Avoiding Labels

Posted on August 14, 2016


I witnessed a CEO encourage his leadership team to avoid labels. Don’t call HR. Call Carrie. Be a collection of people, not a collection of functional titles.

Labels generalize.

Labels categorize, often problematically.

Names personalize.

Names appreciate history.

Names build relationships.

“Just because two people may live in the same building in the same projects, may have felony charges for the same crimes, doesn’t mean they’re the same person. They may have gotten to the same existences taking two completely different roads.” –Michael Kenneth Williams on Any Given Wednesday


Alignment versus Consensus

Posted on August 5, 2016


There’s a subtle but important difference between consensus and alignment in organizations. Consensus feels safe, but it can take herculean efforts to reach outliers, sway resistors and convince skeptics on the way to agreement. Alignment is more about arrangement and positioning. Sometimes you don’t need people to agree, you need them to align…just enough to move forward.


Facts Tell, Stories Sell

Posted on July 10, 2016


In the documentary KidPoker, Daniel Negreanu describes an emotional intelligence exercise in which he tells the same story two different ways. The first storytelling describes events as if they occurred completely outside of his control. I was a victim. It all just happened to me. The second storytelling describes the same events through the lens of personal choice. Everything was a result of my decisions. I was 100% responsible. What a powerful way to better perceive your circle of control. A narrative starts with what you sell yourself….facts tell, stories sell!


Intentional Discomfort

Posted on June 10, 2016


A newly-promoted executive once told me about reviewing employee satisfaction reports with his leadership team. He was surprised that one organizational level possessed dramatically lower scores than others, and historical trends showed consistently low results. What are we doing about this, he asked a seasoned executive. Nothing, was the reply, they’ll either work hard to get promoted or leave.

There are certain situations designed to filter. Some test physical skill and mental fortitude – like NFL training camp, Navy Seal Hell Week, or that early morning fitness class. Others test conformity – do you fit in, will you adapt, can you be you influenced. Recognize that pain may be completely logical, frustration may be a byproduct, and you can choose whether to play the game.



Posted on May 13, 2016


Cosmetics send a message. Appearances matter. Yes, we should focus on substance. And yes, we can intentionally break some rules. No, I won’t mind if there are a few typos in your instant message. But please please please (as I told a team this week), clean your conference room before the meeting…it smells noticeably.

“The rules of appropriate dress for time, place and occasion allowed people to get on with their work without distractions…” –Linda Przybyszewski in TIME



Posted on April 23, 2016


Of what are you convincing me?

  • It is faster/cheaper/better
  • Others have it
  • It suits me
  • This is how to get it
  • I need help
  • You’ve done this before
  • You can help me
  • Now is a good time

Before the path, the help or the customization, you must move me beyond the do nothing option. No pain, no change.