About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

06 November 2009

We're All Just Cavemen with Briefcases

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi banker and founder of Grameen Bank, which trades in microcredit or small loans. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In 2006, Yunus and Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for efforts to create economic and social development from below."

During an interview aired November 22, 2006, on PBS' The News Hour Yunus said:
"All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves we were all self-employed ... finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began ... As civilization came we suppressed it. We became labor because they stamped us, ‘You are labor.’ We forgot that we are entrepreneurs."
Primeval memories of our entrepreneurial nature are being stirred as we speak, though. Dan Pink has poked at us with his book Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself.

And, Richard Florida believes the sooner our inner entrepreneur wakes up and gets moving the better, because the new world of work will be dominated by those with an entrepreneurial spirit and creative juices flowing in their veins. In The Rise of the Creative Class he says:
"Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steelmaking."
Companies agreeing with Florida will battle hammer and tong to find and keep top talent. But, does getting the best-of-the-best to pull up a stool at your saloon matter all that much? Why not save a little time - and more than a few Benjamins - by hiring next-to-the-best talent? One answer comes from Nathan Myhrvold, former chief scientist for Microsoft:
"The top software developers are more productive than average software developers not by a factor of 10x or 100x, or even 1,000x, but 10,000x."
Another from Ed Michaels, author of the The War for Talent:
"Steve Macadam at Georgia-Pacific … changed 20 of his 40 box plant managers to put more talented, higher paid managers in charge. He increased profitability from $25 million to $80 million in 2 years."
If you decide you want to attract and keep the best-of-the-best, you'll have to ante up the following just to get in the game:
  • great job
  • great location
  • great company
  • great compensation and benefits
  • great boss
  • great coworkers
  • great everything
Beyond that, you must provide a convincing answer to the question Stan Davis and Chris Meyer say superstars will be sure to ask, and keep asking; it's from their book Future Wealth:
"If I invest my mental assets with you, how much will they appreciate? How much will my portfolio of career options grow?”
If you already have some of these folks on board and want to keep it that way, you should have the following conversation with each of them on a regular basis.

  • How are you being challenged? What other responsibilities would you like to assume?
  • How fast are you learning new things? How important are the things you've learned?
  • What are you best known for today? What else? Another?
  • What would you like to be able to add to that list by this time next year?
  • What are you doing to gain public recognition for your capabilities and accomplishments?
  • How many significant names have you added to your list of contacts in the last 6 months?
  • What changes have you been able to make in your resume over the last year?
"Why was Solomon recognized as the wisest man in the world? Because he knew more stories (proverbs) than anyone else. Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories." - Alan Kay
"The real source of wealth and capital in this new era is not material things ... it is the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination, and our faith in the future." - Steve Forbes
"For a moment he was completely befuddled, but this is a condition which can never exist for long in a mind like Khaavren's, a mind which acts like a fallow field, in which it is only necessary for a seed to touch it before this seed will sprout, although with what fruit is not always apparent." - Steven Brust, The Phoenix Guards
"Intrinsic motivation lies at the heart of Deming’s management philosophy. By contrast, extrinsic motivation is the bread and butter of Western management. A corporate commitment to quality that is not based on intrinsic motivation is a house built on sand." - Peter Senge
"Creativity comes from freedom." - W. Edwards Deming

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"We're All Just Cavemen with briefcase" there couldn't have been a better title for this post, I really enjoyed it.