Articles Tagged Success

Aug 01, 2021
Clouds, kitchens and landlords – a lesson in strategy

I first mentioned “cloud” kitchens on this page exactly two years ago. Also called “dark” or “ghost” kitchens, these are are stripped-down operations that produce for delivery only – no service, no waiters. They use data to understand what is most in demand, where, and when – and they locate to serve that demand. The […]

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Jul 25, 2021
Less is more. A life lesson

Less is more, good people. Less is more. If you’re about to give a long speech, cut it in half. If you are presenting a slide deck, reduce it to a third of what you planned. And cut away all the superfluous text on every slide as well. Why? Because when you overdo it, it’s […]

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Jul 18, 2021
How the halo effect dumbs us all down

It didn’t come home. In one of their most hyped football tournaments ever, England performed extremely well – but fell at the last hurdle, losing on penalties to Italy in the 2020 European Championship final last week. More on that to come, but first, let’s talk about one of the curious phenomena of human behaviour. […]

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Jul 04, 2021
Here are three personal skills your children will need

I have a lot of time for Margaret Heffernan. She writes really thought-provoking books; acts as a mentor and guide to many leaders; and is a lecturer in real-world leadership. Oh, and she has also been a BBC producer and a tech entrepreneur! CV aside, Ms Heffernan is an extremely clear and lucid thinker. In […]

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Jun 20, 2021
Are you looking up and ahead?

About a decade ago I began telling bankers in this part of the world: you are probably looking at “peak bank branch” in the years to come. In which year will your branch network peak – and then begin to reduce in numbers? Ten years ago no one really paid attention. It took another five […]

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Jun 13, 2021
So you can’t find great women for your organization? Really?

A decade ago, there was a question I was regularly asked by chairmen and CEOs. It went something like this: “I need to have more women on my board and senior management team. But where do I find them?” The question was usually asked by males of a certain vintage. It was perhaps forgivable then […]

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Jun 06, 2021
Do you have a N’golo Kanté on your team?

The shortest man on the pitch won more aerial headers than any of his team-mates. N’golo Kanté, the one-man midfield dynamo, won the UEFA Champions League 2021 for his club, Chelsea FC. He was player-of-the-match in both semi-final legs and the final itself.  N’golo runs and runs and runs. He breaks up opponents’ play, and […]

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May 30, 2021
I have been wrong many times. That’s OK

An admission: I have been wrong many times – right here on this page. That should not be news to anyone, but somehow it is. We are, all of us, prone to error. We can not only be wrong, but egregiously, terribly wrong. To err is human, as Alexander Pope pointed out aeons ago (and […]

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May 23, 2021
What does it take to become a 200-year organization?

The Guardian newspaper is 200 years old. I first started reading it in the first year of my degree course in London. It was not normal reading for a student of economics and business – which is precisely why I was attracted to it. I’ve never stopped reading it, decades later, even from a different […]

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May 16, 2021
Education must escape the tyranny of the clock

It has taken me decades to learn how to eat slowly. I tend to gobble down my meal and finish in just a few minutes. This is not a good thing. Modern nutritionists advise that we eat and drink slowly and carefully. So why am I like this? The genesis of the problem is high […]

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May 09, 2021
The future will belong to those who can humanize as they digitize

You will stay meaningful in the near future of business if you can do this: Humanize + Digitize. The “digitize” part should be obvious to all, especially after a pandemic that sent everyone hurtling into a low-touch world. Online transactions and digital experiences have boomed as never before. In most sectors we have no choice […]

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Apr 25, 2021
This skill will still be very valuable in the future world of work

We are rushing headlong into a world of virtual meetings and digital interactions. As I outlined here last week, we all need to raise our digital game: running meetings on Zoom; building teams on Teams; delivering projects on Basecamp. It is tempting to think that new-world skills – working with software, deploying new-fangled hardware – […]

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Apr 11, 2021
Relationships are better when you don’t keep score

Don’t keep score. That’s the advice professor Scott Galloway gives people, often imparted on his podcasts. He refers to the habit of tallying that bedevils our closest relationships. Some of us mistake relationships to be merely a series of transactions. You were good to me, so I can return the favour. You were generous yesterday, […]

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Apr 04, 2021
There are no commodities, only opportunities

Plumbers are needed by everyone. It’s a vital service, because all homes and buildings will encounter plumbing issues. What needs to be done is usually straightforward, but it’s also messy and awkward – and so not many folks aspire to be plumbers. Those who do take it up as an occupation seem to despise their […]

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Mar 14, 2021
How honest are you about your products?

