Tag Archives: 5 Star Book

Book Notes: The Productivity Project

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quite often people think that productivity is about being busy , here the book focuses on what we accouplish. It is easy to get into a “factory” mindset focused on efficiency e.g. how many words did I write, however this is not productivity something such as writing a valuable book is.

To be productive we need three elements

  • Prioritise – not all tasks deliver as much value, limit to 3 per day
  • Biological Prime Time – work with your body, not against it find when you work best
  • Procrastinating – Tasks which are: Boring, Frustrating, Difficult, Unstructured or ambiguous, Lacking meaning, Lacking intrinsic reward – we naturally differ thing which match these criteria, instead we should lean on them e.g. if a task is boring how can we make it interesting?

Sometimes procrastinating is just a symptom that your life just doesn’t match what you’re interested in and … maybe you should do something else.

Tim Pychyl
  • Meet your future self – Make a vivid picture of you in the future as a real person, then you will less likely defer tasks to them
  • The Internet kills productivity – There are too many distractions, disconnect
  • Ignore time – manage your energy and attention to become productive not time
  • Working less – value space to refocus and recharge not time working even though working longer hours feels more productive it’s not
  • Cleaning house – group together low value/low attention tasks
  • Zen of productivity – we have to seperate the feeling of productivity from productivity itself, e.g answering emails are easier and give us enjoyment like Netflix, but don’t contribute to the high value items which we should be guarding
  • Shrink the unimportant – e.g. answering email feels productive but that does not mean it contributes to your highest value tasks so shrink the tasks which don’t.
  • Removing the unimportant – hire a (virtual) assistant to offload tasks
  • Emptying your brain – write down tasks so they don’t consume brain power
  • Rising up – review a list of “hot spots” e.g. finance, relationship to keep on track
  • Making room – having room so your mind can wander is great for problem solving
  • Attention hijackers – disable notifications, remote things which distract you
  • Mindfulness – focus on doing just one thing
  • Refueling – food, exercise and sleep have big impacts. Alcohol takes energy from tomorrow, caffeine from later today.

Book Notes: Extreme Ownership

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The lessons from the book are simple and listed below, however the book is more interesting than these notes because of the stories on which these principles were discovered.Extreme Ownership – fundamentally is about

Extreme Ownership requires leaders to look at an organisation’s problems through the objective lens of reality, without emotional attachment to agendas or plans. It mandates that a leader sets ego aside, accepts responsibility for failure, attack weaknesses and consistently works to build a better and more effective team. Such a leader does not take credit for the team’s success but bestows that honor upon its members. When a leader sets such an example and expects this from junior leaders within the team, the mindset develops into the team’s culture at every level. With Extreme Ownership, junior leaders take charge of their smaller teams and their piece of the mission. Efficiency and effectiveness increases exponentially and high-performance, winning teams are the result.

  • Extreme Ownership – By leading and taking responsibility
  • No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders – Bad leaders blame others and don’t succeed
  • Believe in your mission – Truly understand why the mission is important
  • Check the Ego – Ego stifles planning, advice, criticism… the worst ego is yours
  • Cover and Move – The company wins, not the team. Support and work with others
  • Simple – Keep things simple so everyone can understand, if its complex its forgotten
  • Prioritise and Execute – If you try to take on everything you’ll fail at everything
  • Decentralised Command – Grow leaders with teams of around four to six people
  • Plan – Get the lowest levels to plan then brief at high level encouraging interaction
  • Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command – Provide more visibility up & down
  • Decisiveness amid Uncertainty – You will never have all the info but decide now
  • Discipline Equals Freedom – Leadership is a balance, being disciplined gives space

Book Notes: Leadershift

Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace by Maxwell John
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For me this was a book which resonated very well with my thoughts and opinions so it was quite an enjoyable read and one I would recommend.

