Seth Godin in Seattle: Fighting the Resistance

Last Friday, Peter, Alyssa, and I had the opportunity to see Seth Godin here in Seattle at the ACT Theater. We also attended with five of our thinkspace members, Mirko Freguia, Andrew Spottswood, Javier Palamo, Ali Spain, and Matt Heinz.

Seth Godin is the famous author of Linchpin, Permission Marketing, Tribes, Poke in the Box, Purple Cow, and more. I consider Godin to be a total thought leader in the realm of self-motivation and innovation.

During the talk I wrote down pages of notes, insights, and quotes from Godin. One thing that stood out to me the most was,

“When you feel the resistance, do the exact opposite of what it wants you to do. Listen to that voice. When you hear that voice you know you’re on to something.”

Godin talks about the resistance in a few of his books and in his blog posts quite frequently.  The resistance is what Godin refers to as, “The lizard brain, your prehistoric brain stem, the part of your brain that is responsible for revenge, fear, and anger. The lizard brain is eternally vigilant, trying to keep people from noticing you (which is dangerous). The lizard brain hates failure, and thus it hates creativity or the launch of anything that might make a fuss (which can lead to failure)” Source.

I experience the resistance in all realms of my life, and I experience it quite frequently (I’m pretty sure most humans do). I find it fun and liberating to fight the resistance by doing the exact opposite of what it’s telling me to. However, remembering to fight the resistance is part of the reason why the lizard brain usually wins. It’s so important to listen to that resisting voice and dig deeper into what that voice is saying. When you feel the resistance ask yourself, “What am I resisting exactly?” Is it fear of rejection? Fear of hard work? Fear of (fill in the blank)? Whatever it is, learning more about what you naturally resist is useful insight into our self-awareness. I believe that it’s impossible to change something until you become aware of it first. Kind of like, “The first step is admitting you have a problem.”

Thoughts?

 

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Passion Is Not Enough, Success Is Built On Momentum

Passion is the first thing you hear about when you talk with people that are really happy doing what they love. I’ve read books from Gary Vaynerchuk like “Crush It” which focuses on doing what you love and have a passion for. I even wrote a blog post on “Crush It! Living Your Passion or Earning a Living“. I still believe that you need to have that passion, but, it’s no longer just about my passion.

Following Your Passion Alone is Selfish

If you’re a solopreneur or a one person show you can get away with an attitude of I’m just doing my passion. However, I’ve learned that if you have a team of people you’re going to need to make sure that there’s something for each of your team to latch on to — a passion that they can share. For me, it keeps coming back to core values and staying aligned with those set of core values (to which you hire and fire by) then you can have a place where people are passionate about where they work.

Passion Is Not Enough

Every entrepreneur, startup, small business owner, starts out their business with a herculean effort and a mountain of passion. I started that way with thinkspace and was that way with every job that I have ever had. It all centered around passion. Right after you recognize that you have a solid business idea and start to understand that there is a big market opportunity. You’re willing to sleep on your couch in your office and eat take out six days a week. It does require that kind of initial push, but, it’s not something that you can sustain.

Momentum

In order to be successful in business you have to have momentum. To describe momentum, I have to quote Jim Collins.

“Now picture a huge, heavy flywheel. It’s a massive, metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle. It’s about 100 feet in diameter, 10 feet thick, and it weighs about 25 tons. That flywheel is your company. Your job is to get that flywheel to move as fast as possible, because momentum—mass times velocity—is what will generate superior economic results over time.

Right now, the flywheel is at a standstill. To get it moving, you make a tremendous effort. You push with all your might, and finally you get the flywheel to inch forward. After two or three days of sustained effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster. It takes a lot of work, but at last the flywheel makes a second rotation. You keep pushing steadily. It makes three turns, four turns, five, six. With each turn, it moves faster, and then—at some point, you can’t say exactly when—you break through. The momentum of the heavy wheel kicks in your favor. It spins faster and faster, with its own weight propelling it. You aren’t pushing any harder, but the flywheel is accelerating, its momentum building, its speed increasing. This is the Flywheel Effect. It’s what it feels like when you’re inside a company that makes the transition from good to great.”

Without momentum, even the simple tasks can seem insurmountable. But with momentum on your side, the future looks brighter, obstacles appear small, and trouble seems like speed bumps.

