integrity

Dream or Vision?

© Can Stock Photo / Gautier

Scott McKain has a story about a legendary motivational speaker with whom he had a chance to become acquainted. McKain, a best-selling author, consultant and friend, happened to share breakfast with him at a conference. He learned that this speaker lived his creed: ‘walked his talk’ as they say.

The integrity, confidence, and connectedness exuded by the legend led McKain to conclude this is success: to be who you claim to be, to do what you say you will do, to live the vision.

“Living the dream” is a phrase some use to describe an ideal life (sometimes ironically.) But dreams end when we wake up. A vision is something different. One of the definitions of ‘vision’ is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom. So living the vision is a way transform the future we desire into reality by what we do each day.

Here at 228 Main, we are thinking a lot about how our work for you might be improved in the years ahead. We don’t want to be big, but we do strive to make the very best things possible for you and yours. It is too early to say our vision has evolved and grown – but we are working on it.

We may ask you for input and perspective as we shape these plans. You will hear about the pieces as we figure them out. One thing we already know: having the best clients in the world makes the whole project a worthy endeavor.

If you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

Listen Consciously, Express Beautifully

© Can Stock Photo / kasto

Here in the 21st century, we all may be in the business of communication via social media, blogging, and other electronic formats. When we embarked on our 21st century communications, a friend pointed us to a helpful, useful TED talk by communications expert Julian Treasure. His life vision is the title of this essay.

His TED talk is ‘How to talk so that people want to listen.’ In an era of ubiquitous communication, isn’t this a key skill? What he had to say applies to Facebook posts and tweets as well as spoken communications—so we thought it might be useful to you, as well.

Treasure outlines four cornerstones of powerful speech. There is an acronym for these things that spells HAIL, a word that means ‘to greet enthusiastically,’ which is how we would like our ideas received.

• H – Honesty, being straight and clear.
• A – Authenticity, standing in your own truth.
• I – Integrity, doing what you say and being true to your word.
• L – Love, not romantic love, but wishing others well.

There is a flip side to these cornerstones—the habits that one should avoid, if effective communication is the goal. Treasure talks about ‘the seven deadly sins of speaking.’

They are: gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, exaggeration, and dogmatism. We all know what these things are, right? You can look up Julian Treasure if you want more detail.

We have all seen cases where words or images or actions are recorded and spread around the world—go viral, as they say—with large consequences, good or bad. So paying attention to what we say and how we say it may be more important than ever before.

Clients, if you would like to talk about any aspect of our communications, or anything else, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Culture vs. Strategy

© Can Stock Photo / Cebas

Long ago, we conceived the notion that a well-grounded enterprise had values as the foundation. Principles arise from values, strategy builds on principles, and tactics align with strategy. So ultimately, everything you do every day has your values at the bottom of it.

Our initial thought was to get a nice graphic of this structure so we could explain it to clients more clearly. But the only way to truly convey values is to live them, day by day and year by year, and let others draw their own conclusions. So we dropped the idea of talking about them.

We were reminded of the structure recently, when an airline made a public relations disaster by dragging a bloodied customer off an overbooked plane. The next morning, the value of the airline dropped by more than half a billion dollars in the stock market. In the aftermath Tom Peters, the dean of business gurus, attributed the problem to the CEO for having a defective culture.

This prompted us to look up ‘organizational culture,’ a concept developed by MIT professor Edgar Schein in the 1980’s. His academic work parallels our old notion about values, with some differences in terminology.

Schein is credited with a business classic: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” So when we think about the airline, we know the strategy is to increase the ‘load factor’ or utilization rate because fuller planes make more profit. But that strategy is not grounded on any deeper value than short-term profit.

The airline we prefer to fly on is known for trying to get their customers where they are going in the most pleasant and efficient manner possible. That is their culture. The staff smiles a lot, and deals honestly and tactfully when any issue arises. Paradoxically, it is the only major airline operating in the US today that has never booked a quarterly loss.

The difference between the two airlines perhaps illustrates that culture eats strategy for breakfast. This is a useful lesson for us in selecting companies in which to invest, and for you, in choosing where to do business for any product or service. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or any other topic, please email or call us.


Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

Kiln-Fired Personalities

© Can Stock Photo / kosmos111

We all know people who know what they are about. They have clarity about that for which they strive. They focus on the essentials, and are not easily distracted. They understand the bigger picture, and their place in it.

These folks demonstrate considerable strength, firm adherence to their principles, and they usually are of service or value to others. A surprising fact applies to each of them: they all started out as soft little babies.

We have been privileged to know people who fit this description, and to read the biographies of others. The same pattern exists in people in every walk of life. In learning their stories, we often find considerable adversity or seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their past.

We’re reminded of clay, and pottery. Clay is soft and malleable, fine particles that are quite porous. Pottery is durable, impermeable, fused into a single item—not a mix of soft particles.

More than ten thousand years ago, humans were creating pottery from clay on at least four continents. We learned a long time ago that heating a clay vessel in a hot enough kiln for a long enough time transforms it into pottery.

The heat of the kiln changes the properties of soft clay. Particles fuse together. The chemistry changes. What emerges from the kiln is fully formed, durable and useful.

Perhaps adversity is a kiln that produces change within us.

We would never suggest that problems or misery are good. One cannot know the depths of heartache or pain that another is forced to bear. The point is, much of what happens, happens. It is beyond our control.

We may be able to influence our own reaction, how we choose to spend our energy and our minutes in the face of adversity. Just as we cannot know what others must bear, we are not qualified to judge how others respond. But for each of us, with our own challenges, there may be some choice.

Please call or write if you would like perspective or help on your own situation or circumstances.