Leadership & Working (by Iain)

May 6, 2016

This was first posted January 26, 2016


Last week I attended an excellent workshop on “Compassionate Leadership”. The whole point of the workshop was to have a discussion on what “Compassionate Leadership” meant to us. It was very interesting as we started with compassion being all “soft, nice, and comfortable” and finished up with compassion being “a dance between soft/nice/comfortable and hard/powerful/uncomfortable”.

Those discussions reminded me of leaderships books I’ve read, and found useful, in the last few years. These books all speak to the dance between “soft/nice/comfortable and hard/powerful/uncomfortable”.

Leadership BS (by Jeffrey Pfeffer)

This is a great book because Pfeffer lays out a very realistic description of the workplace. It is not a “pretty” description and this is why it is so useful. There is a lot of discussion around the interest of an individual versus the interest of the group. He notes empirical evidence that modern day leaders always focus on the individual first (i.e. themselves).

I wrote more here — https://hnorth.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/thank-you-jeffrey-pfeffer-leadership-bs-is-awesome/

The Hard Thing About Hard Things (by Ben Horowitz)

This is a book written around Ben Horowitz’s blog. He was an early Netscape employee and is a Silicon Valley legend.

The reason I’ve loved this blog is that Ben talks about really hard things like “Demoting Your Friend”, “Firing An Executive”, “Managing Yourself”, etc. In most cases he describes the problem as — we got to this place because you ( the CEO ) messed up and not the employee.

He talks a lot about why CEOs make mistakes. For example, one of my favourite blog posts from Ben Horowitz notes that if CEOs were tested for CEO skills the average score would be 22%. That is “CEOs suck” and then he goes on to discuss why that is.

What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology (Ben Horowitz)

If CEOs were graded on a curve, the mean on the test would be 22 out of a 100. This kind of mean can be psychologically challenging for a straight A student. It is particularly challenging, because nobody tells you that the mean is 22.

More here — http://www.bhorowitz.com/what_s_the_most_difficult_ceo_skill_managing_your_own_psychology

So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World ( by Margaret J. Wheatley)

This book describes how we can do our good work with dedication, energy, discipline, and joy by consciously choosing a new role for ourselves, that of warriors for the human spirit.

It is quite a “dark read” in that Marg Wheatley really digs into the dark corners of our working lives to set the tone for the challenge. Her picture of working is even darker than Jeffrey Pfeffer’s. (Whew) Again she speaks the truth of our working day challenges. That really helps. I’ve found the concept of a “Warrior For The Human Spirit” to be very useful.

The “good-reads” reviews are very good too. – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13590007-so-far-from-home

This book was recommended to me by Bonni. Thank You.

IMPACT: SIX PATTERNS TO SPREAD YOUR SOCIAL INNOVATION (by Al Etmanski)

This is a very easy read for “Social Innovation” leaning people and a very hard book to read for “Entrepreneurship” leaning people ( like myself ). I’ve persevered and have come to understand him. I went to a talk by him, read the book, then mind-mapped the book, and took immense pressure from my daughter to understand him.

I really like that he talks about “acting like a group movement”. It is fascinating. I think all of you would like this book.

Here is the first chapter [link]


Important Reading *A Bigger Prize* by Margaret Heffernan

November 21, 2015

Margaret Heffernan’s recent book on the topic of Competition is an important read. Her view of competition will really mess with your current views. Guaranteed. It is worth the effort.

Yes that means that A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better than the Competition is tough going. The final paragraph of Harvey Schachter’s great review is spot on.

She goes on and on, not just listing the damages she ascribes to competition but also indicating why the alternative, collaboration, is preferred. It’s sobering reading, well researched and illuminating in its examples and scope.
Harvey Schachter – Globe & Mail

Links


*Thank You* Jeffrey Pfeffer –Leadership BS is Awesome!!!

November 16, 2015

“Thank You” Jeffrey Pfeffer.
I love Leadership BS! I’ve already gifted a few copies. It’s that good.

Yes, it is sad, sobering, and Machiavellian as most of the reviews I’ve read say.

So What! It’s one of the few books that gives advice based on “Reality”. It’s important to note that leaders are not perfect and that bad behavior is more common than we’d like to admit. Pay attention and take care of yourself.

So Many Gems

My favorite is on page 173

“… relying on the good behavior and positive sentiments of work organizations for your career well being is singularly foolish”

Getting A Raise

In Chapter 7 “Take Care of Yourself” Pfeffer gives great advice on asking for a raise. Think “What can you do for the organization in the future?” — the organization does not care what you’ve done in the past. Yes it’s harsh advice. But is true and choosing to ignore this reality is a bad plan. Make sure you firmly put yourself in the organizations future plans, then you are “needed”. Talk about what you’re going to do. Use your past successes to support your story for your future.

Books For Experiential Learning

I’ve found that in teaching experiential workshops, like e@UBC’s Lean LaunchPads, our students are more exposed to “Reality”. Thus we need more books to support what they find in their research. We need more leadership books that have their roots in what people actually do versus what we want them to do. For example, there is a section where Mentorship goes sideways in this book. Priceless.


