Ricardo Semler: Set Employees Free for Long-Term Growth and Success

Ricardo Semler: Set Employees Free for Long-Term Growth and Successby Brad Wieners –
For nearly 25 years, Ricardo Semler, CEO of Brazil-based Semco, has let his employees set their own hours, wages, even choose their own IT. The result: increased productivity, long-term loyalty and phenomenal growth.

Ricardo Semler had the sort of reckoning at 21 that most executives don’t face until middle age. Fresh from law school, where he’d been a restless underachiever, Semler took over his father’s business, which manufactured pumps and propellers for the world’s merchant marine. He was awfully young, but his dad sensed that if he didn’t give his son a chance, he’d lose him to another career. Besides, Semler Sr. was a pragmatist. “Better make your mistakes,” he told his son, “while I’m still alive.”

Straightaway, Semler Jr. spearheaded an ambitious plan to diversify his dad’s ship-parts company, which, like the Brazilian economy in the mid-eighties, was sinking. At Semco headquarters, in São Paulo, he tried to learn everything there was to know, and, while a quick study, he irritated plenty of the old hands with his precociousness and micromanaging. Working from 7:30 a.m. to midnight every day, or jumping planes overseas to raise capital and find new partners and companies to buy, his live-to-work lifestyle seemed ripped from the pages of John Grisham’s The Firm. [Read more…]

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The Compass vs. The Clock, Put First Things First

Compass vs. The Clock, Put First Things Firstby Chris Banescu –
The realization that something is not right with our lives can manifest itself in various ways. A feeling of emptiness, a bothersome disquiet, or a strange pain, like a deep sadness or a heartache, gradually or suddenly begins to trouble our souls. We feel guilty, anxious, unsatisfied, stressed, or sad even in moments when we ought to be at peace and carefree; when we should be relaxing or enjoying ourselves. For some this pain is only a vague discomfort. For others, including yours truly, the pain can often be intense and unrelenting; sometimes lasting for long stretches of time.

I discovered the reason for this mysterious affliction in the book First Things First, written by Stephen Covey, Roger Merrill, and Rebecca Merrill. They describe this particular grief as the “pain of the gap,” the gap we sense between the compass and the clock in our lives. Every time we don’t put first things first, when we fail to follow our calling and vocation and focus on the most important things in life, our conscience warns us that something’s not right and corrective measures and proactive actions are required. [Read more…]

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The Sociopath In The Office Next Door

Sociopath In The Office Next Door by Davia Temin –
Evil in the office. If you think about it, you’ll probably realize you’ve seen it play out at least once in your career.

All of a sudden a well-running, friendly, effective group or company begins to disintegrate for no apparent reason. People start to become demoralized and dysfunctional, efficiency plummets, client service and sales suffer and convoluted mistakes are made, up to and including illegal behavior such as fraud and larceny. Employees begin to develop psychosomatic illnesses, sick time rises and the best talent starts to leave.

What used to be a great work situation turns into a nightmare.

More often than not this dysfunction can be traced to the entry of one new employee, perhaps the boss, his or his assistant, the head of HR or a new shop steward. And when you start to explore, you find that, though the person may look and act apparently normal–even charming–all those around him or her are suffering. [Read more…]

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Jeff Bezos (Amazon): Top Ten Maxims for Business Success

Jeff Bezos Amazon Top Ten Maxims for Business Success Chris Banescu –
Jeff Bezos, the founder and current CEO of Amazon.com, offers ten maxims that have helped him turn Amazon into the world-class company it is today. Leaders should consider these important principles if they want to insure the long-term success of their businesses. The list was compiled by George Anders, Forbes contributor who writes about management, careers and unforgettable personalities. This story appeared in the April 23, 2012 issue of FORBES magazine.

1. “Base your strategy on things that won’t change.”
Selling lipstick, tractor seats, e-book readers and data storage is all part of one big plan with three big constants: offer wider selection, lower prices and fast, reliable delivery.

