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Seth Godin on Tribes: Part 2

tribes Today on The Bigg Success Show, we continued chatting with Seth Godin about his great new book Tribes. Last time, Seth told us what a tribe is, what the leader does, and why the quality of a tribe is more important than its quantity.

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Why Seth became a leader

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marylynnSeth, you said that a leader connects the tribe and gives them a voice. Obviously, you’re the leader of a tribe. What motivated you to be a leader?

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seth_godinWhen I see things that are broken or aren’t the way they should be, when I see wasted resources and talent, it bothers me. I want to do something about it. I want to talk about it. I want to point it out. I want to help people see that there’s a different path. What I discovered, mostly from my blog over the last six or seven years, is that there are other people like me who are itching to make a difference. All I do is tell people stuff they already knew. All I do is give names to things that are already out there. But by giving it a name, by talking about it, I’m allowing people to say, “That’s right. The emperor has no clothes.” I’m allowing people to go to their boss and talk about remarkable products in a clever way or go to their boss and talk about treating people with respect instead of spamming them. By giving people this ammunition, what I’ve discovered is that I thought they were doing something for me, by letting me influence the discussion. They’re actually doing something for themselves because they, even more than I, want to see these things fixed and improved so they reach their potential.

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The Power of One

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georgeWell Seth, you’re being very humble when you say that you’re just saying things that other people have said. I think you say them in a way that cuts through and clarifies so we all understand. One of the things you talk about in Tribes is the power of one.

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seth_godinHere’s the bad news – there’s all this leverage. There’s all this opportunity. If it doesn’t cost any money to find and lead and connect a tribe, if you can start your own online radio or TV show, if you can have your own blog, if you can use Meetup to connect people in 500 cities, if it’s all available and then you don’t do it, you can’t blame anybody else. That’s your choice. The punch line of the book is this is now an obligation. It’s an obligation – for anyone who cares, for anyone who wants to see change happen – for them to go make that change. One person is all that it takes to change the agenda, to keep people out of poverty, to change the way your school district works, or to get elected. One person is able to now leverage the work and enthusiasm and passion of hundreds or thousands of people.

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The future is about leverage

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georgeWe’ve gone through this recent financial crisis. Partly it’s a result of too much leverage. So in a financial sense, we can look at leverage as perhaps a bad thing. But you talk in your book about leverage and how leverage as a leader can help you impact change for the good.

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seth_godinWell, let’s be really clear though. Leverage isn’t good or bad. Leverage is the way tools work. If you have bad intent, if you have selfish intent, if you have non-transparent intent, you can do all sorts of horrible things with tribes. We’ve seen racism and all sorts of other things amplified by this sort of leverage. The problem in our financial community is not because of leverage. The problem in our financial community is that selfish individuals made short-term decisions in the dark without telling everyone what they were doing. Leverage is the only thing that’s going to get us out of this financial problem and it will. Our future is now all about leverage. Our future is about the fact that one person in Tucson can have a clever idea and have it designed by someone in India, built by someone in Guatemala, and sold by someone in Buenos Aires. That’s extraordinary because we can do that in two weeks instead of two years. If we have good intent, if we’re willing to stand behind what we’re doing, then I’m incredibly optimistic.

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marylynnHere’s another thing that’s really exciting about this day and age. As you say in the book, marketing used to be about advertising which is expensive. Now to get the word out about that product you created in two weeks, it’s about engaging your tribe. So that makes it less expensive and easier.

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seth_godinIf you look at the most popular blogs in the world, almost all of them did not come from the mainstream media. The people who had all the money, all the access, and all the power, they all failed. Nobody’s going to CBS, The Today Show, or NBC online to hear unique, honest voices. They’re visiting real people, or groups of people – like the “Huffington Posts” of the world – because great ideas win. Great ideas attract enthusiasm and passion. So corporate money doesn’t work the way it used to.

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Seth is also the founder of Squidoo, where you can find a special page about Tribes.

Next time, we’ll wrap up our conversation with Seth. He talks about how change and chaos are creating opportunities for all of us today. We’ll also learn what keeps Seth going. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Related posts

Seth Godin on Tribes: Part I

Seth Godin on Tribes: Part 3

Crisis Creates Opportunity for Great Leaders

maple_leaf_foods_logo
Recently, food-borne illness was found to have caused the death of eleven Canadians. After a thorough inspection, it was concluded that the problem originated in a plant operated by Maple Leaf Foods.

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At a press conference, the President of Maple Leaf Foods, Michael McCain responded:

"Certainly knowing that there is a desire to assign blame, I want to reiterate that the buck stops right here. This week, it's our best efforts that failed, not the regulators or the Canadian food safety system. I emphasize: this is our accountability and it's ours to fix, which we are taking on fully. We have and we continue to improve on our action plans."

Honesty builds goodwill

It was so refreshing to see a leader step up and accept responsibility in an incredibly difficult situation. The report on the conference says you could see the pain in his face. He was completely honest. He took a hard stance and accepted full responsibility.

In today’s legal environment, it’s harder than ever for executives to accept this kind of responsibility. Lawyers often advise against it because it costs money. But it builds goodwill because people appreciate people who stand up and do what’s right without regard to the cost.

The 3 phases of a crisis

We found a great special report, Crisis – A Leadership Opportunity [pdf]. It discusses the three phases in the lifecycle of a crisis:

Preparation
During this phase, complacency has set in. As problems boil to the surface, leaders often ignore them to avoid any conflict. This failure to respond early leads to the crisis.

Emergency

Now the threat has been ascertained and the very existence of the organization may be threatened. Leaders direct all their energy to eliminate the immediate threat.

Adaptive
All possible attention has been given to crisis. There has been an urgency to get to the source and take corrective actions. With the crisis still at the top of everyone’s mind, now is the time to make the changes necessary to prevent the crisis from happening again. People are receptive and open.

However, many leaders fail to take advantage of this opportunity. Instead, they push the organization back to the status quo. The result? The crisis returns!

The report [pdf] goes on to discuss the seven essential success strategies for leaders in crisis. It also discusses two famous cases of leadership in crisis – Johnson & Johnson’s handling of the Tylenol poisonings and Rudy Giuliani’s response immediately after the events of September 11, 2001.

We highly recommend that you check out this fantastic resource. It will help you learn to adapt to little problems so they don’t become a major crisis. 

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Here’s another great resource –
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Next time, we ask, “Are you solving the problem or the symptom?” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Have A Problem? SOLVE IT!

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We the People are Taking Back Our Country

we_the_people We usually talk about money on Mondays. As we discussed possible topics for today’s post, we realized there was no bigger issue than what’s going on in Washington and Wall Street. Our apologies to our international listeners, but we’re going to be domestic today. But as we’ve seen, it obviously affects everyone worldwide.

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We usually don’t talk about politics. We won’t be partisan; there’s plenty of blame to go around. We know that we may upset everybody today; that’s not our intention.

We think it’s time to look at the facts so we can make the right decisions here in a few weeks … who are we going to hire?

Not just for President, but for government at all levels. It’s time that we, the people, take back our country, our states, and our cities.

We’re sick and tired of the blame game and passing the buck on personal responsibility. Leadership is about taking responsibility. The leaders of our biggest companies aren’t taking responsibility, but even more sad, our elected officials aren’t bearing it, or requiring it, either.

We, the taxpayers, invested $85 billion in AIG. What was AIG’s response? They threw a $440,000 “party”. Sure they called it a “planning meeting” or an “executive session”. But how can you justify spending that kind of money for a retreat when you’re using our money and you’ve been on the brink of financial collapse?

It was a complete slap in the face and our leaders should have seen it as such. But what did they do? Turn around and give AIG another $38 billion two weeks later!

How many of us could walk into a bank two weeks after we borrowed a bunch of money in desperation and get more?

How successful would we be at getting more money if we so grossly underestimated how much it would take the first time around?

“Oh, and by the way, Mr. Banker, we know you’ve heard that we wasted some of it on a spa getaway, but we need about half as much again as we borrowed the first time. Will you lend it to us?”

Can you imagine the response?

Fortunately, AIG scrapped plans for another “party” after news got out about the first one. Of course, we’ve also learned that they tinkered with the idea of spending some of our money running an advertising campaign to apologize for the first “party”.

Some insight into the mismanagement

Warren Buffett was interviewed by CNBC’s Becky Quick back in August. Part of the conversation turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’ll paraphrase …

Congress set up the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) back in 1992. The sole job of this agency was to evaluate the soundness, accounting practices, and the like of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Two companies … that’s all OFHEO had to oversee. Buffet, of course, notes that he does more than that all by himself.

It took 200 OFHEO employees and a $65 million dollar a year budget to do that.

Year after year, OFHEO reported to Congress. They stated that the accounting was sound. The directors were great. Everything was just fine. There was nothing to worry about.

