Category Archives: leadership

Celebrity CEOs 

What do they know?

I remember my investment broker telling me years ago, “making money doesn’t make you  smart.”  Maybe you’re just lucky. Or maybe all that talent and education and hard work finally paid off. And maybe these celebrity CEOs can tell us how to do better for ourselves and our businesses. They seem to be rich and smart and successful.

But don’t judge a book by it’s cover, or the recommendations of other celebrities, or the fact it’s a bestseller. Those are just signs of good marketing. (Lessons there that might help me sell more of my books!) But buyer beware. It’s important to check the credentials and the content before we get too excited looking for nuggets of truth and wisdom in their books.

I’m currently reading Ray Dalio’s, The Changing World Order, and Marc Benioff’s, Trailblazer. Dalio is the billionaire founder of Bridgewater, the largest hedge fund in the world, and Benioff is the billionaire founder of Salesforce, a world leader in cloud computing and customer relationship software. Both very bright, rich, and successful.

Dalio presents an interesting perspective on the rise and fall of empires over the last 500 years and the effects on banking, currency, finance and economics. He recommends his principles for investing to deal with current and future changes in the world order. There are some helpful insights for managing your investment portfolio, but I find the fifty to one-hundred-year timeline not very relevant for decision-making in today’s volatile world affected more by short-term political and economic issues. As another famous economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, reminded us, “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

Benioff’s book is more relevant for CEOs and small-business entrepreneurs trying to navigate current social and cultural issues of the modern world affecting their businesses every day. Benioff is the epitome of the ethical, enlightened entrepreneur and explains his belief that business is the greatest platform for social change.

Salesforce was founded in 1997 and guided from the start by Benioff’s principles:

  • Values create value
  • Creative success is a triumph of imagination guided by values
  • Consistent application of Salesforce’s core values: trust, customer success, innovation and equality are essential to it’s continuing success
  • Corporate culture defines how you express your values
  • Employees at all levels must be committed to the culture of supporting local communities and advancing social progress.

Benioff admits to the challenges and the mistakes he’s made in the process, but he sets a very high standard for any business leader to follow and be more pro-active. He makes a very convincing case that being socially responsible and active in the community will make the business more attractive to employees, customers and other stakeholders, and consequently, more successful. But it has to be more than a mission statement, more than a marketing slogan.

Are you a believer? Are your actions guided by ethical values and a social conscience? Is your business a platform for social change?

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

 

 

Resilience

Versus fatigue.

What is resilience?

It’s not just bouncing back after a major setback or getting through difficult times. It’s not only about celebrities and superstars recovering from serious injuries or illness and returning to top performance again; it’s also about business owners getting back to work, serving customers and providing a boost to employees and the local economy.

In product design and engineering, resilience is the built-in ability to absorb or avoid damage without suffering complete failure. You have that ability too.  Remind yourself of the severe challenges that you’ve survived in the past.

You can handle this. Don’t let the _?????_ grind you down!

Resilience is stubborn resistance to fatigue. Fatigue leads to poor performance and bad decisions – like giving up, or defiant opposition to doing what needs to be done. Resilience is better – suck it up, call on your reserves and find more creative ways to respond to difficult circumstances. Inspire yourself and others to do what’s necessary.

Be resilient. Be strong and persistent, retain your guiding principles and follow your moral compass. You’ll get back on the path to where you want to be.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

Pay yourself first

Profit is not a dirty word.

It may seem inappropriate, but it’s not. My advice to entrepreneurs is always to align your business objectives with your personal objectives. It’s the best way to ensure your ongoing commitment, patience and persistence through all the roadblocks, detours and setbacks. Like making a career choice; find out what you’re good at and what you also like to do – do that.

If you’re running a business, you want it to succeed. I know you’re not in it just for the money, but it needs to be profitable to be successful. Your employees, customers, suppliers, business partners and investors, the governments and communities you support, are all counting on you. Don’t screw up!

