Tardiness has a detrimental effect on the organization. Tardiness is a display of disrespect. Establishing ground rules, documenting violations, using an official discipline process and identifying larger workplace issues can go a long way toward correcting issues with executive tardiness.
Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:
The other factor compounding Mayer’s coldness was that she had the awful habit of being late, all the time.
Every Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. California time, Mayer’s staff would gather for a three-hour meeting with the boss. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6:00 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11:00 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Inevitably, Mayer would show up at least forty-five minutes late. Some calls started so late that Yahoo’s executives in Europe didn’t hang up till after 3:00 a.m. their time. Mayer had approximately two dozen people reporting to her during her first year at Yahoo. In theory, she was keeping up with each of them in a regularly scheduled weekly meeting. In practice, she would go weeks without talking to people because she was so busy.
For a while, each of those two dozen people thought that Mayer was just picking on them, individually. The people who had been at Yahoo before Mayer joined assumed that this meant she was going to fire them soon. The people Mayer had hired into the company, including HR boss Jackie Reses and CMO Kathy Savitt, were even more puzzled. Why had they been hired only to be ignored?
But then, during one of those long waiting periods after 3: 00 p.m. on a Monday, a conversation unfurled that revealed all. Making small talk, one executive said to another: “Did she cancel one of your one-on-ones again?”
A third jumped in: “Oh my God, she does that to you, too?” It turned out that everyone in the room and on the call had been canceled on by Mayer, frequently.
Mayer was also constantly late to product reviews. The meeting would be scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and around 2:15 p.m., Mayer’s assistant, Trish Crawley, would come out and say, “Really sorry. She’s going to be late. We’re not sure when she’ll get here.” Then it would 3:00 p.m. and then 4:00 p.m., and then Crawley would come out and say the meeting was canceled.
The standard joke was that if you had a review with Mayer, you should expect not to know when it was going to be and that it would change at the last minute. It was annoying for people who worked in Sunnyvale. It was brutal for remote teams in India and Europe.
F. Peter Cundill (1938–2011) was a Canadian value investor of the Benjamin Graham investment school. He was most well known for his flagship investment fund, Cundill Value Fund. His The Mac Cundill Value Fund Series A has returned 10.1% per annum during 1993 until 2003, compared with 8.1% for the benchmark Citigroup World Equity index, according to Morningstar.
- On Forecasting: “I think that intelligent forecasting (company revenues, earnings, etc.) should not seek to predict what will in fact happen in the future. Its purpose ought to be to illuminate the road, to point out obstacles and potential pitfalls and so assist management to tailor events and to bend them in a desired direction. Forecasting should be used as a device to put both problems and opportunities into perspective. It is a management tool, but it can never be a substitute for strategy, nor should it ever be used as the primary basis for portfolio investment decisions.”
- On Skepticism: “Scepticism is good, but be a sceptic, not an iconoclast. Have rigour and flexibility, which might be considered an oxymoron but is exactly what I meant when I quoted Peter Robertson’s dictum ‘always change a winning game.’ An investment framework ought to include a liberal dose of scepticism both in terms of markets and of company accounts. Taking this a step further, a lot of MBA programs, particularly these days, teach you about market efficiency and accounting rules, but this is not a perfect world and there will always be anomalies and there is always “wriggle room” within company accounts so you have to stick to your guns and forget the hype.”
- On Patience for Investors and Selling Too Early: “This is a recurring problem for most value investors—that tendency to buy and to sell too early. The virtues of patience are severely tested and you get to thinking it’s never going to work and then finally your ship comes home and you’re so relieved that you sell before it’s time. What we ought to do is go off to Bali or some such place and sit in the sun to avoid the temptation to sell too early.”
- On Statistical Overvaluation: “I almost stopped selling Japan short in the last quarter of 1989 because I couldn’t stand it anymore. But intellectually I was convinced that I was right and so I carried on and then in the first quarter of 1990 the Japanese market fell by 25% in eight weeks and I made back everything I’d given away since 1987 plus a good deal more. But I tell you statistical overvaluation is a funny thing—it can go on for a very long time, far beyond the limits of rationality, and it is a problem for the value investor in two ways: it can tempt one to compromise standards on the buy side and it may lure one into selling things far too early. I have less of a problem with the selling temptation because I have always loved cash—if you’ve got lots of it you will never have to pass up a great opportunity.”
- On Curiosity: “Curiosity is the engine of civilization. If I were to elaborate it would be to say read, read, read, and don’t forget to talk to people, really talk, listening with attention and having conversations, on whatever topic, that are an exchange of thoughts. Keep the reading broad, beyond just the professional. This helps to develop one’s sense of perspective in all matters.”
- On Patience: “For all my emphasis on the virtues of patience in value investment it has to go hand in hand with minute attention to the detail, with conviction and determination, otherwise patience is just futile endurance.”