  • Focus: from soloist to conductor – it’s not about you its about the team
    • Going slower so you can go further – you have to work with others so they can grow
    • Recognise you need others – working with people not against them
    • Making the effort to understand others – helping people succeed
    • Wanting others to shine more than you do – when others shine you deliver
    • Helping others to become better every day – supporting others growth
  • Personal development: from goals to growth – its about always striving to get better
    • Inside growth – growth results in better performance not targets
    • Growth in a few vital things – Relationships, Leadership, Growing others and a positive attitude
    • Growth without a finish line – continuous growth
  • Cost: from perks to price – its not about what you get its about what you give
    • Reality – everything worthwhile is uphill
    • Example – leaders must climb the hill first
    • Consistency – never get to stop climbing
  • Relational: from pleasing people to challenging people – your aim is not to be liked but to grow people
    • Shift from what you gain to how you can help, improve your organisation
    • Value people so they put in their best, serve them, empower them, motivate them
    • Work to set expectations up front
    • Ask yourself the hard questions first
    • When a tough conversation is needed, do it right
    • 25% will support you, 50% are undecided, 25% will resist change – support the 50% join the supporting 25%
    • Balance care with candor
Values the Person
Establishes the Relationship
Shores Up Weaknesses
Offers Comfort
Makes the Team Pleasant
Values the Person’s Potential
Expands the Relationship
Brings Out Strengths
Offers a Challenge
Makes the Team Productive
  • Abundance: from maintaining to creating – it’s about pushing forward and not resting
    • What zone are you in?
      • Coasting – doing as little as possible
      • Comfort – doing what you have always done
      • Challenge – do what you’ve not done before
      • Creative – think what I’ve never thought before
    • Get creative
      • Fuel Passion
      • Celebrate Ideas
      • Foster Autonomy
      • Encourage Courage
      • Minimise Hierarchy
      • Reduce Rules
      • Fail Forward
      • Start Small
  • Reproduction: from ladder climbing to ladder building – from just your success to helping others succeed
    • How high will others go with help?
  • Communication: from directing to connecting – from telling people what to do to helping them by working together
Top Down
Gives Answers
My Agenda
Side by Side
Asks Questions
Your Agenda
  • Improvement: from team uniformity to team diversity – there is power in diversity
    • Diverse teams fill in knowledge gaps
    • Diverse teams have different perspectives
    • Diverse teams have different experiences
  • Influence: from positional authority to moral authority – for people to want to follow you because of your reputation for excellence
    • There are many types of authority – natural, positional, knowledge, situational, relational, proximity, success, mentoring and seniority authority.
    • Levels of authority
      1. Position – people follow because they have to
      2. Permission – people follow because they want to
      3. Production – people follow because you demonstrate competence
      4. People Development – people follow because you help them become competent
      5. Pinnacle – people follow because you have a reputation for excellence
  • Impact: from trained leaders to transformational leaders
Trained LeadersTransformational Leaders
Know How to Lead
Are Liked
Influence Today
Ask People to Follow
Love to Lead
Are Trained
Help People
Have a Career
Impact a Few
Know Why They Lead
Are Contagious
Influence Today and Tomorrow
Ask People to Make a Difference
Love the People They Lead
Are Trained and Transformed
Help People Change
Have a Calling
Impact Many
  • Passion: from career to calling
Mainly About You
Something You Choose
Separated from Your Best Life
You Can Take or Leave It
Something You Can Do
Measured by Success
Mainly About Others
Somthing Chosen for You
Integrated into Your Entire Life
Never Leaves You
Something You Must Do
Measured by Significance

Book Notes: Essential Kanban Condensed

Essential Kanban Condensed by David J. Anderson & Andy Carmichael
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really brief but neat book, although it goes into the Kanban board/cards etc the piece which I felt was a very nice and useful summary was its values, principles etc.

Kanban values

  • Transparency – The belief that sharing information improves the generation of business value.
  • Balance – The understanding that different aspects, viewpoints, and capabilities all must be balanced for effectiveness.
  • Collaboration – The focus on the way people work together.
  • Customer Focus – Knowing the value which the system brings to its users.
  • Flow – The realisation that work is a flow of work leading to value generation, whether continuous or episodic. Improving the flow improves generation of value.
  • Leadership – In Kanban leadership is needed at all levels to achieve value delivery and improvement.
  • Understanding – Kanban is an improvement method, and knowing the starting point is foundation.
  • Agreement – The commitment to move together toward goals, respecting differences of opinion or approach. It is key to note that this is not management by consensus, but a dynamic co-commitment to improvement.
  • Respect – Valuing, understanding, and showing consideration for people.


  • The Sustainability Agenda looks inward to the organisation. Its goal is to balance demand with capability thus improving the performance. Where demand outstrips capability making work visible and limiting WiP will have a positive impact on the amount of work completed, the time needed to complete work items, and staff morale.
  • The Service Orientation Agenda focuses attention external to the organisation on performance and customer satisfaction that meet and exceed customers’ needs and expectations.
  • The Survivability Agenda looks into the future and is concerned with staying competitive and adaptive.

Change Management Principles

  • Start with what you are doing now
  • Agree to purse improvement through evolutionary change
  • Encourage acts of leadership at all levels

Service Delivery Principles

  • Understand and focus on customer needs and expectations
  • Manage the work let people self organise around it
  • Evolve policies to improve outcomes

General Practices of Kanban

  • Visualise.
  • Limit work in progress.
  • Manage flow.
  • Make policies explicit.
  • Implement feedback loops.
  • Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally

Book Notes: Great At Work

Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More by Morten T. Hansen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book presents a small number of techniques which they have found to be correlated to high performance at work.

  1. Do less, then obsess – Top performers carefully choose which projects and tasks to join and which to flee, limiting the focus is only half of the challenge the second is to channel effort and resource to excel in the few chosen.
  2. Redesign your work – focus on the value which others receive from our work and look at how we can get more value out of it from the same amount of time. Our goals should be driven by the value. Being busy is not an accomplishment. Value of a person’s work = Benefit to others X quality X efficiency. We can improve value with:
    1. Less Fluff – eliminate or reduce existing activities of little value
    2. More Right Stuff – spend more time on existing activities of high value
    3. More “Gee Whiz” – create new activities of high value
    4. Five Star Rating – improve the quality of your chosen activities
    5. Faster, Cheaper – find ways to do your chosen activities more efficiently
  3. Don’t just learn, loop – this is about quality learning through deliberate practice not just quantity of time learning. Using work activities such as meetings or presentations as learning opportunities.
    1. Carve out the 15 – Pick one skill to develop and take 15 minutes per day to focus on improving it.
    2. Chunk it – break problems down into much smaller chunks to tackle
    3. Measure the “soft” – look for ways to measure the results of “soft” skills
    4. Get nimble feedback fast – quality feedback needs to identify what was good and what needs improving soon after the event.
    5. Dig the dip – taking on challenges initially cause performance to drop but these have significant longer term benefits that outweigh the initial dip.
    6. Confront the stall point – as soon as things become easy we are no longer learning, you must push the boundaries even when you are on top.
  4. P-Squared (passion and purpose) – people with passion and purpose achieve more than someone with only passion.
  5. Forceful champions – inspiring people by evoking emotions and circumventing resistance with “smart grit”, perseverance in the face of difficulty and overcoming opposition by understanding others perspectives. Showing people, not just telling people to maximise emotion.
  6. Fight and unite – the success of the team is how well people debate in team meetings and how fully they commit to implement decisions. When teams have good fights in their meetings team members debate the issues, consider alternatives, challenge one another, listen to minority views, scrutinise assumptions and enable every participant to speak up without fear of retribution. After the fight team members commit to a decision made and all work towards it without second-guessing, backroom politics or undermining it – improving its likelihood of success.
  7. The two sins of collaboration – the sins are the extremes – under collaborating where people work in silos and over collaboration where there is an information, time and effort overload to collaborate. Disciplined collaboration aims to provide a middle ground. Establish a compelling “why” collaboration is beneficial, if it’s not don’t do it but if there is value then collaborate.

