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We The People - Sam Silverstein

By cmiadmin | Mar 09, 2017 | Comments Off

“I’m the president. And I’m always responsible,” President Barack Obama said in 2012 after the attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed.

In 2010 that same leader said, “In case you were wondering, in any of your reporting, who’s responsible? I take responsibility” after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.

On March 4, 1987, President Reagan addressed the American people from the Oval Office about the Iran-Contra Scandal and took responsibility for his Administration’s participation. He famously said: “Now, what should happen when you make a mistake is this: You take your knocks, you learn your lessons, and then you move on. That’s the healthiest way to deal with a problem… You know, by the time you reach my age, you’ve made plenty of mistakes. And if you’ve lived your life properly — so, you learn. You put things in perspective. You pull your energies together. You change. You go forward.”

President George W. Bush apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after a U.S. soldier used a Koran for target practice. He took responsibility for the action even though it did not directly flow from his orders.

On April 21, 1961, President John F. Kennedy took responsibility for the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. He said, “There’s an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan … Further statements, detailed discussions, are not to conceal responsibility because I’m the responsible officer of the Government …”

After the speech, President Kennedy’s approval ratings actually soared. Maybe there is something to be gained from, as a leader, taking responsibility and offering an apology when it is due.

And of course President Harry Truman made famous the phrase, “The buck stops here.”

So, with regards to Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Ownes’ death during the raid in Yemen; when current U.S. President Donal Trump said in an interview that “they” were responsible for the outcome of the mission, in reference to the military, he is not being an Accountable Leader and accepting responsibility. Rather, he is passing blame on to others and seems to be more concerned with his appearances.

This is not a political commentary. This is only about being an Accountable Leader. It’s easy to accept the accolades of successes and wins but what really rallies the followers is an Accountable Leader who is always willing to “own it”, good or bad, win or lose, success or failure. And, most of the time they pass on the praises for the wins and usually stand a bit taller when things go wrong.

The Accountable Leader has a commitment to the people they lead to the faults and failures as well as the opportunities and successes. They know that leadership is never about you the leader. It is always about the people you lead. Accountability is the highest form of leadership!

When a leader owns it the people they lead know that the leader has their back. Those people will go to great lengths to succeed because they know that even if they come up short the Accountable Leader will be there; not pointing the finger but stopping the buck. That’s Accountable Leadership and those organizations with Accountable Leaders are always the ones that stand out.

More from Sam!

The Lost Art of Handwritten Notes - Ty Bennett

By cmiadmin | Mar 08, 2017 | Comments Off

A few weeks ago I was boarding a Delta flight from San Antonio, Texas to Salt Lake City, UT. I am a loyal Delta flyer and am often upgraded to first class as I was on this flight.

When I got to my seat I found a handwritten note on my seat with two chocolates. It read:

'Mr. Bennett,

Thank you for your continued business and loyalty as a Diamond Medallion with us! We truly appreciate you here in SAT!!'

Each of the first class seats had a handwritten note and some chocolate. The guy next to me was amazed at the fact that they were personalized (his talked about how he has flown over 2 million miles with Delta).

It reminded me of the power of a handwritten note. It stands out. It is meaningful. It shows that you took time. That you really care.

As technology makes communication easier and faster – I think we sometimes need to slow down and stand out, because the more high tech we become the more high touch we must become.

I have had a practice of writing and mailing (yes, with a stamp) a handwritten note every week. I am amazed at the responses I get, people are over the moon when they get a card from me in the mail. It’s impactful.

So if you want to stand out or just make someone’s day – don’t forget the lost art of handwritten notes.

Why Humans Will Always Play Better Chess, Even When We Lose - Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Mar 06, 2017 | Comments Off

We live in a time of exponentially improving machines. First chess, then Space Invaders, go and most recently poker - our games now seem mere taunts in a struggle for supremacy between humanity and AI. Even in losing, however, we may learn something about what makes us special.

I watched a fascinating documentary about chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen on a recent flight from Hong Kong to Stockholm. The apex of the story was the epic showdown for the World Chess Championship between Magnus and his Indian rival Viswanathan Anand, that took place in the latter’s hometown of Chennai.

We tend to think of chess as a game 'solved' by AI, and yet watching the documentary made me reconsider this, and our broader relationship as humans to many of the activities that will soon be automated and driven by algorithms.

