LET THE FACTS DO THEIR JOB

Candace King Weir and Amelia Weir are a mother-daughter team that own Paradigm Micro Cap, a mutual fund specializing in small companies. The Albany, New York, mutual fund manages $800 million for its clients. Paradigm Micro Cap is one of the few mutual funds operated by women. Currently, women operate about 10% of all mutual funds.

That fact is not lost on the Weirs. They have routinely encountered stereotypes and misperceptions by some people. Amelia Weir acknowledges that reality yet she moves beyond it with a mitigation strategy (Bodnar, Janet. “All in the Fund Family” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. December 2016, p. 21):

People sometimes make amazing assumptions. For example, they often assume that Candace inherited the business from her father or husband. But you don’t take offense. If you’re not going to see eye to eye, you just move on. In this business, you stand on your credibility. If your ideas are good, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.

She expresses a truth that I have observed repeatedly. First, people do make assumptions and second, you don’t have to let those assumptions stop you from doing your job. In short: let the facts speak for themselves. As the Weir team has simply handled business professionally and proficiently, Paradigm Micro Cap has demonstrated its worth to its customers. The facts speak for themselves.

The next time someone stereotypes you or makes blatant assumptions about you, don’t take it personally. Be gracious, move forward, do your job professionally and proficiently. Let the facts speak for themselves . . . they always do.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM MARK ZUCKERBERG—PART FOUR

In late 2016 Fortune announced the conferring of “Businessperson of the Year” title upon Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Related to that, Adam Lashinsky wrote a fascinating article on what we can learn from Zuckerberg’s leadership and management style. A few key ideas jumped out to me. Here, Zuckerberg describes an empowering Facebook-improvement feature that is driven directly by the organization’s size (“How to Lead Like Zuck” Fortune. December 1, 2016, pp. 66–72):

‘At any given point in time, there’s not just one version of Facebook running in the world. There’re probably tens of thousands of versions running because engineers here have the power to try out an idea and ship it to maybe 10,000 people or 100,000 people. And then they get a readout.’” (p. 72)

This practice demonstrates two key leadership qualities from which every leader can benefit:

  • Capitalize On Your Company’s Characteristics. If not for the sheer size of Facebook with its nearly two billion users, these sorts of endeavors would be impossible. However, Zuckerberg is choosing to capitalize on one of his company’s key characteristics (in this case, size). He leverages that by creating an accelerated mechanism that generates new insights about how he can best serve his users. Your organization may not be a billion-customer behemoth. Nevertheless, you can identify the key characteristics of your company and leverage accordingly.
  • Be Willing To Experiment. An astute leader never assumes that everything is perfect. Instead, the astute leader searches for ways to experiment with new concepts, strategies, procedures, products, and services. Do you have something that you would like to change in your organization but you are not sure it will work? Develop a plan to beta test it. Many of the best practices in business today had their genesis in the beta test. Look at it this way: knowledge and insights can come even from failed experiments.

Do you want to improve your leadership? Adopt these two approaches and enjoy the benefits.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM MARK ZUCKERBERG—PART THREE

In late 2016 Fortune announced the conferring of “Businessperson of the Year” title upon Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Related to that, Adam Lashinsky wrote a fascinating article on what we can learn from Zuckerberg’s leadership and management style. A few key ideas jumped out to me. Here is one of them from the article (“How to Lead Like Zuck” Fortune. December 1, 2016, pp. 66–72):

One of Facebook’s key business innovations is a ‘growth team’—today made up of hundreds of people—that designs tactics for various parts of the company, relying on a rigorous set of metrics to gauge success. The unit has broad latitude to weigh in on any aspect of Facebook’s business. . . . [Venture capitalist and former Facebook top product executive Mike] Vernal affirms ‘The team owns no single product. Instead, it owns any issue that is preventing people from signing up for or using Facebook.’” (p. 71)

The fact that Zuckerberg has chosen to put this growth team into place demonstrates several aspects of being a quality leader:

  • Fresh Perspective. Quality leadership recognizes that good ideas can originate from anyone anywhere. It is not addicted to the NIHS (Not-Invented-Here Syndrome). Quality leadership craves that fresh perspective that intrinsically arises from elsewhere. By virtue of having a growth team in place, a constant invitation exists for critique and input. I don’t know of any leadership situation that could not benefit from this.
  • Stop The Bleeding. Sometimes an entrenched department or team can become so engrossed in its own world that it cannot see the real problem. That outside growth team has the ability to come in and metaphorically speaking apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. It is this lifesaving intervention that then enables the group to regroup forces and move forward with a renewed focus and energy.
  • Diversity Of Idea Generation. Diversity of idea generation leads to superior solutions. Chances are that the growth team is diverse and adds an element of diversity to the immediate problem solving situation. That diversity ensures a better solution than what would have been arrived at without that diverse perspective.
  • Refocus On The Mission. The growth team owns any issue that prevents people from signing up for or using Facebook. Sometimes a leader must rearticulate the bottom line mission of the organization. Why are we here? What are we trying to accomplish? What are the barriers to our progress? How can we overcome them? A quality leader will constantly reinforce the organization’s mission, the raison d’etre, the ultimate vision, and thus inspire the team to move on to success.

