Greed Doesn’t Drive Wall Street

Day 3 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book.

Greed did not drive the giant Industrialists of the 1800s, nor does it drive companies we love to hate on Wall Street today. It’s something quite different.

As with all empire builders who passed before them, it is about power; money is just a new measure of power. In the Industrial Age, for the first time in history, you could build a fiefdom alongside a government that would not send armies to destroy you, but actually protect your right to do so.

Power To The Few
There is little doubt that most of the big Industrialists, when they were still small, likely ignored some moral or ethical boundaries to begin to accumulate wealth. Greed drives them at first, but once they have experienced wealth, the desire to be powerful is the unique and much rarer driving force behind those few people who want to dominate and crush the competition.

Bernie Madoff may have been greedy when he was a bit player on Wall Street, but very shortly it became about being powerful, well known, and highly influential in elite circles. Giant banks may start out focused on accumulating wealth, but that is quickly replaced with a focus on power and domination. After someone has significantly more than they need, it becomes about power. And power requires winning, beating the other guy.

Kings and Kingpins
The basic motivations of feudal lords, politicians and 21st century Industrialists are identical. For all of them the most intoxicating motivation is to be able to control the lives of other people, which gives them power, control, and prestige. The feudal lord accumulates armies, the politician accumulates votes and the Industrialist accumulates money, all with the same motive – domination of their respective worlds and elimination of potential threats.

Cornelius Vanderbilt was a feudal lord ruling over a fiefdom. He was so powerful he was able to destroy the entire railroad industry by shutting down the Albany bridge, the only rail bridge into New York City, which he owned. Winning at all costs, and the power that came from being on top, was the intoxicating way of life for the Industrialist. And it still is for many business people and politicians who make up the 21st century version of the Industrialist.

Sumner Redstone, the American media magnate, summed up the motivation of the 21st century Industrialists we love to hate, “They don’t think in terms of money, they think in terms of winning. Not some times. Every time.”

You see the same transition from greed to power in criminals. Small criminals may be greedy, but big criminals are motivated by power. When the Colombian super-cartel was broken up in 2012, the top three leaders, who were worth hundreds of millions each, were all found living in modest city apartments, working out of cafes, driving regular cars, and essentially living regular middle class lives. Living modestly was what made it hard to find them. When asked why they had continued selling drugs for so many years when they couldn’t spend the money, one of them replied simply, “It was for the power.”

Power Through Philanthropy
Virtually all of the big Industrialists of the 1800s gave away staggering sums of money in their later years. But even in their philanthropy they sought to crush the other guy and build a bigger library, concert hall or museum. If they were driven by greed they would have kept their money. But a building with their name on it would continue to give them prestige and a form of power even after death, and help prove to future generations that they won. That was worth more than money in the bank. Power always trumps greed.

Which Big Do You Love?
Big loves big. They have to. Big government and big business may not be fully in synch, but they are co-dependent and DO love key things about each other that will help them both remain in power. Most people find themselves rooting for one Big or the other, without realizing that decades ago both Bigs lost touch with everything small and local.

In the final analysis, both Bigs have a cozy, symbiotic relationship where donations, cronyism, favors, free trips, power, and money are flying in both directions regardless of party affiliation. They understand clearly how much they need each other in order to stay in power.

Small Is Becoming Powerful
But Big is in trouble. The Participation Age, and the ability to share information easily via the internet, is exposing the power-grabbing practices of the Bigs, at a time where returning to small and local community is becoming one of our highest values. In the coming decade, Big will be less and less necessary in our lives, and the advantage will go to the small and local businesses that are in touch with the “small” guy on the street.

Stop Rooting for the Bigs
But we will accelerate the process when we stop whining about the greed of the Bigs, and focus instead on requiring a level playing field that does not concentrate power in the hands of a few and does not favor the Bigs over the Smalls.

Do you love one Big (business or government) more than the other, because you think it will be better for you? Think again. The Bigs aren’t working to help the Smalls, but to continue to increase their own power.

