Posts

9 Lessons from John Chambers - Connecting the Dots

Image
Connecting the dots is a wonderful book by the legendary former CEO of Cisco John Chambers. I really enjoyed this book and found it inspiring. The four main things which helped turn around Cisco were an ability to anticipate and deal with market transitions, innovations processes that could be replicated at scale, a strong culture that was focused on customers and a network architecture that gave incredible flexibility. Here are the major lessons I gleaned.
Disrupt or be disrupted - This is the key for any 21st century leader or organization. Be nimble and flexible in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Having the ability to anticipate change is one of the keys.
Keep learning – With the amount of change that is literally mind boggling leaders have an averse to learning. Keep reading, listening to podcasts, connect with experts in your field, read their blogs, books and document what you learn. Think weeks for Bill Gates was a famous example of learning at the highest level.
Take risks an…

Imagine it forward by Beth Comstock

Image
Imagine it forward by Beth Comstock is a semi autobiography of one of the most successful leaders of our time. She has also given some great suggestions to be a change maker in your organization. While most of these are not completely new I still enjoyed all of the concepts in one place. Here are the lessons I gleaned.
Don’t wait for permission – Are you waiting for someone to give you permission to take action. The main takeaway is don’t wait for someone to give you the green signal. Start with yourself and take action. Don’t let fear stop you and as you take action you will get confidence to do more.
Job crafting - The main point is to take the job no one else is willing to take. You can craft your job into anything you want. Also keep adding value to everything you do and go the extra mile.
Trends – Always be on the lookout for trends. We overestimate what can be done in 1 year but underestimate what can be done in 10 years. Think of the best case scenario if this change happens and w…

9 Counter Intuitive Rules of Blitzscaling

Image
Blitzscaling is a wonderful concept for startups that want to scale. It is basically prioritizing speed over efficiency. I really liked the book Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh. The basic thesis which Alvin Toffler predicted in Future Shock is that change is the only constant. If you can be nimble and steady in the face of chaos you have a better chance of survival. It is all about scaling fast, moving fast and breaking things. There are 3 suggestions to thrive one is to be a first responder, second is to be a model of stability in a sea of change and finally be a consistent learner.
The three techniques of Blitzscaling which are the heart of the process are business model innovation, strategy innovation and management innovation.
There are 9 counter intuitive rules of Blitzscaling which I liked. Here they are with a brief commentary on each.
Embrace Chaos: The only certainty is uncertainty. Be ready to thrive in chaos. Especially when you are starting anything new the only th…

How the Mighty Fall

Image
Jim Collins is my favorite business author. I have reviewed his other 3 books and I thought I should complete the reviews with How the Mighty Fall. This came out around the time when Fannie Mae was in trouble and at the heart of the Lehman collapse which put the global stock markets in peril. Jim Collins does have a knack of releasing books at the right time. Of course, there have always been arguments that some of the companies which were once successful in his study have fallen by the wayside. This book addresses why companies or even empires do fall. Here are the 5 stages of decline identified with my commentary on it. Even as individuals we can pay attention to this.
Hubris born of success: This is when companies fall in love with their own success and become arrogant. Example sighted here is Motorola which didn't pivot to digital when there was a movement from analog to digital. The unwillingness to move when things are changing must be a key factor in the downfall of many co…

8 Keys to Building your Ambition

Image
Ambition has got a bad reputation in some circles. Of course, greed is always a problem. However legitimate ambition for each individual or organization is very much needed. One person’s ambition might just be to go to the next level while another individual may want to change the world. So, I think only that individual can decide what ambition means to them. Here are the 8 elements of ambition that I have come up with.
Action: Ambition without any action will not work. So, decide what you want and then take daily action towards your ultimate ambition. By the yard its hard but by the inch anything is a cinch. Every day if we can move forward our ambition even one small step it will make us feel better. Progress is the key to happiness and the only way to progress is through action. Peter Drucker said a beautiful thing “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From that quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” Action is everything.
Meaning: Ambition must tie in with…

The 4 Qualities of Great Leaders

Image
Leadership is the biggest need of the world right now. We need more leaders who can chart unknown seas and inspire more people to their greatness. For me leadership all about dreaming big, inspiring others and leading by example.
Warren Bennis wrote one of the best books on leadership called “On Becoming a Leader.” I liked the 4 qualities of a leader he identified, and I think it will stand the test of time. Here are the 4 qualities of great leaders.
They create shared meaning: This is all about having the vision that uplifts people to their greatness. You need to find that vision which will move you and others. John F Kennedy’s vision of putting a man on the moon is one of the best examples of an audacious vision. The best part of it was it was so compelling that it outlived the visionary. Vision is the first step to becoming a great leader.
They have a distinctive voice:  This is all about confidence and emotional intelligence. As a leader people must see your unique voice coming out.…