Book Notes: Trillion Dollar Coach

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Handbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a look back at some of the advice which senior leaders in silicon valley received from Bill Campbell who was their coach.

  • Corral any “team of rivals” into a community and get them aligned in marching towards a common goal and thus success.
  • The best coach for any team is the manager who leads that tea. Being a good coach is essential to being a good manager and leader. Coaching is no longer a specialty; you cannot be a good manager without being a good coach.
  • Your Title Makes You a Manager. Your People Make You a Leader

How do you bring people around and help them flourish in your environment? It’s not by being a dictator. It’s not by telling them what the hell to do. It’s making sure that they feel valued by being in the room with you. Listen. Pay attention. This is what great managers do.

  • Delivery is important – you have to have good processes, make sure people are accountable, you know how to hire great people, how to evaluate them and give them feedback and pay them well.

People are the foundation of any companies success. The primary job of each manager is to help people be more effective in their job and to grow and develop. We have great people who want to do well, are capable of doing great things, and come to work fired up to do them. Great people flourish in an environment that liberates and amplifies that energy. Managers create this environment through support, respect and trust.

Support means giving people the tools, information, training and coaching they need to succeed. It means continuous effort to develop people’s skills. Great managers help people excel and grow.

Respect means understanding people’s unique career goals and being sensitive to their life choices. It means helping people achieve these career goals in a way that’s consistent with the needs of the company.

Trust means freeing people to do their job and to make decisions. It means knowing people want to do well and believing that they will.

It’s the People
  • It’s the people – the top priority of any manager is the well-being and success of her people
  • Start with trip reports – to build rapport and better relationships among team members, start team meetings with trip reports or other type of more personal, non-bussiness topic.
  • 5 words on a whiteboard – have a structure for 1:1s and take the time to prepare for them as they are the best way to help people be more effective and to grow
    • Performance on job requirements
    • Relationships with peer groups
    • Management/Leadership
    • Innovation (best practices)
  • The throne behind the round table – the manager’s job is to run a decision-making process that ensures all perspectives get heard and considered, and, if necessary, to break ties and make decisions.
  • Lead based on first principles – define the “first principles” for the situation, the immutable truths that are the foundations for the company or product and help guide the decision from those principles.
  • Manage the aberrant genius – aberrant geniuses (high performance but difficult team members) should be tolerated and even protected, as long as their behaviour isn’t unethical or abusive and their value outweighs the toll their behavior takes on management, colleagues and teams.
  • Money’s not about money – compensating people well demonstrates love and respect and ties them strongly to the goals of the company
  • Innovation is where the crazy people have stature – the purpose of a company is to bring a product vision to life. All the other components are in service to the product.
  • Heads held high – if you have to let people go, be generous, treat them well and celebrate their accomplishments.
  • Bill on boards – it’s the CEO’s job to manager boards, not the other way around
  • Only coach the coachable – the traits that make a person coachable include honesty and humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.
  • Practice free-form listening – listen to people with your full and undivided attention (don’t think ahead to what you’re going to say next) and ask questions to get to the real issue.
  • No gap between statements and facts – be relentlessly honest and candid, couple negative feedback with caring, give feedback as soon as possible, and if the feedback is negative, deliver it privately.
  • Don’t’ stick it in their ear – don’t tell people what to do; offer stories and help guide them to the best decisions for them.
  • Be the evangelist for courage -believe in people more than they believe in themselves, and push them to be more courageous.
  • Full identity front and center – people are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work.
  • Work the team, then the problem – when faced with problem or opportunity, the first step is to ensure the right team is in place and working on it.
  • Pick the right players – the top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts: the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit , empathy and a team-first attitude.
  • Pair people – peer relationships are critical and often overlooked, so seek opportunities to pair people up on projects or decisions.
  • Peer feedback survey:
    • Core attributes – For the past 12 months, to what extent do you agree/disagree that each person:
      • Displayed extraordinary in-role performance.
      • Exemplified world-class leadership
      • Achieved outcomes that were in the best interest for both the company as a whole and his/her organisation.
      • Expanded the boundaries of what is possible for the company through innovation and/or application of best practices.
      • Collaborated effectively with peers (e.g. worked well together, resolved barriers/issues with others) and championed the same in his/her team.
      • Contributed effectively during senior team meetings (e.g was prepared, participated actively, listened well, was open and respectful to others, disagreed constructively)
    • Product leadership – For the past 12 months to what extent do you agree/disagree that each person demonstrated exemplary leadership in the following areas:
      • Product Vision
      • Product Quality
      • Product Execution
    • Open-text questions
      • What differentiated each SVP and makes him/her effective today?
      • What advice would you give each SVP to be more effective and/or have greater impact?
  • Get to the table – winning depends on having the best team, and the best teams have more women.
  • Solve the biggest problem – identify the biggest problem, the “elephant in the room”, bring it front an center and tackle it first.
  • Don’t let the bitch sessions last – air all the negative issues, but don’t dwell on them. Move on as fast as possible.
  • Winning right – strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork and integrity.
  • Leaders lead – when things are going bad, teams are looking for even more loyalty, commitment, and decisiveness from their leaders.
  • Fill the gaps between people – listen, observe, and fill the communication and understanding gaps between people.
  • Permission to be empathetic – leading teams becomes a lot more joyful, and the teams more effective, when you know and care about the people.
  • The lovely reset – to care about people you have to care about people: ask about their lives outside of work, understand their families and when things get rough show up.
  • The percussive clap – cheer demonstrably for people and their successes.
  • Always build communities – build communities inside and outside of work. A place is much stronger when people are connected.
  • Help people – be generous with your time, connections and other resources.
  • Love the founders – old a special reverence for – and protect – the people with the most vision and passion for the company.
  • The elevator chat – loving colleagues in the workplace may be challenging, so practice it until it becomes more natural.