You can ignore the pontificating anti-capitalist critics who think profit is a dirty word. If your business is profitable, they’ll assume you’re among the evil, greedy, selfish capitalists ripping off customers and employees and killing the planet. Don’t bother to argue, explain or apologize; they’ve already stopped listening. Stay calm, carry on.

Your business success is measured by it’s profitability over time. You will be judged on how you made it and how you use it, not on how much you made. Did you lie, cheat or steal to earn it? Are you investing your profits back in the business? Are you paying employees fairly? Are you meeting your obligations to society, people and the planet?

You can pay yourself first; it’s important that you continue to be motivated and adequately rewarded for your leadership and good management in running a profitable business. It’s also important to have some of your cash flow going into other investments – to build your retirement funds, to diversify your portfolio and to avoid the risk of losing everything in a business failure. Just keep your own compensation within reasonably acceptable limits for internal and external equity.

Remember you are also counting on the support of the people who are watching you.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

Learn to live with it

Doesn’t mean ignore it.

 We keep being told we have to learn to live with it.

It seems to me a useless cliché, whether it’s applied to the continuing risk of Covid variants, to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to the humanitarian crisis in Europe or to the threat of escalating military conflict into WWIII.

It’s a lot to worry about and it’s more distressing and disturbing to feel we are unable to affect the outcomes. However, ignoring the dangerously volatile world around us and hiding inside our personal safe havens are not good choices.

We can do more.

We can be responsible, intelligent citizens and contribute to better outcomes. Be safe, take care of yourself and others. Speak up. Lend your support to the causes of public health, freedom, democracy and human rights.

You can make a difference.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

Management science?

Or an art.

I was in engineering at UBC when I discovered that management was much more appealing to me than engineering. I didn’t ever enjoy the study of vector analysis or rock mechanics and I have zero mechanical aptitude, but I was hooked immediately after taking two optional courses – Economics 101 and Psychology 100.

That’s what management is all about! Both the science and the art.

After two years working as an engineer, I went back to school for my MBA at McGill. They attracted me by their scientific approach to management with courses on operations management, computer science, finance and economics, with a heavy dose of behavioural science. All the knowledge, tools and tactics I would need to become a successful manager, maybe even a future CEO of Alcan Aluminum, where I worked immediately after graduation. However, I received an even better education in the subject of management and corporate leadership from then President of Alcan and the most effective CEO I’ve ever known, David Culver.

But the debate continues – is it science or an art?

Henry Mintzberg argues that management is a craft and expecting to teach it to MBA students without experience is like trying to teach psychology to someone who has never met a real person.

My argument is that it’s a balancing act and fits the definition of any kind of expertise – a combination of sufficient knowledge and experience with a dedication to continuous learning and self-improvement.

Are you an expert manager?

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Be Better. Do Better.

Every day

Once a year is not enough

It’s the start of a new year and we’re all expected to have prepared our New Year’s Resolutions for 2022 and be working diligently on them now. What’s the plan, the goals and objectives? How are we going to be better and do better this year?

The process of looking back to review our performance and planning ahead to refine our plans is a good one, but it should be done every day. Once a year is not enough.

My theme, as your Uncle Ralph, and the motto of LearningEntrepreneurship.com is to Be Better and Do Better, every day. Have a purpose and have a plan. Review and revise it every day – How are we doing? How have we done? What do we need to do differently? What’s working that we need to do more of and even better?

Continuous improvement is not a new concept, but it is worth noting the two key words.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Looking back, planning ahead. 

Enduring another pandemic year-end

 

 

 

 

 

We should be getting better at this by now.

The pandemic environment and public health rules have changed everything we do, but sound principles and processes still apply. The year-end process hasn’t changed. We should still take time to look back and plan ahead. But let’s try to do it better next year. After almost two years of the pandemic and all its associated challenges, surely we’ve learned some important lessons.

