Leading to Liberate: Freedom Through Discipline

Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi gets carried off of the field by his players after winning the 1961 NFL Championship game versus the New York Giants at City Stadium. 
Green Bay, Wisconsin 12/31/1961
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Originally posted on SmartBlogs on Leadership The most effective leaders know how to teach their employees the value of one powerful quality, one that most likely helped them rise to the top themselves: Discipline. The great sports coaches are transparent examples of this. Teaching and emphasizing discipline to prepare for the contests to come is what best guarantees that under the pressure of competition each player will feel free to make the right decisions and execute to the best of their abilities. None did this better than Vince Lombardi, considered along with John Wooden as on...

Operating Partners: The Value of Boots on the Ground

By Keith Danko From The Family Office Alpha Report, September-October 2015 The lower middle market in private equity is brimming with opportunity, with an abundant supply of small- to medium-size private businesses available for potential acquisition (see our July-August 2015 issue of The Family Office Alpha Report, which discussed direct private equity investing opportunities). It is not difficult for investors to find reasonably valued companies that are seeking to hand over the reins. What is not as easy is going the process alone. The best way to maximize success—and upside...

The Unexceptional Outweighs the Unbelievable

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Originally posted for SmartBlogs on Leadership Leadership success stories about superstar managers, brilliant visionaries, and transformative role models proliferate in the media to a point where it appears that industry leaders are minted every moment, and the exceptions are almost the norm. We are subliminally encouraged to emulate their glory. Inspirational stories can help motivate us as professionals, but it’s important to recognize and contextualize these messages and understand that success is not as ubiquitous or as straightforward as others would lead us to believe. ...

Only the Sharks Survive? The Risks of Confrontation

Originally posted for Smart Blogs on Leadership The show “Shark Tank,” like much of the media, perpetuates the myth that you have to be aggressive, assertive, even confrontational to advance your career and become a leader; that thoughtfulness, politeness, and the inability to summarize an important idea in less than a minute are crippling diseases; and that the business world is akin to a shark tank where you are likely to be devoured unless you adopt the characteristics of the sharks to survive. Amusing for sure, but as true reality? As Borat would say, “Not so much.” Confron...

Outcome Obsession (Part 2)

  Success signposts, like rank and pay, generally come from others, and the precise timing of their arrival may be subject to numerous external factors well beyond your control. But the glowing satisfaction of contributing your utmost is created by you alone. It assuredly lies within your grasp, as does the recognition that will follow. I am not preaching the joy of sweating on a treadmill for only the feeling of sweat. By proceeding with the philosophy I outline, you are each day bettering your odds for successful outcomes in your vocation and life. Simply put, what I am...

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 ...

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...