Ethical Entrepreneurship

There’s the co-founder preaching integrity & trust, yet running for the hills at the first sign of a significant challenge. There’s the entrepreneur committing equity to lure key talent, yet leaving them empty handed in the moment of truth when the company goes public for significant millions. There’s the one who preaches team spirit and shared company values / benefits, yet insists on factory workers instead of happy people, and then justifies her actions under the guise of accountability. And finally, there’s those infamous carve-out clauses that leave partners watching sand run through their fingers whilst others take their money to the bank.

Your actions speak so loud that I can’t even hear what you’re saying is my paradigm to the famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying”.

After +26 in the business world all across the planet, I’ve seen my fare share of varying stances on both business & personal ethics, and above is only a small sampling. So when during the past weeks I witnessed an entrepreneur being authentic and ethical in his actions, I felt compelled to share it with the world.

In the middle of a momentary financial crisis he openly communicates to his team the challenges he’s facing, taking full responsibility without excuses and apologizing for the impact of a temporary lack of funds. He follows by extending his personal finances to cover emergency individual needs until the brief storm passes. In the coming weeks, he’s authentic in his individual approach to his team, ensuring they’re not incurring hardships until the momentary financial challenge is overcome. “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying”, and I want to scream it from the roof tops.

It’s my experience that people who act ethically are 1 in ever five (at best). It’s sad, yet a painfully real statistic. Most because they just haven’t found an authentic or ethical way to express their passion or purpose, especially when faced with difficult circumstances. Some because they simply haven’t found themselves, and act based on their fears, instead of coming from a place of generosity.

How closely aligned are your actions to your speech? What are you willing to do to take your game to the next level? Better yet, can you recall the last time you stepped up to the plate and acted in-line with your stated intentions?

Transformational Experiences; 5 Lessons from South Africa

There are moments in life that inspire & amaze you, and then there are those  that simply take your breath away to transform you! This past week at the EO Cape Town University I had the wind knocked right out of me.

My key take-away from the past week was;

The essence of Ubuntu; “I am what I am because of who we all are”

The following clip of Nelson Mandela speaks for itself, resonating the simplest form of Ubuntu.

What daily measures are you undertaking to contribute & share all that you’ve learned? How open are you to the endless possibilities surrounding you every day? How are you living the essence of Ubuntu?

The essence of White / Black & all of the intoxicating colors in-between

I was astonished to find how South Africans have their feet deeply planted in their traditions, yet simultaneously have an overwhelming open desire & passion to embrace the future through the power of possibilities. I found not black or white, but rather a multitude of intoxicating colors (& emotions) in-between. If there was one thing that absolutely resonated with me from the very first moment I stepped out of the Cape Town International airport just over a week ago, it was the overwhelming warmth & hospitality of the South African people. With the greatest mixture of color, culture & religion per square inch, the gratitude, warmth & generosity with which I was greeted at every turn was simply awe inspiring.

It had me reflect on a television interview when King Abdullah II of Jordan stated; “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another”.

My challenge to you is “how can we all begin to see past the minutia that separates us, to focus more on the commonalities that bond us?

The essence of Lee Berger’s “returning home”

During the culmination of an amazing recount by Lee Berger, I was brought to tears when he ended his key-note speech by welcoming us home. He stated that anywhere we live around the globe, we are mere “illegal aliens”, as the origins of humanity dating back millions of years are in the plains we roamed through this past week.

Where is it that you find your comfort & solace? What’s that space you call “home”? Where you feel connected to your most loved ones, and more importantly, to the humanity of a stranger that crosses your path.

The essence of vulnerability

On our final night, with the tears of joyful reflection in our hearts, my wife summarized the magic of this week as “the connections made possible between human beings when they’re willing to be at their most vulnerable”. Far too often too many of us focus on what makes us different from each other, rather than the overwhelming commonalities we share.

Earlier that week I had the pleasure of sitting next to one of our speakers, Mike Boon,  who shared a divine story of confronting a Zulu chief with a declaration of their brotherhood based on the ancient African tradition of burring your umbilical cord in the soil. “My umbilical cord is buried in the same soil, just a stone throw from yours, therefore we are brothers of the same earth.” (loose refection / summary of the story Mike shared)

What powerful relationships are you missing out on because you refuse to let your guard down? How can you find the right environment & the right people that will foster your growth & development?

The essence of Human Doing vs. Human Being

Finally, I have to thank the most generous bunch of people that I have ever met in my life!

  • David & Joanne Smollan; Organizing Committee head & respective First Lady who blew the doors off of genuine love & hospitality
  • Orrin & Vivian Klopper; The passionate visionary with a determination of steel & his rock-star wife who made us feel like life-long friends, extending to us their own circle of relationships & family.
  • My EO South African 12 Apostles who made a magical week possible! You guys are beyond belief!

