Building Your Leadership Toolbox with Miguel Gonzalez – Episode 22

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf22

Miguel Gonzalez is the Director of Global Logistics Procurement and Operations at Dupont and the future Chief Procurement Officer for one of three new companies that will be created after Dupont and Dow Chemicals finalize their merger.

He’s a global procurement and supply chain leader with broad experience and his unique skill is translating complex business needs into strategies that accelerates results in both short and long terms. Miguel has led global teams, has a good grasp of changing market conditions and vast experience when it comes to building and leading resilient and adaptive teams. I’m happy to introduce him to you and to share the experiences that led him to where he is today.

Essential Learning Points:

  • Always stay open to see the next opportunity and the next learning.
  • How Miguel uses books to internalize accelerated learning. Miguel reads non-fiction books and whitepapers, making notes and annotations in order to refer back to them and apply what he’s learned in the real world.
  • How do you convert your experience into tools in your toolbox? You start with an empty toolbox. Then, every experience you have you develop a tool, and you put this tool in your toolbox. The more experiences you have, the more versatile is your toolbox. Interacting with great leaders enables you to put great tools in your toolbox.
  • How do you thrive in a large enterprise? In large companies it is about understanding the strategies, getting to know the stakeholders and what is important; aligning, communicating, and building the right networks internally and externally. These are the basics.
  • The most important behavior enabling Miguel’s success is trusting first. Open and transparent communication at the outset as a starter location is you build a great collaboration.
  • “Great leaders challenge our thinking by defying the status-quo.”
  • “Leaders facilitate the dialogue that frees people from becoming stuck in yesterday.”
  • Build strategic relationships. Cultivate trust, mutual respect, and open communication.
  • Keep an open mind, continue learning and try to anticipate what the next big thing will be and then seize that opportunity.
  • There is a point in life where you’ll have to change to get to the next level.
  • You have to plan but you have to be ready because life will change your plans and you need to plan again.
  • Every relationship is a learning conversation.
  • Be present in the moment to offer your best. Every moment has the potential to open new doors.
  • Seek out new experiences. By engaging in new experiences you engender new learning.
You need to build strategic relationships. Click To Tweet I’m big on benchmarking, best practices, learning from whomever. Click To Tweet The more experiences you have in life, your toolbox is going to be better and greater. Click To Tweet The more and better tools you have, the more successful you will be. Click To Tweet When I join a new team or even a relationship, I start trusting by default. Click To Tweet
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Why Create New Futures – Episode 21

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf21

Create New Futures does not adhere to a linear, chronological story. Thus, you can extract immediate value simply by turning to any page and reading for a few minutes. This approach was intentional, and I share my thinking here briefly because it reflects the evolution of my discovery journey. Old movies like Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments begin a storyline, follow with an intermission, and then continue the chronology of the plot timeline. Somewhere in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, however, script writers began to employ the innovation of retracing up and down the timeline.

The evolution of this medium caught my attention because it reflects the development of the human capacity to become more universal and less locally based, less time-bound and more adaptive and timeline-flexible.

It also demonstrates audiences’ growing sophistication. The public at large seems to be amenable to abandon the Newtonian cause and effect linearity and ready to embrace a more complex network appreciation. The “Digital Natives” who were born in the post-Internet age are not bound by alphabetical order. Their brains have been wired into the Internet topography, where every word and idea has become a clickable portal that furthers the search for a deeper exploration. We all are now experiencing this discovery by getting used to reading in the middle and going with the flow of our interests. For this reason, I have built this book around portals, rather than chapters.

We no longer are bound by the linear cause and effect universe. Instead, we have the freedom to entertain mind-bending ideas. The legacy view that the past defines the future has been overlaid by a “flying upside down” view that contemplates a reverse flow in which the future reframes the past. What an exciting philosophical and spiritual concept!

In my workshops, my clients experience this new-found ability when we engage in the Sacred Stories Circle. In this process, I ask people to share formative experiences that contain teachable insights. I use them to demonstrate how we can attach new meaning and significance to an earlier experience from the vantage point of our current content and appreciation. This is a simple example of how we can enable the present and future to update our past.

The point of this example of how I help clients expand their thinking is to free you to explore this book any way you choose. Just as the moments and experiences described in this book trace back and forth in time, so, too, I invite you to let your interests guide your discovery journey.