The book ends with a forward looking page for advice given to Eric when he was stepping down from CEO of Google on how to stay engaged in later life: Be creative, don’t be a portfolio of interests, fine people with vitality, apply your gifts, don’t waste time worrying about the future.

Book Notes: Dare to Lead

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brene Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What, if anything, about the way people are leading today needs to change in order for leaders to be successful in a complex, rapidly changing environment where we’re faced with seemingly intractable challenges and an insatiable demand for innovation? We need brave leaders and courageous culture

There are ten behaviours and cultural issues which get in the way of organisations:

  • We avoid tough conversations, including giving honest, productive feedback.
  • We manage problematic behaviour rather than acknowledging and addressing fear and feelings during change.
  • Diminish trust caused by a lack of connection and empathy.
  • Not enough people are taking smart risks or creating and sharing bold ideas to meet challenging demands and the insatiable need for innovation.
  • We get stuck and defined by setbacks, disappointments and failures so we waste time and energy reassuring people who question their value and contribution.
  • Too much shame and blame, not enough accountability and learning.
  • Opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusion because they fear looking, saying or being wrong.
  • When things go wrong we rush into ineffective or unsustainable solutions rather than staying with problem identification and solving.
  • Values are vage instead of actual behaviours which are taught, measured and evaluated.
  • Perfectionism and fear are keeping people from learning and growing.

The Rumble is a discussion, conversation or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving to take breaks and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and to listen with the same passion we want to be heard.

The 6 myths of vulnerability –
Vulnerability is weakness – there can be no act of courage without vulnerability,
I don’t do vulnerability – life is fundamentally uncertain with risks and emotional exposure,
I can go it alone – humans are hardwired for connection as a social species,
Engineer the uncertainty and discomfort out of vulnerability – this is not something which you can fix out there it’s something you have to develop inside yourself,
Trust comes before vulnerability – in reality one can’t grow without the other,
Vulnerability is disclosure – this is not about oversharing its about leaning into conversations.

Ask your team”What does support from me look like?”

Armored LeadershipDaring Leadership
Driving perfectionism and fostering fear of failureModeling and encouraging healthy striving, empathy and self-compassion
Working from scarcity and squandering opportunities for joy and recognitionPracticing gratitude and celebrating milestones and victories
NumbingSetting boundaries and finding real comfort
Propagating the false dichotomy of victim or viking, crush or be crushedPracticing integration – strong back, soft front, wild heart
Being a knower and being rightBeing a learner and getting it right
Hiding behind cynicismModeling clarity, kindness and hope
Using criticism as self-protectionMaking contributions and taking risks
Using power overUsing power with, power to, and power within
Hustling for our worthKnowing our value
Leading for compliance and controlCultivating commitment and shared purpose
Weaponising fear and uncertaintyAcknowledging, naming and normalising collective fear and uncertainty
Rewarding exhaustion as a status symbol and attaching productivity to self-worthModeling and supporting rest, play and recovery
Tolerating discrimination, echo chambers and a “fitting in” cultureCultivating a culture of belonging, inclusivity and diverse perspectives
Collecting gold starsGiving fold stars
Zigzagging and avoidingStraight talking and taking action
Leading from hurtLeading from heart

Shame 1-2-3s:

  1. We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience.
  2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame. Just the word is uncomfortable.
  3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.

Guilt = I did something bad. Shame = I am bad.

If shame is obvious then you have a big problem but it can exist in organisations but in a much less obvious way such as: perfectionism, favoritism, gossiping, back-channeling, comparison, self-worth tied to productivity, harassment, discrimination, power over, bullying, blaming, teasing, cover-ups….

Empathy skills:

  1. To see the world as others see it, or perspective taking
  2. To be non-judgemental
  3. To understand another person’s feelings
  4. To communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings
  5. Mindfulness

Book Notes: Winning

Winning by Jack Welch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book, it gives quite a lot of really interesting stories which really go much beyond the notes I have capture here.

Underneath it all
MISSION AND VALUES – So Much Hot Air About Something So Real

A good mission statement and a good set of values are so real they smack you in the face with their concreteness.

A good mission statement answers “How do we intend to win in this bussiness?”, giving a clear direction to profitability and inspiring to be part of something big and important. In compiling the mission statement it is important to listen to smart people from everywhere in the bussiness but it is management’s responsibility to listen, then define it then deliver on it.

