Leadership Principles from Extreme Ownership,How US Navy Seals lead

Extreme Ownership is a book written by Jocko Willink , Retired American Navy Seal commander ,Iraq and Leif Babin former navy seal officer. They both operated in Iraq, Ramadi.

Extreme Ownership streamlines principle of leadership used in dangerous and precarious military situations to the business world. From deciding in Life and Death situations to people’s Livelihood.

The book is composed by 11 chapters,each one dedicated to explain a specific leadership principle learnt form real war scenario and then translated to various consultancy cases in the corporate world.

The most informative leadership principles gained from reading this book are:

1) Extreme ownership of the leadership.

Jocko and Leif make abundantly clear that a leader must own everything in his and her responsibility; healthy corporations,(and people) own their mistakes. While in incompetent organizations have a culture of continuous shifts of blame and finger pointing, a real culture driven organization its leaders must admit mistakes and own them.

If a subordinate did an error that compromised the good results of his mission, it is the leader that did not make clear and simple enough what was the actual task to perform and the reason why these operations were necessary to the mission. This does not give a free pass to a subordinate, since part of the leadership needs to be delegated as per principle

but makes abundantly clear that if there is an under-performer, the leader needs to mentor and train him before thinking of firing him.

A real leader needs to remove individual and personal agenda from his vocabulary, it is all about accomplish the mission.

2) It is what you Tolerate, not what you Preach.

When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one his held accountable, if there are no consequences,that poor performance become the new standard.

Most of the bad performances are dictated by bad leaders that do not care enough to rise higher standards and clarify why and how those are necessary to the good result of the objective. Punitive actions on the teams do not need to be applied immediately, instead a mentoring mentality needs to be applied to rise new quantitative and qualitative standards.

An extension of this principle is that it is important to set a culture in a team where even if a leader is removed, the group will continue to operate to the same efficiency. One practical example from the book is the boat races held during Hell’s Week.(the training that every operative has to pass to enter in the finest US elite)In these races Seal’s candidates after numerous taxing exercises and sleepless nights need to compete rowing boats in teams of 6. During these races one of the appointed boat-commanders always got last. In excusing his performance to the trainer he blamed his team on the losses. The trainers did a little experiment. They switched the commander of the best boat with the one of the low performance, lo and behold! The losers boat started to win against all other boats consistently.

3) A leader must be a true believer.

When a plan is formulated, a leader must not question it in front of his team, or they would never buying into it. The leader needs to understand how the tactical need align with the grand strategy and later explain the reason why apparently nonsensical operations are the right things to do. However if he does not come to a conclusion that he can explain to his subordinates he needs to question the chain of command.The leader must explain not just what to do but why.

4) Ego clouds anything and everything.

Our own past accomplishments and pride in our of organization blind the weak spots in our character, proposition and lead us to complacency. When personal agendas become more important than the team (or organization), it reflects on the overarching mission,leading to poor performance and failure.

5) Cover and Move

Like soldiers to advance in the enemy lines need cover fire in order to move, organizations need to be coordianted within and with other teams and departments. Each department is critical to success, if one group fails, everyone loses. More organized competitors will obliterate any organization that is misaligned, mismanaged and with too much politic.

6) Simplify,every,procedure.

Life and business are complex when plans and orders are too complicated or detailed something is bound to go wrong. If the team does not get the message, when unexpected events come, it will be difficult to keep a plan steady and executable and be flexible enough to overcome hurdles.

7) Prioritize and Execute

Countless problems in business create a snowball effect.Our brain is not wired to multitask, when we usually try to do multiple task at once the result are a) poor performance or b) failure altogether. To implement prioritization in a company a leader should

a)Rank Priorities.

b)Lay out in simple, clear and concise terms the highest priority effort to the team.

c)Develop and determine a solution, seek input from key leaders and from team where possible.

d)Direct the execution of that solution, focusing all resources and effort to that priority task.

e)Move to the next highest priority problem repeat.

f)When a priorities shift within the team pass situational awareness both up and down the chain.

e)Do not let focus on one priority cause target fixation. Maintain the ability to see other problems developing and rapidly shifts as needed.

