scooping: Sending Nagging Mails: Selling Antenna Balls: Pet Rocks… Being crazy or acting strange can actually mean a lot of money. The next time some weird business idea crosses your mind, don’t shake it away– just think it over as it may be your jackpot…

In the article Is Your Crazy Business Idea Home Run or Dud? by Jason writes: Needless to say, I come up with a lot of crazy ideas in some strange places: In the car, in the shower, heck, even in my sleep. All of them get written down somewhere and I revisit them at a later date when I’m not mobile, wet, unconscious… After taking a second glance at my list of ideas, about 95% of them are complete and total garbage. The other 5% have small shot at becoming something worth acting on…

How do I know which is the ‘home run’ or ‘dud’? Ask yourself these five questions, and if the answer is yes to all five, well then, roll-up your  sleeves and make it happen!

  • Does the idea solve a problem, satisfy a desire? Necessity is the mother of invention. Ideas that are born out of need come complete with a built-in demand. It’s harder to sell someone, something they don’t need, desire…
  • Is the idea executable? Think through how this idea is going to work. Do you have the resources? Do you have the time, investment… to make it successful? Challenge yourself to ask the hard questions, get specific…
  • Is the idea marketable?  Best ideas are ones that market themselves. They either have the ‘wow’ factor or ‘why didn’t I think that’ or something that’s going to ‘turn heads’… If the idea has that surprising element or share factor built-in, it is much more likely to be successful…
  • Does the idea have a shelf life? Maybe it seems like a good idea today, but is it something that will be a good idea in six months or five years? Think hard about where the market is now and where you think it’s headed. Does the idea still solve a problem down the road or will it still be shareable?
  • Is the value of the idea worth the investment? Crazy ideas can be crazy smart– or a crazy waste of everyone’s time… Ask yourself if the outcome is going to be worth the input? Will the idea bring enough value to the customer, and can I make money?

A little madness can be the best business weapon– launching a new business, creating the improbable, making something out of nothing… these are leaps into unknown… According to Barry J. Moltz; if a person was perfectly sane and followed all the ‘safe’ rules, they probably won’t take such a leap... According to Valerie Young; next time you get a crazy business idea do two things: One, get a notebook and label it ‘crazy business ideas’… In one section, collect examples of crazy idea that have worked. In another, keep a running list of your own crazy money-making ideas… Next, seek out people who will support the idea…

As the great actor Katherine Hepburn once said; life is to be lived, and if you have to support yourself, you bloody well better find some way that’s going to be interesting… Dumb ideas make money, so who knows; what is ridiculous to one person may actually fly with others… But, remember that not all such ideas ‘stick’, since more offbeat something is, less likely you may find a market for it– so some ideas take off, some flounder, some just crash…

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The point is: There is nothing wrong with a few crazy business ideas… According to Joe Wilcox: it’s not about goals, it’s about pushing the boundaries, discovering something… According to Brendan Boyle; big innovation is right on the edge of ridiculous ideas. You need an environment that isn’t quite so judgmental about a ridiculous idea. Sometimes those are the ones that are so close to being the brilliant ones… According to Nathaniel Nead; keep it real– crazy business ideas are crazy… there are limitless numbers of crazy business ideas, everywhere… but remember these words– ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls, just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you know’…

According to Tom Kelley; don’t just tell people about the idea, show them that it’s possible… It’s always been the seemingly improbable, boundary-pushing ideas that have created the world around us– and none of that would have been possible if they listened to all the people who said– it will never work… we’d still be living in caves, if we relied on skeptics… According to David Worrell; crazy ideas move us in the direction of unique solutions… If the problem you’ve identify is real and resonates with the customer, watch out!  That’s a recipe for a very successful new business.

So dig up all those crazy business ideas and imagine what you could do… Maybe they aren’t so crazy after all!

Expose Confessions of CEOs– A Peek into the Corner Office: Lesson Learned From– Failure, Crisis, Fear, Chaos, Uncertainty…

Expose Confessions of CEOs– really; but could it be that executive leaders who appear boldly confident are wracked by personal doubt? Aren’t the men-women who spend their days in the C-Suite immune to human foibles that plague most mere mortals?

