Category Archives: Randy’s blog entries

Entries by Randy Mayeux

Here’s the line up of books I will present on Social Justice Issues at the 2019 Urban Engagement Book Club

(Note: for over 20+ years, I have presented synopses of business books at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. But I have also presented similar synopses presentations on books on social justice issues for CitySquare in Dallas for nearly 14 years. This post is about those gatherings).
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Here’s the world we live in. We are divided in countless ways. And among the ways are: division over race; division over class; struggles with poverty, and education… In other words, there are many human concerns that deserve our attention and our best efforts.

For well over a decade, CitySquare has sponsored an event called the Urban Engagement Book Club. Each month, I present a synopsis of a book dealing with some aspect of social justice. The aim is understadning, and suggestions for action.

These session always meet on the third Thursday of the month, at the CitySquare Opportunity Center in Dallas, at noon:

Every Third Thursday at Noon
Opportunity Center
1610 S. Malcolm X Blvd,
Dallas Texas 75226
www.CitySquare.org

If you would like to receive an e-mail reminder each month, please click here to send an e-mail request to Ashley Wilson at CitySquare. Please put in the subject line:
“Please add me to the Urban Engagement Book Club e-mail list.”

Call these old-fashioned Consciousness Raising Sessions. First we learn, then we grasp, and then we act.

Here is the line-up of books we have selected for our sessions in 2019. Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive handout. And then, following the synopsis, a community leader reflects on and leads a brief discussion of the ideas in the book.

Come learn with us.

Click on image for full, printable view

Click on image for full, printable view

Stop. Just stop.

Stop.
Stop and be silent.
Stop; be still.
Stop, and don’t talk (for a while).
Stop and listen.
Stop and think.
Stop and ponder.
Stop, and…be more attentive.
Stop, and breathe.
Stop, and wait.
Stop and ponder some more.
Just stop for a few moments – today; everyday; every week.
Stop…and learn.
Stop…and read to learn.
Stop and plan.
Stop and ask: am I being kind; am I listening to others well; am I being human these days at work, and everywhere else I circulate.
Stop for a while.
Just stop.

What if Milton Friedman was wrong — wrong because he “skipped” a crucial concern

Fast stat:
The average CEO made 20x the amount of money in the 1950s (through 1965) than the average worker in the company; the average CEO made 361x the amount of money than the average worker in the company in 2017.
(one source, among many: CEO Pay Skyrockets To 361 Times That Of The Average Worker)

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Milton Friedman famously wrote/said:  “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

Or, the shorter version that is frequently quoted: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business…to increase its profits.”

But, I wonder if this question skips a crucial concern.

If a corporation’s only concern (“one and only”) is to increase its profits, then that allows the corporation to not take into account the human needs of its team members; its employees; the people that work to generate those profits.

So, maybe, it should be this:  after committing to caring for its people as people – as human beings – then, a corporation has an obligation to increase its profits.

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown – My Six Lessons and Takeaways

The epigraph of Daring Greatly is this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

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Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armor. And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time. Brené Brown

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When an author is trending – you know, everything she/he writes is a must-read – that is usually a signal to pay some serious attention to the offerings of this author.

At this moment, Brené Brown is trending.  And I concur – she is worth reading.

Dare to LeadIf you don’t know the name Brené Brown, then you have truly missed out. She has the 5th most watched TED Talk – and it’s not even an actual TED Talk (it is a TEDX talk – and, yes, there is a difference).  Her previoius books have been big best sellers.  And this newest offering, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts has been #1 (Dec. 2019) and #2 (Jan. 2019) on the New York Times Business Books best sellers list.

I presented my synopsis of this book at the January First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  I began with an empty jar, and a separate container of marbles.  She describes how every single interaction that is human, caring, attentive, puts a single marble of trust in the jar.  I told a story or two about people in the room, and dropped a couple of marbles in the jar. She argues that it takes a lot of such interactions to build trust.  You don’t get trust by asking for it.  You get trust by demonstrating human caring, one interaction at a time.  Great illustration!

In this so-many-devices era, with technological breakthroughs creating chaos in workplaces and work practices all over, this book is a call to remember the human factor. We are not robots; we are people working together.

I ask, what is the point?  Here is my answer:  We dance around, but don’t dance with, the people at work, and all the other people in our lives. It is time for true connection.  This book will help us make such genuine connection; will help us make connecting the center of our life…

And I ask “Why is this book worth our time?”  Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – This is the #1 best seller (New York Times, December, 2018, business books). Her TED talk is the fifth most viewed. In other words, Brené Brown is trending, and we should know who she is and what she has to say.
#2 – We live in a beat-around-the-bush culture. This book calls us to not beat around the bush any longer.
#3 – It takes real courage to be brave. And it takes our whole hearts.  This book will help us bring our whole heart into our work and into our life.