When too many responsibilities and tasks are being executed together the likelihood of error and failure raises exponentially.

8) Decentralized command.

For leaders is not possible to manage directly teams of 6-10 people. Team must be broken in manageable elements (4-5 elements) with a clear designated leader. These leaders need to understand their superior intent. Every team leader must understand both the what to do and why of their piece of mission. Team leaders need to understand the boundaries of their responsibility;At the same time they need to let their superior work on the bigger picture. They need to be able to give to their superior a proactive plan on what are they going to do rather than be reactive. Since team leaders need to execute swiftly and confidently a continuous communication from the seniors leaders needs to be made and give situational awareness to their team leaders. Junior leaders need to have their certainty of their superiors support even if they did not the best choice in the given situation,as long as their decision was made in light of the strategic objective.

9) Planning

Planning start with mission analysis and explanation of the overall purpose and desired results and end states.Different courses of actions must be explored on how best accomplish the mission. Planning must be delegated as much as possible to to team leaders in order for them to buy in. Give also a small ownership of the plan to everyone is an important part for the to buy in into it. After the crafting of a detailed plan, a simple and understandable brief must be delivered. 3 elements are pivotal in this brief:

1) Clear understanding of the mission

2) Clear understanding of the Leader’s intent

3) Their individual roles in the mission

A brief is strong if the team and supporting elements understand it. It also need to plan for contingencies in case the desired results are not achievable.

A post brief need to be made at team level to understand what went wrong and what went well in order to improve and not repeat the same mistakes.

A checklist for planning is:

1) Analyze the mission

2)Understand the larger why, the intent and end goal

3)Identify and state the intent and the end goal to the team

4)Identify resources (personnel, time, assets,resources)

5) Decentralize the planning

6) Determine a specific course of action

7) Focus on the best course of actions

8) Mitigate risks

9) Check and question the plan against emerging information

10) Ask questions and engage in discussion and interaction with the team to ensure understanding

11) Analyze lessons learned and implement them in future planning

10a) Leading down the chain.

It is important to remind the role and responsibilities of the leaders to their team toward the overall goal. In particular a leader should be aware of the challenges subordinate have and giving insights on his work so that the subordinate can understand clearly what is needed from him.

10b) Leading up the chain

On the other side if the resources required are not allocated, the subordinate should provide a tactful and engagement to get the best possible support. It is much more difficult because the subordinate can not use his positional authority to highlight his arguments. Influence, experience,knowledge, communication and high professionalism are needed.

11) Decisiveness amid Uncertainty

In every scenario there is always an incomplete picture. It does not exist a 100% right solution to a problem. A leader must be confident on acting with his current immediate information.

12) Discipline Equals Freedom

There is a Dichotomy in the skills and characteristics that a leader must show. Jocko and Leif make a point that a fine balance must be found between ambivalent values such as brave but not foolhardy, competitive but a gracious loser,know how to lead but also how to follow,attentive to details but not obsessed by them,quiet not silent, calm but not robotic,logical not devoid of emotions etc.

All in all I found Extreme Ownership a book with practical tips and powerful images. The military part of the book helps to understand how this principles can be carried and applied in different contexts.

How to become a better trend curator

 

A “Non Obvious How to predict Trends and Win the Future” book review (2018 edition)

“Non obvious” teaches the foundations to successfully curate content and think differently to spot non obvious trends.

It starts with a description of the habits to cultivate to be a successful content curator, follows with a process to curate ideas and spot patterns among industries and ends with a deep analysis of 15 trends for 2018 that the author Rohit Bhargava and his team predicted.

Rohit Bhargava, ex brand strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett, and author of 5 bestselling business books, worked on the series from 2011.

When the series passed from only being digital to paper (2015) , the “non obvious trend series” won the following awards:

Wall Street Journal Best Seller (2015 Edition)

Winner: Axiom Business Theory Silver Medal (2017 Edition)

Official Selection: Gary’s Book Club at CES (2017 Edition)

Winner: Non-Fiction Book Awards Gold Medal (2018 Edition)

For maximum transparency the book includes also a summary of the trends predicted the previous years with a rating on how off where the predictions compared to reality. 