The vignettes that follow are all part of my discovery journey instigated by the propelling inquiry of this book: what creates the future? I have integrated my personal and professional experiences to provide immediacy of access, to offer a practical translation of ideas, and to demonstrate how I have applied these techniques in my work. I hope this approach will inspire you to become more purposefully present in your life than you are now.

More than ever, humanity now needs people who are open and prepared to imagine, create and sustain new futures. This is a time of great transformative change. It demands our best imagination, courage and creativity.

My task in this book is to inspire you to be tomorrow’s agent, and to create conversations that birth a new future.

The “Digital Natives” who were born in the post-Internet age are not bound by alphabetical order. Click To Tweet We no longer are bound by the linear cause and effect universe. Click To Tweet More than ever, humanity now needs people who are open and prepared to imagine, create and sustain new futures. Click To Tweet
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Entrepreneurial Superpower with Court Lorenzini – Episode 20

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf20

Court Lorenzini, is the founder and CEO of multiple successful technology startups including DocuSign and MetaBrite. Court serves on the Boards of several early-stage companies, and is an active investor and advisor in the Seattle area.

I initially met Court on the board of Utrip, a destination discovery and planning platform startup where we both serve as advisors and board members. I have found Court to be one of the smartest people about business.

In this conversation, I explore with Court his formative experiences when at the age of 12 he participated regularly with his father in discussions with the first Band of Angels, the Silicon Valley’s oldest seed funding organization. Court reflects on capturing his observations and insights in his ideas’ notebook, and on discoveries he made that shaped his journey, such as his focus on the Superpower concept, the five years cycle, his determination to build a portfolio of companies, and what he has learned from each of his startups.

Essential Learning Points:

  • “My father invented the process for growing single silicon crystal at commercial scale. He was one of the eight people credited with founding Silicon Valley.”
  • What was the best crash course ever for a young entrepreneur, and how did Court utilize this rare opportunity to learn from the leaders of early technology companies about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
  • What was Court’s first job and how he maximized the learning opportunity: “Just being curious and willing to step out of the comfort zone to try new things…not only I was having fun, I was being rewarded.”
  • Entrepreneurship isn’t about being a CEO. You can be entrepreneurial as a janitor if you come up with a better way to sweep a floor. You can be entrepreneurial in every role by being curious, asking probing questions and by seeking a new better way to solve a problem.
  • You don’t go into anything with the specific hope of getting rich. You go out to solve a problem and if you are smart, you solve a problem that worth something for somebody and they will pay you for it.
  • “I started keeping notebooks of ideas and observations and not only did I write down what I heard from my father and from other people, I would also further it, and write how I would do it, what would I do differently, and always respectfully questioning how other people do what they do and thinking, what would I do in this situation myself.”
  • “By reviewing every year all my notebooks it enabled me to connect ideas and concepts, and allowed me to over time connect concepts and evolve my thinking. The more I did that the more I discovered new ways of approaching problems.”
  • “Towards the end of my college years I came up with the idea of the superpower. Your superpower is the thing you do better than everybody else you know. Everyone has a superpower. It something more fundamental than a skill that makes you a unique producer in the world.”
  • “If you discover and can articulate your personal superpower, you can then imagine roles in the world where that superpower can be applied every day. And if you can do that you are destined to enjoy a wonderful life.”
  • “Earlier on my superpower was an insatiable appetite to learn how things work. Over time this became the guiding light of my career, to my current superpower: selling vision. I create a world in my mind and I can then be so persuasive in how I describe it that it enables me to bring people together to make it a reality.”
  • “Getting outside the confines of the US and managing teams of people from nine different countries taught me how arrogant an ignorant we in the US can be, and gave me a sense of humility.”
  • “John Morgridge Cisco’s CEO was a great exemplar, and the best CEO I’ve met. He was an incredible blend of tough and fair, with an ability to see through the clatter and know what is the right thing to do in the moment. He is somebody I aspire to be like. Cisco’s success in those years was due to terrific leadership and terrific sales execution.”
  • “I try to aggressively kill every idea I come up with by finding all the reason why this idea will fail. If I can solve all these challenges it is probably a good idea to peruse.”
  • How did DocuSign come into being? DocuSign was the idea that won’t die.
  • What are the three stages in a life of a company and what is stage four?
  • “My journey has been a stage one founder journey – from napkins to product market fit.”
  • Your most valuable asset as an entrepreneur is your time. If you are going to be an entrepreneur the wisest way to do is to build a portfolio of efforts. In my world, I have created a portfolio of companies.
What was the best crash course ever for a young entrepreneur, and how did Court utilize this rare opportunity? Click To Tweet People come to work to do the minimum. Do the maximum, ask what else you can do to contribute. Click To Tweet Entrepreneurship isn't a study in how to build companies, it is the study of how to solve problems in a creative way. Click To Tweet Your superpower is the thing you do better than everybody else you know. Everyone has a superpower. Click To Tweet Managing teams from nine different countries taught me how arrogant and ignorant we in the US can be, and gave me a… Click To Tweet I try to aggressively kill ideas I come up with by finding why they will fail. If I can solve these challenges it is… Click To Tweet Confidence doesn't come from something external to you, it comes from the inside. Click To Tweet My journey has been a stage one founder journey - from napkins to product market fit. Click To Tweet As a leader, I am a servant of the organization. My role is to support the goals of the of the organization through… Click To Tweet
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Exploring Throughput Management and the Structure of Flow with Cathy Sunshine – Episode 19

