Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I was thinking about my experience during my current search for my  next challenge and it dawned on my that this journey has some interesting parallels to Dorothy's experience in The Wizard of Oz. We both were surprised by a tornado that took us into an unfamiliar place, had to get our bearings and find a path that would hopefully lead us to success, met some interesting characters along the way who were helpful on the journey, and faced some unique challenges while travelling the road. Let's start from the beginning... Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. (more…)...
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The Millennial Challenge

The Millennial Challenge

Last week I was at the Niagara Economic Summit where they tackled a number of issues related to employment in the Niagara Region including a power talk on the topic of millennials. The millennial discussion was led by a panel of largely millennial speakers including Chris Sinclair, Julie Rorison, Allie Hughes, Alyssa Lai, Stephanie Harper, and Stephen Murdoch. In the discussion the panelist spoke about the way millennials differ from previous generations in their work styles, their own experiences as employees and employers, and some strategies for other millennials to getting themselves started in the work force. Having recently been doing some work supporting the start-up of a non-profit focused specifically on helping millennials make the leap from student to productive professional I've been doing some research on the topic myself and I found the discussion at the Summit very interesting. It is one thing to read survey data from big corporations and newspapers and to talk to professionals about their...
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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

I was speaking with someone recently who had recently been downsized from a company that they had been with for over 15 years. Over that 15 years they had moved up the corporate ladder and were regarded as a rising star in the organization early in their career. Over the past couple of years however their political "stock" had started to fall as the organization had shifted their focus and direction slightly and there had been some turnover in the senior management team. Ultimately this individual had been part of a broad set of job reductions that the company had taken to improve productivity. They were lamenting the fact that they had given 15 years of their life and hard work to an organization that didn't appreciate that legacy and they were feeling very "hard done by" by the whole situation. Having recently gone through a similar experience myself it gave me a great opportunity to reflect on what was different...
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The Art of Thinking Independently Together

The Art of Thinking Independently Together

The word "diversity" is thrown around in corporate circles on a regular basis, but like many such common corporate words (like "innovation", "synergy", "culture", or "strategy") the word itself doesn't carry a common meaning and so it loses a great deal of its power. Sometimes people mean diversity in terms of race, heritage, or origin. Sometimes it means diversity in terms of gender. Rarely does it meet the standard of diversity that I think it needs to. The most important fact about American liberty is that it has never been a single idea, but a set of different and even contrary traditions in creative tension with one another. This diversity of libertarian ideas has created a culture of freedom which is more open and expansive than any unitary tradition alone could possibly be. David Hackett Fischer While the quote above is focused on an American concept the foundation of the quote is universal. Diversity is a broad concept that requires leaders to...
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Leading to Outcomes

Leading to Outcomes

One of the more successful strategies I have seen managers take in their organizations has been shifting their focus from managing the process to managing for outcomes. In the age of employee empowerment one of the best ways to allow your team to feel like they have a say in the work is to allow them some flexibility in the process and approach provided that they are able to deliver the desired outcomes and meet the organizational targets. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt I would suggest that the act of simply managing for outcomes isn't enough in the current corporate environment. Setting goals and offering some flexibility in the process and approach is more effective than micro-managing every step of the work and is an improvement over older management science but if you retain the...
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Don’t Be Afraid Ask

Don’t Be Afraid Ask

Over the past couple of months as I have been looking for my next career challenge I have been lucky enough to enjoy a lot of amazing conversations, meet a lot of really interesting people, and learn a lot from both the people I am meeting as well as my own experiences going through this. One of the most important lessons I am drawing on though I learned through my last big career search: Don't Be Afraid To Ask I love meeting new people and I love great conversation, but ultimately neither of those things on their own are going to find me the right next opportunity. If I don't actually use those introductions and conversations to let people know what I'm looking for and how they can help then it is a wasted opportunity in the end. (more…)...
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Last Refrain – Humanity’s Poet

Last Refrain – Humanity’s Poet

Saturday night Canada shared a moment that will be burned into our collective history for years to come. We came together as a country to celebrate the life, talent, and most of all humanity of Gord Downie as the poet of our generation. September seventeen For a girl I know it's Mother's Day Her son has gone alee And that's where he will stay Wind on the weathervane Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain For a boy in Fiddler's Green The lyrics from Fiddler's Green mourning the loss of a child feel fitting after a night where Canada was able to celebrate and mourn with someone who has done so much in his life to help paint our own identity as a nation. The Canadian humanity with which Gord Downie shared his lyrics instantly connected him to the whole nation, and simultaneously brought us all together in a way that no politician, no athlete, and no artist had done before. (more…)...
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Emotion Leads to Action

Emotion Leads to Action

I joined a group of Niagara professionals at IdeaShare yesterday for breakfast and met some very inspiring entrepreneurs who had some great stories to share. The IdeaShare concept is essentially a Mastermind group (think Napoleon Hill - Think and Grow Rich) where a group of business leaders and entrepreneurs get together to discuss issues that are relevant to their business and the rest of the members provide advice and/or thoughts that might help them work through their challenge. At the end of the meeting Dennis O'Neill shared something he was told by a mentor previously in his life which was resonating with him - and it definitely resonated with me: Logic leads to conclusion; emotion leads to action. (more…)...
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Change = Weakness?

Change = Weakness?

Last week I was in the car driving and listening to the Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan and while discussing the pitching situation with the Toronto Blue Jays coming out of the trade deadline he said something that really stuck out to me. He had recently changed his position and opinion on whether pitcher Aaron Sanchez should move to the bullpen or stay in the starting line-up and he was catching a lot of listener ire for that change in position. The thing that really caught my ear was the fact that the listener issues were largely with the fact that he had changed his mind, not with whether the listeners agreed with his position (new or old). People simply didn't like the fact that he had CHANGED his position. Somewhat flipantly Jeff said something that I think is a pretty profound statement on our society and one of the reasons that creativity and innovation is so hard in our organizations: Changing your...
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