Do you want to be a quality leader? Infuse your leadership approach with these four points and watch them work.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM MARK ZUCKERBERG—PART TWO

In late 2016 Fortune announced the conferring of “Businessperson of the Year” title upon Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Related to that, Adam Lashinsky wrote a fascinating article on what we can learn from Zuckerberg’s leadership and management style. A few key ideas jumped out to me. Here is one of them from the article (“How to Lead Like Zuck” Fortune. December 1, 2016, pp. 66–72):

Ideas typically do not just come to you. They happen because you’ve been talking about something or thinking about something and talking to a lot of people about it for a long period of time.” (p. 70)

Haven’t we all had the embarrassing experience of thinking we have a brilliant idea . . . until the moment we begin to verbalize it? Upon verbalizing it, we suddenly realize how stupid it is. Well, that process works positively just as much as it works negatively. The more you can talk about your idea, the more you can crystallize your thinking and design. That is why we need to keep talking!

Do we all occasionally have those stroke-of-genius moments when our best ideas come to us alone? Of course we do. However, by and large, my best ideas have come to me when I have had the chance to collaborate, consult, and dialog with other people. Therefore, in a sense, my best ideas truly are not my ideas as much as they are our ideas. That is what Zuckerberg is saying.

The more you have the opportunity to kick your ideas around with other people, the better. It gives you the chance to hear yourself think and it opens the door to instant diverse viewpoints, many of which you never would have arrived at on your own.

Are you developing a brilliant idea? Just keep talking!

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM MARK ZUCKERBERG—PART ONE

In late 2016 Fortune announced the conferring of “Businessperson of the Year” title upon Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Related to that, Adam Lashinsky wrote a fascinating article on what we can learn from Zuckerberg’s leadership and management style. A few key ideas jumped out to me. Here is one of them from the article (“How to Lead Like Zuck” Fortune. December 1, 2016, pp. 66–72):

[Venture capitalist Mike] Vernal believes the key to Zuckerberg’s success is his ability to think for the ages while knowing when to go deep. ‘One of the things that defines Mark is that he takes a very, very long view of things, almost a geological view,’ says Vernal. ‘Most people think day to day or week to week. Mark thinks century to century.’ (Indeed, Zuckerberg’s favorite video game is Civilization, which allows players to consider the vast sweep of history while plotting their next move.)” (p. 70)

Although I understand what Vernal is expressing, it remains potentially an impossibly overwhelming phenomenon. How does one “think for the ages”? How does one think “century to century”? Who among us can even venture to go there?

On the other hand, whenever we automatically make decisions based on bedrock ethical principles, are we not then thinking “for the ages”? I think we are. But that kind of thinking is different than what Vernal cites. Vernal is focusing more on Zuckerberg’s thinking as it specifically relates to a strategy of technology and its confluence with humanity. Vernal is focusing in on what those outcomes are. And it is Zuckerberg’s thoughts about those outcomes that lead to Zuckerberg’s unique success.

So how might this apply to you and me? Can we ever replicate that process? Probably in too many ways to list. Nonetheless, here are a couple applications to consider:

  • Big-Picture Thinking. We talk all the time about understanding the big picture. But how often do we really aim to understand it? And since most of us are not Zuckerbergs, we more than likely discount our own abilities to contribute to that big picture. And that is our mistake because we all have the capacity for big-picture thinking if we force ourselves into it. Big-picture thinking is essential to humanity’s success. You don’t have to be a Zuckerberg to think for the ages. How you make decisions today, how you relate to the people you influence, how you prioritize your time, all affect the big picture.
  • Legacies Serving The Future. Some day we will all leave something behind. That is called a legacy. We have the exciting privilege of deciding what our legacy will be. We have the moral mandate to build tomorrow’s legacy today. Ultimately, we hope that our legacy will serve humanity. That is the goal. We too can ponder the confluence of technology and humanity. In so doing, we will find multiple opportunities to build tomorrow’s legacies today. That is an investment with a guaranteed return.

And so, it is a given to think day to day and week to week. Indeed it is necessary. Nevertheless, let us never forget how important it is to think century to century. The short view is important and will happen by default. However, we (like Zuckerberg) must never neglect the long view. For that is where the unique successes are found.