CEO Shoptalk: Motivation v Inspiration

One of the current topics in the scrum discussion about leadership in the job environment at the C-suite level is the issue of motivation v inspiration. It is a nuanced discussion and it is tied into our current cultural metamorphosis in the workplace including such things as Work From Home v office work.

What exactly is the difference between motivation and inspiration, Big Red Car?

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Performance Appraisal As Inspiration And Motivation

Performance appraisal in small to medium companies (including startups) is one of those things that CEOs equate to going to the dentist. Not only do they not like it, they are not good at it.

There are a lot of very odd ideas at play here in the performance appraisal business — 360 degree appraisals which also fold in the guy selling flowers on the street corner — which makes the process a moving target; moving targets are notoriously hard to hit.

The message I bring you today is that a suspiciously simple, well-designed and executed performance appraisal system can be the most powerful personal tool wielded by a keen CEO for inspiration and motivation of individual team members.

It can also be clean, streamlined, and painless.

Let’s take a quick look at where performance appraisal fits within the overall schema of a company’s organizational matrix. Click on the graphic to see it at a larger scale.


What I want you to see is that performance appraisal is at the foundation level of the company’s Vision, Mission, Strategy Tactics, Objectives, Values, and Culture.

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Finding Inspiration With Thomas Jefferson

This Christmas was great with the family — and, of course, My Perfect Granddaughter who will be two years old in ten days — assembled at The Homestead in Virginia.

I had last been to The Homestead in 1969 when I went there to ski while a cadet at Virginia Military Institute. Not much has changed in 50 years. It is a Southern shrine.

Santa and Mrs. Claus holding court in the Great Hall at The Homestead.

They have incredible accommodations, grand spaces, great food served with graciousness in soaring dining facilities, golf, falconry (who doesn’t love falconry), archery,  horses, skiing, hay rides, swimming, hiking, a spa, and soaking in hot springs.

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Inspiration — It’s Everywhere

In life, we require inspiration to awaken us to the possibilities of the world. As a young man, I worked in construction during high school and college. I garnered some inspiration on the end of a shovel handle digging ditches.

I worked for a general contractor at the Jersey Shore that built anything, but they also used to install the ocean intakes into the Atlantic Ocean for the seawater pools at beach clubs in tony places like Deal. Deal is an incredibly affluent shore town with enormous mansions and the most wonderful collection of shingle beach monstrosities. [Today, this little jewel could be yours for $12MM.]

When we would put in these ocean intakes, it required digging a ditch to install a pipe, sometimes for a long, long, long distance from the pump house to the point at which the pipe would enter the ocean.

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Inspiration – Beginning a New Year

Big Red Car here on a brilliant, sunny Thursday in the New Year. 2019, YOUR year!

Every new year I look for inspiration and for inspiration for my clients. I always find inspiration in Churchill. Surprised?

No, the guy saved the Western World from the scourge of the Nazis at a time when the English had gotten their teeth kicked in by the Germans in France.

After he had overseen the cobbled together evacuation of the English army by pleasure boat across the Channel, he was faced with leading a scared nation whose army had left their heavy weapons in France.

Image result for images churchill

Look into those eyes. See what it looks like to stare down evil, to deliver a message to the Nazis of ultimate, complete, total, unconditional surrender.

Hitler was readying an airborne and seaborne invasion of England called Sea Lion.

So what did Churchill do?

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Inspiration, a Thimbleful, Please?

Inspiration, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on a crisp — 54F at 5:00 AM — Texas morning. Ahhh, fall in Texas is a grand thing.

So, a year ago, The Boss is talking to one of his CEO clients and they get talking about a new hire.

This CEO runs an excellent company which he has for more than ten years. He is not a typical startup CEO and the company is profitable (always a good thing), routinely dropping 20% to the bottom line for years and years.

The company is growing at a steady rate but is poised for higher growth.

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Martin Luther King’s Education

Big Red Car here on Martin Luther King Day in the ATX. Bright sunny day and going to be 70F before the day is done.

So The Boss likes to know the backgrounds of successful people and one of his interests is to know how they were educated. It is often a critical insight into their success.

The education of Martin Luther King was very interesting. Continue reading