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CMI Blog

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Why Should You Become Obsessed With Small Problems? - Robyn Benincasa

By cmiadmin | Aug 30, 2016 | Comments Off

Robyn Benincasa is a 2014 CNN Hero, a World Champion Adventure Racer, a San Diego Firefighter, a 10x Ironman Triathlete, and the proud owner of two bionic metal hips. Inspired by her good friend and Breast Cancer Survivor, Louise Cooper, Robyn started the 501c3 Project Athena Foundation to help Survivors of medical or traumatic setbacks discover how amazing and strong they are by completing an adventurous dream that they may have never thought possible. As Robyn often says "Its not about the setback, it's about the comeback!"

Beyond her non-profit, Robyn is also a New York Times Bestselling author for “How Winning Works” and is a 3x winner of the “Top 5 Teambuilding Speaker" Award. In the last 10 years she has shared her message about "Extreme Teamwork"  and "Why Winners Win"  with over 600 companies, from Starbucks, to Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, and Nestle, just to name a few.

Robyn also accepts full blame for inspiring people to do insane things like cross the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim, run their first triathlon, start their own businesses, or kayak 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West! This is, after all, who she is and what she does: Robyn inspires people to grab life with one hand, grab their teammates with the other, and to create that special magic that allows each of us to become better and stronger together than we would ever be alone."

The Project Athena Foundation and our upcoming adventures for Survivors and fundraisers -- paf was inspired by my hip replacements and my awesome semi broken survivor pals who are now "trail Angels" who train others for their big comeback!

Her recent whack (last week) at the longest nonstop paddling race In the world, the Missouri River 340 (a 340 mile race from Kansas City to st Charles) with a fractured femur (grrrrr. Don't get me started)

For more information about the upcoming exclusive live Business Execution Summit, text the word BESUMMIT to 41411

This event is for Business Owners, Corporate Executives, Entrepreneurs and Coaches that want to take their game to the next level and master execution once and for all.  It does not matter what you know, only what you can execute that counts.

Project Athena and Robyn Benincasa 2 Day Hike!

By cmiadmin | Aug 29, 2016 | Comments Off

Awesome group hike (two full days, 45 miles, and 11,000 ft of elevation loss & gain) with Project Athena Foundation, which was founded by speaker Robyn Benincasa! The Project Athena Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping women survivors of medical or other traumatic setbacks achieve their adventurous dreams. Way to go!



Learn more about Robyn and Project Athena.

Strativity Group Inc. Honored with New Jersey SmartCEO’s Corporate Culture Award - Lior Arussy

By cmiadmin | Aug 29, 2016 | Comments Off

Strativity Group Inc. is the undisputed leader in customer experience design and transformation

Hackensack, NJ (Aug. 29, 2016) — Strativity Group, Inc. was honored by New Jersey SmartCEO as one of the 2016 Corporate Culture Award winners. The Corporate Culture Awards celebrate 50 companies in New Jersey that have successfully championed a positive, productive and performance-driven culture, and have worked with their employees to develop successful cultural practices. Winners will be profiled in the November/December issue of SmartCEO magazine and celebrated at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 at the Starland Ballroom.

“In the past few weeks we have been honored with a number of awards, recognizing our growth and undisputed leadership in customer experience consulting,” said Strativity President, Lior Arussy. “what makes this SmartCEO Corporate Culture Award so special is that we have maintained a fun, vibrant, exciting culture for our employees during a time of unparalleled growth.”

“The 2016 Corporate Culture Award winners have realized that running a company is more than head count and the bottom line. It’s about creating a place where creativity, energy and ideas are cultivated. Through this they are able to not only enhance performance and sustain their companies’ competitive advantages but also enrich the lives of those they employ and inspire them to make a greater impact on the world,” says Jaime Nespor-Zawmon, President of SmartCEO. “We’re honored to celebrate with the leaders of New Jersey’s top company cultures and recognize them for building true performance-driven cultures.”

