Friday, December 23, 2011
People tend to be on their best behavior then. People are exploring the potential partner's thoughts and beliefs, and know their own are being probed as well. People tend to be focused on what they can gain from the relationship, and what they must give. And they normally do it cautiously.
If there is conflict at this stage, it is a clear warning of what most likely lies ahead.
This lesson was probably most clearly pointed out to me several years ago during the negotiation of a share purchase in another company -- a partnership. The target firm needed cash, and we were looking for geographic expansion -- it looked like a natural fit. We needed the owners to stay with the business, and they were keeping half the stock, so it seemed like the arrangement should work. The first round of discussions went fairly well -- but I got significant push-back when the subject of salaries came up.
When you own your own business, you set your salary. There were two owners in the business, and neither of them had paid themselves very much over the last several years. When I suggested a market-based salary for the both of them, their loss of control over their pay immediately became an issue.
Through several additional meetings, it became clear that "market" to them meant an outrageously high number they heard whispered by the owner of a similar business. I produced data, they resisted. The dispute took the investment agreement to the brink of dissolution.
It should have been a warning. But, alas, I was going to have to learn this lesson the hard way.
Rather than tabling the deal, I pushed forward. I developed counter arguments, more data, and ultimately compromised, giving them most of what they wanted.
It was a mistake.
Over the next ten years, the same pattern was repeated over and over in a tumultuous relationship that ultimately ended up with one owner quitting, one being fired, and the business going into serious decline. The conflict orientation the two owners had shown in those first few meetings played out over and over again on variety of subjects. It was the conflict, more than any other factor, that caused us to fail to make the kinds of improvements originally envisioned when the deal was cut. Conflict that undercut trust.
My advice? If the relationship starts bad, no matter how theoretically attractive the project/deal is, drop it. The way things start is usually the way they end.
If you enjoy my blog posts, check out my novels: Leverage and Incentivize.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Caveat Emptor -- While the idea might not necessarily be bad, your ability to rationally and dispassionately evaluate it probably is.
Yes, I've made this mistake. More than once.
The problem is the "want" and "need" aspect. When we want or need a success, we are pre-disposed to ignore contrary arguments, brush aside risks, listen to advocates, and vilify critics.
Watch particularly for the last category. You'll find yourself saying things like: "She's not a team player." or "He's always so negative." Remember -- it takes guts to oppose. Agreeing is the easier path. When someone criticizes a direction or path, there's usually a good reason for it.
One of my former associates used to say: "I love it when the facts and my pre-conceived notions come together". Just make sure when they do, it isn't wishful thinking, and the seduction of a sexy idea driving the convergence.
If you find my blogs interesting, you might enjoy my novels. Check out Leverage and Incentivize.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
- Until the project is at its end, unexpected things can happen to derail success. You are better off having people recognize there are risks, than for them to be counting on an easy win. Call it the psychology of disappointment -- it is better to be a last minute hero.
- If it doesn't look a little bit like a struggle, then you won't get as much credit. Overcoming significant obstacles is more highly valued than cruising across easy finish lines. Perhaps unfair, but definitely human nature.
- It gives you a platform to show off your thinking and managing skills. Issue -- analysis -- action. Management loves to see this process self-initiated by an employee. Just remember not to stop at the Issue stage.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5
Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography
Thank you Tom
A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps.
At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.
The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.
When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?
My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."
Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.
That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.
I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
- Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)
- Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
- Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at email@example.com if you're interested in participating this week.
A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.
Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.
p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!
Friday, September 16, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
- We do have a budget problem that is likely to be solved only by a combination of significant spending cuts and increased revenue over a long period of time. The cuts will have to come from entitlements (social security, medicare, medicaid) and military spending -- that where the big dollars are. The revenue has to come primarily from the people with the money -- you can't get blood from a stone.
- Since billionaires make most of their income from investments -- much of which, when sold, will get long term capital gains treatment -- they do enjoy a very low effective income tax rate. That's the reason Buffett's rate is only a little above 15%. Yes, there are some "loopholes" taken advantage of by people (carried interest, long term treatment for what are really short term gains). These exceptions could be easily eliminated, and probably should.
- I also agree with Buffett that a higher capital gains rate won't prevent billionaires from investing. It probably adds a little inertia -- if only because they will be a little more likely to defer selling investments to move capital to even better opportunities because there is an immediate tax consequence. But I think that's about all it would do.
