Archives For influence

NEIL PEARTStephen Colbert cracks me up. His quick witted satire combined with an ability to keep a straight face is pure genius. My favorite moment was when he conducted the first American interview in 33 years of mega-rockers Rush. Perched majestically on high-top counter stools facing Colbert were my rock and roll idols Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson, and Geddy Lee. Colbert asks a few great questions, then hits him with this piece of art:

“You’re known for some long songs. Have you ever written a song so epic that by the end of the song you were actually being influenced by yourself at the beginning of the song, because it happened so much earlier in your career?”

You can tell that the boys in the band were amused. I hadn’t laughed that hard in years. After I finally stopped laughing, which seemed like hours later, it dawned on me that Colbert’s question was as deep as it was funny. Why is it that whenever a star is asked who their major influences are they never say, “myself?” It would definitely make that person look unsettlingly egotistical, so you would never hear those words uttered. But is it ok to think it? I think I accidentally answered that question this morning.
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Push Me Pull You

joe —  Sat 11-Aug-12

Mommy textOne of my fondest memories of my father came when I was five years old. It was the moment I realized Dad valued my opinion and truly cared what I thought.

“Son, do you think I am stupid?”, he said in a harsh voice that seemed to belie his deep need for feedback.

To this day I don’t recall my answer, but answer I did. I think the surprise of the whoopin’ I got makes everything kind of hazy.

It was several years ago that a dear friend of mine, Gary, asked me another important question. We had just met and he was new to the company when he asked, “How will I know when I am successful here?”

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Size Does(n’t) Matter

joe —  Sun 30-Oct-11

Tea Cup PuppyWe have a great expression in the South that you never want to receive from a friend – “Bless your heart.” It’s somewhere between “he just doesn’t know any better” to “that boy is as dumb as a ‘possum.”

I hear myself saying this a lot when new managers enter the ranks. I definitely heard it a lot when I started. Usually it is because they believe one thing to be true about how to lead and you know that in time they will discover otherwise.

The one that I wish I could get others to appreciate is to not judge their success by the size of their team. So many managers think that they are more important if their team is bigger. I once thought that as well. Continue Reading…

Ryan StilesI was a huge fan of Whose Line Is It Anyway, the British and later US improv comedy show. Those guys and gals were amazing. Having watched a lot of bad improv I can appreciate how difficult it must be to pull this off successfully so I wanted to learn the secrets of the trade.

Using the search phrase “improv comedy rules” I found that nearly all of the sites list the number one rule as “Do Not Block”. Blocking is when one actor sets up a line like “my you are a fine looking rooster” and the other doesn’t like the setup so replies with “I’m not a rooster, I’m a penguin” because he knows that penguins are funnier. This is never funny, it insults the previous comedian, and actually makes the newly self-titled penguin look weak – he wasn’t up to the task given to him.

It dawned on me that I see the same roosters and penguins conversation daily at work; Continue Reading…

Football HitI never really understood the obligatory post-game handshake between two football teams. Here are two teams that just finished the last three hours beating the snot out of each other and now they are expected to raise a smile and say “nice game”. While they will eventually get to that point, I am pretty sure that they don’t feel it at that moment.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe in sportsmanship and dealing graciously with winning and losing. I just don’t know how one can expect such a dramatic change in two minutes.

That’s because you can’t – and it is no different in the business world or any other part of life. We all have what a friend of mine calls “take-up time” If you want to lead others with a new idea you have to really understand this simple piece of human psychology. Continue Reading…

The Curse of Knowledge

joe —  Sat 5-Mar-11

Finger TapLet’s play a little game. I want you to think of a common tune that we would both know, like Happy Birthday or Jingle Bells. Now play out the rhythm of the song by tapping your finger on the table and see if I can guess the song.

Before we start, make a guess – if we were to do this for 100 very well known songs, how many would I get right? If you were like most you would have said 50 or half of them. If I were like most people in a 1990 study by Stanford researcher Elizabeth Newton, I would only get 3.

Why the big discrepancy? Continue Reading…

Your Mother Wears Combat Boots

joe —  Sun 27-Jun-10

Did you ever watch someone apply their best mental jujitsu in a heated discussion only to see them flame out with a look of “what just happened?” Not only have I seen this, I seem to be a regular participant.

One of the reasons it happens to me is that I make a simple incorrect assumption about how to approach the other person. While I think I am doing the right thing the Law of Unintended Consequences comes Continue Reading…