68th Edition – May 24, 2020
In reading great literature, I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see.C.S. Lewis
1. Leaders and Coaching
I read FP&A news daily, and I also curate a daily FP&A content feed on another platform. Yet, I cannot tell you the last time I read about financial leaders in this field spending more time working on their social skills.
Since FP&A is a team sport, such financial professionals do not get better by just improving their analytical and storytelling skills. According to Tom Verducci, the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs worked on and improved social and relationship skills first. He quotes their manager as saying, “Make a personal connection first: Everything else follows.” (The Cubs Way)
Even though the book is for coaches, if you need to improve your social skills along with mentoring others, I recommend Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best by Rollnick, Fader, Breckon, and Moyers. This could easily be sold as a business book.
2. Pier 1 Who?
This week, we learned that this retailer will soon be closing all of its 560-something stores. Will anyone notice? That reminds me of three questions I like to sneak in during client annual off-sites:
- In 5-7 years, will we still be relevant?
- If we stopped business today, would this be very disruptive to customers?
- If we could relaunch our business, what would it look like?
My questions are hardly original. Yet, I can’t get William Knudsen out of my mind when he said, “In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running; if you stand still, they will swallow you.”
3. Thomas Edison was a Reader
I once had a young consultant ask me if we should be readers. I never responded because I thought the answer was too obvious.
Consider for a moment the famous inventor Thomas Edison who was known for working 18-hour days, hated to shower, and ignored family obligations.
Yet, he was a compulsive reader which included the classics and newspapers. He once said Thomas Paine set the course for his life. (Source: The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner)
4. Speaking of Reading
There is a short passage in The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis) that has had the biggest impact on my consulting career – not just personally, but also in the way I coach and mentor others. A day does not go by where I’m not influenced by about 40 words buried in this magical book.
Lewis was a reading machine. I’ve always heard that great writers read a lot. But I’m not sure they had Lewis in mind. He read from nine in the morning till one in the afternoon. He’d read two more hours after dinner. That’s about 7-8 hours of reading each day.
I’m not suggesting we read that much – far from it. I’m just reminded that sharp minds take learning and growth seriously.
Incidentally, you can learn more about his reading habits in the short book, The Reading Life.
5. Remembering Memorial Day
Did you know that only one U.S. president has been in active combat? Did you realize he was 33 when he enlisted because he was too old for the draft? He cheated his way into service by memorizing the eye exam. As a World War I hero, not a single man under his command perished. Yet, many around them did lose their lives and in wars to come. (Insights: Truman by David McCullough).
We pay a heavy toll for the price of freedom, and it’s for the fallen that we stand up and salute during this momentous holiday.
Thank You For Reading
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Take care and stay confident and strong this week. Always be learning and growing in times of hardship.