01/17/22

Defense Wins Ball Games

On Saturday, the University of North Carolina defeated Georgia Tech in a tightly contested, fierce conference game in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Every ACC game is a vicious fight, in this instance made moreso because Georgia Tech beat the Heels for the last two years, injecting blood into the water.

The final score was 88-65 which qualifies as a “thrashing,” but the score doesn’t really describe how the Tarheels won. They won with their defense. Continue reading

12/16/21

CEO Shoptalk — End-Of-Year Reflection And Musing

A client of mine a few years ago said, “You always make me think, and I prepare for our meetings.”

That is a good thing and it makes me feel good. Nothing wrong with thinking, but it should be more than that.

At the end of every year, a CEO/founder/entrepreneur should conduct a bit of reflection and musing to consider how they are performing as compared to how they want to perform.

I am not talking solely about objectives accomplished, but the nature with which a CEO undertook her/his duties.

How should a CEO conduct her/his duties, Big Red Car?

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12/11/21

CEO Shoptalk – The Mantle Of Power

The best job I’ve ever had was as the company commander of a combat engineer company in the Army. It is like being a Chinese feudal war lord which is reputed to be a very good gig.

Company D as in Delta was in need of a firm hand having failed to pass its annual ARTEP (Army Training and Evaluation Program) for multiple years. The battalion was headquartered about five hundred miles away and I never met my battalion commander. Not sure I knew his name.

I was quite alone. Continue reading

12/3/21

When The Student Is Ready . . . . .

I get a lot of emails from readers of this blog. I answer all of them. Often when someone asks me a question, I just call them under the theory of, “If it can be dispensed with within two minutes or less, do it now.”

A substantial number of emails are about The Wisdom of the Campfire which is the CEO coaching business I have run for a decade. It does not have a website; I do not market it; I only take referrals, but you can refer yourself if you have that gear.

A common suggestion is that I write more about CEO coaching. This is balanced by a number of other suggestions that suggest I write more/less about politics — nah, but thanks. I try to only write about policy.

There is a writer who demands I write fanciful Army stories. One writer has asked me on a few occasions to thin the herd by dropping out in a very final and forceful sort of way.

CEO coaching is an interesting endeavor. It is based upon a single foundation — is the CEO ready to be coached?

I often say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Board meeting in progress – which one is the CEO/founder? Note the gender diversity, lively engaged debate, and relaxed business casual dress code. 

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02/6/21

CEO Shoptalk — Good v Evil (Or, The Message At Midnight From The Garden Of Good & Evil)

If you are not a CEO, stop reading and move on. CEO Shoptalk is for CEOs only and, of course, you. Because you are special and one day you will also be a CEO, so read on, Alphonse.

The other day I get into a chat with not one, but two CEOs about the same issue I spoke of the other day, Performance Appraisal.

We are discussing the performance of someone who is clearly not a superstar, but is a solid utility infielder meaning they are not going to be promoted any time soon, but they are also not going to be fired.

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02/4/21

The Bananas Foster Theory of Embellishment of Success

Other day I read a statement that said, “You can’t really learn from your success.”

The thrust of the blog post was that a good kick in the teeth is often the packaging for a well taught lesson — fair play to that. Agree completely.

But when reading the “You can’t really learn from your success” sentence, I said, “Hmmm, really?”

This is because I have learned a lot of great things from success. In fact, it is — particularly given the busted teeth, bloody split lip alternative — my favorite way to learn.

Allow me to elaborate on what I call “The Bananas Foster Theory of Embellishment of Success.”

The Banana Trade

Far away and long ago, New Orleans was a center of the banana trade in which South and Central American countries exported their bananas to the United States thereby funding banana republics.

Workers unload bananas in New Orleans. Bananas Foster, one of New Orleans’ favorite desserts, is a lasting legacy of an oft-forgotten chapter in the city’s history: the banana trade, which spawned banana republics.

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02/2/21

The Role of the CEO In Dispute Resolution

Several years ago, I was advising a fairly inexperienced CEO — a terminal condition that everybody eventually outgrows, remember that — who found himself in the midst of a dispute in the 8/10 range — meaning it would not tank the company, but it would change the speed, trajectory, and azimuth of the company’s future progress. It was important.

There was plenty of regrettable behavior on both sides and there was an important legal issue, but it was a heated and contentious confrontation made moreso by the personalities involved. These personalities were not the CEOs’, but the management of both companies.

Push led to shove and they were on the brink of paying off some lawyer’s lake house.

They had both talked to their lawyers, but no lawyers had been unleashed. It was still solvable.

Continue reading