Singularity University and Abundance

Key Point: Acting with abundance is a way of life and in my view, THE only way. Those of you that have read my book The Character Triangle,” are aware that I emphasized this vital value of “Abundance,” seven years ago when I first wrote about it. It was very gratifying to attend Singularity University in Silicon Valley last week and to see the slide presented in the photo below. Singularity is a powerful voice of influence and impact regarding exponential thinking and adaptability performance. Organizations setting a breakthrough pace in the world are truly exponentially better than competitors. Abundance is a key value underlying Singularity and a necessary foundation for exponential performance. Note the way Singularity compares Scarcity versus Abundance: 

Singularity

I particularly want to point out the bottom column comparing thinking small versus having a 10x mindset. Scarcity people scoff at the idea of thinking 10x. They feel it’s unrealistic and get hung up on how literal the idea is, rather than accepting the “moonshot” inspiration as an accelerant. Subsequently, scarcity people get exactly what they think; small improvements of “sameness,” often copying whatever industry practice prevails. This leaves a big “hole” for a competitor, typically a disruptor, to find that innovative breakthrough. They bring the 10x thinking to life and all the “sameness” people stand together watching. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you don’t know about Singularity University, I strongly urge you to find out more about them. If you don’t know what exponential organizations are doing, you’ll learn when they consume your job/business. 
  1. Where are you on the Scarcity versus Abundance scale? Where is your organization on the same? Learn what being abundant really means from a behavioral perspective. If we all acted with an abundant framework, the entire world would be better from a personal and world viewpoint. 

Always Abundant in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: What a great comparative slide from Singularity University. It’s amazing how one could ever choose Scarcity over Abundance when the differences are that clear, but obviously many organizations do. If these were applied to personality traits, which person would you like to have dinner with? The Scarcity minded person, or the Abundance minded person? I’m making reservations with Abundance every time.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Become a Sprinter at Any Age!

Key Point: Nike’s breakthrough slogan, “Just Do It,” was brilliant. It promoted and celebrated the principle of forward movement without seeking permission or being burdened by judgment. While all of us are not necessarily naturally great athletes, we are all athletic in the context of moving… “Doing it.” Trying something! The same concept applies to life and business overall if one opens themselves to the idea of celebrating the principles of prototyping or testing. So, in the spirit and inspiration of Nike, allow me to introduce you (if you haven’t already met) to the process described as the SPRINT! 

Too often we are bitten by the notion of perfection or burdened by the old fashioned limitations of traditional project management. There are numerous problems related to this way of thinking. Many times building to “perfection” involves a big investment of resources before testing or prototyping whether our idea or solution is workable. We assume “requirement gathering” is sufficient for product or service development, and eventually, production. Everything has to be “right” before we make a move to full production and often the first time a customer is really introduced to a product or service is when it’s offered to the market. The risk associated with this framework is that the size of the bet can become very big. Large investments of time and/or money connected to big bets on the risk reward continuum can be scary. We are better off under that scenario to stop or do nothing. Or we “bet the farm” and hope our market customer research was right and the eventual product is a reasonable facsimile of what we intended. This is where the SPRINT process comes into play. 

In the spirit of moving with speed and rigor, what if we embraced the learning of the folks at Google Ventures (GV)? At GV, they’ve run what they describe as sprints with companies like NestFlatiron Health, and Medium—to help them enter new markets, design new products, develop new features for millions of users, define marketing strategies, and much more. Over the last few years, teams around the world have adopted this system of sprinting. (They’re collecting their stories at SprintStories.com). In their book, naturally entitled SPRINT, the authors (Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz) introduce a very detailed and specific five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. They boldly and confidently describe it as a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more.

Sprint

Character Moves: 

  1. The idea of more speed, agility, and rigor that dramatically improves the time and investment for a successful outcome has evoked much attention over the last few years. The five day print process developed by GV is just one of many such methodologies; most with common process elements (for example, agile/design thinking). The key thing is to learn the principles underlying these fast/agile processes and try testing them  (regardless of which process best suits you) BOTH in and out of work situations. 
  1. Try focused and fast testing/prototyping all kinds of stuff before making the big bet. This applies to whether you want to make fly fishing a hobby, start a business, or try out ideas in your work area, and more. Try sprinting! It’s aerobically and financially healthy. 

Sprinting in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I like this concept. Nothing is worse than dwelling on an idea for too long and never executing. I don’t believe that in this day and age customers/clients will only accept a one-and-done pitch. The best ideas seem to be tested regularly, grow, evolve, change and develop a winning format through trial and error. Who performs better? The person who hits the track and sprints right away, or the one who puts off training because they’re spending a bunch of time and money saving up for the best running shoes? No matter what’s on their feet, I’m willing to bet the first one winds up in better shape.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Retire ‘Retirement?’

Key Point: Retirement may need to be “retired.” When life expectancy was averaging about 70 years in the western world, somebody came up with the idea of retirement at age 65; even early retirement. Of course, defined benefit pension plans that were common until the last decade (when you’re guaranteed a certain percentage of your best income when you qualify), helped with the process. Also, the middle working-class often had jobs that involved a fair amount of manual labor. After 65, there is no doubt that the body just isn’t the same. However, the concept of retirement today may be a misguided idea for many of us? I’m at a chronological age where people ask me “when?” quite often. My response usually includes the following: 

  1. In my current work I get to live my life’s purpose to lead, teach, coach, love and transform everyday.
  2. I deeply believe in the purpose of the company I work for and am able to contribute to that in a meaningful way. 
  3. I work with people I genuinely love. They stimulate my personal growth, make me laugh, and just invigorate the heck out of me.
  4. I make darn good money that I use to mostly invest in other people and purposes I deeply care about.

So, I ask people if retirement means I have to find new channels for my life’s purpose, seek out new people to thrive with, and make no money for investing in others; well why would I want to intentionally do that? Yes, I would like to be in fewer meetings, travel a little less, spend more time with my family/friends and maybe read a few more fiction books. I think I can do that while I’m “working” if I prioritize better. However, the idea of getting up and primarily self-indulging is not appealing. In my framework, that means I’m “unemployed” not retired. And I believe my life’s very best work and contribution is still well out in front of me. My fondest wish is to have all my loves around me when I die (ideally at age 100+) AND earlier in that day (with all my loved ones joining in), I would have had rich conversations, written a blog, read some cool stuff on Flipboard, ate a filet with a great red Zin, a Titos martini with three giant olives as an appetizer, and belly laughed many times… Oh, and sent out two invoices for work I recently completed for a customer.

A friend of mine sent me this the other day. I thinks it’s simple and profound. It was written by Neil Pasricha, for quietrev.com.

“Never retire.

There’s a big reason the healthiest societies in the world have no word for retirement. I believe retirement is a false concept based on assumptions no longer true. Age 65 retirement was invented when average lifespan was 70. What’s the solution? Keep working. And make sure whatever you’re doing includes the 4 S’s of meaningful work:

S – Social

 We are the most social mammals on the planet for a reason, and it’s not just the extroverts who can master this. Look, according to Stumbling on Happiness by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, our social relationships have a greater effect on our happiness than our income, religion, gender, or even health. What does a good workplace foster? Small team dinners. CEO AMAs. Lunch walking groups. Work sports leagues. If these are missing, start one. 

S – Structure

There are 168 hours in a week. Fifty-six are for sleep (eight hours a night if you can get it), 56 for work (including things like commuting and extra work at home), and 56 for your passion. On structure, there are two things to point out. One, work helps create and pay for your third bucket—the fun bucket, the passion bucket. And two, if everyone in this structure has a third bucket, what can each person bring in from outside of work? Can the word nerd start a book club? Can the hospital volunteer start a company volunteer program? Can the late night DJ plan the Christmas party? Work structure should allow outside work passions to be big parts of our lives. 

S – Stimulation 

Always be on the lookout to learn something new. In every job you have, ensure the steepest possible learning curves are between ‘value giving’ and ‘value getting.’ Examples to make sure this happens are things such as staying a maximum of two years in roles, initiating job sharing or job trades, planning regular development sessions, and scheduling quarterly growth meetings with one and two-up managers. Make sure you can always say yes to the question ‘Am I learning a lot and adding a lot?’ If your answer is tilted one way, it means you’re giving something else up. 

S – Story 

‘Story; is all about feeling that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It’s about first ensuring the company’s mission and higher-level purpose capture the heart and then bringing the mission to life by regularly sharing customer stories, hanging anecdotal posters on walls, and talking about it at open or closed meetings. …What’s your company story?”

Character Moves:

  1. Forget thinking about the day you’re going to retire. Live the perpetually imperfect life you love and appreciate NOW. (Although financially, plan for a time when for some reason you can’t work). There is NO guaranteed happiness in retirement. 
  1. Focus on making your work/life more meaningful by progressing on the 4 S’s! And then one day, you die happy knowing that you were still moving for most of the day.

Meaningful in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Heck! Yes! As we approach The Masters next week, this gets me thinking about the life of a professional golfer. To me, these players have it figured out… They are professional athletes who get to make an incredible living, and travel to the nicest courses in the most beautiful places on the planet, playing the game they love. Unlike other pro athletes, it’s low impact and they can potentially swing clubs forever. (Of course, golf is also a very charitable oriented game as well). We are probably not going to be pro golfers, but with whatever you’re most passionate about, it would be great to approach it like a golfer instead of, say, a pro football player who maxes out earnings and retires with a mangled body by age 30. Keep walking that course as long as you can.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Calm is Contagious

Key Point: I think all people in leadership roles could benefit from training as biathletes. Why? Because learning how to become calm in stressful situations is contagious. I like the way Tom Weede, a former editor of Men’s Fitness, describes being a biathlete: “A man with an Anschutz .22-caliber rifle slung securely across his back swiftly cross-country skies through rugged Alpine terrain, churning his legs forward and back as fast as he can, his heart rate pounding out 200 beats per minute. Suddenly, he pulls up, unslings his weapon, and in the space of a few seconds, slows his heart enough to steady his hands and mind and take aim at a tiny, unsuspecting target 50 meters away. He fires rapidly several times, the bullets tearing into their mark. His objective realized, he immediately takes off again, quickly pushing the lactic-acid levels in his legs back up to dangerously critical levels.”

These superb athletes can lower their heart rate from 200 beats per minute to 50 beats or less in about 20 seconds. They can get calm, literally on command. 

Former SEALS commander Rorke T. Denver knows something about being calm in positions of leadership. The former 13-year Navy SEAL claims the best leadership lesson learned in military training was simple: “Calm is contagious.” As a keynote speaker, according to an article in Business Insider“Denver tells the story of his final training exercise as a Navy SEAL, where students in training have to plan, organize and execute a mission all ‘under the watchful eye of the lunatic Navy SEAL instructor.’ His team was behind the clock, and they were in trouble. He recounts how his ranking officer (also a student in training) was ‘screaming his head off like the Tasmanian devil… The fevered pitch level of everyone’s behavior was just unsustainable.’ Amidst the chaos, the master chief petty officer, the senior ranking enlisted man in the United States Navy — who Denver said is out of central casting and a basic training “god” — came over and told all the officers to gather. His commanding message to the Seal officers in training, according to Commander Denver, was as follows: 

‘As officers, at a minimum, the boys are going to mimic your behavior. In our line of work, based on our personalities, they’re probably going to amplify your behavior, and athletes are the exact same way. As leaders, as captains, as officers, if you keep your head, they’ll keep their head. If you keep it together, they’ll keep it together. And if you lose it, they’ll lose it.’ So I’m going to share with you the best thing I learned as a master chief when I was a new guy from a master chief in Vietnam: Calm is contagious.’ And as he walked away, Commander Denver heard him say, ‘Because if you keep your head in our line of work, you keep your head!’ Denver emphasizes that this advice can be applied to any leadership situation. ‘You can supplant any word you want for ‘calm’ — chaos is contagious, panic is contagious, stupid 100% is contagious,’ he said. ‘So we like ‘calm’ because it lets you keep your head, it keeps you focused on the mission at hand.’”

I really resonate with Denver’s message and want to combine it with the lessons learned from high performing athletes. Under stress, we need to clam our mind and lower our heart rate to put teams and ourselves in a position to win; to stay focused on the mission at hand. Too often I see leaders (and I have been susceptible to this as well), creating more of an environment of chaos versus calm. Yes, we want a winning pace, sense of urgency, and top-notch results. However, uncontrolled speed, or a sense of panic, gets in the way of a winning outcome. The following guidelines can help.

Character Moves:

  1. Learn your stress/panic triggers and how to control your heart rate and breathing to help you “calm down.” One needs to know when to, “Pause, concentrate our breathing for four seconds, and then course correct.” That’s the advice of highly respected author and psychologist Peter Bregman in his book “Four Seconds.” Yup, according to Bregman’s research, we can get in a better, calmer zone in just four seconds if we pause and breathe.
  1. Be aware of your pace and the impact. Like the biathlete, there is the time to sprint and time to slow right down to hit your targets. The correct balance is the key to winning. Go out too fast and you exhaust yourself… Go too slow and you never get across the finish line, or end up last.
  1. Timing is everything, of course, but often the ability to use humor is exactly what you and your team needs. The great calming effect of a laugh helps the team focus on purpose, and reinforces the belief that it’s “going to be OK!”

Calm in the Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’ve brought up the “Sunday Scaries” before. It’s a very “Millennial” thing. Check out this link to the tongue-and-cheek examination of this phenomenon where users send pictures of their “Sunday Scaries Panic Rooms.” (On Sunday nights, Millennials convert their living spaces into “panic rooms,” which is equally eye-roll and smile inducing). It’s funny because of its ridiculousness, but it’s a real thing! Many console their dread with food, wine, coconut water, premium television, fireplaces, the company of pets, scented candles, and much more; all to calm the storm of tackling the next week (clearly no one is truly in panic). By laughing at and sharing these overreactions, Millennials get a sense of calm… For us, that’s contagious.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
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Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

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The Character Triangle Companion

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The Character Triangle

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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle

 

Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

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