For 2012, as every year, I am making two simple lists: Do and Do Not. For my Do list it will have a few goals or items I want to achieve personally or proffessionaly- the rest, ALL of the rest goes in to my Do Not list. A few goals to focus and execute on. I use Evernote to keep track of the lists which allows me to track items I have on my Do Not list and evaluate them for future years. Monthly calendar reminders help bring me back to check in and make sure I stayed focused on my Do list. So, Do a few things that matter well and Don’t do the rest, because mediocrity sucks.

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Note: There is no political commentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement intended in this post, simply observation and analysis.

Photo Credit: VideoPhotoholic

It is irrelevant whether they are right or wrong, well intentioned or not; I simply believe they are destined to fail for a two basic reasons: Vision & Leadership. One big reason the Occupy movement is not gaining more momentum and infecting mass protests across cities is there is no clear Vision for what they hope to achieve. No question the Occupy movement has triggered latent (or not so) feelings of inequality in the U.S. and made waves. But the 99% have no true Vision of what they hope to accomplish (or at least I have not been able to discern it).

They only have a rough set of Strategies and Tactics. I’m a big believer in VISTA: Vision drives Strategies drives Tactics drives Actions. Without a unifying Vision for the movement it is extraordinarily hard to know what to do “next” to move forward. Seth Godin had a fantastic comment about this concept recently regarding missions vs plans:

There’s nothing wrong with having a plan. Plans are great. But missions are better. Missions survive when plans fail, and plans almost always fail.

Occupy needs a Vision of what they want to accomplish (even if they become the 90% not the 99%). But who is most effective at setting a vision? The Leader. I get that Occupy has very purposefully avoided any figurehead or leadership- it makes sense as a groundswell movement focused on meritocracy, equality and the like to want to avoid elevating any individual or group from the masses. However, it is excruciatingly hard to actually execute and set agenda exclusively by group think. Occupy is in severe danger of making a camel [a camel is a horse designed by committee].

The delicate art they must achieve is how to find a Leader who can embody the movement without becoming distant from the movement and help guide them to a concrete Vision. Then they will be able to execute and perserve in the long run by coalescing around a unified goal. Tossed from Zuccotti Park? No problem. Oakland violence? No problem. Internal strife? No problem.

Perhaps the greatest irony is there are two types of organizations that have really effectively figured this out: corporations and the church. Occupy is railing against corporate America- but what they should do is take a page right out of the classic business organization and motivation playbook and use it against them.

Vision and Leadership. It doesn’t guantee success, but without, it guarantees failure.

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Spicing up Popcorn

I love popcorn, but even better with kick. The product of office group think: Franks Hot Sauce in a spray bottle to make awesome microwave popcorn with kick.
Franks Hot Sauce in a Spray Bottle

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Stephen Dubner (of Freakonomics fame) recently said:

“You can put too much of your emotional life in the hands of people who don’t know you and have no responsibility for you, but I think sports fandom is a fantastic gift with almost immeasurable value. It’s a proxy for real life, but better. It renews itself, it’s constantly happening in real time. There are conflicts that seem to carry real consequences but at the end of the day don’t – it’s war where nobody dies. It’s a proxy for all our emotions and desires and hopes, I mean, heck, what’s not to like about sports?”

And what could be more applicable to start-up life than that? So, without further ado, “Start-up life is like your favorite sport.” Add you own in the comments.

  • Start-up life is like Football :: The best defense is a good offense (Vince Lombardi)

  • Start-up life is like Football :: Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.(Vince Lombardi)

  • Start-up life is like Football :: When you win, nothing hurts. (Joe Namath)

  • Start-up life is like Basketball :: You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good. (Jerry West)

  • Start-up life is like Basketball :: It’s what you get from games you lose that is extremely important. (Pat Riley)

  • Start-up life is like Basketball :: Crashing the boards, drive the lane, hustle hustle hustle.

  • Start-up life is like Basketball :: A superstar can win a game, but only a team can win the championship

  • Start-up life is like Baseball :: A [start-up] game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. (Earl Wilson)

  • Start-up life is like Baseball :: [A start-up] is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical. (Yogi Berra)

  • Start-up life is like Baseball :: I think about [the start-up] when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don’t think about it is when I’m playing it. (Carl Yastrzemski)

  • Start-up life is like Golf :: It’s not about the perfect drive, it’s how you get out of the sand

  • Start-up life is like Golf :: [A start-up] is a game that is played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears. (Bobby Jones)

  • Start-up life is like Golf :: Forget your opponents; always play against par. (Sam Snead)

  • Start-up life is life Hockey :: It’s a big fight with some skating in between

  • Start-up life is life Hockey :: Forget about style; worry about results. (Bobby Orr)

  • Start-up life is like Running :: Good things come slow – especially in distance running. (Bill Dellinger)

  • Start-up life is like Running :: How much pain can you take and for how long can you take it

  • Start-up life is like Running :: Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

  • Start-up life is like Soccer :: The rules of [a start-up] are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does. (Phil Woosnam)

  • Start-up life is like Soccer :: Every single day I wake up and commit to myself to becoming a better player. (Mia Hamm)

  • Start-up life is like Tennis :: You cannot be serious! (John McEnroe)

  • Start-up life is like Tennis :: I play each point like my life depends on it. (Rafael Nadal)

  • Start-up life is like Tennis :: The mark of great sportsmen is not how good they are at their best, but how good they are at their worst. (Martina Navratilova)

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  • Team is everything

    There’s nothing better than working with a killer team. Full stop. 🙂

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    Everyone is not an “A player”- but a ton of people can be A players in the right situation. The commonly accepted philosophy is to only hire “A players” “rockstars” etc. But an A player is actually best defined as the right person in the right role. One need not be capable of curing cancer, putting a man on the moon or breaking the 4 minute mile if the job requires uploading images to a CMS. In fact, someone who is overqualified for a role will become bored and unproductive over time if he/she is not given the ability to grow and change. But the job they are doing might NOT grow and change with them.

    So you need someone who is happy in that moderately static role or you need to constantly be pushing people up or out (which requires a lot of growth). Find the right person with the right skill set and right attitude for the work that needs being done. THAT is an A player for your organization.

    In lake Wobegon “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” So plug your team into the right spots so that everyone looks good, performs well and finishes above average.

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