Category: The Weekly Roundup

The Brilliance of Brevity

In a smoky bar while drinking heavily, Hemingway made a bet with fellow authors that he could tell a story in only six words.  Once everyone at the table agreed to participate, Hemingway wrote his story on the back of a napkin, passed it around the group, and gleefully collected his winnings. The story read, […]

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The Times, They Are a Changin’

Diplomacy with Cuba.  More mobile devices than people on the planet.  Cyber-attacks, not bombs, are the biggest threat to national security.  Retailers such as Amazon delivering merchandise via drones.  TV networks advertising when they actually have a scripted show. Who woulda’ thunk it? Back in early January of 1964, legendary songwriter Bob Dylan prophesied, “The […]

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Your Real Job Goes Far Beyond Your Role

It’s not my job. Four of the most poisonous words when strung together. As a customer, how many times have you heard this stinging phrase when seeking help? Think how utterly frustrated you become when the person at the pharmacy, cable company, doctor’s office, or government office absolves themselves of any responsibility to serve by […]

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Paying It Forward

Motorists recently enjoyed a friendly turn of fate in Lowell, Michigan. As drivers were pulled over by the police for small infractions (such as having tinted windows that were too dark), officers began a pleasant chat instead of grumpily issuing a citation. In conversation, the officers also asked what the drivers and their kids wanted […]

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186 Hours Wasted

Although we boarded early, my flight out of Detroit was delayed by 63 minutes. The weather was clear, there were no mechanical issues, and the crew was ready to roll. The cause of our tardy takeoff? A bureaucratic procedural glitch that required sign-off from airline headquarters. This completely avoidable issue impacted 177 travelers aboard our […]

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Stop Chasing Unicorns — Get Passionate About What You Already Do

The easily given advice has become cliché: follow your passion and everything will turn out dandy. Problem is, we can’t all be movie stars, professional athletes, or ballerinas. There’s a difference between an achievable dream and a fantasy. For example, I probably will never get drafted for the NBA at 5-foot-5 and 44 years old. […]

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Use Feedback To Spark, Not Destroy

I was 11 years old and getting the scolding of my life. My dad let me have it because he busted me selling illegal fireworks at school, which obviously was problematic from a parent’s perspective. My entrepreneurial efforts got me in a world of trouble. The resulting punishment included being forced to call the parents […]

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Increase Trust, Reduce Cost

$167,731. That’s the annual cost to house, feed and guard a single prison inmate in New York City, according to a recent report published in the New York Times. This whopping price tag equates to a daily cost of $459.54. In the sharpest of contrasts to the cement-block walls of a cold jail cell, the […]

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A Most Delicious Victory

Customers lined up, waiting around the block for what you’re selling. This is the dream of all business leaders, especially when those customers come back every single day for more. We all want an infinite stream of buyers, willing to fork over whatever we feel like charging, so we can enjoy the spoils of success. This may […]

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You Are What You Believe

As we were about to take the stage together last week, Geoff Clapp, a New Orleans jazz drummer, said something especially powerful to me. While giving talks on innovation, I often hire local musicians and incorporate live jazz as a metaphor for business creativity (I’ve been playing jazz guitar for more than 30 years). We […]

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Play Through Problems To Drive Better Outcomes

As kids, we go out to play. Later in life, we play sports or play music. But then, in sharp contrast, we leave our homes each day and go to work. The term implies uninspired, often boring and generally yucky things. Parallels of going to the dentist, waiting in line at the DMV or filling […]

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The Difference Between a Job and a Calling

Michigan public safety officer Ben Hall’s job is to serve on the force in Emmett Township. Like many jobs, his includes a clear set of rules, procedures and regulations. But those rigid policies didn’t define Officer Hall in the way they define so many others. During a routine traffic stop last week, he noticed something […]

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What A Difference A Day Makes

For more than 200 episodes since 2001, special agent Jack Bauer captivated the world as the series “24” unfolded in “real-time.” Each 24-episode season covered only a single day of Bauer (actor Kiefer Sutherland) daring greatly to save the world. While these mythical days were unrealistic, they drew us in as we contemplated the impact […]

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Use Your Creativity To Fight Back

Watching the news or reading the paper, it takes only a few minutes to identify major problems in our world. From the abhorrent behavior of certain NFL players to new terrorist threats in the Middle East, we are surrounded by challenges in every direction. While most of us empathize with these issues, few leap into […]

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Diners, Drive-ins, and Dedication

Millions of Americans regularly binge-watch the Food Network’s hit TV show, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” Hosted by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, the show has a cult-like following and is spectacularly popular. Fieri profiles restaurants that have incredible food in a non-glamorous setting. The grounded, down-to-earth, focus-on-what-matters restaurants featured on the show generally have two things […]