Where as the responsibility for mission is the managements the responsibility for values is everyones, and while management might come up with a first version it is important for everyone to feel that they can have input and challenge them to make them better. It is then important to reward people who follow them and punish those that do not – living the values is crucial to winning.

Mission and values must be reinforcing – which seems obvious at first, but over time they can drift apart and if kept unchecked can cause the downfall of the company (e.g. Arthur Anderson).

CANDOR – The Biggest Dirty Little Secret in Business

First you get more people and ideas expressed in conversations which results in more richer ideas where people feel they can discuss, pull apart and improve ideas rather than just shutting people down.
Second it generates speed which is needed in a world market competing against a five person startup.
Third it cuts cost with meaningful discussion not just dull presentations

DIFFERENTIATION – Cruel and Darwinian? Try Fair and Effective

This is the way to manage people and businesses – for businesses it was being #1 or #2 in the market or having a plan to get there, if this were not the case then the company would have to be restructured, sold or closed. This made winning very clear and also made it clear where money should be invested – not just giving a little to every bussiness.

Managers already rank people in their head so why not make it visible.
Top 20% – these are your best and are treated well with share options bonuses etc
Middle 70% – these are the majority and here the challenge and risk is to keep them motivated and engaged. Focus is on training, feedback and goal setting. You don’t want to lose these people you want them to improve.
Bottom 10% – these people have to go, ideally once you tell them they are in the bottom 10% they will leave on their own to find jobs which are much more suited to them.
The challenges is that in some companies 20-70-10 does not work because of cronyism or favoritism. It could be that management classify the top 20 are head nodders and the bottom 10 are the ones who ask tough questions. This can be resolved with a candid clear cut appraisal system with clear goals, expectations and timelines.

VOICE AND DIGNITY – Every Brain in the Game

Every person wants and deserves a voice and dignity. Voice meaning that everyone is respected for having a valid opinion and feeling from their perspective. Dignity being acknowledged for their work, effort and individuality. Using “Work-Out” sessions where an external facilitator the manager would open the event and then leave for the sessions to be as open as possible, the manager would return at the end of the day and for 75% of the items give a yes or no answer right away and committing to respond to the remaining 25% soon after.

Your company
LEADERSHIP – It’s Not Just About You

Before you become a leader success is about growing yourself. Once you become a leader success is about growing others.

What leaders do:

  • Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter to evaluate, coach, and build self-confidence
    • You have to evaluate – making sure the right people are in the right jobs, supporting and advancing those who are, and moving out those who are not
    • You have to coach – guiding, critiquing, and helping people to improve their performance in every way
    • And finally you have to build self-confidence – pouring out encouragement, caring and recognition.
  • Leaders make sure that people don’t only see the vision but that they live and breath it
  • Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism
  • Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency and credit
  • Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls
  • Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action
  • Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example
  • Leaders celebrate

HIRING – What Winners Are Made Of

Integrity – they tell the truth, keep their word and take responsibility for past mistakes
Intelligence – not just education (which is a piece of the puzzle) but intelligence is critical
Maturity – individuals can handle the heat, stress and setbacks

4Es and a P
Positive energy – they love what they are doing and seem to never get tired
Energise others – the ability to get people revved up and passionate to do things
Edge – the courage to make tough yes or no decisions
Execute – the ability to get the job done
Passion – a deep felt and authentic passion for work

For senior leaders then you are also looking for
Authenticity – to have self confidence and conviction
See around corners – to be able to predict things before they happen
Surround themselves with better people than they are – a great leader has the courage to pull together a team which can make them look like the dumbest person in the room
Heavy-duty resilience – when they make a mistake do they re-group and then get going again

PEOPLE MANAGEMENT – You’ve Got the Right Players, Now What?

  • Elevate HR to a position of power and primacy in the organisation, and make sure HR people have the special qualities to help managers build leaders and careers. In fact, the best HR types are pastors and parents in the same package.
  • Use a rigorous, non bureaucratic evaluation system, monitored for integrity with the same intensity as Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance
  • Create effective mechanisms – read: money, recognition and training – to motivate and retain
  • Face straight into charged relationships – with unions, stars, sliders and disruptors
  • Fight gravity and instead of taking the middle 70 for granted treat them like the heart and soul of the organisation
  • Design the org chart to be as flat as possible with blindingly clear reporting relationships and responsibilities

PARTING WAYS – Letting Go Is Hard to Do

Firing people is not pleasant for neither the employee nor the manager but there are three mistakes which are common.
Moving too fast – Identifying someone is underperforming and not giving them a chance to improve
Not being candid – Where you have said nice things to the person but not the real feedback so when they are fired the feel mislead
Taking too long – where someone is obviously underperforming and everyone knows it but the fear of firing someone is too large these people suffer as a result

CHANGE – Mountains Do Move

  • Attach every change initiative to a clear purpose or goal. Change for change’s sake is stupid and enervating
  • Hire and promote only true believers and get-on-with-it types
  • Ferret out and get rid of resistors, even if their performance is satisfactory
  • Look at car wrecks – where things go wrong see what might be salvaged

CRISIS MANAGEMENT – From Oh-God-No to Yes-We’re-Fine

  • Assume that it is worse than it appears
  • Assume there are no secrets in the world and that everyone will eventually find out everything
  • Assume that you and your organisation’s handling of the crisis will be portrayed in the worst possible light
  • Assume there will be changes in processes and people
  • Assume your organisation will survive, ultimately stronger for what happend

