5 things I have learned from Steve Ballmer

Following in the footsteps of giants, you’re made their king. Though you’re small and unsure, you’ve watched them long enough to know what they need. The giants trust you and accept your decisions. You know you’ll never match the success of the previous king, and few will love you the way they loved him, but you do your best. Within a few years, the giant kingdom has grown in geography, population, and wealth. You make mistakes and money is lost, but under your kingship, the giants continue to improve. They still talk about your predecessor constantly, but more and more come to respect you and acknowledge all you’ve done for them.

Following Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer was the Microsoft CEO from 2000 through 2013, and at the end of his tenure, he left behind advice for those stepping into this kind of life. Microsoft tripled revenue and doubled profits under his leadership, and though he made some mistakes he was proud of the work he did. Steve Ballmer isn’t Bill Gates and he certainly isn’t Steve Jobs, but he was very successful in a role that most people would flounder under. It may sound easy to take the reigns of an international tech giant like Microsoft and keep it successful, but he did more than sustain it. He caused it to grow and develop. Here are a few of the best pieces of advice he left behind.

1. See the big picture.

Being CEO means always looking at the wider spectrum. Your employees need to understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, but they only need to see the space they exist in. A CEO needs to see all the spaces, even the ones beyond the playing field. If you can’t see the different paths and spaces, then you can’t make the right decisions. If you become too focused on one aspect, you’ll find your entire company stuck on that element. Running a business is about seeing the entire competitive space and understanding how to use it.

2. Talent is only one part of success.

When we think of men like Steve Jobs, we must accept that we’ll never be like him. He was a creative genius, and there’s not taking that away from him. But it’s not the only way to succeed. If you’re in charge of a company, you need to have more than talent, and you need more than talent from your employees. You need to understand how people work and how they’re going to work together. Use people’s talents to complement one another and use your own talents to complement them.

3. Constantly re-evaluate.

Industries change. What works today may not work tomorrow. What works this decade may not work next decade. You need to constantly be re-assessing how your company and industry work. Don’t settle for one good idea and hope it carries you forever. Be on the lookout for the next era, because it’ll either surprise you or come from you.

4. Invest in the short and long term.

Companies have cycles, and they have a short cycle and long one. Understand the difference between the long term and short term with help you understand how to create success. Your products may be the short term, and their short term success can translate into long term success, but you need to look past that one product or service and look at where your company is heading in the long term. If this short term fails, can you sustain yourself into the long term? Seeing both business cycles and understanding their rhythms will ensure success.

5. Know yourself.

Understand who you are as a person, and know what your limitations are. Don’t just accept your limitations, though. Use them to your advantage. More than that, know yourself well enough to know that you need help at times.

Steve Ballmer is one of the most important CEOs of the last fifteen years and his lessons are well worth examining and studying. Sometimes advice is free, and when you can get it from a real expert, it’s worth your time to pay attention.

Read More

13 great Steve Jobs quotes that will inspire you

There are many things being said about Steve Jobs as a person, some good things and some less good. Regardless of how he was perceived as an individual however, I believe everyone can agree that Steve Jobs was a game changer, who revolutionized the world of business. His story is inspirational, and if you are interested in learning more about him there are a Steve Jobs movie and a Steve Jobs book which you can look up.

Steve Jobs was also a great motivational speaker and although he is not with us anymore, he has left many words of wisdom to us. As a way to honor him, here are 13 Steve Jobs quotes we hope you will find inspiring:

1. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

2. “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and each one should be excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it!”

3. “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

4. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

5. “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

6. “I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”

7. “Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.”

8. “My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

9. “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

10. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. “

11. “Things don’t have to change the world to be important.”

12. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

13. “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Read More

21 famous leadership quotes

In preparing to become a successful business leader one of the most important things is to learn how to become an inspiration to others. There is a fine line between good and great leaders, yet not many of us manage to cross it. For this article we’ve put together 21 famous leadership quotes which will change the way you see leadership. We hope that these short inspirational quotes will help you become a better leader, a better person, and a better entrepreneur.

1. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” (Ronald Reagan)

2. “To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult.” (Friedrich Nietzche)

3. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

4. “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock” (Thomas Jefferson)

5. “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat”. (Ronald Reagan)

6. “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” (Aristotle)

7. “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

8. “A leader . . . is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” (Nelson Mandela)

9. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” (Steve Jobs)

10. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

11. “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” (Jim Rohn)

12. “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” (John Maxwell)

13. “Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” (Vince Lombardi)

14. “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” (Bill Gates)

15. “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” (Jack Welch)

16. “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.“ (John Maxwell)

17. “Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions.” (Bo Bennett)

18. “Great leaders help their people see how they can directly impact the company’s objectives and their own personal goals.” (Chip Conley)

19. “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” (Tom Peters)

20. “Self-centered leaders manipulate when they move people for personal benefit. Mature leaders motivate by moving people for mutual benefit.” (John Maxwell)

21. “Great leaders don’t need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness.” (Simon Sinek)

Read More

Best business book of this week: Happy Company – How To Run a Business Like Google, Facebook, Zappos, Amazon, Coca Cola, Ernst & Young, VW, Nike, Apple, GE, and Intuit

happy company bookHappy Company shares 14 simple concepts that will help you create a successful business. Many companies – including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple – have achieved their current levels of success by understanding the importance of setting happiness as a major business goal. Happy Company will help you learn how to use creative compensation strategies, realistic approaches to building company happiness, and visionary leadership to achieve the happy and healthy company that you want. Although profits do not always lead to happiness, happiness does lead to profits and success and Happy Company will help you learn how to achieve the right kind of happiness to ensure the business success that you desire. Happiness doesn’t just affect company employees, though; Happy Company also deals with developing customer loyalty, standing out from the competition, and maximizing stakeholder trust and support.

Read More

How to run a successful business

Google, Facebook, Zappos, Amazon, Coca Cola, Ernst & Young, VW, Nike, Apple, 3M, GE, and Intuit: Something unites all of these high profile companies in an essential way – a new business philosophy. They have earned such spectacular success and respect by setting happiness as a primary goal, knowing that with a foundation of joy, creativity, and excitement, nothing is impossible

Here are 14 qualities and tactics of great companies:

Spreading Joy: Overall company happiness has to begin with a fundamental company culture of spreading joy to consumers and the public.

Impacting Positively: Being a beneficial force in the world will lead to happier workers that are proud of their company.

Respecting Talent: Take advantage of the talents and skills of your workers and utilize them to their full potential.

Building Connections: Work should be an opportunity to create friendships and connections with like-minded people, and that bond will result in collaboration, productivity, and innovation.

Being Rewarded: Money isn’t the only way to reward workers for their performance; emotional or creative compensation can be a powerful way to strengthen employee loyalty.

Staying Grounded: A company must pay attention to the interests and desires of their customers, employees, and community, in order to fit in, yet still stand out.

Serving Others: Innovative customer service shows consumers that you care and employees that you trust them.

Leading Wisely: Leaders need to epitomize the company culture in every way, leading by example to inspire loyalty and progress.

Maximizing Resources: Be sure to provide all the necessary tools, both physical, motivational, and intellectual, which are needed for employees to be successful.

Making Money: There is nothing wrong with being profitable, particularly if you boost the trust of your shareholders and use your success to develop long-term goals.

Balancing Time: Perfecting a healthy balance between the professional and personal spheres is essential for a happy company.

Improving Reputation: When the people of the world know your name, be sure that they have good things to say about it.

Thinking Creatively: Abandon old ways of thinking and let the natural creativity and innovation within your company drive you forward.

Feeling Valued: Workers are invested, involved, and irreplaceable components of any company; reward them accordingly.


happy company web

Order Happy Company Book

Although Happy Company  sounds like a title geared toward CEOs who are interested in creating a happy company, it actually teaches a lot about happiness in general. The key to creating a happy company is creating a culture of happiness – which is something everyone could use in their lives.


