Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

December 04, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

I recently handed a newspaper column written by Financial Times columnist Luke Johnson to my 18-year old son for him to read. I knew that my son would like Mr. Johnson’s message. The column topic was the “clash of generations under way at the top of so many organizations.” His premise was that we are now in the Digital Age, yet most of those in leadership positions came of age in an old technology world and, therefore, are not “digital natives.”

So far, not much to argue with. We are certainly living in the digital age. And most of top management are old enough to remember the workplace without desktop computers.

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Corporate Culture Done Right: Southwest Airlines

November 29, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 2 COMMENTS

A colleague recently passed along a column written by Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, which first appeared in the airline’s “Spirit Magazine.” The title of the piece was “Culture Done Differently.” In it, Mr. Kelly explains that at Southwest they try to keep their culture “supportive, active and fun.”

If you’ve ever flown on Southwest, you’ll know that not only do they talk the talk, but they walk the walk. Southwest’s company culture is not only reflected in its policies, but it oozes out from every employee.

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What Do You Have To Be Thankful For?

November 19, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook all the things that bless our lives. I mean, we’re suffering through the worst recession in decades. Unemployment has reached double digits. And we have troops abroad fighting a war. All of these things have either affected you directly or indirectly. Maybe you or someone close to you is currently unemployed. It may be that a loved one is a member of the armed forces and is defending our country. Things could be better.

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Things could be a lot worse, too. It’s always important to stop and reflect about what we have in our lives to be thankful for. It’s great to train yourself to do this frequently, but each year as our country celebrates Thanksgiving, we have the opportunity to step back from our day-to-day activities and consider how we’ve been blessed.

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Categories: Life's Lessons


3 Questions About Your Attitude Toward Your Job

November 13, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Do you have a passion for your work? I mean, do you really love what you do?

I was at a conference recently and one of the speakers really grabbed my attention. What he had to say was interesting but not earth-shattering. His presentation and speaking style were strong, but that’s still not what caught my attention. This guy was clearly passionate about what he did, and it came screaming through to everyone in the audience. Here was a guy who was having a blast, not because he was in front of a crowd of a couple hundred people but because he genuinely loved his work.

When someone is passionate about what they do, it shows. You can see it in their eyes. You can hear it in how they talk. You can even see it in the way they walk. I had a colleague so convinced of this last one that he claimed many of the prospective job candidates he interviewed had lost the job just on the basis of the walk back to his office. If they didn’t walk with purpose, if they couldn’t keep up when he led them down the hall, they had a big strike against them before the interview even started. People who are excited about what they do have an energy about them that’s contagious.

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Categories: Leadership


It’s the Customer, Stupid

November 06, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

It’s hard to believe but 2009 is coming to an end. For many, 2009 can’t be over soon enough. For most businesses, it has been a challenging year. And while we’ve seen a rebound in the stock market, most companies are reporting earnings that, while they beat analysts’ estimates, are still significantly less than they were a year ago.

Many companies report their results on a calendar year, which means they’re in the middle or just wrapping up their budgeting process for 2010. So, as you look into your crystal ball, what are you predicting for the year ahead? Do you see an economic recovery?  What about the so-called “jobless recovery”? How will an economic recovery that doesn’t include jobs affect your business? Will things get better in the first quarter or the fourth? When will corporate spending return, since so many companies are beating earnings estimates by cutting costs?

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Keepin’ It Real

October 30, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas. I must admit that I’m not a big fan of Las Vegas. It’s nothing against the city, it’s just that I typically spend less than 72 hours in Las Vegas at any one time and never get outside the hotel. So all I’m exposed to is the environment that the hotel has created. And it all seems so fake to me.

For instance, yesterday I touched a “marble” column in the hotel at which I’m staying. Only it wasn’t marble. It was painted to look like marble and was actually hollow! And there are all the hotel employees dressed up in costumes pretending to be something or someone they aren’t. Then there are lights, bells, and whistles going off on slot machines as people “win” $2 after pumping in many times their winnings. None of it is what it appears to be. It’s not real!

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What We Can Learn from Putting on Our Socks

October 23, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 1 COMMENTS

Clear directions are a critical element in the successful execution of any task. To bake a batch of mouth-watering cookies, you need a recipe that clearly lists the ingredients and how they need to be combined in order to deliver the final result you’re looking for. If you need to travel from point A to point B in the most efficient manner possible, clear directions will get you there.

The same is true of the people who work for you. They need you to clearly articulate what it is that you want them to accomplish and, if need be, to provide the directions so that they can deliver on your wishes in the most efficient and effective manner.

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What Corporate Culture Are You Creating?

October 16, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Earlier this week I was meeting with the CEO and owner of a company when the topic of corporate culture came up. I was interested to learn what the culture at his company was like. As he described his company’s culture, it was evident that many of the company’s traits mirrored that of the owner and CEO. His company’s culture reflected many of his personal strengths, but also, he was quick to point out, it also included some of his weaknesses.

In small and mid-size businesses, it’s common for the company culture to reflect the person at the top. Larger companies often have a very entrenched culture that likely was derived from the founder, but has survived multiple leaders. Of course, each new leader can affect that culture, but if the culture is strong, they can only do so in minor ways.

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Penny-wise and Pound Foolish?

October 09, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

I read the other day where Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration’s pay czar, is planning on limiting the compensation of top employees at firms receiving large amounts of government aid. Now the initial reaction of the masses might be that this is an excellent decision. In fact, my guess is that is exactly how the majority of voters would react and, since it’s a popular decision, it makes cutting executive compensation in government-controlled firms a very easy choice.

But easy isn’t necessarily right.

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Excellence Not Perfection

October 02, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 1 COMMENTS

The other day a friend of mine suggested I type “excellence vs. perfection” into the Google search box and see what came up. When I got back to my office, I did exactly as he had suggested. The very top organic search result was a link to the site, which had a list that compared and contrasted excellence and perfection. Many thanks to the website’s creator for the list. The author is unknown.

  • Perfection is being right. Excellence is being willing to be wrong.
  • Perfection is fear. Excellence is taking a risk.
  • Perfection is anger and frustration. Excellence is powerful.
  • Perfection is control. Excellence is spontaneous.
  • Perfection is judgment. Excellence is accepting.
  • Perfection is taking. Excellence is giving.
  • Perfection is doubt. Excellence is confidence.
  • Perfection is pressure. Excellence is natural.
  • Perfection is the destination. Excellence is the journey

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