This is a summary of a chapter from Chuck’s new book, “Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea (And Other Business Diseases of the Industrial Age)”. Click here to pre-order this new ground breaking book at a discount on IndieGoGo.com until July 28.

The Problem with Big

Day 2 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book.

Jerry Garcia said, “Too much of anything, is just enough.” But “Big” is one of the core business diseases of the Industrial Age; a very new business solution devised by Industrialists to serve themselves. Big has big problems that Small will never experience.

It took a long time for us to fall in love with Big, in the 1970s, almost at the very end of the Industrial Age. But since then, we’ve become addicted to big. We can’t help ourselves. Big “anything” is just too cool for school.

Why is Big so Big Now?
Big Government has been around a long time, but Big Business as a dominant force is brand spanking new. There are just 167 companies in the world older than five hundred years, and only one of them has more than 100 employees. The rest are Smalls. After thousands of years of running economies on the backs of the Smalls, we now just assume Big is the best and only way to go.

The Problem With Big
Big has special problems that it doesn’t share with Small. Whether it is business, government, dinosaurs, hurricanes, or snowstorms; the really big ones have two intrinsic problems that Small doesn’t have:

1) The bigger they are, the more problems their complexity creates, for themselves and the world around them.

2) The bigger they are, the greater impact their mistakes and problems have on themselves and the world around them.

In 2008, one giant financial institution, Lehman Brothers, collapsed, which created a domino effect, threatening the entire banking system. As a result, in 2009, and for almost two years after, the U.S. economy was stunningly rated by the National Security Agency as the highest threat to U.S. national security, higher than terrorism or any other outside threat. The United States addiction to Big had become our own worst enemy.

Big is Bigger Than Ever
How did the two Bigs (business and government) respond to this internal threat to our nation’s security? Big Government gifted hundreds of billions of dollars to a few giant banks without so much as an I.O.U. Free money with no strings attached. Big government had to do it. Big business was holding the government and the entire country hostage by sheer virtue of its size. The big banks are now all bigger than they were when they were “too big to fail.”

What did the giant banks do with the bailout gift? They put it in their pocket and stopped lending to small business. Small business in America was crippled by this one act which went largely unreported by big media, and is still the largest underlying cause of the slow recovery.

Big Impact
As this shows, the reach of bad decisions by the Bigs can be devastating. When Big does something stupid like Lehman Brothers, the impact is global. When Small does something stupid or intentionally detrimental, it’s no less acceptable, but the scope of the damage is localized and controlled. It’s the difference between the mistaken detonation of a hand grenade or a nuclear bomb. Both are bad, but only one is global in scale.

Big Has a “Get Out of Jail Free” Card
And too often, when Bigs get stupid, they get a pass. In 2012 the U.S. Justice Department found that HSBC, one of the world’s three largest banks, had “spent years committing serious crimes”, regularly laundering money for terrorists and drug cartels. But the Justice Department decided HSBC was “too important to subject them to disruptions”, and shielded them from any criminal prosecution.

Micro-solutions for Micro-problems
Another problem with Big is that it creates macro solutions for micro problems. Even with the best of intentions it is simply too big a task to ask macro-entities to solve local problems. The problem is not the systems, but the size of the systems; the size of business, size of government and the resulting accumulation of power and decision-making into those few hands.

The reason size is a problem is simple. The old adage is that “all politics is local.” The same is true for problems – “All problems are local.” Big never solves local problems.

Size Matters
Does small always work better than big? No. It is easy to find both local businesses and local governments that make self-preserving decisions that aren’t in the best interest of their constituency, just like the Bigs. But because they are small and local, the negative affects are never as damaging.

Returning to local government and local business for answers to our local problems would push as many decisions down the food chain as possible. This is difficult if not impossible for both national politicians and big business leaders to accept, because they would lose control over their own macro-power.

There is a place for both Big Business and Big Government, but experience says we would be better off, and certainly safer as a nation with less of both.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss why greed doesn’t drive Wall Street; it’s something much bigger.