Read More

5 things I have learned from Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google

The child remains wide-eyed throughout life. He sees the world as a series of challenges waiting to be accepted and conquered. Optimism is his weapon of choice and his belief in himself, in the world push him past the limitations others see. Where some see an ocean, he sees a big lake waiting to be crossed. Where some see giants, he sees people to grow past. When people tell him that something’s impossible, he only nods and thinks, Not for me. This wide-eyed boy becomes a wide-eyed man who builds past what everyone thought possible.

This wide-eyed man is Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, the most popular search engine. Google has been so successful, it’s difficult to remember the internet before Google. It’s difficult to imagine what the internet would be like now had Google never existed. From its humble beginnings in his dorm room to a few servers in a garage and eventually into the massive technology giant it is now, it’s hard to measure that transformation. Brin has been compared to Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. While certainly different, Brin’s accomplishments are certainly nearing as great. Google has changed the internet, which, in turn, has changed the world. While Brin has a lot of advice for small businesses, these are just a handful of quotes from his brilliant mind.

1. “Technology is an inherent democratizer.”

The way hardware and software evolve and change, anyone and everyone has the ability to scale up anything. This gives everyone a massive amount of power and all the tools necessary to succeed. Technology has caused an equalising effect on the future. Your education and pedigree will no longer give you an inherent advantage or disadvantage. A poor urban kid with a computer can do anything a rich suburban kid can do with a computer, even start their own business or discover new ways to design and make products.

2. “They see enormous mountains, where I only saw one little hill to climb.”

Brin’s optimism gave him an advantage over his peers. He never let the seeming impossibility of a task hold him back. Rather, he pushed through them. Everything that discouraged 9,999 people became a challenge for him to move past. When people said he couldn’t, he proved them wrong. He didn’t see the future or his limited resource as a crippling limitation. He saw them as opportunities to keep progressing forward.

3. “Once you go from 10 people to 100, you already don’t know who everyone is. So at that stage you might as well keep growing, to get the advantages of scale.”

Google started very small, but when it began rising, it never stopped. Brin wasn’t afraid to lose his small business feel or to venture from small business into international corporation. Rather, he used this growth to his advantage and built upon prior success, and allowed the growth to make Google the most important search engine on the internet. Brin wasn’t afraid, and he trusted his vision and his employees to keep improving it.

4. “Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems.”

This sounds counter-intuitive but that doesn’t make it any less true. The big problems can be handled, but the little ones can take a lot of time and energy to work out. This is where the importance of your employees and team come in. Trust them to get the details, to figure out how the product or service works. The big problems, like getting the service to people, is much easier to do than making sure the product or service does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Ensure you can work out the details, and be flexible with them.

5. “We just want to have great people working for us.”

Always stress how important your employees are. The best business plan, service, and products can’t save you if your staff doesn’t work. When hiring, don’t only go for the most qualified. Go for those who think outside the box, those who can collaborate and thrive in that environment. Find people excited about what you’re doing. Let them help you get to where you want to go. You’re going to be trusting your employees with your company, so make sure you believe in them and trust them. If you don’t, then keep looking for the right people, even if it takes a thousand interviews.

Sergey Brin is a man who knows success and Google is arguably one of the most important companies in the world right now. That alone should make Brin’s advice carry some serious weight.

Read More

5 things I have learned from Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal

It’s the strange ones, the people who color outside the lines, who walk unfamiliar paths who change the world. Find yourself out there in the wilderness wandering and bring that love and excitement back to the world. Share it. Take your insight and enthusiasm and give share it with the world. If you’re going to take the risks no one else took, if you’re going to live the life no one else lived, you may as well tell the world the lessons you learned from living on the edge. Be daring, and be open to the possibilities of the world and you’ll find yourself in the middle of an extraordinary life.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal is one such person. Born in South Africa, he began a journey to become a US Citizen at the age of seventeen. He gave up on his PhD studies in physics to pursue his interests in the internet, renewable energy, and space. He founded PayPal, which grew enormously and continues to be one of the most used web-based financial tools in the world. He sold it to begin SpaceX, which specialises in space exploration. From there, he began Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and Hyperloop. Musk is a man who doesn’t easily fit into any model for what an entrepreneur or CEO should be, but his drive and determination makes him a constant success. Here are some of his most useful pieces of advice.