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf19

My guest for this conversation is Cathy Sunshine, founder and president of the Sunshine Group, a consulting and coaching firm specializing in family business, leadership transformation and organization design.

Guided by deep insight into organizational dynamics and throughput management, Cathy helps leaders, and organizations break through blockages, become agile and engaged, and produce turnaround growth. She helped hundreds of teams accelerate growth and improve performance.

In this conversation we explore why service structure works, how it guides an organization to solve complexity by producing an alignment that creates flow.

Essential Learning Points:

  • What is throughput management and how does it relate to organizational design?
  • Why is it important, when working with a company, a family and any complex system, to go in open, and free of assumptions that drive the intervention in a predetermined the direction?
  • How do you increase your effectiveness as a coach and become even more provocative and evocative by being free of bias and agenda?
  • What is the inner work that enables you to be bias-free and clear? What kind of an instrument must you be to enable the client’s optimal growth?
  • “If I am effective in coaching, the leader would feel more empowered, clearer, a higher sense of self, and as a result be able to contribute back to her organization in a much more effective way.”
  • Legacy thinking of management is no longer effective. We need a new design for business but one that is able to grow with the leader. Old management theories train us to solve smaller and smaller problems. Throughput management is about removing constraints to enable flow.
  • How do you teach an entire organization to solve complexity by producing an alignment that creates flow?
  • Service structure works because it changes entirely the problem solving method and channels the behavior inside a company to the customer. It aligns all the internal departments of a company to the external customer in an integrated way. In a service structure you are tethered to the outside not the inside.
  • “The reason I do this work is to see the collective sigh of relief that comes with new awareness. The moment of insight is when I know it will never be the same, I see the change on the faces of people.”
  • We need to challenge ourselves to look in terms of movement, to ask why we are doing what we are doing, who are we, and who are we here to serve, and instead of solving problems, focus on solving constraints to movement.
I have always been insatiable curious, I wanted to figure out how systems operate. Click To Tweet Observing ourselves as observers, to see how we enter the picture, to be free of opinions to not enter the room… Click To Tweet The more open and calm we are, free of a personal agenda, the more effective we become with the client Click To Tweet As a coach I need to be a clear mirror. A mirror is a structure that facilitates reflection, ideally accurately. Click To Tweet What service structure does is that it teaches an organization to solve complexity by producing an alignment that… Click To Tweet The service structure aligns all departments to the customer in an integrated way, with relevance, alignment, and… Click To Tweet Old management theories train us to solve smaller and smaller problems. Throughput management is about removing… Click To Tweet
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A Conversation with Paul Adams – Episode 18

CNF018-A Conversation with Paul Adams

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf18

Episode Summary

In this episode we revisit an interview I had with Paul Adams, Host of Sound Financial Bites. We cover questions from my book, Create New Futures. Here are some of the key points we discussed during my interview:

Key Learnings:

  • “Your future and present can update your past.” Reclaim your power—the power to choose, to be self-directed, and the power to defy the mindset that says that what happened to you yesterday defines who you are today. Instead of thinking your yesterday defines your today, embrace the reframing idea: your today can redefine yesterday.
  • Do you let crisis define your future or do you choose to create a future that redefines your experience?
  • What can we learned from Aviv’s decision at age seven to create a story of meaning that pointed to all the benefits available for him after his parents separated?
    What can we learn from the formative experience of Pope, John Paul The Second in an underground theater during WWII, and how this experience shaped the role of his life?
  • “Instead of thinking: today is the product of yesterday, think of today as the beginning of tomorrow.” This mental model proposes that what appears to be a setback can become the setup for new beginnings that lead to your next breakthrough.
    How do parents foster the can-do mindset with their children? By creating a dual memory: a memory of the incidence of success and a longitudinal memory of overcoming of challenge that enabled the success.
    Why and how did Aviv reframe a devastating loss in the air force?
  • What is the deeper meaning of integrity? And how Aviv uses a story to reinvigorate the essence of integrity?
  • “A complaint is the misdirected energy of an unaddressed or unmet need.”
  • “For many of us the natural reaction to complaint is that we become defensive because we internalize and personalize the complaint. Instead, we can seek to understand and help the other person become part of the solution by converting the complaint into a concrete request that will help us address the unmet need.”
  • What is the process Aviv applied to help executives convert complaints to facilitate the emergence of new future possibilities?
Your today can redefine your yesterday. Click To Tweet I try hard…to walk my talk and to practice what I preach. Click To Tweet When you refuse or fail to walk your talk you can lose credibility; you can lose your everything. Click To Tweet People often give you a general statement of something that they don’t like which only reveals partially the issue,… Click To Tweet Reclaim your power. Defy the deterministic mindset that says that what happened to you yesterday defines who you are… Click To Tweet Do you let crisis define your future or do you choose to create a future that redefines your experience? Click To Tweet What appears as a setback can become the setup for new beginnings that lead to your next breakthrough. Click To Tweet
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Design Your Portfolio Life with Sam Szteinbaum – Episode 17

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf17

My guest, Sam Szteinbaum, has enjoyed an illustrious career. He was the Chief Learning Officer for Hewlett Packard and before that, Vice President and General Manager for America’s consumer products, the HP and Compaq desktop and Notebook PC products.

Since leaving HP, Sam has continued to develop and grow his pre-school business, The Wonder Years in the Bay area, which has four locations and a fifth site that is in the works. He is on the Board of various technology companies, including Corsair and Asetek where he serves as the Chairman.

In this conversation, you will learn how Sam approaches business decisions, and how to design your portfolio post-corporate life.

Essential Learning Points:

  • How to design your portfolio life for your post-corporate future
  • Why “speaking up” is a leadership principle
  • How Sam makes business and investment decisions
  • Build and develop your team members so they can be prepared to take on a new role
  • Developing your listening skills can help you connect with individuals more deeply
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks, and get as broad of an experience as you can get
  • Learn how to work effectively with others
  • Speak up: present a point of view, do not hold back your best ideas or play it safe
  • Thoughtfully create alternative and additional sources of revenue
  • Build financial sufficiency and resilience early on in your career/life
Create speed to decision and speed to execution. Click To Tweet Growing and developing people was something I was very focused on. Click To Tweet Learning to understand your team members deeply is a game-changer. Click To Tweet Things happen when they do and you either choose to respond to the opportunity or not. Click To Tweet If you do not speak up, you compromise your integrity Click To Tweet
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What Do the Best Sales People Do with Faiza Hughell – Episode 16

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf16

Faiza Hughell is the Vice President of Sales at Ring Central. With more than 20 years of inside sales experience her passion and talent lies in building, training, scaling, and motivating successful sales teams. Faiza started in the software as a service world from a very young age and has sold SAS solutions ever since that time. Faiza was part of the WebEx winning team and at Ring Central leads the small to medium business program globally.

In this conversation I ask Faiza about the traits of successful sales people, women in leadership roles in Silicon Valley, and much, much more.

