Tag Archives: Leadership

A word about talent

Or team. Or hiring.

They’re all interrelated.

Find great people.

It’s just that simple.

And then figure out how they can offer up their best selves. Either through experience, talent, or passion, and probably a combination of all three.

If you find great people who bring intangibles – like hard work, perseverance, dedication, positive attitude, logic, intelligence, respect, fun, just plain ol’ being nice – to the table, then you can get through anything.

Yes, hard skills matter, but we live and operate in such a dynamic environment today, that on some level, we all have to learn new and more hard skills. We can teach hard skills. Not so on the softer skills.

Working in an agency, at the end of the day, we need to deliver on the clients’ needs. Sometimes those needs do not align to people’s best selves and you know what, we have to deliver.

But if you have great people who bring great things as people and are open to whatever is in front of them, then you can get through those times as well. And they actually see it as an opportunity to grow.

More often than not, people are going to be fulfilled this way and as far as talent goes, that’s the goal – put them in a position to feel fulfilled.

The people part of it – not the skill part of it – is the greatest key to doing this.

A Secret to Success

Be open.

I grew up an actor and filmmaker. Then, I fell in love with writing. Creativity, and the need for outward expression through some sort of art, is in my bones. When I feel the most fulfilled, I am doing something that feeds by creative desire.

As one who is continually checking myself as it relates to career growth and fulfillment, I am discovering – and having an even deeper appreciation for – a key principle that has been instrumental for me: being open.

Open to opportunity. Open to doing what needs to be done and immersing myself in it. Open to learning. Open to stretching in ways that might be uncomfortable.

This very principle is at the core of my growth over the past two years, and if I were to look back and analyze my ‘path’ before then, I would most likely come to the same conclusion.

Most acutely, over the past two years, I have been focused on the business and operations side of my industry, an industry that is very dynamic and exciting, one where ‘blueprints’ haven’t been widely created. It has definitely required me to use, flex and embrace the science side of my brain.

While I certainly couldn’t have verbalized this specific growth – in the past, projecting ahead – it has been a substantial rounding out of my different dimensions. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what true growth is? Uncovering and rounding out dimensions that need it and making stronger those that are already there.

In today’s instant-gratification and sometimes, somehow entitled world we operate in, it’s easy to get distracted by lack of clarity related to career growth. My advice based on personal experience and ultimately, gratification: just be open.

And embrace it all.

The Two Different Agency Camps

There are the talkers. And there are the doers.

They are quite different camps.

Sometimes, the doers need the talkers. But in the business of delivery, the talkers always need the doers.

The talkers are always out in front. They like to talk. The appearance. The brand. Their value comes in the form of connections and often times, authority. They feed off of attention. The best ones are quite charming.

The doers, on the other hand, operate in the background. They like to do. The focus. The crafting. They feed off of work. Their value comes in the form of delivery. The best ones can do a lot in the period of time they have and at a high quality. Machines.

The main difference, at the core, is focus and, for a lot of people, comfort. There is a distinct difference between the focus on the word and focus on the work.

There is an evolution over ones’ career. As you find yourself going through that evolution – and it will probably happen multiple times – you must ask yourself where you want your focus. That will determine what camp you will find yourself in.

Talent, Foundation, and Tiger Woods

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

I’m a huge sports fan. Sometimes, there’s nothing greater than spending an entire day doing nothing but watching sports. In fact, that’s pretty much my life most Sundays out of the year. Be it football games, the final round in golf tournaments, baseball, basketball – you name it. It’s also a great day to play sports – tennis, pick-up basketball, or just tossing a baseball back and forth. Sports is in my bones.

I don’t know if there’s a more immediate-success-or-bust expectation in any other industry than there is in sports. Over the past decade, I think it’s reached an unrealistic level. Football coaches are rarely given more than 3 years to build a team and make the playoffs. Basketball coaches are often given a season, at most, to make an impact. And all that a player needs to become irrelevant and/or unwanted is 1 injury. It truly is a business always pushing the boundaries of balance between experienced talent and hyped (be it founded or unfounded) potential.

