Today's Wisdom

Do Android Employees Dream of Paid Time Off? Ai, the future of work, and the end of your career (as you know it)

The Jinxed Client
The Jinxed Client

It’s not every day a robot takes over some high-end, knowledge and nuance-intensive job…but that day is almost here.  And as the stats keep rolling in, even the most conservative prognosticators are painting a mildly dystopian workplace portrait.

The biggest sign of the coming apocalypse?  Apparently the sex-bot industry is already booming.

But in all seriousness, the white-collar jobs, Peter Drucker’s “knowledge workers” and the so called, “protected careers” like attorneys, doctors, and financial advisors are right in the line of obsolescence in the advent of the Ai Age.  The big difference between previous innovations that brought the fear-mongers out on street corners with “The End is Near” sandwich boards, and today is simply that the tech is different.

For your know-it-all co-worker who says, “Robots aren’t coming for my job.  Just look at all the hoopla over the ATM machine!  All that fear and what happened?  We ended up with more bank jobs”, I offer this simple distinction:  ATM machines couldn’t learn. Ai can.

Forrester Research says over the next decade we’ll lose 16% of our jobs to Ai but with new job creation the net loss will only be 7%.  Hey awesome, that’s only 10M jobs.  That’s like – say - the population of Michigan.  I suppose that’s ok. We’ll turn Michigan into one big water park.

But, let’s assume for the sake of the argument that Ai is coming.  Assume it’s happening.  Superior intelligence, tireless, perfect workers who don’t need 30-minute potty breaks, have sick aunts, or get bitchy because they don’t have ergonomic desks will be honing in on your domain…what does this mean for the future of work?

One compelling and confidence-building idea bubbles to the surface:  Our supply-side economy functions in a way where the more rare the skills, the more they are valued.  And I posit that those rare skills will continue to associate with Emotional Intelligence; qualities like empathy, insight, intuition, emotional maturity, active listening, humor, spontaneity and improvisation.  Essentially, all the things that make us flawed, fragile, and emotional wrecks as a species are also the qualities of humanity that allow us to engage one another on that uniquely human level.

Look at it this way, who makes a killing in today’s economy? Sport phenoms who can manage the stress to hit three-pointers in a clinch play, entertainment savants who can delight us with movement or touch our emotions with song, or the great storytellers of our age, the movie directors.  And finally, the CEOs – the visionary communicators who can imagine an unseen future, articulate that vision, and engage the hearts and heads of their team to make it a reality.  These gifted people are rewarded quite well in our economy. 

I think that the next era won’t be scary or bleak…unless we can’t find out how to create value for others, communicate and connect, or discipline ourselves to action.  The next era holds promise, but we have to rise to the occasion and embrace our humanity to capture it.

So here's a question:  What are you focusing on, improving, and cultivating to prepare your team for the next era?

The Entrepreneur LIFE MODEL

Business Life Model  

If “success at all costs” still sounds like a good idea then you haven’t really become successful.

Are you feeling out of balance? Wondering how to chase those big goals of yours without harming your success as a parent, spouse, friend, or merely as a person? It’s not at all that uncommon to feel pulled in a million directions. In fact, for many of the top 1% entrepreneurs we serve, finding balance is an ongoing challenge that causes a lot of pain, health issues, marital discord, and an empty feeling that the success they have isn’t all that fulfilling after all.

We are told about delegation. We are told about technology leverage. We are told about time management. Most damaging: We are told that growth alone will somehow solve our balance problems and that hitting bigger numbers will fix everything.

But those things aren’t solving the problem for successful people. So, where’s the snag?

Here’s the deal: You built a Business Model right? Gross Revenues come in on top, then you deduct Cost of Goods and Overhead and whatever is left over is what we call Profit. Works well with a business. There is unlimited opportunity with the top number and if you are shrewd about the way you run your organization, the number that’s left on the bottom – the Profit margin - can be healthy.

When it comes to your Time, Focus, and Energy however, there simply isn’t an unlimited amount. In fact, these items are quite finite but we work the model the same way – Time, Focus and Energy are poured into the top of the funnel of the business and whatever is left over is what the kids, spouse, friends, and individual themselves has to work with. And for too many entrepreneurs they discover those margins are shrinking with their success, not growing.

