My Last Year…

Once again, my friend, a senior executive heading the US subsidiary of a foreign company, has sent  along a brief but pointed update to his prior anonymous posts (see My Boss is an Idiot’ and My Boss is PMSing (Putting More Stress) on the Leadership Team)  that he’s shared with Oak & Apple Partners over the past couple of years.  He’s  analyzing his current assessment of his situation and especially of his boss.  Read on!

To remind you, 2014 was coined by my CEO as the “Year of Execution”. It turned out to be the “Year of Executions” (in business we refer to it more politely as Terminations).

2015 has been coined by my CEO as the “Year of Accelerated Growth”. So far, it’s been a year of accelerated decline with both sales plummeting and losses continuing to mount.

You may ask why yourself, “Why does this CEO continue to fail?

In my view, these are the major areas that he and, by extension, the company have failed to address:

  • He did not solve the Strategic challenges that the company had prior to his arrival:
    • We still do not excel in solving specific customer problems better than our competitors.
    • We still try to be too many things to too many customers/verticals/geographies, and therefore lack focus.
    • Our main markets are becoming increasingly more competitive and bloody ‘red oceans’. We desperately need to re-think our strategy and create a plan to move to more lucrative markets.
  • He also created new Strategic challenges that we did not have prior to his arrival:
    • He broke the trust and loyalty we shared with our own employees.
    • He created uncertainty and misalignment with our long-term partners.
    • He created a stressful and fearful environment for both management and employees.

As a result, morale is now as low as I’ve ever seen in this company!

My Last Year? No, I’m not dying. I sense that 2015 will be my last year reporting to my CEO. One of us is not going to survive this year, at least not in his current capacity.

I think this person is going to be me!

I am optimistic about my future. My options. My horizon. It’s time to start working on new initiatives.

Are you a CEO?  What’s your reaction to this situation? What would you do if your employees perceived you this way?

Are you a senior executive with a CEO like my friend’s?  Do you have any advice for him?

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Mission to the Philippines – Day 3 – The Recovery and 2 More Surgeries

To say that Gift of Life, Rotary, the Duke and PCMC medical teams and the supporting actioneers are miracle workers may be a stretch but not much!

Both first day surgery patients, Arvin and Rihanna, had a restful night. While the surgeries for both took longer than expected both were successful.  The doctors were happy with the results.  Believe it or not both were up and walking last night just hours after their surgeries.  The pics below are of them this morning.

Joe, one of the Rotarians on the mission, got a smile from Arvin after he promised to buy his first pair of running shoes. Arvin had told us Sunday the first thing he wanted to do, once he was able, was to go running because he had never been able to run his entire life, all 16 years.  I believe I saw tears in everyone’s eyes.

My colleague, Diane Rotondelli (ok so I finally named her, yes she was the one who disconnected the suction machine in the OR the other day), has taken on the role of friend, sister, mother, grandmother (she said it was ok to call her grandma) with the parents and the children. She has been terrific in talking to the families and kids providing comfort, support and a shoulder to cry on when needed.

She spent time in the ICU today with the families and kids. Arvin’s cousin said the family is so grateful.  They are anxiously waiting for his return home after a year in Manila waiting for this surgery.  His brother’s birthday was yesterday and he posted on his FB page that the surgery was the greatest birthday present he could have ever asked for.  His father was informed of the success of the operation only after Arvin was out of danger.  He is very superstitious and thought he may jinx the operation and recovery if he was here.

Diane told us Rihanna was up and walking, eating hamburgers and pasta but not smiling (as you can tell by her pics) BUT Diane received the I love you sign from her just before she left ICU. Again, she talked to the family who could not say thank you enough or be more grateful every time you see them.

Diane has done great and important owrk here with the families.

If you saw FB yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time at the portal looking into the OR watching the teams prepare for surgery. In some pics on FB you can see each of the different teams prepping.  The perfusionists checking the heart lung machine, the anesthesiologists filling syringes and the nurses setting up the supplies in anticipation of the start of the next surgery.  It is really stimulating to watch as I continue to be awed at their hard work and professionalism.

I came back later to find Carl on the table and on the heart lung machine. The perfusionists (Samantha and Rich) were sitting next to each other reviewing the readings and watching what the machine was doing.  Remember, at this point, the patient is alive because of the heart lung machine while the doctors work on the heart.  Watching the blood flow thru the machine and knowing life is in the balance is intense (and I’m not even in the OR).  They have to stop the heart to work on it then start it beating again once they have made the necessary repairs (NOTE: I’m not doing justice to what they do but it’s important to the reader to have a high level view of what’s happening).  Imagine the responsibility of this team for the life they have in their hands, is mind boggling to me.  I will never again complain about what it costs to see a doctor,  surgeo ornurse again.