Like the original Rocky film that set a young Stallone against a pitiless, robotic Russian opponent, Anand in both temperament and style, was the polar opposite of Magnus. Anand and his team were heavily reliant on sophisticated chess analysis computers to generate options, while Magnus favored a more intuitive, spontaneous style.

The greatest fear expressed by Magnus before the match was that he would never get the chance to shift Anand from his prepared game plan and to think for himself. Sure enough, on the first day of play, Magnus struggled to overcome the sheer weight of an opponent who was essentially playing like a machine.

Then after a day of relaxation and hanging with his family, the real genius of Magnus’ playing style emerged: fast, unpredictable and highly intuitive. He effortlessly blew past Anand’s positions and became the youngest world champion ever.

People have described Magnus as the Mozart of chess - and are amazed at the creativity and speed of his playing, as if his strategy manifests from some alternate dimension. It is easy to be superstitious about what we simply don't yet fully understand, or have forgotten in a time when we simply expect machines to be better than us.

Chess was once thought to be game that was AI-complete. In other words, we believed that once we invented a computer capable of beating a top chess player, we would have also invented a computer capable of general artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, as former Chess champion Garry Kasparov discovered exactly twenty years ago, with enough computer power and some brute force algorithms - you can beat a top human player, without actually creating a truly intelligent machine.

When I interviewed Sean Gourley, the data expert famous for modeling the mathematics of war, he told me the story of how Kasparov would go on to establish freestyle chess, a tournament that demonstrated that as smart as these new machines were - they could be beaten by a good human/computer collaboration. Kasparov's 'centaur' team strategy was essentially the tactic adopted by Anand and his team - human agency and computation, hand in hand. And yet, against Magnus, the centaurs couldn't prevail.

Even in this age of automation, AI and algorithms - it is worth remembering the lesson of Magnus Carlsen and his highly intuitive game play. When it comes to breakthrough ideas, there is still no power greater than the human brain itself: the ultimate, almost magical, deep learning and insight generating tool.

Research Pays Off - Ty Bennett

By cmiadmin | Mar 01, 2017 | Comments Off

A few weeks ago I was speaking in Omaha, Nebraska for Centris Federal Credit Union.

When I got to my hotel room there was a gift basket waiting for me from the team at Centris. It was a very nice gesture but the reason I am writing about it was because they took an extra step that most people don’t take. They had done their research and the gift basket was full of things that I personally like. (Personal note: Dr. Pepper and Licorice are the keys to my heart)

I was reminded of how much a little research pays off. Before you meet with a potential client, team member or partner – take a few minutes to research what they like, dislike, etc… It will give you insights into that person, allow you to personalize your approach and customize the conversation.

I recently had a meeting with a potential client that by checking Facebook I found out he was a basketball fanatic and that he had season tickets for a particular team. I love basketball as well and with a couple of questions I could steer the conversation towards our common interest and make a connection.

I think we are often too busy, we are racing from appointment to appointment. But if you will take a little time to do some research before your next meeting – I promise you it will pay off.

More from Ty!

When Was The Last Time You Made Someone Feel Special? - Ty Bennett

By cmiadmin | Feb 24, 2017 | Comments Off

I want you to take a minute and ask yourself this question: When was the last time I made someone feel special?

When was the last time you went above and beyond to make a difference for someone?

When was the last time you did something for your spouse, your kids, your team, or a stranger?

I was inspired last week on Valentine’s Day by an 8th grader named Ryan.

Last year on Valentine’s Day, as a 7th grader Ryan noticed some girls had more flowers and gifts than they could carry and others had nothing, He decided he wanted to make every girl feel special on Valentine’s Day and so Ryan made a goal to present a carnation to every girl at American Fork Junior High.

He started working odd jobs around his house and doing all he could to make enough money to carry out his goal and by Christmas he had enough to make it happen. So, with his mother’s help, he ordered 1000 fresh-cut carnations from Columbia. They arrived a few days before Valentines and Ryan and his helpers prepared 947 carnations for 947 young ladies – one for every girl in 8th grade. One by one they tied a small card to the stem with a variety of inspiring messages.

Last week on Valentine’s Day every 8th grade girl at American Fork Junior High School in Utah went home feeling special because of an exemplary young man named Ryan.

I think we should try to all find ways to make others around us feel special.

More from Ty!

Accountability in The Post-Truth World - Sam Silverstein

By cmiadmin | Dec 16, 2016 | Comments Off

An elected official on national television blatantly denies something when asked, only to have to backtrack the next day as the truth comes out. Another elected official has over 70% of their statements documented as “not true”. Social media outlets overflow with false news. Does the truth not matter to anyone anymore? Can accountability exist in our post-truth world?

