Archives: November 2004

The “Mexican Food” Phenomenon

All of us lucky enough to have hung out in Mexico (or the likes of SF's Mission District) know that what we Americans call "Mexican food" ... ain't. Well, I'm in Dubai right now—and can report that what we call "hommous" ... ain't either! True Middle Eastern Hommous and Arabic Mezzeh are delights of the first order; Shaw's hommous (New England-style Hommous? Oxymoron?) ... and I've no doubt they mean well ... comes from another planet, if not galaxy.

Hats (Way) Off!

Just read that Michael Jordan's brother, Command Sergeant Major James Jordan, has extended his enlistment, so he can go with his unit for a full tour in Iraq. Wow! When you smell the crap that happened with the NBA in Detroit last week, one desperately misses MJ; seems as though Excellence runs in the family!

The Nelson Baker’s Dozen

Nelson.jpgAnother book about Horatio Nelson? I've read 10, and assumed I didn't need another. But as I wiled away the time in Heathrow, I thumbed through a new one, Andrew Lambert's Nelson: Britannia's God of War. It looked fabulous; and, incidentally, I was to give a speech on Leadership in Dubai 48 hours hence. So I made the purchase, devoured the book during the subsequent 6-hour flight ... and extracted 13 Lessons. Herewith, in summary-shorthand form (directly from a Slide) ...

1. Simple-clear scheme ("Plan") (Not wildly imaginative) (Patton: "A good plan executed with vigor right now tops a 'perfect' plan executed next week.")
2. Soaring/Bold/Clear/Unequivocal/ Worthy/Noble/ Inspiring "Goal"/"Mission"/"Purpose"/"Quest"
3. "Conversation": Engagement of All Leaders
4. Leeway for Leaders: Select the Best/Dip Deep/Initiative demanded/Accountability swift/Micromanagement absent
5. Led by "Love" (per Lambert), not "Authority" (Totally identify-bond with Sailors!)
6. Instinct/Seize the Moment/"Impetuosity" (Boyd's "OODA Loops": React more quickly than opponent, destroy his "world view")
7. Vigor! (Ben Zander: leader as "Dispenser of Enthusiasm")
8. Peerless Basic Skills/Mastery of Craft (Seamanship)
9. Workaholic! ("Duty" first, second, and third)
10. Lead by Confident & Determined & Continuous & Visible Example (In Harm's Way) (Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world"/Giuliani: Show up!)
11. Genius ("Transform the world to conform to their ideas") (Gandhi, PM Lee-Singapore), not Greatness ("Make the most of their world")
12. Luck! (Right place, right era; survived near-mortal wounds) ("Lucky Eagle" vs "Bold Eagle")
13. Others' principal shortcoming: "Admirals more frightened of losing than anxious to win"

I think that's as good a list of Leadership Traits as you're likely to find. Comments?

Note: Tom was at Heathrow when he bought the book. You have to go to to get it.

100 Ways to Succeed #32:

Mimic Lord Nelson!

Another book about Horatio Nelson? I've read 10, and assumed I didn't need another. But as I wiled away the time in Heathrow, I thumbed through a new one, Andrew Lambert's Nelson: Britannia's God of War. It looked fabulous, and, incidentally, I was to give a speech on Leadership in Dubai 48 hours hence. So I made the purchase, devoured the book during the subsequent 6-hour flight ... extracted 13 Lessons ... and devised this Success Tip #32: Mimic Lord Nelson.

Of course it's far easier said than done! Still, aim high! Try to compass as many of the Nelsonian Traits as possible!* (*Maybe you'll have your own Square—as in Trafalgar—some day!)

1. Simple scheme.
2. Noble purpose!
3. Engage others.
4. Find great talent, let it soar!
5. Lead by Love!
6. Trust your gut, not the focus group: Seize the Moment!
7. Vigor!
8. Master your craft.
9. Work harder than the next person.
10. Show the way, walk the talk, exude confidence! Start a Passion Epidemic!
11. Change the rules: Create your own game!
12. Shake off the pain, get back up off the ground, the timing may well be right tomorrow!
13. By hook or by crook, quash your fear of failure, savor your quirkiness, and participate fully in the fray!

Make Good Cars!

In the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Alex Beam reviews Roger Lowenstein's Origins of the Great Crash. Lowenstein at one point refers to the management classic, My Years With General Motors, by legendary GM Chairman Alfred Sloan. "There is no mention of GM's share price in his decision-making," he writes. "In contrast," Beam notes, "Jeffrey Skilling ... based every decision on its effect on Enron's share price."

I guess Mr Sloan was worried about making great cars! (Alas, an idea that eluded several of his successors! Life is tough!)


My flashlight sucks! I carry a flashlight on my trips. (Remember, Mr Pack-heavy.) Left my trusty _________ (don't remember brand) at home. Picked up a Garrity in Boston before I left. Arrived in Dubai. Batteries dead. Problem: CRAPPY DESIGN! It's nice enough looking, but the sliding on-off switch can be jostled into the "on" position while passively nestled in a duffel bag. Boo!

Trash sucks! I actually love Heathrow (sometimes, as of late, I damn near live there—shades of Terminal), and despite ever-longer security lines, I think BAA (British Airports Authority) does a decent job in tough circumstances of running the joint. But I noticed (it shouted at me) as I boarded my plane for Dubai that the jetway was ... filthy. Not "filthy," but ... FILTHY. DIRTY. FOUL. DISGUSTING. A stunning amount of garbage, etc. Sure, it's BA/British Air that maintains the Rolls Royce engines that will propel me skyward ... but paddling through Filth on the way into the plane is not a confidence builder! Boo!

Microsoft ... ! I avoid the "sucks" here not out of fear of Microsoft, but because I may be wrong. In my hotel room in Dubai, I can't get into AOL via high-speed access. Hence, I'm using MSN Internet Explorer. But when I access AOL via MSN, there are a hundred easy, normal things I can't do when I'm on AOL directly. Could be AOL's fault. (They're 100 miles from faultless.) On the other hand, believer in conspiracy theories that I am, I tentatively point the finger (#3?) at the Beast of Redmond for making sure my life is complicated because I normally "default" to AOL. Boo ... somebody!

14S, 65R … Hike!

When the next U.S. Congress convenes, there will be 14 women in the Senate, 65 in the House. Not good enough, but up from 2 in the Senate, 21 in the House in 1980. The Senate also will have 1 African-American, 2 Hispanics, and 2 Asian-Americans ... up from 0, 0, and 2 in 1980. The House will seat 40 African-Americans, 23 Hispanics, and 5 Asian-Americans ... up from 17, 7, and 3.

Could be better. Could be worse. But glacial though it doubtless seems to many, that's a pretty sizeable shift in a quarter of a century. All you LBJ-bashing, aging hippies ... put a flower on the old boy's grave for the Civil Rights Act, etc. The grand total will be 152 minorities in '05 (out of 535 total), up from 52 in '80.

Event Slides: Dubai

Tom's in Dubai at the International Leadership Summit, and the weather is 72°F/22°C and sunny. Nice. Get the slides here for the general session, and here for the workshop. You can also see a short video here.

Why Marketing Programs Fail

What makes marketing programs succeed—or fail? I have my ideas ... but I want to hear yours.

I'm starting research for a project, and I'd love to hear your comments, ideas, anecdotes and war stories. Be sure to fill out the form on the attached link, and, if you'd like, share your thoughts with everyone on the comments attached to this post.


Oh, So Sweet

Book cover of The PacificSome prose is so glorious as to be breathtaking. Such is the case with Mark Helprin's new collection of short stories, The Pacific and Other Stories. The leader, "Il Colore Ritrovato," left me literally breathless; I've never before underlined fiction ... but some passages were so sweet! (Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War is on my all-time, Top5 fiction list.)