Another Alex P. Keaton?

When I was accepted into business school two years ago, I was brimming with excitement and nervous anticipation.   My analytical side wondered how it would impact my world view.  Would I end up like a smooth talking Alex P. Keaton with an unabashed love for wealth, Wall Street, and supply-side economics?

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Now that I’ve successful completed my MBA, I have the answer: I’m definitely not an Alex P. Keaton.  My business classes have actually led me to a more progressive perspective.  I suppose I’m a bit surprised because I thought there must be a grain of truth about stereotypical business students, right?  I wonder how many folks come out of b-school more progressive?

I imagine I’d get along more with Elyse and Steven rather than Alex!

To me, it all begins with responsible development your own leadership skills. To be successful, I am convinced that servant leadership must be a component of your strategy. Exemplary leaders do not focus on their own desires.  They respond to the needs of others.  Building trust creates high performing teams. In the process, followers are transformed into empowered individuals with the skills to be great leaders in their own right.

In a broader context, corporate responsibility must be a cornerstone in our global economy.  Sustainability should also be a routine concern when formulating a strategy. I believe organizations ought to positively contribute to the progress of the communities in which they do business.  As I advance in my career, this outlook will guide my actions.

And wealth?  Yes, I am certainly interested in building wealth.  However, I’m more interested in giving back to my community rather than investing in status symbols.  My personal goal is to some day establish an endowment at the University of Nevada to help other students achieve their educational goals.

For now though, I plan on continuing to improve as manager and learning how to incorporate my newly acquired skills into everyday situations.

I’d love to hear from you!  Please share your comments in the section below.

It’s your move.  Make it a great one!

-LK

 

 

 

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MBA? Done!

This is my first blog post after officially completing graduate school! Whew! It seems like all the coursework has gone by in a blink of an eye.  However, my exhaustion quickly reminds me that it has actually been a long haul.  I feel like my brain has been in overdrive for the last two years.  Along the way, I’ve gained some grey hair and a few wrinkles. Regardless, the Master’s degree was definitely worth it.

Though I plan on catching my breath over the next few days, I won’t be sitting still for very long!  I’ve already begun to set some future goals.   One of which is to continue to blog.   After some much needed rest, I’ll continue to blog about strategy and game theory as well as thoughts about business school and entrepreneurship.  …Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s a little window into my world:

1982This photo was taken in 1982 when my Dad graduated with his MBA.  I’m on the left. Yes, I am actually wearing hot pink pants.

Though I’d like to think of myself as a free thinking, independent person, I must admit the apple did not fall far from the tree.  I’m certain he provided some inspiration to earn an MBA.

 

Fast forward to May 2014, this is me with my Dad at my MBA graduation.   I walked through graduation a term early because I really wanted to be part of the Spring Commencement Ceremony on the historic University Quad.

I’m glad he was there to celebrate it with me.

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I’ll be back soon with more thoughts on strategy.  In the meantime, drop a note in the comments section below:  Who or what inspires you to accomplish goals?

It’s your move.  Make it a great one!

-LK

Do Leaders Really Stand Out in a Crowd?

Many of us have come to believe that leadership solely equates to power. It is easy to imagine that a leader is simply the top person at the helm calling strategic shots.  However, the framework that shapes this perception is misleading. There is more to leadership than just power.

Service must be placed at the center of the leadership model.  Power will always be a component of leadership, but it should not begin or end there.  Integrity, honesty, and trust are essential to develop a guiding spirit of service.

Lend a HandThe challenge of leadership is to mindfully treat others as you would like to be treated. Leaders need to set an example that inspires all of us to live up to this responsibility. Those who simply seek power typically aren’t inspirational.  To be inspiring and truly stand out as a leader, no special talents are needed.  One only needs the desire and commitment to serve others.

To begin your journey in service, focus on the following:

1) Deliberately make a commitment to be truthful with yourself and others.

2) When dealing with people at work or in your community, re-frame your mindset from leading to serving.  Understand the needs of others.

3)  Hold yourself to a higher standard.  Recognize your personal responsibilities and own them.

Leadership is a way of life, and a courageous life is a life worth living.

What actions are you willing to take to stand out?  Drop a note with your thoughts.

It’s your move.  Make it a great one!

-LK

 

The Perfect Strategist

When constructing a new goal, integrating facts and creativity are key elements.  Once a plan is in place though, it’s time to take action!

Taking that first step to implement an innovative plan can be exciting.  Your proverbial sails are filled with new energy, and motivation is high. However, if there’s a wide gap between that first step and success, momentum may wane at some point along the way.

Where can I find the inspiration to keep driving and adapting on the journey? Look no further than your nearest four-legged friend! Arguably, a dog is a brilliant example of a perfect strategist.

Christmas Suki

Suki waiting for a Christmas treat!

Canine companions have an uncanny ability to fixate on a goal and find creative ways to achieve it.  My four-legged friend is a Jack Russell mix named Suki who has the appetite of a Labrador.  Consistently, her strategy has centered on: “How can I get more cookies?”  Not more love, walks, or playtime…just cookies.

For over 10 years, Suki has remained focused on that goal.  The lessons here can be rolled up into “The Three P’s” of success: Probability, Persistence, and Positivity.

