How Blockchain Can Re-Invent the Global Supply Chain

After it emerged in 2008, the technology behind the world’s most notorious crypto-currency, Bitcoin, held court on the fringes, attracting attention mostly from startups and the financial services sector. However, it has recently started to receive a lot of attention as companies gradually realize it could be valuable for many other things besides tracking payments.

Simply put, a blockchain is a distributed ledger that sorts transactions into blocks. Each block is chained to the one before it, using sophisticated math, all the way back to the first transaction. Entries are permanent, transparent, and searchable, which makes it possible for community members to view transaction histories in their entirety. Each update constitutes a new “block”, added to the end of the “chain” – a structure that makes it difficult for anyone to modify the records at a later stage. The ledger allows information to be recorded and shared between large groups of unrelated companies and all members must collectively validate any updates – which is in everyone’s interest.

To date, much attention and money has been spent on financial applications for the technology. However, an equally promising test case lies with global supply chain relationships, whose complexity and diversity of interests pose exactly the kinds of challenges this technology seeks to address.

A simple application of the blockchain paradigm to the supply chain could be to register the transfer of goods on the ledger, as transactions would identify the parties involved, as well as the price, date, location, quality and state of the product and any other information that would be relevant to managing the supply chain. The cryptography-based and immutable nature of the transactions would make it nearly impossible to compromise the ledger.

Now, a slew of startups and corporations are deploying blockchain to re-invent their global supply chain and run their businesses more efficiently:

1. For Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, the challenge is not tracking the familiar rectangular shipping containers that sail the world aboard cargo ships. Instead, it is circumnavigating the mountains of paperwork associated with each container. A single container can require stamps and approvals from as many as 30 parties, including customs, tax officials and health authorities, spread across 200 or more interactions. While containers can be loaded on a ship in a matter of minutes, a container can be held up at port for days because a piece of paper goes missing, while the goods inside spoil. The cost of moving and keeping track of all this paperwork often equals the cost of physically moving the container around the world. The system is also rife with fraud as the valuable bill of lading can be tampered with, or copied, letting criminals siphon off goods or circulate counterfeit products, leading to billions of dollars in maritime fraud each year.

Last summer, Maersk has sought cooperation from customs authorities, freight forwarders and the producers that fill the containers. It began running its first trials of a new digital shipping ledger with these partners, for shipping routes between Rotterdam and Newark. After signing off on a document, the customs authorities could immediately upload a copy of it, with a digital signature, so that everyone else involved – including Maersk itself and other government authorities – could see that it was complete. If there were disputes later, everyone could go back to the record and be confident that no one had altered it in the meantime. The cryptography involved also makes it hard for the virtual signatures to be forged.

The second test tracked all of the paperwork related to a container of flowers moving from the Port of Mombasa, in Kenya, to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. As both trials went well, Maersk followed up by tracking containers with pineapples from Colombia, and mandarin oranges from California.

2. Like most merchants, Wal-Mart, struggles to identify and remove food that needs to be recalled. When a customer becomes ill, it can take weeks to identify the product, shipment and vendor. To remedy this, it announced last year that it would start using blockchain to record and log the origins of produce – crucial data from a single receipt, including suppliers, details on how and where food was grown and who inspected it. The database extends information from the pallet to the individual package.

This gives it the ability to immediately find where a tainted product came from in a mater of minutes versus days, as well as capture other important attributes to make an informed decision around food flow.

Wal-Mart, has already completed two pilot programmes – moving pork from Chinese farms to Chinese stores, and produce from Latin America to the United States – and is now confident a finished version can be put together within a few years.

3. BHP relies on vendors at nearly every stage in the mining process, contracting with geologists and shipping companies to collect samples and conduct analyses that drive business decisions involving multiple parties distributed across continents. Those vendors typically keep track of rock and fluid samples and analyses with emails and spreadsheets. A lost file can cause big and expensive headaches since the samples help the company decide where to drill new wells.

BHP’s solution, which started this year, is use blockchain to record movements of wellbore rock and fluid samples and better secure the real-time data that is generated during delivery. Decentralized file storage, multi-party data acquisition and immutability as well as immediate accessibility are all aspects that will enhance its supply chain.

BHP has now required its vendors to use an app to collect live data – with a dashboard and options on what to do that are very streamlined to their respective jobs. A technician taking a specimen can attach data such as collection time, a lab researcher can add reports, and all will be immediately visible to everyone who has access. No more lost samples or frantic messages. While certain elements of the process are the same, the new system is expected to drive internal efficiencies while allowing BHP to work more effectively with its partners.