5 Books on Leadership, Innovation, Change, Future, Joy and Decision Making

Image
September has been a great month to read some terrific books. Here are 5 good ones I liked reading recently.
Leadership in Turbulent times by Doris Kearns Goodwin: This is one of the best books on leadership you will ever read. 4 leaders Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson are dissected right from their childhood through their adversity to their leadership philosophy. This is truly a tour de force. I loved the last section which has great leadership tips for all of us. Some of these types of books can be dry to read but this is so engaging I couldn’t put it down. The big takeaway is they persisted well beyond any personal setbacks. In fact one of the examples provided is Lincoln's friends had to hide sharp objects from his room because he could hurt himself. Theodore Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day. It is an inspiring account of what true leadership is in times of crisis.
Imagine it forward by Beth Comstock and Tahl Raz: T…

15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership

Image
There are so many books on leadership. I found the 15 commitments of conscious leadership by Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman to be one of the best for individual leaders who want to get to their best. Here are the 15 commitments with my brief take on each.
Responsibility:  This is all about having the buck stops with me attitude. As a leader you don’t engage in any form of blame. You take full charge of every aspect of decision making and ensure the team knows you take ownership. This can also be applied to our personal lives and it ensures you are in control most of the time.
Curiosity:  This is a wonderful principle which is applicable for our personal lives. Be totally open to differing viewpoints. Never be bound by your own assumptions. Being open to feedback and other ideas will enable you to become a great leader.
Feel feelings:  This is all about understanding all your feelings like anger, joy and other emotions. Understanding how those feelings relate to you in your body. Once yo…

7 Timeless Lessons from Peter Drucker

Image
Peter Drucker has written so many books but the two I really enjoyed which covered most of his teachings is “The Essential Drucker” and “The Daily Drucker.” Here are the seven lessons I gleaned from the teachings of the legendary Peter Drucker.
The purpose of business:  This is a very important lesson to learn. The purpose of business is not to make profit, but it is to create a customer. This is a key distinction as any successful organization concentrates on its customers. This will eventually result in profit. For example, one of the key values of Amazon is customer obsession. Focus on creating customers and keeping them. This will ensure you are profitable for the long term.
Creative abandonment:  This is a wonderful principle which is applicable for our personal lives. Ask yourself if you would still be in this business knowing what you now know. I believe this is the principle that Jack Welch used to make the decision that GE will remain only in businesses where they can be numb…

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership

Image
There are so many leadership books that we don’t know if there is anything new to be said that hasn’t already been said. The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner is one of the best books on the subject. To become a better leader this is a wonderful resource.
Here are the five practices of exemplary leadership with my take on each.
Model the way:  This is a very important step for everyone on their leadership journey. As a leader this practice is all about defining clearly the values you want to be known for and stand for. Some of the values could be integrity, caring, honesty, courage and passion. Defining your unique values is inspiring and keeps you more fulfilled. Once you define your values it is also adherence to the values that is the key. So, keep measuring yourself against the values you have set. Finally, you can set the organization values as well.
Inspire a shared vision:  Leaders are generally great visionaries. They can dream a better future that …

Innovation is Everybody's Business

Image
Innovation is on everyone’s lips these days. It is probably the most overused word in the lexicon of a business executive. Though that maybe true it is still critical to put our best foot forward as we navigate the uncertainties of the 21st Century. With so much talk about automation I think the one thing that can truly help us be relevant in the market place is to be innovative in whatever we do both in our personal and professional lives.
Innovation is Everybody’s Business by Robert Tucker is one of the better books I have read on this subject. This book is all about individuals becoming innovative not just the organizations. First you need to know who you are and where you want to go. So, project yourself 5 years from now and decide where you want to be.
Here are the seven fundamental innovation skills with my take on each.
Embrace the opportunity mindset:  Successful people see opportunities where others see problems. Of course, every innovator we know whether it is a Steve Jobs…

3 Pillars of Inner Success

Image
In my opinion there are 3 key pillars of inner success. If we develop these we can truly achieve what we want while also experiencing the inner peace that is needed to lead a successful life. Here are the 3 pillars in my opinion if developed can truly help us get what we want.
Self-Discipline – I love this word because all of us have enormous talent bestowed. However, to really make sure that talent sees the day you need the all-important quality of self-discipline. Self-discipline is a quality that can be developed by having a clear idea on what we want and then ensuring the desire to succeed is greater than the consequences of not doing it. If we want to exercise 5 times a week then we can imagine the enormous benefits of exercise and visualize that while trying to keep the end goal in mind. If we want to achieve all the things we want, then self-discipline is the best place to start and we have 100% control on this. It is resolving to do what we have set out to accomplish in both o…

6 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck is famous for writing about the growth mindset vs fixed mindset. Fixed mindset is when you believe that your talent is fixed, and you close yourself to learn new things. Growth mindset is all about keeping your mind open and believing that your potential expands and is not something that is finite. Here are some ideas on developing a growth mindset.
Stay Curious – I love this word curiosity because all of us have need to exhibit this trait to win big in the current era of enormous disruption. Apart from that we can also enhance our talent with knowledge. We only act on what we know and once we increase our knowledge base the chances of our success increase exponentially. When you have a growth mindset you keep your mind open to new knowledge which can enhance your life and it will also enhance your creativity.
Question your assumptions – A great leader never settles for what they believe in. They always question their assumptions. They don’t take things for granted. They m…