Have you ever come across a restaurant that says these things about some of its menu items? “This one is not THAT good.” “This one is NOT authentic…” “I am surprised some customers still order this plate.” Those are actual dish descriptions on the menu of the Aunt Dai Chinese restaurant in Montreal. The owner, […]

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Feb 28, 2021
Would Messi qualify for your team?

If you have worked for large organizations, you will have come across the competency model. You will have discovered that humans are ranked according to a pre-set group of competencies, or qualities that you are meant to demonstrate in order to excel in your job.  What are these competencies? Things like customer focus, teamwork, goal […]

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Feb 21, 2021
Before starting your own business, ask: Why will customers choose you?

Many people on this planet dream of starting their own businesses, and some of them bring those dreams to me. My key first question is usually: “Which business are you thinking of?” I’ve lost count of the number of times the answer is this: “I want to open a restaurant or a farm, because everyone […]

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Feb 14, 2021
To write better, read better

Last week on this page: if you want to write better, the path is the practice of writing. You don’t get better at writing by just thinking, talking or dreaming about writing. You get better by actually writing. The practice is the learning; the doing is the improving. This week on this page: if you […]

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Feb 07, 2021
The way to learn to write better is to write more

One of the most frequent questions I get is this one: I want to be a successful writer; what advice/tips/help can you give me? Let’s answer that question once and for all. The best response is given by a writer writing about another writer. I sometimes think it’s impossible for Seth Godin to put out […]

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Jan 31, 2021
It’s Team Biden, not Biden…

So America has a new president, and wherever I look, I see news about the new administration’s plans and programmes. The Biden immigration plan. The Biden climate policy. The Biden antitrust approach. The Biden anti-COVID programme. The Biden economic stimulus. What’s wrong with that, you ask? The word BIDEN! For some reason we humans just […]

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Jan 24, 2021
What my grandmother knew about business success

My late grandmother, as those who knew her will confirm, was quite a character. She was feisty and bold and well ahead of her time. She told you what she thought of you, right to your face. I recall one moment as a teenager. I was sitting with her waiting for the evening news to […]

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Jan 17, 2021
Are you successful – or just lucky?

Pick a successful person you know. Ask them this question: to what do you attribute your success? The first answer you get will reveal a great deal about the character of the person before you. If your high achiever talks about hard work first, you should be a little circumspect about what you are hearing. […]

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Jan 10, 2021
Some timeless lessons in building a good business

You may have come across Shake Shack during your travels. It is a very successful restaurant chain, known for outstanding customer service. I recently listened to its founder, Danny Meyer, on a podcast with NPR’s Guy Raz. What I heard was a masterclass in entrepreneurship, so I thought I should share some key lessons. Shake […]

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Jan 03, 2021
Let’s go back to school – but let’s do it differently, please

After a blighted year, the children are going back to school in 2021. Never before have so many youngsters stayed away from school for so long. The pandemic year should be seen as a petri dish in which we conducted a long experiment about the nature of education. The results are in – and there […]

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Nov 15, 2020
We are at our best when we give without receiving

Amidst the drama of the US presidential election last week, a significant development may have escaped your notice. The Fox News Channel turned on candidate Trump. Fox News and Donald Trump have been kindred spirits for a long time. Fox’s anchors and opinion leaders have supported Trump through thick and thin, backing him to the […]

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Nov 08, 2020
Is your board stuck in yesterday’s successes?

Have you heard of Nokia? Had I asked that in 2010 it would have been an impertinent question. At the time Nokia was the dominant global mobile phone company. In my seminars of those days, perhaps nine in 10 of those present would be sporting a Nokia device. Today, asking if you know Nokia is […]

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Nov 01, 2020
We are in a world where everyone needs high-speed internet

There’s a joke that says if you want to call a family gathering in your house, just walk to the main internet router, switch it off, and wait. Everyone in the house, young and old, will be there in the next few seconds… A few years back I heard a senior executive recount the following […]

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Oct 18, 2020
Why do big, successful businesses freeze?

Two entrepreneurs sat nervously. They were at the headquarters of a business one thousand times their size, with an audacious proposal. It had taken them months to convince the big man to even meet them. The meeting did not take long. The answer was a flat no. Goodbye. The year was 2000. One one side […]

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