Essential Learning Points:

  • “There is a lot of problem-solving inside the sales process. It takes a tenacious person, who is open to learn, and self-aware, someone who is focused, determined, and driven.”
  • Be grounded in the presence of what you have instead of the absence of what you don’t have. Find abundance in what’s already present.
  • People mostly have the answer within them. The job of the leader is to help them find these answers.
  • Promote the best in your people. The greatest joy of leadership is seeing other people discover their talent and succeed.
  • The most successful sales people have a natural business acumen, fire in their belly, passion to succeed and do great things, and they have a passion to help others, and impact others positively, they are open to new learning, they are conversational and build relationships quickly, most importantly, they are focused on themselves and not on the comparison to others.
  • The best sales people handle rejection through confidence and resilience, and most importantly, by seeking to understand why the rejection took place, and why the customer chose to engage another provider.
  • Women that excel in leadership roles in the Silicon Valley are organized, hardworking, tenacious, and causative. More importantly they empower themselves to compete regardless of who else is on the playing field. They are strong communicators. They see opportunities and tackle them, and they are eager to see others’ succeed and help them realize their potential.
  • Focus on your learnability, the ability to learn in any situation. Objection and rejection are learning opportunities. Be confident, resilient, and tenacious.
There is a lot of problem solving inside the sales process: be tenacious, open to learn, self-aware, focused, and… Click To Tweet For a long time I was driven by what I did not have that I wanted. I then learned about the C-field and being… Click To Tweet Be grounded in the presence of what you have instead of the absence of what you don’t have. Find abundance in what’s… Click To Tweet People mostly have the answer within them. The job of the leader is to help them find these answers. Click To Tweet Successful sales people are focused on themselves and no on comparison to others. Click To Tweet The best sales people handle rejection with confidence and resilience, by seeking to understand why the customer… Click To Tweet Women excelling in leadership roles in Silicon Valley empower themselves to compete regardless of who else is on the… Click To Tweet
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The Fallacy of the Google Age – Episode 15

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf15

Let’s talk about the first responsibility of a leader. This is Aviv with a new episode of Create New Futures. And today I am focusing on the fallacy of the Google age, and why as leaders, mentors, and parents we all must reflect on the Google fallacy and the conundrum it creates critically.
As a leader, your first responsibility is to lead yourself. You begin with how you develop your thought process, and continue with how you map your learning and your actions. You cannot afford to outsource your self-leadership or to abandon your intuition, judgment, and you cannot afford to contract out the diligent work of your own reflective inquiry and development.

My call to action here today is inviting you to practice mindfulness as a leader and as a parent, to recognize the fallacy of the Google age and to reflect on the learning and knowledge that you will encourage and promote.

Here is a question for you. How many Google searches do you perform on a regular day? Well, during one recent work day, I decided to answer my own question, so I kept count. At the end of the day, I discovered that I had conducted 24 Google searches. I love Google. How can you not love what Google enables us to do? Here is the point though I need to make. Every good development invariably creates unintended consequences. The fallacy of the Google age is one of these consequences. Before we put the laser on this challenge, let me make the broader statement.

Every age brings its technological innovation and progress. Every wave of innovation creates new possibilities and capabilities, which in turn give rise to mistaken beliefs.

For instance, the innovation of antibiotics initially catalyzed the belief that we were about to eradicate all diseases. The fantastic discovery of DNA promoted a deterministic DNA-centric mental model that postulated that people are defined by their DNA. This belief still is prevalent, even though epigeneticists subsequently showed that what gets expressed from our DNA potential is determined by the collective impact of the environment, formative experiences, and behavioral and life style choices.
Furthermore, the deterministic DNA-centric belief fails to recognize the broader significance of the psychological and spiritual dimensions of life such as their power and impact on our health, well-being and on our capacity to respond to opportunities.

When we retrace and reflect on human progress as a species, sometimes we appear to be following the allegorical story of the man next to a street light, searching for the keys he had lost. When asked if he felt he dropped the keys right there next to the street light, he replied, “I’m not sure when or where I lost my keys. Perhaps it was down the street or even on a different street. But it is easier and more convenient to search the area illuminated by the street light.”

As a species, we are a bit like that man. We develop antibiotics and think they will solve all our health issues. We discover DNA, and rush to believe we’ve unlocked the complete secret to life and all its mysteries. Clearly both discoveries represent important developments, and yet neither one of them can answer all the questions and unresolved mysteries or address all of humanity’s health problems.

These examples provide a great segue to reflecting on the Google fallacy, which I should perhaps better name the fallacy of the Google age.

To better appreciate this particular misunderstanding, let’s look at Google’s mission. Google was born back in the late 1990s, when many people believed that all of the world’s knowledge was going to be available on the web. Its founders recognized the opportunity to organize that knowledge and make it widely accessible. Google’s mission statement was and still is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This mission statement was coupled with the company’s vision statement: “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” These are excellent mission and vision statements because of their clarity. Indeed this mission and vision guided Google’s business effectively to focus on its search engine service because they are concrete and clear.