The more successful the business owner becomes the more the business demands and the less TIME, FOCUS, and ENERGY they have “left over” for anything else.

Here’s the solution and it’s radical, it’s uncommon, and it’s definitely not something you’ll hear in the circles where “success at all costs” still sounds like a good idea: Start backwards.

Start with a LIFE MODEL first and create a rules-based system for planning your time, defining your lifestyle, and considering the options to manage and continue to grow.

Here are a few of the unusual and refreshing ideas that some of our clients have embraced because of this thinking:

  • Hiring a CEO and delegating all the “management” to someone else
  • Taking tons of days off the calendar right in the beginning of the year
  • Bringing in a junior and beginning to pass the baton
  • Finding a partner and carving up the responsibilities
  • Taking a pay cut. WHAT? Yes seriously.
  • NOT growing aggressively but instead taking a slower approach

I can’t know what’s best for you and your lifestyle. It’s totally your choice and your opportunity to decide. But if what you’re doing isn’t getting you (or the people you care about) what you need, consider questioning the strategy altogether - not just your tactics. Stop working the problem with the business getting fed first and instead, start with a vision for your life and work the business around it.

 

Why Wisdom?

Why Wisdom?

Wisdom, rather than products, information, or knowledge, has become the most prized commodity in the 21st Century. Why? Because wisdom is the glue. It’s the “how” and the “why” that empowers and directs all of those “what's” out there. Without it, we cannot function effectively, cannot manage change adroitly and cannot navigate the extraordinary shifts in our civilization that have occurred in the span of less than twenty-five years. Wisdom is the single greatest asset you possess and a prized advantage for your ideal market if you can identify, package and monetize it well.

This is the shift - top down to WisdomDriven

In fact, in the face of the extraordinary changes that have occurred, the very survival of your business is based on becoming a wisdom-centered enterprise. No other business structure or perspective provides you with as much power, control, and the flexibility to navigate today’s choppy waters of commerce.

By building your organization with wisdom at its heart, you can differentiate and sell your services or products easier, you can unify, train and motivate your team better and transform the relationships you have with your clients into those of collaboration, mutual education, and insight development. Building a Wisdom Driven Practice might be a path to survival in some regards but for many others, it is the most direct route to an incredible expression of their natural gifts and wondrous financial reward.

The Wisdom LInk

The Power of Focus

The Power of Focus A success secret of the top entrepreneurs I know: To achieve goals, focus your eyes (and your mind) only on what you want.

So imagine the scenario: I’m with a client and friend of mine in Deer Valley. Years before, he’d bought the house of a former NFL star on the side of the valley facing the resorts and we were staying there working on his book.

He’s a great guy and thoughtfully wanted to make a fun visit for me by including some ski time. So there I was on the back porch of his house looking out over the breathtaking view of Deer Valley on a bright morning. Bunny Slopes were promised so I could “remember” my skills…but as luck would have it; in order to get to those nicely groomed slopes, I would have to navigate a pretty treacherous ravine of Black Diamond switchbacks off his back deck.

I was adorned in mostly borrowed ski attire and some odds and ends I’d rented or purchased in town. I hadn’t been on the slopes in over a decade and even then I wasn’t a highly proficient skier. To make matters worse, I’m not known for my coordination or athleticism and in my oversized hodge-podge gear, I felt very much like I must have looked - like homeless skier about to commit suicide.

In business as in skiing (apparently), even the most conservative, risk-adverse players can sometimes face monumental obstacles.   As small business owners, we face financial issues, competitive risks, the loss of key people, and the strategic miscalculations that come from doing too much too quickly. It’s part of the risks and part of the fun…but it can sometimes be deadly. So how do you attack the hill when the risks you take can put the people you’re responsible for in harms way?

And so there I was, weighing my options. This little ravine of skiing might leave me with a broken leg or a broken back and I knew it. I could feel the fear creep in and it was paralyzing me. My host saw the look on my face and gave me advice that I’ve never forgotten:

“Your skis will follow your eyes. So if you see something you don’t want to hit like a tree or a rock and you focus on it, you’ll ski right into it. Put your eyes on where you want to go and your skis will follow.”

Today I ask myself routinely: “What am I focusing on? Where are my skis headed?”

Sometimes worry can feel like mental prep for managing a bad situation in the future. Sometimes, though, it’s just plain lazy. Keep your mind focused on what you DO want and stay vigilant about the worries. If you find that you are fixating on negative scenarios, you’ll attract them like gravity.

So yes, I skied down the ravine. I lived. I’m not proud of the sounds I made while I was doing it (something akin to a baby deer being separated from its mama) but I lived. I kept my skis facing downhill, my gaze on the path ahead and it’s a lesson that’s served me ever since.

The Wisdom LInk

Power Napping – it’s not just for leaders anymore.

star wars Napping emerged as a hot topic for leaders seeking Jedi-like performance in the business world for good cause – turns out power napping is a powerful way to restore the mind, boost the immune system and refresh perspective.

And nappers are in good company: Ben Franklin, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and countless other leaders and world changers valued the restorative power of the afternoon nap.

Now Google, Apple and other dot-coms are encouraging their employees to take naps as a way to boost productivity. Mike Volpe, past CMO of Hubspot, states "rather than trying to slog through the day, which can lead to errors in judgment and a decline in productivity, we have found allowing employees to have a rest can help make the day much more productive."

HOW TO TAKE A POWER NAP?

As luck would have it, I am a Jedi Master power-napper. The Obi-Wan of Shuteye, the Yoda of Snooze. Several years ago, I worked for a large corporation that required me to travel. Working long hours, I often needed a quick twenty to re-charge my batteries to be on-point for my clients and teammates.  I can nap anywhere and at the drop of a hat.

Here are my top tips for Powering Down like Yoda in the Land of Nod:

  1. Find a spot where you feel safe, private and it’s dark. Set an alarm.
  2. Take a slow start breathing in and out loudly at first, then quiet and even, then close your eyes, then give yourself permission to drift off.
  3. Keep it to 20 minutes. Any longer and you’ll go too far in and won’t wake up feeling refreshed.

Enjoy a little power down time this Season. And if someone catches you taking a snooze at the family holiday party, just tell them you were improving your company.

Have a great holiday break and we’ll see you in the New Year!

References

2011 March. Brett and Kate McKay, The Art of Manliness, The Napping Habits of 8 Famous Men              

2013 March. Scott Stump, Today.com, 'Nap rooms' encourage sleeping on the job to boost productivity.  http://www.today.com/money/nap-rooms-encourage-sleeping-job-boost-productivity-1C8881304 

2013 August. Lisa Evans, Entrepreneur.com, Why you should let your employees nap at work. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236755

Star Wars Databank, Yoda www.starwars.com

 

Work Like an Artist - a legitimate argument for re-structuring your time

Artist So, here’s the big idea: We need to work like artists; and not classic “workers”. I know what you’re thinking, “but LoDuca you’re in "creative services." You go to the theatre and eat sushi. You like that crap. And so it’s not such a stretch to think like an artist”…but bear with me, this idea is germane to all of you reading this on one level or another. Black turtleneck optional.

For most of us over twenty years old, we were raised in a decidedly industrial era. The twentieth century was a watershed for changes in lifestyle and work-style for American workers. The sheer enormity of the movement forever changed the fabric of social and work-life for generations and left deeply ingrained beliefs about work and our relationships to it.

As it relates to the use of time, this shift left its mark for many, many years.

Fast forward to today. And so here we are in a totally different paradigm in so many regards. And for entrepreneurs it’s even more pronounced. We have so many options for how we work, where we work and when. Not to mention why! We have access to technology that makes geography irrelevant and challenges most of the rules of business from the previous century. However, we adhere to many of those old rules, especially how we use our time.

My father came over to the US on a boat from Rome when he was a kid and could barely read and write English. They were broke. He became an entrepreneur when he bought the pizza restaurant he’d managed at seventeen and opened four more before he was twenty-one. Then he built a construction firm and added a cabinet shop. And then he started a horse breeding farm. Then he started developing properties. And in the meanwhile he was a classically trained opera singer having gotten his degree in music from the Detroit Conservatory of Music. A busy guy. And so no big surprise, he was up at 4:30 am and home at 8 pm for years working a six and often seven-day work weeks. My father knew how to put in a good day’s work and he ingrained in me a solid respect and value for it. It was that old twentieth-century logic though of slogging it out, day in and day out…a treacherous deal he had made with Father Time.

Consider the logic of the following: What I do and what you do isn’t all that very different. The quality of the work and the quality of the experience we create is predicated on a lot more than just the talent of the technicians behind the scenes. We don’t, as you’ve often heard me say, “just make brochures over here” and the same applies to you. If it's a life insurance policy, CPA services, a financial plan or an airplane - if you are selling a service or a product you're smart enough by now to know you're really selling something else of greater importance. As I see it, the most valuable resources I have to bring to my clients are my creativity, my passion, my insight, instinct and accountability to the project’s overall success. Me grinding out the hours every day, one client after the other like a factory worker doesn’t support the delivery of uncommon experiences and transformational results that we pursue.

Instead of being a line-worker at Ford where consistency and endurance are more prized than bursts of innovation and creativity, I find that I absolutely must protect myself and my “artist-like” contribution to the overall equation. It sure sounds cheesy, but it’s a requisite shift in thinking in how I create the most value for my clients, my team, my family and my self. I need to hit it hard and then go to the mountain for a while. I need to rest, pull away and “veg out” to fill the tank. The taxing demands of a day-to-day grind are incongruent with the demands of a performer/creator and so should then be the practices.

So how to do it? Book time off in advance. Sleep in once in a while. Tune out from the wall of media we have access to all the time. Go on a news and cell phone blackout for 48hrs. And get over the guilty feelings about surrendering the helm every once in a while to protect your own leadership capabilities.

The 6 Tips to Capturing Intellectual Capital Systems

When it comes to capturing your intellectual capital systems, nothing can give your organization better traction, scalability or a higher valuation when the time comes to sell. What’s not to like?

The problem?  Wondering where to get started.

With sexy new software like www.playbookit.com for creating robust multi-media operations manuals, the task is starting to look quite appealing.  Here are our top 6 tips to capturing your business systems and transforming them into intellectual capital revenue.

  1. Start with what’s working:  If you are wondering where to begin with systems to capture, consider building from the positives.  While it will be productive at some point to tackle the things that are broken, getting momentum and harvesting systems that work is best.
  2. Track Along Your Client Experience from Sale to Fulfilled:  Consider that the client “experience” is like a spinal column. Like vertebrae, those big steps from a sale to a happy customer are the main milestones in a client engagement and the sub-systems that attach are like your nervous system.
  3. Toggle Between Client Facing and Back-Office Perspectives:  Start by outlining what clients see, read, hear and experience and then build out all of the systems that support those efforts.
  4. Define the Transformation:  Capturing systems can lead you to defining “culture” if you get inside the WHY behind the WHATS.  Defining your client’s transformation from the beginning of an engagement to the end is a powerful way to define the essence of your value.
  5. Map It, Then Define It:  Lay out all the steps and map them like a flowchart.  Big things first, like “first client meeting” – then start layering all the sub-systems around it like, “create meeting agenda”, “tidy boardroom”, “send invite”,  etc. etc. until that single step is nailed.
  6. More Video And Tools – Fewer Lines of Text:  English majors be warned, the best way to build an operation's manual is with video, not text.  With simple two and three minute videos you can organize, communicate and express the details as well as the sprit of what you do and why.

If "intellectual capital" is defined as your intellectual property working for you, then building an operations manual of systems and procedures is one of the fastest routes to monetization.  Get started today and you’ll see the rewards of your efforts.

PS Below here is a link to a Wisdom Harvesting Tool - this is a great resource for defining your wisdom and how it serves others.

download the Wisdom Harvest Tool