Biggest Strategic Risk – Boards that are not Digitally Savvy

In today’s high stakes game of business and fundraising, this blog post from the Wharton Business School was completely inspiring and revealing.

I want to spend a few minutes sharing a few key points that truly resonated with me. Most importantly, this article Wharton blog post reinforces the notion that leadership not only must support digital initiatives as business strategy, but they must be deeply a part of the conversation.

The most important paragraph:

“Business model risk is today’s biggest strategic risk, and companies without boards that are digitally savvy could find themselves starved of investor capital, according to this opinion piece written by Deloitte & Touche partners William J. Ribaudo and Henry Ristuccia; Barry Libert, CEO of OpenMatters, and his associate Megan Beck Fenley.”

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Can passionate leadership hinder you? [Leadership Summit 2011 – Part 6]

What does Leadership Passion look like? What does your own Leadership Passion look like? How has it helped you? Has it ever hindered you?

This was a tough question to answer…but one that must be posed to leadership. Here is my thoughts to the above questions.

I think I started answering this question in the prevision: Can Passion be taught? [Leadership Summit 2011 – Part 5].

Passion is language. We are built with passion inside us…it is a part of our pathos. It just takes someone, something, an event, and time period…something to give passion “language.” We have those feelings inside, we get excited about something, but we must learn how to communicate that passion. Some can find the right words, some communicate their passion through music, dance, drawing, or whatever…but the ability to share our passion is finding language to express. That is where leadership comes into play…how can we lead those to find and share their passion? We must be willing to equally share our passions. We help the people around us bring language to their inner most desires…that desire is leadership.

Passion can sometimes have an equal force in the equation. When we share our passion, we can attract a group of common minded people. We can also marginalize those that do not share the same passion. Sometimes our passion makes us stand upon solid ground where others choose not to go, and it can sometimes hurt the relationships around us. This idea of passion and marginalizing groups of people makes me think of Dissoi Logoi…the idea of opposing arguments.

Here is an interesting discussion centered around the idea of Dissoi Logoi:

By putting yourself as fully into each side as possible, you begin to see the internal logic of each position. This insight is important for several reasons. First, it may help you to be more understanding of your opponents’ position (they’re not always the fools we think they are when we haven’t explored their position carefully). Second, it may make it possible for you to find some area of common ground between the two positions that will produce cooperation rather than arguing to “win.” Third, even if you think the opponents’ view is wrong and must be defeated, you at least know what arguments they are likely to use, and you can figure out how to disarm those arguments ahead of time.

As leaders, we must be cognizant of our passion and fully understand the opposing viewpoints of those we marginalize. My passion may and has turned people off, hurt people’s feelings, or even created rifts in relationships. Learning to be a leader is learning how to manage that passion, channeling that passion when it is appropriate, and understand when it might have a negative effect on those surrounding us.

My passion has hindered me. I have lost friends, hurt family members, and even compromised business relationships. But those who stood by me during those times have been the ones that provided wonderful long-term relationships. Has passion hindered you?

Can Passion be taught? [Leadership Summit 2011 – Part 5]

I love this question! LOVE IT!

Passion does not need to be taught…it is already inside of us…it is part of our DNA.

It is embedded inside our very language…it is the discourse that cannot escape us. Think about one thing that if the world was going to end next week…what would you really want to do with your life?

What is the one thing in the world, in your world that makes you get up in the morning and smell the breath of life. The one thing that fuels your fire. This one thing that makes you do things that you never expected you would ever do if logic took complete control of your life.

Finding that passion is part of our coming of age. I remember the first time I found the entrepreneurial spirit inside of me. I was working for a technology company, and my mentor had passion like no other. He had the unbelievable ability to help me see life through his eyes. He taught me that there is no such thing as failure and that swinging the bat is a good thing. He has a passion for entrepreneurship.

Passion is language…it is like learning a new word, and once it has entered your vocabulary…it is hard to remove that word from your everyday routine. So how do you find that passion? You surround yourself with passionate people sharing a common cause. That is why you find great entrepreneurial leaders spending lots of time building great board’s of directors or advisors. They have a desire to surround themselves with the same, equally yoked, passionate people.

Passion is language and we have it embedded inside our hearts…we just have to learn the words to express those inner most feelings.

[Leadership Summit 2011] Creativity & Passion Means – Part 3

Here is the third post in my series of answering questions from Clemson’s Leadership Summit 2011, questions surrounding Creativity and Passion. Enjoy!

If we were to take a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your personal leadership journey, what was one of your toughest Challenges in leading with Creativity? Passion? Greatest rewards?

The toughest challenge that I have faced is learning how to articulate my passion and creative thoughts. Sometimes I have a hard time harnessing the words…the right phrases…the right thing to say. Do I consider myself a great leader…heck if i know. But where I have become humbled in my creative leadership is not in my everyday business relationships…but it is when I teach. “Teaching” will teach you how to lead and teach you how to articulate your vision over a period of time. The greatest challenge bestowed upon me was by one of my academic mentors Dr. Summer Taylor, who passed away this year at a young age, asked me to teach on the collegiate level.

