Be The Dumb Guy In The Room

Be The Dumb Guy In The Room

I recently spent an evening with a group of MBA students who were practicing their networking skills. Most of them expressed interest in learning about my career journey. When I walked them through my varied history, I got follow-up questions, most of which centred around the advice I would provide as they entered the workforce. One student, though, wanted to know more. He challenged me on having changed industries multiple times and wanted to understand how that experience shaped me. He wanted to know why I said I enjoyed those experiences. After some thought, the only answer I could give him was that I had learned the power of being the "dumb guy in the room". It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. -James Thurber (more…)...
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Leadership and Life Lessons from Gord Downie

Leadership and Life Lessons from Gord Downie

Last night Canada lost one of our favourite sons. With a letter from the Downie family, The Tragically Hip confirmed the passing of Gord Downie after a surprisingly long struggle with glioblastoma, a cancerous brain tumour. As a nation, we celebrated Gord and the band last summer with their final tour culminating in the national broadcast of their final concert in their hometown of Kingston. We gathered together in droves, joined hands, and celebrated as Canadians. Today we reflect on Gord's life. Today we take the time to learn the lessons from Gord Downie. (more…)...
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Problem Design – Look Before You Leap

Problem Design – Look Before You Leap

Probably the most common challenge I have come across throughout my career is the human tendency to jump to solutions. We are naturally inclined to solve problems. But sometimes we jump to solutions before we understand the problem we are solving. Problem Design is the structured approach I use to force understanding of a problem before starting to solve it. You can't solve a problem you don't understand. You need to look before you leap. If you can clearly define the dream or goal, start. -Simon Sinek While Simon refers to dreams and goals in his quote, problems are no different. Building clarity, understanding, and alignment around what you are trying to solve is the first critical step to delivering a working solution. (more…)...
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Learning to Maximize Your Business

Learning to Maximize Your Business

At some point in the growth of a business, every entrepreneur realizes that they need to shift their focus and work "on" their business instead of working "in" it. In fact, it has been written about so many times that many entrepreneurs actually believe that this is the one transition they need to plan for in the growth of their company.In reality, the shift from working in your business to working on the business is only one of the shifts that an entrepreneur will need to adjust to (assuming that the business growth continues and they are successful). After this first shift, the next stage will be to work toward maximizing the business which requires a whole new set of skills and priorities.(more…)...
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Working Smarter Using the Eisenhower Matrix

Working Smarter Using the Eisenhower Matrix

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, serving as president from 1953 to 1961. He faced challenges such as the Korean War, the start of the space race, the Lebanon crisis, and a growing conflict with the Soviet Union. One of his famous quotes was: What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important. It was from that quote that the concept of the Eisenhower Matrix was born, a concept which has been talked about in many famous books including First Things First and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey where it became a foundational component of his time management approach. While the concept isn't new, it is just as relevant today as we plan our work. In fact working smarter using the Eisenhower Matrix is even more important today than ever in history. (more…)...
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Simplify Alignment with Framework Thinking

Simplify Alignment with Framework Thinking

Entrepreneurs get started in business with a great idea and the energy to bring it to reality. Then they grow the business based on hard work. Hopefully that hard work translates into a growing team of exceptional team players around them.But at some point the outcomes of raw desire and entrepreneurial energy start to peak. Then the outputs turn downward as the organization grows and coordination becomes more difficult.What created success as a start-up organization was agility, organic collaboration, and energy-driven execution. Those wins start to falter as the number of clients, the scale of the opportunities, and the complexity of the organization rises. (more…)...
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Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

I was doing my morning reading today and I came across a few posts and thoughts the value of opposing ideas, disagreement, and controversy and it reminded me of the value of curiosity when we are going about our daily lives. Increasingly we see leaders just "speaking louder", believing that by talking louder they will convince more people to agree with their position (as radical as it might be). Friends and family get in comment wars on social media and post ideas that are clearly intended to create tension and disagreement. People are shocked by the fact that other's opinions don't align perfectly with their own.We see more people with a false consensus bias which reduces the quality of our social conversation (and makes it challenging to maintain our own curiosity). False Consensus Bias = People have a tendency to overestimate the extent to which other people think the same way that they do. The solution to the challenge is housed in the...
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Flawless Execution In Innovation

Flawless Execution In Innovation

I've had many bosses who spoke about the need for "flawless execution" in our organization. They spoke of delivering with excellence, achieving plan, and a relentless pursuit of productivity in our work. Then they spoke about how innovative we were going to be. How we were going to try new things, adapt and increase our pace, and become more agile.And when they were done you could look around the room and see confusion and fear."How can I take chances, try new things, adapt and increase pace, and be more agile while I am delivering with excellence, making no mistakes, achieving my plan, and delivering productivity?" was the thought going through everyone's mind... "Aren't those the exact opposite approaches?"...And then nothing changed.(more…)...
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Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

One of my favourite tools, when I'm working on innovation, strategic planning, marketing, or even just preparing for an important meeting where a key decision is needed, is Empathy Mapping. Empathy Mapping is a way to discover new insights into people, customer segments, or personas you have developed for your new product or marketing campaign. Those insights will help you to position your new product around the value it creates. They provide you with a glimpse into a change in behaviours or approach which hinders your ability to push a project forward. New insights will help you identify new differentiating features which give you an advantage in the market.Ultimately Empathy Mapping is about understanding people better by reflecting on them and attempting to put yourself in their shoes.(more…)...
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Addressing Your Leadership Blind Spots (Yes You Have Them)

Addressing Your Leadership Blind Spots (Yes You Have Them)

We would all like to think that we are completely aware as leaders of what is happening around us and completely self-aware of how we are contributing to it but here is a harsh reality:You probably are missing a lot... you have blind spots.No matter how much time we invest in personal development, leadership development, and improving our skills as managers we all have blind spots in our leadership. We aren't seeing some important things that affect the performance of our organization, our people, and our outcomes.Those blind spots may lead you to make poor choices (as they did recently with Wells Fargo and their "incentives"), they may be contributing to a poor office culture which you as the leader don't see, or they may simply be limiting your employee's engagement in their work which leads to poor productivity, outcomes, and likely loss of some of your talented team members.The reality is that every leader has blind spots... you aren't...
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