Top of Mind Thursday Memo Archive

Top of Mind Thursday April 19, 2018: Nerves of Steel

Top of Mind Thursday

On Tuesday, a Southwest Airlines jet lost an engine on a flight from New York to Dallas. The resulting explosion shattered a window, depressurizing the plane, and hurling shrapnel towards a passenger who later died from her injuries.

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But the bigger story is how the plane’s pilot, a former Navy fighter pilot, landed the damaged plane safely, saving the lives of the other 148 people onboard.

The pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, stayed calm and cool as she kept the aircraft aloft and managed the emergency landing as cleanly as possible, given the situation. Passengers, first responders, and airline officials have all spoken glowingly about how Shults handled this situation.

No, she’d never landed a plane in this condition. But Shults, one of the first female fighter pilots, had extensive Navy training, as well as experience piloting commercial jets. In the midst of what might have been a major tragedy, her composure went a long way to keep the plane together.

Think about how prepared your team is for a major disaster. Have they gone through possible worst-case scenarios, considering all options? Have you hired seasoned execs who are not thrown by curveballs thrown their way? Will they stay calm and cool in the line of fire?

Steel is strengthened through exposure to heat. The time to do that is before a disaster strikes.

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Top of Mind Thursday April 12, 2018: Enduring, Not Endearing

Top of Mind Thursday

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days this week testifying before Congress, in the wake of the discovery that as many as 87 million Facebook users may have had their personal data compromised.

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The hearings themselves shed little light on the situation, but don’t expect the issue to go away.

Facebook users are upset that their data was sold to outside firms–yet they themselves volunteered to take quizzes, answer personal questions, reveal their buying preferences, etc.

There’s no question that Facebook should have been more transparent about how data was being used. But the fault is not entirely with Facebook.

Anyone who posts personal information on a website, social media, or an app needs to know that there’s someone listening, watching and collecting keystrokes. Sometimes that results in better targeting of content or advertising. Sometimes the outcome is more nefarious.

What we have to remember is that the Internet remains enduring, NOT endearing. What we share online will likely be seen and used by others, and it can always come back and hurt us.

Should we have better privacy protections? Probably. Can we count on that happening? Unlikely. In the meantime, feel free to invoke Linda’s version of the Miranda Rule:

You have the right to remain silent and not respond online. Anything you do say may be held against you in the court of public opinion.

You give up these rights at your own risk. Caveat emptor.

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Top of Mind Thursday April 5, 2018: Interesting Times

Top of Mind Thursday

There’s an old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

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The world we live in is extremely interesting. The stock market is extremely volatile. Tariffs may result in trade wars, that may impact many businesses, as well as relations between countries. The epidemic of mass shootings has led to contentious discussions about gun control. The #MeToo movement has galvanized the discussion about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Immigrants are in the crosshairs. Amazon is targeted for their efficient use of the US Postal System. Federal rules and regulations are changing almost on a daily basis.

How do you not just maintain your direction but thrive in this kind of interesting environment?

It starts with knowing the key value you provide to your audiences–with understanding how you fit into their lives, how they’re better off for having worked with you.

It means being clear on the values you espouse in your organization–from providing high quality products and services to being easy to do business with and promoting fairness and equity.

It involves staying in close contact with your key constituents–including employees, customers, suppliers, partners, and the local community–so that they know what to expect from you and where you stand on key issues.

It means having a strong brand promise that you strive to achieve–and being honest and forthright when things don’t go as planned.

It’s unlikely that things will get significantly less complicated in our world any time soon. But there are times when being less interesting is the most compelling thing you can do for your business.

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Top of Mind Thursday March 22, 2018: Keep Moving

Top of Mind Thursday

I’m spending the week in Tecate, Mexico at Rancho la Puerta, a top destination fitness spa now in its 78th year.

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The resort’s founder, Deborah Szekely, will very shortly turn 96 years old. She still does Pilates every day, walks her dog, works out on her treadmill, and speaks at international conferences.

When asked how she keeps young, Deborah said part of this comes from maintaining a mostly vegetarian diet her whole life, and keeping a positive attitude–knowing this too shall pass.

But she also stressed how important it is to keep moving, “If you don’t move–you die.” In her mind, movement keeps both mind and body young.

This is true of organizations as well as people. The latest casualty of a once-stellar brand turned into a hasbeen is Toys-r-Us. But they’re not alone. How many times do we see cases of a business that seems to be highly successful–but it gets stuck in its own way and stops innovating? An example of someone who’s always moving in the business world is the inventor covered in this Inc article. How often do we see organizations that used to be considered the creme de la creme–but have been leapfrogged by new upstarts?

We need to keep moving. If we don’t move, we die.

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linda@popky.com
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