CEO Shoptalk — Coachability


It is a cold, wet day in the ATX with the leaves abandoning their perches and congregating in my pool clogging the skimmers and the filter.

As a CEO, you have two dogs in the coachability fight.

First, there is your own coachability — do you take well to criticism and coaching?

Second, can you dish it out to your subordinates and is it effective? 

Being coached, coachability

As to your own coachability, the big thing is from whom you are receiving the coaching, what is your own personal learning style, and what is your objective?

Tiger Woods had an interesting relationship with coaches.

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Grateful For The Underdog — Stephen F Austin v Duke

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the American tradition of championing the underdog.

If you were knocked unconscious this week or you do not follow college basketball (I would personally prefer my excuse to have been the “knocked out” thing.) then you may not know that the Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks whipped the #1 Duke Blue Devils (they wanted to be called the Spawns of Satan, but that name was taken), thusly:

Stephen F Austin 85 — Duke 83 Final, OT

The Lumberjacks/Jills beat the Dukies at Cameron Indoor (this is a known portal into Hell that is located on the Duke campus and has a home team advantage of at least 20 points with the heat and the student body rocking the house).

Stephen F Austin player relieving a Dukie of the ball — the key to the game turned out to be ball control and turnovers. The Lumberjacks were adept at stealing the ball and physical play. Bravo!

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Happy Evacuation Day, America!

Happy Evacuation Day, America!

On this day in 1783, the last British soldier left the brand new United States of America pursuant to the Treaty of Paris between the US and Great Britain.

The war had begun on 18 April 1775 with Paul Revere’s famous ride warning the Colonials: “The British are coming!” Thereafter, we had “the shot heard around the world” when the Colonials revolted against the most powerful kingdom in the world with its most powerful army and navy.

Some will say that the American Revolution actually began on 22 March 1765 with the Stamp Act or on 5 March 1770 with the Boston Massacre. In any event, we fought for a long time — from April 1775 until 25 November 1783, when the last of them fled New York City. The Brits took more than 30,000 Loyalists and slaves with them as they journeyed to Nova Scotia and Quebec.

Eight hard years of tough fighting under harsh conditions as the Colonial Army learned their trade and, eventually, beat the British Square.

British General Guy Carleton had promised General George Washington that the Brits would be out of NYC by noon on 25 November.

Washington waited patiently outside the city until the Brits lifted anchor and departed leaving their flag on a greased flagpole at the Battery in lower Manhattan. Then, he returned triumphantly to regain control of New York City.

The Americans, at first, were unable to climb the greased pole until an enterprising American soldier, John Van Arsdale, nailed wooden boards to the flagpole and climbed it using the boards as steps.

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Shipping As Execution Advantage

That last mile of life, whether it is cable service to your home or shipping, is where opportunity lies in wait for smart companies to take advantage.

Enter now the story of Target stores.

Target, on the back end of hard times, has made its online business into a real business, but has made it even better with its same day delivery.

This resulted in a 31% increase in online sales last quarter which propelled its stock price up 15%. Look at this stock chart for YTD 2019. Wow!

Here’s the big thing; 80% of that 31% in online sales growth came with same day delivery or pickup.

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Mike Bloomberg 2020 and Bloomberg LLC

I like Michael Bloomberg as a visionary businessman who built Bloomberg into an iconic brand and an uber successful company that employs 19,000 employees in 69 different countries. Big time winner!

Bloomberg, the company, is a first rate purveyor of financial information and a news organization.

Bloomberg, the person, is a extraordinarily successful businessman, philanthropist, and a politician who controls a media empire that reports on politics amongst other stories. They have a myriad of different distribution channels. They are a force in the news business.

Politically, Mike’s been a changeling Democrat who became an ideological Republican when it served his purposes, who in turn has become an Independent, who has now reverted back to his original roots becoming a Democrat in order to run for the Democrat nomination for President, in a still confused slate of nominees.

Flexible? Opportunist? Changeling? A man with liquid convictions? Yes to all, but no foul. He is no governing purist by philosophy.

He is a well known man though he has no real national political identification.

I did not particularly like his performance as Mayor of New York City or his manipulation of the system to win three terms. I do admire his spunk in getting the three terms. I like spunk.

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CEO Shoptalk — Balance, Intensity

Lovely sunny day in the ATX. Ahh, on Earth as it is in Texas!

As a young, first time CEO, you may hear a lot about work-life balance. It is a worthy subject and suggests that there is some balance beam wherein work sits calmly on the left and life sits serenely on the right and it is your job to find the delicate balance between these two extremes, or, worse still, to create that balance. Good luck with that.

To which notion your Big Red Car says: Poppycock!

First, go look at my qualifier — “. . . young, first time CEO.” I am talking to you and not the serial 5X entrepreneur, who not only can achieve such balance in his/her life, but can teach the subject.

I am speaking to you if you are that young, first time CEO — slightly confused by the novelty of it all, a bit perplexed by the complexity, willing to work your way out of a jam, and with a fire in your belly that can weld titanium.

For you, go all in. Take the leap. Burn the boats. Get the tattoo. Feed the monster. Just do it.

The intensity that a young person — let’s say 22-35 — brings to an entrepreneurial, startup endeavor is similar to what I experienced in the Army upon graduation from Virginia Military Institute last century.

The last vestiges of the Vietnam War were still about (the US Embassy in Saigon would be stormed and taken in early May 1975). It was a time in which the Army was working 24/7/365 and nobody was feeling sorry for themselves or complaining. It was what was done.

Similarly, I want to urge you as a young, first time CEO to operate on a equivalent war time footing.

There are a few caveats:

 1. Exercise regularly to counter the stress.

 2. Eat right. Eat well. Drive your energy from your food.

 3. Get a physical and adhere to the doctor’s admonitions. Tell him you are an entrepreneur and that you are working some incredible hours. [Maybe he will want to invest some of his healthcare bonanza in your fledgling startup. JK]

 4. Have a written plan. Please have a written Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, and be receptive to developing a Culture.

A written plan ensures that you strike a square blow on the nail that is your business. An angled blow, a disorganized blow — bends the nail, requires remedial work, and results in a weakened nail when next you get ready to strike it. For all that is good and holy, have a written plan.

 5. Take regular cleansing vacations — not to Bali — wherein you disconnect from everything digital. Do it for at last 2 days, twice a year.

 6. Celebrate your birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and those of your parents. If you have a beloved, then get them in the mix.

 7. Go to church and learn to pray. This will turn out to be very soothing and calming. It is a skill, like learning to code.

 8. Get a CEO coach, a mentor, a gray haired eminence. This is a relief valve, and it is always helpful to have someone tell you, “Sorry, that’s normal” when the butterflies turn to condors and try to claw their way out of your acid pool of a stomach on THOSE days. Sorry. It is normal.

 9. Spend ten minutes a day writing in a diary. This will document something very important — the journey. You will look back after a year and say, “Holy smokes was I that freakin’ naive. Did I really get that much stuff done?”

If you will only do those nine things, then you can work like a whirling dervish and say, “Work balance, be damned!”

You can’t do it forever, but you can while you’re young and a first time CEO. While you’re learning your craft.

Then, guess what? You learn your craft, you become an experienced CEO and the world is all milk and honey. Unfortunately, you turn out to be lactose intolerant and it never really gets “easy” but you learn to do it.

Be well, amigo.

But, hey,  what the Hell do I really known anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Have a great week.


Impeachment — how does that make you feel?

Today, I am in the prop wash of the Congress going on its 10-day Thanksgiving vacay. It must be nice.

[The House didn’t have a chance to run that USMCA — United States Mexico Canada Agreement — the NAFTA replacement through for a vote, but they had plenty of time to deal with Ukraine and investigating President Trump. Maybe they can get back to the real business when they return from Thanksgiving. Oh, no. Then we have Christmas. Ooops.]

It has given me time to study the impeachment phenomenon.

I come away with a longish yawn and here’s why.

The Congress — specifically Adam Schiff’s Band of Boobs (includes you, Republicans) spent the last week asking people who got fired from their post as Ambassador to Ukraine, “How did that make you feel?”

Stop — is there anybody on the planet who doesn’t think former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch doesn’t feel . . . . . BAD? Sheesh. 

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