The 5 habits of curation taught in the book are:

–  Being curious = consuming brainful media such as ted talks, read historical fiction, and curated compilations

– Being observant = simplify concepts like you were teaching to children, asking questions on the processes in every day life from how the coffee is made to how your movies are streamed on Netflix, and observe the world outside of your phone!

–  Being fickle = Capture ideas without fossilizing on them, save them offline for later consumption, set a timer to evaluate ideas and summarize concepts.

–   Being thoughtful = Take time to comment on the internet, you do not always need to be first and take time to rethink your thoughts.

–  Being elegant = Make concepts as simple as possible but not simpler, keep the ideas short, use poetic principles to make the ideas more memorable and easier to remember.

The Haystack Method, a process to find the trend (the proverbial needle) among the ideas and information gathered (the hay)

 It is composed by 5 steps, (1) saving ideas, collecting them in folders with summaries, and searching for concepts, not conclusions, (2) aggregating ideas, order the ideas with questions on what need or behaviour they underline, and recognize the obvious (3) elevating, understanding what is interesting in the ideas, what is the broader theme and how multiple industries are connected by the ideas, (4) Naming, a method to ensure that the trend name is memorable enough to stick in the minds for example using alliterations (Disruptive Distribution), twists (Small Data), and mash ups (Likeonomics, Shoptimization) (5) Proving, refer to authoritative sources for examples and research that support your trends, check that the trend is present in multiple industries, and watch your biases.

Some of the trends that I found interesting in the book were:

Enlighted consumption, the customer use of availability of information to express their values in consumption , it ranges in a multitude of industries from transformative travels such as the ones advertised by Incredible India tourism campaign to find peace and silence, to mindful ugly produce consumption, the opening of supermarkets in Denmark, Finland and Sweden where people can buy fruits, vegetables that are fresh and tasty but are being discarded for their aspect (started by the Stop Wasting Food movement Denmark Stop Spild Af Mad by Selina Juul)

 Transformative travels

Ugly produce

Light-Speed Learning ,the idea of dividing the teaching of time consuming skills in multiple micro tasks such as short videos/audios/pages and minimum units of knowledge to fasten learning. This is useful to keep audience attracted in consumption that requires the involvement of advanced abilities, for example the guitar producer Fender started to sell short videos to teach basics to new guitarists ( 90% of people that picks up guitar quit within the first year and 45% of Fender annual’s sale go to beginners who have never played before). Another example could be Chinesepod, an online service that divides the teaching of the language in short video tidbits.

Fender Play

Chinesepod

Disruptive Distribution, the trend that business reinvent themselves in their connections with the customers to increase efficiency. Example of this other than the obvious Netflix are Cloud technologies providers, that shifted from on premise to subscription services to better serve the customer, West Elm a furniture retailer that opened its hotel chain where it is possible to buy all the items found in their hotel’s room, and Moviepass a subscription service to see movies in various theaters at cheaper prices.

West Elm

Moviepass

 “Non Obvious How to predict Trends and Win the Future” is a really interesting book with a collection of compelling branding stories and successes that is worth reading.Innovation is found at the crossroads.

Negotiating as if you life depended on it, Finding the Black Swans

Negotiation is an important part of business and life.

In every aspect of our life we trade in and out things. With our boss, our teachers, our spouse with the shop owner to get a discount on something. “Never split the difference, Negotiating as if you life depended on it” is an engaging book that teaches how to negotiate effectively. The author of this book, the ex-chief negotiator of FBI for kidnappings and teacher of negotiation at Harvard, MIT and Kellogg universities Chris Voss, provides a summary of the practical techniques he used in solving though negotiation with high stakes. Every chapter provides a series of compelling stories from his years of FBI expertise and his MBA pupils business’ experiences that illustrate the negotiation skills in action in real instances and the reasoning behind them.