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Your Next Transformative Step

We all learned by second grade that caterpillars naturally progress to a more advanced condition. You can think of this as the ultimate personal reinvention and a good approach as you work to take your career to the next level. Charles Best, a history teacher at a Bronx high school, evolved into his own style […]

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Video Killed The Radio Star

When MTV launched back in 1981, the first music video aired was aptly named “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. The song, and the concept, made history as a new format of musical entertainment that rose to prominence. The underlying message is one of transformation. Technology advances, global market expansion, ubiquitous access to […]

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Extend Trust to Earn Trust

The East L.A. neighborhood of Boyle Heights is a rough place. Plagued by violent crime and poverty, this rundown area has a history of gangs and prison sentences. In fact, more than 65% of ex-cons in California are back in jail within three years. This recidivist behavior represents an enormous cost to society, both in […]

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The Irony of The Imitator Epidemic

Several original works by Picasso, van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and Renoir are worth more than $100 million each and continue to appreciate at a rapid pace. “The Card Players,” painted by Paul Cezanne, sold for $259 million in 2011, making it the highest amount paid for a painting in history. Collectors appreciate the artistry and […]

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The Danger of Riding Slow

Think back to childhood. Of all the fears and frustrations, learning to ride a bike had to be high on the list of scary endeavors. You desperately wanted the end state — independence, transportation and the thrill of having your own wheels. This, of course, was offset by the fear of falling flat on your […]

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Set Your Internal GPS

Before the turn of the century, drivers relied on old-fashioned paper maps (remember those?) to find their way to a desired destination. Before reliable map technology existed, our ancestors simply headed in a direction and hoped for the best (think Lewis and Clark). These days, we can be far more accurate. Many cars are fitted […]

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Opportunities Live In Unexpected Places

As kids, we enjoyed hide-and-seek, scavenger hunts and searching for hidden treasures left behind on sandy beaches. That same sense of curiosity and exploration can lead to our biggest breakthroughs as adults. Opportunity rarely comes by and knocks you in the face. Instead, it requires us to peek around corners and seek it out, often […]

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Has The Milk Gone Bad?

Prominently displayed on the milk in my fridge is an expiration date. Looking around the kitchen, my chicken breasts, Doritos, tomatoes, and eggs also show a date of expiration. Even beer now has as “must be sold by” date of no return. This makes great sense for food and medication — a time whereby their […]

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Feed The Pigeons

While studying jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, I had the privilege to study with the legendary Mick Goodrick. As a young and hungry musician, I was especially frustrated at one point after reaching a seemingly impossible plateau. Goodrick offered profound advice on how to overcome my deeply technical musical problem: […]

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5 Leadership Lessons From The Beatles

Inspiration comes from unlikely places. For some, nature is a source of ideation. For others, family and friends can give a twist of insight into something unrelated to your actual discussion. For me, I constantly find nuggets of wisdom in music — sometimes in lyrics, sometimes in a pattern, and sometimes just in the way […]

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Where The Honesty Happens Matters

A sealed bottle of water will break even the strongest containers when placed in a freezer and allowed to expand. The extra pressure created just has to come out, one way or another. The same is true for honest feedback, critique and assessment. The real question in your organization is … where does it come out? In […]

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What We Can All Learn From A Janitor

Gac Filipaj, a refugee from the former Yugoslavia, arrived in America not knowing a word of English. He came here with nothing but a dream and an unwavering commitment to realizing it. He landed a job as a janitor at Columbia University, doing the most unpleasant tasks such as emptying trash and cleaning toilets. Rather […]

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Reinventing The Wheel

“Stop trying to reinvent the wheel,” Bob says in a snarky tone. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Tell that to the researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who designed the Copenhagen Wheel. Quite literally, they reinvented the wheel, the very device we’ve all been admonished not to disrupt. The Copenhagen Wheel fits on […]

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Why I Lost My Bieber Fever

Justin Bieber is a very talented musician. He’s a gifted singer, instrumentalist, dancer and entertainer. With youth, talent and success, he should be admired and respected by all. Instead, he’s doing a spectacular job of squandering the incredible opportunity at his disposal through his narcissistic displays of immaturity. Artists create not only to indulge their […]

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Great Things Are Made of Little Things

At a recent lunch in downtown Detroit, I received a very thoughtful fortune inside my after-meal cookie. Unlike the platitudes that often fill these crunchy treats, this ‘fortune’ really got me thinking. The crumpled white paper read, “Great things are made of little things.” This simple, yet profound thought stayed with me for days. It […]

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