About the Corporate Culture Awards 

The Corporate Culture Awards program honors companies that foster a creative, collaborative workplace culture to enhance performance and sustain a competitive advantage. Smart leaders understand that culture is a company’s greatest asset, driving performance and growth. What’s more, a successful culture is actively and intentionally cultivated and developed. Corporate Culture Awards winners will have championed for a positive, productive culture in their organization, and will have worked with employees to develop successful cultural practices. The final roster of winners will be chosen by an independent committee of local business leaders, profiled in SmartCEO magazine, and celebrated at a high-energy awards event. About SmartCEO SmartCEO’s mission is to educate and inspire the business community through its award-winning magazine, connections at C-level events and access to valuable online resources. SmartCEO’s integrated media platforms reach decision makers in the Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Long Island, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, metropolitan areas.

Strativity Group – Passion, Expertise and Execution

The people at Strativity are united by passion and guided by a proprietary integrated methodology to unleash exceptional performance with employees and customers. With experience at leading organizations such as Bain, Deloitte, EY, Ipsos, Bulgari and HP, Strativity brings world-class experience combined with a focus on measurable results.

We measure success by a single word: Execution. 

Strativity has had the privilege of working with exceptional brands such as Mercedes-Benz, MasterCard, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Walmart, New York Times, FedEx, Clinton Foundation, American Management Association, Mazda, SAP, Wyeth, Honeywell and Johnson & Johnson. With over 175 completed projects in 21 countries impacting over 400 million customers and 700,000 employees, Strativity is ready to face your challenge.

Learn more about Lior!

Three Questions To Ask Yourself For Maximum Performance - Ty Bennett

By cmiadmin | Aug 29, 2016 | Comments Off


In a conversation on adding value, New York Times bestselling author Brendan Burchard proposed three questions we should ask ourselves.

As you finish a project, contribute to the team or look for ways to add value as a partner leader, I want you to ask yourself these three questions on a regular basis. I put it on a sticky note as I was writing my book Partnership is the New Leadership because I want the content to add enormous value. Answering all three in the affirmative will accomplish that goal.

Question 1. Is what I am creating/contributing distinct?

Is your contribution different in a significant way? Is it adding value in a way that no one else has done? Does it stand out? Does it look and feel aesthetically unique? Is it something that will impress people because it is coming from an angle that others haven’t thought of?

  • It’s not crazy or out there, but it is distinct and stands out.

Question 2. Is This My Most Excellent Contribution?

Did you just throw it together or did you do a good job? Did you put in the time to prepare and give it your best effort? Did you make it look amazing and professional? Did you ask people questions in the preparation to make sure you added relevant value? Did you solicit sufficient feedback so that you are confident it will be well received?

  • When we strive for excellence, we put in the effort that pays off.

Question 3. Is There Heart in Here?

Did you approach it with a service mindset? Are you striving to help others or to make yourself look great? Is there emotion in this thing you have contributed? Will people feel your passion?

  • Part of the way we add value as leaders is to bring the flare, the inspiration, and the vibrancy that people are looking for.

Aging populations, Chinese urbanization and the dynamic potential of Indonesia - Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Aug 29, 2016 | Comments Off

Ted C. Fishman is a global expert on populations, demographics and emerging markets. When we met up in Chicago, he slipped through the crowded hotel lobby to greet me, in a wonderful Indonesian batik shirt - like a covert character from a Graham Greene spy novel. Ted is a veteran journalist, essayist and former member and trader of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. His most recent book, Shock of Gray, The Aging of the World’s Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation looks at how the aging of the world is propelling globalization, redefining nearly every important relationship we have and changing life for everyone young and old. He also wrote the international bestseller, China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World, which describes the effects of China's emergence as a world power on the lives and businesses of people across the globe. In this podcast, we had a wide-ranging chat about the future impact of shifting population demographics on global growth, the rapid urbanization of China and how technology has impacted daily life there, as well as Ted’s latest journeys and insights about the Indonesian market.

See More from Mike!

How Google Runs Their Legal Team - Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Aug 29, 2016 | Comments Off

5 things I learned about the data-driven, automated legal department of the future

Most of us are familiar with Google’s moonshot projects that span everything from self-driving cars to AIs that can beat world champion GO players. Less well known are the ways that Google is re-inventing how it designs and optimizes its own internal operations.