The negotiation abilities taught in the book help to uncover the known unknowns, things that, like in a game of poker we are certain exist in the game but we do not know yet.

poker

“known unknowns are things we are certain exist in the game but we did not know yet”

The main tools described to uncover the known unknowns range from the traditional ones such as tone of voice, calibrated questions, use of precise numbers, and smiling while negotiating to more innovative ideas such as mirroring, the technique of repeating the important part of the other speech in a particular way to create empathy, Labeling, the technique of strategically summarizing the counterpart’s thought with the impersonal sentences like “It seems that…” to defuse conflict and finding new information, the psychological importance of getting a No before the yes to reveal the real stakes in the negotiation, The importance to avoid Why questions ( in every language a question that starts with a why requires a justification as an answer and therefore highlights an explicit or implicit accusation), the importance to get a “That’s right” in the conversation against a dismissive “You are right” to get rid of you, and many others techniques.

A pivotal concept explained in the book is the existence of the Black Swans or the unknown unknowns, critical hidden information that is game changing in the negotiation dynamics.

“Black Swans are red flags/clues that tell us that what appears in front of us is not the ordinary standard negotiation routine but an exception”

Black Swans are red flags/clues that tell us that what appears in front of us is not the ordinary standard negotiation routine but an exception. For example in the book there are various examples where these clues were present: from the first kidnapping where the perpetrator wanted to be killed instead of cashing money, to the more ordinary examples such as when a real estate agent inadvertently revealed that its client needed the money from its 4.3 million dollars property to pay mortgages on other properties, allowing for the negotiation of a much cheaper final price of 3.55 million dollars

Black Swans are leverages that can give the negotiator the advantage on the counterpart and the book discusses on how to spot them with all the methods discussed in it.

I highly recommend this book because it changed completely my perception about negotiation and I think it should be a mandatory reading in every business school and negotiation practice.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley Book Review.

“This book should be included with every keyboard sold, like a combo pack of communication clarity.”(Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert, And Author, Youtility)

Everybody writes is a source of incredible writing tips. Ann Handley, the author of the book, explains the steps in becoming a proficient writer and adapt content to the correct format in every internet-based tool at our disposal.

The book idea is to wage war to mediocre content. How many times do we read time wasting articles with clickbait titles that are not even engaging? How long should be a tweet, a blog post or a description to be on spot? How can you write directly to the customers and being relevant?

Ann Handley addresses all these questions in her book, explains where to find the right copyright free images, music and data to support your articles, how to curate your content, how to distinguish yourself and your brand with unique writing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube. Because writing is not dead it has just changed its form. Especially in spaces where the attention is more and more limited and the competition not only with other brands but with news, advertising, sports events, Netflix movies, Meet ups and Date apps, it is critical to get the message concise and right.

Ann goes far beyond of simply optimizing your way of writing explaining how to learn to get better. And it adds much more value to the reader.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime” (Ancient Chinese Proverb)

She give heads up on groups to join to get your writing to the next level, shows how to fact check data and give credit to ideas from other authors, explains where to find editorial tools (she wrote about Grammarly before it was over advertised on Internet) demonstrates how beneficial is to make writing a daily habit.

The book is all about how to express more with less. And it is incredible the amount of in-depth suggestions that it contains in  74 suggestions and only 257 pages.

If you take this book to the core and understand its 74 seeds they will flourish in beautiful and resistant trees that will support your brand through time.

 

Final Vote 5/5

The Author

Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of  Marketing Profs,a company that instructs a large community of marketers. She Best Selling Author of the Wall Street Journal and columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine, Member of Linkedin Influencer Program and Co-author of the book Content Rules.

 

Crushing It! And why you should read it even if you are not an entrepreneur.

Crushing it! is a book that explores Social Media Marketing and how people with passion grew successful communities.

It covers not only the usual quartet of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram but also new more exciting applications such as Musical.ly, Snapchat, Podcast and Voice First applications.

In the book are showcased both practical examples of people who grew their businesses becoming influencers ( from a Dentist that filled her waiting room with young patients using Musical.ly to Financial Consultancy on YouTube for young women),

                         (Examples of successful business scale-ups)

101 lessons and analysis on how every social media is used and what works best for them.

A really interesting how-to section concentrates on sound content like Alexa Skills and Flesh Briefings and how it should be native, brief and high quality.