For now, in most first deployments, blockchain is running parallel with companies’ current systems – often older databases or spreadsheets like Microsoft’s Excel. The hardest part will be to create new business models. Deploying blockchain enterprise-wide means companies will often have to scrap their existing business processes and start from scratch. An endeavor not for the faint hearted.

Are You Missing Out On the Most Important Business Tool?

Quick Quiz: What do the following have in common?

  • The iPhone
  • The Tesla Model S
  • Spanx
  • The self-cleaning litter box
  • The Sputnik 1 satellite

Answer: They were all the product of a creative idea. As was every single other breakthrough that made a million dollars, cured a disease, or changed the world.

They all came from a creative idea.

Every company that exists-or that ever existed-originated with a creative idea.

Every billionaire on the Forbes 400 list is there because of a creative idea. (Sometimes that creative idea happened a generation or two ago.)

Every breakthrough your competition made that kept you up at night came from a creative idea.

So why in the world aren’t you doing everything you possibly can to increase your creativity and that of your team?

Here’s why. Because, although academically you understand that creativity is absolutely, unarguably, indisputably one of the most essential skills any leader can posses-deep down inside you think that creativity training is a gratuitous and unnecessary waste of time and money that invariably involves funny hats and Nerf balls.

I’m right about this, aren’t I?

Think about it. If I told you that there was a tool that could…

  • equip you to react effectively to changes in the marketplace, and at the same time
  • equip you to proactively initiate changes in the marketplace, and at the same time
  • allow you to see patterns in your industry and marketplace that help you predict the future of your business, and at the same time
  • unlock a virtually endless supply of lucrative products and services, and at the same time
  • increase employee engagement, attract millennials to your workforce, and reduce turnover

… you’d probably say (to quote Liz Lemon), “I want to go there!”

Until I tell you that the tool that does all of this is creativity.

At which point, you say, “Oh.” And then turn your attention back to your iPhone (which, I remind you, is a multi-billion dollar product of a creative idea).

Let’s be absolutely clear here. If you, as a leader, turn your back on creativity as a strategic tool for moving your team, your business, and your industry forward, you are committing leadership malpractice.

Creativity is not a “game” reserved for poets, musicians, and Cirque du Soleil performers. Creativity-strategic creativity-is:

  • the ability to find better ways of doing what you’re already doing,
  • the ability to spot trends ahead of the competition,
  • the ability to incorporate best practices from other industries into your own,
  • the ability to engage your team with work that challenges and invigorates them,
  • the ability to generate profitable ideas-on demand!

So please stop thinking of creativity as an option. It’s not. Let’s be blunt: If you think creativity is an option, and your competitor thinks of it as a necessity, your competitor will win-period.

Get serious about creativity. Because creativity-strategic creativity-is serious business.

Information Feedback Loops In Stock Markets, Investing, Innovation And Mathematical Trends

It seems that no matter how complex our civilization and society gets, we humans are able to cope with the ever-changing dynamics, find reason in what seems like chaos and create order out of what appears to be random. We run through our lives making observations, one-after-another, trying to find meaning – sometimes we are able, sometimes not, and sometimes we think we see patterns which may or not be so. Our intuitive minds attempt to make rhyme of reason, but in the end without empirical evidence much of our theories behind how and why things work, or don’t work, a certain way cannot be proven, or disproven for that matter.

I’d like to discuss with you an interesting piece of evidence uncovered by a professor at the Wharton Business School which sheds some light on information flows, stock prices and corporate decision-making, and then ask you, the reader, some questions about how we might garner more insight as to those things that happen around us, things we observe in our society, civilization, economy and business world every day. Okay so, let’s talk shall we?

On April 5, 2017 Knowledge @ Wharton Podcast had an interesting feature titled: “How the Stock Market Affects Corporate Decision-making,” and interviewed Wharton Finance Professor Itay Goldstein who discussed the evidence of a feedback loop between the amount of information and stock market & corporate decision-making. The professor had written a paper with two other professors, James Dow and Alexander Guembel, back in October 2011 titled: “Incentives for Information Production in Markets where Prices Affect Real Investment.”

In the paper he noted there is an amplification information effect when investment in a stock, or a merger based on the amount of information produced. The market information producers; investment banks, consultancy companies, independent industry consultants, and financial newsletters, newspapers and I suppose even TV segments on Bloomberg News, FOX Business News, and CNBC – as well as financial blogs platforms such as Seeking Alpha.

The paper indicated that when a company decides to go on a merger acquisition spree or announces a potential investment – an immediate uptick in information suddenly appears from multiple sources, in-house at the merger acquisition company, participating M&A investment banks, industry consulting firms, target company, regulators anticipating a move in the sector, competitors who may want to prevent the merger, etc. We all intrinsically know this to be the case as we read and watch the financial news, yet, this paper puts real-data up and shows empirical evidence of this fact.

This causes a feeding frenzy of both small and large investors to trade on the now abundant information available, whereas before they hadn’t considered it and there wasn’t any real major information to speak of. In the podcast Professor Itay Goldstein notes that a feedback loop is created as the sector has more information, leading to more trading, an upward bias, causing more reporting and more information for investors. He also noted that folks generally trade on positive information rather than negative information. Negative information would cause investors to steer clear, positive information gives incentive for potential gain. The professor when asked also noted the opposite, that when information decreases, investment in the sector does too.

Okay so, this was the jist of the podcast and research paper. Now then, I’d like to take this conversation and speculate that these truths also relate to new innovative technologies and sectors, and recent examples might be; 3-D Printing, Commercial Drones, Augmented Reality Headsets, Wristwatch Computing, etc.

We are all familiar with the “Hype Curve” when it meets with the “Diffusion of Innovation Curve” where early hype drives investment, but is unsustainable due to the fact that it’s a new technology that cannot yet meet the hype of expectations. Thus, it shoots up like a rocket and then falls back to earth, only to find an equilibrium point of reality, where the technology is meeting expectations and the new innovation is ready to start maturing and then it climbs back up and grows as a normal new innovation should.

With this known, and the empirical evidence of Itay Goldstein’s, et. al., paper it would seem that “information flow” or lack thereof is the driving factor where the PR, information and hype is not accelerated along with the trajectory of the “hype curve” model. This makes sense because new firms do not necessarily continue to hype or PR so aggressively once they’ve secured the first few rounds of venture funding or have enough capital to play with to achieve their temporary future goals for R&D of the new technology. Yet, I would suggest that these firms increase their PR (perhaps logarithmically) and provide information in more abundance and greater frequency to avoid an early crash in interest or drying up of initial investment.

Another way to use this knowledge, one which might require further inquiry, would be to find the ‘optimal information flow’ needed to attain investment for new start-ups in the sector without pushing the “hype curve” too high causing a crash in the sector or with a particular company’s new potential product. Since there is a now known inherent feed-back loop, it would make sense to control it to optimize stable and longer term growth when bringing new innovative products to market – easier for planning and investment cash flows.

Mathematically speaking finding that optimal information flow-rate is possible and companies, investment banks with that knowledge could take the uncertainty and risk out of the equation and thus foster innovation with more predictable profits, perhaps even staying just a few paces ahead of market imitators and competitors.

Further Questions for Future Research:

  1. Can we control the investment information flows in Emerging Markets to prevent boom and bust cycles?
  2. Can Central Banks use mathematical algorithms to control information flows to stabilize growth?
  3. Can we throttle back on information flows collaborating at ‘industry association levels’ as milestones as investments are made to protect the down-side of the curve?
  4. Can we program AI decision matrix systems into such equations to help executives maintain long-term corporate growth?
  5. Are there information ‘burstiness’ flow algorithms which align with these uncovered correlations to investment and information?
  6. Can we improve derivative trading software to recognize and exploit information-investment feedback loops?
  7. Can we better track political races by way of information flow-voting models? After all, voting with your dollar for investment is a lot like casting a vote for a candidate and the future.
  8. Can we use social media ‘trending’ mathematical models as a basis for information-investment course trajectory predictions?

What I’d like you to do is think about all this, and see if you see, what I see here?

Your Wicked Customers Are Trying To Break Your Rules! What If You Helped Them?

Ever heard of a ‘false metric’? It’s the very human act of viewing a relatively unimportant part of a system as though it were a critical indicator of success. For instance, a manager might track the productivity of his staff by ensuring that they all ‘clock in on time.’ But arriving early is no guarantee of productivity, and measuring it is not the same thing as ensuring the result you’re after. Et voila: False metric.

