Friggin’ Obvious in 1916

Accountability Books Productivity


Story: Our Company Chair is a very wise and accomplished man, perhaps a bit of a curmudgeon, and full of insight based on years of doing the hard work of the hard work. One of his trigger points is complexity. If someone presenting to the board does so in a web of tangled nonsense, the potential of you-know-what hitting the fan is likely. As I come to know him more, I better appreciate his love of the obvious and simple. I also better understand that the Chair’s philosophical management bible is largely based on a book called Obvious Adams, by Robert Updegraff, which was first published in 1916! Wow, and why? (Obtain a free digital copy here). 

Key Point: If I critically examine my life’s work, the more simple and obvious the initiative, the better the outcome. The more complex my ideas or approach, the less accessible and effective. I wish I would have had a “simple and obvious” coach my entire career. What would the Obvious Adams book say to better guide you and me in becoming more obvious and simple?

“5 Tests of the Obvious:

  • The problem when solved will be simple, and when found will be obvious
  • Does it make sense to the simple direct and generally unsophisticated mind of the public? If you can’t easily explain it to your “mother,” it maybe too complex?
  • Put it down on “paper.” Can you write it down and explain it in plain english in three paragraphs or less?
  • Does it explode in people’s minds? People ideally say, “why didn’t I think of that?”  
  • Is the time right? Timing, like in most things in life, is so important.

5 Creative Approaches to the Obvious:

  • What is the simplest possible way of doing it?
  • Supposed the whole process/thing were reversed?
  • What would the public’s vote on it be?
  • What opportunity is being overlooked because no one has bothered to develop it?
  • What are the special needs of the situation?”

Today we have so much cool, breakthrough technology, arguably way more brain power, and certainly more knowledge than in 1916. Still, the great inventions or reimagined work are often so darn simple, and in retrospect, very obvious. Take Uber, Airbnb, and even Snapchat as current examples. Yet, in organizations I often see problems addressed with total complexity. And while I believe management concepts like Lean, Agile, etc. are helpful, they can also become counterproductive when process and taxonomy overwhelm common sense. People get so hung up on form they can forget to ask the best questions, like those published in 1916.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be confident and humble enough to fiercely challenge, based on the concepts of simple and obvious. (Does not mean simplistic).
  2. If your or my idea takes a long winded slide deck or PowerPoint to explain it, be self-critical and suspicious as to whether we have done enough work on it.
  3. Be wary of fancy language, overly technical jargon and/or so called solutions that seem to make the audience feel stupid. If you and I can’t understand it, we know what’s stupid… And it’s not us.
  4. Get a “simplicity coach.” P.S. – It might be your mother.

Simply Obvious in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I remember in journalism school we were encouraged to write as simply and briefly as possible, because studies showed that the average media consumer read at about a 6th grade level. That might be surprising to those who like to dive into academic journals. Simple, concise, and to the point is statistically what people want. A strict and great professor of mine once told me, “if an article is more than 800 words, it better f*!$ing sing.” How’s that for obvious and simple advice?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Personal Leadership: The Best Blogs of 2017 E-Book

Abundance Books Personal leadership


Dear Readers,

Key Point: We write our blogs for you (and us). You give us the gift of reading them and much encouragement. Thank you!

So, just like last year, we wanted to give readers a “Best of 2017” e-book that we’ve created with 12 of the most well-received and thought provoking blogs.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Please enjoy this e-book and share it with those you care for.

Season’s best greetings, and here’s to a happy 2018!

– Lorne and Garrett

Calling For Some Courage

Accountability Books Courage


Key Point: We need more courage in personal leadership. I just finished a three day conversation with some of the leading thinkers on the subject. We talked about many attributes required by leaders that will take us to a more desired future state. Upon my reflection of the deep discussions we had, the one attribute I think we underwhelmed was “COURAGE.” As serendipity often goes,  I “happened” to read Peter Diamandis’ blog extolling a new book about extraordinary people. And some insight on COURAGE arrived just as I felt the need to emphasize it more.

