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POINT TO PONDER
"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
- Herman Melville
A manager was informing his employee that the employee was being positioned to be his successor. Feeling good about the opportunity, but wanting to be upfront, the employee told the boss, “But I am not like you. I am sure you know that I will manage with a very different operating style than you.”
The Boss said, “You don't need the same operating style as me. In fact, you don’t want to walk in some one else's shoes and copy his/her brand image. You need to establish your own personal brand image with your team: employees, customers and suppliers. The key things are that you get results and do that with a set of sound principles.”
This exchange reminded me of an incident from a few years ago. My niece and her friend were visiting from England and I had taken them on the standard pilgrimage to Southern California to visit Disneyland. In the evening, we stayed at the home of two young aspiring actors that were family friends.
As soon as the visitors saw one of these two handsome fellows, they went crazy. In their British accents, they said, “Uncle, he looks just like Tom Cruise. He is so cool.”
On the way back home the visitors couldn’t stop talking about this guy (demonstrating incredible constancy of purpose). Finally noticing that I had been driving for 200 miles without being noticed, their British manners prevailed. Both the visitors asked with one voice, “Uncle, wasn’t he (the Tom Cruise look alike) cute? Don’t you think he will get big roles in the movies?”
Trying to be honest, I said, “He has a resemblance to Tom Cruise, and he is trying everything possible: hairstyle, smile, walk, dressing to look just like him." But I continued, ”Unfortunately the poor guy is doomed. The only roles he is likely to get are secondary roles as a stunt man to fill in for Tom Cruise; or a place on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard for visitors to take a picture with a look alike.”
I could see a great disappointment on the visitor’s faces, and a look indicating that “this uncle is jealous.”
Each individual brings his own uniqueness to this world: different talents, different styles and different approaches. These differentiations are the very sources of creativity and improved results. Live life with your style and your passion. Don't try to be just like somebody else. Be Just like You.
POINT TO PONDER
It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.
- Niccolo Machiavelli
STORY LINE by Anand Shah
In the mid-80's, I was entrusted/chartered to manage a department of people. There was one very talented guy named Fred who led one of the subgroups in the overall department. Fred and I developed a good rapport and got along well.
But there was a unique thing about Fred that puzzled me and raised my curiosity. Every late afternoon Fred would stop by to shoot the breeze and often compliment me for various things. Working for a company whose motto at that time was, “Only the Paranoid Survive,” I started wondering if Fred really liked me or there was another motivation.
So one afternoon when Fred stopped by for his usual visit, complimenting me as usually did, I asked him, “Fred, let us be honest. Are you really interested in talking to me or do you visit because of this chair that I am sitting in and this position that I hold?”
Fred was a man of high integrity and got puzzled with the question. He assured me that it is the mental synergy, respect and friendship that drew him to show up before departing home. He enjoyed the stories I shared and our conversations.
Still being paranoid I told him, “Only time will tell. Let us see what happens once we no longer work together.”
Months later I joined another company to return to California. But Fred was a man of his words. He did not give up on me and kept in contact through the years. Irony of Fate of what but 12 years later I badly needed a job and Fred along with the person who was my mentor helped me to land a job in their company.
POINT TO PONDER
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
STORY LINE by Jomari Constantino
A man was looking for proper employment. He didn't have much by way of technical skills or education but he was resourceful and hardworking. He didn't have many of the items we consider normal necessities. The man didn't even have a computer. He didn't have a home. In fact, he lived out of his car with his two young daughters.
Often, all they had to eat were tomatoes. He learned to grow them from his grandmother and one of the few tangible items the Man owned was a little plot in a small community garden that was left to him when she passed on. It was one of the small reprieves he could enjoy, cultivating the tomatoes with his two daughters, often spending afternoons sweating over their little plot with his "beauties," as he liked to call them.