2. “Obsess over customers.”
Early on Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings so lieutenants would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Now that ­surrogate’s role is played by specially trained employees, dubbed “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” When they frown, vice ­presidents tremble. [Read more…]

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Relying On Customer Trust To Help You Weather A Tough Economy

Customer Trust Customer Service Key to Successby Don Peppers –
You’ve probably heard the joke: Two hunters confront a large grizzly bear. Their weapons misfire and the bear comes at them. The first hunter takes off running, but the second one pauses briefly to discard his hunting boots and put on running shoes. “Don’t waste so much time!” the first hunter yells over his shoulder, “Running shoes aren’t going to be enough to outrun that bear!” The second hunter, quickly catching up with his friend, replies “I don’t need to outrun the bear. I just need to outrun you!”

So now the question is: Do you have the right shoes to outrun your competitors? You might want to consider how well your customers trust you to act in their interest.

In tough times, buyers want to economize every bit as much as sellers do, so customers cut back, simplify, and search for reliability. Discount stores benefit as consumers look for bargains, but customer-oriented sellers also benefit, as customers seek out businesses they can trust. [Read more…]

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Motivating Employees: 7 Things Great Bosses Do

Things Great Bosses Doby Jeff Haden –
Great bosses do these things. The rest don’t–because these simple gestures would never occur to them.

Where employees are concerned, great leaders don’t take. Great leaders give–especially these seven things:

1. They give a glimpse of vulnerability.
To employees, you’re often not a person. You’re a boss. (Kind of like when you were in school and you saw a teacher at the grocery store; it was jarring and uncomfortable because teachers weren’t people. They were teachers.)

That’s why showing vulnerability is a humanizing way to break down the artificial barrier that typically separates bosses from employees. One easy way to break down that barrier is to ask for help. [Read more…]

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The Dirty Little Secret Of Overnight Successes

Secret Of Overnight Success by Josh Linkner –
As Chris Dixon pointed out in a recent blog postAngry Birds, the incredibly popular game, was software maker Rovio’s 52nd attempt. They spent eight years and nearly went bankrupt before finally creating their massive hit.

James Dyson failed in 5,126 prototypes before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. Groupon was put on life support and nearly shut down at one point in its meteoric rise.

When looking at the most successful people and organizations, we often imagine geniuses with a smooth journey straight to the promised land. But when you really examine nearly every success story, they are filled with crushing defeats, near-death experiences, and countless setbacks. [Read more…]

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Ten Success Principles to Remember

Keys to Success Ten Principles to Remember Listed below are ten principles of success to always remember. These are ideas many of us already know or have seen elsewhere. We often need to be reminded of important lessons we’ve already discovered but quickly forget.

  1. There is no progress without action. What is not started today is never finished tomorrow. Some of the greatest ideas never made it. Why? Because the genius behind the idea failed to take action. So take action now and begin to move in the right direction. Once you get started every step afterwards gets easier and easier. Eventually, what had once been invisible, starts to become visible, and what once felt unattainable, starts to become a reality.
  2. You must believe you can. It all starts with a dream. Add confidence, and it becomes a belief. Add commitment, and it becomes a goal in sight. Add action, and it becomes a part of your life. Add determination and time, and your dream becomes a reality. [Read more…]
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Win an Olympic Medal, Pay the IRS

Win an Olympic Medals, Pay the IRS by Chris Banescu –
What better way for the U.S. government to “thank” our Olympic athletes for all the years of hard work, enormous efforts, and many personal and financial sacrifices in pursuit of excellence, than to compel them to pay taxes on their Olympic medals and prize money. Yes, my fellow Americans, U.S. Olympians must pay income taxes on both the medals and the prize money granted for gold, silver, and bronze.

Besides the actual gold, silver, and bronze medals given to the top three Olympians in each event, prizes are also awarded. For the London Olympics athletes receive $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.

According to the IRS, American medalists must report as income not only their prize money but also the market value of the actual metal in each medal they win. [Read more…]

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Discern Truth and Solve Problems

Discern Truth Solve Problemsby Chris Banescu
Life must be a continuous journey in discerning truth and solving problems. Courage gives us the determination to accept truth. Discipline allows us to consistently and creatively deal with the problems.

Mistakes don’t become failures until we refuse to correct them. Often, long-term failures develop when we purposely ignore truth and make excuses instead of taking the necessary steps to correct our mistakes.

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Ten Enemies of Personal Greatness

Enemies of Personal Greatness by Marc –
Beware!  These ten inner enemies can quickly erode your grandest plans and your noblest intentions.  They can drain your life of passion and potential, and fill your spirit with lifelong regret.

  1. Always taking the path of least resistance. – Just because you are struggling does NOT mean you are failing.  Every great success requires some kind of struggle to get there.  Good things don’t come to those who wait.  Good things come to those who work hard and struggle to pursue the goals and dreams they believe in.
  2. Comparing yourself to everyone else. – You will never fully believe in yourself if you keep comparing yourself to everyone else.  Being true to yourself in thoughts, words and actions is as important as being kind and true to others. [Read more…]
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No Excuses – Motivation and Hard Work Make Dreams Into Realities

Motivation and Sacrifices Make Dreams Into Realitiesby Chris Banescu –

What is your goal in life? What is your dream?

A dream must be acted upon to have any chance of success. It can only be achieved if we have the passion, motivation, discipline, and determination to pursue it with our whole heart and mind. Our dream must have our full focus, attention, and energy. We must be willing and able to do the hard work necessary to make it become a reality. Just like a “faith without works is dead,” a dream without works and sacrifices is just a fantasy, a delusion.

Don’t let your fears stand in the way of your dreams. It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. Regret is worse than failure! [Read more…]

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Secrets of the Most Productive People I Know

Productivity Success Productive by Margaret Heffernan –
Like most everyone else, I worry about productivity. Since there aren’t more hours in the day, how can I get more done? That’s made me reflect on the truly productive people I’ve known or worked with throughout my career.

They all share certain characteristics:

1. They have a life.
Far from being the maniacally focused, late night or early morning types, truly creative innovators or problem solvers have a rich life outside of work. One of the finest CEOs I’ve known, Carol Vallone, founder of WebCT, coached her local softball team. She said it’s where she honed her leadership skills. It also meant she had to take her mind off work and think in different ways. No wonder academic research keeps showing that external commitments are highly correlated with high achievement. [Read more…]

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“No” is the New “Yes”: Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life

Harvard Business Review logo by Tony Schwartz –
Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued capacity of our times. In a world of relentless demands and infinite options, it behooves us to prioritize the tasks that add the most value. That also means deciding what to do less of, or to stop doing altogether.

I was sitting with the CEO and senior team of a well-respected organization. One at a time, they told me they spend their long days either in back-to-back meetings, responding to email, or putting out fires. They also readily acknowledged this way of working wasn’t serving them well — personally or professionally.

It’s a conundrum they couldn’t seem to solve. It’s also a theme on which I hear variations every day. Think of it as a madness loop — a vicious cycle. We react to what’s in front of us, whether it truly matters or not. More than ever, we’re prisoners of the urgent.

Prioritizing requires reflection, reflection takes time, and many of the executives I meet are so busy racing just to keep up they don’t believe they have time to stop and think about much of anything. [Read more…]

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Ten Things to Start Doing to Improve Your Life

Keys to Success in Life by Chris Banescu –
There are many books and articles written about improving your life and achieving success. Often these resources cover common principles and truths you can apply for personal self-improvement, motivation, and inspiration. Others discuss pitfalls and problem areas in your life to watch out for and avoid. Listed below are ten important concepts to start practicing in order to improve your quality of life and get back on the road towards peace and happiness.

  1. Pursue a career you love and are passionate about. – When you love what you do, working hard is enjoyable and making sacrifices for what you’re passionate about is worthwhile. Hard work doesn’t feel hard when you devote yourself fully to it and really like doing it. Don’t settle on a career field you’re not passionate about, don’t feel comfortable in, or hold on to simply because you need the money. Do everything possible to leave a dysfunctional work environment. If you’re not sure what career to pursue, then try different things, read good books, educate yourself, and ask trusted mentors for feedback and advice. Continue searching for something that you’re really good at doing, others appreciate, and you would love to do for the rest of your life. Look diligently and follow your heart and you’ll eventually find it. If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop; you’re on to something big.
  2. Maintain a healthy body and a rested mind. – Your health is your life! It is more important than wealth or success. Don’t sacrifice your health in pursuit of other goals. A tired mind and an unhealthy body are rarely conducive to productive and efficient work and excellent results. Don’t abuse your body and mind. Everything in moderation is key when it comes to eating and drinking. Eat healthy, wholesome, and balanced meals. Exercise regularly, both by lifting weights (strength training) and doing aerobic exercises that improve cardiovascular fitness. Get enough sleep every night and sufficient rest during the day. [Read more…]
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Stop Procrastinating…Now

Harvard Business Review logo by Amy Gallo –

It seems that no one is immune to the tendency to procrastinate. When someone asked Ernest Hemingway how to write a novel, his response was “First you defrost the refrigerator.” But putting off tasks takes a big hit on our productivity, and psyche. Procrastination is not inevitable. Figuring out why you postpone work and then taking concrete steps to prevent it will help you get more done and feel good about yourself.

What the Experts Say
According to Ned Hallowell, a psychiatrist and the author of 12 books, including Driven to Distraction, delaying work is often a symptom of how busy you are. “We procrastinate because we all have too much to do,” he says. And of course, we want to dodge things we don’t like. “Many people procrastinate because they fear the drudgery or the difficulty of the task they are avoiding,” says Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and coauthor of The Progress Principle. But, as you have likely learned, it doesn’t pay to dawdle. “Putting it off doesn’t make it go away. Getting it done does,” says Hallowell. Here are five principles to follow next time you find yourself deferring important work. [Read more…]

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Five Reasons Why You Should Write Down Your Goals

Write Your Goals Down, Commit Your Goals to Writing

There is incredible power in writing down one’s goals. This sage advice comes from an entry written by Michael Hyatt on his blog Intentional Leadership. The five (5) useful tips he mentions can help us focus our efforts, clarify our desires, motivate us into action, and give us an opportunity for self-reflection and self-improvement; key elements in finding purpose and meaning in our lives. I encourage everyone to visit Michael’s site often, he posts a lot of other great stuff there also!

Most people don’t bother to write down their goals. Instead, they drift through life aimlessly, wondering why their life lacks purpose and significance. I am not saying that committing your goals to writing is the end-game. It’s not. But it is the beginning.

Here are five reasons you should commit your goals to writing:

1. Because it will force you to clarify what you want. Imagine setting out on a trip with no particular destination in mind. How do you pack? What roads do you take? How do you know when you have arrived? Instead, you start by picking a destination. The same is true with the milestones in your life. Writing down your goals forces you to select something specific and decide what you want. [Read more…]

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How To Brand Yourself Like A Celebrity

Brand Yourself Successby Nick Nanton & JW Dicks –
As I tell my clients over and over, your personal branding campaign should be primarily centered on the goal of branding yourself as a celebrity within your market. The key phrase here is “within your market.” You don’t need to become the next Hollywood superstar, you just need to become the go-to guy in your field, within your market. And as you know if you’ve been paying attention, that involves branding yourself both as an expert and as an interesting individual. Why interesting? Because it’s not good enough simply to be considered good at what you do; you also need to be memorable. You need to stick in the minds of potential clients, so that when they need your services, you are the first person they think of. For some clients I’ve spoken to, this seems to present a problem. “There’s simply nothing memorable about me,” they say. If you identify with that notion, pay attention, because today I’m going to show you that anyone can brand themselves as an expert and a celebrity if they are willing to commit 100% to that goal. [Read more…]

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How P&G Tripled Its Innovation Success Rate

Tide logo success by Bruce Brown and Scott D. Anthony –
Back in 2000 the prospects for Procter & Gamble’s Tide, the biggest brand in the company’s fabric and household care division, seemed limited. The laundry detergent had been around for more than 50 years and still dominated its core markets, but it was no longer growing fast enough to support P&G’s needs. A decade later Tide’s revenues have nearly doubled, helping push annual division revenues from $12 billion to almost $24 billion. The brand is surging in emerging markets, and its iconic bull’s-eye logo is turning up on an array of new products and even new businesses, from instant clothes fresheners to neighborhood dry cleaners.