- I'm not against his proposal to raise taxes on those with an annual taxable income above $10M. I think it makes sense to increase rates even on those with a $1M annual taxable income -- as long as the increase is reasonable.
- Buffett spins the statistics, just like everybody else does. He focuses on the 400 richest people in the U.S., but then extends his argument to 237,000 who had taxable income of more than $1M. Circumstances are quite different between number 400 and number 237,000.
- It would be easy to read the article and think an across the board tax increase on capital gains would do the trick. That would be very difficult on those people who retired with a modest nest egg, and need to make that money last the rest of their lives. Erosion due to inflation and an extra 10+% off the gains in taxes might mean the difference between staying retired, and getting another job in their golden years.
- I don't think Buffett's proposal is enough to dig us out of our debt hole -- just increasing taxes on 0.3% of the taxpayers isn't going to raise enough revenue.
- Buffett is talking about those making $1M per year and up. President Obama has talked about taxing those making $250K per year and up. Again, there is a big difference between someone making $250K per year and a million. While this group will need to see an increase in taxes too, it shouldn't be the same as what the higher income brackets face.
- Shouldn't everyone pay some income taxes? Or at least most everyone? It is shocking that nearly half of the population pays no income taxes, and some in that group actually receive a net credit.
Friday, August 26, 2011
- Make the subject matter clear.
- Communicate one big idea
- Emphasize the book's target audience
- Entice a potential reader to look further
- Communicate how the book will enhance the reader's life (I'm not making that up).
Friday, August 19, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
This tidbit of thought was contributed by a former boss of mine. He originally referred to it as "Admiral Rickover's Theory of Completed Work", but a can't vouch for the reference to the admiral.
The "theory" goes as follows: A person should never bring only a problem to their organizational superior (boss). Instead they should bring the problem, their analysis, the possible ways of solving the problem, and their proposed solution.
Another way I've seen this stated is to never "delegate upward".
Why is this rule important?
Managers are busy, directors busier, VP's...well, you get the idea. No one appreciates having additional work tossed in their laps. I can remember getting "suggestions" from employees and thinking "okay, you've done three percent of the work, and now expect me to do the other ninety-seven". With hundreds of employees, the task of solving these problems rapidly becomes impossible.
Finding a problem is not a credit to you. Analyzing it makes you appear smart (assuming you don't make a huge mistake). Developing alternatives makes you appear smarter. Offering your recommendation shows courage. In a world where the employee has limited opportunity to "show what they've got", completed work is one of the easiest ways to do so.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I don’t either.
I do, however, remember when teachers and public employees captured unreasonable pensions and pay increases from taxpayers through lob-sided union negotiations.
I also seem to recall Planned Parenthood being the focal point of an abortion/murder business.
It seems to me I recall NPR and PBS being politically slanted, yet publically funded entities taking advantage of their taxpayer funded bully pulpit to spread their agenda.
Oh, and I seem to remember the stock market crashed because of loose home mortgage practices encouraged by several administrations and politicians on both sides of the aisle. Oddly enough, I too had money in the same market which also was pummeled during the crash.
And didn’t the billions (not trillions) lent to banks in the height of the crisis actually stop a meltdown of the banking system, and the occurrence of another Great Depression. And I seem to recall the majority of the borrowers have already paid back the money they borrowed.
It seems to me the oil spill in the Gulf, which was indeed tragic, is one of the risks we take to enjoy the benefits of a modern economy. We could all avoid the risks if we just gave up our cars, and other energy gobbling conveniences. I don’t, however, recall BP being happy or flippant about the situation.
Last time I checked, boards and shareholders give corporate employees their bonuses. It seems they have this crazy notion that paying competitively to attract top talent is important to their long term success. If you’re not a shareholder, I’m not sure why you care anyway, other than pure envy. Oh, and bonuses were severely limited while any of the “bailout” funds were still borrowed by the large banks during the crisis.
And what world do you live in where you believe people at the top of the economic pyramid pay no taxes? That’s an urban myth. Wealthy people pay the vast majority of federal income taxes, and plenty of other taxes, too. Sure, some foreign corporations pay little U.S. tax – they pay in their home countries.
The persistent desire people from both sides of the aisle seem to have to communicate in sound bites, and not thoughtfully consider their outlandish statements drives me crazy… Pass on it!