Who to blame? Who to punish?  

In looking back, let’s spend less time looking for explanations and trying to figure out who to blame and who to punish. The media and angry activists are already giving too much time, energy and attention to that unconstructive exercise. Let’s try to accept where we are now and start looking at ways to get to a better place. Let’s celebrate our successes instead of endlessly apologizing for our failures and attacking those we’ve decided are at fault.

Looking for heroes, not villains

It starts with finding the facts, then making a well-reasoned case for solutions or a better approach to the problem. Let’s listen to the experts and ignore the celebrity influencers. Let’s look for the heroes who made a difference and moved us forward. And ignore the villains who are trying to hold us back.

Keep doing what works and we’ll have a better year soon.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

 

 

Cultural sensitivity  

Tread carefully     

It seems to be a pandemic side effect. Everyone has exhausted their tolerance with all the  minor annoyances and the reaction on bigger issues may be exaggerated or extreme. Tread carefully. Nerves are exposed, fuses are short, anger and frustration are bubbling close to the surface.

You may think it’s over reaction or hyper-sensitivity to something insignificant and unimportant. You never intended to be insensitive and are not unaware of current social issues, but you might also recognize the symptoms in your own reaction to what someone else would consider insignificant and unimportant. Expect strong reactions to perceived insults, insensitivity, or neglect.

Using politically correct language and media approved acronyms or hashtags, like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, or BIPOC, is not enough. It is too casual, too easy, and a too convenient dismissal of white privilege. It’s a lazy claim to being “woke,” without actually doing anything to change attitudes or behaviour.

We need to make the effort to create change. It takes more than repeating popular slogans or using all the right words to make progress on the issues of racism, equality, diversity, and inclusion. Seek to understand, listen and learn, before trying to dismiss, defend, explain, persuade or apologize. Pay attention, it’s a minefield. There may be casualties.

Old-fashioned politeness and respect for individual differences are a good start. Necessary, but not sufficient.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

The Enlightened CEO

Obviously  

Most outspoken critics of CEOs are lazy. They find an easy target in the stereotypical greedy, selfish CEO, and they shout their loud accusations. Unfortunately, some of those CEOs are easily found and they are equally lazy about explaining or defending themselves.

As my mother used to tell me, “Don’t confuse them with the facts, they’ve already made up their mind.” But I keep trying.

Most CEOs, business owners and successful entrepreneurs didn’t get there because they’re ignorant of the requirements to stay successful. Many of their critics and self-proclaimed pontificators of the new rules for “people and the planet before profits,” make it sound simple and obvious, but are more arrogant and ignorant of how difficult and complicated it really is to be successful as an Enlightened CEO.

My definition of Enlightened Entrepreneurship:  Building a sustainable business based on loyal, long-term, profitable customer relationships while recognizing and respecting the needs of Employees, Customers, Business Partners, Communities, Society and the Planet.

Obviously, focusing on short-term profit is a formula for long-term failure. Obvious to me and to you, but it does require explaining, to some CEOS, business owners and entrepreneurs, and to their critics. It’s worth trying.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Basic principles still apply

Stay calm & carry on

As we near the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is lots of talk of the new normal. The world has changed, and we need to do things differently.

Now what? It’s worth remembering the old normal and the basic principles that still apply.

Here are a few reminders:

  • Look before you leap.
  • Just do it!
  • Treat employees well and they’ll treat customers well.
  • Buy low, sell high.
  • Do your homework.
  • Trust your instinct.

 

  • Watch short-term profit, but focus on long-term value.
  • Lead strategically, manage minutely.
  • Under promise, over deliver.
  • DON’T WASTE TIME!

 

  • Make your mother proud.
  • People and the planet come first.
  • You cannot over-communicate.

 

  • Stay healthy and be well.

 

An incomplete list, in no particular order. Even some apparent contradictions. So, make your own list of the principles that have worked for you in the past. Focus on those that still apply.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs