I had neck surgery five weeks ago. This has severely limited my activities and this time has proven to be a blessing.

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It has given me time to think.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog. This was not my plan, but the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 was an incredibly busy time for me professionally. So, I, a business coach, committed one of the big no-no’s of running a business and I began skimping on marketing and outreach to make more room for billable time. Don’t do as I do, just do as I say! …


The secret sauce of long-term businesses success

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Most people are familiar with the pivot in the political sense. Politicians, to the frustration of nearly everyone, pivot constantly. What does that look or sound like?

Journalist: How are the plans for your 2020 Presidential campaign coming along?

Politician: With so much confusion in Washington these days, especially with the mid-terms approaching, my focus is entirely on how to best serve my constituents.

It’s not a denial, it’s not a lie, it’s just a pivot. Go ahead and ask me anything; I’ll answer however I want to, even if the answer seems nonsensical.

In business, a pivot looks a bit different. Unlike in the political sense, the pivot in business is a strategic move, a reaction to market forces, actual or anticipated, that change the equation of one or more of a business’ core markets. When the data changes, or looks to be changing, sitting still is simply an exercise in programmed road kill. …


Beliefs that disempower and sabotage your success

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Recently, a client asked me to recount some business axioms I had come to accept during my career. Since there are blogs, books, and podcasts galore that expound on that topic, I pulled together instead a list of ideas accepted as true that I believe are at least partial fallacies. I find the beliefs in this post to be disempowering and often form the basis of roadblocks to success. Here are ten impactful misunderstandings.

1. Business is competitive and cutthroat

Actually, it’s collaborative and cooperative. I’m not a fan of Darwinian models of business relationships and this is a place where the economic ecosystem looks a lot like the natural ecosystem. Every animal on this planet is made of up of countless small organisms acting cooperatively, It begins there. Cooperation and collaboration feature heavily in more modern interpretations of biology. As Fritjof Capra observes, “Life, from its beginning more than three billion years ago, took over the planet by networking, not combat.” (1) Cooperation is at the heart of Habit 4 (Win-Win) in Stephen Covey’s seminal work The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (2) We are at our best and primed for success when we see our business relationships as cooperative. Can you think of a business that does not depend upon other businesses? …


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I’m now blogging on my Medium Publication: https://blog.jpmclaughlin.com


Dream factories and cash-outs

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It’s with mixed feelings that I greet the news that Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus is shutting down. My heart greets this with joy because the last time I was at this circus — which was perhaps 20 years ago — there were far too many animals in captivity being put through very unnatural behaviors. It bothered me then, and I’ve I’ve grown more aware and awake as an individual, my memory of that day at the circus has gone from nagging guilt to full-on horror.

The flip-side of this is what happens when a business scales up and up and up. What used to be a three-ring circus under a tent holding 2,000 to 8,000 people has become an event spending a week in an arena holding 12,000–15,000 people. What used to be a family business — owned by the descendants of the Ringling family until 1967 when the circus was sold to Feld Entertainment — scales up to having to satisfy the financial appetite of a large publicly-traded corporation. …


Why language, identity, and strategy are bedfellows

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People often glance at me sideways when we are starting a strategy project and I ask them to tell me the story of their company and its identity. The most common outcome from this question is the blank stare followed by the struggle to say, in a sentence or two, why their business exists and why anyone should care.

There are many cultures on this planet who believe they co-create the world into existence, that they dream their reality into being.(1) Whether you see that as plausible or not is irrelevant to this discussion. …


What just happened?

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It was about 10:30 PM Mountain Standard Time, November 8, 2016, when it became clear to me that things were changing in a very profound way. I was watching a swath of frequently Blue Upper Midwestern states turning Red on the Electoral map. What was going on here? Pundits were flinging blame at Hillary Clinton’s pollsters and strategists for failing to see this coming, for a flawed strategy that took for granted the Upper Midwest and its 42 Electoral votes. At the time it seemed like the election hinged on these states. That was, of course, before a long line of battleground states began turning Red as well. Pennsylvania? Red. Florida? Red. North Carolina? Red. …


What’s going on in Cupertino?

When I tuned in to watch Apple’s big announcement last Thursday (Hello, Again) it was with great anticipation and excitement. By the end of the two hour event I was dismayed and struggling to figure out Apple’s strategy. This is the story of my journey from excitement to dismay.

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Image: MacBook Pro 2016 by Rimper, used under CC BY-SA 4.0 . / Background changed for display.

I’ve been an every day Apple user since 1999. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was at a Fast Company conference in Fort Myers, Florida, and Apple created a giant room full of candy-colored iMacs so attendees could check email and use the Internet. (This was, after all, the era right before laptops and smart phones became ubiquitous.) Those old candy-colored iMacs had funky long-throw keyboards and weird, round, one-button mice. There was a lot not to like. Yet, they were compelling. The software was cleaner, with less clutter, and easier to use. When I got home I went out and bought one — Bondi Blue with a G3 under the hood. …


The basics of office geolocation (with a slight digression on commuter rail)

When I’m asked the question “do you have an opinion on a good location for an office” people are often shocked at how detailed my answer is. I’m an infrastructure junkie — not because I enjoy spending public money, but because I’ve come to appreciate the value of good, reliable infrastructure in a competitive, global marketplace. I place a high value on not only the quality of the office space itself, the building, and the general area, but I also place high value on the infrastructure and services that are available.

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Image RTD Silverliner by Xnatedawgx is licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0. Image cropped to fit.

Denver’s A-line opened last weekend. This is our long-awaited, relatively fast (by American standards) rail line to our airport. This is a very good thing since our airport often feels like its halfway to Kansas. This misapprehension is reinforced on a regular basis because Interstate 70, the primary way to drive to the airport, is frequently so badly congested that it takes half the time it would take to reach Kansas just to get to the airport. The time and stress this adds to a business trip — either outbound or inbound — is significant. Doing business in Denver just became easier. Locating a business in Denver just became a lot more attractive. …


Don’t listen to well-meant advice.

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Deciding to start a business is a major life decision. There’s no doubt about that. What flummoxes me is the the wide array of daunting “common sense” advice that will be immediately forthcoming should you ever express a desire to start a business.

I began thinking about this after watching an interview on the local news with a business development representative from a nearby town. Even though it is this person’s job to encourage the formation of new businesses, by the time he was done dishing out “common sense” I felt crushed by the countless road blocks and hoops to jump through. …

About

JP McLaughlin — Executive Coaching

Helping leaders embody competence, wisdom, resilience, and purpose since 1991. www.jpmclaughlin.com

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