My Favorite Entrepreneurship Books (2015 Version)

October 30, 2015

Here is a visual view of my favorite “Entrepreneurship” books.

My 6 super-favorites have bold blue borders.

  • The Startup Owners Manual, by Steve Blank
  • Value Proposition Design, by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
  • The Design of Business, by Roger Martin
  • Humble Inquiry, by Edgar Schein
  • Linchpin, by Seth Godin
  • Leadership BS, by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Reading Entrepreneurship 2015 10 30

More — The Big List of Entrepreneurship Reading

If you’re looking for the monster reading list. Steve Blank has the best one here


I Have A Passion For Entrepreneurship, GREAT Program Showcase (Slides & Script)

February 4, 2015

Update – Sept 19, 2015 – the live video of this talk is available here.


Here are slides & script for the “I Have A Passion For Entrepreneurship”, Pecha Kucha Presentation, I gave on January 29, 2015 as part of Genomics Entrepreneurship UBCs GREAT Program Showcase.

note: The text for each slide is shown in the notes section of slideshare.

Full Text – 20 seconds per page/point

  • #1. I have a passion for entrepreneurship because it’s about people. And I care about people. It’s people, like you & me, who buy stuff. We, and our wallets, are ultimately the judges of entrepreneurial success. Entrepreneurship is about New Ways of serving people. Today and in the future.
  • #2. In Existing Markets, we want to be served with “Better, Faster, and Cheaper” versions of products, and services, we already know. For example, I have an iPhone 4s and I want and need the iPhone 6 because “it’s better, faster, and cheaper.”
  • #3 This is an Existing Market. It’s the place to be, and there is tons of money in Existing Markets. So it sounds like, if you’re an entrepreneur, all you need to do is make the iPhone 7. Super Easy. Right?
  • # 4. Well no. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs rarely succeed in Existing Markets. “Better, Faster and Cheaper” is not what entrepreneurs do. The big companies, like Apple, get to make their own sequels.
  • #5. Entrepreneurs create New Market Segments like Apple did with the original iPhone and iPod. These did not exist before. That means Entrepreneurs build version 1 products with the hope that people will want versions 2, 3, 4, 5, …
  • #6. This sounds very risky. Yes, It is. Most entrepreneurs fail. Even with Apple’s immense success few people bought version 1, or 2, of the iPhone and the earlier iPod. Raise your hands if you bought version 1 of the iPhone. {delay} Yah, I didn’t. It’s my experience that most people bought in with versions 3 or 4 ( like I did).
  • #7. The trouble with Creating New Market Segments isn’t the technology. It’s the people. Very few people buy version 1 of anything. The entrepreneurs real job is finding people who care, developing a relationship with them for versions 2, 3, 4, 5. … and so on. The sequels. That’s where the money is.
  • #8. And now the Sad Part. This is a lot of work and takes time. Most evidence suggests that it takes 3-to–5 years for a New Segment to become a money making Existing Market. That is a long sentence “3-to–5 years” … So … You’ve got to have an noble goal & lots of passion for it to get through that time.
  • #9. Many people will agree that this is realistic, and some of you will disagree. But many of you will ask me, “but Iain why do most of BC’s Billion Dollar successes like Botox, QLT, Westport, MDA, and your PMC-Sierra all take more than 5 years to become part of Existing Markets?”
  • #10. Because, Brand New Markets have a huge “People Problem”. It takes a long time for raw technology to connect with people. For example, people don’t want “transistors”, people want a transistor radio to listen to music and dance.
  • #11. In 1989, I was making chips for data communications at PMC-Sierra. One one hand that was genius. We were building chips for the Internet. On the other hand, the Internet didn’t exist yet. In fact the word Internet didn’t exist yet. (There was no market yet.) We were 5 years to early. What a stupid idea {laughing} We were in for a long journey.
  • #12. It was not straight-forward. The journey had no map, no boat, and no oars. We had to build everything from scratch. We messed up thousands of times. It was fun and many times it was TERRIFYING. But it was worth it, in the end.
  • #13. Yes. Entrepreneurship can be terrifying. There is a lot of anxious self – dialog – Will anyone care about my new idea? When will someone care? No understands what I’m talking about! My parents think I’m crazy to work on this. My friends think I’m crazy to work on this. I’m beginning to think I’m crazy.
  • #14 And then the “Rays of Hope” appear {laughing}. The entrepreneurial “New Segment” becomes an “Existing Market”. That’s when entrepreneurs can finally explain to their friends and family what it is that they really do.
  • #15. One of my favorite conversations was with my mom around 1996, that was about 7 years into PMC-Sierra, because I could finally connect something she that was doing in the real world with the products that our company was making.
  • #16. I got to say, “Mom that e-mail that you love so much. I’m actually a part of that. Your e-mail hits one of my ”chips“ every time you hit send. In fact every person on earth hits my chips when they send an e-mail.”
  • # 17. That was such a great moment. I made a difference for her. An entrepreneur made a difference for a real person in the real world.
  • #18. Our company survived and by 1998 we finally cracked $100M in sales. It took ten years. {wow}
  • #19. That journey started with new technology and a “New Market Segment” called The Internet. It took many years for the world to learn what the Internet was. The more we learned, the bigger the Internet market grew. And today we want it “Better, Faster, and Cheaper”, …. and on a mobile device. Wow. It’s amazing what the Internet has become.
  • #20. So, what’s next? The question for the future entrepreneurs in the room is, “Whose problem are you going to solve?” because that is the first step on your entrepreneurial journey. Thank You. {smile}