So, longevity in the sports world is something that has become rare. It’s unfortunate because, as a fan, it essentially eliminates and ultimately prohibits rocks to be built/established. Gone are the days of Joe Torre and the Yankees. Phil Jackson and the Bulls (or Lakers, depending on how old you are). Now, Tiger Woods and Steve Williams. Those rocks that were once sacred, defining, and foundational, are no more than pebbles in their ability to build and hold up that foundation. In fact, in many ways, it seems like the foundation is becoming less about people –real people – and more about bodies.

Despite the doom-and-gloom, there is a positive here:

True talent is all around.

And that keeps the sports world – and all others – advancing, evolving, and actually getting better. I hate the idea of my Cowboys never having a Tom Landry again. Who knows? In 2 years Jason Garrett (who was just hired this year), might be long gone and they’ll be looking for the next head coach. But I can bank on the fact that there will be an extremely talented pool of coaching candidates to choose from. (Now, especially in the Cowboys case, whether or not the most talented person is selected from that pool has always been in question. But that’s another story.)

Yesterday’s news of Tiger Woods letting go his long-time caddie (of 12 years), Steve Williams, really surprised me. It seemed like Williams was the only piece of the foundation left. After the head scratching, and getting over the fact that change will never stop, this is what I’ve come to – there are other extremely talented people out there to fill that role. It rests on Tiger (and other organizations’/brands’ leaders) to find, sell (if needed) and select that talent, but it’s there for the taking. And whoever that person is, they have a chance to make Tiger better. Not just fill a void.

The rapid advancements in expectations are also colliding with the rapid advancements in talent. And this can’t be underestimated.

Maybe foundations aren’t built to hold 100-year old structures anymore. Maybe the structure, itself, is a new kind of structure, intended to be rebuilt every few years. And maybe, simply, nothing is sacred anymore in the world of sports.

Photo credit: Warner Brothers


Friday’s 4-1-1, Being a Father Style

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

That’s my dad. And me. At 3. Old enough to appreciate football, but way too young to appreciate that mustache.

I am blessed to still have him here and have a good relationship with him. There are many things that dads teach us – good and bad – and for me, personally, so many of those things have stuck with me to this day. So this week’s Friday 4-1-1 is dedicated to him and all the other dads out there.

The good things I have learned from my dad that have helped me in trying to be a good dad and a model to those around me:

1. Every decision matters – no matter how big or small the decision or how much of an immediate and/or long-lasting impact it could have, every decision matters. This isn’t to say that every decision requires laborious scrutiny. It’s just to say that there aren’t any decisions – even those we make in a split second to get us to the next thing – that can be taken lightly. I have found that none of my decisions are made in a silo, even if it appears that way in the moment. They play themselves out in one way or another. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong and I do what I can to learn from them. But I know there’s not one insignificant decision that I’m going to make.

2. It’s OK to fail – nobody’s perfect and everybody fails so why not embrace it? I have a tendency to expect to do a great job every time I do something and often times, the first time I do it. And I’ve learned how unrealistic that is. This is actually quite liberating. I think, generally, we all want to do a great job at what we do, but the reality is that we’re not going to do a great job all the time. We might not even do a good job. This should not deter us from expecting to do a great job. But when our performance does not live up to those expectations, it’s OK to throw up the flag, admit defeat, breathe a little, take what we can from it, and move on. The beauty is accepting that we failed and wanting to grow from it. One of the best things about my dad and what I hope to always do – be there in times of failure to lift back up and support.

3. Consistency is key – I am not big on surprises, especially when interacting with others. I want to have an idea of what to expect based on the situation. For learning, I think consistency is key. Children have a tough time learning from someone who is inconsistent in their actions and reactions. They get confused as to what is right and what is wrong and then they don’t know what to do when faced with the same situation again. I really believe that consistency puts us on the path to success.