Small Wins Pave the Way for Big Wins

While I like crushing 300 yard drives and have an attitude of go big or go home, it’s not the best way to run your business if you have to constantly jack one out of the park in order to be successful. It’s really about the small wins which build confidence and produce visible results. Recently for us, it’s been a series of wins over the last few months which has got me feeling like we’ve got momentum moving in our direction. Things are starting to fall into place. Wins that I didn’t see as being a possibility are now just happening. These recent wins are the result of the team’s hard work over a long period of time. Some wins are over the span of a few years.

How have you been able to create momentum for your business? I would love to hear from you about when you knew you had momentum.

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Good Intentions Gone Wrong

Good intentions don’t necessarily mean anything as they can so often go wrong. Take a look at that picture for example. One would guess that this was made for a baby shower or to celebrate a first birthday – great intention, but it looks as if someone tried to bake an actual baby. Having good intentions at the beginning of a conversation, a meeting or when coming up with a marketing plan is great! But, if you’re relying solely on your intentions and not paying attention to the way other people might think about your words or actions – it could get you in a world of trouble. In the business world, there have been many companies whose conversations, campaigns and tweets began with good intentions but have landed them in some very sticky situations. Here are a three examples of good intentions gone awry.

Example #1: In April of 2006, Paramount Pictures partnered with the Los Angeles Times to promote the soon-to-be-released film Mission Impossible: III. They decided on an out-of-the-box campaign aimed at turning the ordinary task of getting a morning newspaper into an unanticipated and exciting mission for the local residents. This marketing promotion centered on the idea of placing small music players inside 4,500 newspaper boxes, that, when they were opened, would play the catchy Mission Impossible theme song. However, the intentions of the promotion backfired. It turned out that the music players were not well hidden and scared quite a few nervous customers. Many of whom called local police suggesting that the boxes might be rigged with explosives. “This was the least-intended outcome,” John O’Loughlin, who worked for the Time’s, told the newspaper. “We weren’t expecting anything like this.”

Example #2: In July of 2010, a proposal was presented to the United States Congress regarding which food products can and cannot be marketed to kids ages 2 through 17. Under the proposal, marketers could not advertise goods that contain more than 1 g of saturated fat, any trans fat, 13 g of added sugar or 200 mg of sodium. Some breakfast cereals and potato chips would qualify for marketing but not cheese, flavored milks or even some low-fat yogurts. “We’re in a funny place when Cocoa Puffs qualifies and cheese doesn’t,” comments Connie Tipton, president and CEO of International Dairy Foods Association. “This proposal is not based on science.” I agree with Connie and would dare to throw in that the proposal is also not based on any kind of logic. The proposal was, however, based on good intentions – to help kids eat healthier and to keep kids away from calorie and fat-laden foods. However, the way it played out was definitely not good – considering that if this proposal had passed – it would have eliminated most natural cheeses, which contain more than 200 mg of sodium per serving.

Example #3: This last example is another example of guerrilla marketing gone wrong. The whole point of guerrilla marketing is to cause a bit of an stir, but when companies fail to think about others their marketing plans can unravel very quickly. Zynga Game Network, the San Francisco-based gaming company responsible for Mafia Wars was threatened with a lawsuit for a guerrilla marketing campaign that was launched in 2010. Dozens of fake $25,000 bills were glued to the sidewalk in 5 different San Francisco locations to promote their online game. This could have been a good idea, except that the city was forced to clean up the mess the very next morning. Ultimately, it took 45 minutes for a steam cleaner to clear the bills off of each location. That service coupled with the use of the equipment and Administrative time cost the city quite a bit of money and resources in a time when city budgets were already under siege. Needless to say, many taxpayers were very unhappy with the results. The lesson here is that creativity in marketing is great! But, it must be mixed with a good dose of common sense.