Brendon Burchard’s new book, “High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way,” is based on the world’s largest study of high performers; people who reach long-term external success while still maintaining happiness, health and positive relationships.

He discovered six habits that move the needle most when creating success. The 6th Habit is: Demonstrate Courage. The following is an excerpt from the book on the subject:

“We did a tremendous amount of research on courage, and we found that in the face of risk, hardship, judgment, the unknown, or even fear, high performers tend to do a couple of things.

First, they speak up for themselves. They share their truth and ambitions more often than other people do. They also speak up for other people more often than others do. In short, high performers are willing to share the truth about themselves.

Just as important, they ‘honor the struggle.’ They know struggling is a natural part of the process. That makes them more courageous, because they enter into a pursuit knowing it will be hard. They can handle the struggle because they expect it.

Many people complain about the struggle. High performers don’t. They’re fine being in the weeds, getting muddy. They know that showing up, even when they’re tired, will help make them the best.

Knowing that the process will be hard — not just accepting that it will be hard but appreciating that working through the tough times is necessary for success — makes them less afraid.

High performers have also identified someone to fight for… Courage comes from wanting to serve one person or one unit: Wife, husband, family, a small group of people. The will to work through uncertainty or fear comes from wanting to serve someone.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Speak up for the truth, and do what’s right.
  2. Embrace the struggle.
  3. Identify who and what to fight for.

Courage in Personal Leadership

One Millennial View: Wow. Really think about “who” the fight is for. You hear new parents talk about not fully understanding this until they’ve had a child. In my opinion, there’s no greater heroes than the men and women who fight in the armed services, and I’ve studied plenty enough to know that their fight isn’t just about the purpose, it’s about the person to the left and right of them. That’s what they fight for.  And that’s a real definition of courage that can be applied to more than just the battlefield.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dinner of Truth

Authenticity Books Respect


Key Point: Becoming more self-aware is just plain hard. I’m reading Tasha Eurich’s great book “Insight”, which is a comprehensive tour on the subject. It’s an important read.

The painful truth is that we all have blind spots and yet most people around us are reluctant to share insights or feedback that might be perceived as undesirable. In the book, the author refers to a term coined by her researchers as the MUM effect; keeping Mum about Undesirable Messages. Findings confirm that when we’re in possession of information that might make someone uncomfortable, we tend to chose the path of least resistance and decide to say nothing. In fact, people are willing to tell white lies rather than the cold, hard truth. Of course, that avoidance does little to help you and me become more self-aware and positively grow.

Perhaps equally unfortunate is that many of us actually prefer the MUM “rule” being in effect. Why? Feedback can be and often is painful. When someone asks if we want feedback, our brain actually sends out physical pain signals. But avoiding feedback does little for us. The way people see us still exists whether we become aware of it or not. So, why not choose to learn the “truth” on our own terms?

You and I need loving critics. These are people who will be honest with us while having our best interests at heart. People like this are not necessarily someone we are closest to. However, there is a high level of mutual trust when this individual is willing to go out of their way to help us. This loving critic also needs to have sufficient exposure to behavior we want feedback on, and a picture of the impact of that behavior. They must be willing, based on a foundation of trust, to be totally honest.

How brave are you? If you have identified a loving critic, how about participating in a “Dinner of Truth?” Over a meal, ask your guest to tell you one thing that annoys them most about you. The rules include telling them why you’re asking, that nothing is off the table, and that you are NOT ALLOWED to respond defensively. You can only listen with an open mind and heart. How about a few Dinners of Truth?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you venture into the Dinner of Truth, it is helpful to mentally prepare for what might be said. Decide how deep you want to go, and remind yourself and loving the critic that this is about personal growth. Ask questions to clarify and better understand.
  2. Really really listen by applying Eurich’s “Three R Model:” Receive, Reflect and Respond” to the feedback. How you choose to respond and both learn and unlearn from feedback is an intentional practice. Read more about the “Three R Model” here. If you don’t do anything with the dinner feedback, you’ve wasted time with a very valuable ally.
  3. Recognize that being self-aware is understanding both who you are AND how others see you. That’s darn hard work, and we’re worth it.

