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Paper Napkin Wisdom - Podcast and Blog for Entrepreneurs, Leaders and Difference-Makers

I've asked 1000s of the worlds top Entrepreneurs, Leaders, and Difference-Makers to share with me their most important pearl of wisdom on a simple paper napkin. Then I ask them to have a conversation about why they shared that Paper Napkin Wisdom with me and what it meant to them and for them in their life. Visit http://www.papernapkinwisdom.com for full show notes and archives. Learn their exceptional Stories of Drive, Impact, Balance and Leadership shared by CEOs, founders, authors, speakers, mentors, and teachers. They share successes and failures alike, paying forward their learning experiences to all of us.
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Now displaying: January, 2018
Jan 31, 2018

The world loves leaders. We write books and television shows about them and promote leadership as one of the defining qualities of a successful person. However, today’s guest Bill Treasurer, has a somewhat unorthodox take on what great leadership should really look like. After spending the last two decades as an author and leadership development coach for Fortune 500 brands, he has concluded that we have been wrong in our approach to the concept and essence of leadership. 

“The first law of leadership is ‘It’s not about you’,” he says. A self-described leadership plumber (“I’m the one who gets the hairballs out,” he jokes), Bill explores this concept in his latest book entitled A Leadership Kick in the Ass. “I got the concept from my son. He was chosen to be class leader for the day. When I asked him how it went, he said ‘I got to open doors for people’,” Bill recalls. This seemingly innocuous but impactful statement revealed to Bill that one of the basic tenets of leadership was being overlooked. “Emerging leaders have sharp elbows of ambition. Sometimes leaders forget that the central of idea is about those being led. It’s never about the leader,” he says.

While leaders are praised for being exceptional motivators, Bill describes leaders as Chief Opportunity Creators for both their people and their organization. Instead of judging individuals and teams by their own cadence, Bill urges leaders to exude patience. “99% of the leaders I meet are impatient,” he says, “But leaders must accept that people will take time to walk through the door you open for them.”

With the number of responsibilities on their plate, leaders must find time to refocus – not only on the company’s goals – but also their leadership style. The renowned innovator Steve Jobs reportedly had a similar refocusing period after he was fired from Apple in the mid-80s. “He got back to the essentialism of it all. We learn best from experience and our transformational humiliating events,” Bill says.

Leaders must learn how to authentically rebuild themselves in order to provide the greatest value to their team. Additionally, leaders can refocus by setting vision and getting team members to become emotionally invested its success. “Growth is good, but it’s just an outcome or an ends to the means. People and investment are the means,” Bill remarks.

What are some ways you refocus your leadership? Let us know at www.Facebook.com/PaperNapkinWisdom or Twitter www.twitter.com/WiseNapkin!

Jan 27, 2018

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin
Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

This week I visited a group of entrepreneurs for a workshop on Execution. On the way back, I had huge challenges getting back home for the weekend. Apparently there was some sort of computer error, which took a ton of time to fix and, predictably, let to me missing the flight home.

The challenge was that 1000s of other passengers had the same challenge as I did that day.

I never quit, nor did I think of quitting … in fact, I’ve never quit on anything. In fact, in never even occurs to me.

This week I share why.

Make it a great week!

Jan 24, 2018

Many entrepreneurs, both budding and seasoned, can sometimes find themselves in a standstill due to lack of action. But how can entrepreneurs make “action” their default? If you’ve been following our show, you’ll know that a motto of mine is “make it bad, then make it better.” Today’s podcast guest, John Henry explains why the motto “default to action” has become one of his guiding principles. “You’ll be surprised what you can build if you default to action,” says the 23 year old entrepreneur and founder of Cofound Harlem, “I think some people may disagree with that principle but that’s the stage of entrepreneurship I’m in.”

He adopted this mantra years ago when he founded his first business. A child of immigrant parents, John has always maintained a scrappy approach to entrepreneurship. While working as a doorman, he was approached by a resident who provided him with a business opportunity. “The resident offered to give me wholesale rates on dry cleaning if other residents were willing to do their dry cleaning at his businesses. If a shirt cost $6 to dry clean, he would charge me $2 and I would pocket the $4,” John recalls. Soon, he had launched a full scale operation which included providing dry cleaning services to popular shows, including Law and Order, Boardwalk Empire and more.

