Outcome Obsession

Recently, Success Magazine culled through 500 newly published books touting the keys to business success, and came up with its list of the top 25 titles. Their criteria? Those most likely to make you rich in dollars and status the fastest. Every day we hear: if we can reach this or that outcome, everything will be ours, with "everything" defined clearly as higher pay, a better title, and a higher-spending lifestyle. We set lofty achievement landmarks on high pinnacles, then we grit our teeth and make the attainment of these goals a driving reason for working each day. That misstep almost...

Identify Your Best Qualities (Part 2): Your Weak Points Are Distractions

Every process in life can be plagued by distractions, those seductive avenues that lure you outside the framework of viable action, and march you down some futile or non-productive course. The process of identifying the best of your true self and your personal virtues can be derailed by side paths that lead you to focus on your weak points instead of your strengths. In all of the thinking about yourself that I encourage, never do I ask anyone to define or dwell upon his or her weak points. I do not do so for a simple reason: it is not a productive exercise.  Build upon and from the ...

Identify Your Best Qualities (Part 1): Build from Within

As we search for ways to increase our chances for success and career fulfillment, society and the media steep us all in the makeover movement, preaching at every turn that we are not good enough.  Like crawling caterpillars, we are in desperate need of some remarkable transformation. ("And just by fortunate chance," we are assured, "we happen to have your transformation kit for sale right here!") Ironically, much of the makeover impetus comes from the popularization of business concepts. The attempt to re-form human beings into more acceptable or better versions of themselves comes straig...

Injecting a new culture — and quickly

Originally posted for SmartBlog on Leadership: http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2014/12/22/injecting-a-new-culture-and-quickly/ When I took over ACAM Advisors in early 2003, investment returns had been below average for several years, and two important clients had recently defected. The majority owners hinted to me that, in their view, layoffs might be in order. From my perspective, the firm’s client list had enough A-list names still on it, and the CVs of the professional staff looked impressive. Surely there was value here. When a new manager takes over a troubled business unit or ...

Will Bill Cosby Rehabilitate Monica Lewinsky?

Girl crying
Bill Cosby’s alleged mistreatment of young women has permanently ruined his reputation as the family man of television comedy and as a leader of the African-American community whose popularity and reasonableness crossed all racial and ethnic lines. If the allegations against him are true, the blame for each and every incident falls on Cosby alone. As almost everyone agrees, the young women involved were clearly the victims. Cosby’s modus operandi was to lure the women with friendly advice, offering a potential mentoring relationship and even indicating that acting roles or creative ...

Tough Is Easy

Originally posted for SmartBlog on Leadership http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2014/11/21/tough-is-easy/ “Are you a tough boss?” asked an interviewer of John L. Weinberg, senior partner and de facto CEO of Goldman Sachs. A former Marine, Weinberg was a blunt-speaking, unabashed, and self-driven man who knew that most of Goldman’s employees sought to work as hard and as wisely as he himself did. During the period of his leadership, Goldman furthered and consolidated its rapid ascent as a global banking powerhouse. Weinberg answered the question without hesitation. “Oh, tough is easy. Any...

The Road Part II: Be Your Own Artisan

Be Your Own Artisan
To achieve the greatest results from the cultivation of your positive attributes, commit your best ability. Think of yourself as a worker "employed" by yourself to benefit your career, and then imagine that worker as a craftsman or an artisan, old-fashioned terms that predate our rapid-production, cloud computing age. Craftsmen and artisans are special people who blend art with the practical, and through excellence and care create wonderful things that enrich our lives. Think of potters, carpenters, masons, smiths, all cultivating their abilities through the everyday items they make. The ...

The Road

Michael Jordan in the late 1980s seemingly had every basketball skill imaginable. The NBA’s leading scorer, the game’s most exciting player, able to drive with lightning-like speed to the basket and soar above the rim for easy scores, he controlled entire games against the world’s best players. He received immense recognition in the form of his massive salary and in the number of Air Jordan sneakers bought by his fans, who made them the highest-selling athletic shoe of all time. However, in his view Jordan still lacked one crucial skill that he believed he needed to develop in order to r...

Different Strokes

I believed it remained a great opportunity and I wanted to continue pursuing it. It was early 1988, and eight months before I had been sent to London by Goldman Sachs to build an international asset-backed securities business. My co-captain in this endeavor was Tom, a top young sales specialist. Tom, however, no longer saw this as a substantial opportunity the way I did, and was having second thoughts about whether he wanted to stick with it. When the previous year we had each agreed to leave our positions in the US and move to London, the prospects appeared unlimited. A whole contin...

The Answer Starts Within

There are constant calls from many self-help career advisors for a more assertive and aggressive attitude at work in the advancement of one's career. The idea is that, especially for women and for those who are members of minority ethnic or racial groups such behavior is essential to getting ahead. But is this really a smart path to follow? Accepting such a belief couples the myth of confrontational necessity with the myth of an ambition gap. Those who support this argument continually point to statistics such as the low percentages of women and members of various minority groups in high...