- On Intellectual Distractions for Investors: “Just as many smart people fail in the investment business as stupid ones. Intellectually active people are particularly attracted to elegant concepts, which can have the effect of distracting them from the simpler, more fundamental, truths.”
On the Worst Investment He Ever Made
The worst investment we have ever had was Cable & Wireless, which had built up a large cash pile through the sale of telephone companies in Hong Kong and Australia and their mobile telephone business in the UK. They were well negotiated, judicious sales. What they had left was a stand-alone operation in the Caribbean, which still exists, and they were in the fibre optic business that was blowing cash. So we said, look they’ve got cash, they’ve got a valuable, viable business and let’s assume the fibre optic business is worth zero—it wasn’t, it was worth less than zero, much, much less! Their accounting was flawed to say the least and they became obsessed by a technological dream. In this respect it was reminiscent of Nortel and that should have caused me to think twice.
I talked to John Templeton about it afterwards and he took a worse hit than us. He said “this is why we diversify, if you are right 60% of the time and wrong 40% you’re always going to be a hero, if you are right 40% of the time and wrong 60% you will be a bum.” I think he probably put it more elegantly than that! But there’s one more thing. We had put a huge amount of time and energy into that one and we were willing it to save itself and, on the face of it, it could have. What we needed was a dissenter in the team—a contrarian among contrarians, a lateral thinker watching out for the left field. On that occasion there wasn’t one. So my thought is, if there’s no natural sceptic on an investment maybe it would be wise to appoint one of the team to play Devil’s Advocate anyway.
Peter Cundill was the founder of Cundill Investment Research and was named Canada’s fund manager of the year at the Canadian Investment Awards gala held in early December 2004. Born in Montreal and based in London, Cundill spent much of the year scouring the globe in search of value opportunities for Mackenzie Financial‘s Cundill fund family.
On Investors’ Biggest Challenges
The ultimate skill in this business is in knowing when to make the judgement call to let profits run. While it is true that 99% of investment effort is routine, unspectacular enquiry, checking and double checking, laboriously building up a web of information with single threads until it constitutes a complete tableau, just occasionally a flash of inspiration may be necessary. Once we have begun to build a position it has to be recognized that our intentions may change in the course of its construction. An influential, or even controlling, position quite often results from a situation where a cheap security does little or nothing price-wise for such a long time that we are able to buy a significant percentage of the equity. Whether our intentions remain passive under these circumstances depends on an assessment of the outlook for the company and the capability of its management, but I don’t think that we ought to be pro-active merely for the sake of it. My task is principally the identification of opportunity and the decision to press the buy button. This may sometimes turn out to be a catalyst in itself, but normally we should rely on others to do the promotional work or to put the company directly into play. Otherwise it will turn into a constant and time-consuming distraction from our prime objective of finding cheap securities to buy.
Katharine Graham, renowned publisher of The Washington Post, spent 30 years overseeing and enlarging her media empire. Yet the rigidities of being CEO never discouraged her from the core mission of journalism, and she showed her responsibility by her actions.
The best leaders know that you cannot just talk about priorities; you have to exhibit what you care about by taking action. You can show your priorities in five ways:
- Get out of the office and into your employees’ ecosystem. Graham spent time in the newsroom each day. Ben Bradlee, the editor Graham hired who directed the paper through the Pentagon Papers and Watergate dramas, said that Graham had “round heels for reporters.” For her, “writing the first draft of history” (journalism) was at the center of her company. Employees felt she recognized their work because she observed it as it happened. In addition, Graham intensified her understanding of jobs in the newsroom by her direct observation, by listening, and by asking questions.
- Be proactive in building competence and knowledge. Graham held lunches for reporters in her private dining room, and welcomed experts for briefings. Journalists coveted being invited to these luncheons, which permitted them to deepen their knowledge of both their subject area and their publisher’s mentality. Once Graham brought in a psychologist to discuss personality disorders, notwithstanding the sensitivity she must have felt from her husband’s manic-depression and subsequent suicide. Graham carefully questioned the psychologist, and gave her journalists permission to explore the subject.
- Show that you are willing to jump in when needed. Graham built her resources by adding news bureaus worldwide, and boosted editorial budgets and staff, but she always saw herself as an operational part of the team. She would eagerly call in tips she picked up at social occasions and take excellent and extensive notes of speeches. During a violent press operator’s strike, which nearly shut down the paper, Graham lived inside the Post building. She did everything from taking classified ads to stuffing newspapers in bags, getting ink on her designer dresses. She was undeterred, and after the strike, directed the paper to its greatest financial success.
