Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ever feel envious about how much your CEO is paid compared to the rest of your company?

Do you ever feel envious about how much CEO's make compared to nearly everyone else at the companies they run? Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett's partner) thinks it's a big problem and talks about it at: Reuters: CEO Pay at Dangerous Levels .

Munger makes a good point about CEO pay leading to dangerous levels of envy, but he doesn’t go deep enough in his analysis. Envy by itself is uncomfortable, but not dangerous. It’s when envy crosses over to outrage which can then be enraging where destructive things happen. Envy may cause stress, but you can still remain focused on your long term goals and become more determined to reach them in a healthy, vigorous way. When however envy crosses over to being outraged, stress crosses over to distress. When that occurs, you lose sight of your long term goals and instead focus on relieving that distress--- most often in destructive or at least self-defeating ways. The most destructive reaction to outrage is to become enraged in which you either strike out at the world (going postal) or at yourself in career and sometimes even life ending actions. When stress crosses over to distress you have four options:

1. Act out
2. Vent
3. Suppress
4. Exhale

1. Act out – this is a knee jerk reaction where you physically strike out and back at the world and is nearly always destructive and triggers fear in others;
2. Vent – this is where you verbally or in print rant, complain, whine, etc. which is less frightening or destructive than 1, but triggers exhaustion in others and yourself and relaxes neither the situation or the people in it;
3. Suppress – this is where you keep a lid on it which is less destructive than 1 or 2, but over time will cause mental and or physical illness;
4. Exhale – this is where you express the fear, hurt, outrage and angst under the more violent expressions in 1 and 2 to someone who understands, empathizes in a way as to “drain the pus” from where you feel wounded. This enables you to relax and it is the only path out of distress where you open your mind to constructive input from the outside.

The take home message: to succeed, much less survive, in a tough, competitive world, you want to raise the threshold where stress crosses over into distress. To do this, find vehicles that enable you to exhale. Only that will truly calm you down, relax you and open your mind to lasting solutions.

Friday, June 23, 2006

You Can't Go Wrong

A mistake stops being a mistake
when you learn and take action*
on the lesson it teaches you.

*A mistake is an action that didn’t work out. It is not an intention. Therefore, to truly counteract, compensate and correct the mistake that happened in your life (and the part of your brain that made it), you need to not just learn a lesson, but actually take action on it.

According to Jason Calacanis: “The time and money lost in making a mistake— and then recognizing it quickly, doing damage control, correcting your direction and learning from it so you don’t do it again—will still be less than a decision, being stuck in committee and frittering away revenue from the missed opportunity that staying stuck there causes.”

Calacanis should know. According to Wired magazine: “He was the king - and kingmaker - of New York's Silicon Alley, a new media cheerleader turned media mogul. Then the bubble burst. But, baby, he's back.” Calacanis knows about mistakes, but knows even more about learning from them and taking corrective action and turning them into opportunity. From 1996 – 2001 he started and grew the Silicon Alley Reporter from a 16 page photocopied newsletter into a 300 page magazine that spawned a West coast sister publication, Digital Coast Reporter, before the boom went bust. In 2001 he morphed his publication into Venture Reporter which he sold to Wicks Business Publications (it eventually ended up in Dow Jones & Company). He says he went from anybody to somebody to nobody in five years. But rather than hiding his head as many other dot com entrepreneurs he turned his vision and in-your-face aggression to blogging and founded Weblogs and went from conception to a $25million buy out by AOL in 18 months.

© 2006 Mark Goulston

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Never Eat Alone made Simple

Know where you want to go;
Identify the people who can help you get there;
Get with those people and help them succeed;
Let them reciprocate by helping you do the same;
Stay in regular contact with those people;
Enjoy mutual success and a great relationship.

- Keith Ferrazzi
Author, “Never Eat Alone”

The original title of Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone, was “You can’t get there alone,” but he deferred to his publisher’s instincts and “Voila!” a New York Times best seller. And Keith is right, you can’t get there alone. You can’t be successful on your own.

The key points are:

a) Know where you want to go - knowing what success looks like, so you’ll recognize it when you get there (and also realizing that few busy people want to take the time or put in the effort to help you figure out what you want to do or be when you grow up—that is your responsibility)
b) Identify the people who can help you get there - when identifying people who can make introductions to help you get where you want to go, select people who by nature are either givers or at the least reciprocators (you can recognize them by thinking of the qualities of people in your life who turned out to be that way vs. the non-reciprocating takers and grabbers—ugh).
c) Get with those people and help them succeed - the best way to get to those people is to figure out what you can do for them that will help them be much more successful/effective in their career, personal lives (i.e. help their kids), or in terms of their legacy (i.e. causes they are passionate about). Then figure out how to get to them by helping them to achieve what they want being your sole focus.
d) Let them reciprocate by helping you do the same - when you do get to them and help them to succeed in any of the areas in c above, and if you have selected properly, they will then reciprocate. And when they do, have something specific they can help you with (don’t frustrate them by being unclear).
e) Stay in regular contact with these people - design and keep to a plan that keeps you in regular contact with these people and regularly helping them to be successful.
f) Enjoy mutual success AND a great relationship.

And by the way, don't try to get there alone, go out and buy, Never Eat Alone.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

An End to Anger

You can’t be angry and empathic at the same time.

Anger is a motor response (i.e. from you to the world) where you are retaliating at someone for a perceived hurt, disappointment or assault by them. The result is they feel attacked by you, become defensive, counterattack which spirals downwards from anger to hatred to bitterness.

Empathy is a sensory function (i.e. from the world to you) where you are emotionally understanding and vicariously experiencing (i.e. feeling their feelings) where someone else is coming from. The result is they “feel felt” by you, lower their guard and are drawn towards you.

Step 1: Think of someone close to you (you may not want to take the effort to do this with people you don’t care about).
Step 2: Visualize something they do that frustrates, angers, hurts and/or disappoints you at an 8 level or more on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is “not at all” and 10 is “I want to smash them”).
Step 3: Now imagine being them and what they’d say if I asked them:
a. What frustrates them most about you? (for example, “They’d say, I don’t listen.”)
b. What disappoints them most about you? (for example, “They’d say, I don’t do what I say I’m going to do.”)
c. What incident they would bring up if I asked them to tell me something you did that hurt them terribly? (for example, “They’d bring up the time I cheated on them with a mother/father from our kid’s school.”)

Step 4: Pause and feel those feelings they have had towards you.
Step 5: Now on a scale of 1 to 10 rate how frustrated, angry or hurt you are at them for that behavior you described in Step 2.

After doing this, your upset should go down in intensity. If it doesn’t, then you’re someone who would rather stay angry and be hurtful than forgiving and you are not relationship material.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Guts vs. Brains

Don't hire people with more brains than guts.
People with more brains than guts may someday develop guts,
learn everything you know
and leave to become one of your toughest competitors.
You’re better off hiring people with more guts than brains,
because they aren’t going to someday develop brains.

I heard this fifteen years ago from a very successful entrepreneur and thought at the time that it was one of the ugliest and crudest things I had ever heard. I still think so. The only reason I think that I still remember it after all these years is that it is true…at least in the short run…which is exactly how long his company lasted.

(Thought to self: Hmm? Sound like any presidential administrations you know?)

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Best Life Possible: How to Make It Happen

The essence of it is that you need to have a clear, precise, compelling and totally convincing vision of what your best life looks like. When you see it, commitment naturally follows. If commitment doesn't follow, the vision wasn't important enough.

When I think of my most significant accomplishments, they all contained the one two punch of: 1. a clear, unambiguous and unambivalent vision; 2. a commitment to action vs. mere intention. One such accomplishment is speaking before audiences large and small (from the Fortune 500 to the FBI to parents of murdered children), being on the spot on national television (as in speaking live with victims after major disasters) and now having face-to-face time with some of the most respected leaders in the world about what is most important to them.

It all started when I was holding my eldest child at age 3 months (she's now 24) and had this epiphany that when she got to be 20, she would not be proud of me and more likely would be disappointed in me. That was because I wasn't proud of me and it was because I gave into my fears and wouldn't venture out of my comfort zone. I lacked courage and a man without courage is not a man.

Holding her I asked myself, "What am I most afraid of?" And the answer was being on the spot and being laughed at or ridiculed (I'll leave the requisite background that produced such a mindset to your imagination).

So at that moment, 23 years ago, instead of saying, "No" to any and every opportunity where I might make a fool of myself, I instead said, "Yes" to everything. It has taken me to national television appearances on CNN, NBC/ABC/CBS News, Oprah, Today and to the Wall St. Journal, N.Y. Times, Time, Newsweek, Fortune. Sometimes I have made a fool of myself, but ever since I held my daughter, quitting or running away has not been an option.

P.S. My daughter sent me a recent unsolicited, non-holiday email about how proud and grateful she is to be my kid, so I think I pulled it off.

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