Dinner of Truth in Personal Leadership


P.S. Please click on and enjoy this video below of more Leadership Moves, and stay tuned for an upcoming embedded Lorne Rubis YouTube channel, and Instagram stories/Snapchat videos that will feature many more.

Watch: What If and How Might We

One Millennial View: It’s great to see “loving critics” can be embraced, and feedback be encouraged instead of censored. I’m so glad Eurich can define the MUM effect, develop the “Three R Model,” and how we can learn to incorporate a good meal with it. A “Dinner of Truth” might be tough to swallow, but it’ll only make us stronger and personally improve.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

How Are YOU Doing?

Books Growth mindset Respect


Key Point: I want this just to be about YOU. Are you happy with yourself right now? It’s getting towards the first half of the calendar year, and it might be worth a personal “check in.”   I certainly know you and I are are far from perfect. With that caveat, are we generally happy? I’m not asking exclusively whether we are satisfied with the advancement of our skills and relationships, just an honest reflection of our happiness. One reason I’m writing about this, is that lately I’ve heard wonderful people being very hard on themselves. I wonder if they are out of balance by focusing too much on future accomplishments versus gratitude for what they already have and who they are. Are YOU good enough?

Tim Ferriss, well known author, podcaster, etc., has a great new book entitled Tools of Titans. He notes from studying people he highly regards, that there are two parts to self-improvement. However, too many people may define self-improvement and happiness solely by goal achievement. But, Ferriss believes that this is only 50 percent of it. He says, “The other 50 percent is gratitude and appreciating what you already have, not focusing solely on future accomplishments.” There are so many highly successful people who are never satisfied with what they’ve accomplished and it’s unfortunate. Canadian sports psychologist and author Dr. Peter Jensen, tells the country’s Olympians, “if you weren’t good enough before an Olympic medal, you won’t be good enough after.”

Moving forward is always fraught with failure and mistakes. In this context, Ferriss focuses on two things: Skills and relationships. The question he asks himself is, “Even if this fails, are there skills and relationships that I can develop that will carry over into other things?” Ferriss’ philosophy is “failure isn’t failure if you can gain new skills and develop relationships…” This is such a great way to think about life and what we do. Are we always advancing our skills and relationships? If we are doing both, then the concept of failure can be reframed. The people that I see as “stuck” honestly find that they have done little on both fronts. They repeat the same work over and over and hence gain little true/new experience. They essentially repeat the same experience. This concept applies to relationships too. Advancing and growing people are continuously expanding the depth and width of relationships in and outside of work. 

Character Moves:

  1. Implement a daily gratitude journal. I’ve suggested this many times because it works. It fills us up with appreciation and it changes how we feel, creating more self-awareness and hence more happiness.
  2. Based on the wisdom of Adam Grant in Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book, Option B, I  highlighted the importance of also doing contribution journals. Combine 1 and 2 everyday, and I promise you it will increase your happiness and sense of well being. 
  3. Every six months or so, reflect on the new/enhanced skills you’ve added and define the relationships you’ve advanced. Being intentional about both will keep you moving forward.

Being Well in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: I think Ferriss has a great point, and he’s a guy who has a lot figured out. The journals may also seem like an extra bit of “homework,” but even typing them out in the “notes” app on your smartphone before bed is probably a great exercise. If you’re networking, learning new skills, and strengthening your relationships, that’s the antithesis of failure. But it takes work. Especially as Millennials, we have to be careful… It’s easy to wake up one day and it’s already June, we put things in cruise control back in January and wait, are we even considered Millennials anymore?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis