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Monthly Archive for February, 2012

The Power of Losing

Posted by on February 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Last week, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker wrote an op-ed entitled “The Power of Losing” about the trials and tribulations of the 2012 Presidential campaign. In it, she notes that the recent losses by Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri on February 7 could actually help to successfully re-focus Romney and his campaign as he seeks the Republican nomination.

Parker asserts that Romney’s concession speech that evening was the best speech to date of his candidacy, saying it “was touching and sweet and true.” She goes on to compare other major concession speeches by Presidential candidates, like Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, as their best speeches of their respective campaigns.

Of course, Romney’s February 7 loss was but one step along the way, and not an ultimate concession for the final prize like that of Gore and Kerry. And that’s the point. Romney still has a chance to leverage that night’s loss.

Parker goes on to say, “The moral of the story isn’t that one must lose to win, but that one try to harness the spoils of loss for the road to victory.”

Clearly, we can apply this same “power of losing” concept to the business world. Whether for an individual senior executive at a company, or the company at large, there is nothing like losing to a competitor or suffering your company’s first quarterly loss to get the juices flowing.

But success will turn on how that executive or how that company chooses to react to that loss, and whether they are successful in summoning a renewed winning spirit to take the next hill.

Loss is inevitable at some point for anybody and any company. Prepare yourself to respond to it accordingly, and turn the power of losing to your ultimate advantage.

And, seek to harness the spoils of loss for your road to victory. It might just lead to a bit of “Hail to the Chief” for you and your company.

Best in Show

Posted by on February 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I like animals, animals of all shapes, sizes and varieties. In fact, my husband jokes with me that I like animals more than I like humans. Of course, it depends on the human.

Earlier this week, a four-year old Pekingnese named “Malachy” was awarded this year’s “Best in Show” at the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show held in Madison Square Garden in New York.

As much as I like animals, including dogs, I must say that it’s hard for me to get that excited about the beauty-challenged Pekingnese as the top winner of the prestigious dog show. With all due respect to Malachy, he has the face of a vampire bat, with Linda Evans hair.

Others questioned this week whether the Pekingnese is worthy of the famed dog award, since Malachy beat out more seemingly popular dog breeds such as the Irish setter, the Dalmation, the German shepherd, and the Doberman pinscher.

This is not the first time that the mighty Pekingnese has taken home the top award. In fact, Malachy is the fourth such Pekingnese to win “Best in Show” since 1960.

Pekingnese and other canine enthusiasts are quick to point out that the long-lasting breed is worthy indeed, and has been associated with royalty for centuries. The origins of the breed date back to the 8th Century in China. Pekingnese are commonly referred to as the “Lion Dog” due to its long, fluffy mane of hair. Sounds like the work of a good publicist, if you ask me.

With that said, I respect Malachy and his accomplishment. Malachy may not “look” like a winner, but he’s proven that he has what it takes to compete against those perceived to be better apt to succeed.

And isn’t this an important lesson for all of us?

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an oft-used axiom, which many of us seldom take to heart – but maybe we should. How many times do we assume that the colleague who looks the part will be the first to succeed?

The role of a good manager – and the organization broadly — is to provide for a work environment where everyone feels they have a shot at succeeding, not just the popular “show dogs.” This type of inclusive, nurturing culture will result in greater teamwork, higher productivity, and more sustained success for the company and the shareholder, every time.

So find ways to excite and draw out every employee to do his or her best. And you’ll soon find that your next “best in show” just might surprise you.

Make Those Minutes Count

Posted by on February 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm

RENT is one of the longest running Broadway musicals in history (1996-2008). Its success, at least in part, was the result of a wonderful collection of memorable songs. First among them is the song “Seasons of Love,” written and composed by Jonathan Larson.

“Seasons of Love” starts with the monotonous recitation of a long number string: “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,” which typically is not the makings for a Tony Award-winning song. Yet, this number has meaning as the song goes on to ask, “How do we measure, measure a year?”

That’s an important question posed in the RENT musical; and, it’s an important question for every business.

Today’s businesses spend most of their time thinking about time. They live quarter to quarter, particularly the publicly traded companies which have to expose their financial laundry four times a year. And they obsess over metrics, which are driven by varying time increments, e.g., monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually.

However, companies generally don’t obsess enough over how their employees actually use their time.

Most companies pay their employees for 40 hours-a-week of work, 52 weeks a year. If you set aside the two weeks for vacation, that comes to a nice round 2,000 hours a year that the average employee is paid to be “on the clock.” If you take it a step further and put it in RENT terms, it translates into 120,000 minutes a year for the average employee.

That’s a lot of minutes. Of course, the actual number of minutes a year that an employee works is much smaller. If you consider the average eight-hour day for an employee, you would need to back out the minutes for unproductive time, such as going to the restroom, chatting in the hallway, and taking numerous breaks throughout the day.

Then there’s the time an employee might be sitting at the computer checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or browsing on or Ebay.

So when it’s all said and done, the actual amount of available time each day – and each year – that remains for the average employee to contribute to the company’s bottom line is relatively small. As a result, it’s important that the employer do everything it can to ensure that each employee is making the most out of those few remaining minutes.

In sum, incent your employees in smart ways, cultivate and grow their talents, applaud their successes, and create a culture that makes every minute count. If so, I predict you’ll love the seasons that will follow.