My Request to Satya Nadella (New CEO of Microsoft)

Satya Nadella has just been appointed as the new CEO of Microsoft. I hope he understands that he has the opportunity to instantly make Microsoft relevant again, if he does the right things within the first 60 days. Here are my suggestions…

FIRST, acknowledge that Windows 8 is the wrong operating system and that it was horribly executed.

SECOND, immediately make an announcement that Windows 9 will go back to the desktop approach with the standard navigation system, including the Start Button (that actually functions like a Start Button). I’m not saying that Microsoft should get rid of the Metro interface though.

THIRD, acknowledge that it was executed horribly. Instead of forcing people to use the new interface, it could have been an option that people could switch to whenever they wanted. Instead of being a negative, it would have been a bonus. People could have participated in helping Microsoft make it better. The evolution and adoption could have been a fun process. Microsoft could have learned what was good and made it better. Learned what needed fixing and fixed it. After a while, the new interface could have won people’s hearts and the change could be done at that time.

FOURTH, if you are going to keep the Metro interface (or whatever it’s called now), it should be simply an interface, not a dual-boot operating system which is how it currently works. The desktop doesn’t interact with Metro, each are separate. Copy and paste from one to another? Nope, because more often than not the right click button doesn’t work. I would love it if it actually was simply a separate interface, meaning a different way of navigating the same programs. Put a different face on the programs and files, but the backend works the same, and then give us the option of which interface we want to use.

FIFTH, fix the app store. Currently, the app store only lets you purchase things for the Metro side of the dual boot, which are low-end apps. I am a business user, I use the desktop and would love to download useful and powerful apps for the desktop, but no. The Apple App Store, on the other hand, allows you to purchase good, powerful apps on its store and there is no back and forth between different operating systems.

I for one am watching Microsoft very closely, and have be waiting for the next CEO to make an announcement regarding the direction of Windows. Although I have been a Windows user for my entire life, if Microsoft continues on the Windows 8 path (at least the way it has been done so far), I will be moving to Apple and Microsoft will lose me forever. I don’t want this to happen.

Introducing my newest invention…the Survival Still!

Survival Still dot ComI am very proud to announce my newest invention, the Survival Still. The Survival Still is the ultimate emergency water purification system. The Survival Still is a non-electric water distiller which purifies water by boiling it, and separating the pure steam, and then condensing the pure steam back into pure distilled water. The Survival Still can take any water, even ocean water and turn it into high-purity, sterile water. One advantage of the Survival Still is that it produces consistently high-purity water for the life of the system, which could be decades.

The Survival Still will make a family water-independent during an emergency forever.

It is my belief that every home in the country should have a Survival Still stored away in case of an emergency. It is inexpensive, very compact (only 1 foot x 1 foot x 4 inches) and it’s lightweight. Please check out my emergency water distiller by going to www.SurvivalStill.com.

I’m Keeping It Simple…

ImageA friend and I are doing an experiment on the topic, “How Simple Can We Go?

Our goal is to see how simple a business can be. In my mind, simple is good. Simple + providing value is even better. Simple + providing value + making a profit…well that’s as perfect as it can get.

Simple is not easy though. In fact, it’s quite difficult. We had idea after idea, we narrowed it down to a few. We shelved some for later and chose one to work on first. Then we simplified this one idea to the point that we couldn’t see how it could be any simpler. This idea is something that I have no emotional attachment to at all, yet it’s cool and we put our all into it.

The great thing is that the entire business plan can be encapsulated in one paragraph. The business has no inventory and we don’t sell anything, not even virtual goods. In fact, we are giving away what we have for free.

We took my neighbor’s hobby, added my design chops to it, and, well see for yourself. Visit our new site at www.vegetablegardencontainer.com. Yes, we will teach you how to make your own self-watering garden container!

Let me know what you think.

Announcement Coming Soon…

I am happy to say that I am working on a very cool project that I will launch within the month. I will give you a little hint…

It’s a new invention,

It’s very cool and will save many, many lives,

I think (and hope)  you will be blown away!

Stay tuned please.

Follow the Higher Purpose

If you’re like virtually every other person in this country, you’ve been to a network marketing meeting (Amway, USANA, Mary Kay…) and you’ve surely noticed how these people believe, I mean really, scary believe in what they are doing. These people don’t just like the products but they invest their heart and soul in these organizations.

Successful network marketing companies understand that they must have a higher purpose that binds people together. A higher purpose is a mission, not a mission statement that you just stick on a wall, but a real mission, a cause, a purpose for being that goes beyond just making money. A true higher purpose concentrates everyone’s energy like a magnifying glass focusing sunlight.

Nothing is more powerful. I’m not talking about a rah-rah motivational meeting. I’m not talking about a tactical marketing move designed to show customer’s that you care. It’s not a slogan, a sales push or a pat on the back for employees.

This higher purpose is the reason that people in your organization get up in the morning and it’s the reason that people fall over themselves to work for your company. It’s the reason people read your blog every day, it’s the reason they buy your products and it’s the reason that people tell everyone they know about how awesome your company is.

Companies that have a true higher purpose can be wildly successful. These companies have a level of customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals that most companies can’t fathom.

An example of a company that is firmly committed to its higher purpose is 37 Signals. This web-application company has established itself as the leader of a new era of young, vibrant on-line tech companies. The leaders of 37 Signals are vocal about questioning the “old” ways of doing business. They have established a new web-based programming language that they share for free. They share their message in books, talks, podcasts and a daily blog. They have rabidly loyal fans and they make gobs of money.

Yes, 37 Signals has good products. Yes, they have a good business model. But their success goes far beyond just a good business model and good products. They are the leaders of a higher purpose and their success is a result of their commitment to this higher purpose. Their higher purpose is their primal cause.

There is no tactical decision that can replace a true higher purpose. Many business leaders are simply incapable of understanding this. They are hardwired to be hyper-practical, a good quality for the president of a cardboard company where price and efficiency is the key to success, but not a good quality for a leading edge, specialized company that has to push the envelope.

These hyper-practical people are strictly focused on “reality”, and reality is usually pretty bleak. To them, growth is a function of how much money you can spend on advertising and employee morale is a function of how much you can pay someone. To them, every move is tactical because they break everything down into small pieces. They segment, divide and look at statistics. These people may understand a vague concept of a higher purpose, but be completely at a loss to see how this has anything to do with the day to day operation of their business.

Visionary leaders on the other hand, understand the powerful driving force of a higher principle because they see the big picture. They see the business as a whole and how every aspect of a business affects the other parts. They understand that sometimes this happens in such an intangible way that it simply cannot be measured by statistics or dollars and cents, yet these intangible effects can be powerful.

Visionary leaders can easily lose their way though. They can flip and flop, become distracted and not remain committed to the higher purpose. The key is to remember that the higher purpose must lead and the business must follow. The higher purpose, if it’s strong and pure, will create a wake of success for the business. The business must be the leading advocate of the higher purpose, but the idea itself is still the prime cause.

If a company wants to make the most significant, ground-shaking move that it can make, there is nothing more powerful than finding, living, breathing and sharing its higher purpose. This change resonates through every corner of a company, and sends ripples out to the world. But it’s a dangerous move if you’re not sincere. This commitment is not merely a tactical move. It’s not something that the marketing department or a project manager is in charge of. This is a company-wide, fundamental, to-the-bone, living, breathing realization. Every decision and every action must reflect this commitment. Every employee must be fully on board. If the leaders don’t get it, I mean really get it, then don’t even try.

Tips for realizing your business’s higher purpose

Define. Find the heart of the company. What is the purpose beyond making money? How are you making the world a better place? Why, beyond a salary, do your employees come to work? Come up with a list of six to ten individual words that define the heart of your company. Keep the purpose short and concise.

Commitment. Are you committed to doing only the things that reflect your higher purpose? Every decision and action that the company makes must reinforce the company’s commitment to the higher purpose. If this commitment isn’t there then don’t fake it.

Leadership. In the book, “Tribes” Seth Godin tells us that the people of the world want us to lead them. Your business is the leading advocate of your higher purpose and you must see your business as the leader of a cause. Remember though that the higher purpose is the primal cause.

Capability. Does the leadership get it; really get it? Are they capable of making a commitment, or do they say “yes, but…”, or “we will do it except in this part of our business”? Does the leadership see this as just one more thing that they are going to do or do they see it as the fundamental heart of everything they will do from this point forward?

The “Getting Real” Project

One of the best business books in recent years is REWORK by the founders of 37Signals. REWORK is a groundbreaking book in which Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson rewrite the rules for creating a vibrant, profitable business. Not only do they question the rules about how a business should be run, but they provide a very clear roadmap. The book is powerful and concise and it’s a fantastic perspective on business regardless of what industry you are in.

Buy REWORK and absorb it, now. It really is fantastic.

After you read REWORK, buy another book called Getting Real from the same authors. This was the original book that was the foundation for REWORK. For as good as REWORK is, Getting Real is better. To create REWORK, the authors took the basic concepts from Getting Real and tried to make them generic for all types of businesses.

REWORK is a powerful book, but it’s not as powerful as Getting Real. Nor could it possibly be. A generic business book simply cannot be as powerful as a book written for a very specific industry by true industry experts.

So why do I recommend both books?

I recommend both books because it’s the difference between the two that will truly benefit you. The approach of both books is awesome, but it’s when powerful ideas are applied to a specific business that they become revolutionary.

You won’t fully appreciate this next statement until you read both books, but if you want to radically improve your business then write your own Getting Real-type of book. Make it yours. Make it specific to your business. No one can write a better Getting Real-type book about your business than you!

I’m not saying that you should just copy the book* and change the company name, nor am I saying that all of the topics in the book will be relevant to your business. The purpose is not to create the next bestseller, nor is it even to sell it at all. The purpose is to create a radical guidebook for your company that cuts through the crap and creates a vibrant culture that is effective and nimble.

Call it the “Getting Real Project”. This is how I recommend you approach this…

  • The overall goal is to create a vibrant, nimble and effective business by eliminating anything that interferes with vitality.
  • Pick topics that not only matter, but they actually fundamentally change how business is done.
  • No fluff! Each chapter is extremely short and concise. If a single word is unneeded, then leave it out.
  • It’s not about theory. It’s about what works.
  • It’s not a rulebook. It’s a guide to vitality. Some people won’t get it. Focus on the ones that do.
* In no way am I advocating any type of copyright infringement. I’m talking about making a book with the same purpose and style as Getting Real that would be for consumption within your company only. Perhaps at some point the founders of Getting Real will want to publish a series of Getting Real books from different industries.
I’m Glenn Meder. Please check out my blog and then subscribe. Also see the services I offer.

A Lesson on Leadership by Danny Meyer

Life presents us with a constant series of opportunities to learn and grow and improve. Life’s a constant growth opportunity and we can choose to listen and grow and move towards success, or we can ignore these lessons. If we ignore life’s lessons, life gives us different flavors of the same challenge over and over until we choose to listen and learn.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a business owner is what my role is as a leader. Many people have written of this, but the person that I connected with the most was Danny Meyer in his book Setting the Table. Here’s an excerpt from his book…

 ”During one of his uncannily well-timed, impromptu visits to Union Square Café when I was still in my twenties, Pat Cetta sat down at a table with me and indulged my need to fret about the travails of managing my staff. I bemoaned the fact that I was failing to get any kind of consistent message across to my staff members regarding standards of excellence. Waiters and managers (at least half of whom were older than I) were continually testing me and pushing the limits, and this was driving me crazy.

“If you choose to get upset about this, you are missing the boat, lovah,” Pat said with reassuring calm, in his indelible New York accent. Then he gave me a demonstration that has become integral to the way I view management. Pat Cetta’s simple lesson has helped me navigate through years of challenging moments as I’ve worked to encourage our team to build and sustain standards of excellence, especially when we’re growing.

Pat pointed to the set table next to us. “First,” he said, “I want you to take everything off that table except for the saltshaker. Go ahead! Get rid of the plates, the silverware, the napkins, even the pepper mill. I just want you to leave the saltshaker by itself in the middle.” I did as he said, and he asked, “Where is the saltshaker now?”

“Right where you told me, in the center of the table.”

“Are you sure that’s where you want it?” I looked closely. The shaker was actually about a quarter of an inch off center. “Go ahead. Put it where you really want it,” he said. I moved it very slightly to what looked to be smack-dab in the center. As soon as I removed my hand, Pat pushed the saltshaker three inches off center.

“Now put it back where you want it,” he said. I returned it to dead center. This time he moved the shaker another six inches off center, again asking, “Now where do you want it?”

I slid it back. Then he explained his point. “Listen, luvah. Your staff and your guests are always moving your saltshaker off center. That’s their job. It’s the law of life. It’s the law of entropy! Until you understand that, you’re going to get pissed off every time someone moves the saltshaker off center. It is not your job to get upset. You just need to understand: that’s what they do. Your job is just to move the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for. Let them know what excellence looks like to you. And if you’re ever willing to let them decide where the center is, then I want you to give them the keys to the store. Just give away the fuckin’ restaurant!”

What is your favorite lesson on leadership?

Strategy vs. Anti-Strategy

Strategy is people who think they’re smart enough to predict the future (or arrogant enough to think they can control it).

Anti-strategy doesn’t try to predict the future, but rather it creates a system that allows for individual capitalism, creativity and risk.

Strategy tries to manage and minimize risk.

Anti-strategy lets the individual spirit free. It encourages individual risk.

Strategy tries to fit the future into a box. This box consists of all of the investment that has gotten a company to where they are today. The safety of this box is all important.

Anti-strategy leverages good assets and ignores old, out of date assets. If something isn’t contributing to progress, it falls away.

Strategy tries to negotiate with a committee.

Anti-strategy allows people to follow their own inspirations.

Strategy is centralized control. It’s slow and cumbersome. It’s safe.

Anti-strategy is loose control that allows quick adaptation. It’s controlled chaos.

Strategy is old thinking.

Anti-strategy is the future.