This isn’t accidental. It’s the result of a strategic effort by P&G over the past decade to systematize innovation and growth.

To understand P&G’s strategy, we need to go back more than a century to the sources of its inspiration—Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. In the 1870s Edison created the world’s first industrial research lab, Menlo Park, which gave rise to the technologies behind the modern electric-power and motion-picture industries. [Read more…]

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How to Build Confidence

Self-Confidence Success by Amy Gallo –
Very few people succeed in business without a degree of confidence. Yet everyone, from young people in their first real jobs to seasoned leaders in the upper ranks of organizations, have moments — or days, months, or even years — when they are unsure of their ability to tackle challenges. No one is immune to these bouts of insecurity at work, but they don’t have to hold you back.

What the Experts Say
“Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance,” says Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live. And yet he concedes that “insecurity plagues consciously or subconsciously every human being I’ve met.” Overcoming this self-doubt starts with honestly assessing your abilities (and your shortcomings) and then getting comfortable enough to capitalize on (and correct) them, adds Deborah H. Gruenfeld, the Moghadam Family Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Co-Director of the Executive Program for Women Leaders at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Here’s how to do that and get into the virtuous cycle that Schwartz describes. [Read more…]

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How the Mighty Fall: A Primer on the Warning Signs

How the Mighty FallBy Jim Collins –
The author of Good to Great on how to spot the subtle signs that your successful company is actually on course to sputter—and how to reverse the slide before it’s too late.

I pondered and puzzled and finally settled upon the question: Is America renewing its greatness, or is America dangerously on the cusp of falling from great to good? While I intended the question to be rhetorical (I believe America carries a responsibility to continuously renew itself, and it has met that responsibility throughout its history), the West Point gathering nonetheless erupted into an intense debate. Half of the participants argued that America stands as strong as ever, while the other half contended that America teeters on the edge of decline.

History shows, repeatedly, that the mighty can fall. The Egyptian Old Kingdom, the Chou Dynasty, the Hittite Empire—all fell. Athens fell. Rome fell. Even Britain, which stood a century before as a global superpower, saw its position erode. Is that the U.S.’s fate? Or will America always find a way to meet Lincoln’s challenge to be the last best hope of Earth?

At a break, the chief executive of one of America’s most successful companies pulled me aside. “I’ve been thinking about your question in the context of my company all morning,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous success in recent years, and I worry about that. So what I want to know is: How would you know?” [Read more…]

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Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

Keys to Success by Heidi Grant Halvorson –
Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it. [Read more…]

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Five Things You Should Never Say While Negotiating

by Mike Hofman –
Every entrepreneur spends some time haggling, whether it is with customers, suppliers, investors, or would-be employees. Most business owners are street smart, and seem to naturally perform well in negotiations. You probably have a trick or two—some magic phrases to say, perhaps—that can help you gain the upperhand. But, often, the moment you get into trouble in a negotiation is when something careless just slips out. If you are new to negotiation, or feel it is an area where you can improve, check out these tips on precisely what not to say. [Read more…]

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Intel CEO Otellini on Successful Company Culture

Intel CEO Paul Otellini
Intel CEO Paul Otellini
by Rich Karlgaard –
(Note: Last week I sat down with Intel’s Paul Otellini to talk about technology in the 2-to-5-year future. Can Moore’s Law continue? What will smartphones, tablets and PCs look like in two years? I will publish our conversation in the March 14 issue of Forbes magazine. Meanwhile, enjoy Otellini’s riff on Intel’s amazing 43-year-old corporate culture. Steve Jobs may be the iconic entrepreneur/CEO of Silicon Valley, but Intel, I would argue, is the iconic culture.)

Name a Silicon Valley giant that has managed CEO succession well. HP hasn’t. Sun blew it. Advanced Micro Devices never adequately replaced Jerry Sanders. Apple dropped the baton repeatedly its first incarnation – Steve Jobs to John Sculley, Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio — and it’s too early to tell if Tim Cook can replace Jobs this time around. Larry Ellison still runs Oracle, and Cisco is only on its second CEO, John Chambers. Google has gone back to its founders, and Facebook is not even yet public.

Among large companies, only Intel has mastered CEO succession multiple times. [Read more…]

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