Defaulting to action has to become a default mindset. John follows a few routines to keep himself centered. “Before I go to sleep, I write out my to-do list and then prioritize based on which tasks will yield the biggest results, instead of by which tasks I find the most enjoyable,” he says. Sometimes, this means he opts to work with his accountant on tax issues as opposed to writing a blog post. In addition to this, he tries to catch himself whenever he becomes unfocused. “Facebook is the new TV,” he jokes. Instead of heading to social media, he reads articles from the Financial Times or some of his other favorite publications.

John views focus as a muscle – the more you work it out, the stronger it becomes. Being intentional about focus is a huge part of his motto. “I’m very intentional about greatness. At one point, I wrote greatness over and over in my black notebook. Now, when I’m not being productive, I feel guilty,” he says.

How would defaulting to action improve your business? Comment below or send us a tweet.

Jan 20, 2018

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

Had a fun, wine-filled conversation this week with someone about unlikely sources of cinematic inspiration. I’ve almost always gone back to this handful of movies when I feel like my belief in myself is shaken and I need a source of inspiration.

What movies do you watch for inspiration? My top few are in the podcast … but there are so many more (including my holiday favorite) It’s a Wonderful Life, and Scrooged, that could have made the cut.

Make it a great week!

Jan 17, 2018

Welcome to Episode 1 of Leading Behind the Scenes, a new channel focused on supporting those who support great leaders and entrepreneurs.

Miranda Barrett is an entrepreneur support expert with more than 10 years working with more than 400 entrepreneurs as part of the EO Global Team, and shares her insights on what it takes to be an effective leader.

Leaders often think they’re leading, but their staff is disengaged and disinterested in the overall mission. “If you think you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk,” she says.

According to Miranda, the main trait of a good leader is someone who knows how to leverage and engage their team. “Entrepreneurs have so much energy and passion. It’s akin to an excited golden retriever,” she says. Leaders must understand how to share that excitement and vision with the team. Additionally, showing sincerity and curiosity is a crucial part of getting teams in line with their leader. She explains, “You have to admit when you’re stuck and turn to your team members to help fix the problem, instead of micromanaging. That trust is contagious and will come right back to you.”

Empowering your team through humility and vulnerability can also lead to teaching them to develop their inner leader, which, in turn, will help you reach your goals. The team needs to feel protected and supported by the leader before they’ll protect and support him or her. She recalls a situation where a supportive team led to success. “We were hosting our Global Student Entrepreneur Awards program. The team was phenomenal. My job was to make sure our emcee did the best job possible, despite last minute scheduling changes. In a very visible way, he was on the hook for anything that would have gone wrong, but he had a safety net. He looked alone but he was very, very well supported.”

Things don’t always turn out as planned. When teams don’t reach their goals, it’s important to take some time to regroup. “There’s a humility in being curious. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Was the process broken? If so, where was the breakdown? Unemotionally figuring out what happened and where, instead of immediately blaming your team is a crucial part of maintaining that trust,” she says.

Having a team of “yes-men” may mean that your team members don’t feel open enough to voice their opinions. A disengaged team can be just as bad as an incompetent one. “When you have people proactively looking ahead of you to help and feel safe making suggestions? That’s when you can be sure that your team wants to be there,” she says. Conversely, if your team isn’t making suggestions, they may not feel comfortable speaking up. People who follow like leaders help push each other to grow and be better.

Finding ways to draw the honesty out of your team ensures its health. Miranda suggests that leaders find “fun and inventive” ways to get honest feedback from team members that may not feel comfortable opening up.  Miranda recalls a company that was opening a store in China. In a meeting, the team assured their managers everything was on schedule to open on time. However, after the managers let the team place bets on when they thought the store would actually open, they found out that no one on the team thought that making the deadline was possible. The store ended up not opening for months.

Provide a safe environment, and people will speak up.

Jan 13, 2018

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

I was visiting a group of 20-30 entrepreneurs in Washington, DC this week and we were discussing Execution (getting stuff done). There are so many of us that seem to get stuck in urgent tasks, instead of focusing on the important work that will move us forward.  Sometimes we do this because it is more comfortable to play the role of the superhero and the save the day, the way we have always done, rather than do the uncomfortable task of doing something new.

Remember, the new task – the harder one to pick, is supposed to be uncomfortable. We have never done it before. Go for it … do the thing that you have never done to get the results you have never had.

Jan 10, 2018

Power is an interesting concept. Few other nouns evoke such a visceral response quite like the five letter word. Today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom guest has a unique take on power and has used this philosophy to guide his organization, Accountability Lab. “The best thing you can do with power is give it away,” says Blair Glencorse.