4. Be fair – fair can be a good thing and a bad thing. There are many things that have happened to me that I think are just not fair. No two ways about it. But that’s the way it is. Life isn’t fair. At least that’s what my mom told me a trillion times. But I think as a dad and as a model to others, fair is an essential filter to have. Fair has compassion and compassion is necessary to effectively lead.

“Uh-huh” – the best thing about my dad? He’s supportive. Even when he doesn’t agree with my decisions, he’s supportive of them. And when I succeed, he’s the first in line with a hug and a “great job.” I think this is something we all face every single day. With our own parents. Or children. Or staff. Or colleagues. We are placed in many situations where we can support. And to recognize those situations to the point where we can capitalize on them is often more difficult than actually doing the supporting. It requires selflessness and understanding, that’s about it.

“Duh” – being a dad is not easy. Telling our dads or our friends who are dads how thankful we are for them goes a long way. So to all you dads reading this, thank you for teaching and supporting. If you’re anything like my dad, you have some proud children today.

Friday’s 4-1-1, Tribes Style

Tribes | Seth GodinI’m big on leadership. I think anyone, regardless of title or age, can step up and be a leader. I don’t believe that leadership is something that you’re born with. It’s out there for the taking and there are many situations throughout our days that are just waiting for someone to step in and be a leader. So, any one of us has the ability to do it at any given time. The problem is, it’s hard. It’s hard to get up enough courage or confidence or just sheer faith to do what no one else is doing. But it requires us all to do it. Lead. You can do it.

I just finished reading, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – a great leadership book – by Seth Godin. The book has been out a few years, so I acknowledge that I’m a little late to the game. But better late than never. If you haven’t read the book, I’d encourage you to do it. It’s a quick read and I bet you’ll walk away feeling as inspired as I did. While leadership is the common theme running throughout, it’s also a call-to-action to form your own movements (of tribes) around something you’re passionate about and no one else can do that other than YOU. So, what are you waiting on? Lead. You can do it.

Before I get into the details, it’s important to know this – the description of a TRIBE. A Tribe is a group of people connected to:

  • One another
  • An idea
  • A leader

This is important because this is the context that he talks about leadership. Leading people. Active leadership. Leadership that is intended to make a difference.

So, today, I’m going to devote this week’s Friday 4-1-1 to my takeaways.

1. Crowds – He draws a lot of distinctions in this book. One of which is the distinction between Crowds and Tribes.

Crowds and Tribes are two different things.

A crowd is a tribe without a leader. A crowd is a tribe without communication. Most organizations spend their time marketing to the crowd.

Mass marketing is marketing to the crowd. It’s marketing to as many eyeballs as you can. All those eyeballs are not connected in any other way than by seeing the ad. They’re not connected by experience or passion or knowledge. Now, this is not a marketing book, per se. But if you look at it through the eyes of a marketer, you can take away a gold mine. If tribes are centered around an idea and follow a leader, then as a marketer, it’s important to know a) what that idea is and b) who the leader is. It’s a hard thing to do – getting to the leader – but the concept totally flips the traditional marketing model. That model was based on reaching as many people as you could. This model – which I would argue is today’s model – is all about reaching the right select few people who will then, in turn, reach many more. In this model, since the message is coming to the tribe through the right select group, it’s much more likely to have a true impact. It’s more likely to turn apathy (or disbelief) into belief.

Too many organizations care about numbers, not fans. They care about hits or turnstile clicks or media mentions. What they’re missing is the depth of commitment and inter-connection that true fans deliver. Instead of always being on the hunt for one more set of eyeballs, true leaders have figured out that the real win is in turning a casual fan into a true one.

2. Managers – Another distinction and an important one, especially for “Managers.” I walked away from this book hating everything that he paints “Managers” to stand for. Being a manager, it’s tough, because part in parcel with “management” comes leadership. Defacto leadership, though. True leadership goes further and it’s about inspiring and fighting for change. Not for change’s sake. But because change is required.

Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done….Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible. Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.

Fresh and new is welcome. In today’s evolving world – both as a consumer and as a regular ol’ person – nothing stays the same. Rarely do the same tactics work now that worked 5 years ago. Or even 1 year ago. Or even 1 month ago. Our environment is changing and to be special requires change.

Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.

Deciding to lead, not manage, is the critical choice.

What do you do for a living? What do you make? Leaders make a ruckus.

Now, I walked away from reading this with the impression that change = disruption. And I don’t necessarily agree with that. I don’t think that change always has to be disruptive to make an impact. Sometimes, the subtlest changes can make the most impact and nothing is disrupted at all. It’s all about making it better. The point is – each one of us has the ability to make things better. We have to find it inside ourselves, though. One of my favorite lines doesn’t have to do with management at all, it has to do with empowerment.

You can’t manage your way to initiative.

3. Faith – It’s hard to believe something that you can’t see, or that you haven’t experienced before, or that hasn’t been done before, or that challenges the status quo. To me, faith is one of the single-most important beliefs to have in everything you do. Faith leads to belief and belief leads to confidence. And confidence kills fear and intimidation. With confidence, you can lead.

All you need to know is 2 things:

1. The first thing you need to know is that individuals have fare more power than ever before in history.

2. The second thing you need to know is that the only thing holding you back from becoming the kind of person who changes things is this: lack of faith.

You just have to know inside yourself that what you’re doing is right. And that it’s powerful enough to make change. I like this:

Faith is critical to all innovation.

Amen, brother.

4. Mediocrity & Fear – It’s perfectly reasonable for fear to guide any one of our decisions throughout a day. We each have a litany of responsibilities and it’s important to keep all of them in order. So, I don’t think the “fear” message here is to shirk all responsibilities for the sake of making change. I think it’s more about recognizing all of the things that guide our decisions and trying to put fear in its proper place. And a lot of times, we’re afraid of something that doesn’t exist or will come to fruition. We’re afraid of what we imagine failure to be.

What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism.

I’d like to paraphrase the Peter Principle (“in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”). I think what actually happens is that, “in every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear.”

I think one of the results of operating in fear is mediocrity. Mediocrity, any way you cut it, is only ever, at best, good. Good is never great. To be great, you must not accept mediocrity. Ever.

You don’t have enough time to be both unhappy and mediocre.

Time is one of the only precious resources we have. Perhaps the most precious resource we have. How much time do you want to spend NOT being mediocre?

Defending mediocrity is exhausting.

“Duh” – I don’t like prescriptive lists. I don’t think anything is ever the same for you as it is for me. But what I like about lists is the guide they provide. With a guide, you can deviate and mold to what works for you. You actually have something you can learn (and grow) from. Since this book is about leading through “movements” to make change, it’s only right to leave you with the most important lists in the book. The key elements in creating a micromovement consist of five things to do and six principles:

To Do:

  1. 1. Publish a manifesto.
  2. 2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you.
  3. 3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another.
  4. 4. Realize that money is not the point of a movement.
  5. 5. Track your progress.


  1. 1. Transparency really is your only option.
  2. 2. Your movement needs to be bigger than you.
  3. 3. Movements that grow, thrive.
  4. 4. Movements are made most clear when compared to the status quo or to the movements that work to push the other direction.
  5. 5. Exclude outsiders.
  6. 6. Tearing others down in never as helpful to a movement as building your followers up.

I’m taking bits and pieces out of this book and leaving with some of the things that stuck with me. But like I said, the context to look at everything through is leading a group of people (tribes) to affect change (movements).

“Uh-huh” – There are so many little things I’m taking away from this book, all of which are thrown into the Leadership Pot that I’m brewing. It’s all good stuff. But one of the most important takeaways for me and for anyone reading this or the book –

You don’t have to be in charge or powerful or pretty or connected to be a leader. You do have to be committed.

That’s all.

There you have it. I don’t consider myself a “by-the-books” type person. I’m much more of a “hands-on” person. I find these books good for perspective. They’re a window into other people’s minds and philosophies and when I can’t talk to them, I think it’s priceless to have access to their perspective. I’ll leave you with what Seth leaves everyone reading the book with:

If you got anything out of this book, if you highlighted or circled or Post-it-ed, I’m hoping you’ll do something for me:

Give this copy to someone else. Ask them to read it. Beg them to make a choice about leadership.

