It’s long step down from #1 to #2. There’s a big difference between the Bolshoi Ballet and just about any other. It’s also a big step down from a major league ballplayer who hits .325 versus someone who hits .265. They both get on base roughly one in three times. But one’s an All Star and the other is one step away from being sent down to the minors. Excellence is made up of small differences that, in the end, are huge. Have you done something excellent today?
December 2011 - PS Insights
The concept of “we are the 99%” is potentially powerful and palpable. But as Paul’s wife, Susan, pointed out: the problem is that the word “Occupy” is not about creating dynamic change. It’s about taking up space, sitting around and making a lot of noise. Imagine if the protestors created a movement that was dedicated to “Random Acts of Kindness,” “Helping Others” or “Giving Back.”
The United States used to be the major exporter of entertainment. As the cost of scripted television keeps going up, network execs are searching the world for programming. From Iron Chef to Big Brother to American Idol, U.S. programmers are smart enough to know a great idea even if it “wasn’t invented here.” Do you benchmark what people in your business are doing in other countries? Do you adopt and adapt those good ideas?
SPARK: The perfect hire is a lot more than someone who’s qualified for the job. Throughout Paul’s career he’s always looked for a differentiator that can be summed up in one word: “Spark.” Do you look for people who light up a room and inspire others around them? They come at no extra cost but extend a much bigger return on investment.
SMART: The perfect hire is a lot more than someone who’s qualified for the job. Throughout Steve’s career he’s always look for a differentiator that can be summed up in one word: “Smart.” If someone doesn’t have the skill, she can always learn it. If he doesn’t have the smarts, the skills are useless. What’s the word you look for in hiring people?
There’s a free morning newspaper in NYC—the Metro. Every morning there’s a guy just outside Grand Central Station who brightens the day with the most passionate invitation to “take a paper.” Do you approach even your most menial tasks with rampaging enthusiasm?
Payroll. Inventory. Staffing. Overhead. If you’re thinking about opening your own business, becoming a consultant or an independent contractor make sure you’ve got the passion not just for what you do but the chops for managing the process. Independence is a wonderful opportunity—but know the costs that go with it.
In every situation, there’s only one power person. In any meeting, sales call, workshop or corporate gathering, challenge yourself with the exercise of determining who the power person is in that situation. Then learn from them. And if you can’t find the power person in the first five minutes, either a) it’s you; or b) you have a “tin ear” when it comes to management.
How much time do you spend on what’s in front of you—regardless of its importance? The great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa said it eloquently: “Human nature wants to place value on things in direct proportion to the amount of labor that went into making them.” (It’s probably a little more succinct in the original Japanese.) Do you make sure you put your time on what you value, not just on what takes a long time to accomplish?
We read the story about a PR stunt that went awry. Ah, the best of plans for the “are you a big fish in a little pond?” when the goldfish sent through the mail all died (what were they thinking?). Alas, a good idea that literally ended up stinking. Remember, your stunts should delight, not disappoint…or, worse.
We got tripped up by a new airline ploy last week: Code Sharing. We looked for a non-stop from JFK to Oakland and were given a flight number. Only when we checked in online did we learn the plane stopped in Phoenix, kept the same flight number, and then went on to Oakland. It cost us another three hours. But it cost them a lot more – because now we don’t trust them. Truth in Advertising should also extend to Truth in Product Delivery. Full disclosure yields satisfied customers. Do you make sure your focus is customer satisfaction and disclose all terms and conditions of your product and service?