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A great demonstration of focus and commitment against all odds, Mike Weir defeated Tiger Woods in a face to face battle yesterday at Royal Montreal on the final day of the President's Cup.

All the pressure of high expectations for Canada's No.1 golfer against the toughest competitor in the world who's been having a great year while Mike has been struggling to win anywhere. After leading 3-up then bouncing one into the water after two birdies by Tiger he was 1-down with three holes to play. He won two of them for the match.

Guts and skill. All you need to win in business and in golf.

Way to go, Mike!

Again I learned something new at the McGill MiniBiz Seminar this week. The topic was managing diversity, especially the generational gap between those born before WWII, the Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y.

For both managers of those diverse groups and for members of each generation the recommendation was to remember the Platinum Rule.

OK, we all know the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Apparently a pretty universal concept that has worked for many generations. Essentially, treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Seems good to me.

But consider the more effective Platinum Rule, especially when there are large cultural or generational differences to consider: "Treat other people the way they would like to be treated." Powerful concept.

In one respect business is not like golf, and that is the element of teamwork. Golf is normally a very solitary endeavor, just one golfer against the course and all other competitors. Very much alone, 100% responsible for the results, no one else to share the credit or take the blame.

But occasionally golf is also a team sport. Typically in college golf, but more notably in the famous Ryder Cup and the President's Cup, which is currently taking place in Montreal. Yesterday was a match of two-on-two with the alternate ball format. That means I drive it off the tee into the rough, you hit it back on the fairway, I hit it back in the rough, you hit it on the green and I miss the putt. And so on.

That was pretty much the way it went yesterday for Tiger Woods and his partner Charles Howell III. Charles had hit one wide of the green into deep rough behind a large sand trap with very little green in front of the hole. Tiger slashed it out with typical finesse, flying high over the trap, landed softly on the fringe and rolled gently to within two feet. Charles stepped up and missed the putt! That's hard on team spirit.

Nevertheless, they persevered and won their match. As Tiger said, "What matters is that we got the job done."

Meanwhile Mike Weir and VJ Singh had a different team experience. Both had been playing well and were holding a slim lead. But Mike hit his approach shot to the green slightly left and it landed in the sand trap. No problem, VJ hit a perfect shot out of the sand, onto the green and into the hole!

Ah the joys of successful teamwork.

I had the pleasure yesterday of hearing a presentation by Henry Mintzberg, McGill professor and management guru. One attendee described him as the "Tiger Woods of management science".

I know him as the Strategy professor during my McGill MBA program from 35 years ago. (Yikes, neither of us seem to have aged that much! OK, maybe less hair.)

He is a widely respected academic and the acclaimed author of "The Nature of Managerial Work ", "The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning", "Managers not MBAs" and many other books and articles that argue against the conventional wisdom and provoke thoughtful reflection on management and business. He is also the co-founder of the International Masters Program in Practicing Management (IMPM), a unique approach to learning that is designed to flow from the experience of the participants.

His presentation yesterday was originally advertised to be on the dilemma of corporate compensation, but that turned out be only part of his critique of the modern CEO focus on shareholder value that is leading to the great depression of 2008.

Some of his points to consider:

  • Productivity is a euphemism for cutting costs, mostly by firing employees, while maintaining short-term revenues.
  • The theoretical corporate objective of maximizing long-term shareholder value has been hijacked to mean pushing short-term earnings to inflate current market share prices.
  • How can employees be motivated to work for shareholders they have never met? Many of whom have no interest in the company except for the short-term ability to make a profit on their investment - they are day traders or hedge funds.
  • Shareholder value is not a worthy objective of the corporate institution as it specifically ignores (or exploits) other stakeholders, especially employees.
  • Mercenary corporate leadership is stealing from shareholders with absurd compensation and severance packages that are not tied to performance. The "robber barons are back!"
  • The old corporate silos have been replaced by horizontal slabs of concrete separating executives from their employees and the real operating issues.
  • "Human resources" is a term that dehumanizes human beings. It makes it easier to treat people like other "resources" to buy, sell, use and dispose of them. It's like describing airline passengers as "self-loading cargo"!
  • Corporations need to remember that customers are people too. They are not just another asset to be exploited.

Professor Mintzberg also suggested some remedies to avoid the great depression of 2008:

  • Stop being misled by the apparent productivity gains and profitability of large American corporations.
  • Get the mercenaries out of the executive suite and add employee voices in the boardroom.
  • Stop running businesses to satisfy financial analysts or investors with no interest in anything except short-term results.
  • Install real corporate leadership that is concerned, engaged, and modest. (Interestingly close to Jim Collins description of Level 5 Leadership from "Good to Great".)
  • Ignore the obsession with measurable factors and reconsider the immeasurable - values, benefits and impacts of economic activity.
  • In the larger context, get back to a better balance of the three sectors in society - public, private and social.