- Stand up for your employees. One Sunday afternoon Graham heard that the Chinese government ransacked the room of one of her foreign correspondents and held the woman for questioning. Graham did not pick up the telephone or ask for a letter of protest to be written. She put on her heels and single strand of pearls and drove to the Chinese embassy, marching up to the door and insisting on a justification. Her actions were not lost on her reporters.
- Follow your core convictions—even in small matters. In writing about Katharine Graham, Robin Gerber tried to get an interview with Warren Buffett, who had been Graham’s friend and mentor. In a final attempt, she sent Buffett the draft manuscript with a note saying that she hoped he enjoyed it. Two weeks later, he called her and talked about Graham, her leadership, and his relationship with her. He told Gerber about an occurrence he felt she had gotten wrong and gave her a quote for the book cover. Why did the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway take time to talk to Gerber? He could have dictated a note about the error, or asked his assistant to call. It is because the legacy of his friend is important to him. Devotion to relationships, identifying outstanding CEOs, and sticking with them has been a characteristic of Buffett’s success.
Leaders show their priorities through their actions. Think about how you are connecting to your staff through what you do, rather than through what you say. Make your actions fit your company’s mission and others will follow your lead.
Confirmation bias leads us to accept more readily perceived facts that keep to our existing worldview more willingly than objectively considering all of the evidence. Many corporate leaders leverage disruptive change by making targeted, courageous moves toward new market opportunities. Many companies face up to risk with a strategic framework based on extenuating and managing the probable consequences but that line of attack might build bigger protective walls without guarding against the greatest risks—the ones that are unidentified. The uncertainty advantage is something different: an approach that compels managers to recognize the unknown as a market differentiator and an opportunity to give a free rein to innovative solutions that appeal to customers, investors, strategic partners, regulators, and competitors. Concisely, it is an opportunity to go well beyond the characteristic meaning of risk management—that is, seeking ways to achieve the best of the worst outcomes—to create new and sustainable value out of confusion.
In his book, The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulate Brain, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Gardner describes some of our pitfalls when it comes to framing risk properly:
Once a belief is in place, we screen what we see and hear in a biased way that ensures our beliefs are “proven” correct. Psychologists have also discovered that people are vulnerable to something called group polarization—which means that when people who share beliefs get together in groups, they become more convinced that their beliefs are right and they become more extreme in their views. Put confirmation bias, group polarization, and culture together, and we start to understand why people can come to completely different views about which risks are frightening and which aren’t worth a second thought.
It’s also much easier to simply be afraid of that with which we can easily recall to memory. Gardner uses Daniel Kahneman’s two systems of thought to explain:
You may have just watched the evening news and seen a shocking report about someone like you being attacked in a quiet neighborhood at midday in Dallas. That crime may have been in another city in another state. It may have been a very unusual, even bizarre crime—the very qualities that got it on the evening news across the country. And it may be that if you think about this a little—if you get System Two involved—you would agree that this example really doesn’t tell you much about your chance of being attacked, which, according to the statistics, is incredibly tiny. But none of that matters. All that System One knows is that the example was recalled easily. Based on that alone, it concludes that risk is high and it triggers the alarm—and you feel afraid when you really shouldn’t.
Following years of reading, appraising, and retailing business books, 800-CEO-READ creator Jack Covert, ex-president Todd Sattersten, and present general manager Sally Haldorson have selected and appraised the one hundred greatest business titles of all time—the ones that dispense the biggest payoff for today’s occupied readers. It’s a great list, and in the vein of all lists, bound by argument and long-windedness about what is and isn’t contained in this list. Each book gets a couple of pages of outline handling.
Best Business Books on Improving Your Life
Best Business Books on Leadership
Best Business Books on Strategy
Best Business Books on Sales and Marketing
Best Business Books on Economics and Metrics
Best Business Books on Management
Best Business Biographies
Best Business Books on Entrepreneurship
Best Narratives of Fortune and Failure
Best Business Books on Innovation and Creativity
Best Books on Big Ideas About the Future of Business
Best Business Books on Management and Leadership Lessons
Creative people often retain a capability to adopt a number of diverse stances or perspectives. When they look at their own work, they focus interchangeably on the technical aspects, the visual design, the ideas, and so on. They develop a set of standards or a checklist that leads their attention and helps them to scrutinize the creative process. Moreover, they master a lexis that enables them to assess their work in multiple dimensions, so that they can pass more qualified judgements than just ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
A multidimensional valuation gives students feedback, which helps them determine their strengths and detect areas in which they need to improve. The scores on such valuations can also help an educational program to review its results, contemplate its position and modify the course if necessary. Although creativity can only make the most of as originality, utility, and surprise all approach unity, the same description indicates that there are seven different ways that creativity can minimize. These alternatives were identified as
- routine, reproductive, or habitual ideas,
- accidental response bias,
- irrational perseveration,
- problem finding,
- rational suppression,
- irrational suppression, and
- blissful ignorance.