Let’s be honest — ‘disruptive innovation’ and the legal profession are not two ideas that frequently hang out together. However the role of the general counsel has changed quite dramatically over the last few years. Rather than just risk managers, they are increasingly business advisors to the CEO and to the board.

Next week I’m giving a talk at the ILTACON summit that hosts the CIOs of the world’s largest law firms. In preparation, I interviewed Mary O’Carroll, Head of Legal Operations at Google to understand how a quintessentially 21st company runs their law department.

Here is what I learned:

#1. Scaling up requires an operations team

Google has one of the world’s largest and most active internal legal departments with about 1,000 people, dispersed across the planet. Daily they have to deal with everything from requests for confidential information to patent applications, complex tax structures to the regulatory implications of cutting edge technologies.

Mary O’Carroll was brought in about 8 years ago to head up a team known as Legal Operations, with the goal of running legal more like a business. In Mary’s view, law departments have not had the same level of scrutiny over efficiency, budgets and value that their counterparts in HR or IT have had to endure.

So while Google’s legal department handles the actual legal issues, the operations team focuses on vendor management (outside law firms), legal technology (tools and platforms), and internal operations (process design and efficiency).

The concept of an ‘operations team’ is becoming more common in many companies, and across numerous functions. Google has a talent operations team that supports HR, for example. Many companies will also have a marketing operations team that manages customer data and their engagement platforms.

#2. The best way to disrupt the legal industry is through standardization

In many ways, the legal industry has been relatively resistant to change. Every company does things differently, which means that law firms also customize their solutions, contracts and advice in infinite different ways.

In addition to her role at Google, Mary is on the leadership team of a group called CLOC, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium. When members of the group started talking to each other, they realized that this level of customization was often unnecessary. They had the same goals, and only came up with different approaches because there was no standard playbook for getting things done.

Standardization, for CLOC and Google, is one of the ways they plan to challenge the highly bespoke, tailored nature of legal services today.

#3. Machine learning can be used to automate internal legal enquiries

Mary’s legal operations team uses self-service tools based on decision trees to help internal clients get the answers that they need. These tools either remove the need for a lawyer, or facilitate the collection of all the necessary data that a lawyer needs to help the client in a much faster way.

The legal operations team also uses contract analytics and machine learning to pull out metadata and clauses from contracts that would otherwise require a lot of reading. Machine learning is also used to automatically tag attributes of patents, so that they can quickly look at entire portfolios without a lot of manual work done by humans.

#4. Dashboards are a powerful tool to manage external providers

Google uses a dashboard to manage their outside law firms. They extract all the data from their electronic billing systems to show spend by region, with analytics around how much spend differed from budgets.

For Mary, the dashboard is a platform for transparency. Her general counsel is always asking her questions like, ‘Are we getting good value for money? How much are we spending on average, on discovery? How much do we spend to get to this certain phase of a patent? How much do we spend in this country or with this law firm?’

With the dashboard, she not only has the answer to such questions at her fingertips, she also has a useful drill-down capacity to probe deeper.

For example, once they know what their total billings are, her team is able to have an informed discussion with providers about the nature of their activities. They can drill down into what is driving their billings, which particular matters, how many people are on the case, and the seniority of the people assigned to their team.

#5. Google wants their partners to automate too

A market is only as efficient as the least efficient participant. For that reason, Google is keen for their partners to also take a more automated, data-driven approach to legal work.

In Mary’s view, lawyers are knowledge workers. They want to work, and their clients want them to work, on interesting, high value activities, rather than re-creating the wheel. She encourages her legal partners to design smarter knowledge management and collaboration systems and to automate routine activities.

Easier said than done, of course. But when you consider the use of Blockchain by groups like Ethereum for smart contracts and completely decentralized autonomous organisations — it is pretty clear that the days of opaque, bespoke transactions are coming to an end.

The legal profession will either have to embrace a data-driven, transparent mindset, or be a spectator to their own disruption.

See More from Mike!