This group of entrepreneurs from South Africa taught us all a grand lesson is the difference between the power of “Human Doing” vs. mere “Human Being”. There isn’t anything this team couldn’t accomplish, and I feel awfully proud to now count them amongst my most intimate family!

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – W. Clement Stone

Posted in 5. Life / Work Balance by The Strategy Guy. No Comments

Leadership challenge for today.. How to become a Real Leader

On a scale of 1-10, how good of a leader would you rate yourself? Now ask yourself the question; “Why”?

Here’s the bigger test.. are you willing to put the same question to your team? Ask them to share with you (in their opinion) your top 5 characteristics that most influence or define your leadership style. Ask them to be honest, and the answers can be either areas where you excel.. or for improvement.

A recent series of events this week triggered this post; (a) the tweet by ihatequotes; “Inspiration = The PULL. Motivation = The PUSH. Inspiration + Motivation = The FUEL” & (b) the blog article by Dan McCarthy entitled Striving To Be A Real Leader.

16 Defining Considerations
  1. Your Choice To Take On The Pressure; Are you reacting to the events in your life, or taking-it-all-in to then apply the best measured approach appropriate for the situation?
  2. Your Choice To Be Accountable When Things Go Wrong; Are you standing up & taking responsibility for your actions (including assumptions) or are you blaming it on someone else? Bonus points for “being truly honest”!
  3. Your Choice To Accept That You Will Make Mistakes; Are you willing to take, and or look at, the lessons from each mistake to make the appropriate adjustments moving forward?
  4. Your Choice To Do What Is Right; You need no more than 4-6, but have you established.. and I mean gone through the exercise, written them down and kept them readily visible.. your core values that you hold dear & aren’t willing to compromise? How have you recently lived one of these values?
  5. Your Choice To Drive Change; Are you driving change or is it driving you? What are the purposeful steps you take on an ongoing basis to empower those around you to help make the decisions which will keep you ahead of the curve?
  6. Your Choice To Be A Role Model; Are you walking-the-talk or just talking-the-talk? Actions speak louder than words.. what have you been doing more of lately?
  7. Your Choice To Develop The People You Lead So That They May Some Day Be Your Boss; How many opportunities are you taking on a daily basis to share “the why” of your decisions & actions? Are you teaching your team to fish or are you giving them the fish by the bucket-loads?
  8. Your Role In Creating A High Performance Environment; Are you a facilitator or a blocker for Top Performance? By the way, these questions are best answered by your team if you want it to be objective.
  9. Accept That You Can No Longer Do All The Things That Got You To Where You Are; How willing are you to question your own tactics / results, even when they’re successful? Could they have been even better? How willing are you to go outside your comfort zone?
  10. Identify And Communicate A Compelling Vision; Does everyone know, and more importantly, can they recite back to you in a quantifiable manner what your Vision/Dream is for your company, department and or unit?
  11. Get The Strategic Focus Right; How much time have you dedicated to the strategy that you’re asking your team to follow? How have you engaged them in the process of creating or refining it? What are your Top 3-5 goals for the next quarter & year ahead? How do these contributing to your Vision & Mission?
  12. Make Sure You Have The Right People In The Right Roles; Are people playing to their strengths? Have you asked yourself, or them, lately “what are you really good at”?
  13. Clearly Define And Communicate What Is Expected Of Them; Have you defined your expected outcomes & gained buy-in for when & how they will be delivered in an empowering manner? Keywords here are “outcome”, “buy-in” & “empowering”!
  14. Have The Courage To Let Go; Is the weight of the world on your shoulders or have you delegated & distributed responsibility across the board? If you decided to go fishing tomorrow without notice what wouldn’t get done in your workplace?
  15. Balance Vision, Challenge, And Support; What mechanisms do you have in place to take regular pulses through-out the week to make micro-adjustments instead of Big-Bang 180º shifts? How are your team’s activities aligned to the communicated / agreed Vision & Mission?
  16. Over To You; What are you doing on a regular basis that is both Inspirational & Motivational?

In Summary

It’s my experience that you can’t excel at any of the above unless you’re grounded in who you are, what you really want & to what standards will you hold yourself accountable. This is the basis of your Core Ideology (Mission/Purpose, Vision/Dream & Core Values). What are you unwilling to compromise on?

If you can get these clear, and confidently answer the 16 points above, then the rest is a “walk-in-the-park”.

The Secret to Productivity; 6 Simple Steps to do what you do best

“Because the biggest obstacle in performance isn’t not knowing what to do; it’s not doing what we already know.” This was the phrase glaring back at me from the screen when I last looked at Dan McCarthy’s Great Leadership blog.

WOW!?!?! That really hit home! Most of you who regularly follow my blog will have noticed that I’ve been absent since my last post on August 30th. Sorry about that.. it’s been a challenging September / October as I’ve taken on some new work,  and even I have to admit that I can become extremely overwhelmed. A new company, a completely new industry, a new city, state & country. Living out of a suit-case.. and in-between all that.. having a 2nd surgery on a broken leg which resulted from a motorcycle accident back in March.