Sharing my passion and vision with business leaders is nothing to compared to sharing the same energy with 20 year old college students. It has nothing to do with passion or vision…it has to do with language. Many of the businesses I work with or partner share similar passions and engage in mutual trust. But, walking into the classroom with a new set of students…you are having to change a culture, expose them to a new language, and build trust in hopes that the semester will go as planned. Then you have to learn how to move yourself into the same discourse level as the student, help them see the vision through your eyes…but you must view life through their eyes first.

And here is my greatest reward…the thank you letters. I tear up over them and treasure each one. I had a student who had no path, no idea of tomorrow, but she loved dolphins. I am not sure what her major was at the time…but she was not sure what to do after graduation. But, she loved dolphins. This is the note from Kara…

Aloha Bobby!

This is Kara Harper. I hope you remember me. I was in your Business Writing Class in 2009. I was the girl that wanted to be a dolphin trainer in Hawaii. Well, I just wanted to write you and thank you for everything you did for me in our class. My networking actually got me a job at Dolphin Quest Hawaii, and I am working with the dolphins every day, doing what I always dreamt of doing. I have you to thank for my success in achieving my dreams. I just wanted you to know how much of a difference you are making in every students’ life. Thank you for all you do.

Take care!
Kara Harper

I shed tears every time I read this…

How are we inspiring our tomorrow to be better leaders today? What is our lasting legacy?

***Photo courtesy from Aliens on Earth Blog.

Just ZIP IT…listening is not so bad.

Have you ever attended an event or a conference and been overwhelmed with the personalities in the room? Have you walked into a new place or situation, and been in a place where there are a lot of smart people talking, exchanging ideas, and not know where to fit in? I found myself in those situations more times than not.

I am an opinionated person, passionate about what I believe. I am also a person that has to understand and assess the audience before engaging in the conversation. Sometimes I need to remind myself to just listen and learn.

Recently I have walked out of meetings and thought to myself, I need to keep my big mouth shut. My passion can get the best of me, engaging in a conversation where I will debate a point because it is hard for me to see past my point-of-view. I am human, I think we all do this from time to time.

Listening is key. Really listening to the people we want to have healthy conversations with, regardless if it is a meeting, conference, group, dinner, or a public setting. Sometimes we have to learn how to pull out the big black clip and use it to shut our lips together. Then take time to listen and learn from others. I am the biggest victim of this issue…speaking when I should be listening.

We are surrounded by smart people. Our friends, family, clients, customers, colleagues, students…they are all smart people. We could learn a thing or two sometimes. We should learn to stop trying to interject into a conversation that does not need our noise anymore. I know my big ole lips can flap a conversation into complete bordum.

Why do we do this? Well, we want to be heard. Whether it is the fact we are control freaks, or we have a good idea…we want our ideas to resonate with others. We want to be perceived to be smart and innovative. Sometimes it is fear or insecurity that drives us to fill the void…driving a conversation to the painful point of no return.

We should just shut our mouth and just listen. It is ok. We will be heard at some point.

I noticed the last few days my mouth has communicated my passion a bit much. I am passionate…but maybe I should use my passion just to listen. I might learn a thing or two!

Have you felt this way before? Do you think listening is a better form of communication than talking?

blogging in a leadership role – SUCCESS!

You know what is so much fun…the greatest joy, it is helping others find the path to tell their story. This past week was a big for a friend.

Telling our own story is one the hardest things to achieve…especially when it comes to exposing our thoughts online. Blogging for a top executive at a major organization has major implications. There is the tremendous opportunity to “own” your message. The hardest part is finding a voice…that leadership voice, online.

The online leadership voice is far beyond the sound bites and quotes for the media…it is the whole contextual quote. It is a chance to not only communicate with an external audience, but also engage an internal audience (employees)…one the largest employers in the region.

When we first started down the path, choosing which “hat to wear” when writing was tough. When we write, we are not only a family person but also a leader in the business world.

Last week…the voice was unleashed and writing began to happen naturally. Email after email were coming into my inbox, “check this post”…”how does the video fit”…”should we include the powerpoint”…questions. Each email led to me logging in and looking at the progress. The writing was wonderful. It was focused, passionate, and brought true leadership to the table.

It is fun to sit and watch executives step out, take the leap, and write for the whole world to see. Leadership is an awesome opportunity.

Bobby’s 5 Links of the Week | December 12, 2010

Hello friends, here are my links for the week. As you can see…they include doctors tweeting, social media, medical social media, Elizabeth Edwards, and Leadership. I hope you enjoy and let me know your thoughts about any of these articles!

