Winning Culture’s: Don’t blame the staff – who’s running the show

I listen with interest to many CEO’s  complain about the performance, accountability and attitude of their staff.
In most cases these CEO’s are so focused on being busy and doing it all themselves, that they are missing out on some basics. 

Here are 4 quick tips to fix general performance issues:

  1. Get clarity around what success looks like for you and your customers, eg  “we make the car go faster”.
  2. Define and manage to a culture set. Call it values or call it a manifesto but define it, lead by example and act when it’s not lived up to. Hire and fire based on this culture set. Otherwise your good staff will run away.
  3. Lead rather than manage: Start with hiring smarter people than your self and then delegate.
  4. Set up an advisory group to help challenge and keep you on course and be accountable to your own plans. Too many people get hung up with titles and labels Governance, Boards, advisory groups, compliance just get started.

Two companies that have experienced explosive growth: Tradme and Atlassian have clear culture sets (shown below).
How would you describe the culture of your team? 
If you do not define it and live it – it will evolve to the lowest common form.

The Trade Me Manifesto   –Follow the links to Rowan Simpson’s blog  for more detail

#1: Create great websites and people will tell their friends
#2: Be like electricity
#3: Let the server run the business
#4: Empathise
#5: Make people feel safe
#6: Talk straight
#7: Hire people smarter than you
#8: Be informal but serious
#9: Measure everything
#10: Just try stuff

Atlassian’s Values   – more on Atlassian

        Create useful products people lust after


           #1      Open company, no bullshit
           #2      Build with heart and balance
           #3     Don’t fuck the customer
           #4     Play as a team
           #5     Be the change you seek


Warning AKL Cyclists Panmure-Pt England Dog Attack

Watch out fellow cyclists – Pit Bull Terrier dog attack in Dunkirk Road Panmure. 

 Wednesday this week (16/10/2010)  Greg and I were one of the best rides ever, out to Maraetai beach and back to town  when our idyllic world was destroyed by a vicious attack by a pit bull terrier out side 47 Dunkirk St, Panmure.

The dog approached fast barking from 20 meters away from across the road, nothing new, but then it attacked the bike, knocking both Greg and I to the ground. It hit that fast all I remember was the awful crushing sound of bike, lyrca and flesh hitting the road.

Greg’s bike is a complete right off, split in two by the impact, I catapulted into the road with the end result a broken collar-bone and crushed helmet, Greg has a severe case of gravel rash.

Thank god the owners at least called the dog away, leaving us wounded on the road, not that they hung around to face ambulance and police.

Animal control services are now after the owner “maori” who was walking  with two females and a push chair. The dog Tan/Beige Pit Ball Terrier.

Animal control can be contacted  09-360 0750

Cyclists and Kids – Please be careful down Dunkirk road and surrounds of Panmure.  This loacation is on the popular airport loop circuit.

Rouge dogs and irresponsible dog owners need to be dealt with, imagine if we had been a child on their way to school.

 Thanks to the kind owner of 47 Dunkirk st, who offered Greg and I something to drink, shame were in a state of shock and said – no we’re fine. Likewise thanks to the kind support of st Johns Ambulance and the kind people at A&E Auckland central.

What is the one skill you don’t have, that you wish you did? – Daniel Batten

Daniel Batten conducted this interesting survey and makes some sound points. Read his full blog post at

The short form results  from his survey were:

– 12% said something to do with Web2.0/social media/Internet Marketing
– 22% said something to do with better financial literacy, or basic accounting skills
– 38% said something to do with speaking, influencing, persuasion, or feeling comfortable addressing either a group, or an environment where they needed to persuade something of something.
– 18% – everything else
– 10% – “I already have all the skills I need”

My comment on this is you can “choose to wish” or you “can do”, so go and do something about it.

I like Daniels comment how Steve Jobs spends 1000’s of hours practicing to be an accomplished speaker. It reminds me of a book the  “knowing doing gap” in this book it highlights  how people are promoted and succeed in business through what they say rather than what they do, unfair but true.

What are you doing to help fix your skill gap …  in most cases simply having an effective pitch and actually delivering it will bring success.

Public speaking and persuasion can be fixed with one outside help – coaching and practise, practise, practise.

I personally am a fan of toastmasters as a great place to practice, find a good club and it can be very thought provoking, as well as a great opportunity to master the skill of persuasion and speaking.

Do not forget (yes I am biased) that both financial literacy and speaking – pitching are covered in the NZTE fully funded  Escalator Investment Ready workshops:  “power pitching” or “essential guide to capital”.   Register now

6 laws of successful pitching

Gail Geronimos – Achaeus – Australia sings from the same hymn book with her sound words of advice to those pitching for investment.

On Gail’s blog you can download a paper detailing her 6 laws of investment pitching. Check out her blog at 

Here is a quick teaser summary: – with my comments

law 1:  Understand the investor  – is this the next, “best” investment for them – “so tell us about the investment not just your product”
law 2:  Have a good business plan –  – “dreams and visions are not enough – show us how you will get there”
law 3: You have 20 seconds to increase my heart rate – “be different its abut standing out from the pack”
law 4: Answer the question“Oh yes I have seen some people dig big holes here (and not money pits either), acknowledge different view points – remember the line between confidence and arrogance”
law 5: Get an Introduction“be credible and it will happen – remember in the investment game every referral reflects the referer don’t expect introductions immediately they are earned”
law 6: Execute/demonstrate how you will build the business

Daily Lark – on pitching

So, What is It You do Exactly  here is Andy Larks’s take from his blog …well worth subscribing BTW.

One of my favorite things to ask any CEO is what they think it is their company does. The answers are as often incoherent as they are staggering.

Michael hits on this phenomenon when asking the CEO’s of Yahoo! and AOL what their respective companies do. There are a few communications lessons here:

  1. Get what it is you do down to one sentence. One very short sentence.
  2. Get training if you think you can’t articulate this publically.
  3. Before you get to all the other standard patter, answer the question. Make it the headline.
  4. Never treat any Q&A session casually. Never casually give an answer.

Here is what they had to say:


What is Yahoo?…Listen Yahoo is a great company that is very, very strong in content for its users, uses amazing technology to serve up what increasingly we think is going to be the web of one. For instance, on our today module in the front page, every 5 minutes we have 32,000 different variations of that module. So you don’t even know what I’m seeing in fact we serve a million different front page modules a day and that’s just through content optimization. And that’s just the beginning…Customized because we know the things you’re interested in. Maybe you don’t like light entertainment maybe you like a certain sports team, etc., etc. And our click through rate went up twice. So the point is, people come to us to find out what is going on with the world in a very nice quick fashion to do their communications, email, messenger, check-in on their teens. We all know about Yahoo finance. It’s a places where you can just get it together. It’s collated for you, it’s all the things as you’re moving, you can even get your social information there. Everybody moves through many websites in a day, Yahoo is one they always stop at.


AOL is planning on being the largest high quality content producer for digital media.

Ed Note…  Andy and Micheal’s example just goes to illustrate that the big guys are just as prone to screw this up. You may be succesful, but just imagine if you got your act together how successful you could be.