More broadly, Google’s mission has been viewed and widely represented in the idea of organizing all the world’s knowledge, diluting a little the distinction we must make between information and knowledge.
This meme of organizing all the world’s knowledge was initially developed in the early 20th century by Paul Marie Otlet, a Belgian entrepreneur, considered one the fathers of information science. Otlet wrote numerous essays and two books about how to collect and organize the world’s knowledge. Google was in the right place at the right time to bring this idea to life.

Today we all are the beneficiaries of Google’s service. Indeed most of the world’s information and knowledge is a click away. Where is the problem? What, then, is the Google fallacy?

The fallacy of the Google age is the belief that people are able to access every level of knowledge on any topic or question immediately.

Why is this a fallacy? What’s left out of the equation? What forms of knowledge not captured by the search engine’s algorithms are endangered by mindset propagated by Google’s search prowess?

My premise is that the mental model enabled by Google –which is that everything you want to know is just a click away – is costing people some of the defining markers of our humanness.

It allows us to get by superficially, it makes us lazy, and it facilitates the loss of reflection and concentration power. We are at risk of abandoning the joys of inner discovery, of striving to resolve unresolved mysteries. And, we are at risk of making mediocrity the new norm. When we relinquish the power of the depth of development knowledge acquired by persistent struggle and personal application, we lose some of our humanity.

Are we raising new generations of digital natives who discover Wikipedia and Google long before they experience the wonder of the outdoors, or learn to climb a tree, swim or ride a bike?

Here are five dimensions and buckets of knowledge that cannot be re-created or explained fully by Google or Wikipedia or any app. Each of these buckets must be accessed by other means and from other sources.

Bucket 1: Experiential knowledge: Can you remember your first outdoor adventure? Running in the open fields, climbing trees, hiking up a mountain to reach an alpine lake; scuba diving to discover the beauty of coral reefs. Can you recall these experiences, and the unbridled joy of engaging the elements? In this case the knowledge source is letting nature teach your body what you can and cannot do.

There is much more in the experiential knowledge category, such as discovering the versatile capabilities of your hands to dismantle and reassemble almost anything, to draw, to knit, to cook, and to fix what’s broken. Could it be that this fallacy we are bringing into focus is putting the adventurous discovery inherent in these activities at risk of disappearing or dramatically weakening? These are questions to reflect on as leaders and as parents.

Consider this: what are the chances of young people today to explore romantic love before they have been cheated out of its natural discovery by the misleading images propagated through all forms of media that are more likely than not to leave most people feeling inadequate? The contents of the experiential knowledge bucket are clearly being threatened by the intensity of this immersive exposure. I am obviously not blaming Google or the media with all the ailments of society and how superficial we have become, I am simply observing what the case is so we can choose as leaders and parents to be alert.

Bucket 2: Character learning and knowledge: My most formative character learning and knowledge at the age of 11 was acquired during the three years I got up every morning at 5 AM for my long distance running practice before school started. This regular and consistent practice taught me about determination, commitment, focus, overcoming pain, and the rewards of hard work. It enabled me to win the Israeli long distance cross country running championship at age 14.

This kind of knowledge cannot be imparted through Wikipedia or Google because it is an interior character knowledge. You have to discover and fashion this formation on the inside, and find out what commitment and determination feel like, to let the struggle steel your mind and instruct your soul.

Bucket 3: Concentrated focus and contemplative discovery: Important breakthroughs in science and in the arts were made possible by people who isolated themselves with a question and were able to mount tremendous focus and concentration on finding its answer. Are we losing this focused concentration with the never-ending noise of devices and digital alerts designed to trigger, to hack and to hook our brains with dopamine reactions?

Discovery through contemplative inquiry always has been central to the human experience. Take it away and you remove more than half of our arts. These natural capacities and processes are at risk too. Why concentrate and contemplate if you can Google search and get an answer in seconds?
Whatever happened to the defiant search for originality? The search engine premise is that all you can ever experience is a derivative and what someone else already felt, experienced and thought. Sure it’s obviously the case in 99% of the human experience, and yet we are interested in the one percent originality and genius that you can bring forward, that one percent that is not searchable on the web.

Bucket 4: Intuitive knowledge: Intuition is central to our humanness, and to our inventive and innovative breakthroughs. The sixth sense, the sense of being guided, the capacity to listen to our inner voice is at risk too. In fact it is at risk twice.

Here is why. First, when you know you can find answers to your questions readily through Google, there is a temptation to cease listening to our intuition, to abandon the courage to seek the instinctive and intuitive guidance inside.

Second, our creative innovation is diminished by extraordinarily persuasive external pressures to fit into existing categories and behavioral and thinking templates.

Socialization is a process that acts a bit like a dog in training. Though some might disagree with this analogy, if you look and compare the two situations, you will find that the protocols of dog training and the rewards for social success follow a similar principle. That realization leaves us wondering, if we are the dogs, then who is the master? The price we pay for taking these risks is the loss of creative intuition.

Bucket 5: Development knowledge: This category represents knowledge acquired and fashioned by self-application and by the development it fosters through the refinement of achieving mastery in a given area.

Think about the knowledge acquired by Missy Franklin and by Katie Ladeky in the swimming pool. Think about the knowledge found by Itzhak Perlman through the violin, by Yo-Yo Ma with his cello and by Renée Fleming with her voice.

In the process of achieving mastery in one’s craft, there are million insights into self-awareness, self-management, psychology, preparation, peak performance attunement, overcoming adversity and challenge, resilience and persistence, discordance and inner harmony. These experiences represent what we can call vertical knowledge because it lives and is accessed at different depths. I am talking about knowledge that cannot be acquired by just clicking on a mouse. It is only achieved with 10,000 hours of practice or perhaps 50,000 hours of practice.

I once attended a concert by Mstislav Rostropovich toward the end of his life. As he played the Antonín Dvořák cello concerto, I sensed a distinct feeling in the concert hall that his bow was moving effortlessly by itself. It was as though someone or something had taken over the playing, and Rostropovich was the vessel. This is not “clickable” knowledge. Such a rare form of knowledge and mastery – a pure musical communion manifesting through the cello – can be observed in pioneers and thought leaders in almost every field.

For example, there is development knowledge acquired by a passionate teacher who shows up to class every day with the thought, “Today I might inspire the student who will solve the climate or energy conundrums, or cure cancer or any other major problem, their love and dedication lead them to new and creative ways of teaching. Or consider the entrepreneur who starts a company and leads it from its inception to a thriving enterprise, needing to overcome million obstacles and to reinvent himself and herself along the way. I bet you have rare development knowledge that you fashioned in your professional journey. It extends beyond the information you carry in your head.

What then is the other facet of the Google fallacy?

The thought and the mental model that believe all forms of knowledge can be accessed instantly. We would be wise to realize that certain forms of knowledge require preparation to fashion the “vessel” to be ready to receive and contain the knowledge.

Here is a scenario for your reflection: when you go for a swim in the ocean you put on your swimming gear. When you go snowboarding or when you climb Mount Rainer, you are not likely to show up with the swimming gear. Instead, you will use a snowboard for snowboarding and you will dress well and have the technical equipment you need to summit Mount Rainer.

The same logic applies in the workplace when you inquire into the various fields of knowledge, especially non-academic fields such as leadership, sales, innovation, as well as inquiries related to parenting and relationships. Each of these conversations requires and would be tremendously enhanced by an appropriate set of tools, mental models and frameworks. Of course you can try to summit Mount Rainer with your swimming gear, but it is not certain you will come back alive.

We call ourselves the sapient species. The question is: are we indeed becoming wiser or are we dumbing-down ourselves and losing some of our humanness?

As leaders, mentors and parents, we must explore daily the question of how we can enable experiential knowledge. How do we facilitate character learning and knowledge? How do we inspire knowledge acquired through focused discovery? How do we encourage intuition and development knowledge?

