lead the band : be the rockstar boss

Rockstar Boss The world of business has changed. Not is changing – it has changed. Factories are so 1970’s and pretty much dead in the western world. The widget and selling it has been usurped by the Internet and the last thing your business has left in its value stack is service, saying thank you and being honest. Not everyone can see this, and this is why we need you.
It’s your turn to be the Rockstar Boss....

31 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

rocktoon – magic number

30 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

positive anger

positive anger

It’s perfectly okay to be angry. It’s what you do with the anger that makes a difference.

Instead of beating up on people, screaming at walls or going all high school on the situation – channel the anger into something worthwhile.

28 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

rocktoon – a smoke start

It’s like wearing a ton of makeup and a pushup bra to head out on a date (for the men – stuffing a sock or a small Coke bottle down your pants). The smoke and mirror act only buys you the first round. After that you’re left covering up the first lie with a second and on and on… At some point you’re going to let someone else or yourself down.

Start with the truth. Everybody wants that.

26 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

losers mean you’ve lost

losers mean you’ve lost

For every negative situation, issue or crisis you are faced with there is always, always an outcome that includes everybody winning. The path of least resistance or the quickest way to solve the problem will generally involve one party winning and the other losing or not being included. This is not the end point you are aiming for.

It takes a little extra effort, some humility and usually a handful of creativity to get there, but the no lose outcome buys you and everyone involved more than purely the end result.

25 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

your dad wanted an office

your dad wanted an office

In days when sales people sold vacuum cleaners from door to door: factories ruled the world. The premise of quality meant making a widget repeatedly in a predictable fashion millions of times over. Industrialization was the main thread across almost all market segments. Quicker, faster, cheaper. Repeat.

Workers had to work. Not think, just work. Each person was analogous to a cog in a machine. The cogs were replaceable when they broke. The most important thing was to keep the machine running.

The guy in the corner office took care of making the machine work. All the people issues, cog replacements, fine tuning and reaching production goals was his gig. It was an important job for an important person. His throne was the prized office space, usually in the corner and featuring a window.

The office represented a symbol of success. You wanted that office job. It was important that you aimed for that to be something in the world. The top of the ladder, peak of the pyramid, the big boss.

An unwritten function of the role was also to protect the hierarchy. Without the hierarchy the importance was lost. Monarchs continue to enforce the hierarchy despite their lack of political or leadership relevance in the modern world.

Shift back to the world today. How many genuinely successful people (not cog managers) do you know that still have an office they command their kingdom from? They’re a rare breed and typically remnants of the factory era. Typically older guys who would love for the visible hierarchy to continue forever. It’s not their fault – it’s how business was when business had a ladder that had to be climbed.

With the onset of knowledge workers, the worker isn’t employed just to work. Their value is not for repetition of menial tasks but rather they are employed to think and apply their knowledge, experience and learnings to the complex business tasks they are assigned. It’s very difficult to change these cogs.

The role of the manager of a knowledge driven staff is far removed from the old school corner office job.

People who handle, absorb, interpret, manipulate and add value to data don’t need a hierarchy to be successful. While the cube has become the microcosm corner office for office employees, it too is an artifact that has to disappear. Being surrounded by walls is more than just a physical barrier.

Nothing happens until something is sold. To sell something, value needs to be exchanged. Usually the value that your business provides in exchange for financial value from the customer. Your customers find out about your value from your people. Within your company you have to make the strongest effort with internal communications and growing a strong sense of community. Yes, community. It’s not a factory. These are clever people working together to create value.

To achieve this, you – you the Rockstar Boss – has to live inside the same room with the people who are generating the value for your customers. From the outside you will see only cogs.

Inside you will know what happened today, what’s happening tomorrow and what stands in the way of getting there. Next week will undoubtedly be different from this one. There’s very little repeatable or industrialized in a knowledge team.

You are the role model for the team. You are behaving how you want them to carry out their roles. You are bringing purpose and action to their daily activities and, ultimately, surrounding them in ecosystems that will make them all successful in bringing the best value they can to the business.

The office has an awesome leather chair and a door that gives you peace and quiet for a while. That’s the last thing you want.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

22 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

rocktoon – can do

Tags: , , ,

19 March 2010 ~ 3 Comments

i do not buy art

i do not buy art

It’s really not me. It is not who I am, what I stand for, anything I enjoy or what I represent. Other people; much older, richer, attention-seeking people buy art.

However, earlier this week, I bought this…

gapingvoid - Linchpin series - Life is too short

Is it well crafted and pretty? Yeh, I suppose. Does it look good on my office wall? It’ll certainly liven up the beige overload that occupies it today.

So why buy it? Here’s why…

  • I read a book a few months ago and it made sense to me. Turns out the author is an artist. This is one of his more recent works.
  • On Monday I attended the “Millionaire or Artist? Why not both?” panel at SXSW Interactive. Here’s an extract from the session…

    In this part of the panel discussion Hugh appears to be the only one who sees the art world going the same way as the Internet sent tv, newspapers and the music industry. And, in my books, he’s absolutely right.

    While he may be a little rough around the edges, the handful of ‘balls to the world’ appealed to my escaping rebel.

  • Moments before the trade show part of SXSW ended I was able to meet him in real life at his small booth showcasing some of his artwork. The difference between a mental image and then meeting that person can be immense. Hugh MacLeod in the flesh is neither polished, refined or a well rehearsed public acrobat. Nor is he a smooth sales guy or business developer. He is himself and makes no attempt at imitating any other persona. Thank fuck for that. It was an enormous relief.
  • Hugh is good friends with Seth Godin (I meant to ask Hugh about how this connection came about but completely forgot when I met him). I am Seth’s second biggest fan. Seth sent me two free copies of Linchpin – his strongest work to date.

    Hugh created the “linchpin” series of drawings to commemorate the book.

To extend my visible appreciation of Linchpin, to celebrate my first SXSW event, to mark meeting the author and artist Hugh MacLeod in real life and to celebrate that successful people don’t have look like Hollywood stars and convey Steve Jobs’ business acumen
that’s why I bought this art.

Whatever you create only carries the relevance and value of the person who’s going to live with the work after you’ve given it to them. With this particular purchase I didn’t so much buy a print of a drawing from an artist as mark a milestone in my life.

18 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

grrr angry

grrr angry

Someone is stupid mad angry. They are venting, ranting and carrying on for seemingly forever about something they’re particularly upset about.

Let them. Shut up and listen and let the person blurt it all out.


Something is wrong. It really does not matter if you agree with their viewpoint or not. Equally, even if you personally cannot see anything wrong – something is still wrong.

Nobody becomes angry for kicks and giggles. Anger is a strong emotion of displeasure caused by some type of grievance that is either real or perceived to be real by a person.

Anger is an internal reaction that is perceived to have a external cause and it is caused by a combination of two factors:
- an irrational perception of reality (“It has to be done my way”) and
- a low frustration point (“It’s my way or no way”).

Being angry or frustrated is just like being under the influence of a drug. It prevents you from rationalizing and thinking logically.

Rather than attacking the angry person head on (as this will only ever multiply the anger), let them express their anger. Listen and absorb what they are saying with the internal recognition that there is a degree of irrationality to what you are hearing. However, in listening hunt for the main external points that are causing the negative emotions.

Once you’ve picked up the causes of the anger from listening, do not try to solve anything. Instead wait a while. Anger cannot be diffused immediately.

When the dust has settled start to work on the causes of real or perceived concerns (notice I did not call it an issue – issues are much more real than concerns). In doing so never ever talk about the causes in personal terms (no ‘you did’ or ‘you should have’). Talk about resolution in the context of the environment, the company, the situation or the processes. Dehumanize any sources of subjective judgement (like humans!).

Now, with rationality restored, work towards sorting out solutions that will repair the sources of frustration.

Once the storm has passed avoid holding any grudge against the person who was angry. Recognize that something was wrong (real or perceived, it’s still wrong) and everyone is better for having listened to and addressed the concerns.

Tags: ,

17 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

stuff i learned at sxsw 2010

stuff i learned at sxsw 2010

I attended the 2010 South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin Texas for the first time over the past few days. After attending countless panels, discussions, presentations and workshops I left feeling like I’ve read twenty books in two days.

It incredibly difficult to describe exactly what attending SXSW feels like. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon and then tried to explain the immensity of what you saw to someone who has never been there… same thing but with technology and being surrounded by successful, insightful and determined people.

While I took tens of pages of notes, here’s the headlines of what I learned and picked up from the people I spent time with in Austin.


  • social media is not about you
  • everyone who is doing something progressive and useful is using an Apple iPhone and MacBook Pro (this is not an advert)
  • allow and facilitate visible backchannel chat
  • great, clean-looking speakers speaking clearly telling stories win
  • a sales pitch switches everyone off. the crowd goes cold and walks
  • genuine appreciation is impossible to fake. people are unwittingly sensitive to a bullshitter
  • social media and e-commerce are not connected. they are different answers to different problems
  • if you’re breaking a rule, know why you’re breaking it
  • people and context first, only then do whatever you were going to do first
  • prototype: make a commercial, not a specification (Google doesn’t use specifications anymore)


  • in real life famous people and millionaires are human beings and exactly like you
  • the successful people are not doing anything you can’t already read in a non-fiction book and apply yourself (so why aren’t you?)
  • everyone is reachable and you should reach them
  • if a famous person doesn’t give you much attention it’s because you’re not interesting. expect the same from non-famous people.
  • if you’re not presenting, you’re a critic. you just are
  • online everyone is famous and everyone with a camera phone is in media
  • nobody cares about your products except for you


  • the least important part of a technology is the technology
  • press releases are corporate generated spam and serve no lasting purpose. connect with your customers every day instead
  • internal communication and communities must be stronger than your external communication
  • when handling complaints avoid treating the customer like an ex-girlfriend instead of a future girlfriend
  • hug a customer today
  • people ask the internet first (nobody asks advertisers where the world is going)
  • ship experiences people love
  • take a non-linear experience into a linear experience = use cases/examples
  • if you have to sneak around in your company to help your customers you have a catastrophic problem
  • make it included, never free
  • people who buy from you want you to succeed

I have collected all the people that made these words into a Twitter list: http://twitter.com/bnlv/sxsw-2010

15 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

rocktoon – party

Tags: ,