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3 Tips for Leaders Who Want to Keep It Real

In case you missed it, here's a link to a great article by The Washington Post’s Alexandria Petri in which she describes how Hillary Clinton attempted to make a connection in a recent speech to the National Association of Automobile Dealers. She shared a story that since the last time she drove a car in 1996, the Secret Service hasn’t allowed her to get behind the wheel. The response, apparently, was confused crickets.

Petri doesn’t just pick on Hillary. She also shares stories about how Mitt Romney and John Kerry tried to connect with voters when they were running for president and missed the mark. Her larger point is that it’s a dangerous thing when you’re a leader who’s so far removed from the experience of every day people that you can’t connect.

As a leader you’ve got to stay connected to keep it real. Here are three tips on how to do that:

1. Work One Week a Year in a Front Line Job

One of the reasons that the reality show Undercover Boss was so popular a few years ago is that people enjoyed watching the big boss learn ...

Making the Most of Your Limited Engagement

Over the weekend, I came across a video and an article that reminded me to be present and make the most of now because my time here on earth is what you might call a “limited engagement.” It’s sort of like a Broadway show with a limited run.

Of course, that’s true for all of us. Seventy, 80 or even 90 years of life sounds like a long time until you consider it in the greater scheme of things. Someone once described to me where any of us fit into the span of time with a compelling visual metaphor. Imagine that you’re in a large room that has a thick metal cable extending from end to end. The cable is so long that it actually enters the room through a hole in one wall and exits the room though a hole in the wall on the other end of the room. When you step outside the room to take a look at the cable, you lose sight of either end of it on the opposite horizons. You step back inside the room and make a nick on the cable with a screwdriver. That nick represents your life ...

How Not to Be a Weenie Leader

Earlier today, someone I care about a lot was the victim of weenie-like behavior from someone in a leadership role who should have known better. Unfortunately, weenies are all around us. You can recognize them by their unique combination of spineless and thoughtless behavior. That and their lack of nutritional value.

I doubt anyone starts out in life or even in a given day with the goal of being a weenie. And, yet, weenie-like behavior abounds. It’s enough to make you a little paranoid, actually. “Am I a weenie and just don’t know it?”

Who am I to say? For all I know, I’m a weenie too. Here, though, is a start on my list of behaviors that weenie leaders exhibit. How can you avoid being a weenie leader? Do the opposite of these things: 

  1. Make a date specific promise and then ignore it
  2. When called on that promise, act as if you didn’t make it
  3. Hide when you have to deliver bad news, or if hiding isn’t an option, send an email instead of having a conversation
  4. Disappear when the hard stuff has to be done
  5. Keep people waiting with no indication of when ...

What Jennifer Lawrence and Colin Kapernick Can Teach Us About Setting Goals

In her Golden Globes acceptance speech last weekend, Jennifer Lawrence talked about how, as a teenager in Kentucky, she loved a movie called I Heart Huckabees. She wanted to know more about the movie so she Googled it and found out its director was David O. Russell and that he had directed three of her other favorite movies.  Less than 10 years later she was on stage in Hollywood expressing her amazement that David O. Russell had made her career by casting her inSilver Linings Playbook (a 2013 Golden Globe and Academy Award for Lawrence) and now American Hustle (a 2014 Golden Globe for Lawrence -- so far.)

This weekend, Colin Kapernick is going to play for the NFC Championship as quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. When he was in the fourth grade he wrote a letter to himself (that you can see on Deadspin.com) that read in part (spelling and syntax from 11-year-old Colin):

I’m 5 ft 2 inches 91 pounds. Good athelet. I think in 7 years I will be between 6 ft — to 6 ft 4 inches 140 pounds. I hope I go to a good college in football Then go to the pros ...

Get Enough Sleep. Your Brain Will Thank You.

If you’ve ever felt a burning sensation in your muscles during a vigorous workout or physical labor, you know what lactic acid feel like. Lactic acid is how the body tells you it’s time to take a break before you cause some damage. The smart move at that point is to take a break and allow your lymphatic system to clear out the toxins.

New research summarized in the New York Times recently suggests that your brain cells need the same kind of opportunity to clear out all the waste they generate in the course of a day of thinking. The research shows that 20 percent of a brain’s total volume is dedicated to channels that remove the toxins that accumulate over the course of thinking all day. The primary time those channels have a chance to work is when you’re sleeping.

The occasional all-nighter isn’t going to do much damage over the long run, but sustained nights with less than seven to nine hours of sound sleep can have some serious short term and, the research suggests, long term effects.

In the short run, you’re not going to think as clearly and your ...