Monthly Archives: July, 2015

Managing Yourself is Only Half the Battle

Being your own manager is only half the battle.

In the old days, as you learned a trade (a skill), you would work under a journeyman (it was pretty much always a journeyMAN), until you became a journeyman yourself. (And then, if you made it to the pinnacle, you would become a master).

Today, so much of our work is more “internal,” (i.e., “information worker” work), and more and more people, even if they work within an organization, have to be ever-more self-directed. (See Zappos’ move to HolacracyNo more managers at Zappos).

Recently the always helpful Laura Vanderkam wrote How To Be Your Own Manager: Developing An External, Strategic Perspective On Your Career, Just Like A Talent Manager Would, Keeps You Moving Forward. She wrote:

…as people move in and out of roles more frequently, we’re starting to have as many jobs on our résumés as an actor might have gigs. If you want to be a rock star at what you do, here’s how to be your own manager.

She has five recommendations. They are all good, but I especially like #s 4 & 5:

#4 – Coach Your Performance
#5 – Promote Yourself

But… here’s what I think. After you manage yourself, you now have the next, maybe tougher assignment. And that is to “Supervise Yourself.”

Remember the distinction:

a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.

Person in the first-line management who monitors and regulates employees in their performance of assigned or delegated tasks.

Maybe, consider it this way: a manager makes sure the company is going in the right direction. The supervisors are making sure that the individuals are getting the job done; the right work done, and done well.

So, after you manage yourself, you then have to make sure the work is getting done—you have to supervise yourself, to get the work done.

And, if you have trouble here, then you have to up the game even further, and define your role as that of being a “taskmaster” to yourself.

a person who supervises rigorously the work of others.

I’ve got a hunch that this task is as important, and sometimes maybe more difficult, than it seems.

In other words, once the “right” work is planned out, then making sure the work is actually done is pretty much the whole ballgame.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

Identify Your Village

My youngest child has fairly significant food allergies.  Of course, we discovered it by feeding him peanut butter when he was fourteen months old and ended up in the emergency room. This reaction started our journey into allergy testing and food planning. It also began my transition to the “helicopter mom” who circled over him to ensure that he did not put “forbidden” food into his mouth. I felt completely and solely responsible for controlling his body’s reaction to allergens.

As part of our learning process, I began following a number of blogs and various organizations, including the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In a recent food allergy awareness campaign, I was struck by a marketing piece – “It takes a village to keep kids with food allergies safe and healthy.”photo (1)

When I read this statement, I realized that I can and do depend on “my village” to keep my son safe and healthy. His teachers, our family, and our friends can be taught what words to look for on food labels, which restaurants and brands are “trusted,” and how to identify and appropriately respond to a potential reaction. His siblings are very outspoken in asking if treats at parties have various food ingredients and they remind him what he can/cannot eat. And, slowly, I have to turn the control over to my son. He needs to learn to take care of himself and identify his own village.

Leaders often feel completely and solely responsible for controlling their organization. Bearing this level of responsibility can be exhausting and lonely. Great leaders search out ways to alleviate that responsibility – one way is to identify your village, both inside and outside your organization.

Identify current and future leaders from within your organization to share the responsibility of leadership and not just the administrative and operational management and oversight. Rather, find leaders who can think strategically, understand where your organization is going, and help you identify ways to stay on course—leaders who will tell you when the organization is veering off course.

Outside of your organization, identify your village of leaders for camaraderie. Find trusted advisors and friends who can easily share the successes and difficulties they have experienced to apply to your organization. Find leaders who intellectually understand your business and also have compassion and understanding for the politics that are often involved. Find leaders who can challenge you.

Identify your village and share the responsibility of leadership.


Written by:
Katie Corder
Executive Search Manager

The Era for Teams of Teams

It’s a simple progression to grasp (not to implement and put into practice; but, to grasp).

A person – a single person – develops skills.  And then commiimagets to using those skills effectively, while always adding to his/her skill set. And then, that person becomes a member of a team. Maybe he joins the team on his own; maybe she is recruited into or assigned to the team. Now, the team is made up of competent, skill-rich, always skills-enhancing individuals.

But the team is greater than any one individual on the team.

Our old organizational structures tend to make us create teams dictated to from above. And, we create competitive team culture – “my team is better than your team.” Thus, we finally get individuals to collaborate, but teams keep ideas and breakthroughs from each other. Collaboration stops at the single team level.

This is a formula for success, for sure – in yesterday’s environment. But a formula for failure in today’s environment, and certainly in tomorrow’s environment. VUCA is not new anymore; it is simply the ever present reality.

  • V = Volatility. The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and changes catalysts.
  • U = Uncertainty. The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
  • C = Complexity. The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.
  • A = Ambiguity. The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

What I have written is my first attempt to describe the premise of General McChrystal’s new book, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. Here’s one quote from the book, that states the premise clearly:

We looked at the behaviors of our smallest units and found ways to extend them to an organization of thousands, spread across three continents. We became what we called “a team of teams”: a large command that captured at scale the traits of agility normally limited to small teams.

In other words, every “small team” is part of a much larger TEAM of teams. Thus, openness, transparency, agility – and no top-down micro-controlling – is the modern organizational necessity.

I am just beginning this book, and my first impression is that it makes sense. The way forward will have to be with talented individuals, working on teams with other talented individuals, with those teams teaming up with other/all other teams in the organization.

I will present my synopsis of this book at the August 7 First Friday Book Synopsis. I think this book is absolutely worth a careful look…

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

Farewell to an Old Friend

Over the past few weeks, we have packed and moved our family from the only house we have ever owned. Last year, my husband accepted an amazing city management opportunity for a community that we now call home. Our family has been welcomed with remarkable kindness and graciousness, which has helped ease the difficulties associated with relocating. And yet…it is hard not to feel like we have lost an old friend.

Our home was purchased during our first year of marriage and held many social gatherings of family and friends—from Easter egg dying, birthday parties, basketball watch parties, and late nights on the patio. This home has witnessed many life events as we transitioned from the proverbial dual-income-no-kids couple to the mini-van couple struggling to balance family and career. The walls and roof of this home were supported by a metaphorical foundation of memories that run the gamut of human emotions.  Nothing can replace the joy of bringing our children home for the first time or watching them learn, grow, and eventually take their first steps on our hardwood floors. It provided a safe place to handle the frustrations of pregnancy bed rest and late nights with sick children. It helped us cope as we searched for understanding during national tragedies and the mourning of a dear friend who was taken by cancer way too young. Like an old friend, our house was always there for us to lean on and turn to for strength. As the house was packed and quietly stood empty again, I was reminded that the memories are special—not the house.

The desire to be a leader has impacts on your personal life—early mornings, late nights, added stress, and pressure. Leadership offers incredible opportunities, but it also requires your family to build a life around your alternative schedule, understand the demands, and, often, relocate or undertake other transitions.

While I take the time this week to say farewell to an old friend, consider the demands that your leadership position places on your family. What opportunities have they been provided?  What sacrifices have they made?


Written by:
Katie Corder
Executive Search Manager

Customer Service 101

First, read these brief excerpts from the book Overpromise and Overdeliver: The Secrets of Unshakeable Customer Loyalty by Rick Barrera:

Capturing customers is all about creating brand promises and keeping them.
Sooner or later the customer’s actual experience will have to live up to the image.
The unequaled customer service that once set you apart has now been equaled – your competitors have caught up, and your customers have noticed.
Some years ago, USA Today reported that one of every four purchases ends up being a problem for the customer. I believe it.


A few days ago, my wife and I ate in a new restaurant (new to us). The food was fine. The atmosphere was fine; actually, kind of nice. But the customer service? Well, let me put it this way: we both felt like we were somehow intruding upon and interrupting the lives and routines of the servers. They finally gave us what we wanted – but it was as though we were there for them; they were not there for us. (We likely will not return).

So, let me remind you of Customer Service 101 – if you are in the customer service business (and, you are), you are there to actually serve the customer. That is what you are all about. That is what matters most.

Oh, sure, you need a service or product that the customer will really want. But, if you do not deliver that to the customer in a good way, a timely way, an attentive way, your good product will be rejected for another “provider” down the road.

Customer service begins with, you know… serving the customer.

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

Lessons in Persistence

There’s always a fine line. You’ve got stubborn people, obnoxious people, and then people with genuine resolve who simply will not give up. Their actual behaviors may look about the same. But, when the motivation is not stubbornness, or plain old obnoxiousness, then true persistence and resolve can be a wonder to behold.

ELON-COVER-BOOK-LARGEAshlee Vance is the author of the new book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. (I’m presenting my synopsis of this book at the July 10 First Friday Book Synopsis this week).

Ashlee Vance, a respected journalist, decided to write a serious, thorough book about Elon Musk. In case you do not know, Elon Musk’s endeavors include PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX (SpaceX had quite a set-back last week), along with major involvement with Solar City. So, Ashlee Vance asked for time with Elon Musk himself. He was turned down. More than once. He then proceeded to work on the book anyway, and talked to everyone he could find who knew or worked with Elon Musk. Finally, Mr. Musk granted a visit, over dinner.

In the visit, Elon Musk acknowledged that Vance was intent on actually writing the book, so he asked to read it in advance and submit footnotes for correcting any errors or false impressions. Vance said no: And then, Musk said OK, and agreed to a series of meetings, with full cooperation, anyway. From the book:

Musk cut me off after a couple of minutes and simply said, “Okay.” One thing that Musk holds in the highest regard is resolve, and he respects people who continue on after being told no.

Notice again: “He respects people who continue on after being told no.”

In other words, Elon Musk recognized, respected, and honored resolve.

I remember similar stories about Steve Jobs from the Walter Isaacson biography, and from Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc. They bothCreativity-Inc.-Cover commented that people who worked with Steve Jobs had to learn when his “no” was something to ignore and work around. In other words, Steve Jobs also respected genuine resolve.

We all know the time-honored wisdom. Probably the most famous quote comes from Calvin Coolidge:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

For Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs, resolve, the ability to “ignore the no,” signaled genuine inner character and resolve.

So, do you have such resolve, such persistence? Or do you take “no” for an answer too quickly, too easily?
Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

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