Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Business of Software Conference 2008

April 16, 2008

Announced earlier this week, the Business of Software 2008 – A Joel On Software Conference is now open for registration. The conference will be held in the Seaport Hotel on Boston’s waterfront on September 3rd and 4th.

The confirmed speakers include:
 

  • Joel Spolsky, founder of Fog Creek software, author of several books and the man behind the joelonsoftware blog.
  • Seth Godin, Business Week’s “Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age”, is the best-selling author of 7 books (including Permission Marketing and Purple Cow) as well as the most popular eBook of all time.
  • Eric Sink, founder of SourceGear, author of “Eric Sink on the Business of Software” and the person who coined the term “Micro ISV”
  • Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing and winner of last year’s Software Idol competition
  • Richard Stallman launched the development of the GNU operating system, now used on tens of millions of computers today. Stallman has received the ACM Grace Hopper Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer award, and the the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment
  • Paul Kenny is one of the UK’s top sales trainers, consultants and speakers. He has worked with many customers in three continents, including IBM, Perot Systems, The Guardian and tens of others.
  • Dharmesh Shah is a geek, serial entrepreneur, founder of HubSpot and blogger at OnStartups.com
  • Jessica Livingston is author of Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days and a founder of Y Combinator
  • Jason Fried is founder of 37signals (developers of Basecamp and Ruby on Rails) and Signal vs Noise blogger

This looks to be an incredible conference full of insightful personalities and great ideas. I highly recommend anyone who is in the world of software startups plan on attending.

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Hinutech Book Club

March 27, 2008

As a service to my customers and readers, I am starting an online book club where we will read an eBook about technology, SEO, creativity, entrepreneurial pursuits, leadership or marketing and discuss it here and via the message boards at Hinutech.com. I have currently collected Seth Godin’s redistributable eBooks (and a few more) and would like to establish a virtual library for everyone to use to download, read and improve themselves.If you have written an eBook that falls into this category, drop me an email at bookclub@hinutech.com. If you know of someone who would like to distribute their works to an eager audience, please send them my way.

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Attributes of Success

March 25, 2008

Who is the most successful person you can think of? It could be anyone — a family member, a neighbor, a celebrity, a politician, a business person. What attributes make them successful? Don’t immediately go to money. There are many rich people whose lives are in shambles. Don’t go to fame either. Although talent goes a long way, luck plays a huge role in the process of becoming a celebrity.

The most successful person that I know is my neighbor. He has grown children who genuinely want to be around him. He and his wife are very much in love. He is respected by our community. He is generous and kind. He has plenty of money but doesn’t use it in a way that makes those around him feel lesser.

Below is my list of attributes of what I think makes someone successful. Note that none of my measures are things that the U.S. educational system has on any syllabus. Perhaps educators need to re-think their curriculum if their goal is to create successful individuals.

  • Honest
  • Love of self
  • Love of others
  • Generosity
  • Creative
  • Leader
  • Do-er
  • Comfortably wealthy
  • Giving
  • Compassionate
  • Role model
  • Enthusiastic
  • Genuine
  • Purposeful
  • Driven

Please add to my list and discuss your own measure of success.

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Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Irrelevance

March 19, 2008

In an earlier post, I introduced the concept of Anonymity as it relates to job misery. This time around, I would like to focus on Irrelevance. Patrick Lencioni has the following to say about irrelevance:

“Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone. Anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment. Even the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just the boss.”

Think about it. How would you feel about your job if what you did had absolutely no measurable impact on anyone? What if the thing you poured your heart into mattered to no one? That would be absolutely horrible. The good news is that your job does matter to people. If you are an administrative assistant, doing good work has a positive impact on your boss. If you are a leader, then everything you say and do matters to the people who choose to work for you. If you are a programmer, your quality development matters to your co-workers, boss, customers, technical support engineers….

You get the picture. So, how can you overcome feelings of irrelevance in the workplace? If you are a leader, it’s pretty easy: let your people know that what they do matters to you — that if they do a good job, it makes your life better. Acknowledging that your people draw satisfaction from doing things that make your day isn’t egotistical. It is honest. More importantly, though, is helping your people understand how their work impacts others (customers, co-workers, etc.). As a leader, it is your responsibility to help your people grow and feel fulfillment in their jobs. They will do better work if they feel accountable to someone other than themselves.

If you’re not a leader, then finding relevance where you feel there is none might be a bit tougher. I encourage you to have an open, honest discussion with your boss about your feelings. Have them help you identify to whom the work you do really matters. You also need to do some soul searching. Think long and hard about who you impact on a daily basis. Make it tangible. If you have customer interaction on a daily basis, clearly, that is a marker of relevance. If you don’t have direct customer interaction but, say, develop a product that ships to customers, think harder. You can’t derive relevance from an abstract. You need something tangible to see that your work matters. Think about who’s life would be made more difficult if you didn’t do an excellent job. Who’s day is harder if you don’t show up for work? These are the people to whom you matter.

Remember, there are people that care about the work you do. If you’re a leader, acknowledge those people and help those around you see the relevance in their jobs. If you’re not a leader, figure this out quickly, and you’ll soon be leading others.

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Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Anonymity

March 15, 2008

I recently read Patrick Lencioni’s book “Three Signs of a Miserable Job”. A brilliant overview of how leaders in an organization can foster an environment where people love what they do for a living. In Patrick’s model, there are three key areas that contribute to overall job satisfaction: Anonymity, Irrelevance and Immeasurement.

In this post, I will discuss Anonymity, its importance and what leaders can do to make their people feel cared about at work.

According to Lencioni, “People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.”

As a leader, I have seen the value of really knowing my people cause great results. The simple act of acknowledging that they have a life outside the confines of the office creates a relationship between leader and employee that transcends the latest project or office politics. My team wants to perform better because they feel a bond to me as their leader that is substantial and personal. Think about it: do you perform better when you want to do something for someone or when you have to do something for someone? It’s a no-brainer. When I ask my team to do the impossible in a very short time frame (which is too often), they do so willingly, and it fills me with pride to see them step up.

So, how do you really get to know your people and remove the barrier of anonymity in your workplace? It’s easy. All you have to do is care. You need to treat your team as talented contributors as opposed to simply resources for getting things done. When you ask about their weekend, have a genuine interest in their response. If they have children, understand that their kids are more important to them than anything that happens in the office. If they are just starting off in life, be willing to sit down with them and walk through the steps of buying a house, refinancing a mortgage or setting up their 401(k).

Simple actions like this humanize the workplace and create an environment where everyone feels better about spending their time together striving for a common goal. You can’t fake this stuff. You can’t go through the motions and not genuinely care about your people. This can’t be a means to an end. It has to be real, heartfelt and tangible. If you have to fake it, your team will see through your actions and create a distrust of you, your sincerity and your integrity.

To close, a former boss of mine said something that is relevant to the dismantling of anonymity in the workplace: “Treat your people like volunteers, and they will move mountains for you. Treat them like employees, and you’ll never know what they are able to accomplish.”

If you have any thoughts or comments on ways to remove anonymity on your team, let us know by leaving comments. Through the sharing of information and ideas, we all benefit.

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Speak Up!

March 15, 2008

It’s easy to say that you want your employees to speak their minds. All of the management books you read claim that you need to create an environment where your subordinates feel comfortable with disagreeing with you or questioning the status quo. It feels good to say you foster this environment.

Do you really? How do you react when one of your direct reports has a different idea than one you hold dear? Does your voice tense up? Do you seek to explore the new idea or do you shut the conversation down quickly? Do you reward them for speaking up or make them wish they’d kept their mouth shut 30 seconds after voicing their thoughts?

You know the right answers to these questions. Your best people speak up. If you don’t foster an environment where they feel like they can, they’ll choose to work somewhere that allows them to do so.

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Leadership and The Godfather

February 20, 2008


I am watching The Godfather, Part II tonight on AMC — one of the few movies that I feel compelled to watch multiple times. What strikes me each time I watch it is how compelling Michael Coreleone is. What makes this character someone that we are collectively drawn to? Leadership. He is the consummate leader. He looks after his people. He follows through on commitments without fail. He is direct. He is always thinking about the greater good of his organization and family. He has the courage to take unpopular stands for what he knows is right.

Those that are not leaders in this movie fall away. They are the self-serving cowards. They are dishonorable characters who are always plotting for their own good. Leaders are always working for the benefit of their organization cognizant that their subordinates take cues about how to improve the organization from watching them in action.

Askmen.com has an entire section of their site devoted to Mafioso style leadership principals. Some of it is over the top, but it’s good reading nonetheless.