41st Edition — November 17, 2019
One recent study found that 71% believed coaching improved the performance of their companies, while 69% reported making better decisions.Sam Walker, WSJ, November 16, 2019
1. An Unlikely Executive Coach
WSJ writer Sam Walker calls Queen Elizabeth II, hands down, the world’s most experienced executive mentor. Walker compares Queen Elizabeth’s role to an executive coach. Walker ends the article by stating that truly great coaches are a rare breed. Their traits include:
- Possess vast experience with a keen sense of the presence
- Hold a deep reservoir of restraint
- Have a better grasp on a tricky situation than the person they are advising
- Help leaders learn and grow by allowing them to make their own mistakes
- Guard the secrets of their clients
- Know how to redirect their client’s thinking incrementally
- Humble and practice a lot
The article is behind a paywall, and is entitled The World’s Top Executive Coach? It’s Queen Elizabeth.
2. One of the Greatest Business Leaders
The WSJ article above mentions Stanley Marcus as the typical model for an executive coach who was even a sounding board to Jeff Bezos when the former president and chairman of Neiman Marcus was 96.
The mention of Marcus reminded me of his book Minding the Store, a book I recommend for all retailers. He was so focused on the customer based on these excerpts from the book:
- “No sale is a good sale for Neiman – Marcus unless it’s a good buy for the customer.”
- There’s a right piece of merchandise for every customer and part of the merchant’s job is to prevent the customer from making the wrong choice.
- “We want to sell satisfaction, not just merchandise.”
- “There is a fine line between making a good and a bad sale, for if you sell a person an article beyond his financial capacity, you’ve made a bad sale; if you sell him something not as good as he should have, you’ve also made a bad sale. In both instances, it is likely that the sale won’t “stick.” It all comes back to selling satisfaction.”
3. Poker, Decisions, and Resulting
For whatever reason, I’ve started and stopped Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke at least twice this year. This time around, I’m finishing the world champion poker player’s book. One strong theme stands out in the opening pages of this thought-provoking read.
Every past decision has to be based on its quality at the time the decision was being made. If the focus is on the results only, Duke calls that dangerous territory, and the term she uses is resulting. She admonishes us not to change the way we make decisions based on a few bad outcomes.
I was able to find the interview with Pete Carroll after his team lost a recent Super Bowl due in part to an ill-fated call near the end of the game. It’s the perfect example of Carroll not succumbing to resulting –
Interviewer: “ … it was the worst call ever.”
Coach Carroll: Without any hesitation, “It was the worst result of a call ever. The call would have been a great one if we catch it. It would have been just fine, and nobody would have thought twice about it.”
He nailed it. Good for him.
Incidentally, Carroll’s call in question was a high-percentage play.
4. Seriously, Another Malcolm Gladwell Book?
This past week, I unboxed my Next Big Idea Club package of three books which arrives quarterly. This quarter’s books include:
- You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane (about artificial intelligence)
- Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood
- Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
I’m Gladwell’d out. The book above is averaging 3.8 stars on nearly 500 ratings at the everything store. I’ll skim it, but I don’t expect to be wowed.
5. Risk Management Should Never Take a Back Seat
I generally work with small businesses with sales of less than $45 million. I’ve had to remove risk management from my lexicon because I either get blank stares or, “Say what?” Sometimes, the language is even more colorful – yes, it is.
Still, risk management is one discipline EVERY financial leader HAS TO MASTER (emphasis on purpose). Mastering risk management comes through experience (mainly bad ones), learning from risk management experts, and using an existing analytical mindset to be inquisitive about an uncertain future.
My favorite writing on this topic is a piece written in 1999 by Robert Simons in The Harvard Business Review. Unless your business is recovering from a catastrophic flood, earthquake, or tornado, the first sentence says it all, “In good times, it’s easy to forget about risk.”
Key takeaways from the article include:
- The Risk Exposure Calculator
- The 3 Internal Pressure Points – growth, culture, information management
- The Levers of Control – Belief, Boundary, Diagnostic Control, Interactive Control, and Internal Control Systems
Thank You For Reading
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Take care and have a great week. Always be learning.