Your competition
STRATEGY – It’s All in the Sauce

  • Come up with a big aha for your business a smart realistic relatively fast way to gain substantial competitive advantage
    • What does the playing field look like now
    • What the competition has been up to
    • What you’ve been up to
    • What’s around the corner?
    • What’s your winning move?
  • Put the right people in the right jobs to drive the big aha forward
  • Relentlessly seek out the best practices to achieve your big aha whether inside or out adopt them and continue improving them

BUDGETING – Reinventing the Ritual

The standard budget process is broken as finance and the company are on different sides – there is a phony war where people can not be honest and open which turns it into a game. If instead two questions were asked ” How can we beat last years performance?” and “What is our competitor doing and how can we beat them?”. This is more an operational plan and unlike a budget can and should change as the year progresses.
This can only work if bonus is not tied to the budget and is instead linked to how the company improved on the previous year and in comparison to competitors.

ORGANIC GROWTH – So You Want to Start Something New

Starting and growing a new product or company with value of $50k is more complicated than running an established bussiness of $20m. However there are common mistakes which companies make.
First companies tend to under resource new ventures.
Second they make too little fanfare about the potential the new idea has
Third they limit the ventures autonomy.
These are hedges by the company to limit the potential risk and impact but they also limit the chases of its success. Instead
Spend plenty up front and put the best, hungriest and most passionate people in leadership roles.
Make an exaggerated commotion about potential and importance of the new venture
Err on the side of freedom; get off the new venture’s back

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS – Deal Heat and Other Deadly Sins

  • The first pitfall is thinking that a merger of equals can occur. Despite the noble intentions of those attempting them, the vast majority of such mergers self-destruct because of their very premise.
  • The second pitfall is focusing so intently on strategic fit that you fail to assess cultural fit, which is just as important to a merger’s success, if not more so.
  • The third pitfall is entering into a “reverse hostage situation”, in which the acquirer ends up making so many concessions during negotiations that the acquired ends up calling all the shots afterwards.
  • The fourth pitfall is integrating too timidly. With good leadership, a good merger should be completed within 90 days.
  • The fifth pitfall is the conqueror syndrome, in which the acquiring company marches in and installs own manages everywhere, undermining one of the reasons for any merger – getting an influx of new talent to pick from.
  • The sixth pitfall is paying too much. Not 5 or 10% too much, but so much that the premium can never be recouped in the integration
  • The seventh pitfall afflicts the acquired companies people from top to bottom – resistance. In a merger, new owners will always select people with buy-in over resistors with brains. If you want to survive, get over your angst and learn to love the deal as much as they do.

SIX SIGMA – Better Than a Trip to the Dentist

The book advocated Six Sigma in areas such as repetitive tasks and complex new products with the key aim to be the reduction in variation – with the highlight of “variation is evil” and Six Sigma provides a way to reduce this.

Your career
THE RIGHT JOB – Find It and You’ll Never Really Work Again

Imagine you are considering a new job…

SignalTake it as a good sign if…Be concerned if…
PeopleYou like the people a lot – you can relate to them, and you genuinely enjoy the company. In fact, they even think and act what you do.You feel like you’ll need to put on a persona at work. After a visit to the company, you find yourself saying things like, “I don’t need to be friends of people I work with”
OpportunityThe job gives you the opportunity to grow as a person and a professional, and you get the feeling you will learn things there that you didn’t even know you needed to learn.You’re being hired as an expert, and upon arrival, you will most likely be the smartest person in the room.
OptionsThe job gives you a credential you can take with you, and is in a business and industry with a future.The industry has peaked or has awful economics, and the company itself, for any number of reasons, will do little to expand your career opportunities
OwnershipYou are taking the job yourself, or you know who you’re taking it for, and feel at peace with the bargainYou are taking the job that any number of other constituents, such as a spouse you wants you to travel less or the 6th grade teacher who said you would never amount to anything.
Work ContentThe “stuff” of the job turns your crank – you love the work, it feels fun and meaningful to you, and even touches something primal in your soul.The job feels like a job. In taking it, you say things like, “this is just until something better comes along” or “You can’t beat the money”.

GETTING PROMOTED – Sorry, No Shortcuts

To get promoted:

  • Do deliver sensational performance, far beyond expectations, and at every opportunity expand your job beyond its official boundaries.
  • Don’t make your boss use political capital in order to champion you.

In addition the following help:

  • Do manage your relationship with your subordinates with the same carefulness that you manage the one with your boss.
  • Do get on the radar screen, being an early champion of your company’s major project or initiative.
  • Do search out and relish the input of mentors, realising that mentors don’t always look like mentors.
  • Do have a positive attitude and spread it around
  • Don’t let setbacks break your stride

HARD SPOTS – That Damn Boss

  • Why is my boss acting like a jerk?
  • What is the end game for my boss?
  • What happens to me if I deliver results and endure my bad boss?
  • Why do I work here anyway?

WORK-LIFE BALANCE – Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Having It All (But Were Afraid to Hear)

  • Your boss’s top priority is competitiveness. Of course they want you to be happy, but only in as much as it helps your company win. In fact, if he is doing his job right, he is making your job so exciting that your personal life becomes a less compelling draw.
  • Most bosses are perfectly willing to accommodate work-life balance challenges if you have earned it with performance. The key word here is: if.
  • Bosses know that the work-life policies in the company brochure are mainly for recruiting purposes and that real work-life arrangements are negotiated one-on-one in the context of a supportive culture, not in the context of “but the company says …!”
  • People who publicly struggle with work-life balance problems and continually turn to the company for help get pigeonhole as ambivalent, entitled, uncommitted or incompetence – or all of the above.
  • Even the most accommodating bosses believe that work-life balance is your problem to solve. In fact, most know that there are really just a handful of effective strategies to do that, and they wish you would use them.
    • Keep your head in whatever games your at – compartmentalise so you do home stuff at home and work stuff at work
    • Have the mental to say no to requests and demands outside your chosen work life balance plan
    • Make sure your work life balance plan doesn’t leave you out – with pulls in 2,3,4 directions it is easy for there to be no time for you

Book Notes : Tribal Leadership

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book looks at tribes and how there are different levels of them which can be identified by the language which they use.  The higher the stage the better the performance.  A tribe can be at multiple stages at the same time.  It comes down to language and behavior in the tribe.  The stages have to be progressed in order – there is no way to short cut or jump stages.

Stage Mood Theme
5 Innocent wonderment “Life is great”
4 Tribal Pride “We’re great (and your not)”
3 Lone Worrier “I’m great (and your not)”
2 Apathetic Victim “My life sucks”
1 Despairing hostility “Life sucks”
Stage 1 – Life sucks


  • A person feels alienated
  • A group of such people express desperate hostility

Progressing from stage 1

  • Spending time with people who are in a later stage
  • Encourage the person to realise how life itself works
  • Encourage the cutting of ties with other people in stage 1

Success looks like

  • He will move from life sucks to more personal my life sucks with more specifics on why life sucks not a generalisation
  • Will exhibit passive apathy – this is positive but appears as a step backwards to the uninformed
  • Cuts ties with others at stage 1
Stage 2 – My life sucks


  • Others lives seem to be working but mine does not
  • In a group they feel like apathetic victims

Progressing from stage 2

  • Encourage the making of friends (dyadic relationships)
  • Highlight the positive impact the person is having and the areas that they have potential to develop in a positive way.
  • Assign projects which such a person can do well in a short time.  Excessive nagging or follow-up will reinforce stage 2 so should be avoided.

Success looks like

  • Will start showing off success using I’m great language.
  • Many sentences will start with “I”
  • Will exhibit a lone warrior spirit “What’s wrong with them?” “If they tried they’d succeed”
Stage 3 – I’m great (and you’re not)


  • Connection are dyadic (two-person) relationships
  • The language is “I’m great” and in the background “and your not”
  • Competition to outperform each other and put each other down – often under the veil of humor.

Progressing from stage 3

  • Encourage people to work on projects that are bigger than anything that can be done alone requiring partnership.
  • Highlight that success has come through his own efforts but that going forward is going to require a totally different style – aka what brought you here is not enough to move you forward.
  • Highlight people already operating at Stage Four.
  • When the person complains that he doesn’t have time and that others aren’t as good (the two chief gribes at Stage 3), show that he has crafted his work life so that no one can really contribute to him.
  • Tell stories about how you transitioned to Stage Four.
  • Coach that power does not come from knowledge but from networking and there is more leverage in wisdom than in information.  Compliment his success and emphasises that you’re on their side.  Also help them notice that the goal requires getting more done than is possible alone, no matter how smart and talented they are.
  • Encourage the use of transparency and over communication.
  • Encourage the formation of triads

Success looks like

  • Start to use “we” not “I”.  Will point to the team, not themselves.
  • Will actively form triads, and expand their network
  • Will work less and get more done
  • Complaints about “not enough time” and “no one is as good” will cease.
  • Results for the area accountable will increase by at least 30%
  • Will communicate with transparency
  • Will communicate more information and more often
Leadership Epiphany
  • When people realise they have not achieved what they thought, the victories were only personal not tribal.
  • An attempt to achieve tribal victories using Stage Three approaches which does not work
  • Eventually there is a realisation that Stage Three is self defeating and that tribal successes are enduring and satisfying for everyone.
  • At Stage Three power is felt as a zero-sum game, where as at Stage Four power is abundant: the more you give to others, the more you get back.
  • The only real goal is the betterment of the tribe.  Ironically by doing this they achieve what they wanted from Stage Three: esteem, respect, loyalty, legacy and enduring success.
Core Values and Noble Cause
  • Core values are “principles without which life wouldn’t be worth living”
  • There are two ways to seek core values.  The first is for a Tribal Leader to tell a vision-laden story, which triggers others to tell similar stories about their values
  • The second way is to ask questions such as “What are you proud of?” and ask three to five open-ended questions
  • The Tribal Leader’s goal is to find shared values that unite the tribe.
  • A noble cause is what the tribe is “shooting for”.  There are two ways to find a tribe’s noble cause.  The first is to keep asking, “in service of what?”
  • The second ways is to ask the Big Four Questions of people in the tribe.  They are
    • What’s working well?
    • What’s not working?
    • What can we do to make the things that aren’t working, work?
    • Is there anything else?
  • The goal of determining values and a noble cause isn’t agreement, it is alignment which produces coordination action married with passionate resolve.
  • Everything not consistent with the core values and noble cause needs to be reworked or pruned.
  • “What activities will express our values and reach towards our noble cause?”
Stage 4 – We’re great (and you’re not)


