Executive Leader Coach


March 2014

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Dave Kinnear, Executive Leader CoachI'm finding it hard to focus these days! It's that short timer attitude. My wife and I are taking a fifteen day vacation. Uncharacteristically for me, I'm really looking forward to the down time (much of it off the grid); relaxation, seeing new things and catching up on my reading. And speaking of the reading part, I think I managed to download no less than eight books to my Nexus 7 in preparation for the vacation. In each case I said to myself, "Great, I'll read this on vacation." Right. Now I have at least a couple of month's worth of reading in the stack!

Normally, I'd be a curmudgeon about this whole thing. Take that many days off from work? No way! But not this time. I guess I've been listening to myself tell the CEOs and executives I coach that they must take time off to recharge and be effective. So in less than two weeks we'll be on the high seas. But is taking a vacation a good thing? Does it reduce stress? Not necessarily! Research doesn't hold up that line of thinking. Nonetheless, I'm going on vacation!

But now to the work at hand. The "talking-heads" are still yakking about slow job growth. When will they get over it? What you see is what we're going to get for some time to come - maybe permanently. I explore this a bit more (it's definitely a recurring topic) in the first article, Your job is going away. The change in employment and employment opportunities is causing a significant bifurcation in our economy.

In the second article, Denying the Obesity Data, I have a little fun with the title and the "double meaning." While it is lamentable for those who are responsible and accountable, we wind up getting the democracy and the regulations on our economy that we "deserve." By that I mean that the sins of a few are visited upon the many. Is there a way out of this problem?

This wouldn't be my newsletter without at least one book review. This time, I have two books by the economist and author Tyler Cowen. My friend (the one I called Bill) recommended these books and actually loaned me his copies. It was serendipitous in that I was already "on the case" having heard the interview that prompted the first article below. These two books rounded out that thought process.

Finally, in the Nullius in verba column, I return to the theme of leaders needing to be "Minds On, Hands Off." This is a difficult thing to put into practice when you are the founder, CEO and "idea man" for your company. So I revisit the "I intend to" approach of friend and mentor David Marquet. It's a Zen thing: Control isn't control until you give it away.

And speaking of leadership, here's a great opportunity for those who are in the Southern California region (although, nothing keeps you from flying in if you're elsewhere!). My good friend and colleague, Tom Northup, is running an excellent seminar - The Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make: How to survive in today's turbulent world. He's hosting this at Argent Bank on April 10th. Here's the detail. This is a must attend if you can make it. Space is limited though, so "jump on it."

Along the lines of "getting the regulations we deserve, there is an appropriate and timely workshop on April 4th at Taco Bell Headquarters (Irvine, California). Our friends at Executive Next Practices (ENP) will be presenting High Performance, High Compliance- Transforming Regulatory Risks Into Increased Company Valuation- A New Approach at 8:15am- 10am (registration opens 7:30am). Here's the detail.

Well, got to get packing for the vacation - er, I mean, get my work done so I can leave on time!

"See" you in April, relaxed, tanned and ready to rock and roll. Enjoy!

Dave Kinnear

CCE-Board Certified Coach
Vistage Chair

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Your job is going away

No one is immune to this trend.

I'm not talking just about the hourly job, I'm talking about all jobs. They are going away. The exit pace is increasing. Inexorably. Jobs will either actually go away (as in no longer needed) or they will change so appreciably as to not be recognizable as the same job. From now on, you (we), will have to learn how to work with intelligent machines in order to provide the maximum value to employers. We will have to contend with machines replacing humans in many jobs - not just the repetitive manufacturing job. I've been saying this for some time now; but was once again reminded when Fareed Zackaria interviewed the authors of The Second Machine Age this past week (yes, it is on my to read list now!)

Read full post . . .

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Denying the Obesity Data

We get the democracy and regulations we deserve

I’ll call him “Bill.” He is a good friend, a wise mentor and an all around great guy. I listen carefully when Bill speaks. Recently, we’ve traded a few emails on the general topic of politics, economy and business. What I love about our “conversation,” electronic though it is, is that we are not trying to change the other person’s mind. This is simply discourse with the goal of understanding the other person’s point of view. A search for common ground and values.

Bill is a believer in small government, meaning as small as possible, and then perhaps even smaller still. No intrusion into our private lives. Minimal intrusion into our business lives. I know that he knows that I don’t take things quite that far. I believe that we “get the democracy and the regulations we deserve.” Sadly, a few big bad actors can (and have) spoiled it for the rest of us. Think Enron, WorldCom, Madoff, etc. By the way, this analogy is not a casual choice.

Read full post . . .

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Tyler Cowen on the Economy

Average is Over by Tyler Cowen

According to Tyler Cowen,”The widening gap between rich and poor means dealing with one big, uncomfortable truth: If you’re not at the top, you’re at the bottom.” There is no average any longer, and my observations as of late would indicate that Mr. Cowen is on to something.

So who are those who will be at the “top?” Who will “win” in this “Hyper-meritocracy?” The short answer is those who are comfortable with working around intelligent machines. Cowen asserts that “Lacking the right training means being shut out of opportunities like never before.”

Read full review . . .

The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

According to Tyler Cowen, Land, Technology and Uneducated Kids provided the America of early days an incredible diet of “low hanging fruit.” In this excellent short book (fewer than 90 pages), Mr. Cowen shows how the manifestation of having eaten all the low-hanging fruit is that individual and family median incomes have all but stagnated with respect to the pace of growth in GDP per capita. He points out that the last decade has seen a decrease in median family income of about 3%.

Cowen further worries about the sporadic nature of productivity improvements. And he is concerned about the misleading data we look at with respect to GDP and living standards. He has this to say about productivity: 

Read full review . . .

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Nullius in verba

Minds on, Hands off.

I had a meeting with a potential coaching client last evening. The conversation was exhilarating. As it often does, the discussion turned to delegating, holding people accountable and developing leaders. I shared with this gentleman the concept of “I intend to” from David Marquet’s book Turn the Ship Around! We discussed how he can “manage up” with that concept as well as build his own team by requiring them to approach him in the same manner. He was intrigued and stated that he thought the concept was brilliant and would start using it immediately.

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