Well, we all know what happened – two of the greatest accounting misstatements in the history of the stock exchange caused by management misconduct. What was OFHEO’s response?

A report to Congress blaming the management, the directors, the audit committee. Everybody but themselves.

200 people with a budget of $65 million overseeing just two companies. Yet they assumed no responsibility for this huge blunder.

The problem we have is that everybody blames anybody else every time there is a problem. It needs to end now.

How to put an end to it

The solution may surprise you. It starts and ends with us. We need to take personal responsibility. We made mistakes too. We bought in.

We saw government borrowing and living beyond its means, so many of us borrowed and lived beyond ours. From this day forward, that ends. We won’t forget this lesson. We will bailout ourselves. We will get back on our feet. We will prosper.

We also delegated too much. We voted, but we didn’t pay close enough attention to what our elected officials were doing. Well, Mr. or Ms. Politician, you have our attention now. And we’re going to keep paying attention.

What we can’t control

Here’s what paying closer attention has shown us – we see a complete vacuum of leadership. You’re not a leader if you don’t take responsibility for your mistakes. You’re not a leader if you don’t solve problems; you only assign blame to others. You’re not a leader if you can’t tell us where we’re at, why we got here, and what we’re going to do about it to make tomorrow better than today.

We can’t personally do much to change the leadership on Wall Street. We can’t do much to change who reports our news, because the media missed the boat on this one as well. We can’t choose the bureaucrats, like the ones at OFHEO, who oversee key agencies and put policy into action.

What we can control

We do get to choose who we hire to represent us. We have important decisions to make in a few weeks. Not just for President. Not just for the Senate or the House in Washington, D.C. We get to choose who will represent us at all levels of government.

So here’s how we put an end to it now. Quit thinking like a Democrat or a Republican. That’s another trap they’ve led us into and we bought in.

No, we will hire the best person for the job. We need to do our homework: What’s their record? What have they accomplished? How have they handled their fiduciary duties in the past?

The past is the best predictor we have of the future when it comes to human behavior. That’s how we would hire anybody else. Why would we hire our elected officials any differently?

We have access to the records of our current elected officials. We can know what they’ve done. We need to start paying closer attention.

Resources

Current legislation before Congress

Votes Database by The Washington Post

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Official site of the U.S. House of Representatives

Official site of the U.S. Senate

List of government agencies – federal, state and local

Find the official sites of state, county, and city governments

We the people

We’re looking for public servants, not party servants or power servants. We the people are taking our country back.

Go ahead, Mr. or Ms. Politician … take that special interest money. But you better be clear about who you serve. We the people.

Mr. or Ms. Elected Official, go ahead and listen to your party leaders. Just know that, on Election Day, we won’t vote for the person who serves the powers that be. We will vote for the person who serves us. We the people. 

Combined, we’re more powerful than Washington can ever be when we are educated and informed. We will take personal responsibility to learn who best serves our interest, and the interests of our children and grandchildren.

We the people are taking back our country.

What do you think? 

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You Can Avoid the Mistakes that Brought this Business Down

quote There’s a great post by Roger Ehrenberg on his Information Arbitrage site. Roger was an investor, board member and leader in Monitor110, a company that planned to become the internet version of Bloomberg. The team had impressive credentials, but ultimately the business didn’t make it.

Roger spells out the reasons why. We admire him for sharing these lessons because most of us don’t like to talk about our failures. These are mistakes that any of us could make, so he provides a great opportunity to learn from others. But even more than that, it’s the way he wrote about it that impressed us – he doesn’t cast blame; he just discusses the lessons he learned in the hopes that we may benefit. And we did!

That’s why we highly recommend that you read the whole post. We’ll hit his highlights here.
 

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7 mistakes that led to the demise of this business

#1 – No single leader
Monitor110 had two leaders – a technology person who was one of the founders and Roger, who was a business person. Roger said this structure just didn’t work.

This reminded us of the number of times we’ve seen two people start a business. It’s pretty common to split everything 50/50. But it’s a recipe for disaster. In almost all cases, there has to be someone who has the final say for a business to succeed.

#2 – The technology-side drove the business
This made us think of the number of entrepreneurs who start a business in their craft. They’re technically oriented. They love their product or service, but they ignore what the customer wants and needs.

#3 – Too much PR too early
Roger’s company was featured on the cover of the Financial Times. You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, would you? But Roger says this raised the bar with everyone – customers, themselves, and financiers … which led to the next problem.