Collection – Steve Blank Life Science Blog Posts for 2014 and 2013

January 5, 2015

Steve Blank ran a Reinventing Life Sciences Lean LaunchPad in the Fall of 2013 and refined it in 2014. Here are all the blog posts associated with it.
/enjoy.

2014

2013

Introduction — Reinventing Life Science Startups

During Workshop — Lessons Learned — LLP for Life Science

Wrap Up — Lesson’s Learned


Reading Review – Best of 2014 – Piketty, Klein, Osterwalder, Pigneur, & Botton

December 21, 2014

Here is a quick review of my 2014 readings and recommendations. The lists, in each section, are in priority order.

(Note that many of these books are pre-2014. My criteria is that I read the book in 2014.)

Quick —”Best Of The Year”

Thomas Piketty, Capital, and Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything, blew my mind. These are mind altering books on Wealth and Climate Change.

Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur’s Value Proposition Design, took entrepreneurship books to “eleven”. Great job guys.

Alain de Botton’s, Art as Therapy, provided me with a new way to view art.

Important Reads

  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty — The most important part of this book is the data on public and private wealth. In my reading there seems to be consensus that the data is the best we have and most of the stir is What to do about this data? There is no question that the data is shocking. The CBC is a good starting place.
      On the “non-political” side of things, this book has tremendous business application, especially for marketers and market sizing exercises. The data presented shows a dramatic change in demographics and projects deeper change. Companies need to actively react to this change, if they haven’t already done so. I would guess that Apple’s deepening move towards luxury goods is informed by these trends. They believe in market share measured in “$ shipped” instead of market share in “units shipped”.
  • This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
    by Naomi Klein — If you want to know what the “Climate Change” movement is “doing and saying” in 2014 then read this. It does not disappoint. It explains the recent #blockadia movement and “First Nations” positions. If you don’t believe in “Climate Change” then you will hate this book. More here … Naomi Klein wins 2014 Hilary Weston Prize | CBC.
      My favorite part is in Chapter 9. Blockadia. It’s the story of Lummi carvers traveling ~1,300km over 16 days to 8+ communities with a 22 foot totem pole strapped to a flatbed truck. They finally permanently planted the pole in North Vancouver. more

Fun — Fiction

  • Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Precious Little Life – Colour Version by Bryan Lee O’Malley — This is a great series. The colour version is a good reason to re-read it.
  • A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • Wise Mans Fear by Patrick Rothfuss — this is the second book.
  • Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fun — Non-Fiction

  • Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent by Douglas Coupland — There is a positive interview in IEEE Spectrum and an negative interview in the Globe & Mail. In a nutshell engineers will like this book. He knows us well, as shown before in Microserfs and jPod. I was surprised that he only dedicated a couple sentences to EDFAs. To me these “Optical Amplication” devices are pure magic. (thx M. Spooner for the tip)
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield — Fantastic!
  • On Writing Stephen King — Very useful and an entertaining read. ( thx to review by Brain Pickings )
  • The Swerve: How the World Became Modern By Stephen Greenblatt — Here is review by Brain Pickings (thx T. Lawrence for the tip)

Business — Startups & Innovation

  • Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur — An instant Classic. Get this now.
  • Talking To Humans by Gif Constable — A very useful extension of Gif Constable’s blog posts discussing Customer Discovery Interviews. (thx to @denisewithers for tip)
  • Startup Boards by Brad Feld — an Awesome Resource for Young Startup CEOs ( and those in Training )
  • Brand Thinking by Debbie Millman — This is great Branding Immersion for Engineers. (It’s About People guys. )
  • To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink — This is a great introduction to sales for Scientists & Engineers or those who believe “Sales is the Dark Side”.
  • No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush by Gideon Lewis-Kraus
  • Ingenious: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig — ( thx to @sgsblank for the tip)

Science

  • Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics Hallam Stevens — I’ve been doing a lot of work with Genomics groups and this book really helped me get up to speed. ( thx @sgsblank. )

Health & Spirituality

  • Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong — Fascinating book. (thx Brainpickings review )
  • So Far From Home by Margaret J. Wheatley — highly recommended. (thx to B. Ross for the tip)
  • Blue Nights by Joan Didion. Not sure if I can call this fun. It is a great read wrt/ parenting.
  • Anatomy Of An Illness by Norman Cousins — If you’re living with a chronic illiness, this old book is still relevant.
  • Jewel Tree Of Tibet by Robert Thurman
  • Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
  • Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong
  • Lying by Sam Harris