According to Jan Hill; I bear witness that the inner world of many organizations’ most senior leaders, and many have confirmed, that these executives doubt themselves more often than you might think…  Here are a few CEO confessions that I’ve heard: *Every day I’m disabled by an overarching irrational fear that I will fail… *I’m just sitting here playing with broken toys. Why doesn’t my executive team get it? Where did I go wrong?… *I feel like I’m an imposter. What if they find me out?… *We all scream in different ways: I just scream softly, but no one hears it…

According tomicah; I confess that the lessons learned from getting punched in the face, as a CEO, is life changing: I am not a CEO today. I know now what a CEO should be, and I am not it. I don’t have the love or understanding of structure to be effective. Instead, what I am really good at is introducing people and finding ways for companies to work collaboratively, which is my current role and I am happy with it… I often think about what I could have accomplished if I had a bit more maturity about the management of the business. While the sale of the company certainly was a success, in terms of being a CEO, I failed…

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As producer of ‘The Motley Fool Radio Show’, Mac Greer heard a number of CEOs fess-up to their failures– business decisions that didn’t ultimately make for great business. Here are a few favorites:

  • According to Jim Keyes, 7-Eleven:We packaged a more convenient pantyhose for ladies and it has helped us to bring more female shoppers into the store, but we were a little bit out-there when we introduced fish-net hose at 7-Eleven Stores. I would say that was one of the dumber decisions…
  • According to Dick Kinzel, Cedar Fair: We put a $4 million building around this dog ride and named it ‘Disaster Transport’. I remember on opening day a gentleman walked out of the ride and came over to me and said; You named that one right– that’s a disaster. And you know what, he was right. That was by far the dumbest thing I ever did…
  • According to Bob Davies, Church & Dwight: In the mid-’70s, we went zooming into the personal deodorant and antiperspirant business with an aerosolized can of baking soda. We had two huge problems. Many of the cans clogged, and those that didn’t clog did worse– they massively stung people’s underarms. We lost around $6 million in that venture and that was back when we were a tiny little company. I almost lost my job…
  • According to Jack Soden, Elvis Enterprises: We licensed a company that made bedroom slippers. They were big, furry slippers and they had a rubber image of Elvis’ head on the toes. It was one of those things that when you saw them in the store, it was like: What were we thinking? We pulled the license and got them off the market as fast as we could…

In the article Confessions of Remarkable CEO by Kevin Song writes: Our experience at coaching, advising CEOs has allowed us to distill key insights into challenges that confront many CEOs. While CEOs encounter countless obstacles, we have found truth in these four confessions, with our added notes:

  • Confession #1: I am frustrated with politics and discord among my leadership team. They do not seem to get along, and we are not achieving the execution we need to grow the organization… When an executive team does not function well together, the organization suffers– sometimes, individual executives may simply not work well together or seem to be working from ‘a different page’. Other times, an individual executive is simply not performing at a level worthy of the organization’s highest leadership team. In any case, an under-performing executive team should alarm the CEO…
  • Confession #2: We lack effective planning sessions that generate real and desirable results — our meeting sessions lack passion, direction, and focus, which are needed in order to produce action and positive outcomes… Does your organization wrestle to gaining advancement in executing strategic goals? Maybe your organization is slow to act on a new plan. One manifestation of this confession is unlikely in your strategic planning process. Or, it might just be the feeling that– we don’t need more knowing, we need more doing; for some reason, you are not performing on the fundamentals you already know well…
  • Confession #3: We cannot seem to get ahead of the competitors– after all research and money we spent; we did not gain much competitive advantage… No one sees this more clearly than CEOs. No matter how good results of the organization happen to be, you see weaknesses, breakdowns in systems and performance. An opportunity exists to tighten process, remove waste… while continuing to optimize business results. There are numerous gaps that, when closed, produce strong financial performance…
  • Confession #4: We tried many ways to improve bottom-line, but they don’t seem to give us the results we need; I know we are not producing the most effective results from our talents and resources… At some point, it’s natural for CEOs to wonder if they have hit personal limits as leaders. They may express feeling of swimming in water that is over their heads. While the feeling is more personal than organizational in nature, it can impact the organization’s ability to produce results as greatly as any of the other challenges…

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In the article Top CEO Challenges by Dominic Barton (McKinsey Partner) with notes by McDwight Frindt writes: As someone who spends much time with many CEOs from the world’s leading companies, I have gain interesting insights, which are very consistent with the overall CEO population. Here they are:

  • Struggle with loneliness: The higher you get, the harder it is to find the right sources to trust… Having access to a peer group and being able to work issues with people who face the same types of challenges you do every day can be amazingly helpful for a top leader…
  • Lack of time: CEOs continue to balance an overflowing plate and prioritizing becomes key… This is something everyone is facing these days from the top office throughout an organization. We have found that the key issues here are in the ‘human dimension’– meaning that things often get slowed down between people through miscommunications, misunderstandings and upsets…
  • Appetite for cross-sector knowledge: CEOs and companies across the globe are looking at what can be learned from industries, companies… other than their own. Cross-pollination at its best. What can marketers learn from HR? What can IT learn from sales? This is another area we find that communication is critical and is not happening at an optimum level. Often groups, teams, and departments become ‘silos’. There is usually a lot that can be learned by an organization and its leaders from within, from its own people. The challenge is opening up the flow for that to happen…
  • Understanding transitions: Leaders transition in and out of positions, jobs, and companies. They are consistently looking for help with these transitions… Transitions are often fraught with emotions and complexities…
  • Battle for talent: The biggest competitive advantage of any company in the future is going to be people. Often CEOs don’t know the scope of talent available to them within their own company. This is a source of frustration for many… It’s amazing how much knowledge and information inside a company does not flow. Again, challenges in the ‘human dimension’ often hinder this flow. Fear, politics and other factors can keep key information like ‘how talented is your talent pool’ from being clear to those at the top…

In the article Confessions of a Natural Born Follower by Kelly McCausey writes: I don’t consider myself a natural-born leader; in fact, I’m exact opposite – I was a natural-born follower… Being a leader was so ‘not’ natural for me. Any time I found myself having to make decisions, I naturally sought guidance from other sources to figure out what I need to do, next... I didn’t trust myself, didn’t trust my experience, and just desperately wanted someone to tell me what I needed to do and where I should be headed, e.g.: What if I led people in wrong direction? What if I made mistake and hurt someone? What if I wasn’t smart enough to handle the job? What if, what if, what if???

You may not believe me, but still today I sometimes have to force myself to ‘be’ the leader. When I was a follower, I saw leaders as– confident, powerful, popular people who seemed to be naturally gifted in the art of– perfect words, actions… What I am finding more and more is that most of the time, even with a plan, experience and even guidance, we (leaders-CEOs) sometimes feel like we are free-falling off of a cliff…

However, what I’ve learned is that perhaps none of us-CEOs are the kind of leaders that I assumed existed; none are perfect and none found success easily. All of us are often scared, even terrified from time-to-time. All of us have faced and overcome our own; What Ifs… Most of all, I got the realization that it doesn’t matter if you aren’t born and bred to be a leader. In fact, most people aren’t… What does matter is how much you are willing to face your fears, and do what you must do…

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All too often, we see CEOs make critical mistakes that can lead to dangerous repercussions for them and their organizations… According to Ken Sundheim; since I started my firm, you could say that my philosophies and practices have changed dramatically. But rather than ‘change’, my business philosophies and skills have a more positive– ‘evolutionary’ trajectory… whereas, ‘change’ is more abrupt  manifestation of motion, improvement… In the end, my ‘confession’ is that as a young CEO, or in any state of business leadership, you can never stop examining yourself, and you can never be afraid to try, and fail…

At a layer barely below the conscious surface, we all know and recognize the key behaviors that separate effective leaders from train wrecks… Rarely do we get such crisp opportunities to observe and learn… and that old cliché about– crises being the true proving grounds for leaders will never become obsolete… According to Andreas Souvaliotis; it all really comes down to the three classic; ‘Cs’ of leadership, when faced with a sudden challenge:

Confront! Leaders are human and the vast majority of humans are actually afraid of confrontation. Our instincts guide us to avoid conflict for as long as possible and yet, when a crisis is headed our way and we’re in charge of any kind of human organization, our best bet is to confront the crisis early…

Communicate! Leaders who rely on ‘spokespeople’ at a time of crisis are abdicators. That’s a catastrophic misstep and, sadly, a very common one…

Care! Don’t just say you ‘do’ — show it; prove it, own the problem… Empathy counts for more than just about anything else at a time of crisis… Failure is in the eye of the beholder and confessions are for wimps… You should not ask; Who am I to do this? but rather; Who am I ‘not ‘to do this? A great CEO is someone who can live in uncertainty, chaos… and say: I know there is a better way