Branding in an increasingly complex and multicultural world - Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Aug 23, 2016 | Comments Off

Sage and I used to hang out in Shanghai years ago, when he was an analyst covering the Chinese market. Since then, he has returned to the US where he now runs China Luxury Advisors, a consultancy that helps brands and destinations prepare for the next wave of Chinese consumers. Sage first visited China in 1987, and has studied and embraced the language and culture ever since. He has worked in China as a researcher, investor, entrepreneur, journalist and advisor, with a specialization in digital, mobile and strategy. We caught up in Palos Verdes, the beautiful beach town just outside of Los Angeles, to talk about the future of destination marketing, why WeChat is the operating system for life in China, and the challenge for brands in navigating an increasingly complex and multicultural world.

See More from Mike

Mentor Individually - Ty Bennett

By cmiadmin | Aug 22, 2016 | Comments Off

8-17-1I have realized that there are some key steps to empowering your people and building leaders not followers. Mentoring is one of the best ways to do so. A mentor is “an experienced and trusted adviser,” one who shows the way. It isn’t bragging or showing off. John Wooden said, “Mentoring isn’t about celebrating your own insight but about sharing wisdom. When you pass on the lessons of your life with someone else, it’s not you who are teaching – it’s your experience.”

To mentor individually means to pay attention to each person’s interests, desires and capabilities, to recognize that everyone doesn’t fit the same mold, and wisdom is most effectively shared one-on-one.

Mentoring is an investment in your people which requires time, energy and effort on the part of the leader.

My friend Don Yaeger, who coauthored The Two Most Important Days of Your Life with me, used to write for Sports Illustrated. While he was at SI he heard that Coach John Wooden was mentoring Shaq (who played for the Lakers at the time) and he thought there might be an interesting story in their relationship. So Don called Shaq and asked if he could sit in on their mentoring session. Shaq agreed and Don spent the day with Shaquille O’Neal, one of the best basketball players in the world, and Coach John Wooden, one of the greatest coaches the game has ever known. What amazed him is they talked about everything. Life, kids, marriage, and basketball. At the end of the day, Don asked Coach Wooden, “Coach, why did you agree to mentor Shaq?” Coach Wooden simply said, “Because he asked.”

After Don returned to Florida and wrote the story, he called Coach Wooden and said, “Coach, I feel like I need to ask.” Coach Wooden slyly replied, “It’s about time.”

That began a twelve-year mentoring relationship where Don would fly to California once a month and spend a day with his mentor. He recorded thousands of hours of conversation and advice from arguably the best basketball mind on the planet. Don would tell you, though, he was an even better man.

Coach John Wooden was a leader of leaders whose legacy lives on in those he mentored. Don Yaeger and hundreds of others who learned at the feet of John Wooden benefited greatly from his wisdom and experience, and even more greatly from his willingness to give of his time and his energy to others.

 See More from Ty Bennett

5 Effective Strategies to Create Synergy and Build a World Class Team - Robyn Benincasa

By cmiadmin | Aug 22, 2016 | Comments Off

5 Effective Strategies to Create Synergy and Build a World Class Team

My teammates and I have learned about building World Class Teams the hard way. By competing in and winning the world's toughest ultra-endurance Adventure Races. From the leech-infested jungles of Borneo to the towering peaks of Tibet and Ecuador, to the frigid seas and glaciers of Patagonia and the searing desert of Namibia, we have run, paddled, mountain biked, climbed, whitewater rafted, spelunked, mountaineered, navigated and raced across the most remote places on earth for up to ten NON STOP days and nights as a team.

There is no shelter, no warm food, no escape from the harshness of the uncharted terrain, and no reprieve from the competitors relentlessly nipping at our blister-covered heels. If just one racer from our 4-person mixed-gender team quits, we are all disqualified.

So, by necessity, the journey to the unimaginably distant finish line in these 600-1000 mile "Eco-Challenges" very quickly becomes far less a matter of athletic skill than a matter of great leadership, the human spirit, and our ability to inspire our tattered teammates to continue to rise to the occasion again and again--no matter how tough the challenge, no matter how steep the climb, and in the face of a consistently changing game.

