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First Thoughts

Leadership is a really abstract term. Are we talking about people? Titles? Work roles? Best-selling book topics? Often the answer is 'yes.' And because the world needs one more definition of leadership, I'll add mine: "seeking excellence in yourself and others." 

So, in keeping with this theme, I present to you a compilation of materials that are loosely related to the idea of inspiring betterment in yourself and others. You'll find a quote on fear, a book on creativity, blogs on management styles and Presidential approaches to productivity, my own reflections on self-leadership through theming words, and a WAY COOL visualization using emojis.


Reader's Digest

Creative Confidence

Tom & David Kelley


  • From the founders of design group IDEO and Stanford's dschool.
  • Extremely practical with insights, examples, and resources for encouraging empathy, creativity, and (of course) design thinking.
  • Far less about 'how to be creative' than about learning to trust yourself and trust others. It's not a stretch to say this is a profound book that gets to the core of what it means to be a leader.
  • You're going to want to buy a bunch of sticky notes for this one. 
  • HBR published a nice overview they wrote. Check it here.

Key Quotes:

“Like a muscle, your creative abilities will grow and strengthen with practice.”  

“The first step toward a great answer is to reframe the question.” 

Of course there's a TED talk. But there are also toolkits (plural). And resources. And... and...

Around the Web

Multipliers vs Diminishers 

Do you seek to trump yourself up? Or do you want to make those around you look like geniuses? As it turns out, the answer has powerful implications for the effectiveness of your team or organization.  

Key Quote:

"Multipliers don’t get a little more from people around them—they get vastly more. Multipliers utilize people at nearly 100 percent of their capacity, meaning they get twice the capability from their people than Diminishers do." 

Presidential Productivity

6 Presidents, 6 approaches to productivity. Ever wonder how JFK maintained composure during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Or how Eisenhower decided what to do and what to delegate? Or how Lincoln handled it when his generals disobeyed him?

Key Quote:

"There is an old law of physics that you can only get out of a thing as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out." - Ronald Reagan

What I'm Learning

Frame Your Year

I'd read about people that select 'theme words' for their year and, to date, I've yet to have a whole year go the way I imagined it would. I started my first "real" job in 2008 and, since then, have made five job changes. And that only counts the full-time jobs I've had. I've also moved four times. And lost a grandparent, both parents-in-law, and a great friend/mentor. Would 'theme words' change any of these circumstances? Probably not.

But life is a compilation of what's lived in the margins. The day to day. It isn't a series of big events but of small ones, daily decisions.

So, for 2016, I've selected three main theme words for the year as well as 12 monthly themes, which you'll see reflected in these newsletters. I'm not sure it will make a difference, but I want to try. It's a small decision, but maybe if my small decisions are aligned, the big ones can be reframed. 

Just for fun:

'Systems thinking' is all the rage, right? We have to be able to see patterns and ways that our worlds overlap. But what if the world was imagined... in emojis? (Includes references to 'jerk trees' and rodent racism.)

A Small Request

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