Probability – Suki has keen awareness.  If it’s “pizza and a movie” night, guess who Suki is sitting closest to?  She’s always strategically positioned near the person who is most likely to drop a crumb or share a tidbit.

Lesson: Be aware and watch for patterns or changes.  A little creativity doesn’t hurt either. It will help you adapt your tactics and increase your success rate.

Persistence – Each day, Suki wakes up with the same goal in mind.  Yet, she may not get a cookie that day.  Regardless, she keeps on trying.

Lesson: It’s hard work chasing meaningful goals.  You must learn to have “dogged” tenacity to traverse the low times.

Positivity – Good day? Bad day?  It really doesn’t matter: A dog will happily wag its tail every single day.

Lesson: Focus on being positive.  You’ll be attuned to more opportunities, and life will be more rewarding.

The next time you’re in need of some inspiration, spending time with a canine friend just might do the trick.

Inspiration is all around us…what inspires you?

It’s your move.  Make it a great one!

-LK

Understanding Your Past

Typically, a strategist will begin crafting a plan by analyzing the present. What environmental factors are affecting the current situation?  Whether they be internal or external, identifying the dynamics that impact the present can serve as a starting point when planning for the future.

A strategy outlines a creative approach for the future.  Our hopes and dreams rely on its success.  However, should only the present serve as the basis?

Past time Feggy Art

Every future has a past.  Think about everything that has lead up to this moment in time.  Each step of the way has influenced your present circumstance.

When considering the future, visualization is important.  Yet, linking the past with the future should equally be considered. Recognizing past mistakes as well as learning from past wins should be integrated into your decisions.

How can I quickly filter for relevant aspects of my past?

1)  Pick a window of time.  It can be any segment of time that makes sense. The parameters can be based on a portion of the calendar or even something meaningful such as a semester at school or a personal relationship.

2) Go back to the beginning, then move forward.  Let’s say you select a semester at school to focus on.  What was it like in the beginning?  From there, progress to the end of the term in your mind.  Who was there with you?  Did you have particular goals? What were your successes?  Were there challenges along the way?  How did you deal with them?

Hopefully, this quick exercise will help reveal not only significant aspects of your past, but a deeper window into the experiences that may unwittingly shape your future.

It’s your move.  Make it a great one!

-LK

How to Maximize Your Path Forward

If you’ve ever taken a business class or if you’re involved with strategic market planning, you’ve likely heard of a SWOT analysis.  It’s a versatile tool that is commonly used to identify niches in the market.  However, it can equally be applied to personal decisions too.

SWOT analysis requires you to examine a project or decision in terms of four different areas: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  By considering these characteristics, you can uncover whether your decision will help or hinder your position in the future.

footbridge path clarkmaxwell

The first step is to do a personal evaluation. You might ask yourself: Where do I really shine?  What are my flaws?  These are vital questions may not be easy to answer. However, they will provide valuable insight into strengths that should be maximized as well as weaknesses should be managed or avoided.  This internal work can be difficult, but the payoff will be worth it!

After you’ve done some introspection, take a look at the world around you.  It’s your external environment where you’ll begin to piece together opportunities and threats.  For example, let’s say your considering a career change.  Is there job growth in a particular sector? Why? How competitive would it be to enter this field? What training is required? Quick questions like these can help focus where opportunities lie.  Likewise, threats or obstacles that stand in your way are better identified sooner rather than later.

Once you’ve done your SWOT evaluation, you’ll begin to see your personal advantages.  Do you have a personal strength that can overcome a threat? Insight like this can provide illuminate a unique and advantageous position.

By investing in a personal SWOT analysis, you will maximize your path forward in life.  You will gain clarity and your potential for success will be unlimited!

Have a formula for future success?  Please leave a comment below.

It’s your move.  Make it a great one!

-LK

How to Prioritize Like a Pro!

“Action expresses priorities.”  -Mahatma Gandhi

Establishing priorities is fundamental to any great plan.  Why?  Because it will serve as an efficient guide for your actions.  What would you like to accomplish? Do you have a daunting list of things to do at the office?  List out everything that needs to be done. You can even focus on a daily or weekly “honey do” activities at home. Either way, categorizing tasks will help you achieve clarity like a pro!

To Do List John Schultz
Write down your “to do” list, and evaluate it honestly.  Each item should fall into one of the following categories:

1) Not Important, not urgent. – Tasks that fall into this category should be revisited at a later time.  Don’t get hung up thinking about them now.  Just create a written “parking lot” list, and keep them there.  Your time and energy are valuable, so temporarily push the “parking lot” items aside.

2) Important, but not urgent. – If there are things that are important, but not time-sensitive, simply determine when you’ll do it.  Mark a calendar or jot down a time and/or date next to the item on your list.

3) Urgent, but not important. – Do you have a time-sensitive task? However, if it is not critical, consider delegating it to someone else.  Focus your valuable energy on only important things.

4) Urgent and important. – If something falls into this category, it’s time for action!  At this point, your actual “to do” list should be manageable.  You’re now ready to get out there and make things happen!

The next time you become overwhelmed thinking of all the things you need to do, just remember: categorizing your tasks will help you become more focused and productive.

How do you establish priorities?  Drop me a note sometime!

It’s your move.  Make it a great one!

-LK