No Jerks

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On LeadershipChat this week, we’re going to discuss The Difficult Follower. How do you lead someone who is being – shall we say – recalcitrant about the desired direction?

Now my wise and analytical co-moderator Lisa Petrilli has done a wonderful job with her blog post outlining the various reasons why there might be follower-difficulty. This leaves me free to have a little fun.

So, let’s talk about jerks. Specifically, ZT4J (Zero Tolerance 4 Jerks).

On Twitter a few days back, a blog post was written highlighting this wonderful job description for an engineering position at Hubspot (Boston area). Here are the “no jerk” clauses:

- Strict “no jerks” rules. You won’t have to work with “that guy” (or girl)…

- HubSpot has a strict NO JERKS policy; our culture is fantastic. We have nearly ZERO turnover in three years of engineering…

- We don’t hire jerks. Period. If your normal disposition is to be negative and cranky, and it can’t be explained by a temporary lack of caffeine, you won’t fit in at HubSpot. We’re intense at HubSpot, but it’s a good intense. The reason for the “no jerks” rule is simple — for those of us that are not jerks, working with jerks is a whole lot of suckiness. Life is short. Why work with jerks?

Now, I’m not looking for a job, but if I were, I’d want to look long and hard at Hubspot. Because they know that a big part of troublesome work environments is…you guessed it…jerks. Of course, maybe on that basis I wouldn’t even be allowed in the front door. Hmmmm…

Now, I realize that there can be other reasons for difficulty in leader-follower relationships, and Lisa has done a great job outlining those. But sometimes you’ve just got to call it like it is. If you’re a jerk, you should be put out to the street until you learn not to be a jerk. Perhaps more companies would be far better off if they emphasized ZT for toxic behavior and affect instead of tolerating bad apples because of stupid HR rules. But as Hubspot knows, this is a hiring issue. Put a well-designed jerk screen on the front door, and you’ll  go a long way toward increasing company productivity.

ZT4J. It’s the new quota system!

Join us for an enlightening discussion on #LeadershipChat Tuesday nights on Twitter, at 8 pm ET!

UPDATE: interesting NY Times article on the “No Jerks” theme.

UPDATE: transcript from the LeadershipChat session on The Difficult Follower

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The Pace of Success

All of my marketing instincts perpetually whisper in my ear – “go wide, go loud, build big!” Create an audience. Reach as many as fast as you can.

Yet everything I’ve learned whispers in the other ear – “go deep, go slow, build quality!” Create a tribe. Build a vision and a direction that will reach plenty of people over time.

I’m slowly learning to decrease the volume on the first, and listen more closely to the second. Remind me if I forget. Subduing old instincts that are constantly reinforced by our marketplace is not so easy!

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Book Review: The New Small

I’ve been reading through Phil Simon‘s latest book, The New Small, and it’s a keeper.

There’s a revolution going on in small businesses these days, and it is being enabled by low-cost, high impact new technologies (note: I have built my business on the approaches Phil outlines, so this is not just theory!). Phil outlines the Five Enablers in this volume, and gives a series of case studies showing how progressive and nimble businesses have employed things like cloud computing and social networks to advance their goals quickly.

Here is my video review of The New Small:

Learn more about Phil, and The New Small, here at his website (www.philsimonsystems.com). I met the guy for lunch, where he handed me the book – he’s a high-energy, engaging, likable fellow with some important perspectives.

For two weeks, I struggled to identify the stylistic difficulty I was having with the book. I’d read a chapter, put it down feeling a bit overloaded, stymied at every attempt to put into words why that was so. Concept, message, author – liked them all. Content – solid. Finally, it came to me – the book felt overstuffed, like a suitcase that had 30% too many items of clothing in it (ever done that?). It was packed very tight, and didn’t have an easy flow for this reader. This is purely an editing and writing style issue – and, it may be more of a personal reflection than anything else (plus, I’d rather get a book that had too much to say than too little!)

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Book Review: The Entrepreneur Equation

I have had the privilege of reading through Carol Roth’s about-to-be-released book, chock full of very valuable advice for anyone thinking about starting a new business. The Entrepreneur Equation is a must-read if you’re looking at becoming an entrepreneur.

My video review is below. This is a no-nonsense, highly practical reality check from a gal who knows her stuff. Highly recommended.

It’s also quite well-written, and funny. Because that’s who Carol is. You can pre-order your copy here.