It seems like many of the mistakes made with good intentions have to do with common sense. Take some time to consider things from other people’s point of view. Consider your audience and what their experiences have told them. Just be sure to keep in mind what Samuel Johnson once said and you will remember to think twice; “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Alyssa Magnotti: The past, present, and future

I’d like to share with our community that Alyssa Magnotti has been promoted into a new position here at thinkspace. As an entrepreneur, I forget all the time to recognize the wins and take a moment to pause. The win that I’m recognizing today is that I’ve finally got my #2 in place! Alyssa’s new title is COO and is a part of my executive team. It’s exciting for me because I can’t think of anyone that would be a better fit for this position. I’ve been making a lot of changes over the last few years and this year I’m working on filling the gaps by forming a new Board of Advisors (which is another exciting announcement for another day) and nurturing my employees. In a small company, things are moving so rapidly it’s sometimes hard to slow down enough to recognize the wins and celebrate.

The Past and Present

Over the last few years here, Alyssa began her journey as the Community Manager. She later took on the role focusing on Business Development. It’s through these two positions that she has help create a wonderful community inside thinkspace. I’ve really enjoyed working with her and watching her evolve and grow both personally and professionally. Alyssa exemplifies all of our core values and has natural leadership abilities. Alyssa has helped me shape this company to what it is today starting with our most important asset, our people. She’s been directly involved with the hiring and mentoring of every single person on our team. She has also been a part of almost every major decision I’ve made along the way. She’s been my #2 and partner without the formal title until now.

The Future

Tom Peter’s says “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”. I’m doing my best to lead, by getting out of her way so she can be a great leader in her new role. Today, I pause and appreciate what she has already done for me and the company, but, like true entrepreneurs, tomorrow we’re going to be running toward the future. Please take a moment and join me in celebrating Alyssa’s promotion!

‘APP’racadabra: Mobile App Symposium

As an entrepreneur do you have an idea for a mobile app but have always thought I’m not technical enough, it’s too difficult, it’s too expensive, it’s too challenging? Want to talk about your idea and figure out a way to create that application? Do you have an idea but want a working prototype before you show it to investors? If you answered yes to any of these questions then this is the event for you.

Event Description:

The event is open to all entrepreneurs who want to learn how to start building this great mobile app they keep talking about. During the meeting we’ll actually build the complete working prototype of a mobile application. The tool we’ll use, Canappi, requires minimum coding knowledge (if you can write an HTML page, you can use Canappi). Please send your submission (some basic wireframes and graphics like a splashscreen, logo…) to Kristin Eide. We will select an idea and build it during the meeting and teach everyone else how to do the same thing. Here’s where you can RSVP for APPracadabra: Mobile App Symposium which is June 30, 2011 from 6-8pm.

Leading our workshop is Jean-Jacques Dubray, the Founder of Canappi, a Mobile Application Development Platform for iPhone and Android. He has built software solutions for the semi-conductor, defense, financial and telco industries over the past 25 years.

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Does Your Business Need an Evolution or a Revolution?

Many business owners find themselves hitting a wall or a block of some kind at some point along their entrepreneurial journey. In a case such as this, most entrepreneurs agree that a change needs to be made. After all, to repeat the same action over and over again and expect different results is the definition of insanity. Those who miss this point normally end up out of business. But those that realize that a change must be made also need to think about what kind of change should be made.

As far as I see it, there are two types of ideas/changes: evolutionary ones and revolutionary ones. Evolution is defined as “a process of gradual, peaceful, and progressive change.” Revolution is defined as “a sudden, complete or marked change.” (Both words are as defined by Dictionary.Com.) Though the words only differ by one letter, the definitions are quite juxtaposed by the words ‘gradual’ and ‘sudden.’ When you come to a business impasse, you must decide whether it would be better to slowly improve and work on what you currently have or to take an entirely new approach with an immediate change.

The gradual changes of evolution can definitely be a good thing; it allows people time that they need to improve upon an idea and make it better than it was before (perhaps multiple times). This gives those involved the advantage of knowing their product, person or problem and the ability to continue to improve upon what they already know. However, the main inadequacy with evolution is the slow pace. Many modern businesses don’t or won’t have time for multiple improvement cycles – they want the results yesterday. Many companies are more than willing to take the leap towards a revolutionary idea than to wait around patiently for an evolution to come full circle.

The immediate changes that occur because of a revolution can be very beneficial. Most of the best revolutionary (or disruptive) ideas give you an extreme advantage over your competitor. You can move into unknown territory with an entirely new set of ideas or thinking and leave your competition in the dust. But keep in mind that even though revolutions are the fastest ways to move forward, the outcome of that revolution is very dependent on the quality of the idea. Revolutions can be risky – or even outright dangerous. But, great revolutionary ideas do move us forward to better places.

