First Order Blog

Redefine, Grow & WIn

Yahoo’s new CEO [from Google] Marissa Mayer, reported higher than expected earnings recently. She commented on the analysis, stating, “I came to Yahoo to grow and redefine the company.”

That is evident from her recent executive hires made since she joined Yahoo 3 short months ago in July. These new hires include a new Chief Operating Officer from Google, a Chief Marketing Officer from American Eagle Outfitters, a Chief Human Resources Officer from Apax Partners, and a Chief Financial Officer from Fortinet.

Managing Structure

There is a trend of short term contractors pulling together for business projects. Is it a lasting impact of the economy downturn? Maybe it is the benefits of working while not having the complementary frustration of working under a management structure.

A management structure does assist in coordinating complex businesses; however, it also slows decision-making, disempowers employees, and encourages politics.

Sherron Watkins

I recently heard Sherron Watkins -- Enron whistle-blower and Time Magazine Person of the Year, 2002 -- speak at an event. Some notes on her perspectives:

  • She was initially reprimanded in 1996 for reporting accounting issues.
  • Optimistic that the truth would win out, she reported her fraud findings to CEO Ken Lay on August 22. By August 24, the legal department had responded to his request regarding the consequences for laying off a whistle blower.

Ducks, Caffeine & Toothpaste

Chaleo Yoovidhya from Thailand recently passed away with $5 Billion in wealth. He lived opposite the image from the product that gave him his wealth -- on a private duck farm, and did not give an interview in the last 30 years of his life.

Chaleo earned a living raising ducks and selling fruit, until he founded a pharmaceutical firm in the 1960's. In 1976, he created an energy syrup, "Krating Daeng," for working-class Thais, which an Austrian toothpaste salesman later discovered in 1982.

Today, this product is known globally as "Red Bull," the highly caffeinated energy drink.

Planned vs. Unplanned

Leaders plan and execute a strategy, scenario plan for alternatives, and mitigate risks. However, one’s subjective expectations often do not align with the objective reality. The effect from this cause is the requirement to respond to crises without sufficient time to think/plan/prepare.

In Machiavelli’s The Prince, he details the unexpected events that must be dealt with….not completely, but to a certain level of control so that one handles the situation versus being overwhelmed by it. This requires principle-based decision making.

White Buildings

Recently, I was delivering a leadership development program to a federal agency, based on the Federal Government’s 5 key competencies: Managing Change, Managing People, Business Acumen, Results Driven, and Building Collaboration.

Some interesting participant quotes from the session:

· “We are thoroughly paralyzed through the election.”
· “We have to react and respond…. We do not have the luxury to prepare or be proactive”
· “Our priorities are shifting continuously by the 2 white buildings [White House & Capital].”

Leadership Brand

I recently heard Bill Whitmore, CEO of AlliedBarton Security Services, speak at a Symposium. With over 50,000 employees serving as security officers at hundreds of customers' companies, his employees are his business instead of a product or service.

He said that the company’s focus must be “inside-out”…that their brand inside will connect to the customers outside. In order to have their employee behavior enhance their company brand, three things are required:

1) Productivity
2) Firm brand – done through training
3) Leadership brand – which is the difference maker

Budgets & Donations

State governments are struggling with serious budget deficits with almost all areas being cut. However, some areas (i.e. education) have louder voices than others (i.e. prisoner integration back into society).

Reflect & Replenish

TGIF. Thank Goodness It's Friday...the end of the work week. Except this week, I was on vacation Monday through Wednesday. As I am writing this, it is currently Friday, and I'm charging ahead with work deliverables.

Giving yourself time to Replenish provides time to "refuel the tank." However, the American "To Do" list hinders our willingness to take this "time off." Yet, that "time off" will make the next "time on" more productive, enjoyable and effective. People Replenish in their own personal ways - reading a book, playing with family, traveling, sleeping, going to a spa, etc.

The Intersection

Where is the intersection between personal passion ("happiness") and organizational need ("hunger")? If you are standing in the middle of it, then your satisfaction with life and career should be the highest. Conversely, if you cannot identify where this intersection is, then it is time to buy a map and reroute.

Locating this intersection provides clarity. This clarity translates itself into a clear and compelling mission...for you as an employee, as well as for you as a person.

Where is your intersection?