That’s the work of leadership in the effort of fostering and promoting a new more enlightened and capable generations in the future. You cannot afford to outsource your self-leadership and abandon your judgment Click To Tweet Are you a victim of the Google fallacy? Practice mindfulness. Click To Tweet Every good development invariably creates unintended consequences. Click To Tweet What’s the problem with organizing all the world’s knowledge? Click To Tweet Are You or Google, to blame for raising a superficial and lazy generation? Click To Tweet Why is the belief that all knowledge is accessible immediately is by definition delusional? Click To Tweet Are we losing the power of reflection and concentration? #CreateNewFutures Click To Tweet What are the 5 dimensions of knowledge not available on Google or Wikipedia? Click To Tweet What is your character Knowledge? What is your development knowledge? Click To Tweet

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Propensity for Action with Ted Clark – Episode 14

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf14

In this conversation I have the pleasure of speaking with Ted Clark. Ted has 35 years of leadership experience across all aspects of mobile computing. He was the Senior Vice President and General Manager of HP’s Notebook PC division from 2004 to 2012. In this capacity, he was able to deliver 165 million Notebook PC’s and 125 billion dollars in revenue.

Ted has a deep understanding of what it takes to build empowered and flexible teams and win in the hyper-growth technology space. He currently consults companies focused on building a winning market position by helping leadership teams drive execution that delivers results. In this episode, Ted reflects on his leadership learning and what enabled him to achieve with his organization the remarkable success milestones they experienced.

Essential Learning Points:

  • The most difficult thing in the world is to get all the right ingredients in the right place, at the right time.
  • Develop a team that understands and believes in a story and you can become a winning leader.
  • Define where you’re going, have your objectives and strategies in place, then act and course correct along the way.
  • Be as much a part of your team as well as leading your team.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate your wins and show appreciation to your team members.
  • You need to have a basic knowledge of what customers want and ask yourself if your product makes sense.
  • Use good judgment, listen to your gut, and don’t launch a product that you feel isn’t good enough.
  • Don’t be afraid to take more risks.
  • What really matters are the people that you are leading.
  • Have open, trusting communication with your team. Encourage free thinking and debate.
  • Develop a propensity for action – fire, ready, and aim. Natural leaders are prepared to take action, good leaders take the right action.
  • Thoughtfully set up your people to succeed; promotion is only half the battle.
  • Be enthusiastic. Find enthusiasm about your work, your team, and be enthusiastic about your life.
Facts quickly fade but stories last forever. Click To Tweet Natural leaders have a propensity for action. Click To Tweet The value of experience is that you know what not to do. Click To Tweet In 10 years, I’ll be waking up enthusiastic, grateful, and ready to learn new things. Click To Tweet You have to be able to laugh at your mistakes even though they’re painful. Click To Tweet Natural leaders are prepared to take action, good leaders take the right action. Click To Tweet
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The Brain Science of Marketing with Daniel Epstein – Episode 13

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Originally posted at http://www.avivconsulting.com/cnf13

Daniel Epstein is a marketing and innovation consultant from Toronto, Canada. He worked for Procter & Gamble for 21 years where he was awarded the Harley Procter Marketers designation in 2007; the highest designation for marketing excellence. He led P&G’s future of marketing and brand building and was responsible for the commercial leadership of some of the most iconic brands at P&G.

As he traveled the world for P&G, he developed a project named, Portraits in Faith, where he interviewed and photographed 450 people of faith in 27 different countries. In this conversation, I explore with Daniel how brain science is shaping the future of marketing, his insights about his time at P&G, and the journey he believes we are all on.

Essential Learning Points From This Episode

  • Why the most effective marketing combines rational conscious messages with nonconscious cues?
  • How do you increase the odds that consumers will purchase from you again?
  • How is the brain wired to prioritize and delegate certain tasks?
  • How Daniel made a course correction and found what he was meant to be doing?
  • You are always better off in an organization where you feel there is a good fit
  • Allow your special gift to come to the foreground
  • “There is no more important job for us as leaders than to put people in the right jobs”
  • The human process is not think–feel–do but rather do–feel–think
  • Your habits and repeated actions are more predictive of your choices than attitudes and intentions
  • We can heal ourselves by helping others heal.You want to heal every part of yourself, you want to retrieve all of who you are, and in so doing you won’t be able but to help heal others
“We can heal ourselves by helping others heal” Daniel Epstein Click To Tweet The most effective marketing combines the rational conscious messages with non-conscious cues. Click To Tweet Marketing has to increase the probability that you’re chosen over a competitor. Click To Tweet “People who have some sense of connectedness to something bigger than themselves are grateful” Daniel Epstein Click To Tweet The brain takes 25% of the body’s energy, and therefore always seeks to shift tasks to habitual system. Click To Tweet “Don't be afraid to have your thinking disrupted” Click To Tweet Habits are more predictive of human choice than attitudes and intentions. Click To Tweet
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