Crushing it! details 8 pillars that every influencer tends to use build his personal brand:  Intent, Passion, Authenticity, Patience, Speed, Hard Work, Attention and Content. These insights are great not only for people who want to become entrepreneurs but also for managers that desire to connect with influencers to understand them and establish joint ventures. For example in the authenticity section describes how Social Media Entrepreneurs take seriously their passion and may promote only products that resonate with their audience, how product sponsorship proposals should be declared and transparent to their public;

the content section explains how usually Entrepreneurs focus on a single platform their production and adapt it to other channels experimenting.

This book is a good reading for everyone interested to grow their social media presence or brand. If you are curious, want to have tips on how to grow tactics hands-on and discover the use of on new digital media with both timeless principles and current insights you should buy it now.

Final vote 4/5

 

The Author

Gary Vaynerchuck, in art “garyvee”, is an entrepreneur who grew its wine business developing a YouTube Wine review channel from 4 million to 60 million dollars, Mr. Vaynerchuck has subsequentially branched out growing other successful businesses on Snapchat,Facebook,Twitter,Uber and Venmo. He currently is the CEO of VaynerX a 150 Million dollar media agency. He is also author of various New York Times Best Seller books.

 

 

Gamification and Data Analysis with Harvard Business Publishing

The business world is revolving around the idea of big data.

The most successful companies strive to collect everyone’s data in order to make optimal decisions and predict the outcome of future profits.

Trinity Business Schools choose to use gamification, the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

More information about gamification and how it can impact real case scenarios in this video:

Trinity Business School chose to use a Harvard Business Publishing case presented as a game: a Detergent Company trying to get the best possible profit in a period of 5 years.

The Case

In the game, we were put in the shoes of Blue’s Marketing directors, a fictional US detergent company with a slowly declining market share and a traditional Marketing and Manufacturing process.

The company had recently decided to use forecast and reports to improve its profits against the main player of the Market, Turbo, Flash and Retailer’s Stores.

A brief with the history of the industry was given to flesh out the business case.

We were given 10 minutes to figure out the data from the company and how to maximize the profit a lot of information was given at the same time, a market report, an income statement A sentiment analysis with changing live feedback. After an error in inputting information in the first year, Pushkar and I managed to surpass Flash and Retailers in term of profitability in the following years of the game.

 

(our decisions history)

 

( Despite the loss  in the first year, in the end, we were able to have more profitability than Fresh and Retailer stores)

What we have learnt:

1) To follow the trends in the demand and stick to the facts more than trust information at face value. For example, we shifted our features optimization to odor control and pods from the classic more accepted powder pack and gave more attention to data analytics than the initial company brief.

2) The importance of listening more to the customer base and follow its dynamics. A marketer needs to enhance his active listening skill to create more insights.  In terms of qualitative data, social media feedback from the customer is useful when analyzing the most positive and negative reviews. Checking them is a good indicator of what can be fixed and what can be improved. On the quantitative data side, it is important to spot new opportunities to sell. Monitoring the market every year allows to reduce the risks associated with demand shifts and adapt the quantity of product sold. Quantitative data can also support qualitative data when it comes to developing a full-fledged sentiment analysis and to

3) Being aware of our client’s characteristics. We segmented our market to see the demographics of our current clientele.  This is necessary to understand future opportunities for the people we do not serve yet and to plan expansions on the current market target.

4) The importance of using forecasting tools to plan the demand. With the availability of more source of data and information, it is pivotal to use methods to estimate the quantities needed in the future. Having an indication of a probable future can improve a company decision making.

5) Importance of testing possibilities/products on the market. In our exercise, we had plenty of data to decide. This made us reflect that in case of lack of data it is really important to test product launches using pilot programs to see the actual client purchasing behavior against the declared one.

6) Importance of Speed in decision implementation. In big companies adopt solution fast is imperative to maintain or grow in market share and competitiveness. In the case study, the conditions changed each year and all we needed to adapt was to push a button on a dashboard. In real business decisions are impeded by internal politics, disorganization.Data can fasten the whole process.

In conclusion, companies should strive to gain near-perfect information, to increase their profits and having a competitive edge against adversaries.