We need them. We need you.

Spread the word.


If you want to read my copy, email me and I’ll send it to you. All I’d ask is that you send along to someone else. Thank you, as always, for reading. Now go lead. You can do it.


Who Leaders Are

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

To me,

Leaders are fair.

Leaders are disciplined.

Leaders are natural.

Leaders rise above.

Leaders know they need others.

Leaders fall with those around them. And then pick them up.

Leaders know right from wrong. And this guides them.

Leaders are not defined by title.

Leaders are everywhere. Just look in the mirror.


Friday’s 4-1-1, Leadership Style

My daughter is 2 classes into taking ballet class and as a 5 year old, it’s less about the finer points of ballet and more about dressing up in tutus and dancing around the room with all the other little girls. She also has 2 younger brothers – twins, 2 1/2 years old – who do everything that she does, except participate in ballet, of course (although my wife has a hard time keeping them contained during this class.) We talk to her often about being a leader, particularly when the boys are rowdy and/or rough and/or tazmanian devils and when she chooses to be a leader, she doesn’t add to the mayhem, she helps stop it. This whole thing occurs many times during the week and sometimes she wants to be a leader and sometimes, she just wants to be a 5 year-old causing ruccus with her brothers.

Well, the moment of note, here in this story, happened a couple of nights ago in her ballet class. The teacher was trying to get all the girls to stand in an orderly fashion – in 1st Position – so they could practice moves one-at-a-time across the dance floor. Well, half of the class was bouncing off the walls, playing on the mats, and half of the class was running around the class, and my daughter was in the middle. And in this moment, she was confused because she was listening to the teacher, but what she was seeing out of one eye was mat playing, and out of the other eye was running around, and she didn’t know what to do. But in that one moment, she chose to be a leader and do what the teacher was asking, and wouldn’t you know it – one by one, the girls saw what she was doing and stopped what they were doing and got in 1st Position right behind her and there was a semblance of order restored to the class.

It just made my week. I think any parent, when you experience something like that, is overcome with a sense of pride and accomplishment. It really is great. But you know, it breaks being a leader down to a few simple components and that’s what I want to focus on in today’s Friday 4-1-1.

1. Choices in Moments – the littlest moments in our lives are often the ones that have the biggest impact. They define us more than we realize. In each of those moments, we have a choice to either lead or follow. I don’t believe that you always have to lead or you always have to follow, but there is always an active choice to make in those moments.

2. Leaders Model – it’s one thing to talk, it’s another thing to do. I’m a huge proponent of modeling and to me, there is no better way to exemplify leadership. Actions are key. How you act in those moments, when you make those choices, is just as important as the choices themselves. I always think that I have 100 eyes on me at all times. And then I ask myself, “what is it that they are seeing? And is that something I’m proud of?”

3. Active Awareness – I think the best leaders are aware of their decisions, their actions, and the consequences of both all the time. They might not know how everything is going to end up based on that one decision in that one moment in time, but they sure are aware of the immediate impact.

4. Nothing More Important than Grace – there is a right way to be a leader and a wrong way. Same can be said about being a follower. And in my opinion, it has nothing to do with skill. It’s all about grace. Being graceful in any situation, to me, is what separates great from good.

“Uh-huh” – this week, my team at work had a leadership moment. They were faced with something and in that moment when they had to decide how they were going to react and then act, they chose to band together and lead. And by choosing to do that individually, the team became united and really showed what leading is all about. They put the team above each of themselves. That’s another key to leading – selflessness. It makes you stronger.

“Duh” – leading is not all serious all the time, it’s meant to be fun. It’s OK to play on mats and run around the room. People can learn a lot from that, too. It shows that there is joy in your life and that you’re a person. And in the end, all leaders are just people.

This week, my daughter, and then my team, reminded me of how simple it is to be a leader. It’s not something that you have to work all your life to do. It can happen right now, in this very moment.

So, go on now.