When you run a business – or head up a department – there are opportunities galore for falling into the trap of measuring false metrics. Here’s one: The innate desire of a manager to ensure that his customers ‘behave properly.’

‘My four-year-old rolls his eyes at you’

My stepsister, Chantelle, tells a story about her son, Joshua, who started attending nursery school for the first time. Joshua was told he had to follow 10 steps in a cutting-out exercise, but Joshua spotted a way to do it quicker. The teacher told him he had to follow all 10 steps, otherwise he was ‘not doing it properly’.

His mom fondly recalls the teacher’s irritation when she reported that the recalcitrant little four-year-old actually rolled his eyes at her. Apparently he argued, quite passionately, that the extra steps were stupid.

Joshua got into trouble for doing the wrong thing. But one might argue, as Joshua did, that there are two ways of looking at that…

Are you listening to your Joshuas?

Inarguably, life is smoother and easier when customers behave. When they obey our internal rules and processes, managerial headaches dissolve into a warm cream of comforting efficiency. The trouble, though, is twofold:

1: They are under absolutely no moral obligation to do so. It’s we who want their patronage, and not they who are obliged to please or obey us; and

2: Sometimes our own internal rules are simply wrong. Or at least, inefficient. When the customer tries to short-circuit them, he or she is trying to teach you to run your business, and to serve them, just a little better.

What if… ?

When customers bypass your process, short-circuit your systems or break your rules, they are often seeking expedience and convenience. What if you innovated around your own processes and gave it to them?

While some rules may be sacrosanct (legal compliance by way of an example), many are not. They are merely our own procedures, and we love them inordinately. The good news is that they are our rules, and we can break them. Our customers are showing us where our internal barriers lie and how we are making it difficult for them to give us their money, provided we are willing to listen.

To minimize ridiculous rules, try these three exercises:

1. Ask which rules are stupid

Ask your staff which rules customers think are stupid. They’re in the front line and they will generally be delighted to tell you how life could be made easier for everyone. Certainly, you can’t always give them every concession that they, or the customers, may want. But in many cases, you could if you tried. Allow this feedback to guide you into all new industry innovations, which may ultimately becoming unique selling points.

2. Burn down the building

Gather your leadership team and set the following rule for your strat. session:

‘The traditional way of doing it has been outlawed. How else might we serve the same need?’ Or alternatively: ‘We are now our competitors. We have half the budget, but our hearts and souls are invested in one purpose: to topple the original company! We can’t do it the way they do it. So how could we go about it?’ Or even: ‘The company has burnt to the ground. We’ve lost everything. We need to keep serving our customers but we need a new, cheap, fast way to do it right now that doesn’t rely on any equipment or rules or systems that we used previously. What have you got?’

3. Take the Enterprise test

Studies increasingly show that disruptive innovation tends to come from outside of an industry. That’s because those within it can’t see issues in simple ways. They see through the lens of their own mountains of rules and norms. Enter: The Starship Enterprise Test.

Consider: If you want a meal of steak and vegetables, you have to drive to a restaurant, find parking, wait for a table, order the meal, then wait for it.

On the Enterprise, however, you would say: ‘Computer. Food. Prime rib-eye steak and vegetables.’ Poof! Your food appears. One single step to accomplish the goal.

This thought exercise – asking how it would work on the Starship Enterprise – can lead to the founding moments of entirely new product categories. It is a recipe for radical innovation and total disruption. It helps you not to think like a rule-bound industry-insider, and helps you to ‘see around’ the complex ways your organizations solves problems today, because there is always a simpler, quicker way.

The merit of these approaches lies in their capacity to extricate your thinking from ‘the way it has always been done.’ They invite you to find creative ways to deliver ‘the ultimate version of the end result’.

Rules help. Except when they don’t. The good news is, they’re your rules. When their abolition leads to better business, you can and should break them.

Is Innovation Slowing Down?

Smart phones. Self-driving cars. Genetic manipulation. Every week seems to bring a new discovery or insight. The possibilities seem more boundless than ever. Yet there are some who say that human achievement is slowing down; and indeed, that it must slow down.

The View from America in 2017

Technology is ascendant in America. On a popular news website, a biomedical company named Draper describes their plan to turn a dragonfly into a living drone. Draper’s project aims at grafting a tiny solar-powered backpack onto a dragonfly and then wiring that backpack to the insect’s nerve cord. This allows an operator to steer the dragonfly. Draper foresees the ability to turn dragonflies into pollination machines for farmers and surveillance devices for intelligence agencies.

Elsewhere, in a lab several stories underground, researchers are fighting malaria through the use of genetic manipulation. Funded by the Gates Foundation, these researchers are experimenting with a species of mosquito most responsible for transmitting the disease. The researcher sits down at a microscope and hovers a needle over tiny mosquito embryos. The needle introduces DNA that will render the malaria-transmitting mosquitos infertile. If this particular mosquito population can be eliminated, the primary vehicle for malaria transmission is also eliminated.

Above the earth, scientists using the Hubble telescope have determined that the universe is expanding much faster than originally thought. Through the blinking of distant quasars, observations provide new information about our origins and hint at discoveries yet to come.

By Patent Applications: Is Innovation Really Slowing Down?

Despite these and countless other examples of discovery, some still say that innovation is slowing down. Many have decried these claims. Bill Gates himself has called such arguments “stupid”. And on the one hand, it is easy to see Gates’ rationale.

A popular argument that innovation is slowing down is based on the number of patent applications filed per year. Patents have surged in the years between 2011 and 2013; and while patentable inventions still appear in the millions each year, the rate of growth in 2014 was strikingly lower. The growth rate in 2015 rebounded somewhat but did not approach earlier years. From this perspective, innovation is not matching previous years.

However, patent applications are expensive, laborious and uncertain. Many reasons exist to forego them. In some cases patents are not even the appropriate protection mechanism for a discovery. As a result, counting only patent applications excludes certain areas of innovation. For example, following the legal case of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, the commercial software development industry has relied on trademark more heavily than patents in recent years.

Patent approval can also be affected by bureaucratic moods. If a high percentage of patent approvals occur in one year, the US Patent and Trade Office may take a harder look at applications the next year to ensure a high quality of patents. As such, the percentage of approvals can vary widely from year to year. Anticipating a higher standard may result in fewer patents applications filed.

When one considers these external factors, the use of patent applications as a metric for innovation looks unreliable and potentially one-dimensional.

Tennis, Diminishing Returns, and Lotka Curves

The law of diminishing returns refers to the point at which the level of benefit gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested. This has broad implications, not only in the realm of economics but in other areas of human accomplishment. Professional tennis is an accessible example.

Roger Federer is a successful tennis player. Over a twenty year career, he has amassed over $101M in winnings. Meanwhile, according to Forbes writer Miguel Morales, the 92nd-ranked tennis player in 2013 (named Michael Russell) netted only about $75,000 after expenses. That remains decent money, and many would no doubt prefer a job as the 92nd-best tennis player in the world as opposed to a cubicle.

In other words, there is ample financial motivation to win tennis tournaments. And as such, many find it in themselves to do just that.

Both Federer and Russell have dedicated their lives to tennis. Both work at it year round. Both “try hard”. But at a certain point, trying harder and financial incentive showed less benefit for Federer than Russell. Something else made Federer a better player and helped him avoid the law of diminishing returns.

In his book “Human Accomplishment”, Charles Murray coined the phrase Lokta curve to visualize this phenomenon. The better tennis player you are, the fewer peers you have. While many players rotate in and out of the top twenty rankings, the top two or three rankings are usually held by the same people.

Over time, within this “elite of the elite” sampling, you can see the unparalleled separate from the merely excellent. Scores of players over the years have held the No. 1 rank for at least one week. Far fewer have held it over 100 weeks. Only one – Roger Federer – has held the rank for over 300 weeks.

If you were to map this distribution as a line across a coordinate plane, a Lokta curve would form: a high number for the total of players who held the No. 1 rank for one week, curving down to the fewer that held it over 100 weeks. On the far side of the plane is Federer alone with his 300 week reign.

The Finite Universe

Tennis can always accommodate more Roger Federers because the participants are mortal and inconstant. The laws of nature are not. Fields that rest on accumulated knowledge will eventually solve their questions, given enough time.

Looking back on his work in particle physics, Richard Feynman remarked how lucky he had been to live when he did. He compared it to the discovery of America – an event that can only happen once. It was an apt metaphor. The power of the atom had been intuited and sought after since the writings of Lucretius, nearly two thousand years prior. And in Feynman’s lifetime, he partook in the project that successfully split the atom at Los Alamos.

As great minds come to take their place on the Lotka curve, their efforts will answer many questions that touch on fundamental truths of nature. Some of those efforts will spawn new questions; others will settle the question. In the case of the latter, it can be argued that innovation’s work in that field is done. In this situation, one can see innovation as truly slowing down.

The essence of innovation is new insight. As such, the matter is never entirely closed. Anatomy, a field long since thought to be explored, surprised everyone in early 2017. With new research and using new tools, the human body gained a new organ near the stomach: the mesentery. The symbolism is fitting. Discovered at the core of the human body, we can see uncharted territories remain within and without, and with it: opportunity for innovation.

Importance Of Organizational Skills In Business

Why is this skill important?

One form of good management that at times is forgotten is the importance of organizational skills. A business has many different levels and layers. To succeed in the workplace, you need to know how each level functions and you need to know the proper forms to communicate with every employee in the workplace. Being organized in a business environment are necessary for multi-tasking and for a business to run efficiently and successfully. Employers want to hire people who can give results on a day to day basis even when unexpected problems or complications arise. Workers with organizational skills can setup their schedule, boost production, and formulate tasks that must be achieved opposed to those that can be deferred, substituted, or terminated.

This skill also…

  • Give the employee a sense of protection and individuality
  • Allows employees the ability to complete tasks faster
  • Allows Employees to have more fun at the workplace
  • Lead to a more peaceful and collected work environment

Want The Definition?

Organizational skills are skills that can be structured through thoughts and tasks. When you have this type of skill you can complete a task more thoroughly and quickly. When your employer gives you a task to complete with a deadline, you will be able to do this with no problem.

Inner and outer organizational skills

Organizational skills are more than just keeping your work area clean and organized. Employees with good organizational skills can keep cool when pressure mounts. Projects are usually centered around a fixed timeline, and having the ability to organize a task into smaller jobs and objectives can be an efficient and effective way to accomplish them. In addition, employers look for employees who can arrange and assign these smaller tasks to themselves and other employees to be able to remain on task and on schedule while preserving work and life balance.

Along with communication skills, and computer skills, organizational skills are also one of the most flexible skills a worker can possess.

Organizational skills may include the following:

  • Effective communication is necessary to come to a mutual understanding between employee and employer of the tasks that are to be performed. Organization communication can help a business flow efficiently and effectively.
  • Delegating tasks make an employee feel like they are contributing to the business and it also makes them feel good. This will allow for a comfortable work-friendly environment.
  • Administration skills will help employees focus on tasks at hand. Being a manager or administrator, you are aware that you are responsible for teaching your employees the importance or organization skills for business growth and success.

How to Become a Master of Your Work

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you either are, or you want to be, good at what you do. I’m going to take that even further and assume that you either are, or want to be, great at what you do.

But are you committed to becoming an absolute master? Possibly one of the greatest of all time? And, if so, how do you get there?

My brother-in-law Steve has a Ph.D. in musicology. He’s one of the world’s foremost Beethoven scholars. [An aside: There’s nothing quite like touring Beethoven’s birth house in Bonn, Germany in the company of one of the world’s foremost Beethoven scholars! Someday I’ll have to return the favor and take Steve to Liverpool.] In addition, he also wrote the definitive biography of French composer Erik Satie. So, when I asked him who he thought was the greatest composer of all time, I was a little surprised when he answered, without hesitation, “Bach, of course!”

Johann Sebastian Bach is, arguably (very arguably), the greatest composer of all time. He was inarguably a complete master of his art. Which brings me to an article I was just reading about Bach which talks about how diligently he studied everything that had come before. The article sums it up beautifully this way:

“Bach became an absolute master of his art by never ceasing to be a student of it.”

(By the way, art historians would probably say the same about Picasso.)

You become a master of your art/craft/occupation/calling by never ceasing to be a student of it.
And, because you’re a leader, you need to be a continuous student of two disciplines:

Your industry.
Leadership itself.

If you want to be a master leader in the widget industry (the one that they’ll be writing articles about 267 years after your death), you need to be a voracious student of both widgets and leadership. Which means you subscribe to Widgets Monthly as well as Harvard Business Review. You read Widget Design in the 1800s as well as Maxwell, Cialdini, and Bill George.

The point is that what came before matters. Bach knew it. Picasso knew it. And you should know it too. Yes, you need to stay on top of current trends. But only by studying what came before can you put the present into context. And it’s from within that context that you can see the patterns (if you look for them) that can help you predict the future.

