Archive for December, 2010

I would imagine that more than just famous people say witty and insightful things but we never get a chance to hear it.  While anonymous might be the most highly quoted person, you have to have a certain level of fame to have a quote attributed to you.

Although the famous are often misquoted and misattributed.  When Elvis sings the song Are You Lonesome Tonight? in the middle he says “You know someone said that the world’s a stage And each must play a part.”  (Even Shakespeare gets forgotten).

So do you know who is responsible for these quotes?  Check your answers at the end.

1. I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

2. Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.

3. Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable

4. I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself

5. An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.

6. Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

7. Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.

8. Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

9. A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.

10. Why do you have to be a non-conformists like everyone else.


1. Groucho Marks, 2. John Kennedy, 3. Mark Twain, 4. Oprah Winfrey, 5. Dwight Eisenhower, 6. Will Rogers, 7. Albert Einstein, 8. Dorothy Parker, 9. H.L. Mencken, 10. James Thurber

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When most people start to define leadership, they list a number of traits or qualities. Often it’s a definition of the type of leader they would like to work for rather than one that is focused on being highly effective. For example, I often see the trait of “kindness.” While it’s desirable, the list of effective leaders who didn’t have this trait, is very, very long.

What if you started to define leaders from a different angle? Start with the question, “what do leaders produce?” “What is the result of effective leadership?” It would be a filled out description of leading others to achieve a vision or goal.

Does that vision or goal have to be positive or ethical for someone to be an effective leader? Take the example of Jim Jones (rather an extreme example.) Obviously he was an effective leader, you can’t say he didn’t lead others to achieve his vision. Was he a good or ethical person? We’d probably all say no.

It’s possible that someone can have all the traits of a great leader and lead everyone off a cliff. As they say, the road to hell is paved by good intentions.

Finally, I think then when we list qualities of great leaders we list what we’d like them to be rather than what they really are.

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Here is a little video you might enjoy that shows someone who excelled at both.  If you haven’t heard this tribute, it’s worth a quick look.

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I’ve been reading the new Ken Follet Book which tracks 5 families from 1911 to 1924.  What’s interesting is that leadership that top level leadership is removed from the actual work or from the front lines in World War I.  As a result, countless decisions are made that end up in disaster.  In addition, those who survive start to learn what actually works but this information never filters up the line.  Now shift the scene to my visit to the Comcast store last week.  They have countless problems with service and equipment quality that front line customer service needs to address.  Upper management has put them in a position to have to handle the same problems over and over again rather than looking for systematic fixes.  The morale of the story…when top management looses connection with the front line, front line employees become cannon fodder.

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