Executive Leader Coach


October 10, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Dave Kinnear, Executive Leader Coach

Our economy is doing quite well by the numbers. However, it is obviously still fragile. It won't take much to put us into a slowdown, and the folks over at ITR are still saying that 2014 will be flat or slightly down. So those who buy into this forecast will be preparing their businesses accordingly. Did someone say this was going to be easy?

And speaking of the economy, a recent conversation, fueled by a post over on LinkedIn, centered around what's going on with manufacturing here in the U.S. There are signs aplenty that some manufacturing is returning. And the general consensus from the public is that manufacturing has left the country in pursuit of lower labor costs. I'm sure some of that has actually happened. But more impactful has been the effect of technology. Here's some data to back that up. This is just one more example of how people make statements based on their feelings without first checking to see what the numbers say. What I notice here is that U.S. manufacturing is still doing just fine. What's not feeling good is the employment - and our expectation is based on an old, defunct business model. The world has changed.

On to other things. I love the short videos on TED, (TED is Technology, Entertainment and Design.) There's no end to the inspiration on all manner of topics. So last year, when I received an invitation to the local (smaller and much less expensive) TEDx OrangeCoast gathering, I cleared my calendar and went. What a wonderful time. So this year I went again, and invited my wife to join me. Again, what a great time. One presentation, Cecilia Abadi's take on Google Glass, tickled me. I am intrigued by Glass, but what struck me was Cecilia's T-Shirt inscribed with "Resistance is Futile." I explain in the lead article below.

Here's another question that we all "toss around." Who owns the future? I give you a brief review of this excellent treatise on that very topic from Jaron Lanier's new book Who Owns the Future? It's a fantastic read. I found it challenging, thought provoking and well documented. Lanier's writing is concise and clear. His technique is quite interesting since he has put in what he calls "interludes" throughout the book where he relates stories, impressions and opinions relative to the material just presented. I hope you find time to read the book.

Next thought: How many times have you, as a leader, been truly uncomfortable? Maybe it's because you weren't quite sure which direction to take. Perhaps it was a pending decision that simply had too many unknowns yet you had no choice but to decide on an action. Well, one of the definitions I've heard about leadership is that leaders are comfortable being uncomfortable. How does that strike you? I explore that a bit in the third article below.

In the Nullius in verba column, I share a bit about my ruminations on running and some insights that might be applied to business. Jogging isn't usually an inspiration for me to think about analogies for business. Instead I find sailing to be a richer metaphor for business and life rather than jogging. Still, I think I've done a credible job of relating how easy it is to negate long hard training and preparation by just being a little lax. I'll let you be the judge on how well I've made the point.

One last thought for today: part of the "excuse" I had for letting my running schedule slide was a very interesting and challenging project for Vistage. Each year, in various cities (on average two events every week,) Vistage holds what they call an "All City Event." I mentioned this in the last couple of newsletters. The Orange County event was on 9/17/2013 and I was on a team of local Vistage Chairs who planned the content for this event. We wanted to take things to the next level. Well, that required quite a few changes. We were brave, got out of our comfort zone and implemented the changes. It was a very successful day. We had over 690 business executives (owners, presidents, GMs and C-suite) register for the event. As best I can tell at the moment, there were very close to 600 who made it and of those at least 200 were guests. But what made this a real success was that the content was useful for those who attended. I can only imagine the impact that next year's conference will have since we have a history here in Orange County of taking each event up a notch. If you missed it this year, stay tuned for next year (same date! - put it on your calendar.)

I hope you enjoy this month's newsletter. Your feedback is always welcome.

Warmest regards,

Dave Kinnear

CCE-Board Certified Coach
Vistage Chair

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Resistance is Futile

Technology marches forward. We can try to ignore it, but in the end, technology will win.

I gather I’m pretty late to the game when it comes to the phrase “resistance is futile.” It may be that I noticed it before now, but it just didn’t “stick.” Well, recently, at a TEDx conference, a speaker showed up on stage with Google Glass and a T-shirt sporting that phrase along with a graphic that caught my eye. And now, the phrase and all its various meanings has definitely “stuck.”

After laughing at the graphic, explaining it to my wife and listening to the presentation, I stared some more at the graphic (I’ve made my own version shown below if you’d like to stare at it too.) It made me start thinking about how the whole concept that “resistance is futile” struck me.

Read the full post.

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Who Owns the Future?

Jaron Lanier writes about his view on where the internet is taking us. It's not all sunshine!

For the past several years, it seems as though I rarely have any discussion with business executives or consumers that sooner or later doesn’t turn to the topic of change and how technology is driving that change. In the longer and more focused conversations, we often wind up sharing views about where things are headed. Usually, we end up being either a bit giddy with exciting possibilities or totally bummed out over the impossibility of keeping up. And then came Jaron Lanier’s 2013 book Who Owns the Future?

The question is intriguing to me. Who will own the future? Lanier makes a solid case that we are at a point to change the trajectory of ownership from information moguls, in the form of “Siren Servers,” to a vast middle class. His argument, solid though it may be, is not always easy to follow. I found this book made me think deeply about topics and concepts to which I had previously only given light treatment.

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Comfortable being Uncomfortable

How can we be leaders if we are never out of our comfort zone?

I’ve heard or read the phrase “Leaders are comfortable being uncomfortable” several times now in various different places. The general meaning I get from that phrase is that in order to grow, in order to lead, a person has to be willing to push themselves outside of their so-called “comfort zone.” I think it also has a deeper meaning. To be comfortable being uncomfortable is a fundamental skill for survival – it makes us adaptable – fully human.

When I find myself feeling uncomfortable, I know instinctively that there is something that isn’t fitting into my past experience or threatens my cherished world view. Now I’m not talking here about being frightened or scared. It’s more that reluctance to continue, or that “uncertainty about outcomes” feeling I’m focused on.

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Nullius in verba

Backsliding - it happens to the best of us.

It has been the perfect storm for me – being abnormally low on energy and physically tired, a busy coaching schedule, an even busier Vistage schedule, travel and a death in the family – all have conspired to keep me from my normal exercise program. I got back to running yesterday after not running for about three weeks. The weather was sunny and hot, 97 degrees, but worse, the humidity was very high. Here in Southern California, high humidity is unusual. My run was absolutely horrible. I was so noticeably out of shape that I felt embarrassed even though no one was around to see me struggling through the run.

Some of you will remember that it was only three short months ago on June 2nd that I ran my first marathon. I had trained hard for that event and was in good shape – for an old guy. While it wasn’t pretty, I did finish the 26.2 miles (yep, that’s me zooming across the finish line at what amounts to a fast walk.) It took me months of dedicated training to get in shape for the marathon. It took less than three weeks to lose all that training and to backslide to what became yesterday’s difficult four mile run. True, very hot and humid, but
still . . .

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