What do your experiences say about this? Are you for evolutions or revolutions?

5 Useful Blackberry Apps

If you’re one of the few remaining Blackberry users out there you probably find yourself feeling a little left behind when reading about the amazingly-innovative Apple and Android apps on the market. I (Kristin) still use a Blackberry for two very specific reasons.  1) I had two Android phones and shattered the screen on 4 devices (I had insurance luckily!). However, I learned that this isn’t necessarily the phone’s problem… more so the fact that I am super clumsy and I need a bullet proof device that can accomodate me. 2) I like having a keyboard with buttons (just a personal preference thing).

Although, I wish I could use instagr.am, Words With Friends, and even our very own thinkspace member’s application, MeMeTales, I have found these 5 Blackberry apps to be extremely useful. Let me know what you think, and if you have any applications that you would add to the list!

1. Who Is It- LED Light Alerts for Contacts

This free app allows you to assign LED light notification colors for different contacts. I have assigned all of my highly frequented contacts with a different color. It’s nice to see who has called, texted, or emailed you without looking at the screen.

2. UberSocial

UberSocial is a full-featured Twitter application. In my opinion, it’s the best Twitter client available for Blackberry.

3. YouMail Visual Voicemail

YouMail allows you to listen to your voicemail messages without dialing into your mailbox. This application sends you an email when you have a voicemail with an attached .wav file. I personally hate calling my voicemail box so this application has made checking my voicemails far less painful.

4. Taxi Magic

I use Taxi Magic for when I need to order a cab. The app gives you the ability to schedule out cab rides in the future. Taxi Magic services Orange Cab, and I have found that the wait time between their mobile app inquiries and phone inquiries are the same.

5. AccuWeather for Blackberry

The AccuWeather app doesn’t do anything spectacular compared to most weather apps. However, it does place a small temperature icon on your home screen. It’s nice to glance at my home screen and see what the temperature is outside.

I still adore my trusty Blackberry Bold phone. It has survived many falls and still manages to call, text, email, tweet, check in, and wake me up in the morning. And for now, that’s all I ask for!

 

 

 

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Meet Featured Thinkspace Member: Mirko Freguia from Copperfin

On June 1st we had our monthly Wine Wednesday event. At the event each month we take the opportunity to showcase one of our thinkspace member companies. This time around we were lucky enough to have one of our newest members, Mirko Freguia from Copperfin speak at the event.

“Copperfin is a client-centric creative communications and brand strategy firm. We help our clients connect with their customers through the development of strong, relevant brands, targeted communications programs, and breakthrough creative. And, we make your encounter with us fun along the way. One of the key elements that separates Copperfin from other creative firms is that we come from a long line of client marketing positions, and have had the “pleasure” of managing a plethora of agencies just like ours. That experience taught us two things: what clients like and what clients don’t like when it comes to working with a creative firm.” -Taken from Copperfin.com

Copperfin has worked with local clients such as AT&T, Safeco Field, and ZooLights.
Mirko was nice enough to let me interview him last week. Take a look at the video below to learn more about Mirko and Copperfin.

Work, Life, Balance is a Pile of Bunk. It’s About Life, Life, Balance

Right around 1986 the hot thing to talk about was “Work, Life, Balance” (WLB). For Baby Boomers and Gen X, the next decade was about how to achieve this euphoric “WLB”. I’m here to say that Work, Life, Balance is a pile of crap. Firstly, the premise of WLB is that work is in opposition to life. For those of us that live our life in reality, work is a fundamental part of life. You can’t have one without the other… it’s like money without labor, loyalty without trust, success without sacrifice. It’s like being at odds with yourself all the time, where your core values and beliefs do not align.

What does Work Life Balance mean for an entrepreneur?