Here is how I summarized the book, with a quote from Ms. Brown:

What, if anything, about the way people are leading today needs to change in order for leaders to be successful in a complex, rapidly changing environment where we’re faced with seemingly intractable challenges and an insatiable demand for innovation? …We need braver leaders and more courageous cultures.

When I read, I highlight a lot of passages.  There were so many highlight-worthy passages in this book.  These are the best of the best to my highlighted passages:

I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential. pg. 4
We desperately need more leaders who are committed to courageous, wholehearted leadership and who are self-aware enough to lead from their hearts, rather than unevolved leaders who lead from hurt and fear.
Too much shame and blame, not enough accountability and learning.
If the culture in our school, organization, place of worship, or even family requires armor because of issues like racism, classism, sexism, or any manifestation of fear-based leadership, we can’t expect wholehearted engagement.
Trust is the stacking and layering of small moments and reciprocal vulnerability over time. Trust and vulnerability grow together, and to betray one is to destroy both.
Simply put, psychological safety makes it possible to give tough feedback and have difficult conversations without the need to tiptoe around the truth. …This belief comes about when people both trust and respect each other.…Thus psychological safety is a taken-for-granted belief about how others will respond when you ask a question, seek feedback, admit a mistake, or propose a possibly wacky idea.
Sharing just to share without understanding your role, recognizing your professional boundaries, and getting clear on your intentions and expectations (especially those flying under the radar) is just purging or venting or gossip or a million other things that are often propelled by hidden needs.
…More than occasionally, I find that the people who misrepresent my work on vulnerability and conflate it with disclosure or emotional purging either don’t understand it, or they have so much personal resistance to the notion of being vulnerable that they stretch the concept until it appears ridiculous and easy to discount.
“We are not necessarily thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.”
You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
While some leaders consider apologizing to be a sign of weakness, we teach it as a skill and frame the willingness to apologize and make amends as brave leadership.
The words we use really matter. But words like loneliness, empathy, compassion, are not words often discussed in our leadership training, nor are they included in our leadership literature.
In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future they’ll be about the heart. —MINOUCHE SHAFIK, director, London School of Economics
Healthy striving is self-focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will people think?
Great leaders make tough “people decisions” and are tender in implementing them.
Empathy is a hard skill to learn because mastery requires practice, and practice means you’ll screw it up big-time more than once.
Easy learning doesn’t build strong skills.

In the book, I discerned this as THE issue: it takes human understanding, and human skills (“soft skills”) to help develop effective and successful people, employees, teams, companies…societies.

She really says this strongly:  Never allow, never tolerate contempt!

• and beware of cynicism and sarcasm (and; R.M. – ridicule).
• never allow “power over.” — Hierarchy can work, except when those in leadership positions hold power over others—when their decisions benefit the minority and oppress the majority.

Here are her elements that make up the Heart of Daring Leadership

  1. You can’t get to courage without rumbling with vulnerability. Embrace the suck. — A rumble is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and, as psychologist Harriet Lerner teaches, to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.  — Courage is a collection of four skill sets that can be taught, observed, and measured. The four skill sets are: Rumbling with Vulnerability; Living into Our Values; Braving Trust; Learning to Rise
  1. Self-awareness and self-love matter. Who we are is how we lead. — Practicing self-compassion and having patience with ourselves are essential in this process.
  1. Courage is contagious. To scale daring leadership and build courage in teams and organizations, we have to cultivate a culture in which brave work, tough conversations, and whole hearts are the expectation, and armor is not necessary or rewarded.

Here’s my list of what I called the BIG issues:
• shame – “Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you’re a sociopath.” — Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging, and connection.
• armor — You can’t fully grow and contribute behind armor. — The Vulnerability Armory:  The first three—perfectionism, foreboding joy, and numbing—
• vulnerability — Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome. — TO FEEL IS TO BE VULNERABLE.
• courage
• listening
• clarity – set clear standards; expectations• feedback — We avoid tough conversations, including giving honest, productive feedback. – Never sit across from someone when giving feedback! And, get very good at receiving feedback. “I’m brave enough to listen.”
• diversity and inclusion— People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong.
•Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege,
• problem identification— When something goes wrong, individuals and teams are rushing into ineffective or unsustainable solutions rather than staying with problem identification and solving.
• create a safe container  — by asking the team what they need to feel open and safe in the conversation.(psychological safety; a recurring theme for successful teams).• boundaries — we teach that setting boundaries is making clear what’s okay and what’s not okay, and why.
• resentment

