If coaching is to succeed, it must be simple and specific. That’s why I am a big believer in flash cards. Maybe this goes back to my childhood when my patient mother used them to help me learn phonetics, words and arithmetic.

You can even make a master flash card for dealing with complex problems by doing the following:

  • Square the circle. Focus on the core problem and its root causes, not peripheral ones that may be clouding the picture.
  • Determine action steps. Be specific about what you can do as well as what you cannot do.
  • Move forward. Take action when called for.

Flash cards can serve as your prompt to think through a problem, as well as to take action in a deliberate manner.


John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. (read more…)

We make countless decisions every day. We probably feel as though we generally make those decisions completely rationally. However, that is most likely not the case. We probably make many decisions each day that are not entirely rational, and that would not yield the optimal business outcomes.

Fortunately, research in neuroscience suggests that we can rewire our brains for better decision making. And, we don’t have to add anything to our schedules to do so.

The hidden cause of poor decisions

Often, the problem with decision making isn’t necessarily that we don’t know what to do. The problem is that we are subject to decision-making biases, called cognitive biases, which cause us to unconsciously make decisions that are less than optimal.

The idea of cognitive biases was introduced by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in the early 1970s. Their work showed quite clearly that people often make decisions that deviate substantially from what strict rationale would indicate is the correct choice. (read more…)

I could feel it; my hands were sweaty, my heart rate elevated. I was nervous and excited in the same breath. This could be the one, something very special, even life-changing. I had fallen deeply, madly and truly in love.

I could hardly contain myself, I just had to share the news. I assembled everyone that mattered around the table. “Gang,” I said. “I figured it out, I know what we need to do,” and then I shared my great idea. I sat back, prepared to receive the praise and adulation. I even anticipated some mild euphoria when the full potential was recognized. But, the response was much different. What I heard was “That won’t work,” and “We can’t do that!” I was devastated, demoralized and frankly, pissed.

We have a tendency to fall in love with our own ideas. We give birth to them, nurture them, and then set them upon a pedestal. (read more…)

Imagination often arises from an ability to stop thinking literally. Management by contrast is a literal process. At the same time, good managers sometimes let thinks fly in order to create something new.

Creativity then is based on substance which in turn becomes transformed by the energy that an artist, scientist or entrepreneur expends in producing something new and something different. Most importantly, there is always purpose. The phrase “creativity for its own sake” gives short shrift to the intention that creator gives to the work.

Creativity nurtures the organization and for that reason it must be fostered and stimulated. Simple when you imagine it!


John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. Also in 2014, Inc.com named Baldoni to its list of top 100 leadership experts, and Global Gurus ranked him No. (read more…)

OutmaneuverJeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky are the authors of the new book, “OUTMANEUVER: OutThink, Don’t OutSpend” (March 2016). Phillips leads OVO Innovation, an innovation consulting company in Raleigh, NC. Verjovsky is a consultant, an entrepreneur, and a pioneer in the biodiesel market.

If you enjoy this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our daily leadership newsletter, including a Tuesday spotlight on innovation.

You’ve heard the saying “fighting the last war”? It refers to preparing to compete using familiar techniques, against competitors you’ve faced before, in the same markets or industries, only to discover that the rules have changed. Modern business competition is changing rapidly, and to compete effectively, you need to understand the skills that are required to win.

For the last few decades, most companies have met their competition in a head-to-head, feature-to-feature battle that creates a significant amount of “me too” products with little differentiation other than price. (read more…)