 

5 books to read before joining a Marketing Course

Blog and author websites

David Meerman Scott Blog : https://www.webinknow.com/

Ann Headley website : https://www.marketingprofs.com/

Winston Wayne Website https://excelwithwayne.com/

Tanner Larson https://buildgrowscale.com/

Books on amazon New Rules of Marketing and PR https://amzn.to/2DQVpbl

Everybody Writes https://amzn.to/2pCjptO

Marketing Management https://amzn.to/2DRrv6R

Marketing Analytics: Data-Driven Techniques with Microsoft Excel https://amzn.to/2G0gQfW

Ecommerce Evolved https://amzn.to/2G2tRG9

 

Gamification to learn Data analysis with Harvard Business Publishing

The business world is revolving around the idea of big data.

The most successful companies strive to collect everyone’s data in order to make optimal decisions and predict the outcome of future profits.

Trinity Business Schools choose to use gamification, the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

More information about gamification and how it can impact real case scenarios in this video:

Trinity Business School chose to use a Harvard Business Publishing case presented as a game: a Detergent Company trying to get the best possible profit in a period of 5 years.

The Case

In the game, we were put in the shoes of Blue’s Marketing directors, a fictional US detergent company with a slowly declining market share and a traditional Marketing and Manufacturing process. 

The company had recently decided to use forecast and reports to improve its profits against the main player of the Market, Turbo, Flash and Retailer’s Stores.

A brief with the history of the industry was given to flesh out the business case

First Run of the game First Failure

We were given 10 minutes to figure out the data from the company  and how to maximize the profit a lot of information was given at the same time:

 a Market report,

Market situation Blue

 an income statement

A sentiment analysis  with changing live feedback,

An explorable database,

explorable database

A decision dashboard,

We started with a market share of 11 %, our initial thought process was to differentiate ourselves and serve the market range where we were strong.

So we checked every market area and jotted down on paper

Region – Top player for the region – Household composition – Income-Age

We found out that in most of the markets we were popular with an age range from Under 35 to 44 years old, families with 3-4 components and income from under 20.000 $ to 40.000 $.

So we decided to market softness as an attribute since no one in the market was doing the same move, use liquid detergent as we thought that an innovation would be understood by the younger costumer base.

We used the innovation in the product to justify an increase in price by  1 dollar since competitors already could ask a higher price with newer formulations.We also wanted to differentiate from the cheaper powder private labels.

The real mistake that we did was using the forecast tool.

We thought that the number shown in the cell was the increase from base production. So we inputted 3 mln thinking that it was adding up that quantity to the current sales. We passed from producing 32 mln of units in 2018 to 3 mln total in 2019 !!!

The following turns to do decision lasted 10 minutes each. With so little time we were unable to detect the error we made until the last round of the game where we understood that the forecasting tool was also used to set up production.

Our other choices were influenced by the big loss in revenue on the first turn.

In 2020 we switched back our formula to powder seeing that the customer could not understand how to use the liquid formulation in the sentiment analysis and to reduce costs. In the sentiment analysis, we spotted that most of our customer did not like our old advertising so we optimized the media spending by reducing spending in Radio and Print to increase the one in Digital Advertising.

We also noticed that our product was selling more in Convenience and Club trade channels, therefore, we invested more there in 2020 and 2021.

In 2021 we saw that there was more demand than supply for pods and odor elimination features. We changed the attributes to sell more on the market and finally saw a rise in profit. 

Finally, for 2022 we understood that we were producing fewer units than we were meant to. We upped the production and went back to a market share of 11%, the same condition as the start year.

                                             (our decisions history)

 

( Despite the loss  in the first year at the end we were able to have more profitability than Fresh and Retailer stores)

What we should have done instead

Other than the mistake in the production, we should have noticed sooner the trends in the Demand. We should have shifted to odor control and pods, give more attention to data analytics and weigh less the initial company brief.

What we have learned

We need to listen more to the market and follow its dynamics. Both Social Media and quantitative data on the market are fundamental to listen to the customer.

Social feedback from the customer is useful when analyzing the most positive and negative reviews and ratings. Checking them is a good indicator of what can be fixed and what can be improved.

Quantitative data is important to spot new opportunities to sell and monitoring the market every year allow to reduce risks associated with demand shifts and adapt the quantity of product sold.

In business, companies should strive to gain near-perfect information, to increase their profits and having a competitive edge against adversaries.