Monday, October 31, 2011

On Dancing with the Stars, Hiring and Never-Ever Giving Up

On an overcast and rainy Sunday morning, after reading about Stanford’s amazing win on, some interesting things from the paper over a couple of cups of coffee:
But my first smile of the day came from seeing JR Martinez on the cover of People magazine. While most of you know JR from Dancing with the Stars, he is also a graduate of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program…a program that I am proudly associated with...pick up that magazine and try not to smile when you read about this amazing young man. Here is a link to a story on the People magazine piece from JR’s home town Dalton Daily Citizen. Congratulations JR!

From the NY Times…while it’s much easier said than done, In a Big Company, Make Everyone an Entrepreneur. The article, a recurring weekly feature by Adam Bryant, is an interview with Lynn Blodgett. president and chief executive of ACS, an I.T. services subsidiary of Xerox.

From the article:

A. One of the ways that we do it is we drive the P.& L. as deep into the organization as we can. We have a P.& L. at a customer level, that’s mandatory. We have to be able to see how we’re doing with that customer. A lot of companies can’t do that. In our business we drive the P.& L. down to the people who are actually doing the work. So if we can make a P.& L. for a $10 million business, we’ll give that guy the P.& L. and he’ll have profit accountability, revenue accountability and customer satisfaction accountability. And as they grow, they make more money. That results in a higher performance, in my opinion.
So you give people control, hold them accountable, give them control of their resources, and then monitor what they do. And if you do that, you’re going to tap into, in our business, the highest level of drive — entrepreneurial drive. I want ACS to look like a whole bunch of sole proprietorships. Because that way, people are thinking to themselves, “If this was my money, if I was doing this, would I really spend it? Do I have to buy that computer right now or can I get by with my one that’s two years old?”
Q. What else is important to your leadership style?
A. Another is that nobody is above being moved, being touched, being influenced by a small gesture. I’ve experienced it myself. Somebody might call me or send me an e-mail to say, “Hey, I got that bonus and I just want you to know that really means a lot to me.” We have 85,000 employees, and I don’t get 85,000 e-mails. So when I get one it means a lot.
So it’s the little things. Like writing a note that says, “You did a great job,” or: “I’m sorry I got after you. You’re a super performer, and I lost my patience with you, and that’s my error, and forgive me for doing that.” We also set up phone calls when we win a deal, and we’ll get the team together and say: “Hey, tell me about that. What was the hardest thing? How did it come together?”

From the same article on hiring:

How do you hire? What questions do you ask?
A. The very first question is always “Tell me about yourself.” And not the résumé — I don’t want the résumé. Just tell me about yourself. What do you like? What do you enjoy doing? Because I think you can tell a lot from very open-ended questions.
Then I will say, “If you had the perfect job, what would you do?” And then I always ask: “Why do you want to come here? What is it about us?” Then, finally, “What do you think you could do to help us?” In the positions that I’m looking for, when you ask people what they can to do help, you often get some great answers and insights.
Q. What are the qualities you’re looking for?
A. People who are honest. That’s the No. 1 thing. I don’t have a test for that. I think that’s one where you have to go with your gut for a lot of it. And this is my prejudice because I didn’t go to college, but their intellect, their ability to think, is more important to me than any degrees they might have. And are they loyal? Will they take risks? Do they have integrity? Frankly, the technical aspects of it are way, way down on the list.

And in the Opinion section, What Tax Dollars Can’t Buy, Did you Hear the One About the Bankers and Our Unpaid, Extra Shadow Work give somewhat different perspectives on the current economic discussion.

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