His full commentary is available at How Productivity Killed American Enterprise.

Lots to think about and to influence if we can.

I noticed on a recent visit to the bookstore that books on golf and business are remarkably similar.

Catchy titles: "The six rules for success", "The only book you'll ever need to need to read" , "Learn from the pros", etc. .... And the selections are similar; mastering techniques, applying psychology, or success stories from the past.

But in business and in golf, studying the subject and knowing the principles for success are not enough. You have to practice and get better by doing it.

Learning from experience and not just experiencing the experience will make all the difference.

Watching Tiger shoot 28 on the front nine was exciting and impressive, but the disappointment of a 35 on the back nine was a helpful reminder to us all that our expectations are not always met. Even the world's best golfer can have a letdown.

We were all looking forward to a 60, 59, or maybe even the first ever 58 on a PGA tour event. But the magic ended, inexplicably, as in life and business.

Nevertheless, Tiger won another tournament, another $1.26 million, plus the first FedEx Cup for the season's playoff series winner and a $10 million bonus. Suddenly, golf sounds a whole lot better than most businesses. I wonder if it's all golf for Tiger or does he see it as a business too?

Seymour Schulich's recent book "Get Smarter" is a disappointment.

In spite of the reviews and promotional news releases that it's full of brilliant insights, it is instead full of clichés and old anecdotes borrowed from Aesop's Fables or father's favourite tales. Not the wisdom and lessons of life and business and that you would expect from a prominent Canadian billionaire.

More a confirmation of the power of money to buy respect and admiration that Mr. Schulich has already demonstrated by his conspicuous donations to Canadian universities. I don't know him, but I have an impression that Mr. Schulich is most impressed with himself and acted on the urge to say "I'm very rich so I must be pretty smart and people should listen to my advice." He offers his opinions on China, the Middle East, and his favourite movies (why is that relevant?) A good friend or editor should have told him not to embarrass himself. He doesn't need the money or the attention from writing a book.
He does have old-fashioned views and strong opinions on some subjects that are both surprising and interesting and the Appendix describing his lucky strike in Nevada is more revealing of how to become a billionaire. Still not enough to justify the price or the time to read the whole book.
A Peter C. Newman story of his life and times would have been more interesting, but probably not as flattering for Mr. Schulich.

That was the advice of David Lank, Director of the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies at McGill, in a seminar last evening. I agree that anyone can be, but not everyone should be, and not everyone wants to be.

As David suggested, why would anyone want to be an entrepreneur when they know that:

  1. You will not really work for yourself, but instead for all the people that depend on you.
  2. The world really doesn't care about you or your business.
  3. Most new businessses fail.

The first test of a real entrepreneur, of course, is that he/she proceeds with enthusiasm in spite of all that knowledge. In David's opinion, based on providing start-up capital to more than 140 companies during his career in venture capital, the most important element in deciding to invest in an entrepreneur is the passion they demonstrate in support of their plan.

A formal business plan is always required, but that is less important than the passion factor. The most important element required for favourable consideration of the business plan is the understanding of reality communicated by the entrepreneur.

Good perspectives to keep in mind.

Another quotable from my dad, the original Uncle Ralph, which he used a lot when he was coaching me at baseball, but also applies to business and golf.

"It's never good enough to swing and hope."

Think about it.

Many golfers have succeeded in business as well as golf and they have relevant advice for us about both. On this Blog we'll worry more about business than your golf (or mine).

First quotes are from Arnold Palmer, thanks to Rick Spence and his Canadian Entrepreneur Blog.
See: http://canentrepreneur.blogspot.com/2007/09/best-ever-entrepreneurship-quotes-week_10.html

Best-Ever Entrepreneurship Quotes: Week 49

Here is your motivational Quote of the Week, personally selected to get your week off to an inspirational start.

“Winning isn't everything, but wanting it is.”Arnold Palmer, professional golfer and living legend.Today Arnie celebrates his 78th birthday. To send him a birthday greeting, click here (registration required in “Arnie’s Army”).

And here's another great Arnold Palmer quote on competition for all entrepreneurs to chew on:“I never rooted against an opponent. But I never rooted for him, either.”

Thanks Arnold and Rick for your thoughts on golf and business.

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