This is a summary of a chapter from Chuck’s new book, “Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea (And Other Business Diseases of the Industrial Age)”. Click here to pre-order this new ground breaking book at a discount on IndieGoGo.com until July 28.

The Human Carnage of the Industrial Age

Day 1 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book.

We left the Information Age in the early 2000s when Web 2.0 became pervasive. Part of our business culture has moved into a new era, the Participation Age, but a bigger part of it is still stuck in the Industrial Age. And its wreaking havoc.

Web 2.0 made our world interactive and collaborative in a ways we had never seen before. The hallmark of this new Participation Age is ‘sharing’. People everywhere can now connect and build everything from shared information to shared systems.

We’re Sharing Everything

We have seen an organic and viral explosion in sharing – weekend software projects tackled by people all over the world who don’t know each other; bike sharing; car sharing; house sharing; virtual assistants; co-working spaces; even co-creation of products by companies interacting directly with their customers. Linux, an open-source “shared” software operating system, owned by no one, runs the fastest computers in the world and hundreds of millions of cell phones.

Sharing is the new and uncontrolled economy that is terrifying 21st century Industrialists. United Airlines, a classic Industrialist still mucking around in the 21st century, discovered this painfully when Dave Carroll got ignored after they broke his guitar. He posted a song on YouTube called “United Breaks Guitars” and within four days, United’s stock value plunged $180 million. That’s the power of sharing.

On the positive side, we’ve also seen global responses to a single person’s plight, and the proliferation of crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding companies that help people in ways unimaginable before the Participation Age. We also regularly find people to fix our sink on websites that aggregate the shared reviews of others. Sharing is everywhere.

Back To Being Human At Work
The Participation Age is taking us back to a more natural relationship to work that was dominant for thousands of years before the extremely short, unique and interruptive blip in history we call the Industrial Age. The biggest impact of the Industrial Age was a Jekyll and Hyde experience; raising our standard of living while methodically stripping us of many of the things that make us human, most importantly our ability to ask why, and to create and participate in the world around us, in real and meaningful ways.

The Silent Generation
The crowning achievement of the Industrial Age was the Factory System that dominated from 1850 to 1970, peaking between 1945 and 1965. At the same time as the Industrial Age was peaking, the human product it produced was the saddest in history. Those who joined the workforce in that 20 years are known by demographers as The Silent Generation – “Shut up, sit down, don’t make waves, live invisibly,” and worst of all, “go out quietly”. The Silent Generation was stripped of it’s humanity. It had to be in order to serve the Factory System. There was no other way.

The human carnage of the Industrial Age is the unaddressed collateral damage of how we decided we would produce the toys of the Industrial Age.

The Participation Age Front Office
In the Participation Age, there is another way. A way that makes the company even more money by creating systems and processes that focus on both the health of the production line and the humanity of the staff. The Participation Age demands that we allow people to SHARE in the creative process of building the corporation, and in the rewards that come from doing so.

The Seven Core Business Diseases of the Industrial Age
Many companies are already living fully in the Participation Age, and have been for years, some for decades. We’ll talk about them in later posts. There is no turning back. The Industrial Age is behind us and the Participation Age is fully upon us. To get there, each company has to recognize and confront the seven core business diseases of the Industrial Age; those practices developed as cures for issues in the Factory System, that were at the same time diseases for the people who staffed the factories.

Curing The Diseases
The Industrial Age and it’s Factory System are gone, and the leadership practices that served them both will not serve us in the Participation Age. The cure has become the disease. In the next few days we will discuss the cure. The Participation Age is going to be a lot of fun.

This is a summary of the Introduction to Chuck’s new book, “Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea (And Other Business Diseases of the Industrial Age)”. Click here to pre-order this new ground breaking book at a discount on IndieGoGo.com until July 28.

Contentment is dangerous.

Pursuit, Not Acquisition

We work so hard to achieve contentment. Be careful, it could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Since the early 1900s we have been taught to pursue the three S’s of the Industrial Age; Safety, Security, and Stability. The three of them together can lead us to contentment, which at first blush seems pretty cool.

The Contentment Fence
But contentment is a kissing cousin of balance, and both of them are like sitting on a fence; you can’t stay there very long. Pretty soon you’ll either fall off or jump off, and the question is, on which side of the fence? Falling off one side begins a downward spiral to victimology. Making the decision to intentionally jump off the other side leads upward to better things, and the fourth S of the Participation Age, Significance.

How can contentment drag us down? Living in contentment (and balance) could very quickly lead to boredom, because you have no vision for how to challenge yourself to take your life to the next level. Boredom is the first step down and it breeds pessimism, doubt, worry, blame, anger, insecurity, and eventually powerlessness – I’m a victim.

If you find yourself content, the best thing to do is proactively get the heck out of there by figuring out the next challenge and chasing it with everything you’ve got. Contentment can be a great springboard to the next challenge. If you get a solid picture of the future and what you want next, then contentment will lead right into optimism, hope, powerful expectation, enthusiasm, and passion for something new.

Jump Or Fall Off
Contentment is fleeting. You are either going to fall off or have to jump off. You can fall off on the side of victimology, or you can take control of your life, and intentionally jump off on the side of chasing something worth catching.

Have you “arrived”? Are you on cruise control with your business or your life? Be careful. It won’t last, it never does. So take charge, jump off the fence, and intentionally run toward something. You won’t be content while you’re chasing it (or balanced), but that’s ok, because the joy is never in the acquisition, but in the pursuit.

A goal realized is no longer motivating.

What’s the next thing you want to pursue? Jump off the fence and go catch it.

Sorry – College Won’t Make You That Extra Million Dollars

Then what does?

Which one is true? A) Going to bed with your shoes on gives you a headache. B) Ice cream increases your chance of drowning. C) College will make you a million extra dollars over your lifetime.

The answer – none of them.

False Correlation – People who go to bed with their shoes on, have the greatest risk of waking up with a headache. However, most people who go to bed with their shoes on are drunk. Drinking gives you a headache, not shoes.

False Correlation – Every year, drowning deaths and ice cream consumption both dramatically increase and dramatically decrease together in a very tight pattern. The real correlation? Ice cream sales go up in hot weather, and so does swimming. Swimming increases drowning, not ice cream.

False Correlation – Kids who graduate from college make a million dollars more on average than those who don’t’s missing from the correlation? Kids who go to college are motivated to succeed. Personal motivation causes success, not college.

All three of these false correlations can be disproven because lots of other things could lead to the cause. Headaches are caused by all kinds of things. People regularly drown who had no ice cream. And people are happy and succeed in life all the time without going to college. A true correlation to make would be, “Motivated kids are more successful than unmotivated kids.” That one would stand up universally.

Correlation Is Not Causation
To correlate success of any kind, monetary or personal, with college, we have to identify a cause that can be attributed to college. Colleges are very careful about how they word the million-dollar thing. They NEVER say, “Graduating from college will CAUSE you to make a million dollars more than if you just got a high school degree.” Why? Because the correlation doesn’t exist, and they know it. They’re just hoping you will draw a false correlation because they put the words “college” and “million” in the same sentence, like headache with shoes, and drowning with ice cream.

In my new book, Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea (out in 6-8 weeks), I debunk the million dollar myth. At the VERY best it’s a couple hundred thousand, but it’s more likely a minus hundreds of thousands. But if that distracts you, then for now, go ahead and assume college kids make TWO million more, because the correlation between the money and college just isn’t there.

If there is any advantage a college kid has over a high school graduate, it wasn’t because of college, but because of the kid. They were more motivated and that is what made them more money. College had nothing to do with it. The kid would have been successful no matter what path they took.

What Causes Success?
One out of five millionaires never finished school. More Fortune 500 CEOs never got a degree than from any one university. The richest cohort in America (one out of seven billionaires) are non-college grads. 23 to 25 year olds who did vocational training are happier than 23 to 25 year old college grads (recent study).

If the correlation was between college and success, then we wouldn’t see such ongoing, regular success with no college degree. These people aren’t statistical anomalies, freaks or exceptions. Nobody can explain away one out of five millionaires, one out of seven billionaires (and the richest of them), or the biggest group of S&P 500 CEOs, as anomalies.

Want to be successful?
Then be motivated. You can go to college, too, if you want. Or not.

The 2nd Most Important Business Word You’ve Never Heard

Wouldn’t it be great if…?

All too often I hear people say, “I got it”, when everything about their actions says differently. The process of truly getting it is much deeper.

Today, education means getting something into your head. Learning, in it’s traditional form, means doing and being. Education is what a PHD gets. Learning is what an apprentice does.

Notice the difference – you “get” or obtain the first one, you “do” or become the other one. One fills your head, the other one fills your heart, your hands, your life and your wallet. Learning takes four steps, but education is set up to take us through only two of them.

Step One – Hear
William Glasser says 10-20% of what hits our hearing actually gets to our head, and almost none of that gets any farther to actually change something. Hearing is the worst way to learn anything, but is the most common form of education. For college students, itting through canned lectures is what makes Thursday night drinking attractive.

Step Two -Head
Cognition rarely becomes conviction. A very small percentage of what gets into our head actually makes it to our heart as information that we believe can actually make a difference. Most of college is set up to get things stuffed into our heads, and almost never are we challenged by the orators/professors to build a conviction around the information and go do something with it.

Step Three – Heart
A small percentage of information that goes into our head actually stirs our emotion and creates the desire or conviction that we should do something about it. Who challenges us to take the information and use it to be transformed? This is the kind of thing that happens in life, but almost never in education.

Step Four – Hands
While information is rummaging around in our heart, we’re all excited about applying it to our business or our life. But then we get back to email, the phone and the ongoing Tyranny of the Urgent, and the “feeling” goes away. Nothing has changed. Only when we hear something and the information goes from our head, through hearts and out our hands, will it ever make a difference in our lives. Which bring me to velleity.

The Second Most Important Business Word You’ve Never Heard
Velleity is the 2nd Most Important Business Word You’ve Never Heard. (See the first here – http://chuckb.me/x2) Velleity means, “The desire, with no intention whatsoever of doing anything.” Velleity is at the root of the common wishing and hoping phrase, “Wouldn’t it be great if…?” Velleity is something getting all the way from our ears through our head into our heart, but never coming out our hands. We get excited, but never doing anything about it except wish…”Wouldn’t it be great…?”

Doing vs. Knowing
The Greeks (and our education system) were both wrong. We do not think our way to a new way of acting. We ACT our way to a new way of thinking. Want to change something in your life? DO something different. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of velleity.

From our ears, to our head, through our heart and out our hands. Step Four is what creates success. Before that it’s just wishful thinking.

If You Can Plan a Vacation, You Can Plan a Business

The Random Hope Strategy Doesn’t Work

What are the first three things you have to decide to plan vacation? They are the same three questions you should have asked when you started your business. You’re where you are because you didn’t.

  1. “Where are we?” If you don’t know that, you can’t begin to plan your vacation. Where you are right now determines everything about how you get where you want to go. Almost no business owner has a “sane assessment” of where they truly are – their leadership abilities, their staff’s capabilities, their finances, their true target market, why their product or service is actually selling. We’re too busy surviving to ask those hard questions. Yet without knowing where you are, you’ll never get where you want to end up.
  1. “Where do we want to end up?” If you know you’re in Cleveland, then you can ask where you want to go. If you say, “We will vacation at the beach in Florida”, you can begin to picture what it will take to get there and what you need to take with you.
  1. “When do we want to be there?” Only after you answer this question can you know whether you have time to drive, or are taking a plane.

Once all three questions are answered, you can finally know how to pack.