I spent some time talking to the some of the Duke medical team during the day.   They are excited to be here, some for the second time, some for the first and others who have been on other missions in other countries.  Funny, bright and genuine are words to describe them.  They respect each other but are just like the rest of us.  They want to help, they come not only to volunteer they say it grounds them in a different way, they come to remind themselves of why they picked this profession and why they love the job they do.  They say Andy (the surgeon) hasn’t stopped smiling or looked as happy as when he is here (keep smiling Andy).  This trip reenergizes them all for the work they do back in the US.

We left the hospital in the afternoon and traveled to see Shello, a young girl who was 8 years old when she had the heart surgery during the mission here in October 2013. As we drove to her home the divide between the poor and the well-off was clear.  Poor sections one after another even directly across the street from the Philippine House of Representatives.  The area Shello lives is in a poor neighborhood. Crowded, narrow streets, stray dogs, fighting cocks and children playing in the street was not unusual.

We turned down a narrow street where I thought the van might pull down the overhead electrical and phone lines because they were so low. It was barely passable by two cars between the people walking, the children playing, the parked cars and the stores that front a lot of people’s homes.

We reached Shello’s home. As we approached the home in the car we saw this beautiful young girl running and playing in the street.  It was Shello.  If you did not know it, never would you have thought this now 9 year old girl had a serious heart condition and could hardly walk without losing her breath.  Badminton and running, smiling and laughing was not something she did yet here she was living the life of a normal 9 year old girl with boundless energy and a crushingly beautiful smile!

We met her family. Mom, dad, 2 brothers, grandma and grandpa all extremely happy and grateful for the work Gift of Life does and what they did for Shello.  We shared a meal and dessert and off we went knowing that Gift of Life and Rotary had CHANGED LIVES!

Shello a fine example of the many children Gift of Life and Rotary have helped to live a normal life. She is the fulfillment of an idea, the execution of a plan and the hard work of the actioneers MAKING A DIFFERENCE AND CHANGING LIVES.

How about you? What are you doing?

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Mission to the Philippines – Day 2 – The First Surgeries

Monday morning and two surgeries are scheduled. The biggest challenge will be Arvin, the 16 year old boy whose surgery, had he been born in the USA, would have been done by the time he was 12 months old.  It was going to be a challenge, his heart is large but appropriate for his age, there is more to deal with and the team does not, under normal circumstances, perform a surgery on someone this old but after careful screening they were sure it would be okay.  He was scheduled first because of the complexity of the surgery and his age.

Arvin’s mother and cousin were thankful since they had worked tirelessly for two years to get him here. One year ago they had moved to Manila so he could have this surgery.

We met Arvin in the waiting area before his surgery. He was with his cousin, his mother was on the way.  He was happy and smiling.  His cousin was happy and smiling (see the Facebook pics) but there was still tension in the air.  We all knew how serious this surgery was and we kept on smiling, being positive.

What happened next is telling. The Operating Room (OR) prep staff came to get Arvin.  For those of you who are experienced in reading body language he showed his first sign of concern and fear.  His cousin hugged him tightly, like it might be the last time (it could be, but it wasn’t), and off he went to the OR.

There was a more palatable change in the mood now. From the joy of knowing this surgery was lifesaving and life changing to a concern and uncertainty every surgery, no matter how simple, brings.

The next few hours were some of the most interesting in my life and career. I, along with my colleague, were asked if we would like to observe the surgery inside the OR.  We both said yes.

On went the scrubs and into the OR we went. While I had been in the OR before when my wife had a C-Section this was different.  This is open heart surgery and something I knew nothing about (I at least knew we’d have a kid after the C-section).  While I approached the room with some trepidation and fear I was, at the same time, excited.

Walking into the OR was like walking into another world, a place few have been and many would not go. Since this mission is also a teaching mission the OR was already crowded with observers (doctors and nurses) without adding myself, my colleague and the FiOS 1 news cameraman.

I initially stood next to the Perfusionists (Samantha and Rich). They operate the heart and lung machine.  Samantha explained what the machine does and how it keeps the patient alive while the surgeons repair the heart.  I won’t tell you all the details but suffice to say, Samantha and Rich are key players at a critical point in the surgery.