  • Everything flows from the teams values and noble cause
  • “What do we want?” – an outcome not a goal
    • A goal implies we are failing and need to achieve something to survive
    • An outcome is building on the existing success
  • “What do we have?” – a set of behaviours of who would do what
    • Sometimes it needs an external pair of eyes to highlight what you already have
    • “Do we have enough assets for the outcome?”  If not what is an interim outcome?
  • “Will the behaviour produce the outcomes?”, if not what do you need

Progressing from stage 4

  • Stabalise at Stage Four by ensuring relationships based on values and mutual self-interest of current projects
  • Encourage the formation of triads
  • Explore the teams core values, nobel course, outcomes that would inspire the team, its assets, and then its behaviours.  Encourage working with more people.
  • Once stably at Stage Four encourage the team to take advantage of market conditions and make history
  • Recruit others to the tribe who share the values of the group’s strategy.
  • When the team hits difficulties, point people to others for solutions.  Encourage them not to solve problems – that promotes “I’m great (and you’re not)”.
  • Review what is working well, what is not and what cand the team do to make things that are not working well work.

Success looks like

  • “life is great” language rather than “we’re great (and your not)”
  • Will seek out ever more challenging projects
  • Will have a diverse network.
  • Will spend time based on the tribes core values and noble cause.
  • Will appear to be an embodiment of the tribe’s strategy and values.
Stage 5 – Life is great


  • Life is great
  • Larger reach than a single tribe or company
  • No competition

Book Notes : Primal Leadership

Primal Leadership: Unleashing the power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Leaders have the highest power to sway our emotions, this can be maximised when their leadership resonates with the people who they lead. This is because there is an open loop between leaders and the people who follow them, this results in a mirroring of the leaders because people pay more attention to what they say and importantly what they do – their emotional reaction has a huge impact. These leaders don’t need to be the formal leaders, but could be the teams emotional leader. This emotional watching results in a contagion of whatever the leader says or does. An emotionally positive mood has significant impact on the group and on results, and because of the impact a leader has this is generally stems from them.

Emotional Intelligence Domains and Associated Competencies

  • Personal
    • Self-Awareness
      • Emotional self-awareness: Reading one’s own emotions and recognising their impact; using “gut feel” to guide decisions
      • Accurate self-assessment: Knowing one’s strengths and limits
      • Self-confidence: A sound sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities.
    • Self-Management
      • Emotional self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control
      • Transparency: Displaying honest and integrity; trustworthiness
      • Adaptability: Flexibility in adapting to changing situations or overcoming obstacles
      • Achievement: The drive to improve performance to meet inner standards of excellence
      • Initiative: Readiness to act and seize opportunities
      • Optimism: Seeing the upside in events
  • Social
    • Social-Awareness
      • Empathy: Sensing others’ emotions, understanding their perspective and taking active interest in their concerns
      • Organisational awareness: Reading the current, decision networks and politics at the organisational level
      • Service: Recognising and meeting follower, client or customer needs
    • Relationship-Management
      • Inspirational leadership: Guiding and motivating with a compelling vision
      • Influence: Wielding a range of tactics for persuasion
      • Developing others: Bolstering others’ abilities through feedback and guidance
      • Change catalyst: Initiating, managing and leading in a new direction
      • Conflict management: Resolving disagreements
      • Building bonds: Cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships
      • Teamwork and collaboration: Cooperation and team building

These result in the following leadership styles

  • Visionary
    • How it builds resonance: Moves people towards shared dreams
    • Impact on climate: Most strongly positive
    • When appropriate: When changes require a new vision or when a clear direction is needed
  • Coaching
    • How it builds resonance: Connects what a person wants with the organisation’s goals
    • Impact on climate: Highly positive
    • When appropriate: To help an employee improve performance by building long-term capabilities
  • Affiliative (relationship building)
    • How it builds resonance: Creates harmony by connecting people to each other
    • Impact on climate: Positive
    • When appropriate: To heal rifts in a team, motivate during stressful times, or strengthen connections
  • Democratic
    • How it builds resonance: Values people’s input and gets commitment through participation
    • Impact on climate: Positive
    • When appropriate: To build buy-in or consensus or to get valuable input for employees
  • Pacesetting
    • How it builds resonance: Meets challenging and exciting goals
    • Impact on climate: Because too frequently poorly executed, often highly negative
    • When appropriate: To get high-quality results from a motivated and competent team
  • Commanding
    • How it builds resonance: Soothes fears by giving clear direction in an emergency
    • Impact on climate: Because so often misused, highly negative
    • When appropriate: In a crisis, to kick start a turnaround or with problem employees

Jumping between all four resonant leadership styles Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative & Democratic can prove a great mix for a leader.  If a leader constantly uses the Pacesetting or Commanding style this can have very negative impacts on the team and can cause toxic organisations.

CEO Disease : The information vacuum around a leader when people withhold important and sometimes unpleasant information.

Self-directed learning through the five discoveries:

  1. My ideal self: Who do I want to be?
  2. My real self: Who am I?
    1. My strengths: Where my ideals and real self overlap
    2. My gaps: Where my ideal and real self differ
  3. My learning agenda: Building on my strengths while reducing gaps
  4. Experimenting with new behavior, thoughts and feelings
    1. Practicing the new behavior, building new neural pathways through to mastery.  Bring bad habits into awareness, consciously practice a better way and rehearse that new behavior at every opportunity
  5. Developing trust and relationships that help, support and encourage each step

Listening to peoples feelings people tend to come to a consensus and paint a picture of an organisation.

When looking to spread a new culture it has to be championed widely, else the people who are evangelised the new culture first could be shot down by other parts of the orgsanisation who have not been informed about the new direction.