Is Adventure Racing Insanity? Granted. But there is one very useful, if unintended, real world takeaway for every finisher: An honorary PHD in Teambuilding. Or as I like to call it...creating Human Synergy. Here are a few Essential Elements of Human Synergy that I've learned from the world's greatest Extreme Teammates:

1. Be Ruled by the Hope of Success versus the Fear of Failure
Are you consistently doing what it takes to "win" versus simply "not lose"? It’s a completely different mindset, leading to vastly different outcomes. Great leaders are shattering the norm, changing the game, and doing things that have never been done in an effort to propel their team to the next level. They are courageous, not only in terms of innovation, but in terms of perseverance. We won many a race not only by "slowing down less" than the other teams, but also by coming up with some game changing solutions.

Once, during a 100-mile whitewater canoeing leg to the finish, my teammate taught me the "be ruled by the hope of success" lesson through some tough love.

We were paddling our whitewater raft near the front of the race on day 6, and every couple of minutes I looked behind us to see where our closest competitors were. That is, until the teammate sitting behind me grabbed the top of my head, spun it back around to face forward, pointed down the river and said "winning is THAT way".

We also switched out our canoe paddles for kayak paddles, which was far outside the norm for canoe travel.

With those visionary changes, we caught the team that was an hour ahead of us and went on to win the race by 2 hours on that final leg.


2. Offer a Tow Line, but most importantly, TAKE one.
Leave your ego at the start line (but not your confidence!). It’s the heaviest thing in your pack. Over the long haul, leader or not, we are all going to be the strongest link and a weaker link on our team. All of us will happily offer our strength to our teammates when they need it, but how many of us are also offering our weaknesses to the team?

On our team, every racer has 'tow lines', made from thin bungee cords, hanging from the back of all of our packs. If we are feeling strong, we offer it to a struggling teammate. If we are having a low moment, we grab a towline from someone stronger and get lightly pulled along at the faster pace until we recover

The goal? To "suffer equally". You'll get farther, faster if you do. I believe that we have not used all of our strength as a leader until we have asked for and accepted help from our teammates. Think about accepting help is a gift to the helper. People are thrilled when they have a chance to help you. You create a connection and a bond every time you do. Asking and accepting help is one of my favorite team synergy creating tools as a leader.

3. Inspire "We" Thinking
We are all conditioned from a young age to see winning as something mutually exclusive, as in "For me to win, you must lose". What if you decided to instead see a world full of potential teammates instead of a world full of competitors when you left the house every morning?

Great leaders understand that in the quest to become the best of the best, Nobody Wins Alone. The more difficult the challenge, the more critical the team. "We Thinking" leaders capitalize on their strengths and outsource their weaknesses, consistently building and inspiring a team that is able to connect to one another for mutual gain, whether for a moment, for a project or for lifetime. And they happily share that space at the top of the podium with the people that got them there.

4. Act Like a Team Always. Its Far More Important than Feeling Like One
We're not always going to feel warm and mushy about one another. We're human! But it’s important to remember to not let emotion effect locomotion. No matter how we feel, we're never allowed a day off from being the leader or teammate that people need and expect us to be.

During the World Championships in Ecuador, my team had major disagreement about our navigation. In fact, it caused such a rift, that we didn’t speak for hours. But as we approached the media crews on our exit from that hiking leg, our team captain said something that changed the game for us. "If you want to BECOME the World Champions, you need to ACT like World Champions".

And I'm telling you, we could have won an Academy Award for that acting performance--congratulating one another on a job well done, getting food for one another, high fives and hugs all around. It was all for the cameras, of course, but guess what happened? By the time we got new gear and moved on, we were all genuinely happy together and moving forward as team. The argument never resurfaced. We were too busy with winning.

Yes, I did just suggest you fake it until the feelings come back. It works. Same with love, too, by the way. Acting like you're in love is more important than feeling like you're in love. Try this at home. You will thank me later.


5. Put your Teammates on Your Shoulders.
When we have the label of "leader" we often assume that to mean that we need to get out in front and show people the way. And that is occasionally part of the job. But my favorite leaders to work with allow for leadership among team members based on their strengths and not their titles. They "manage" their team, but allow for different leaders to emerge. And they are always focused on helping their team inspire and amaze themselves, understanding that confidence and inspiration are an inside job.