He would watch his youngest and eldest working in the sun; at their soft features and the unique placement of a set of dimples situated high on both of their cheekbones, blessed to them by their late mother. It was the last bit of his wife that remained, and every time his daughters smiled, his late wife would suddenly return to him for the briefest of moments.
In the evenings they would mash the tomatoes and mix them with rice. The tomatoes were simple, much too simple to call a full meal, but they were delicious. Sweet and slightly tart with a velvety finish. His daughters gobbled up their tomato stew voraciously, especially careful to never mention that they were still hungry afterwards. But the Man knew it wasn't enough because too often, his daughters tiny bellies would grumble out loud, betray their silence.
Then one day, the Man felt he got a break. He got an interview with a company for their janitorial position. The interview went extremely well and towards the end of the meeting, the Man made his intentions clear.
“Sir, can you hire me as your janitor,” he asked.
The manager said, “Sure, your hired.”
The Man nearly broke down, “thank you, thank you, thank you...”
"But one thing, what's your email address? I need your email to hire you.”
The Man's heart skipped, “but sir, I don’t have a email.”
The manager quickly replied, “I'm sorry but we can not hire you if you don't have an email where I can reach you...”
"But I can get one," the Man pleaded.
"Sorry, I got a line of other candidates that already have an email address. I can't wait you see, I have to fill this position immediately and really, you should have one."
And with that, the interview was over.
The Man walked out onto the street in a daze and took in the city buzzing around him. At men and women darting back home from work. At a couple sitting on a park bench, arms wrapped around each other. At children happy to be finally out of school for the day, returning to what surely would be a roof over their heads and complete families. He reached into his pocket and counted out all the money he had left - four dollars and fifty-five cents...
That night while sleeping in their car, the Man wept. He always made sure to suppress it, to not show his daughters what roiled inside, but he could no longer. As he tried to wipe his eyes, to stop the sob growing within him, he found himself powerless. Powerless against time, against past mistakes, against that dull ache we call failure. Yes, he felt like a failure and were it not for his daughters, he might have given up and given in. But instead, he promised his daughters that it would not be like this forever. He promised them that one day they would have a home, a real home, and that they would have more to eat than just tomatoes.
"But I like tomatoes," his youngest exclaimed.
And for the briefest of moments, her words broke his sorrow. It made him laugh out loud through his tears. His laughter made all of them laugh, and for that moment, he forgot how tired and worried and desperate he had become.
"They are the best tomatoes papa, and you make them that way," his eldest added with a smile.
Happiness may have been doled out to him in the smallest of doses; the majority reserved in places just out of his reach, and yet still, he was thankful that they came at all. He had his daughters and they were his greatest joy. He had them, they had him, and that was enough. And it was there in the darkness of that decaying sedan, lit by the moon and brightened by the dimples on his daughter's cheekbones, that his greatest idea found him.
The next morning he took all their tomatoes and with his daughters, he brought them to the local market. There they sold their tomatoes and his daughters, as it turned out, were exceptional salespeople. Customers could not refuse the two earnest, radiant, and joyful young girls. By the early afternoon, they sold everything. They made thirty dollars. That night they celebrated over a meal that did not contain any tomatoes, but of milkfish and orange Fanta.
The next day the Man was stopped near the market by a local chef and asked if he had more tomatoes. He said he had none. The Chef responded that should he have any more, he would buy them. All of them. They were the best tomatoes he had ever had.
With that, the Man bought more seeds. They planted. They grew. Again, they sold all their tomatoes. That initial thirty dollars became sixty, then a hundred and twenty, then two hundred and forty. After some time the Man was able to get a small apartment in town for he and his two daughters.
Then one day the Chef gave the Man a plot of land on his property. The Man planted and learned to stagger his harvests so that the Man, and the Chef certainly, would not ever be without those glorious tomatoes. After some time, the Man branched out to growing other fruits and vegetables. Together with the Chef, they were producing some of the finest cuisine in town. Then the Chef's one restaurant became two, then three, and four. The Man soon found himself supplying the freshest produce to not only the Chef but the best restaurants and establishments in town. The Man had become a success and no longer did he worry about feeding his young daughters who had now grown into young women.
