Friday, January 29, 2010

Three Questions Executives Should Ask for the New Year

We're almost out of January, and a lot of the resolution stuff is wearing off so I am rushing to get this off my chest before it simply proves I am further behind the power curve than even I thought.

Question: Do you hate stuff that makes you think as much as I do? Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word, maybe feeling humiliated and embarrassed is more like it.

Well, I have to admit publically that when I read Melissa Raffone's blog post in the Conversation section of the online Harvard Business Review, I had one of those moments.

It's a great post, and it ends with posing three questions, the kind that make it hard to look in the mirror for most of us. That said, like most such questions, they are super insightful and well worth pondering in January or any other time. The kind of stuff that some of us would tape to the bathroom mirror even if it was hard to see each morning:
1. If there was only one thing I could do to improve my business, what would it be and how would I make it happen?

2. If there was only one thing I could focus on to improve my personal performance, what would that be and how would I make it happen?

3. What messages am I not listening to or refusing to confront in my business and personal performance and how am I going to overcome that this year?
As uncomfortable as it made me feel for not being able to come up with immediate answers (was I afraid to hear what I would say?) I was struck by how flexible these questions were in terms of both one's professional as well as personal lives, and it is in that spirit that I pass them along in case you might have missed the post.

A belated Happy New Year from those of us who are still trying to catch up with ourselves.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting A Cyber Mulligan

There is an old saying that goes something like "when you're mad, write the letter but don't send it until the next day." The same can often be said for things you put out on the net.

In fact, even if you aren't particularly ticked off about something, but just fired stuff off after a few glasses of wine or when you were back in college and someone dared you to upload something that you now wish had been biodegradable, the fact is that once it's out there, it's out there.

Over the years this sort of stuff has come to be known as "Digital Dirt" a phrase that was coined by ExecuNet's Editor-in-Chief Robyn Greenspan. In fact, Robyn and her team even put together a career guide on the subject for our members called Dealing With Your Digital Dirt.

So, with literally millions of folks out there who would have liked to have had a cyber mulligan but know they can't, many have thought that the next best thing might be something where at least when someone typed their name into Google at least the "good stuff" would be what people would see first.

Well, guess what, it looks like that day may well have arrived with the launch this week of a service developed by James Alexander called Vizibility. How does it work? The launch press release describes it this way:
"Through a simple wizard, the Vizibility service enables people to quickly create the optimal Google search for themselves based on their name, employment history and relevant keywords."
All in all a pretty cool idea which you might want to check out. The basic service is free.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Leadership Values

When the new year begins the lists come out and it's always time to see who views what as "winners", "losers", and/or what's in store for the next twelve months or so.

The other thing that happens, at least for me, is that this time of year makes you think of where things have been, what's changed, and what worked and what didn't. It also makes me think of what hasn't changed and why.

And so it was when someone came up to me in the office the other day and offered up congratulations on our starting of year twenty-two since ExecuNet's founding in 1988. As we were talking, he asked how I thought the company had been able to react and adapt to all the changes and challenges over the years.

I wasn't quite sure how to respond other than to say that I felt a lot of it came from the fact that we have always worked very hard to stick to our core values and that this was one of the major advantages of being a small company.

He went on to say that it must be a pretty hard thing to do as the company has continued to grow over time. My response was that while for sure it wasn't easy, so long as we never lose sight of what we believe in I thought we would be able to work our way through most any challenge.

Every organization, large or small, certainly has similar ideals or rules by which they try to manage. In our case they aren't so much "rules" as they are "beliefs."

We have a number of them, but at the core are these:
1. Every relationship we have, be it inside or outside the organization. is built on trust.

2. We want a culture that feels like we are working "with" not "for" and

3. We don't want to ever forget that everything we do or say reflects on us both individually and collectively.
Interested in sharing yours?