1. Get as much feedback and advice as you can.

It doesn’t matter what your idea is: get advice and get critical feedback. You may have to draw this feedback out of them, but it’s the most important to get. Ask them what’s wrong and listen to what they say. They’ll help you discover the quality of your idea, and also the holes in it. By listening and asking for help, you’ll learn a lot about what your goal actually is and how to get there.

2. Focus.

Though Musk started Tesla and SpaceX simultaneously, he strongly recommends against doing it. Throw your time and energy into one project. Work day and night to make it succeed. Seven days a week and no breaks. That’s the kind of dedication it takes to start a company and make it grow into a success. Success isn’t easy and it doesn’t come from just having a great idea or the right amount of investment money. It takes serious work for years.

3. Find a team that works.

Make sure everyone understands exactly what the goal is. When brining someone into your company, give them your mission, make them understand it, and make them know that they’ll be a part of reaching that. Keep things clearly defined and understood and let them know that this overall goal is now their goal. That improves their enthusiasm, since you’re finding people who are doing more than just working for a paycheck. They’re working for a company they believe in and are proud to be a member of. On the other side, don’t be afraid to let people go who aren’t willing to be a part of that goal anymore.

4. Things will start hard and get harder before they get better.

You’re going to be putting in a lot of work and it’ll be difficult, but you’ll be optimistic and full of energy because you’re making your idea and dream come to life. Though the beginnings are tough, you feel better about them because things are progressing and you’re feeling good. It’s when things begin to go wrong that the real difficulty comes. When you’re into your second or fifth year of the company and you’re still working tirelessly, doing all kinds of chores you’re not interested in but need to be done in order for the company to succeed–that’s where the real difficulty comes. Be prepared to do whatever it takes. You’ll be constantly in danger of the company dying, and if you’re not prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed, then you won’t.

5. Foster growth.

Do whatever you can to foster growth. Take chances and bet on yourself, and bet on small companies. Though they’re small and fragile and may not succeed, the rewards are bigger when they do succeed. You’ll be up against giant companies whose lawyers make more than your whole company, and it’ll be up to you to fight back and keep growing. In the face of so much adversity, it won’t be easy, so focus on growing where you can.

Elon Musk is a visionary and enormous success. There are few like him, but if you want to try and walk in his shoes, then take his advice.

Read More

5 Conflict management strategies

In the long run, conflict is inevitable in any situation which involves more than one person. This, of course, includes the workplace. Conflict can arise for a multitude of causes, from differences of opinion to interfering goals. When we get involved in a conflict, we need to understand the importance of managing it properly. Doing otherwise can lead to permanently damaging our relationship with the other party, lower productivity, or a tensioned environment.  For businesses this means a serious blow, as a seemingly unimportant conflict can seriously hinder their activities.

This is why understanding the basic five conflict management strategies is very important for both regular employees and business owners, who can help mediate a conflict they are not directly involved in.

1. Avoiding

This is one of the most dangerous conflict management strategies, because one or both of the two parties avoid discussing the conflict. Ignoring the conflict doesn’t resolve it as hoped, however. Confrontation is necessary. This strategy is only useful when implementing a temporarily unpopular measure by the leadership, when the problem will go away by itself after a while.

2. Accomodating

This strategy involves making the concessions the other party wants. It can be useful when the issues are unimportant, but used long-term the conceding side will become frustrated with the situation and resentful.


This strategy focuses on finding a solution both parties are happy with. It’s a win-win situation, but because of the time investment it requires, it is not suited for a number of situations, including those in which fast action is paramount.

4. Compromise

This strategy leads to both side giving up some of the things they asked for in order to reach a solution. It’s a strategy best use when both parties hold similar levels of power, and when both parties have something to lose – during a negotiation, for instance.

5. Competition

Treating the conflict like a competition means assertively trying to get your demands met with no consideration for the other party’s expectations. It’s not a strategy that should be used very often, as it can lead to resentment. It’s generally suited for crisis situations, or adopting unpopular measures.