When you’re in the startup and growth stages of a company the entrepreneur is putting everything on the line to start this company. I don’t know any smart startups where they aren’t pouring everything they have into trying to make the company successful. An attitude of “I’ve put in my 40 hours in this week is enough” is never prevalent. When you describe characteristics of an entrepreneur you see words like: driven, ambitious, pioneering, strong-willed, aggressive, competitive, and responsible. You would never hear an entrepreneur say “wow, I worked 10 hours of over-time this week, I’m working too hard”. Dr. Bell, of the Bell Leadership Academy said “Entrepreneurs have a special gift, they are continuous learners and achievers”. I’ll come back to the “continuous learner” part later as this certainly has an impact on whether you can achieve “WLB”. I’m not going to even get into the success versus failure rate for a startup other than to state that with the odds stacked completely against you. The entrepreneur is going to do what ever it takes to survive the first few years in business.

When you get your company past the “valley of death” stage there are a number of things that you can do to allow yourself to reclaim some of time and spend it on things that you care about most — like being able to attend your kids soccer games. You have to hire people that have the same drive and motivation for success. You need to have your #2 in your company that can be there and move the business forward even when you’re not there.

If you’re in the growth stage of the company, you’re going to be pushing hard and forced to learn new things. This is where the continuous learner part comes into play. You’ve got to be able to delegate and hand off parts of your job so that you can put the time into the new areas where you don’t have the expertise yet. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to do all that work and still have to learn the new stuff so that your business can grow. Most entrepreneurs that can’t figure out how to hand things off will ultimately fail and burnout.

Other Ways

“Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life”. I don’t know who coined that phrase but it certainly is stuck in my mind. I don’t think that you have to separate work and life, there seems to be work in life and plenty of life in work. So figure out what it is that you love doing and focus in on that.

I’ve always been impressed with Ali Spain and Kim Johnson, cofounders of the AK Group, as they seem to have built a company that allows them to have a growing company, challenging and rewarding work, and the time to spend with their family. I asked Ali if she felt like she was choosing between spending time with family and earning an income and here’s what she had to say:

Ali Spain, Cofounder of The AK Group, says “Yes, one makes that choice every day. When I was a corporate employee, I personally felt I could not move the dial toward family; and therefore I made the choice to not start my family until after I left the corporation. Today in my consulting business, I’ve found that balance, but it was and continues to be a choice. There are tradeoffs & compromises with any choice. It’s up to every individual to determine what their personal work-life-balance is and which employment situation allows for that balance. For example, some of our AK Group consultants prefer to work full-time throughout the school year and then take the summer off to be with their children – they find their balance of family & work on an annual scale.

I also asked the same question to Jeff Hill, GM of FrogBox Seattle, he says “Sometimes circumstances force you to choose. The key it to be aware, communicate the “why” and take advantage of the opportunities to tip the scale the other directions whenever possible (e.g. take your child on your work-out, pull the all-nighter for work but take a long weekend with the family after the big deadline).  The key to living a happy and balanced lifestyle is understanding your values and living them in miniature.  Every decision you make (small or large) should be a reflection of the person you want to be, the company / culture you are trying to create and the example you are trying to set.

Julie Jumonville, CEO of UpSpring Baby, says “I do not feel that I have to choose between kids versus earning an income and here is an example for you.  My first business I started while pregnant with my first child Grace.  It was an engineering consulting firm called Avery Environmental Services, that provided environmental, health and safety consulting to large companies.  I recognized that if I cut out the middle man (i.e. large consulting firm) and worked directly with the companies I contracted with that I could work half the time and make more of money.  Basically, this enabled me to work smarter not harder and most importantly enjoy all the important parenting moments that every mother wants to experience.”

Can Employees Have Life, Life, Balance?

Absolutely. However, in a early stage startup and depending on your role, probably not. But as the company matures surely you can. If you’re a clock watcher in a startup or in the growth stage you probably won’t make it far. You’ll either get fired or the company that you’re draining is probably not going to survive and you’ll be out of a job. I think the way that a person can get to the euphoric state is to become so damn effective at your job that you don’t have to work overtime. It’s about mastery in what you do. When you’re just learning a job you’ve got two choices 1) put in the time to learn and become an expert; 2) don’t put in the effort and get replaced by someone that can and will.

I like what Dr. Charlton Locke said in his book “Childlike Happiness At Any Age — It Takes Me!” at www.ittakesme.org

How did that guy/gal get work-life balance?  Michelle enjoys life–even at work!  Dave likes his job too.  And he doesn’t work as hard as I do.  Doesn’t put in as many hours.  And gets favorable treatment from management and his coworkers.