But as I type away at these keys I can already feel my sanity & calm restoring 🙂

6 Simple Steps

Back to the subject at hand; “doing what we already know” and for me that looks like..

  1. STOP
  2. Breath deep
  3. Take a step back
  4. Breath deep again
  5. And now analyze the playing field (take inventory of what’s been going on)
  6. Now take the appropriate ACTION

That’s when the fog started to roll away & the horizon again became clear.

There’s an old saying that goes “when you don’t have your own plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan”, and that’s what’s been happening to me. I allowed self doubt about a new industry detract from my knowledge that certain things just need to be a done a certain way. On all other levels, my new experience was going according to plan! All of the boxes in terms of strategically desired outcomes were being achieved, even though a little slower & with a lot more work that I had originally planned. In adjusting to my new environment, I over-adjusted, over-compensated & lost my balance.

But after my 6 simple steps..  I’m glad to again feel centered, balanced.. & it feels invigorating.


So what keeps us from doing what we know? Typically, it’s interference—or more often, interFEARence—created by those external and internal factors that slow us down, immobilize us, and keep us from performing at our best. This is an excellent excerpt from a new book I’ve just picked up by Alan Fine called You Already Know How To Be Great. Reading this book has been a riveting experience & significant contributed to my momentary time-out to once again find my balance.

I’ll share with you two more brilliant resources that have significantly helped me stay effective, even though not efficient, over the course of the last 60 days:

I’m back

Thanks for hanging in there and sending me your requests to return to the keyboard. I’m happy to say that I’m back.. & have a whole new bags of tricks, tips & practical experiences to share with you over the coming days, weeks & months ahead.

How are you feeling lately? Clear as day? Or dazed & confused? What are you going to do about your situation?

7 Simple Steps to Give You Greater Performance

“Nothing’s forever. Forever’s a lie. All we have is what’s between hello and goodbye.” – Marilyn Bergman

How are you filling in the spaces between your hello’s & goodbye’s? When you walked out the door this morning where was your head at? If you were unfortunately never to see your loved ones again, did you say everything that needed to be said? Did you leave on terms that you could never regret?

How about your focus? Where is it today? Is your glass half full or half empty? The next time you decide to complain about all that’s wrong in your life, quickly have a thought about the 33 Chilean miners stuck 10 city blocks beneath the earths surface for the past 3 weeks, with at least another 3-4 months ahead of them before they see the light of day.

Or take a moment to reflect on the 72 migrant workers horrifically assassinated last week in Mexico. Poor people desperate & striving to make a simple living to provide for the essentials of food & shelter for their families. Given this new perspective, how BIG do the challenges facing you today look now?

7 Simple Steps

To help you better cope with the challenges you face on a regular basis;

  1. Identify what’s at the core of the pain and or fear you’re feeling; this might take a series of self-reflective “why” exercises until you can reach the true core of your issue. Embrace what you’re feeling without judging yourself so as to accept your answers for what they are without judging them. Focus on defusing emotions or limitations based on embarrassment or pride. Finally, don’t allow it to be about anyone else. You are the master of your own destiny when it comes to how you allow others to affect you. If you are in a situation you don’t like, you can always establish a process or strategy to make alleviate yourself from the pain.
  2. “Turn it around” by doing “The Work” to validate where you are so far; (1) Is it true? (2) Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (3) How do you react when you believe that thought? (4) Who would you be without that thought?
  3. Focus on where you slipped instead of where you’ve fallen; instead of punishing yourself for your current state, look for the lessons and inventory what behaviors you need to change to keep you from landing in the same hole again.
  4. Identify a Strategy to Move Forward; what’s holding you back is either a limiting belief or lack of an effective strategy. An “effective strategy” is simply a series of predefined steps strung together to achieve a predetermined outcome.
  5. Take Serious & Purposeful Steps Forward; at minimum set daily & periodic “intentions” when you’re not capable of setting hard goals. Align your intentions & actions in a manner of ensuring they allow you to measure continual progress through a pulse-check process.
  6. Build Your Dream Team; “You will be the same person in five as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” – Charles Tremendous Jones. Network, network, network.. build a really strong network, surround yourself with people smarter & more capable than you whenever possible so that even when you don’t know anyone, you increase the probability that you might know someone.. who knows someone else. Key tip.. you’re network could be virtual or even just access to information.
  7. Live Your Powerful Mission; having stepped through this process and seeing it work, repeat it on an ongoing basis. Once you’ve accomplished something, repeating your success becomes much easier, increasing its scope on an ongoing & continual basis.

It’s Monday & you’ve got the rest of the week ahead of you. What “work” are you going to do, or at least kick-off, this week that will make it different from the rest?

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized by The Strategy Guy. 1 Comment