And here are my six lessons and takeaways from the book:

#1 – You’ve simply got to have those tough conversations. First, with yourself. Then, with your team.  You cannot, you must not, avoid them!
#2 – Identify your core values; and then, live into them. Practice them!  Live them!
#3 – Aim for mastery. (Mastery; not perfection). Thus, get very good at giving, and receiving, feedback.
#4 – Breathe. Practice taking breaths in and out. (Use the count of four: inhale through nose; hold; exhale through mouth; hold).
#5 – Pay careful attention to the stories you tell – to and about yourself; and your team; and your company; and our world.
#6 – Be brave enough to be vulnerable. This opens the path to growth and mastery.

Brené Brown is trending for a reason. We are starved for authenticity, vulnerability, being human in and at work.  If you lead people, if you serve on a team with people, my recommendation is simple:  read this book.  You will be the better for it – especially if you put the lessons of the book into practice.

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My synopsis of this book will be available soon from the buy synopses page on this web site.  Each synopsis comes with the multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation.  Click here for the newest additions to our synopses.

 

This is Marketing by Seth Godin – My Six Lessons and Takeaways

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled How to Market Yourself.  I think about this a lot, because I need to do more marketing.  I always need to do more marketing!

This is MarketingAlong comes Seth Goidn, with some real help for us all.  In his new book This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See, he takes us thorough the terrain of marketing pretty thoroughly.  He believes that marketing is a noble effort – a high calling.  And, depending on what it is you are marketing, that certainly can be, and should be, true.

I presented this book at the January First Friday Book Synopsis.  And, yes, it is a good book.

Here is the way I summed up the book:

This is a book about roots.
and
Marketing seeks more. Marketing is driven by better. Marketing creates culture. Most of all, marketing is change. Marketers make change happen.

I ask What is the point?  Here it is: Identify your smallest viable audience. Figure out the problem they have that you can solve. Solve their problem. This is marketing.

And I ask Why is this book worth our time? Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – It always helps to know the why underneath the what.  This book will remind us of, and explain, the why that is the foundation for all marketing. 
#2 – There are dramatic changes in the marketing landscape with the arrival of all the technological changes.  This book will help you understand these changes. 
#3 – One’s tribe; one’s hierarchy; one’s place on the hierarchy; these are critical understandings for your marketing efforts. It really almost does start with this: “People like us do things like this.”

Here are a few key excerpts from the book (the best of the best of Randy’s highlighted passages):

The market decides. 
How to spread your ideas. How to make the impact you seek. …How to improve the culture. Marketing is one of our greatest callings. It’s the work of positive change. 
The other kind of marketing, the effective kind, is about understanding our customers’ worldview and desires so we can connect with them. It’s focused on being missed when you’re gone, on bringing more than people expect to those who trust us. It seeks volunteers, not victims.
We build something that people would miss if it were gone, something that gives them meaning, connection, and possibility.
You can learn to see how human beings dream, decide, and act. And if you help them become better versions of themselves, the ones they seek to be, you’re a marketer.
Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us. pg. 20
If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile. The thing you sell is simply a road to achieve those emotions, and we let everyone down when we focus on the tactics, not the outcomes. Who’s it for and what’s it for are the two questions that guide all of our decisions.
All effective marketing makes a promise.
The goal of the smallest viable audience is to find people who will understand you and will fall in love with where you hope to take them.
The marketer can begin with an audience worth serving, begin with their needs and wants and dreams, and then build something for that audience.
When you know what you stand for, you don’t need to compete.
We sell feelings, status, and connection, not tasks or stuff. It’s our job to watch people, figure out what they dream of, and then create a transaction that can deliver that feeling.
The virtuous cycle and network effects. …Every very good customer gets you another one. …Your best customers become your new salespeople.
When we find the empathy to say, “I’m sorry, this isn’t for you, here’s the phone number of my competitor,” then we also find the freedom to do work that matters.
At the heart of the exclusive organization is a simple truth: every member is “people like us.”
We don’t want to feel left out, left behind, uninformed, or impotent. We want to get ahead. We want to be in sync. We want to do what people like us are doing.
Almost no one wants to feel stupid.
As people work their way through the funnel—from stranger to friend, friend to customer, customer to loyal customer—the status of their trust changes. …You can fix your funnel. … Everything gets better once you earn that trust.
The best marketers are farmers, not hunters. Plant, tend, plow, fertilize, weed, repeat.

