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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Which Matters Most? Ambition or Talent?

One of my favorite Saturday routines is spending an hour or so browsing through the weekend edition of the Financial Times on my iPad. There are often fascinating long interviews with newsmakers in a feature called Lunch with the FT and usually some interesting reviews of books I won’t read but am interested in learning a little bit about. Without fail, though, my favorite feature is a short one called The Inventory. Each week, the FT asks a person of note 20 questions, most of which are the same week after week. Two of the most intriguing to me are, “Are you environmentally conscious?” immediately followed by “Do you own more than one home?” Others I like include, “If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would he or she think?” “If you lost everything, what would you do?” and “Do you believe in an afterlife?”

My favorite question in The Inventory, though, is “Which matters most? Ambition or talent?”

While the occasional few interviewees try to fudge it by saying both or by redirecting the question, most come down squarely on one side or the other. Of those with a clear point of view, it ...

What's on Your De-Stress Checklist?

In a meeting with a group of CEO’s last week, we were talking about how to show up at your best under conditions of high stress. One of the group shared a checklist of that a wellness expert had given him. It was a list of activities you could do either indoors or outdoors that would lower your stress. Each activity has a point value assigned to it. The goal is to get in 100 points worth of de-stressing activities a week.

Here are some examples of what was on the list and the point values assigned to them:

Activity Points
Massage 50
Meditation 50
Yoga 40 
Warm Bath 30
Social Interaction 25
Swimming             25 
Walk 25 
Gardening  25 
Music  15 
Reading Fiction 15 


So, I don’t have any research for you that explains how the points were assigned to these activities or why the goal is 100 points per week. Still, the idea is interesting. What if you had a personal list of activities that you knew would even out your fight or flight response with some rest and digest? And, what if you incorporated a few of those into your routines each day? Pretty soon, you ...

7 Things Leaders Can Learn from Bill Clinton About Connecting With People

Delivering his monologue after the midterm elections last week, David Letterman was talking about President Obama’s low approval ratings and landed a great line:

“Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon -- under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6 percent, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”

As Letterman said, before delivering his punch line, being president of the United States is a “lonely, lonely gig.”

Being an ex-president of the United States? Not so much. According to Gallup, the most popular ex-prez is Bill Clinton. His approval rating earlier this year was 64 percent. There are probably a lot of reasons for that. Most presidents are more popular out of office than in. In Clinton’s case, he likely gets a lot of credit for the work he’s doing through his foundation. He also does a lot of public appearances and is a master communicator and connector.

Earlier this week, I got to see exactly how much of a master President Clinton is when he spoke to a packed house for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. For just under 90 minutes, Clinton held an audience of ...

How to Relax Like a Baby

One of my guiding principles in life is to look for and act on the stuff that’s easy to do and likely to make a difference. Even the smallest mindful breaks can make a huge difference in reducing the overwork and overwhelm that comes with modern life.

If you are looking for a super simple way to get started, you’ll want to listen to my recent conversation with Mimi Sommers. Mimi is the author of a children’s book called Relax-a-bye Baby. Following the classic advice of write what you know, she wrote the book after she used what she had learned about body scan meditation to help her young son settle down, relax and go to sleep after a busy day. When he kept asking her to repeat the process every night, Mimi knew she had to write a bedtime book that other parents could read to their kids.

As I said in my conversation with Mimi, you don’t have to be the parent of young kids to benefit from this book. It’s a beautiful little introduction to a process that anyone can use to center themselves at the end of or in the midst ...

5 Questions for Leaders Who Would Rather Be Effective Than Right

During the opening session of a new leadership development program last week, I asked the participants to share the biggest leadership lesson they’ve learned in their careers so far. There were a lot of interesting answers. One participant shared one that really stuck with me because I think it’s so true. The lesson was it’s not enough to have the right idea, you have to influence other people to believe that it’s the right idea.

The essence of the lesson that leader shared is captured in a behavior that we’ve been measuring in our Next Level Leadership® 360 Degree Assessment for the past eight years:

Chooses effectiveness as a more important outcome than “being right.”

You might have all the facts and logic on your side. The answer may be painfully obvious to you. That voice inside your head may be screaming, “What part of this do these people not understand?” You may be asking yourself, “Do I really have to keep explaining this?”

No, actually, you don’t.

If you’re more interested in being effective than in being right, quit explaining and start listening. Here are some questions you can ask to listen ...