In different ways, Michelle and Dave just add value to their co-workers and company.  It makes them enjoyable to be around, and more productive.  Michelle found ways to appreciate the value she adds in various tasks/interactions of her job (sure not all, but plenty of them).  Dave got so good at what he likes doing best, that most of the rest of his job is now done by others.  What if you’re an entrepreneur?  Have you tried to empower your team to do essentially all that you do?  After you got past the trials and tribulations stage, did you see the smiles come to their faces?  Did you look in the mirror and see the relief and smile on your face?!  Now you’re living.  Maybe even thriving.

That work-life balance can be so good, and your job has become such an enjoyable part of your life, that you have attained life-life balance.

The key thing to do as an employee is to be sure to understand what your primary goals are. If you have quarterly or monthly goals then make sure you’re reaching and exceeding them. Get so good at what you do that it doesn’t take as much time to complete it. You’ve all seen those people that don’t have to put in as many hours as others but they are still the “Linchpin’s” or A Players. They are the ones that create so much value when they work. They are the “rain makers”. Become that.

 

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How To Nurture Your Employees (And Other Bits of Wisdom)

When you think about being a leader or a manger, what comes to mind? Are you thinking about a large corner office? Maybe the fact that you are the “boss” and in charge of everyone else at work? Or, do you think about the opportunity that you have to help the people in your company grow as people? I got the chance to read “There’s More to Management Than a Big Desk” by Steven Sisler and the book is full of ways to make sure that you are leading your employees in the way that you should. There were many amazing points in the book, but I am going to touch on just four bits of wisdom on how to successfully lead an employee from their first day of training to nurturing them as a long-time employee.

1.) The Power of Training: Remind yourself that you should not expect an employee to just know what to do. Even if they have done the job before, they will need time to get their feet wet. Most of the time, they are coming from a different company as well, so they will be to be acclimated to your company’s culture. Steve also touches on the idea of investing into your employees. “Great people are crafted. Great people have to be trained to be great. The training period is the place of investment on the part of the organization. Paying someone a salary to learn something new creates a dynamic that is absent in most people’s lives. You are giving them knowledge, training, and financial security.” I know that I was given some time to learn the tricks of the trade in almost all of my jobs and I think that it is definitely something that employers should do.

2.) The Power of Deployment: Steve writes about the idea that employees need to be deployed; Meaning that employees need to have a purpose and a mission within the company. He puts it well when he writes, “Many employees are just wandering around organizations because they have never been sent. Their mission is never quite defined. They show up every day without a mandate, without a mission… Deployment is necessary for involvement. People are not devoted, committed or purposefully employed for the simple reason that no one gives them purpose or helps them define it.” There needs to be direction from leaders on a mission that is bigger than that employee and possibly even bigger than the company itself. People want to invest in companies that are looking for ways to change their market or even change the world.

3.) The Power of Monitoring: Disciplining in the workplace is different that punishment. I could try to explain this one myself, but Steve just says it best. “Managers punish subordinates based upon how the subordinate makes the manager look. In these situations, every move the manager makes in relationship to the employee is actually designed to elevate himself or herself at the employee’s expense. And when employees figure this out, they instinctively start looking out for themselves at other’s expense.” On the contrary, discipline is for the employee’s welfare at the management’s expense. You have to take the time as a manager to discuss the behavior and why it is better for them if they do it another way. You have to explain to them why the behavior is harmful to them as opposed to why it is harmful for you. “True monitoring is done in full trust. It causes an employee to feel important enough to be invested in and watched for performance.”

4.) The Art of Nurturing: “Managing is growing with a person and learning what makes him or her enjoy life and work. It’s creating synergy through proper and healthy interaction.” Steve goes on to write about the idea that managers should spend as much time as needed with new employees until they are fully integrated into the company. He says, “People respond to care and oversight almost everytime. This isn’t forever; it’s until they understand the culture, what’s expected, and that you care.”

I know that I just quoted a lot from the book, but there is really so much to share and I encourage you to read it yourself. If every organization used even just those four principals, I think that people would be much, much happier. It all seems to stem from the idea servant leadership. Leaders need to realize that they are there to serve their subordinates, not the other way around. I know this is always a touchy topic, but I’m going to ask anyway: What do you think?