Do we not know we’re being lied to or do we just not care? Recently when I mentioned the amount of lies produced by one candidate the person I was speaking with said, “I just think that all politicians lie. That’s just the way it is.”

If enough people lie, then it’s okay?

Well, I don’t believe all politicians lie and I also don’t believe that we have to accept anything less than the truth, from anyone.

I would rather elect a leader who has different political views and speaks the truth, then one who says they have the same political position as myself but deals in lies. I know exactly what I am getting with the person speaking the truth. With the other individual, I don’t even know if their politics align with me as I can never know what to believe.

When people lie they cannot be accountable. Absence of accountability leads to chaos and then anything goes. Chaos means there is no order. The one thing we can be responsible for is to demand that our leaders operate from truth. Don’t elect someone we know isn’t telling the truth and when a leader speaks non-truths it’s time to replace that individual.

Once we allow our leaders to not tell the truth is it okay for companies advertising to give us non-truths? May our doctors sway from the truth? Do our teachers need to only teach the truth? We are opening the door for a post-truth world and I don’t like what I see in that world.

It is our responsibility to make sure we are being given the truth. It is our responsibility to only accept the truth. It is our responsibility to take action when we aren’t given the truth. Only then can we expect our leaders to lead with integrity and be accountable to us.

Read more about Sam Silverstein! 

The Promise of Your Best Work - Jason Hewlett

By cmiadmin | Dec 15, 2016 | Comments Off
What is your level of care when it comes to your work?

The lady who swiped my card at the store today: she’s just doing a job, didn’t even bother to say hello or converse when I tried to engage with her, just looked down and away.  Luckily there was the storefront manager-turned-bagger who walked up, with a smile, and saved the day with friendliness.

So I ask in a different way: What is your Promise of Your Best Work?  

There is a certain restroom I find myself in every trip heading out at my hometown airport.  For over a decade I have noticed one thing in the tile work a little higher than eye level as I take care of nature’s business, and since I apparently have OCD these two tiny tiles that are out of place bug me to battiness (forgive me for having taken this photo in a private setting….I promise hands were washed upon committing to this endeavor).

The Tile Worker Promise Jason Hewlett


Can you see it?  Here’s a closer look.


The Tile Worker Who Didn't Care Jason Hewlett Promise


Does this bother anyone else?

I have seen tile work the world over that is incredible and most all of it is brilliant.

Heck, I used to live in Brazil where the beautiful sidewalks and streets are tile patterns that would make any artist swoon.

It is so rare to see crooked tile work that this drives me insane!  And few things ever hit me so crazy as to notice this two tile disaster in a place that every man can see; in fact I seek this out every time just to see if it’s still there or if some paranoid tile worker has gone in and fixed it.  Yet it shall remain!

To make matters worse this restroom is in an overpriced lounge/waiting area where people pay extra money to use a beautiful private bathroom with lotions, cologne, mouthwash…Hahahahah!

Question is: Why did this tile worker choose not to do his best work?

All the other tiles he did were perfectly straight.  I’ve searched high and low in this restroom – odd, yes, don’t judge – but everything else was excellent work, except for this one spot!

Was he just leaving his mark?  Or did he just not care?

Contrast bathroom tile work laziness with the recent OK Go video that will blow your mind.  Talk about attention to detail, absolute precision, concern for each moment.  This level of artistry is only possible because they are attempting to constantly outdo themselves, since this is how they do every video they’ve ever done  (you may remember them from their first viral video on treadmills):

In other words, they keep the promise to do their best work every single time.

It strikes me to think about my own work.  Have I been lazy in its execution?  Am I cutting corners?  Do I fall in the category of apathetic bathroom tile worker who does great work all over the place with the exception of one glaring in your face annoyance, or is my portfolio filled with genius and stated care of the standard of an OK Go video?

I know currently I fall somewhere in between.  And it rips me apart.  It drives me to be better.  Given – it is better to finish work than wait until it’s perfect, as perfection may never happen, but what type of work do I deliver to the world, and is it worthy of my brand?  For this reason I record every speech, every performance, and scrutinize myself to the nth degree.

And how about you?  Are you bathroom tile worker guy or an OK Go guy?  What is your Promise to your customer, and to yourself, with the work you do?

And what are you going to do about it? 

More from Jason Hewlett!