An Inventory for Leaders

Erwin McManus is a preacher in California. He ministers to the rough and tumble on the streets of Los Angeles. Here’s a charge he gives to those he teaches: “Love like a poet. Live like a warrior. Learn like an apprentice. Lead like a servant.” The best leaders are versatile. Loving like a poet sounds tender and compassionate. Living like a warrior sounds bold and courageous. Learning like an apprentice is searching and curious. Leading […]

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A Tribute to Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey passed away on Monday. If you haven’t heard of him, he wrote one of the greatest leadership books of all time: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I read the book in the late 1980s. It has sold over 20 million copies and is still in print over 20 years after its original publication. For a number of years, I would give the book to folks graduating from college or high school. […]

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Enemies of Success

My longtime partner Gus King reads these notes and comments on them. He should. He taught me and we learned how to work effectively for a long time. He sent some advice he read that resonated with him, written by author Chuck Gallozzi: Enemies of Success Procrastination. In order to get what you want, you have to learn to do what you don’t feel like doing. Develop self-discipline. Too much planning and studying and not […]

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Ask Questions to Execute Better

As you execute your job, it’s our duty to make sure we answer the most important questions. First, what do I need to know to keep myself safe from injury? And, what do I need to know to keep from being a risk to others? Who is my customer – the person or group that will be most affected by how I perform? What exactly do they expect me to do for them? How will […]

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Don’t Give Up on Change

Change isn’t easy. One of the things that makes it difficult is that the outcomes you seek with change don’t always come that easy. In fact, most often they don’t come easy at all. I experience it this way. I accepted the weight loss challenge. I changed what I’m eating – mostly giving up things I enjoy. In exchange for this significant sacrifice, this monumental change of direction, I expected significant, monumental results. After two […]

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Being Indispensable to Our Customers

If your customer can live without you, they eventually will. That was the headline of an article I saw the other day. Its truth was so self evident, I didn’t even read the details. It should be a goal of each of us to be indispensable. We all have customers. If you drive a forklift, if you clean the bathrooms, if you maintain the equipment, if you buy the lumber, if you do the billing, […]

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It’s Not Always “Black and White”

At the Wal-Mart Sustainability Conference, I sat in on a session where vendors stood up to talk about success stories in becoming more sustainable. One of the speakers ran a company that sold pancakes, corn dogs and sausage on a stick. He described a situation where the price of pork increased three times in a year. The third time it increased, he gathered his team around him and asked them to come up with ideas […]

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“Lean” Will Be a Constant Factor

I’ve been in Bentonville, Arkansas for a Wal-Mart sustainability conference. Sustainability has become a big word and Wal-Mart has embraced it. The idea follows closely our thoughts on “lean” – except it has an environmental twist. To operate our business in the most sustainable fashion, we should use as little material as possible, operate as efficiently as possible and minimize our impact on the environment by cutting down the use of fossil fuels and limiting […]

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6S a Good Tool for Improving Our Facilities

I have seen tremendous efforts on 6S in our operations since we began to implement “lean” techniques. The 6S’s are: Sort Straighten Shine Standardize Sustain Safety Initially, it takes an effort to get it right. It takes awhile to get the methods documented and the habits formed to maintain it. There are several benefits. The first is the satisfaction the team gets from getting it done. Another is that it builds confidence and increases the […]

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Being Open to Ideas from Everyone

The best ideas don’t always come from the guys in the office or from the people in charge. Once upon a time, I was part of a team that received an extraordinary opportunity. A customer called, told us that they had received a big order and they needed as many pallets as we could build as fast as we could build them. That had never happened to us before. It has not happened since. Excited […]

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