While many people seek to “change the world” by gaining power through political or economic means, Blair notes that the people who actually inspire change are those who give their power away. “I believe we are all powerful in our own way,” he muses. His organization works with young people across the world in an effort to make governments more accountable. “We help people generate accountability from the bottom up, through guiding them into realizing and channeling that power,” he says. He believes this system will help change governments.

Citing his film school in Liberia, Blair explains how marginalized people often have more power than they realize, “We often look at [them] from a Western perspective, which is not always the most accurate.” Through his work with the film school, students not only find their voices – they discover creative outlets for it.

This output inspires change through the creation of educational videos, such as a recent PSA which highlights the country’s sexual harassment problem. “Giving them the power to articulate their voices helps spark discussions on how to improve policies on both a micro and macro level,” he says. The group has even started Integrity Idol, a series where regular citizens nominate honest government officials. After the nominations all trickle in, people are able to vote for their favorite, authentic official.

While some people often pair accountability with consequences, Blair looks to celebrate integrity, posing that it’s “not necessarily a consequence for things going wrong, it’s a celebration for things going right.” In terms of corporate application, he also believes that leaders should seek to create “integrity idols” within their own organizations – “Companies must champion these values. It can shift the culture of an organization.”

He stresses that it’s important to discover what your team members are interested in and find ways to incorporate accountability in an authentic day. In Liberia, he regularly works with rappers in order to promote positive messages, but in their own voice. “You have to help them recognize the power they already have.”

What are some ways you can incorporate accountability into your company culture? Sound off on our Twitter @WiseNapkin

Jan 6, 2018

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

This week we continued to roll out a new product in one of my companies and the feedback has been great! In fact most of the time people are surprised we haven’t been around for years. But there’s no secret to how we did this – we practiced and practiced and practiced our pitch, story, and value proposition before taking it to the world.

Listen in and I share how you can do the same in your business.

Jan 3, 2018

Now that football season is back in full swing in the U.S., there’s no better time to discuss scrimmaging. However, we’re not talking about the traditional sports term in today’s podcast. Author and Motivational Speaker, Nathan Jamail recently released “The Leadership Playbook”, a guide which discusses the importance of coaching employees versus managing them.

A common theme in the book is the importance of scrimmaging. “Scrimmaging is getting into character to prepare for an upcoming event, while roleplaying is an exercise to see what you learn and/or know. Teams scrimmage to prepare for games. If you don’t learn how to scrimmage, you’re not getting the full effect of practice,” he says.

The idea of role playing can be intimidating for many members in Corporate America. However, Nathan believes this is due to the intent. He suggests swapping out roleplaying with scrimmaging. In sports, teams use scrimmage to not only practice, but to try out new techniques prior to Game Day. “It’s the time where you get to do what you think is right and test things out. When you create a culture of scrimmage, you’ll realize that your team will actually begin to have fun doing it,” he says.

Nathan first stumbled across this philosophy as a sales rep for a pager company in the 90s. He and his co-worker would have role-playing exercises to prepare for a long day of cold calling. A few years later, his friend (now boss) began to mandate role-playing. Many employees voiced fear due to the inherent judgmental nature of role-playing. However, in a scrimmage environment, the results shift. “I noticed that in a scrimmage culture, people are truly getting better, as opposed to role-play culture,” Nathan remarks, “The biggest difference that, when sustained, it becomes a way to communicate, as opposed to an activity.”

Nathan’s first philosophy of leadership (and most recent book) asserts that managers need to approach management like coaching. “In management, we spend time with people who need the attention. In coaching, we spend time with people who deserve the attention. In sports, players thrive for the coach’s attention. If we only spend times with people who need the attention, our attention turns into a consequence of failure.

You can’t coach someone who views your involvement as a negative,” he says. His second philosophy stems from the understanding that everyone needs training more so than practice. “Practice is getting better at something you already know. Training is learning something new,” he remarks. Coaching your employees to become better rather than just gaining more experience is crucial. “I have 20 years of experience golfing and I’m just as horrible as I was 20 years ago,” he jokes.

Nathan also believes that management should embrace conflict. “In coaching, we embrace conflict because we know that’s the only way to make people better,” he says. “In management, if someone isn’t able to embrace coaching and a scrimmage mindset, they should be cut from the team.”

He concludes his case for scrimmaging by asserting that making it into a practice only helps teams grow and learn. “If you and I scrimmaged before a client meeting, there is a 100% chance we would do better at that meeting. If we didn’t scrimmage, nothing would happen. There would be no consequence. Scrimmaging only helps.”

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