FRESH IDEAS.
HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY.

Inspiring thoughts on innovation, growth, leadership,
creativity, transformation, and disruption.

 

Quick reads, powerful results.

Giver or Taker? Hero or Villain?

Gandhi was a giver.  So were Mother Theresa, Dr. King, and Thomas Edison.  They profoundly contributed to the world, leaving the place better than they found it.  Because they gave so much, they are revered and hold a special place in history. Bernie Madoff is a different story.  Same is true for the Enron guys, […]

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Get Lucky

Sure, we’d all love to win the lotto, possess prodigy-level talent, or be born into royalty.  The luck of the draw can seem painfully unfair as some are stricken with disease while others grab an oversized helping of fame and fortune, and then come back for seconds. Without question, there are many factors that we […]

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20 Questions

In our professional and personal pursuits, we’re often so focused on finding the answers that we fail to ask the right questions.  A sense of curiosity and wonder will allow you to zero in on your calling and seize your full potential. Remember the childhood game of 20 Questions?  Here are 20 that we should […]

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One Small Step

I recently sat down with a friend who was down on his luck.  His situation, which had been worsening for years, felt hopeless.   Like so many Americans, he was in a state of despair and just couldn’t get unstuck. When I asked him what he was doing to improve things, he rattled off a long […]

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Empathy is the New Killer App

It stings. Another soul-crushing reprimand from a boss, parent, or spouse. That nauseous feeling when you feel unappreciated, misunderstood, and blamed. We’ve all been there, and in that knee-wobbling state we are far from playing at our best. On the other hand, remember how you felt after receiving a big boost of positive reinforcement. A […]

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Be the Change You Want

How many times have you complained about your boss?  Bemoaned the circumstances that are holding you back?  Attributed your setbacks to others or external forces? The problem with finger-pointing is that it’s completely unproductive.  We all have a finite amount of time, energy, and resources at our disposal.  Every ounce that you deploy blaming others […]

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5 Ways to Get Back Your Mojo

Detroit has seen its share of setbacks, but to me there’s one loss that’s most troubling.  It’s one thing to lose a sports rivalry or even endure a massive sea change in manufacturing that resulted in a throbbing economic hangover.  But worse, many Detroiters have lost their spirit and confidence.  That very sense of purpose […]

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Stop Apologizing

Steve Jobs was flawed.   Serena Williams has soft spots in her tennis game.  Even Brad Pitt has bad hair days.  No matter how successful, powerful, or good-looking, all of the people we admire most have at least some deficiencies. If we can accept that industry titans and Olympic athletes have flaws, why is it so […]

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The Best Resume Ever

Unless you are a trust-fund socialite, you’ve somehow been affected by the challenging economy.  It’s likely that you or someone you know have hit a major career pothole.  The European economy is as turbulent as an amusement park ride and the US Dollar is softer than a newborn’s blanket. So how in the world can […]

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Saying NO is EASY

A colleague approaches you with a radical new idea.  What are the odds you will imagine the possibilities, build on her concept, and embrace this new vision?  18%?  3%? 0%?  Grumpy professors, cynical parents, and finger-wagging bureaucrats have lured many of us into building championship NO instincts.  Much easier and less risky to protect the […]

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On Tooth Decay

As kids, our well-intentioned dentist forcefully instructed us to “Brush and floss twice each day.”  Sound advice that we largely ignored.  After we blew off that first evening chore and realized the world didn’t end, we became more ambivalent on following the regimen with precision. We’d blow off a brush here and a floss there.  […]

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4 Big Reasons Why Your Resolutions Will Fail

Tis the season of grandiose promises for the New Year. Naturally, January is also the pre-cursor to six weeks later when all those goals fizzle away and most of us end up back in our same old habits.  Next year you’ll set similar resolutions that will be anything but resolute.  Rinse and repeat. We all want […]

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What We Can Learn From Tragedy

Like so many around the word, the unspeakable events in Newtown, CT literally brought tears to my eyes.  Even as I write this, my gut is in a knot and my head is pounding like a snare drum.   How could something so unimaginable occur?  What kind of monster could commit such a heinous act?  And […]

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27 Lessons from 27 Years

Dan Gilbert is a busy guy.  He’s the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, the largest online mortgage company in the world.  He’s the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, owner of two casinos in Ohio, and primary investor in over 60 other companies.  He is leading a massive charge to revitalize Detroit, and has […]

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The Beauty of Forest Fires

There are few things in nature as powerful as the white-hot intensity of a forest fire.  Once they gain momentum, these vicious fires can consume hundreds of square miles, leaving behind a trail of destruction and scorched earth. Not exactly the symbol of beauty.  I doubt Van Gogh or Monet painted landscapes of charred land.  […]

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What’s Your Training Schedule?