(btw, I am a huge advocate of taking ideas and distilling them down to their core essence – yes, I’m a bit OCD about that. One of the coolest items in this book is the “Cheat Sheet” section in the back, where Carol gives a 1-3 sentence summary of each chapter. You can only do that when there is clarity and cohesion of thought…good job, Carol!)

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Book Review: Pick a Title. Any Title.

Bloggers always like to be first getting out a new book review on their blog and through Twitter, in hopes of achieving maximum retweet exposures (MREs).

So, since my friends Jay Baer and Amber Naslund are about to launch their awesome new book The Now Revolution, I thought I’d cheat a little bit to get the very first review out of gate (video below). I like MREs just as much as the next blogger. And, hey, there are efficiencies here – have you ever heard of the Reusable Book Review (RBR)? Yeah – I’m trademarking that.

Tomorrow, return here to very same URL to view my thoughts on Ann Handley and CC Chapman‘s Content Rules. And the day after, Scott Stratten‘s UnMarketing. Because if you don’t send it, I still review it with my patent-pending RBR technology!

(Actually, I do have a couple real video book reviews coming up here on Connection Agent this week – stay tuned!)

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Roddenberry was Right

Gene Roddenberry, the genius behind the early years of the Star Trek series, had an amazingly prescient view of the future.

In the original Star Trek TV series, crew members used devices called communicators which bore a remarkable resemblance to cell phones.

Then, in Star Trek The Next Generation episodes, items that seemed for all the world to be touch-screen computers, iPads, and iPhones were constantly in use. Digital everything. Ubiquitous screens.

Roddenberry got it.

And now, as we daily put to use that which he foresaw decades ago, we reach a point where old labels are shedding their meaning. We still use the term “phone” in various ways, but the idea of an analog device dedicated only to audio voice communication seems rather – quaint. But, we still cling to terms like cell phone, iPhone, Smartphone – heck, the phone is the least-used aspect of my iPhone!

In 10 years, we’ll look back and wonder at the old legacy labels that described separate “things” like phones or cameras or computers.

I’d like to suggest that ultimately, Gene Roddenberry had it right again. You know what these increasingly portable devices are, in their various configurations and form factors?

That’s right. Communicators. Personal Communicators. With which we send and receive messages, info, voice, video – it’s really a far more accurate description than phone, computer, tablet, or what have you.

Kinda brings a whole new meaning to the acronym PC, if you think about it…

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Leadership and Conviction

We hear about vision. Passion. Expertise. Connections. Out-of-the-box creativity. Goal-setting. Persistence. All very important ingredients to leadership and success, no doubt.

But none are as central as…and, in fact, all will take their marching orders from…Conviction.

By conviction I am not talking about a prison record. What I mean is a deep persuasion that something is right, and must be done.

A leader is convinced that an idea, and course of action, must be pursued. This conviction drives decision, promotes action, accepts risk, overcomes doubt, and draws others into the endeavor. If necessary, it walks through walls.

Conviction develops over time, through both positive and negative experiences, through seeing the successes and failings of others. Eventually, it seeps into your soul and you become persuaded that you MUST _________ (fill in the blank).

The best marketing will also draw its inspiration from conviction – that the company, or product, or service, is the best. That it must be known. This is the wellspring of true (not manufactured) word-of-mouth marketing – the conviction has now spread, and is spreading, to the audience.

This is not only true in business. A parent is, above all things, a leader – taking a little life and shaping and molding it into a full-fledged adult member of society. This requires conviction – that the greatest impact we have may well be through others, that the next generation is more important than my immediate gratification, that the hard (and often unglamorous) work of building now will bear fruit in years to come.

Conviction, of course, can be a double-edged sword. Some tyrannical people manage to convince themselves that they are right…and seek to destroy others in the process of carrying out their ruinous beliefs. Some can even inspire others, through the power of conviction, to take leave of their senses and drink Kool-Aid in a forsaken jungle. But far more (who do not make the 6:00 pm news) build businesses, create charities, donate organs, mentor young people, and care for the sick – because it is right. Because they must.

Those that manage others may or may not have this restless level of conviction. Those who perform tasks may actually do their work (less effectively, I’d argue) without it. Leaders, however, are a different story.

Conviction does not guarantee success. But a lack of it almost guarantees failure. Over the years, I’ve come to a number of juncture points where I’ve had to make bold – sometimes disruptive and costly – decisions. In each case, it was conviction that ruled the day. When you believe that a thing is right – when you are compelled to move forward no matter the cost – then you stand the best chance of success.

Conviction leads you to take a course. It feeds into persistence, which drives you to stay the course. And that’s the shortest path to results.

(Image credit)

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