Archive for 2014

How do we make decisions around here?

October 30th, 2014 — 5:30am

Every team must answer this question. What’s the official answer, and what really happens in practice? New members of the team will be feeling around to find out. Sometimes long-time members of the team aren’t sure either.

Here are the major options:

1. Whoever has the most expertise and/or authority will decide. The best decision is the smartest decision.

2. It’s a team decision, a democracy. The best decision is the one that has the most consensus behind it.

3. It’s moral authority, not the leader’s authority. The best decision is the right thing to do ethically, for the cause or for the customer.

A related question: Where’s the line between what our team is authorized to decide and what must be decided above us?

Team performance is highest when all members have the same expectation about how decisions will be made. As leaders it’s our responsibility to clearly communicate, and model, the answer.

I’m Writing a Book. Beta Readers Wanted.

October 23rd, 2014 — 5:30am

Over the years I’ve made a lot of decisions about how to invest my time and my money. These decisions have grown the small savings of a college kid into thousands of times more, and they’ve drastically increased my character and my skills.

Along the way I collected broad principles into a document that became my personal guide to investment decisions. This is not just about what to do with stocks and bonds, but what to do with time, buildings, and resource allocation within my own businesses.

Others have found my thoughts on this subject helpful, so now I’m making my personal investment manifesto into a book. It might be called “Return on Everything: Making Sound Investment Decisions with Your Time and Your Money”.

I’m announcing it now, when the first draft is only half written, for two reasons:

1) It’s a public commitment that I will finish it.

2) I want to give you the chance to be the first to read it and give feedback.

If you’d like to do that send me a message at I’ll send you a pre-release copy when it’s ready. Thanks!

Entrepreneurship and Family Feedback

October 16th, 2014 — 5:30am

When you are contemplating a risky business move, those closest to you are probably not the best place for objective feedback. Family members often say “I’m afraid you will get hurt.” There’s caring and honesty in that, and it’s not what would-be adventurers need to hear.

It can really hurt on a personal level, and amplify self-doubt, when family doesn’t “get it”. I’ve observed this dynamic more often than not. On top of that, our own responses to family can be emotionally super-charged, making it hard to listen objectively.

When you receive feedback from family, listen for their fears mixed into their advice. Don’t take their feedback as a reliable prediction of your prospects. Get feedback from multiple other people who are for you, and experienced with the types of risks you are taking.

Love your family. Don’t use them as a focus group.

Race and Humanity

October 9th, 2014 — 5:30am

I recently participated in a diverse roundtable conversation about race. I went to listen, knowing I have a lot to learn about this subject. A courageous openness developed in the room. Here are some themes I heard between the lines:

There are so many ways that we differ from each other as people. Race, color, religion, politics, size, age, gender, wealth, sexual orientation, and many more.

We are prone to fear. Fear about our own differences, and fear about the differences of others. We fear being overpowered, rejected, and excluded.

Often those fears come true. Countless people have been mistreated by countless others, with differences as a reason or an excuse.

Many people carry deep pain about their differences and the experience of life they’ve had related to those differences.

In all these differences I see a deep commonality. We all want to be seen. Truly seen, not dismissively categorized. And heard, as unique individuals. We want what we feel and say to be taken seriously. We as human beings long to be seen, heard, and understood with attentiveness, humble curiosity, and respect.

There are many wrongs that I cannot right. I can make a difference in my circle of influence.

I can look to see, listen to hear, wonder to understand, and these are worthy and impactful ways of being human.


October 2nd, 2014 — 5:30am

Cash is like air. If you run out, even temporarily, you don’t get to play another day. You must manage to ensure you don’t run out of cash.

It takes a lot of effort and forecasting to manage cash close to running out, without actually running out. So do whatever it takes to build up a cash buffer and remove the need to manage cash so precisely.

Buffer in place, and thus freed from worrying about tomorrow’s air supply, you can focus on maximizing long-term return.

A person prioritizing cash flow will try to avoid a big investment opportunity (a $10,000 equipment replacement, for example) that pays well in the long term ($2,000 savings per year for 20 years = $40,000).

A person prioritizing long-term return will rejoice at such “expensive” opportunities.

Create that cash buffer, prioritize long-term return and you’ll create a snowball effect as increased returns provide increased cash to fund even more long-term return opportunities.

P.S. This works equally well in personal life, business, and nonprofit orgs.

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