Great leaders are more impressed with what they don’t know than what they know. I think a lot of leaders are know-it-alls. The moment you think you know everything, you are dead. I am very curious. I can always do better and get better and I embrace change and I feel like everyone brings a different perspective and everyone sees the world differently. If you are not open to that, you might as well call it a day. Because I basically had every job at Hill Holliday, I respect that great ideas can come from everywhere and anyone.
One of the things the then-CEO said to me changed my life and my career ambitions. When I got the job, he looked at me and said, “Congratulations, you are now the face and the voice of Hill Holliday.” The face and the voice of the company should be the CEO, so I remember thinking in that moment that I was going to be the CEO of the reception desk. I was going to be the best damned receptionist in history and that’s how I approached the job. I took it really seriously. I didn’t just bide my time out there. I took it very seriously and I paid attention. It was the perfect perch to study people and get to know everybody and figure things out.
The importance of our parents’ influence is best said I think by a fellow Mississippian, Hodding Carter, who is a Pulitzer Prize winning author: “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots, and the other is wings.”
The plan you create becomes even more useful when you start actually engaging with customers. As the German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke said, “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” To paraphrase von Moltke, no business plan survives contact with the customer. They key with your customer encounters is to learn from what goes wrong and adjust your model accordingly.
Reblogged from Operating Partner, DFJ
Why did we forego the easy money?
Because, if you lie about anything in front of your team, what does it say to them about how they should behave when faced with their own dilemmas?
To me, it says, lying is okay. Go ahead and steal a hard drive if you need one for your personal use. And take your friends out to dinner and charge it as a business expense for a client who wasn’t even in town. We cheat, so you can too.
We did not want to run a company where cheating was a way of business. So we told the truth.
And that leads me to the promised single rule about building your company culture:
Your actions are all that matters.
All the fancy office furniture, designer juice bars and and swinging vodka parties don’t really matter. It’s been proven time and again that even direct compensation matters only to a point (and even then, fairness is more important than absolute dollars.) All that stuff is nice, and makes life more pleasant, but it does not change the core of who you are as a company.
How you act – and how you reward or punish the actions of others – will determine how everyone else in the company will act. And that in turn will set the culture – honest or cheating, respectful or disrespectful, friendly or mean, trusting or mistrustful.
And it isn’t just you. If you are an open collaborative leader, but you have a direct report that you ‘use’ to do your unethical, back-stabbing dirty work, your culture will be infected with that — because you, as the leader, condone that behavior by allowing it in your company. It’s on you even if it’s not directly you – no one is fooled.
Reblogged from Operating Partner, DFJ

So, next time you are in a negotiation, instead of stating what you (think you) need, or even asking the other party what they (think they) need, instead ask this:

“What problem are you trying to solve?”

Reblogged from Operating Partner, DFJ

invite you along

As a parent, it’s hard not to look at your child and think about yourself at their age. I wonder now what my mother was thinking as I moved from city to city pursuing my career in Journalism. I must say, I didn’t think much about what she must have been going through. I had three younger brothers and I was in a hurry to get where I was going in my own life.

I wish I could talk to her now. Ask her how she felt, how she navigated it all.

Katherine is different. She’s in a hurry to fly, but she’s one of those people — you know, the one’s you can always count on that check in with you, invite you along and who never seem to be too busy to reach out.

We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play only by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earned it fair and square.
— First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama
Playing Fair: Have You Examined Your Agenda? | Maria Shriver

People had an implicit understanding of this idea, but assuring people that “It’s not about being first, but being ‘first with meaning’ ” reeks of being defensive.

**Even with companies we respect confidence—not insecurity.** A Jobsian Apple would have never said something so weak.