#4 – Too much money
Too much PR. Which led to too much money. Sounds like a company that’s been blessed. But Roger says the blessing turned into a curse.

  • Because of the great PR, expectations went up significantly.
  • Within the financial community, so money flowed in
  • With their customers
  • And most importantly – with the people of Monitor110.

With all these high expectations, they didn’t push a product to market because it needed to be just right. And that didn’t matter because they had a cushion of cash.

#5 – Not enough customer feedback

By now, you see how all of these mistakes were interrelated. Because of the great publicity, they were afraid to show the customers what they had. They didn’t want to disappoint them and be disappointed. But it wasn’t a problem at the time because they had plenty of money. One mistake was feeding another which was feeding yet another.

#6 – Slow to adapt to the market
On a post not long ago, we talked about a military concept called OODA loops. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. The idea behind the concept is that by getting into the loop, you gain information. Then, by adapting to what you’ve learned, you gain a competitive advantage.

#7 – Disagreements about strategy
This stemmed from the technology side and the business side not being able to come to terms. It’s also an outflow of Mistake #1 – without a single leader, it’s hard to have a clear vision.

Just get started!

All of this made us think of the saying, “You don’t have to get it perfect; you just have to get it going. That’s one of the things that we did with Bigg Success. We talked to a lot of people who had all kinds of great ideas. Some diametrically opposed to each other! We could have easily just got caught in the quagmire.

Ultimately, we just launched. It wasn’t perfect – we knew that. We’ve learned a lot. There are things we would do differently if we had it all to do over again. But by launching, we were able to learn from the most important people of all – our community. We learned from you.

We’re happy to let you know that you’ll be seeing some bigg additions in the near future. So keep checking in and let us know what you think! We’re listening!

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Related posts

Lessons Learned from a Bankrupt Business Owner   

10 Warning Signs of Trouble Ahead for Your Business  

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2 Tips for More Effective Project Status Reports

pm411_logo We visited with Ron Holohan today on The Bigg Success Show. Ron is a Certified Project Management Professional and is currently the Director of Program Management at Shure in Chicago. Ron also hosts a weekly project management internet radio show called The pm411.org Project Management Podcast, which has consistently been one of the top four project management shows on iTunes.

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marylynn We all know that project management can be a stickler. So we asked Ron to share two tips with us to create more effective project status reports.

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ronThe first tip is to focus only on the exceptions. What I mean by that is that you don’t want to throw everything in the kitchen sink into your status reports. No one wants to read all that. They want to be able to look at your status report and pull out just the information they need. So focus on the exceptions – those issues that have changed since your previous report. Your audience only gets the information they need so your status report is short and concise.

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georgeI think that’s a bigg one. It seems that you often see status reports that look like a “mind dump.” You see all the activity that’s happened since the last report. You get bored with it so you’re not able to help them. might call it stubborn.

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ronThat’s right. If someone wants to go back, they can always look at one of your previous reports for more information.

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marylynn Cut the fat … get to the meat. What’s another tip?

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ronAnother tip is to make your report as easy as possible to read. This is the same kind of ideas as Tip #1. You want to allow your audience to easily scan for details that interest them the most. One way to do that is by using something called “Stoplight Reporting” – you communicate progress by using different colors. A bullet point in green may mean this item is going according to plan. Yellow means that particular item needs to be watched. Red means action is required because that item is starting to go off track. You can actually use blue as well to indicate that particular item has been resolved or completed.

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marylynn Can you put a “Don’t Walk” in there?

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ronThat would be nice! Use short bullet points. You don’t want to write a paragraph; this isn’t going to win you a Pulitzer Prize. You’re just trying to convey simple facts to your audience. Also, use tables where you can. They’re great for listing things like milestones, budget information, or product material cost.

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georgeWhat’s interesting about this to me is that some people are good with words or numbers, but other people are very visual. So you’re giving your report in a way that allows your audience to consume it the way they prefer.

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marylynn I prefer stick figures!

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georgeIt’s a great system that you’ve outlined with the different colors. You instantly can see what’s going on. Now I assume what you talk about are the “yellows” and the “reds”.

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ronThat’s right. So if I was reading the report, my eyes would naturally look for those yellow and red bullets that need my attention the most.

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Ron’s freebie!
Ron has a free status report template available for you, complete with a Stoplight along with other great templates.

Thanks Ron for sharing your fantastic tips with us!

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