I was allowed to move around the OR, taking pictures (which you also saw on FB) and actually got to look directly in on the surgery to see the heart they were about to operate on pumping. I’m still trying to find the right words to express what it feels like to see all the things I saw in the OR but amazing, thankful, impressed and enlightened are a good start.

Amazed at the teamwork, knowledge and precision with which the OR staff works. All working in unison, like an orchestra, each playing their part creating a symphony of sound and movement.  Communicating, everyone at the top of their game, not a wasted motion, not an unnecessary word. Everyone focused on the patient, everyone focused on the outcome.  The actioneers working the plan as scripted.

Thankful we have people like the doctors, surgeons and nurses from Duke (and PCMC) who give of their time freely to help others. Thankful that organizations like Gift of Life and Rotary care enough to fund these missions.  Thankful that I am lucky enough to be a part of this mission.

Impressed with the character and integrity of all those involved. Impressed with the compassion and the love every team member has for the children.  Impressed with PCMC and what they do every day under less than ideal conditions.

Enlightened because you hear about these types of missions. The good work organizations do all over the world yet when you are on a mission like this you begin to understand, you begin to appreciate and you become enlightened in a way only being here can give you.

The first surgery last almost 7 hours by the time Arvin was rolled out to ICU. Within two hours the Duke team was back in surgery on Rhena (or Rihanna as we call her because of the singing on exam day).  The turnaround in the OR was truly amazing, cleaning, prepping back into surgery and recovery. The team arrived back at the hotel around 10 pm after completing the second surgery.  A long and exhausting day for them.

If there is a take away, a lesson to be learned that I can put to work it’s that an idea, a plan and action well done constitute and bring about a successful outcome but without an undeniable love of the idea, a deep commitment to the plan and burning desire to act on the plan nothing happens. All the good ideas, all the great plans and all the action in the world cannot overcome the lack of love, commitment and desire to anything we do in business or in life.

Here in the Philippines at PCMC with the Duke medical team, the PCMC medical team and all the supporting actioneers it IS happening with a love, a commitment and a burning desire to help those who cannot help themselves.

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Mission to the Philippines – Day 1 – The Exam and Evaluation

Sunday came early, flying and being in transit for nearly 27 hours takes a toll on anyone. Got up around midnight Sunday morning, wrote the blog I published yesterday and caught up on some other work.

Went to breakfast and met some members of the Duke medical team, Richard one of the two perfusionists, Waz the anesthesiologist and Andrew the surgeon (or as Waz call him “the slasher”). I like these guys already.

Arrived at the hospital, snapped some pics (you’ve seen them on Facebook if you are a friend), and took a tour. My collegue on this trip noted, “This is not like any hospital at home.”  No it’s not.  It’s open and older but Philippines Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) serves an important purpose as evident as we walked by a line of people, children in tow, waiting to see the medical team for exam and evaluation.

The set up for the examinations is not what we have in the US – it took place in a conference room, sectioned off with 8 foot high dividers. The doctors were using a less than optimally lit board to look at x-rays and an ultrasound machine (top notch) to view the heart and complete their exams.  From time to time the lights would go flicker on and off for no apparent reason.

I took the opportunity to see the exams close up, the ultrasound with red and blue colors and listen to the doctors as they talked about each of the patients. While I did not understand exactly what they were seeing or talking about it was astounding to realize this is where technology, knowledge and experience meet to save lives.

The morning was a series of evaluations and discussions about each of the children and the prognosis for each operation. Other parts of the Duke team, not involved in the exams, toured the facility.  The operating room nurses reviewed paperwork, counted supplies sent in advance and prepared for the next day.  The post op ICU nurses prepared their areas for Monday after the first surgeries were completed.

For the rest of us, we talked to and provided support for the families waiting with their children. It was joyous because the future was bright for the kids.  It was heartbreaking because of how young the kids were and how, without this mission and program, they may not survive into their teens.

What was clear was the advance preparation that took place to get the Duke medical team here and immediately get to work. The coordination and logistics of people, supplies and funding engaged more people than anyone of us could imagine.

It was evident this is a highly skilled team of dedicated men and women have a laser like focus on saving these children’s lives and giving them an opportunity for a better, fuller lifes.  They work in tandem with each other without wasted time or words, always focused on the mission and the outcome.

Once again, we are the ground forces, the soldiers, and the actioneers (my word!) fulfilling the plan, completing the vision.

Remember, life is precious.  To all my friends reading this, get out, lend a hand and  be an actioneer!

PS – While my writings seem tactical and emotionless with a bent to planning, process and execution (which they are) what I have not written about is the emotional side of this – check out Day 2 and see the other side, the emotional side, the people side which is just as important, if not more important than the tactical side to this mission, our mission and my personal mission.

The Duke Medical TeamWaiting for Exams and Evaluations

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A Mission to the Philippines

When I told people I was going to the Philippines they automatically asked if it was for business.  I guess it appears that I travel frequently on  business (not really).  However, when I do travel I have gone to some interesting places, China, Germany, Belgium, France, Czech Republic and not to be forgotten Las Vegas, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago…..

This trip is different, it is about business but not that kind of business.  It’s about the business of saving lifes, specifically children’s lifes.  I’m on a medical mission to the Philippines sponsored and supported by Rotary International, Gift of Life International, and Rotary District 7500 Gift of Life Foundation.  I could go on about all the great things Rotary does locally, nationally and internationally but that’s for another time (

This mission is about Gift of Life International (,  a Rotarian-based organization that over the past 4 decades has helped more than 17,000 children from emerging countries receive treatment for their heart disease.  These children have come from 67 different countries and otherwise would not have been treated.

The “Our Hearts Are In…” global initiative focuses on the development of sustainable pediatric cardiac surgery and aftercare programs.  These programs are defined by the empowerment of doctors and nurses to care for their own children.  Ongoing training, essential equipment acquisition and supplement supply programs have been implemented to ensure that children afflicted with congenital heart defects (CHDs) can be cared for on a sustainable and reliable basis.

Missions like this don’t happen by chance.  Groups like Rotary and Gift of Life don’t function by accident.  Yes, it takes the dedication and passion of people involved but it starts with an idea, a plan and action.  IPA, if you like acronyms (nod to the beer lovers who read this).

Missions and organizations happen because someone (the visionsary) had an Idea that provides the vision and objectives.

The visionary is supported by those (the strategists) to who understand the vision and objectives and create the Plan bridging the Idea to Action.

The visionary and strategists are supported by those (the soldiers) who perform the Actions that make up the strategy to complete the vision.

It’s simple but complex.  It requires clarity of thought with passion and commitment.  Whether in your business , your personal life or how you decide to give back your time, it works.  That’s how organizations like Rotary and Gift of Life do the work they do.

Here’s the great thing about this mission – I get to do great work while being part of the Action team that executes the Plan that fulfills the Idea.  It’ll be a great experience for all involved.

(PS – I’d be remiss to not to give credit to R. Michael Rose and his book titled ROE for its simplicity and briefness.  It’s worth a read.)

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My Boss is PMSing (Putting More Stress) on the Leadership Team

My friend, a senior executive heading the US subsidiary of a foreign company, has sent  another post following up one he shared with Oak & Apple Partners about a year ago.  He’s  updating his assessment of his situation and especially his boss.  Read on!

About a year ago, I posted ( My Boss is an Idiot’)  and shared some insights and frustrations I had as a senior management team member and leader for an international company, which, after many years of success, is now struggling.  I concluded at the time that I should stay on board and execute to the best of my ability for the sake of the company, my sanity, and my own career development and success.  Here I am a year later working [almost] at the same capacity, for the same company and this same boss…. 

I thought a year later would be a good time to reflect back and to revisit this topic and share where the company and I are today.

Our company continued to struggle in 2013. In fact, our financial performance was our worst ever year! Of course, this was neither my boss’ intent nor the company’s plan for 2013.

With hindsight, my boss is now referring to 2013 as the “Year of Transition” and this year, 2014, as the “Year of Execution”.   Some senior managers already refer to 2014 as the “Year of Executions”, which unfortunately is a likely scenario in our company in 2014.

I cannot blame my CEO entirely for the company’s misfortunes; the dynamics of our industry and competitive landscape are out of his control and are currently not favorable.  To give him credit where credit is due, he made many changes last year in the organization; some of which were big positives with respect to people and processes. He also replaced about half  the executive team (I survived).  In addition, he initiated many cost cutting measures in the organization to help offset the burden of not meeting our revenue targets for the year.

In my view, where he failed (and continues to do so even more grievously today) is in the following areas:

1. Strategy– not recognizing that the company is not doing well for a reason [or maybe for a few reasons] and that we must revisit some of our assumptions, paradigms, markets, and  USPs. We must re-invent the company by identifying new growth areas, market segments and geographies to focus on. This will also require setting up the right expectations with the Board and with the Executive Team. It will be a lengthy and sometimes painful process, but there is no room for shortcuts! There is no magic that can overcome a shortfall in the Strategy being implemented.

2. Dynamics of the Team – instead of creating an open and collaborative environment for the team – one that encourages working together creatively on our challenges, my boss created an atmosphere of intimidation.  Trust me; you don’t want to be the one who brings him bad news!  Instead of creating a nurturing culture within the team and have members assume more responsibilities,  encourage initiative  and drive collaboration, he seeks to take more control and to directly oversee more decisions!  It is certainly not a scalable model and not an environment in which it’s fun to operate.

I still feel that over the years this company was overall very good to me. I am also enjoying the idea that I may write a book one of these days that I envision will be titled: “From Good to Grate – how your boss can turn a fun company into an irritating one” (My current boss will be a major contributor to this effort).

I’m giving serious thought to moving on.  What do you think?

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The Price is Right

In response to my Partner Ken and his post “Raising Prices – Are You Nuts?” I think he’s not certifiable but may be pushing the envelope. The topic of pricing is one of the least quantifiable functions management deals with due to the large number of open-ended variables involved, many of which are unknowable.

As a game show, guessing the right price is fun and rewarding. In business, guessing wrong about the impact pricing has on trade and consumer behavior has major influence over a company’s business viability. Have you ever been in meetings where the pricing strategy discussion includes debates about cost plus, matching competition, or pricing to customer benefit are all central to the topic of correct pricing? Have you tried to estimate competitive response to price changes? Have you argued pricing structure across different classes of trade, such as retail and Internet?

Bad guesses have major consequences. But the key to increasing prices, once a company has settled on a corporate pricing strategy, is to combine multiple objectives from both the account’s and the company’s perspective to achieve real revenue and dollar profit gains.

Retailers and manufacturers (brands) rarely share the same strategic objectives.  While the goals of increased revenue and profits are universal, it is the question of whose revenue and whose profits where there is usually disagreement.  Thus the role of the manufacturer is to understand the intersection of common goals. Remember the clash between Wal-Mart and dominant market share leader Rubbermaid in the 1990’s? Rubbermaid tried to increase prices in order to pass along raw material cost increases to the consumer rather than suffer a margin decline, a move resisted by the massive retailer. Wal-Mart changed suppliers and Rubbermaid was forced to merge with Newell to survive. Talk a about a bad guess about who had market strength.

Turning to the strategy of increasing prices, it is critical to understand your key accounts’ accounting and merchandise management compensation structures. In addition, a solid strategic basis which supports the key accounts’ own growth strategies is essential. Writing a universal equation is impossible but we can describe a pathway for understanding how to approach price increases:

  • Product margin alone is often not how retailers measure profitability. For example, co-op advertising, broadcast & Internet advertising, promotion spending, allowances for damages, markdown money and returns all enter into the equation at the merchandising level. Frequently there are “puddles” of margin in the financials that are not visible to the buyer teams. On the other hand retailers’ financial officers often do not focus on how much a brand spends on support.  
  • Retail brand marketing and sales teams need to find these “puddles” and reallocate spending, with a clear eye to increasing sell-through and building market share, while enabling the buying and merchandising executives to hit their MBOs. These objectives usually include increasing number of catalog pages sold, exclusive promotion events and even special sizes, packs etc. while demonstrating to their management that a price increase along with larger open-to-buys makes solid business sense. 
  • Price increases combined with reallocated spending by the manufacturer, supported by a sound strategic basis and communicated clearly to the buying team, should avoid trade alienation, a euphemism for losing support from your account(s). 
  • In short, one price increase strategy is to find “puddles” of margin that of are no financial, strategic or executive award value but still represent lost manufacturer margin. By reallocating the balance of support and working closely with the category buying team, manufacturers can increase prices and generate additional funds which can be used to increase short-term spending. 
  • In turn, retailers’ brand marketing teams need to recommend this strategy to their management on the basis of increased dollar margin (volume increases at lower margin) for longer-term share gain and increased profitability in both dollars and percentages mid- to long-term.

We are working with two product marketing and sales teams to affect this strategy, starting with a very clear understanding of key account accounting practices and executive awards programs.

What price strategy does your company use? How have you approached increasing prices? Please let us know for shared learning.


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Raise Prices? Are You Nuts?

Maybe I am, but when the significant cost-cutting opportunities that companies have focused on since the Great Recession began are exhausted, shouldn’t company executives give it serious consideration?  Increased prices translate into increased gross and net profits.

There are essentially five ways to increase revenue:

  • Sell more volume to current customers
  • Add new customers
  • Add new products or services
  • Acquire competitors or complementary businesses
  • Raise prices

Company executives expend much time and effort on the first four but are often blind to the last option; they presume that raising prices can’t be done in today’s economy.  And yet raising prices may yield more to the bottom line than other approaches.

That’s not to say there isn’t risk in raising prices.  Competitors could maintain their prices and take customer business away.  There could be backlash from customers; their purchases could decrease or end as they re-evaluate their relationship with a supplier who’s increased prices.

It’s been 6 years during which many industries have been unable to pass along cost increases in commodities and other costs to consumers.  When a company takes the lead in increasing prices, it’s not unlikely that competitors will follow suit quickly and raise prices to restore shrinking margins.

Done poorly, a price increase will cost a company customers and revenue.  However, a well-designed price increase may actually help a company to “fire” unprofitable customers, those requiring high attention and service but resisting paying for it.  Should the latter customer class stay, its profitability increases; if not, a company may realize profit “addition by subtraction.”

Effectively instituting a price increase requires planning an appropriate strategy to minimize customer backlash and sustain the increase.  Some of the key elements of a strategy may include:

  • Reallocation of working dollars from advertising to promotion to build market share
  • Running trade loading programs which are succeeded by introducing “new & improved” products at higher price points (alternatively, reducing package size and maintaining pricing)
  • Avoiding trade alienation
  • Navigating  law and regulation (e.g., Robinson-Patman Act) on pricing that inhibits differential pricing
  • Designing a marketing campaign to effectively communicate the higher value of a company’s products and/or services compared to competitors, be it in quality, service, warranty or otherwise.

In subsequent posts, my partner Cal Calligaro and I will examine these components and critical aspects of designing a strategy that addresses these concerns.

It’s not a simple decision, but maybe it’s not so nutty, either.

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Could You Do This?

I have a friend who is also a business coach; and I believe he is the epitome of the word “change.” As consultants and coaches we talk about change, about moving forward and about learning to lead and make decisions in a different way. The goal, of course, is always to become better business owners and leaders, better decision makers, and better people. In short, to finally turn around and take a step forward.

I was talking to him the other day about the usual – how’s business, how are your clients, how’s the family. Then, I asked him about his shoulder on which he’s had two surgeries over the last two years. Neither operation had the exact outcome he and his doctors were looking for. He’s an avid right handed tennis player and I asked him, “So what about tennis?” The answer stunned me – his doctor had told him to give up tennis because playing could, and more likely would, do further damage to his shoulder. He told the doctor, “Great, I’ll learn to play left handed.”

Amazing! At +50 years old, my friend is so committed to tennis he has decided to learn the game from the left side! He’s committed, unwavering and clear on his outcome. Will there be hurdles? Will there be stress? Will there be frustration? Will there be a time when he will look to give up? The answer to all these questions is YES! But I have no doubt he will succeed. Who knows, he could be better from the left side than the right!

So I ask you, could you do this? Are you committed enough? Do you have a specific goal? Have you laid out a clear path to attain the goal? Whether in life or in business, moving forward to the next level includes changing something – often many things – in order to get there. Can you change? Are you committed? Could you do this?

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Is Your Business IQ Lower Because of Financial Constraints?

Earlier today, an Associated Press/NYTimes article reported on a study published in the August 2013 issue of the journal Science, authors Anandi Mani, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir, and Jiaying Zhao reported that the poor show reduced cognitive capability (IQ) and are less effective at decision-making specifically because of their financial circumstances.  In essence, the authors’ studies showed that individuals faced with financial stress lose about 13 IQ points because their financial problems dominate their thinking to the detriment of their ability to solve other problems.

Oak & Apple Partners focuses on the quality of management’s decision-making in organizations under stress.  The parallel of individuals and companies (comprised of people, after all) under financial stress is unavoidable.  Isn’t it likely that management teams under financial stress are so pre-occupied with their financial constraints and peril that they are worse at making good decisions with respect to strategy and tactics in sales, marketing, operations and other areas?

If you’re concerned that financial (or other) stress is affecting your company management’s decision-making, you may find our free executive self-evaluation guide Decision-Making in the High Stress Environment  to be a useful and quick tool to assess your management team’s decision-making under stress.  To get your free copy, simply click here.

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