The Culture of Gotchya

The political season always reminds me of our obsession with catching people in infractions that can minimize their standing in the eyes of the voters. The problem with the gotchya mentality is that it usually backfires. It backfires because we're all human, we've all blown it and we all have issues in our lives that would minimize our standing in the eyes of those around us.

Barack Obama plagiarized

Hillary Clinton didn't congratulate Obama on his most recent victories soon enough

Michelle Obama doesn't like her country

John McCain isn't as ethical as he appears

All these statements are gotchya's. I'm not suggesting that people shouldn't be accountable for their actions. i get it. I get it in my personal life and I get it in public life. But, the very fact of the matter is that the culture of looking for dirt in an attempt to diminish another person isn't about accountability, it's about opportunistic grandstanding.

All of use have problems and have blown it. All of us are bearing consequences for those issues. All of us should become more compassionate, not flimsy, but compassionate as a result. The fact that our culture is enamored by the dirt and talking about it endlessly, reveals something sad about our current condition and our need to change.

The Culture of Gotchya2008-02-21T08:54:03-05:00

Focus Matters

In my work with my clients, and in my own life, the quality of flexible focus is so critical. I say flexible focus, because rigid focus creates a different problem, the opposite really, of diffused living. Flexible focus is a consistent and vigilant attention and intention toward a goal without forcing that process down a predetermined road. The paradox of life is that we must focus our energies toward our desires and yet remain open to the turns in the road that create something better than we could have engineered on our own.

Since focus is such an important quality, in the days I ahead, I'm going to occasionally muse on different aspects of it. The first of which will be one of the most important question we can ask ourselves, because in asking it, focus becomes possible.

Stay tuned...

Focus Matters2008-02-20T06:57:00-05:00

Strategic Partnerships often better than Mergers

Wal-Mart and other stores are going "medical." Here's a story on Wal-Mart's entrance into the medical market. They are adding medical clinics to a number of stores around the country in order to test the market. The part of the story that interested me was the partnership aspect. Instead of starting their own "thing" or merging with a big health care provider, Wal-Mart is partnering with local medical groups.


Partnerships can be less costly and often more successful than all out mergers. Yes, there are times mergers work, but there are more and more examples of failures that make partnerships attractive and just plain smart.

Whether you're the largest retailer in the world, or a sole proprietor, strategic partnerships might be the way to go.

Strategic Partnerships often better than Mergers2008-02-19T05:26:15-05:00

The Brother of Charisma (Part Two)

So, a few days ago I mused on the charisma of Barack Obama and the need for charismatic leaders to add to their inspiration the dynamic of substance. Inspiration is critical, but not enough to complete mission. Substance of ideas comes as a result of hard research, intentional curiosity, deep listening, and great collaboration. However, even substantive thoughts are not enough. To those thoughts, a great leader must add the brother of charisma: sustainability.

Sustainability is the dynamic that allows execution of great ideas to occur over the long haul.

Execution is critical, but execution that is not sustainable lands a leader and his or her team in the same place as platitudes do: disappointment.

Sustainability requires action to work its way deep into the culture of an organization or community. This is where a charismatic leader often fails, because she is not overly interested in long-term action. She finds her passion in the "next big thing." But, without sustainability around important initiatives, the next big thing, becomes the "flavor of the month" that no one believes will actually be implemented. And that is when charismatic leaders get hurt. They are accused of hollow rhetoric rather than sustainable action.

The Brother of Charisma (Part Two)2008-02-16T08:37:02-05:00

The Sister of Charisma: Substance (Part One)

I just listened to Barack Obama's speech given last night in Wisconsin. There is no doubt, as I've mentioned before, Obama is dripping with charisma. This has certainly helped him in his campaign in that it creates a realized inspiration for those listening. There is something electric about charisma and the way a charismatic leader can energize a group of people toward the completion of a mission.


Charisma alone isn't enough. I'm sure Obama knows this--he seems like a smart guy. In fact, charisma can backfire in a hurry if it does not have help from it's brother and sister. We'll consider charisma's sister tomorrow.

The brother, the oh so necessary brother of charisma, is substance. Now one might argue that there is substance to Obama's charismatic speeches. And, she would be right. He does have substance to his speech. However, what he needs now is substance to his ideas. I'm not suggesting he doesn't have substance to his ideas, but rather that he needs to start sharing some specifics of that substance.

If you are a charismatic leader, chances are you are given a pretty wide path to share your inspiration. And, chances are people love to hear you talk, and are energized by your hope. And, chances are, you are bored to tears by details. But, unless your inspiration becomes a detailed strategy--one that can be implemented--your charisma may become a weakness rather than a strength.

What's critical for a charismatic leader is detail. Not so much detail that people fall asleep. But, substantive detail that can be shared in the same inspirational manner everything else is communicated. For instance, Obama needs to tell us three ways he will turn the economy around. Give me a 15,000 foot look at substance.

Hillary Clinton, last night in El Paso, declared she wanted to raise the minimum wage to $9.50. She wants to require congress to raise the minimum wage every time they raise their own wage. That is 15,000 foot detail. That's what charismatic leaders need to share when they are trying to inspire a community, city or organization.

Now you might say, and rightfully so, what's the big deal about Clinton's detail on a minimum wage increase? That's nothing but empty rhetoric as well.

Well, you may be right. And that's why to substance, we have to add the sister of charisma as well.

Stay tuned.

The Sister of Charisma: Substance (Part One)2008-02-13T06:54:05-05:00

The Future of Success (Robert Reich)

I like to go back to books I've read (or listened to) a few years later and see how the book stands the test of time (albeit just a little time). I'm listening again to Robert Reich's, The Future of Success. The book, written in 2001, peeked into the new economy with great precision. I've always liked Reich's dry wit and sound thinking. I recommend the book to you and will probably talk more about it in the days ahead.

The Future of Success (Robert Reich)2008-02-11T06:36:44-05:00

Yahoo! situation is just sad

More deliberation on the part of Yahoo! about it's current situation causes me sadness. You can read about it here.

Of course, I don't know what's going on behind closed doors. But, it seems to me that one of the innovators of the 1990's should really be thinking about an innovative future for itself rather than how to get the most money in a sale.

Maybe Yahoo! is beyond saving itself. If so, then the question becomes, what happened? Or, is it possible, that Yahoo! is looking for the easy solution--let Microsoft deal with the problems. For all the talk about Yahoo's! culture, with Chief Solution Officers and other cool sounding titles, where the heck is all of that right now?  Are they truly beyond an innovative way to reorganize, or are they just giving up? The thought of Yahoo! becoming part of Microsoft makes my stomach turn. Perhaps, Microsoft should just get better at being itself, before they acquire Yahoo! I mean, let's face it (and yes I'm an Apple fanatic, I will disclose that here), Microsoft product is awkward, sluggish and riddled with problems when it hits the market.

The reason Microsoft has so much market share is because PC's won the battle when Gates and Jobs couldn't play nice in the sandbox. But, they are not innovative--please. Now, because they have the money to do so, they are after Yahoo! who actually was innovative at one point.

What happened to all the things Yahoo! executives preached about innovation and creative culture?

Come on Yahoo! don't become part of the Matrix. Or, maybe you always were...

Yahoo! situation is just sad2008-02-10T05:00:00-05:00