One day he was asked to be interviewed for a local magazine. After telling the reporter his incredible story, the reporter asked if there was an email he could send the finished article to.
"Sorry, I don't have an email," the Man politely responded.
"Wow Sir... you mean you became rich and successful without an email address?"
"Well, I grow tomatoes, my office is in the garden with the dirt and soil and seeds..."
The interview took a moment to process this.
"With all due respect Sir, if you became this successful without an email address, can you imagine what you could be doing if you had one?"
"Yes, I can," the Man quietly responded.
The Man's thoughts drifted to where he had started, he hadn't thought about that time in a while, but the years were now quickly closing in on him...
"Well, what would have you been Sir?"
The Man smiled to himself, "I'd probably be a janitor."
If you don't have something, ask yourself what you do have and see if there is a way you can utilize that. For when one door closes, another may be open right in front of you. Be thankful for the people you have in your life and always keep reaching. Always.
POINT TO PONDER
A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.
This past Tuesday the Golden State Warriors won their first world championship in 40 years. Much has been written of their chemistry, their teamwork, and their resolve. It was certainly put to the test earlier in this series as the team was down 2-1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and arguably the best player on the planet, LeBron James. LeBron was getting the best of the Warriors, forcing them to play the Cavaliers game, which was slower and more physical as the Cavaliers were composed of physically bigger players than the Warriors.
There was a crucial moment in the series after the Warriors second straight defeat. Their coach, Steve Kerr, was contemplating the loss when his special assistant, Nick U’Ren, recommended that in the next game that Steve swap out Andrew Bogut (who was a formidable defensive presence but also bigger and slower) for Andre Iguodala (who was faster but hadn't started a game during the regular season or played much in the finals).
Now Steve Kerr could have easily dismissed his assistant, even taken offense at a subordinate making a recommendation without his provocation, but he did exactly the opposite: he listened and considered it. And after giving it some thought, he realized their original game plan wasn't working and his assistant was on to something - what if they got faster on the court and forced the Cavaliers to play at their pace, which was a faster style of play?
So the next game, Kerr put in Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bogut and sure enough, the game picked up and the Warriors went on to win. Steve Kerr kept Andre Iguodala in for the rest of the series and with him on the court, the Warriors would go on to win the next two games and the World Championship.
If you're wondering how effective Andre Iguodala was after being put in game four, you only have to look to who was named the most valuable player of the entire series. Yes, it was Andre Iguodala.
There are a few lessons about management that we can learn from Steve Kerr:
1. Always be open to ideas - If Steve Kerr was wrapped up in his position, his title, or the losses; he might not have even considered Nick U'ren's idea to swap out Bogut for Iguodala. Steve Kerr apparently has an open door policy at his office where anyone he works with has his ear. He's open to their ideas. He may not always take them, but he considers them. It's this openness that allowed him to be in position to receive Nick U'ren's idea which ultimately turned the series around and led to their championship.
2. Don't be afraid to change something if it isn't working - Steve Kerr could have kept trotting out the same line up as he had all season. After all, it was a proven formula. The line up with Bogut had gotten them to the Finals in the first place and he could have stuck to it even though it was evident they were struggling. He didn't. On the game's highest stage, Kerr was not afraid to shake things up and try a different approach. That takes fortitude, guts, and in the end it helped Golden State secure its first championship in 40 years.
3. Give credit where it's due - Steve Kerr could have also kept all the glory for himself, and claimed that he came up with the idea of subbing Bogut for Iguodala. He did not. In a press conference after winning game four, Kerr credited his assistant with the idea and praised him for the suggestion. Steve Kerr is smart enough to surround himself with smart people and credit them as such. That's the kind of boss I'd want to work for and the type of management that breeds champions.