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Monday Morning Notes
October 31, 2011
from the desk of Chuck Violand... 

Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—  

            Time and the emotional energy it takes to run a business can have an eroding effect on our playfulness and sense of exploration as it applies to our company.
            We would all do ourselves a favor by heeding the second part of Steve Jobs advice to “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”   




by Chuck Violand... 

            As business owners we work hard to hang on to the success we’ve worked our entire careers to achieve. But sometimes hanging on too tightly causes us to lose our grip on the very things that, if we loosened up a bit, we might actually be able to hold onto a little longer...and maybe enjoy a little more.
            When Steve Jobs and the Whole Earth Catalog advised us to “stay foolish” they weren’t suggesting we become reckless. They were suggesting we keep alive the inquisitive child that resides within each of us. Unfortunately as we get older and start wearing our grownup clothes the voice of the child within often grows weak.
            IBM, one of the biggest and most successful businesses in the history of enterprise, nearly went out of business after years of astonishing success and market dominance. According to Harvard Business School professor and author Richard Tedlow 1984 at IBM “was the most profitable year for any company in any industry in any country anywhere in the whole world.” Yet six years later they teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. Why? Naturally there are a multitude of reasons, but one is that they started believing their own press and they started taking themselves too seriously. They lost their “foolishness” and replaced it with a rule-bound culture that became overly focused on maintaining IBM norms, like making sure real “IBM’r’s” wore blue suits and garters to keep their socks pulled tight. Seriously.
            No company loses their sense of exploration and foolishness overnight. The CEO doesn’t arrive to work one morning and announce that beginning that day the staff will stop having fun and start taking themselves seriously. Or at least he shouldn’t. Instead it creeps into the business slowly; sometimes almost imperceptibly. It happens a little every time we’re called on to make an uncomfortably tough business decision; or every gut-wrenching time we have to replace a valued employee; or every time we narrowly dodge one more financial bullet. It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily press of doing what needs done just to keep the doors open that we stop taking time to enjoy our business.
            Even when our companies are hugely successful it’s easy to start taking ourselves too seriously. We might even start to think we actually had control over the factors that led to our success in the first place. Whenever I see a company falling into this trap I know it’s time for them to lighten up.
            When we started our business nobody had to remind us to be foolish. We were like little kids at “Chuck E. Cheese’s”—everything new and exciting; every experience a wide-eyed opportunity to learn and play and grow. Staying foolish was second nature. We hadn’t yet learned what we couldn’t do or didn’t know, so we explored.
            Sometimes we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and wake up that sense of foolishness that may have grown tired. We don’t need to dance down Wall Street wearing a hula skirt (Sam Walton, Walmart CEO), or hide in an overhead luggage bin on an airplane or settle a legal dispute with a public arm wrestling contest (Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines CEO). But we’d all find it helpful to heed Steve Job’s advice to “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” 


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around VMA
 this time of year
 is all about Business Planning for 2012. 

To help YOU
with your own planning below are the dates
of VMA programs
and events for
the coming year.

Developed after
more than two decades
of consulting with businesses like yours,
our programs
actively engage the participants, promote achievement, and
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in your company
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April 5
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