Swing Your Next Speech Like This One from Linkin Park’s Guitarist…

By | Communication, Culture | No Comments

It’s always good to try and be a little contrarian when you present. So the next time you present, do something to mix the thing up…

Example, Linkin Park guitarist was recently invited to give the commencement speech at UCLA. I think he did pretty well, especially when he mocks the fact that he wasn’t the university’s first choice. Take a listen and tell me what you think…

Hat tip to Insights from a future Association Executive.

Create 20% More Time in Your Life…

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Healthy Stuff | No Comments

Do you want to know how to gain 20% more time in your life?* Do you want to know how to get ahead in your career, connect with more people, have more exciting times, and improve your relationships with loved ones?

Get rid of your TVs – all of them! Get rid of the TV in your living room, your bedroom, your home office, and anywhere else you have a TV. I don’t mean just turn them off. I mean physically get rid of them. I also don’t mean tote them down to the garage just to see what it is like without a TV while intending to bring the TVs back after this neat period of being without a TV. Give them away, throw them away, or pawn them away.

 I lived for four years without a TV at home and found it to be one of the most liberating changes I could make. I have one TV now only because my wife loves baseball (Braves and Red Sox).

I used to love seeing the reaction when folks would find out I didn’t have a TV. The reactions ranged from abject horror to disbelief to sympathy. In fact, more than once I had offers of TVs from people I barely knew. I guess they assumed that if I didn’t have a TV then times must really be hard!

The next favorite thing I loved was when people would ask me the inevitable follow-up question, “well, what do you do?” My response was always the same (and truthful):

  • I read
  • I go running
  • I go biking downtown
  • I travel
  • I go to the gym
  • I go out to a bar
  • I hang out with friends
  • I go to events – art shows, concerts, etc.
  • I go to dinner at friends’ houses
  • I cook
  • I sleep
  • The list goes on….

The next response was just as predictable. People would tell me, “Oh, I only watch TV for [fill in the blank] show(s).” This was always a lie. I know, because my friends all gave me the same line. Of course, when I was at their house the TV would be on 24/7.

“What about college football games?”

Ah, you thought you had me on this one, right? But alas, you forgot that friends and bars have TVs if I really want to catch a game. Watching a game in these environments is more social and thus healthier for you.

I am in awe. TV is probably one of the most finely-tuned advertising vehicles to ever be created. Think about it for a moment. We have consciously decided to pay thousands of dollars to bring these boxes into the sanctity of our homes, plug them in and let uncontrolled advertising messages spew forth to interrupt our conversations with friends and family. To keep us from completely unplugging these obnoxious chunks of plastic and turn them into fish tanks, we are fed morsels of “entertainment” like the little green pellet logs coming out of the food dispenser for a guinea pig. Break free of the power of the blinky box!

Perhaps I am just too ADHD to handle TV. If a TV is on then I have a hard time focusing on anything else. Other folks seem to be well adapted at tuning out TV programs. Unfortunately, I am drawn to the blinky box like a moth to a flame. Thus, like an alcoholic who can’t just have one, I live best when there is no TV around. Come join me in TV rehab – the world becomes a lot more interesting when you are living it rather than watching it.

* On November 24, 2008 Nielsen Media Research said the average American watches 142 hours of TV in a month. That is 1,704 hours of 8,766 hours in a year (19.4%). A 40-hour week job takes 2,000 hours a year assuming a two-week vacation during which you can watch even more TV.

How the Jack Welch MBA Can Dominate….

By | Culture, Professional Development | No Comments

By now, you’ve probably heard that Jack Welch has plans to enter the MBA business, offering a digital/online version of the MBA that leverages his own brand as a leadership development guru and the general availability of the fat broadband pipe.  To get you warmed up, here’s more on the Jack Welch MBA plan from BusinessWeek:

“The Jack Welch Management Institute will officially launch this week, with the first classes starting in the fall. The MBA will be
offered almost entirely online. Compared to the $100,000-plus price tag for most brick-and-mortar MBA programs, the $600 per credit hour tuition means students can get an MBA for just over $20,000. “We think it will make the MBA more accessible to those who are hungry to play,” Welch says. “And they can keep their job while doing it.”

To make the Jack Welch Management Institute a reality, a group led by educational entrepreneur Michael Clifford purchased financially troubled Myers University in Cleveland in 2008, Welch says. Welch got involved with Clifford and his group of investors and made the agreement to launch the Welch Management Institute.”

I’ve written before on the challenges the online degree can pose from a reputational/diploma mill standpoint.  How can this MBA be different, overcome those reputational challenges and thrive in a cluttered field?  More from the BW article:

“That being said, there are challenges that an online MBA program like Welch’s will have a difficult time overcoming, even if the technology and faculty are there. “The integrity and quality of engagement between faculty and students is the most precious thing we have,” Snyder says. “Assuming it’s there, it dominates. These things are hard to replicate online.”

But Welch does have one thing that differentiates his MBA from others: himself. “We’ll have all of the things the other schools have, only we’ll have what Jack Welch believes are things that work in business, in a real-time way,” he says. “Every week I will have an online streaming video of business today. For example, if I was teaching this week, I would be putting up the health-care plan. I’d be putting up the financial restructuring plan, talking about it, laying out the literature, what others are saying, and I’d be talking about it. I’ll be doing that every week.”

From a branding standpoint, having the Jack Welch name on the degree program allows the brand to rise above the other online brands and achieve reputational parity initially, but only if the program delivers value to the students that’s seen and quantified by employers over time.  With that in mind, here’s my thoughts on how the Jack Welch MBA can rise above the other online fodder and achieve parity with the bricks and mortar MBAs from top shelf schools:

1.  Don’t admit everyone.  You guessed it.  Want to be on par with the Michigan MBA (leaving Harvard out for right now..)?  Don’t admit people into the program just because they can pay you.  Have the same entry requirements as the top shelf schools and become the provider for those who can go anywhere, but want to work.  Your scope is national, so you should be able to make the numbers work.

2.  Rip case studies from the headlines.  Make sure all your instructors are developing case studies from the headlines each month of study.  It’s not hard if you think about it.  You can subscribe to BW and Fortune these days and have a great head start to a meaningful case study with some of their in-depth profiles.  Churn the instructors who won’t make the time to do that.

3.  Help the students build portfolios over time.  You want to bring value to the game?  Have technology/process in place where a student builds a portfolio over time of the case study/analytical work they’ve done in the program, and if you’re feeling really frisky, help them include work samples where the Welch MBA has helped them with what they did in their job while they’re getting the MBA.  Nothing will help them sell the value to prospective employers more.  It helps them, it helps you…

That’s all you have to do to dominate the online MBA space and be seen as an equal to the bricks and mortar.  NOTE: Steps #1 through #3 are sequential.  If you make it to and execute #3, you’ll have a powerhouse…

Holding Up the Mirror

By | Building a Company, Culture, Technology | No Comments

Have you ever heard that the things you dislike most in others are probably at the root of your own faults?

At DAXKO we work hard every day to help associations become more efficient, more effective, and achieve excellence.  We are surprised when we see evidence that they are not using our software and tools effectively, not leveraging all of the services available to them through us.  We are surprised by manual processes, disparate systems, and lack of focus.  Maybe it’s also time for us to hold up the mirror and run the 20-point lube check on our own engine.  As I was working on an “Efficiency” collateral piece, I thought about how this applies to us:

Operational efficiency happens when the right combination of people, process, and technology come together to achieve excellence while driving down costs. Through operational efficiency, time spent on manual tasks can be redirected to high value projects. With greater attention on long term goals, DAXKO customers achieve excellence through streamlined operations, improved member retention, and increased budget size.

Do we have the right people in the right seats?  Are our processes smooth and lean?  Do we use the technology that we have to its full potential to be more efficient and use data in meaningful ways?  Are our long term goals clear?  My guess is the answer to all of these is “sometimes.”

We all need to take ownership for finding the answers to these questions.  When something is broken, you fix it.  When something doesn’t make sense, you make sense of it.  When the reason you are doing something is not clear, you ask why you are doing it.

I am excited by how well we do on many of these things, and surprised sometimes at how much room we have to improve.  The exciting part is that if we are successful now, think of how this place can rock when we have our business down to a science.  Who wouldn’t like that?