What if you didn’t answer any of the three? What would you pack? When would you leave? And where would you go? Nobody would plan a vacation without answering these three questions first. Yet just about every business owner goes into business without answer any of them. They just starting “packing” their business with “stuff”, pull out of the driveway without even knowing where they are, and then drive their business around aimlessly because they’ve got no clue where it is supposed to lead them, or when it should arrive there.

The Random Hope Strategy
This is the Random Hope Strategy of business, and is the most common strategy business owners follow. But there is hope. You can ask these three questions any time, and in fact, you should re-ask them all the time.

Get a sane assessment of where you are, figure out where you want your business to take you (how much time and money should my business provide for me?), and by when. If you take the time to answer these three questions, and re-ask them regularly, you’ve got a great shot at success. If you don’t, expect the same result you would get by not asking them to plan a vacation.

Clarity. Hope. And Risk.
Stop everything you are doing, and get Clarity on these three questions now. Clarity brings Hope, and Hope allows us to take the right Risks.

Clarity. Hope. Risk. The answers are worth the questions.

Social Media for Brick & Mortar Businesses

Start Small.

It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million views, 13 years for TV, four for the Internet. Facebook got there in nine months. The iPod got there in a couple days. People under 30 don’t use email; it’s for old people. Only 18% of TV ads generate profit. How do brick and mortar businesses keep up? Social media isn’t optional anymore. Here’s seven quick ideas to help you.

We’re out of the Technology and Information Ages and into the Participation Age. The hallmark of this age is “sharing”, which is why social media is so big. It allows us to share on a multitude of levels. It is a lot less expensive than advertising and when done well, is much more effective. How do we get our arms around it?

Don’t panic. Social media is just another communications medium, like radio, TV, fax and email. Except it is much more interactive and participative; like the phone, except at your leisure (you don’t have to answer right away).

Here are a few quick principles I use dealing with social media:

1) Pick just one or two entry points that can be highly integrated, that can push traffic to each other, and go deep. In 2007 I picked blogging and Twitter. I would highly recommend that you blog (some are questioning that these days, I think it is still by far the best social media), and then interact with people on Twitter about their interests first, and your blog second and only occasionally. Or you can pair up Facebook and Google+ (some people use it to blog now). Or Pinterest and Google+, etc. Whatever you do, start small so you can actually participate and learn, not spam. You can broaden out later if you find you have the bandwidth, but stay focused until you are sure.

2) Become the expert in something. Again, BLOG IF YOU CAN!! It’s by far the best way to use social media to become an expert. Write comments on other people’s blogs, and offer your material to others to repurpose it.

3) Be INTERESTED, not INTERESTING (be interesting as a result of being interested). Example – join existing conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. Support others in their comments and blogs, answer q’s, and eventually they will want to know what you have to say and will visit your blog or community group.

4) Join a community, don’t just crash it to sell something. See #3 above. After you have established yourself as someone who can contribute to others’ communities, maybe start your own Google+ hangout or other forum on Facebook, etc. Learn first, then invite your existing friends to join you.

5) Build relationships, don’t sell things. Build a network, don’t do networking! SERVE, DON’T SELL. Do NOT use social media to attempt to get a zillion new friends! All the research shows you should target your social media at your existing raving fans. SERVE them, and they will bring you new readers and new customers.

6) Read “Rework” by Fried and Hannson. Read Seth Godin’s blog & 37Signals.com’s blog and find others that you respect. See how they provide something of value. Don’t mimic their content, just follow their lead – serve others with interesting content.

7) Search for local relationships and develop them online as well as off. Connect, then offer offline opportunities. About 85-90% of all conversations about a product start off line and then move online. And again, starting with local relationships allows you to use social media to support your existing friends, who will then bring you more viewers and customers. If you go after herds of new people with your content, your friends will smell that and walk away.

Don’t see yourself doing this? There is a growing number of credible people who can help you by ghost-blogging, and by managing your social media. I would never let anyone else manage my personal Twitter account, and I do all my own blogging. If you are going to hire others, make sure the public knows it’s not you – be authentic. Your company can be known as the blogger, even if you aren’t.

