Inc.com | by Mike Hofman | January 2008 How companies just like yours mushroomed into powerhouses in their industries. A conversation with Keith R. McFarland.
How do you create a breakthrough company? Where do you start? First, I’d say that it’s not about being in a hot, sexy market. It’s not about having the coolest, hippest product. We came up with an index of companies that grew to a certain level both in terms of their annual revenue and in terms of their financial performance, compared with the rest of their industry. [Read more…]
What are some key characteristics of a great leader? While many books and countless articles have been written about this subject, we continue to witness a significant shortage of great leaders in many companies and institutions. Here are some essential traits and skills that great leaders must possess.
Great leaders are people persons. They must like being around people, be comfortable talking to and listening to people, and know how to relate to them. Great leaders must know how to communicate with their employees, speak their language, and not talk down to them. This is essential. Anyone who is not comfortable being around people, or exhibits anti-social or narcissistic behavior, should not lead or be in charge of anyone. Bullies, sycophants, and loners never make great leaders, regardless of their level of intelligence, education, and capability. [Read more…]
A flexible work life, including telecommuting and job shares, is good for your health, researchers said on Tuesday. They found that if people have the ability to work from home and to compress work weeks, they are more likely to make healthier lifestyle choices, to exercise more and to sleep better. [Read more…]
Telling the truth is too often overlooked in business. Truth is the catalyst that should inform all management decisions and actions. It’s the foundation on which trust and integrity rest. Truth is the critical prerequisite that enables management and employees to make ethical decisions in the day-to-day activities of an organization.
Now when I speak of “truth” I mean the objective reality of our lives that we can all categorically agree with. This includes facts and information that cannot be disputed and are universally true whether or not someone chooses to acknowledge them. Some examples include: two plus two always equals four, water is necessary to sustain life, man has landed on the moon, companies must be profitable to remain in business, in a vacuum light travels at precisely 186,282.397 miles per second, and only 0.037% of our atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide. [Read more…]
During the glory days of the Dot Com Bubble I worked as Director of Web Development at Homestore.com (now Move.com). Homestore ran Realtor.com, the largest real estate site on the web. Homestore’s management team was unable to capitalize on the unique position and strategic advantages the company had in the marketplace and squandered the resources and talent they were entrusted with.
The way executives reacted to the looming financial crisis of their own making is an illustrative case study in how not to conduct layoffs and how not to manage a company’s most important assets – its employees. [Read more…]
by John Stossel – With public schools spending more than $100,000 per student on K-12 education, you’d think they could teach students how to read and write.
South Carolina is one of many states to have trouble with this. It spends $9,000 per student per year, and its state school superintendent told me South Carolina has been “ranked as having some of the highest standards of learning in the entire country.” So let’s ask the infamous question, “Is our children learning?”
Dorian Cain told me he wants to learn to read. He’s 18 years old and in 12th grade, but when I asked him to read from a first-grade level book, he struggled with it.
What happened to companies like Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, or even organizations like the Catholic Church where ethics collapsed and management behavior became criminal? Their leaders did not set out to break the law. So how did they end up disgraced, and some even behind bars? Many of these problems can be traced to a failure of ethical decision-making. Ethics acts as a “fail-safe” mechanism.
People can start out with good intentions and correct principles and then incrementally twist them to suit their own interests. This is especially true in larger companies where it is easier to distance oneself from the “faceless” corporation. That’s why people who otherwise abide by high ethical standards chose to act contrary to those beliefs, which leads to disastrous consequences for their organizations.
When I was younger I used to believe that getting a good education and working hard would offer me a stable life. I learned real quick that many companies don’t reward hard work anymore – at least not like I thought they did.
I believe in hard work. I think people should be rewarded on what they produce. But all too often the wrong people get promoted. Employees get preferential treatment and enjoy more benefits and opportunities as long as they don’t make any waves, toe the organizational line, and always support their boss.
When we first come across such a dysfunctional work environment (especially early in our career), we are not sure what to make of it. We recognize that such preferential treatment of less qualified employees is neither ethical nor fair, but we don’t know how to handle it. [Read more…]
The All-Consuming Desire that Turns the American Dream into a Social Nightmare.
Brian Tracy’s book, Something for Nothing, is an honest and critical look at many of the societal and cultural problems our society is facing. Tracy is most concerned with the natural tendencies and drives of our human nature, how they have been misdirected and abused, and how, as a result, they have contributed to creating and perpetuating those social and cultural problems. Driven by his desire to understand and explain human behavior, the author relies on his experiences and insights to present a comprehensive and clear picture of how humanity’s misguided approaches in actualizing our desires to get “something for nothing” have brought about many unintended and dreadful consequences to not only individuals themselves but our society in general. [Read more…]
No sooner had SpaceShipOne safely landed in the Mojave Desert, making history as the first privately-funded manned space vehicle, than government officials rekindled their desire to regulate this nascent private industry. Such concern for the safety of future space travelers is commendable but somewhat disingenuous, given Congress’ rather poor record of oversight in maintaining the safety of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.
On Monday, October 4th, 2004, piloted by a civilian, SpaceShipOne reached space for the second time in two weeks. As reward for such a remarkable feat Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a private company headed by aeronautic legend Burt Rutan and funded by billionaire Paul Allen, will receive the $10 million Ansari X-Prize.
The revolutionary SpaceShipOne project was started by Burt Rutan partially in response to the challenge setup by the X-Prize. The prize was created to reward the first privately funded team that sent a three-person spacecraft into space on two different flights within a two-week period. With approximately $30 million in funds Rutan and his group were able to achieve this amazing goal in a relatively short amount of time and claim the award. [Read more…]