Mr. Godin identifies four key steps.  Here, first, is my re-working, and then his actual wording: 

The steps (R.M., pulled from the book):
• Step #1 – Make better things. — The first step on the path to make things better is to make better things.
• Step #2 – Share your path to better — Sharing your path to better is called marketing, and you can do it. We all can. – Everybody wants better!
• Step #3 – SEE! – with empathy; and service — Instead of selfish mass, effective marketing now relies on empathy and service. – aim for “amazing” service….
• Step #4 – Solve their problem. — Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.

The steps – in Seth’s own words:
• #1 — The first step is to invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.
• #2 — The second step is to design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about.
• #3 —The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market.
• #4 — The fourth step is the one everyone gets excited about: spread the word.
• #5 — The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make.

And among his other key points are these:

  • Pay very careful attention to “tribes”
  • “People like us do things like this” is how each of us understands culture. “Do people like me do things like this?”
  • Pay attention to status and respect- “Choosy mothers choose Jif,” is a promise about status and respect.
  • This is what tension feels like. The tension of being left behind.
  • When you say “People like us donate to a charity like this one,” — The right answer is not “The people who give are people like us.”
  • And the reason is status. Where do we stand? What does the tribe think of us? Who’s up, and who’s down?
  • Who is it for? Who’s it for?! – (and, a few words about your “it”)…
  • You cannot change everyone; therefore, asking, “Who’s it for?” can focus your actions and help you deal with the nonbelievers.
  • So, you need to change someone. Or perhaps a group of someones. Which ones?
  • Begin by choosing people based on what they dream of, believe, and want, not based on what they look like. In other words, use psychographics instead of demographics.
  • Not your market; your audience…but, your students. — we could call them your “students” instead. Where are your students? It’s the student–mentor relationship of enrollment and choice and care. If you had a chance to teach us, what would we learn? If you had a chance to learn, what would you like to be taught?

And here are my six Lessons and Takeaways:

#1 – You can’t market to everyone.  But you can market to some-ones.  Who are the ones you will market to?
#2 – Start here:  what is the problem frustrating that small viable group of ones you will market to?  Identify that problem.  Make sure that your solution is genuinely suited to solve that problem.  Never offer a solution without fully, deeply grasping the problem it solves.
#3 – “They” are part of a tribe; a specific tribe. Understand the tribe that your small viable audience is a part of.  They will only accept your marketing efforts if it enhances and solidifies their place in their tribe.  They will not ever accept your marketing if it jeopardizes their place in their tribe.
#4 – Really cultivate that small viable audience – your “1000 true fans.”
#5 – Keep aiming at better; better product/service/solution(s) for your smallest viable audience.
#6 – And…market!  Keep marketing!

Almost every book I present at our monthly event in Dallas, now in our 21styear, makes me think:  “I could be doing my work so much better than I am.”  This book definitely left me with that feeling. If you market at all – and you do!, by the way – this book could be really useful.

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My synopsis will be available soon on the “click here for our newest additions” page on this site.  Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentaiton.

Here is the New York Times list of Best Selling Business Books for January, 2019 – Leadership By Doris Kearns Goodwin is #1; Dare to Lead by Brené Brown is #2

Leadership, GoodwinThe New York Times has published its’ January, 2019 list of Best Selling Business Books. The number one book is Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  This inventive book looks at leadership as seen in four of our presidents:  Lincoln, Roosevelt and Rooesevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

At #2 is Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts by Brené Brown.

I presented my synopsis of Dare to Lead at the January First Friday Book Synopsis, our monthly event in Dallas.  And our guest presenter Ed Savage will be presenting the Leadership book by Goodwin at the February First Friday Book Synopsis.

Of the ten books listed, after February, we will have presented synopses of 7 of the ten at our monthly event in Dallas: LeadershipDare to Lead, Atomic Habits, Principles, Extreme Ownership, Thinking, Fast and Slow, and Grit.

{For each synopsis, I prepare multi-page, comprehensive handouts, and record (audio record) our presentations.  These synopses may be purchased at the “buy synopsis” tab at the top of this page. Click here for the newest additionsDare to Lead and This is Marketing, our two synopses from January, will be available soon}.

Here is the list of best selling business books for January, 2019, from the New York TimesClick Dare to Leadover to their page for links to reviews of some of these books.

#1 – Leadership by Doris Kearns Goodwin
#2 – Dare to Lead by  Brené Brown
#3 – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
#4 — Atomic Habits by James Celar
#5 – Principles by Ray Dalio
#6 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#7 – Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
#8 – The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines
#9 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
#10 – Grit by Angela Duckworth