A quote from Jurassic Park has stuck with me over the years (we won’t count how many): “[You] were so preoccupied with whether [you] could that [you] didn’t stop to think whether [you] should.” Oftentimes I associate it with potential avenues we could venture down in science, and I realized this can relate to companies as well.
The story of Mr. Nobel, the newspaperman, is probably a good depiction here. The story goes that Nobel wanted to increase his newspaper profits. He decided that he couldn’t raise the cost of his paper any more than it already was, or it wouldn’t be profitable. How else do you increase profits if you can’t raise price? Decrease cost. He did this by increasing the cost to the newsies (boys who stood on the street and sold the newspapers). I’m sure the scenario went something like this: “Mr. Nobel, sir, if you want to make more money, we could charge the newsies an extra 1/5 a cent per paper.” You could, but that doesn’t mean you should. The result? A non-union strike.
I frequently find myself drawn to the book of Esther in the Bible. Here was an amazing woman. The book intrigues me on so many levels. Did you know Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn’t mention God by name? But I wanted to focus on Esther’s character. I think there are some communication lessons we can take from her.
I would like to continue with Part II of “Lessons from the Devil.” Miranda Priestly, so aptly played by Meryl Streep, is the epitome of what not to do as a leader. Runway’s success is built on fear tactics and power-hoarding. The writing is on the wall with companies like these. When the domineering leader leaves the company, it enters a sharp decline. An example of this is when Lee Iacocca left Ford. The company went from consistent growth to dismal performance. No one was prepared to fill his shoes.
Lead by gaining buy-in. Miranda Priestly leads through fear. The first scene at Runway shows Emily, Miranda’s assistant, receiving a call that Miranda is arriving at the office earlier than expected. Panic ensues and rightfully so. When Miranda interacts with her employees, it consists of berating them for their ineptitude, doling out orders, and bullying in general. Continue reading
I wanted to share with you some lessons from the devil…the one that wears Prada, that is. For this segment I want to highlight a few things that, as an employee or a part of team, might help you succeed:
Being an expert is not a requirement to be successful. When Andrea joins the Runway team, she knew nothing of fashion, as evidenced by her unflattering blue sweater and frizzed hair. What mattered was character. Andrea had a strong work ethic, critical thinking skills, and the ability to problem solve. This eventually won the favor of the “devil” more than the more experienced, fashion-focused assistant. Continue reading
A disease is spreading in our country, leaving in its wake death. It’s the disease of complacency. It caused the death of spirituality by causing people to accept eroding standards, to allow charitable giving to take a back seat to the American dream, and to believe a spiritual life isn’t as important as the 80-hour work week. It caused the death of marriages as people become complacent in their relationships, assuming erroneously that the hardest part was the wedding. This disease can be blamed for the continuous deterioration of our country by causing people to forget liberties need to be fought for every day. While many want to blame the Democrats or Republicans, the real cause is complacency, which results in the lack of involvement of the American people. This disease causes the death of companies by making leaders think they have reached the top and that it’s okay to enjoy the success. Complacency kills when people believe they no longer have to work to maintain what they have.
There is this secret power in the world. Some people seem to naturally possess it, others have to fake it, and some don’t even know what it means: the power of humor. It is amazing how quickly humor breaks down barriers and makes you seem more approachable. I joined a new team today, and the first thing I did was send them a comic telling them I hoped they could start off the day with a smile. Instant rapport. I’m not saying they trust me with their lives or anything, but I do think it opened the channels of communication.
When we take on goals to improve aspects of our lives, we seem to focus on the big milestones. People who want to improve their marriages focus on the marriage conferences, date nights, and other big events. People wanting to improve their relationships with their kids often spend their efforts on the vacations. When working on leadership, leaders focus on the big events, like recognition parties. Continue reading
My experience working with virtual teams has increased the past year, and I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. When talking to someone I’ve never seen, I always assume we are in the same age bracket. Time after time I’m shocked to hear he’s 47, she’s 52, etc. It made me realize how frequently we look at people’s actions within our perspective and fail to realize they aren’t coming from the same place. Continue reading
I like to call my generation the “microwave” generation. Instantaneous gratification. It’s even more so now. If you’re hungry, you can get food 24 hours a day. Need information? Smart phones allow instant answers. Need a tattoo? You get the point.