Bach made musical breakthroughs because he was a student of music. Picasso made artistic breakthroughs because he was a student of art.

And, as a leader in your field, you will make breakthroughs-and become a master-only when you become a student of both leadership and your field.

A Goldfish Has a Longer Attention Span Than I Do!

This short Whisper will provide you with a fantastic TOOL to keep your Mindset on the proper track each and every day.

You have 78 organs in your body. Your smart phone is probably organ number 79 for you.

You need each of those first 78 organs to function well to keep you healthy and alive.

I’m betting you think you need organ number 79 to function normally also.

I’m nearly 68 years old now and never had a smart phone until I was 63. Now I can’t seem to live without the damn thing and if I misplace it I panic.

It’s with me 7 days a week and 365 days a year. As much as my organs are.

It sits on my night stand and if it buzzes any time during the night I check it because I think it could be an emergency of some sort.

It’s the first thing I check in the morning when my eyes open and I’m attempting to clear the fog of sleep to prepare for the day.

It’s with me everywhere I go including where no other people are allowed… the bathroom. Yes, I’m using it while sitting on the toilet also. Heaven forbid.

I use the Internet connection on it to instantly learn about practically anything I need to know about during my day.

I used to have to get out the Encyclopedia Britannica or drive to the local library to get my needed information.

If I had to drive somewhere I always had my trusty Atlas map book to dig out and show me directions but now I just input the address I want to go to into my Maps App on my phone and some lady tells me each and every turn I need to make and I’m there.

I use Facebook to spy on my kids and grandkids every day.

How the hell did we function and get anything done in the 60’s and 70’s?

And now a Microsoft study tells me that due to the effect of our digitalized lifestyle a frickin goldfish has a longer attention span than I do!

Mine is 8 seconds now and a goldfish has a 9 second attention span! At least that’s what Microsoft tells me and if you don’t believe me Google it.

To be honest, I simply like having this high tech gadget with me to make my life easier. And it definitely does accomplish that for me so I’m not getting rid of it anytime soon.

So I have decided to use this high tech gadget to help me with my practice of living with mindfulness.

In my last Whisper I talked about what Mindfulness is and how to define and recognize it and the benefits it offers anyone who practices it.

In today’s fast, complex, chaotic lifestyles it is difficult to remember the importance of continuing to work on improving our Mindset each and every day.

We get lost in the have-to-be-there, have-to-do-this, never-ending shuffle of daily life nowadays.

So I’ve started using my smart phone to be my personal alarm to remind me to WORK ON MY MINDFULNESS.

You should do the same since I know your phone is within your reach at this very moment.

Each and every time it rings, buzzes, vibrates, or plays me a tune I know this my personal alarm and time to get back into my present moment, check on my thoughts and what I’m thinking about, take a look at how I’m feeling, and check what I’m doing right now and if I’m doing it the best I can.

Since I’ve got the damn thing with me all the time it makes perfect sense to use it as my MINDFULNESS ALARM. And you can easily and effortlessly do the same.

How great is that? It’s amazing!

If you think about it, this is a powerful TOOL you can rely on to snap you back into your reality of the moment instantly, get you re-focused on the task at hand whether at work or home, and remind you of how important it is to work on your Mindset every time it alerts you.

If you doubt my words here simply take notice how your body and your mind react each time your smart phone rings or vibrates.

It’s hold on you is real, and your ability to turn the tables and use it’s power for your benefit is also real.

When you utilize it as your own free personal assistant and life alarm you balance and diminish the negative reputation society has given these little high tech devices.

You can now welcome the intrusions as your signal to immediately get out of your ‘awake sleep’ and raise your consciousness and snap back into your present moment of living.

Using your smart phone as your alarm to BE ALIVE and not simply exist in a state of awake sleep is huge for you.

From now on every time your phone rings, buzzes, vibrates, or plays you a tune remember IT IS YOUR PERSONAL MINDFULNESS ALARM and it is your signal to snap back into your present moment!

And this life alarm we carry everywhere can remind us of how important the other 78 organs in our body are and that we had better take care of them so we can continue to use organ number 79.