In the 1997 Eco-Challenge, the Japanese team did something that defied all logic, reason, and the bounds of human endurance. They carried their injured female teammate for 18 hours, piggyback style inside a backpack, up and over an incredibly steep, rocky, muddy, dense-jungle-covered 9000-foot mountain in their quest to get to the finish line. When they emerged from the sugar cane fields at the base of the mountain, battered but victorious, they did something incredibly graceful. They picked up their injured teammate and put her on their shoulders. They gave her the moment to shine, and symbolically gave her the credit for allowing them to succeed against the toughest of odds. It's my favorite Adventure Racing moment of all time because their performance says it all.

We don't achieve our greatest heights as leaders by stepping on our teammates' backs to rise higher--we stand much taller as leaders when we put our teammates on our shoulders. And we don't inspire our teammates by leading the pack and showing them how wonderful WE are.

We inspire them by putting them on our shoulders and showing them how amazing, smart, and capable THEY are.

See More from Robyn

Predicted to Succeed - Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Aug 18, 2016 | Comments Off

Talent analytics and the rise of the data-driven workplace

When I finished law school, I almost took a job as a consultant at McKinsey. In any other decade, it would have been a dream job but this was the nineties, and in the end, the allure of joining a dotcom startup was just too seductive to ignore. But I will always remember my last interview with the company.

After dozens of problem-solving challenges, mind games and analytical puzzles, I found myself seated across the table from the managing partner of the business. He leaned forward and after a pause asked intently, “What do you think, that we think, your weaknesses are?”

I wish I could tell you I had a clever answer to that question. It certainly seemed more like the kind of thing that you might get asked at Quantico than at a management consulting firm — but back then, the top firms were frequently hiring based on fuzzy, psychological profiles that they believed represented high performance candidates.

Figuring out cultural fit is not easy. Google is famous for hiring people that are ‘Googley’. McKinsey, at the time I was interviewing for the job, were fond of what they called ‘spiky integrators’ — candidates that had off the chart performance in one attribute, but were also able to integrate that skill into other capabilities.

In the past, hiring was a combination of intuition and luck. Most leaders had their own secret checklist that they would use to gauge a potential hire. Good grades at school, for example, was a typical proxy for potential performance. But what is the point of hiring an academically-minded, sales person if some of your best performers never finished school, but had prior experience in selling expensive goods with long sales cycles?

Prejudices can blind us to the factors that really drive job performance. That’s why a growing number of smart companies are now trying to replace gut feelings with the reassurance of hard numbers and data science.

This new field is called talent analytics, and employs algorithms to predict factors critical to performance and engagement, in order to hire more effectively, or to identify behaviors that might indicate that one of your best people is an immediate “flight risk”.

Google has made considerable investments in what it calls its ‘People Operations’. As a company, it deploys the same kind of rigorous testing and statistical analysis to the problem of human performance as you might expect to find in a research lab.

One of Google’s talent algorithms, for example, predicts which candidates have the highest probability of succeeding after being hired. Based on their research, they also discovered that there was very little incremental insight added beyond four interviews, although it was essential that hiring decisions were made by a group in order to prevent individual managers hiring for short term needs. The People Operations team also study more abstract questions, like how to encourage people to be more collaborative, or whether asking staff to leave their phones in the office might improve work/life balance.

No one likes the idea of being under constant data surveillance at work, but given the push to automation, the quantification of human talent is perhaps inevitable. If anything, the data-driven workplace raises a more interesting question: in the future, should we be judged against our predicted capabilities, or just how how well we do relative to our peers?

This article is an adapted chapter from my book, ‘The Dictionary Of Dangerous Ideas’.

See More from Mike

A few thoughts that can change your Life - Vinh Giang Video Blog

By cmiadmin | Aug 16, 2016 | Comments Off

See More from Vinh!