According to conventional wisdom, creativity is somewhat done by creative people. Even creativity researchers, for several decades, seemed to direct their work by this principle, converging predominantly on individual differences: What are creative people like, and how are they different from most people in the world? Although this person-centered tactic yielded some important findings about the backgrounds, personality traits, and work styles of marvelously creative people, it was both limited and limiting. It presented little to practitioners related with helping people to become more creative in their work, and it virtually ignored the role of the social environment in creativity and innovation. In contrast to the long-established approach, the Componential Theory of Creativity assumes that all humans with normal capabilities are able to produce at least judiciously creative work in some domain, some of the time-and that the social environment (the work environment) can manipulate both the level and the incidence of creative behavior.
Ted Leonsis, the Internet entrepreneur, former AOL senior executive, and owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals recommends the following books on creativity.
- Ed Catmull’s Creativity : 1970s computer animation pioneer and Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull‘s appealingly comprehensive explanation of how the studio he co-founded generated hits such as the Toy Story trilogy, Up, and Wall-E. Catmull closes that it is a leader’s responsibility to stop ambitious and perfectionist staff destroying their health and that of others. Aiming for zero mistakes is the worst possible goal for a creative project. He argues that a company has to appreciate the work of creativity and learn how to navigate the failures that will happen along the way.
- Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm: Author Geoffrey A. Moore is managing partner of TCG Advisors, a consulting practice that delivers business and marketing strategy assistances to well-known high-technology companies. Moore declared that the greatest change in the marketing approach happens at the chasm—the organizations to the right of the chasm have meaningfully different opportunities than those on the left. Many ideas fail in the marketplace because their enthusiasts are not capable to cross the chasm.
- Elmira Bayrasli’s From the Other Side of the World: Journalist Elmira Bayrasli posits that brilliant people around the world are conquering insoluble obstacles to build high-growth businesses that are driving wealth and building communities, regions and countries. By means of seven noteworthy stories, Bayrasli shows the next set of successful entrepreneurs could come not only from the as Silicon Valley but also from Nigeria, Pakistan or Mexico. She writes, “Entrepreneurs, by the very nature of what they do—disrupt and innovate—provide a necessary check and balance on government that no one else can—not businesspeople, not NGOs, not civil society organizations. They help remake the social order and help move progress forward, giving rise to new ideas, new industries, and new possibilities and forcing change. That is what has made them both heroes and villains that many in power feel the need to keep in check.”
- Margie Warrell’s Stop Playing Safe: When people confront a challenge, they often recoil into inaction. Drawing from the latest research plus dialogues with highly successful leaders and entrepreneurs, Warrell offers practical tools and inspiration needed to enjoy greater confidence, accomplishment and success in work and life. Outline your sense of purpose and engage in more inspiring goals. Circumnavigate uncertainty with clarity and be more decisive in adversity. Surmount the fear of failure and bounce back from setbacks with superior flexibility. Toughen your leadership ability and expand your influence regardless of position. Build a culture of courage in your office that advances bottom line results. As you strive to reach your goals, as you make those tough choices and take risks, look for your enthusiasm, find your power, and aim to make a difference. And know that this attitude—this mindset, this entrepreneurial way of looking at the world—runs though the lives of all successful people.
- Linda A. Hill, et al.’s Collective Genius: The perpetual organizational challenge is to develop an organization capable of inventing over and over. Outdated, direction-setting leadership can work well when the resolution to a problem is known and forthright. The role of a leader of innovation is not to set a vision and stimulate others to follow it. It’s to create a cooperative spirit that is enthusiastic and capable to innovate. Collective Genius addresses (1) how leaders generate a willingness to do the hard work of innovation, and (2) how leaders can generate the ability to do the hard work of innovation.
The secret of finding investment ideas can be summarized in one word: READ.
Of course, in order to spend a lot of time on business news, you must be interested in economic and financial affairs. But as you become more accustomed to accumulating and storing financial information, you will find the subject increasingly interesting, particularly if your interpretation of events leads to profits.
Nothing can motivate you more than your own success. The turbulence in the financial markets underscores the importance of becoming your own analyst. This will insulate you from other people’s opinions and will give you the confidence to pursue your own ideas and goals by checking out the facts.
The way to do this is with a disciplined system of reading and information gathering. Over time, you should acquire a financial file or library of companies, ideas and trends that warrant investment attention. To sniff out opportunities from the financial news requires an understanding of what to look for.
Two people might read the same article, one of whom may spot a nuance that suggests an important opportunity, while the other person sees nothing of significance.
What we aim to provide in this chapter are some hints and clues on what to look for in the financial news, what to read and how to accomplish all this in the least amount of time.