You again worked on and elevated your Mindset to a higher level by reading this Whisper. Cool…

The Opioid Epidemic: How Substance Abuse and Addiction Centers Are Using Innovation to Raise the Bar

In 2017 the Opioid addiction problem has reached an all-time high. Young adults are dying at an alarming rate. Substance abuse and addiction facilities are facing tremendous pressure to raise the bar in proactively educating patients and the community on addiction prevention, providing results based therapy and utilizing innovative technology in their facilities to streamline providing quality medical care from a valued based perspective. Here a few measures that the top substance abuse and addiction facilities are doing to stay innovative and ahead in this devastating fight.

One of the measures that are being taken by some facilities is the implementation of proactively launching teams that will go out into the community to educate others about the serious state that our country is facing with this drug addiction problem. They are educating families on what the signs are, the large population of young adults between the ages of 18-24 that are being affected, and more importantly measures that can be taken to get the medical recovery assistance needed for their loved ones to overcome this deadly addiction.

Another measure being taken by some of the innovative recovery centers is regular intervals of investment in their staff to be certified and receive continual training. This positions them to stay aware of the latest changes and solutions that are being introduced into the healthcare sector to battle opioid addiction in the most effective methods available. It also ensures that their staff are well prepared to provide up to date treatment plans for those families and individuals in need.

The top drug abuse and addiction facilities are also investing in quality software technology that positions them to administer quick and efficient healthcare solutions to those patients that are admitted to their facilities. They are focused on investing in practice management, Ehr, and medical billing solutions that are all integrated into one complete solution to eliminate the interoperability challenges that most facilities that are not keeping up with current technology trends are facing. This positions these higher level recovery centers to have fewer communication issues between their multiple facilities and provide efficient medical service to their patients in a battle that can only be won with the right medical strategies.

When you are searching for the right recovery center for your friends or family, please take your time and do your due diligence. Research the options that are available to you for the right solution that will fit your needs. The fight against opioid addiction is a hard war that we are up against, however, with proactive educational initiatives and innovative technology implementations for our recovery centers we are moving in the right direction.

Leaders: Innovative Organizational Tour Guides

As organizations focus on updating their technology and innovation, leaders have to be more astute change agents in order to grow and remain relevant in their industry. Leaders are the travel guides for their teams, businesses, and organizations. Business operations are the mechanics in the lifecycle of a business journey. The welfare of the group depends in large part on the responsibility of good leadership.

Just as a tour guide provides information, assistance, historical interests, and sites, along with educational entertainment to enlighten their tourists, celebrated leaders must assume the same type of mindset when keeping their business or organization healthy, emergent and innovative. Here are some notable leadership attributes needed on the journey to transformation:

Listening, Learning and Leveraging

Good leaders listen intuitively, not only to their executives but to the lower levels of hierarchy (their subordinates and foot soldiers). They have the insatiable desire for continued learning and understand how to leverage valuable information and lessons from their collaborations.

Educating, Exchanging and Encouraging

Leaders provide educational opportunities within their organization, exchange functional ideas and encourage knowledge-driven lead generation.

Adventurous, an Asset and Analytical

You are an asset to your organization as you incorporate analytical skills and embody the courage to take bold steps to target and achieve your overall vision.

Disciplined, Diverse and Delegates

Upper-level managers and executives must be disciplined in their business affairs. It behooves them to add the ingredients of diversity to their workforce and not be afraid to delegate responsibilities accordingly.

Experimental, Empowers, Empathetic

Leaders must be willing to test new concepts, empower their workforce with clarity of purpose and convey a sense of compassion as needed.

Responsible, Risk-takers, Revolutionaries

The credibility of leadership holds the gavel of responsibility in order to make all members of their organization accountable for their duties. Leaders are risk-takers who are disruptive thinkers. They promote innovation within their organization to become a trusted leader in their industry.

Strategic, Savvy, Selfless

Great leaders think strategically but are not procrastinators. They exude a sense of confidence and are unselfish when it comes to sharing success.

Leaders are clearly different than bosses. Bosses tend to give orders, can be domineering, sometimes egotistical, as title and hierarchal position are important to them. Great leaders inspire others to think creatively and independently. Leaders do not have to always be right because such thinking and attitudes can lead to the demise of their leadership role and put their organization in jeopardy. Traditional leadership cannot match the pace of transformation in the key to modern technology and innovation.

Leaders immerse themselves in creating an environment that attracts, nurtures and encourages creativity, excellence and company advocacy. They operate with a level of optimism, enthusiasm and honor their core values that multiply with the same type of exuberance throughout the rest of the organization.