Tag Archives: humility


Several months ago I took a productivity course. It was a well intentioned effort to improve productivity by learning the processes and best practices of the world’s most productive people.


As a writer and observer, I learnt much more. I learnt about the “maker” and “manager” schedule. I learnt about the importance of scheduling time for creativity and writing. I learnt about establishing a discipline in doing certain things that would eventually turn into routine or habit.

My promise at the end of the course was one related to gratitude. I wanted to establish the practice of being grateful and therefore I proposed to chose one person in my LinkedIn network to thank every Friday.

Despite my greatest of efforts I didn’t manage to meet my  goal (yet!). But it did have surprising consequences and helped me be more aware of gratitude in general.

In a world of “me” it is nice to be grateful and to express gratitude – whether or not it is part of a habit forming exercise or not.

Thank you to you – my blog followers – for years of reading, of support and of encouraging me to explore the next market or horizon.

I am truly grateful.


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Savvy Saturday October 11th, 2014

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”
― Peter Drucker

Embed from Getty Images
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Why it Takes Humility to be a Sailor and a Leader

under sail
It took us almost four weeks to cross the Tasman Sea through the “roaring forties” – the strong winds found between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees- on our 111 foot schooner to New Zealand. We had rationed water, food and fuel as we battled headwinds ever since leaving Australia; winds were coming directly at us and forcing us to chart a zigzag course to our destination.

There were moments of angst, of confusion, of boredom and of impatience but what transpired over those four weeks until we made it safely into a little harbor on New Zealand’s North Island was a renewed sense of humility and of community that meant putting others – “the good of the ship” – before our own interests.

Decades ago, Peter Drucker wrote:

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

And that’s precisely what our sailing expedition taught us: that ordinary people led by ordinary people in a mission that inspires action, collaboration and problem solving is the key to success when faced with adversity.

Organizations face adversity every single day. Managers and leaders have to perform small miracles in order to overcome challenges, solve problems or deliver the results they think their shareholders want. When managers are good at this, they are compensated accordingly and the circle may be perpetuated as more “wins” bring greater prestige, honor and reward. It’s positive reinforcement at its best.

Is there a place for humility in leadership today? And can humility and prestige co-exist within a leader?

Humility is only a weakness in a system that values things like status over substance, personality over character, or performance over depth. Today, we have the option of moving away from the “either” “or” scenario to embrace humility – serving others – as well as prestige and reward. Jonathan Sacks wrote:

What a glorious revelation humility is of the human spirit … True humility is one of the most life-enhancing of all virtues. It does not mean undervaluing or underestimating yourself. It means valuing other people. It signals an openness to life’s grandeur and the willingness to be surprised, uplifted, by goodness wherever one finds it … False humility is the pretense that one is small. True humility is the consciousness of standing in the presence of greatness.

When we were four weeks at sea – we were standing in the presence of the power and greatness of the ocean. But there’s no need to enter into survival mode to experience greatness. Greatness can be achieved through humility by simply avoiding putting yourself before others and leading ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Photo source: dreshetnikov, via thenowbook on Tumblr

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“Permission Marketing” in life and business

In 1999, Seth Godin popularized the concept of Permission Marketing. It was a very common sensical approach to something we – as consumers and business people – had been feeling for several years or perhaps several decades!

The “feeling” was that we don’t want to be bombarded by advertisements that are irrelevant, boring or aggressive. The idea with permission marketing is to “hit a chord” with specific people – people that are interested in our product/service – by grabbing their attention and using it well – do develop a brand, a following, a community, a fan base, a business…

In the connection economy, businesses can get closer to their customers (or potential customers) and really understand what they want and how they want to be communicated to. The potential for permission marketing has exploded with social media and engagement – listening to customers and interacting with them as a business and a brand. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) can also support organizations in permission marketing.

In Seth Godin’s own words:

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

So my thoughts on permission marketing are these:

1) humility is key to business – if you have a huge ego, you may not have the time/sense/ability to listen to what people are saying about you or telling you how you can serve them better;

2) attention counts- you may want to think about a teacher analogy here – if you don’t have their attention they will not respond and if you abuse their attention you are at risk at creating a negative response in the future;

3) know thyself – you must know your product or service and the “why” behind your business in order to be able to sell it to customers. You must know what solution you provide and be able to articulate who will benefit from it – present and future.

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