Jeremy Heimans on digital activism, new power and what it takes to start a revolution - Mike Walsh Podcast

By cmiadmin | Aug 16, 2016 | Comments Off

Jeremy Heimans Interview on the Between Two Worlds Podcast with Mike Walsh

You might say Jeremy always had activism in his blood. At the tender age of 8, he pressed his family’s fax machine into service to lobby leaders on issues like children's rights and nuclear non-proliferation. Since then, he has founded GetUp, an Australian political organization and internationally recognized social movement phenomenon that today has more members than all of Australia's political parties combined. He also co-founded Avaaz, the world’s largest online citizens’ movement, now with more than 40 million members. Now Jeremy runs Purpose, which helps bring social movements to life with a combination of digital smarts, creative storytelling and community building infrastructure. Jeremy and I debated together many years ago at University, so it was great to catch up with him in New York and talk about how technology is is a powerful force for social change against the backdrop of increasing gun violence, racial and religious tension and the divisive US election.

See More from Mike Walsh

Create Great Experiences & They Will Come Back - Ty Bennett

By cmiadmin | Aug 15, 2016 | Comments Off

7-27 2

Last week I took my family to try a new pizza place by our house – Blaze Pizza. When we went to pay, the cashier told us that the man at the back of the line was covering our meal and the other family in line as well. I told him it wasn’t necessary but he insisted and so we thanked him for his kindness.
Then as I waited for our pizza I talked to our generous new friend and he shared one of the best marketing ideas I have ever heard.
He is friends with the franchisee who owns the restaurant and his friend often sends him gift cards to his restaurant and asks him when he comes to buy lunch or dinner for everyone in line.
The owners philosophy is, ‘if you create great experiences they will talk about it to others and they will come back.”
He’s right. I am sharing this experience with you and we will be back for sure.
What can you do to create great experiences for your customers, clients, or your people?
That is how you create loyalty and free publicity.

How many (Steve) jobs do you need to invent a lightbulb? - Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Aug 15, 2016 | Comments Off

Talent density and the promise of 21st century productivity

It is fashionable these days to speculate about robots taking jobs. Less well-observed, is the fact that seemingly great companies are being built today with far less jobs to start with. What if you only needed a small number of people to do extraordinary things?

When Facebook acquired the mobile messenger service WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, it had grown to 420 million monthly users in just four years. More impressive was the number of employees — just 55. Instagram, bought for $1 billion, had 13. YouTube, bought by Google in 2006 had 65. Compared to telco or media firms, the differences in headcount are astonishing, but also raise a bigger question — what is the right way to grow a company?

In 2009, under pressure for a number of bold decisions, the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, decided to make public an internal slide deck about how he hired, fired and rewarded employees. It became known as the ‘Netflix Culture Deck’, and has been viewed nearly 15 million times on Slideshare. It was nominated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as one of the most important documents to come out of Silicon Valley.

In the deck, Hastings challenges the idea of ‘growing up’. There is a conventional view that fast-growth firms must add significant processes and procedures to deal with increasing complexity. In Hastings’ view, more process does not mean greater maturity, but rather results in a decline in talent density, as the number of high performing employees starts to fall with total employment growth.

At first, process is not a problem. Process-driven companies are efficient, have strong market share, and tend to make few mistakes. That is, until the market shifts due to new technology, competitors or business models. At that point, all of the mavericks that could help the company adapt have left the building, leaving the employees that are only good at following process, and the ‘company grinds painfully into irrelevance’. The solution, according to Hastings, is to increase talent density faster than business complexity.

Knowing how many people are needed to get something done is not an easy problem to solve. One of my former employees used to enjoy giving two people the same job in the company — like dogs in a pit, to see which one would survive. If both stayed busy — then he would be satisfied that the work was enough for two people.

Start-up companies have an incentive to get more leverage from their human capital. If there is a smarter way to do something, they no choice but to find it. And perhaps that is the point.

What the small have to do to survive is sobering advice for those companies that are big enough to have forgotten.

This article is an adapted chapter from my book, ‘The Dictionary Of Dangerous Ideas’.

See More from Mike Walsh

The Next Generation and AI - Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Aug 15, 2016 | Comments Off

Computational thinking and the race to re-invent 21st century education

The 21st century is a wonderful time to be a kid. Never has so much information, entertainment and wonder been so readily available to any child with access to a connected device — it is, in other words, a tough time to be a parent. Technology dominates our adult work and personal lives, but what role should it play in childhood and learning?

If you have been watching ‘Stranger Things’ on Netflix lately, you would have been enjoying the nostalgic celebration of the quintessential eighties, analogue childhood: riding bikes, playing ‘Dungeons And Dragons’, and annoying your sister. For better or worse, smartphones have changed everything from the way kids communicate and play games, to the virtual ways that they now ‘hang out’. (If you want to know more about that, readMimi Ito’s work on Minecraft and progressive learning, or Danah Boyd on networked teens).

What happens to toys, will also happen to tools.

As companies become more digital, the entire system of making decisions, devising plans, and doing ‘work’ also has to change. Smart business leaders already know that to survive this transition, they will shortly need people with the skills to thrive in environments dominated not by rigid processes and micromanagement, but by algorithms, automation and AI. What we don’t really know, unfortunately, is exactly what that means for the design of learning programs needed to prepare kids for this new world.

Although many schools are now experimenting with ways to teach coding to kids, it may be that learning to think like a computer is more important than knowing how to program one. This ability to understand the way a computer processes information, is what researchers call ‘computational thinking’.

Jeanette Wing, Head of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote an influential paper in which she argued that computational thinking is the new literacy of the 21st century. Her view is that core skills like being able to see patterns, generalize from specific instances and formulate problems in a way that would enable computer tools to aid in solutions — is not just relevant for those working in technical sciences, but for all students.

What makes computational thinking powerful is that rather than giving someone the ability to use a specific programming language, it teaches you how to think and work through a problem when the result is not as expected.

The good news, for those fearful of exposing their young kids to more screen time, is such learning experiences can be also delivered through ‘coding toys’ that teach children through hands-on play. Google themselves have launched Project Bloks — ‘a modular system for tangible programming made up of electronic boards and programmable pucks’ — that is designed to provide a wide range of ‘physical programming experiences’. So for example, using the pucks, a kid could rig together some sensors to activate a light switch if the temperature in a room dropped, create a musical instrument or construct a simple robot.

Coding toys are more than just clever gadgets for kids. The ability to imagine abstract, physical components of computing can lead to dramatic breakthroughs in thinking. In fact, you might even argue that our entire modern era of computing began with the thought experiment of a bright young man who developed a rather machine-like way of seeing the world.

In 1936 when he was only 23, Alan Turing wrote a paper in which he proposed what became known as a universal Turing machine. His thought experiment involved an infinite tape divided into squares like a child’s exercise book. The tape was the input, working storage, and output of the system. A tape head could read the current square, write a symbol, and move left or right one position. The tape head could also keep track of its internal state, and followed instructions as to what to do next. The genius of Turing’s model, despite being proposed long before computers actually existed, is that it can still represent the logic of any computer algorithm in use today.

Computational thinking is not a skill for just future software engineers. A medical researcher might find more scalable ways to conduct patient trials or ensure drug designs are less likely to result in drug-resistant strains of diseases. Architects and city planners could create models for how people might use a building, and better project the impact of growing urban density. Even artists and writers could leverage data and algorithms to create radical new works that provide critical insight into the contemporary condition.

Whatever profession your kids decide upon, data and its analysis, as well as an appreciation of the issues of scale and complexity, will be 21st century skills that any future employer — human or AI, are almost certain to hold in high regard.

This article is an adapted chapter from my book, ‘The Dictionary Of Dangerous Ideas’.

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Let's talk about eggs. If we go to Albertsons or ShopRite and purchase a dozen eggs, the price will be $2.59. If we opt for cage free eggs at Whole Foods, we are looking at a price tag of $4.99 or more. This is nearly a 100 percent increase in the price of eggs. By my own calculation, both eggs will deliver the same amount of cholesterol to my body, and the omelet I will make of them will most likely taste the same. So why is it that rational people opt to pay 100 percent more for what is seemingly the same commoditized product? Read full article here. 


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