There’s an old saying in the boxing world: “Champions don’t become champions in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”  The implication, of course, is that the hard work of winning happens during an intense training regimen.  The blood, sweat, and tears on the gym floor; the relentless planning for every possible scenario; the sacrifice […]

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We Want Our Twinkies Back

This past week, a tragedy occurred.  The entitlement and stubbornness of union leaders forced Hostess (makers of Twinkies, HoHos, Wonder Bread, etc.) to cease operations forever.  The result: 18,500 jobs lost, $2.5 billion of revenue squandered, and millions of sweet-tooth consumers left with a craving. Pretty much the same thing happened to this year’s NHL […]

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Waste On The Shop Room Floor

A friend of mine owns a high-end Italian restaurant, which has delighted customers for decades.  He’s an astute business owner, and manages the food quality, staff, and inventory with exquisite precision.  Now imagine what would happen to his profits if the kitchen crew just randomly dropped 25% of their high-quality ingredients on the floor.  Wasted […]

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The Streetfighter

Having built four startups from scratch and now investing in them full-time, you could say I’m in the business of “entrepreneurship.”  But I don’t think that’s the right term anymore.  At all. The word entrepreneur was borrowed from the French language and implies an aristocratic polish.  It conjures up images of backroom deals with white men in three-piece […]

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The Future of Waiting

A few weeks back, I wrote a snarky blog post about the horrible experience most of us have while visiting the doctor: long delays, rude staff, apathetic physicians, dingy waiting rooms.  You’ve been there. Funny enough, in response to my blog the head of patient care from a large hospital system contacted me to sit down and […]

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How to Botch Your Career

Your parents probably gave you loving advice on how to land a job and work your way up the ladder.  Unfortunately, that advice is likely dead wrong.  While their intentions were probably noble, the world has changed so dramatically in the last few years that the golden nuggets of the past have become the anchors […]

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Run Toward Your Fear

One day, a wise Zen master went to visit a remote mountain temple accompanied by a monk.  As the two approached the temple a pair of ferocious dogs began running toward them.  The dogs were barking and angry, sending fear down the spines of both men. The monk, who was still in training, saw the […]

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Leadership Lessons from the Honey Badger

Don’t let the sugary name fool you.  Recognized as the most fearless animal by the Guinness Book of World Records, the Honey Badger is a strange yet powerful creature.  This determined animal may not be a household name, but even the King Cobra fears and respects this beast. Check out this hilarious and informational video […]

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Empty Leadership

This last week, TechCrunch reported that a startup named “Color,” which had raised $41 million in venture capital, was in big, big trouble.  So what does the valiant CEO do?  Take 3-4 months off for a sabbatical, naturally. Having fought through countless battles building four startups and now backing entrepreneurs as a profession, this absolutely infuriated me.  A glaring […]

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Veggie Omelet with Ham

At breakfast with my 13-year-old daughter Chloe and her friend, a baffling question was posed.  Chloe’s friend asked, “Can I get the vegetarian omelet…but with ham?” “Absolutely!  Why not?” I grinned.  And then it hit me.  She’s at an age when her imagination still hasn’t been beaten out of her; where she can still balk traditional thinking and embrace […]

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Clarity Through Camouflage

Last week I had the profound honor of speaking to the 414th battalion of the United States Army.  I looked into the eyes of these brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our country.  Their sacrifice enables us to start companies, create art, and build communities. In the room where I […]

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Lead Without Title

At a recent visit to a NYC jazz club, I witnessed a near disaster averted only by another’s selfless act.  The vocalist (the leader in this instance), instructed the musicians to begin a classic jazz standard in a specific key.  Once she began to sing, however, the highly trained musicians cringed with fearful anticipation.  The […]

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Be The Cannibal

In the business world there is an often-muttered fear of “cannibalization.”  This silly phrase is used when one person at a company comes up with a new idea or figures out how to better serve a customer.  Immediately, the fear-mongering bureaucrats object, stating that this new solution might “cannibalize” their business. Good! We should hope […]

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Running Behind

I experienced the joy of a doctor’s waiting room this past week.  After waiting 29 minutes, I asked the staff behind the glass what was up.  With striking disdain and apathy, a grim woman told me, “The doctor is running behind.”  No kidding. At 43 minutes into the adventure, I asked again.  With ice in […]

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The Vision Trap

“I have an incredible, game-changing, transformational vision for the future,” the eager entrepreneur tells me as part of her pitch. Naturally, my next question is, “Specifically how do you plan to execute?”  As I dive three or four questions deeper – asking about cost per acquisition assumptions, which team members should be added and when, […]

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