There are a bunch of other things you can do, but if you start with these, you’ll stumble into most of the other things that would be helpful as well. Happy blogging!

Manage Stuff. Lead People.

The end of management.

Management is good. Managers are bad. There is no room for them in a Participation Age business. People don’t need to be managed; they need to be led. The difference is not semantic, it is gigantic.

The Industrialists did their dead level best to re-make people into simple extensions of machines. When people are extensions of machines, they are “stuff” to be managed. But if they are fully human, they require leadership, not management.

In our business, we only manage stuff; processes, systems, delivery of goods and services, accounting, marketing, sales, etc. These are all “things” to be managed. Everyone in the business manages stuff of some sort or another. But none of us needs someone with the title of “manager” to hover over us to ensure the stuff will get managed.

Manage Stuff
Stuff definitely needs to be managed. Unlike people, stuff is inherently stupid and lazy. It needs to be told what to do; it doesn’t have a brain of its own or any motivation to assemble itself. The packaging material and the product just sit on the counter until someone picks both of them up and puts them in the box. Someone who is smarter and more motivated than the stuff needs to manage that process, but the smart and motivated person doing the packing does not need managing – they need to be led.

Accounting numbers are also stupid and lazy. They just sit on spreadsheets until a smart and motivated person comes along to update, organize and report on them. That process needs to be managed, but not the person doing the accounting – they need to be led.

Every process, system, product, and service in a business is inherently stupid and lazy and needs to be managed. Unfortunately, managers don’t see much difference between the people, and the stuff or processes in the business. To a manager, people are extensions of machines or processes, and both of them need the hovering involvement of a third party to force them to work. That other person, called “manager”, doesn’t actually pack the box.

The manager assumes the person is as inert as the packing materials, and must be “managed” to ensure they will actually pick up the packing materials and put them in the box. The manager exists to ensure the person doesn’t just sit there like the packing materials. It’s a waste of two good lives; the life of the manager who does nothing, and the packer, who is treated like a nine-year old incapable of being responsible.

Lead People
A leader will do it quite differently. They will not hover over or manage the adult Stakeholders. They will impart vision and guidance, including why we do what we do, metrics for success and metrics for exceeding the objective. A leader will train and provide the necessary infrastructure, and they will create a process that requires the packing person or the process itself to proactively report to the leader regularly how things are going.

Then the leader will do something extraordinary that the manager would rarely do – they will GO AWAY AND BE PRODUCTIVE, TOO. Instead of hovering over the children in the day care center, they will go somewhere and do something themselves that adds to the bottom line. Or they might just be one of the packers or one of the accountants, and join right in being productive; leading and motivating by example, not by threat, persuasion, cajoling or hovering.

A manager justifies their existence by making other people productive more than by being productive themselves. Managers “feel” productive – they have tons of monitoring on their plate. But a leader will lead by example, get in the trenches and be one of the productive people.

Leaders can afford to do this because they hire Stakeholders, not employees, and don’t need to live in a day care center where they are watched like nine year olds. Most of the work of the manager disappears or gets dispersed among all the adult Stakeholders.

Everyone is a Leader
Stakeholders are adult leaders, too, and understand that if they have all the training and equipment they need, and clearly understand the objective required, they will gladly take the bull by the horns and “own” their tasks, job, process and result. Why? Because they also know they own part of the compensation (profit-sharing) that will come from that level of ownership. Taking on the former tasks of the manager is one more way for them to Make Meaning, not just money.

Adults Without Managers – An Old Idea
The idea of managing stuff but leading people is not a new concept. A store owner prior to the Industrial Age hired someone else to stock shelves, trained them and gave them the tools they needed to do it. Then that leader went back to being productive themselves. If the stocker wasn’t productive, they were let go and the leader got someone who could self-manage. After training the new person, the leader went back to being productive again. Managers hang on to employees who need to be managed because it justifies their existence. A leader fires them and finds a Stakeholder.