Read More

6 Leadership Styles and How to be Successful

Being a good leader often means knowing what to do and when to do it. A good leader is an adaptive leader. Just like in a combat situation, different circumstances require different tactics. At times everyone knows what to do and the team members outperform themselves. That sort of situation will require a different leadership response than one in which you are dealing with a challenging project, where your team members are confused about what to do next. So, a successful leader needs to know when to give recognition, when to ‘boss people around’, when to direct efforts, or when to step out of the way and observe. That is why great leaders are comfortable changing their leadership style depending on what the goals and what the needs of the team are at that specific moment in time.

David Goldman presented the six leadership styles he found among managers, and how they can affect the future of the organization. When and if you choose to adapt these strategies is your call alone.

The authoritative leader focuses on the end goals. He doesn’t care about how everyone does it, as long as they follow his vision. It’s a style suited for situations where the team has the know-how, but needs a new outlook on things. It’s not suited for teams where the leader has less experience than the other members of the team. It bolsters initiative and enthusiasm.

The pacesetting leader focuses on speed. He expects everyone to know what to do, and he wants things done quickly. It’s great if the team is motivated and has the skill expected, but in the long run it can deter innovation and demotivate the team.

The coaching leader focuses on the people. He wants to make sure everyone reaches their full potential. It’s perfect for assessing your team or for low-paced projects. It can lead to negative reactions if the team doesn’t like change, so be careful.

The affiliative leader focuses on group structure. He focuses on getting people together and giving them a sense of belonging. It’s useful for stressful projects, or with new teams. On its own, it can lead to people feeling that low performance is tolerated, so it needs to be combined with another leadership style.

The coercive leader focuses on hierarchy. The leader expects everyone to do as he tells them to. It’s a style suited for a crisis, or for controlling a conflict or a conflict-causing team member if an amiable solution cannot be found. Used carelessly it can cause distrust, a hostile work environment, and discourage innovation.

The democratic leader focuses on empowerment. The leader will ask for the opinion of teammates, a very useful method for those situations where the leader lacks experience in a matter, or he wants the team to take responsibility and feel responsible for an idea or goal. It should be avoided in a crisis situation when it would just cost you irreplaceable time.


If you want to know why your leadership style is important, read our article – “Why your leadership style matters

Read More

10 Tips to Improve Team Performance

Finding it hard to get your team working well together? Here is my top 10 tips to improve your team performance!

1. Create a good environment

Make it clear to the whole team that the workplace needs to be treated with dignity and respect. Observe how each of the members communicates with each other; their tone of voice, language, body language etc.

2. Motivation is key!
Talk to your team and find out what makes them inspired. It’s often not about the money — see this McKinsey Quarterly piece on Motivating people: Getting beyond money.

3. Goal setting
Set goals for the team. This is a way for you to lead them but also something for the team to strive for.
When setting goals, make them attainable. If you have one big objective, break it down and set goals that can be attained in a shorter period of time rather than months from now. Achieving the smaller goals makes it easier for the team and gets them motivated to continue towards the overall goal.

4. Praise
Employees like to know what they’re doing is right. Show them that you appreciate their work.
Give kudos to show your acknowledge their hard work. Try Rypple, for easy public recognition.

5. Feedback
Employees always want to know how they’re doing. Constantly provide continuous feedback to your team.

6. Lead by example
If you want your team to improve their performance, then improve yours! Be an example of what you want your team to look like.

7. Communication
Have a continuous flow of communication throughout the team. Make sure you are involved too. Open communication is important for a team to work well together.
Make it easy and comfortable for employees to approach you.  If a team member can’t approach you, it creates a tense environment.

8. Delegate
If you delegate effectively to team members, it frees up some more time for you and you can manage the team better. Make sure you delegate the responsibilities to the right people – it will keep them learning.

9. Hold them accountable
This is a hard part of the job, but very necessary! Stay on top of individual performances, if one person is lacking, the whole team will too.

10. Keep it light
You want people to enjoy their work, if they don’t, they won’t want to do their work.
Try scheduling something once a month to have fun with the group and interact outside of work.
As a manager you need to be a supporter of that fun!
The way a team can work together denotes how successful the company is or will be.

Read More