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The Blog

Silicon Valley Schadenfreude

Has competition in the technology sector given way to something more mean-spirited? Have we moved from the guise of providing value to our stakeholders (be they shareholders, employees, or our buyers) into a philosophy of hyper-competition, or "win at any cost?" Is the sole object now to just win?

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The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: Fear of Focus

Your origin story might be a “Eureka!” moment or you might have been drawn to the idea for years, but you are bringing your innovation to the market. A few early customers come over via word-of-mouth or friends in your network. You have some early funding. It’s hard but you love it.

Then, as the saying goes, “stuff is about to get real.” It becomes harder to win at scale. Pressures to continue to grow mount and your path to revenue becomes murky.

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Thoughts on FastCompany's Waning Love of Silicon Valley Article

If you haven't had a chance to read FastCompany's Why The Public's Love Affair With Silicon Valley Might Be Over, give yourself the 9 minutes required to peruse it.  The article describes the path of misogyny, greed, exclusion, and overall bad behavior that now seem the permeate the sector.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the direction we are heading.

What was once the shiny example of progress and innovation has now been tarnished by scandal and some bad actors.

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The Surprising Rise Of The Human Executive

Over the last 10 years we have seen a dramatic rise in the more human side of our executives. This has not been caused by our leadership suddenly joining support groups, seeking counseling, or - as HBO's comedy Silicon Valley would have you believe - going on a drug fueled vision quest. Our executive class has become more human because the markets and the customers have demanded it.

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10 Leadership Lessons I Wish I Learned In My 20's

All of us would do well with a second bite at the apple, another chance to go back and do it all over again.  Our mistakes, as much as our successes, define us and can help steer us forward today.  With this in mind, here are 10 lessons learned over the last 20 years of doing business that are now part of my thinking.  Or put another way . . .  during the interview question where they ask you "what is your management or leadership philosophy?" Well, here it is. [View the downloadable slideshow here]

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Don’t Tell Me You Don’t Pee In The Shower And Other Oddly Human Things We All Do

We all have our crazy little things we think that are ours alone; the secret passion or goofiness we only let our closest family members see. That secret shame of thinking we are the only ones who do this. There is a great quote “If you are one in a million, statistically there are 7,200 more of you out there in the world.”

We all hide a part of ourselves to the outside world and create these odd little realities for ourselves that no one gets to see. In truth, we all do the same stupid stuff, we are all not that dissimilar, and if you do it, you are guaranteed not alone ....

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Mel Brooks Talks Storytelling, Hollywood Friendships, And . . . Zombies?

Mel Brooks has been taking audiences along for his ride for decades.  The director of memorable comedies like Blazing SaddlesThe Producers, and Young Frankenstein was also the executive producer of films like The Elephant Man.  He is one of only 14 people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, and will be given the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award at a gala tribute on Thursday, June 6, 2013. He is also pretty good at telling great stories, or as he put it "I don't do stuff for the audience, I do stuff for me, and the audience usually comes along with me."

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Good Leaders May Think It; Great Leaders Know It, But Ask It Anyway

There are few guarantees in life. But in over 25 years of experiencing leadership at large established Blue Chip companies, Silicon Valley startups, regional offices around the world, and seeing a few "Is this legal?" enterprises, there have been a score of moderately good leaders and only a few really great ones. 100% - every single time - the good ones don't even think to ask; the great leaders always ask one simple question.

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Does Your Future CEO Come From Marketing?

Traditionally, the CEO has come from just about anyplace but marketing. Companies bent on operational excellence might look to their finance teams or their COO to take the top slot.  Organizations focused on innovation might look to a CTO type.  Those focused on market share fished in their sales pool for their next big tuna.  But rare was the organization that focused on the dynamic relationship between company and customer.  Is it time for a marketing CEO?

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How Smart People Fail The Exit Interview

Eventually, we all find ourselves facing our HR rep - a table between us - while they press pen to paper to ask us their questions for the company exit interview.  The circumstances may vary, from being asked to leave to leaving for greener, better opportunities.   No matter if this is a love-fest or a hate-fest moment, there are several things you need to do and several things you need to avoiddoing with every fiber of your being.  Even the most seasoned, polished of us tend to misstep here and fail to capitalize on a great opportunity. We may dream of a "take this job and shove it" moment, but most of know that is folly.

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'Bad' Leadership Advice Now 'Good': Learn To Fail, Serve, And Just Say No

Efficiency has been replaced by effectiveness.  Organizations have awoken to an era of social business, customer centricity, and new ideas of what constitutes a leader.

I recently stood up in front of my colleagues at SAP and professed my 4 greatest failures . . . and the lessons learned from each, which directly led me to the role I have today  - helping to change how a world-class brand rethinks our approach to the new marketplace. What was folly just a few years ago is now being taught for the next generation of leaders at B-schools around the globe and in practice in some very smart organziations.

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Leadership Is All About Change And Adaptability

Change agent. Entrepreneur. Innovator. Incubator. Good disruptor/friend Chris Heuer calls them "Work Hacks."  Whatever you call them, disruptors the world over have similar traits.  Good ones - the professionals - have learned skills that help their ideas become reality.  Most disruptors often just feel frustrated that their ideas aren't taken seriously.  The worst have a Cassandra Complex and just feel like they can see the future, but are unable to do anything about it.

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Where is Your Brand?

There are so many great components to this question. “Where” can be location or viewed as status. “Your” can be a personal brand, corporate brand, location-based brand (I’m a Californian, straight up!), etc. “Brand” is loaded with all kinds of misunderstood ideas of what it means to be a brand. For anyone who thinks they don’t have a brand or that it doesn’t need building, well … think again.

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