In a great modern business, as before the Industrial Age, everyone produces something, whether it is maintenance, accounting, packing, new product development, or vision and leadership. No one stagnates around watching other people do the work. Stakeholders are all leaders, and all of the manage stuff.

Fire All The Managers – All of Them (Including Yourself)
You can replace five or ten managers with one leader, easily. It’s a great money saver and you’ll find out real fast who are the chidren (employees) who need to be moved along, and who are your adult Stakeholders who will take over the very few things the manager was doing that were of any value.

Keep Only The Stakeholders
Are you managing employees/children? If you are, my guess is you’re really tired of it. Stop it. Tell the nine-year olds it’s time to grow up and be adult Stakeholders. Show them the stuff that needs to be managed, then tell them everyone is responsible to lead in their area of expertise. Then go get a job and be productive yourself. If you have employees who don’t want to grow up and at least lead themselves, find someone who will. There are plenty of Stakeholders out there.

Managers – A Business Disease of the Industrial Age
Managing people (not stuff) is a disease of the Industrial Age. It’s a recently invented construct and is a dead end process that maintains people at the nine year old level. And it dehumanizes them as if they were an extension of a stupid and lazy machine.

Leaders – What People Have Always Needed
Leading has been around since the dawn of man. It was not invented, and is the time proven method for motivating people. Everyone in your business should do it in their area of expertise. It’s rewarding and humanizing.

Get out of the Industrial Age into the Participation Age. Manage stuff. Lead people.

Business Buzzword Bingo

And Why You Shouldn’t Play

Big words are a turnoff for most customers and make our offer sound like a Dilbert cartoon. So why do we use them when short words would do just fine? Who are we trying to impress?

Does monosyllabic really need five sounds? We’re in love with all things “Big”, and just assume big words make us sound more polished. But really they make us sound more like Dilbert’s boss. The worst culprits are vision statements, mission statements and “give-me-money” plans. But I see buzzwords in a lot of fancy attempts to sell things, too.

Dilbert and Woody Allen
Too much biz stuff sounds like it really was written by Scott Adams for a Dilbert cartoon. It’s meant to make us sound thoughtful, but instead it’s funny because it’s either tortured, fake, complex, a stretch, dumb, or just plain baffling. When we string one fancy word after the other, we sound more like a Woody Allen tirade than an expert in our field. It really just cheapens our image and makes us look uptight.

The Rule of Short Words
When writing a vision, mission, plan or sales copy, here’s a writing rule;

Be wary of any word with three or more sounds, chiefly those that contain any of the following letters: u, v, w, x, y, and z.

It’s not that you can’t use them, just be wary; test them and make sure you aren’t playing buzzword bingo and trying to sound smart. If there is a matching word with two or less sounds that works as well, use it.

Sound Like An Expert or Be One – You Choose
Here’s some classic terms used to play buzzword bingo, and simple words to use instead. All are three or more sounds and contain u, v, w, x, y, or z. Some of the worst are words ending in “ize”. The big words make you sound like an expert. The short ones might convince people you really are.

Actualize – Complete
Synergy – Teamwork
Synergistic – Really? Just don’t use it.
Dysfunctional – Broken
Intellectual – Smart
Operationalize – Make it work
Solutioning – Fixing
Empowering – Getting out of the way
Competency – Skill
Validate – Confirm
Conceptualize – Think, Picture, Form a Thought
Reorganization – Change
Monetize – Make money
Incentivize – Reward
Deliverable – Result
Proprietary – Mine, Ours
Recontextualize – move

Distract Them If We Can
In some cases, the buzzword is code for something else and the big word is used to distract you.

Multidisciplinary – Scattered
Adaptive – Uncertain, or confused
Synergistic – Looking for a friend
Analyze – We’re afraid to decide
Analysis – Beating a Dead Horse

By the way, except for the buzzwords themselves, this post was written using only words with two or fewer sounds. It’s not hard to keep things simple, but it’s really easy to make them complex.

Keep It Simple
Keep it simple and you’ll likely sound a lot more secure and a lot more like you know what you’re doing.