Are today’s leaders introspective? Self-reflective? Perhaps. But do they regularly concern themselves with what qualities they might be lacking, or second-guess the positive traits they possess? Probably not. People of influence have not reached success by falling into the weakness trap. They instead focus on leveraging their inherent gifts.

One experience that drove this point home with me was my past business partnership with a large Japanese trading company. As CEO of the joint venture, I spent a good portion of my time in our Tokyo office working with my Japanese partners, and had the opportunity to study the Japanese business culture and approach to human resources. I noticed that Japanese corporations took a much more dedicated, nurturing approach than did US businesses. To both employer and employee, the hiring of an individual was seen as a lifetime commitment.

I recall asking Japanese managers how they handled employees whose weaknesses became apparent and impeded performance. (read more…)

Business gone global means that the ability of employees to work effectively together across borders and time zones has become critical. Cultivating global mindset in employees and organizations can squash misunderstandings that may hurt business while building team cohesion that can dramatically help. Still, studies show that leadership programs are failing at preparing future leaders with the skills needed to excel in this new business world.

Whether you are working locally, globally or virtually, knowing how to lead globally is now a necessity. Even if your business does not work abroad, it is most likely working with people in your own backyard who have come from other cultures and countries. A global mindset is a critical skill parallel to legal, marketing, sales or strategy. We need to take it as seriously as we do other business operations.

Here are the three most important skills for a global manager.

  1. The ability to transmit values and create culture within a team.
  2. (read more…)


Environmental issues are a constant point of contention for activists and big business. While environmentalists want to preserve and protect nature, businesses leaders are often pressured to think more about the bottom line. Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, implores both sides to look at things differently.

TNC’s mission isn’t unlike that of many other environmental nonprofits. The Arlington, Va.-based organization seeks to “conserve the lands and waters on which life depends.” Where the difference lies, though, is in its approach. While Tercek acknowledges that the environmental movement has accomplished some impressive things, he says there’s a harsh reality it needs to face.

“If you think about all the things we’re trying to protect, they can be measured, and we do measure them, and they’re all in decline,” Tercek says. “Think about it: rainforests, healthy fisheries, ample topsoil, healthy forests, biodiversity itself. We measure these things and, notwithstanding all of our great efforts, they’re all in decline.”

That’s why Tercek and TNC are reaching across the aisle, working alongside companies with less-than-stellar environmental track records. (read more…)

Income inequality is a divisive issue in our political climate, bolstered in no small part by lingering tensions from the 2008 financial crisis, a recent push for a higher federal minimum wage, and a 2010 Princeton University study that identified $75,000 as an ideal salary for achieving happiness.

Combine that with the fact that the average CEO earns 350 times what the average employee makes in the U.S., the largest such disparity in the world, and you can begin to understand how fair pay in the workplace has become a priority for U.S. employers hoping to retain top performers. In fact, some companies are taking drastic steps to address it.

I read it on Reddit

Maybe you’ve heard of Ellen Pao, interim CEO of the juggernaut discussion site Reddit. She recently was at the center of a high-profile gender bias lawsuit against her former employers, a Silicon Valley venture firm. Although she lost the case, she won a devoted following and opened up a dialogue about the equal-pay challenges women are facing in Silicon Valley. (read more…)

E-commerce is an industry that seems to be in a constant state of growth, with emerging technology and the increasingly mobile consumer. You don’t have to be an industry expert to know that Amazon is the major player in the U.S. e-commerce industry, but with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s IPO and growth plans that include the U.S., online retail could face a shake-up.

Scot Wingo is the co-founder and CEO of e-commerce software firm ChannelAdvisor, and he also contributes to the industry through writing, speaking and connecting with e-retailers across the U.S. SmartBrief spoke with Wingo about Alibaba’s entrance into the U.S. e-commerce market and what that could mean for the future of the industry.

Can you talk a little bit about Alibaba’s expansion plans, particularly in the U.S.?

Alibaba has been very active in their recent U.S. investments:

First they acquired two eBay selling tool vendors back in 2010. (read more…)