December 8, 2010 | Michael Moore-Jones
I’m 16 and, unusually, I use Twitter quite a bit. I say unusually because perhaps you’ve heard that teens don’t tweet. This first came to light last year when a 15-year-old Morgan Stanley intern wrote a report [PDF] where he explained that teens “realize they are not going to update it,” and that “no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless.” CLICK HERE to read more.

December 8, 2010 | Meghan O’Rourke
It wasn’t her political career but the window she gave us into the reality—and illusions—of dying. CLICK HERE to read more.

December 9, 2010 | Bryan Vartabedian, MD
I learned this only recently:  people vary in how they like to consume their content.  For the longest time I managed the distribution of my blog content passively:  push it out on RSS and Twitter.  Then let the chips fall where they may. CLICK HERE to read more.

December 10, 2010 | Thornton Kirby
I’m frustrated. Finally, after nearly a year of relentless campaign promises and bickering about everything except the real challenges facing our nation, this campaign is over. CLICK HERE to read more.

December 12, 2010 | Stefan Lindegaard
A legendary story about Tom Watson Jr., who guided IBM in its glory days, bears repeating in any discussion about smartfailing. According to the story, a vice president who had lost the corporation $10 million on an experiment that failed was called to Watson’s office. CLICK HERE to read more.

Sometimes we creatives are not good leaders? Are we?

We are visionaries!
We are creative and we are strategic. We have passion and willingness to work infinite amount of hours to execute an idea. But sometimes, it is hard to lead. Seriously! This is by means no admission that I have not tried or will try again to successfully lead a group with a common mission/goal. It is a self-reflection that I realize that I was not pre-disposed to be a natural born leader. I think? We just believe in tomorrow’s human capital!

We generate great ideas!
We live in a world that beats to many different drums. We feel our path and not objectively understand how to get to the final resting place. But we understand that the path is so much fun. Our ideas do not come to us during a planning session, they happen in the middle of the night when we least expect. They happen in the shower or when we are screaming down the road at 85 mph with the windows down. But the logical side of our brain knows and understands that we must capitalize on that very moment of true epiphany. We must implement the creative thought right when it pops in our brain. You will find us running through the house stark naked to jot down the idea, draw that vision, create that master piece. We will cut across five lanes of traffic under creative transcendental inspiration, just to get to the side of the interstate to jot it down. We are passionate about our ideas.

We need implementors!
We need help. We see the vision and can articulate the vision, but we rely on those who have the expertise to help us implement the vision. The vision is clear in our head…so clear we can almost reach out and touch it. But, we need those who can decipher our vision into a palatable final product. Yes, we can be technicians of our trade, but as practitioners we understand to rely on those have the technical expertise to make the final product shine!

We like living within our creative freedom!
We know when to turn on that perfect song to get us into a creative rhythm. We like to spread our wings and let the emotion of the story influence the direction. We get so in-tune with our creative thoughts that those looking in have a hard time communicating with us during the moments of inspiration. We can see the lips flapping, but the words just do not register. We are in the zone. We are in the place where we so connected with our big “T” truth, that it only makes sense to us. It feeds our ego and separates us from others. We love our passion.

Structure is a necessary evil!
We understand that organization is the one thing that still keeps us human. It is that calendar or the to-do list that brings us back to reality. It is that assistant that is so OCD about keeping structure, that we knew when we hired them…it was necessary for not only our mental sanity but to ensure we kept our business thriving. We find value in the other side of the brain, just sometimes it is hard to make it happen.

Our minds rationalize differently!
We articulate our thoughts verbally so that we when hear ourselves say it out loud, we can then find the holes in the idea. We speak in tangents and outliers that ultimately have meaning to the bigger story, but we have to rationalize it in our own brains just to get to the final point. We chose to take the road less traveled because sometimes we do not like to feel mainstreamed. We like the opposing argument, just to argue that position with out any pre-disposition…because we can! We like a-typical. We want to be in the minds of those we are trying to influence, so we can understand how to truly create and influential piece of creative. We are flat out manic!

We do not create on a timeline!
What is a timeline…oh, that thing that keeps us on task. We just cannot force our inspiration…it just happens at 3am when the dog happened to lick our face and that is the one little thing that made it all click. We procrastinate because we work better under pressure, knowing we have to deliver the best thing since sliced bread in the next few hours. It is like a drug…the ability to create a masterpiece in a tight timeframe knowing inspiration will hit us at that an unknown moment. Then we deliver and sleep like no tomorrow.

We lead by example!
We lead from our hearts, our passions, and our past experiences. We want to create a community of ideas, bring people together with a common vision, and allow them to create more pieces of fine art. We have been down that road before. Living the dream with bad bosses, bad corporate structure…and it is our hope to make it a little better for those that will lead us to the next millennium. Why, because we believe in our future. We believe we must give back because those we are trying to inspire will be the ones who decide how our legacy(s) will live for the next millennium.