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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    The Mighty Ones

    The applause was deafening. The congratulations overwhelmed your email box. The press clippings were glowing.  Everyone was buzzing, because your recent product launch was successful. Last quarter’s earnings beat even the analysts’ predictions.  The company’s stock price was up 15%. Operating costs were down, and sales volumes were number one in the industry.

    So how do you follow that act? All of this excitement doesn’t build a platform upon which to rest. Instead it forms a bar, higher than the last one, over which you must hurdle. After all, the stockholders expect more earnings. Customers expect better products. Employees expect more career opportunity. And so it goes. How do you manage all of these expectations for continuous improvement against the best strategy for the company’s growth? How do you compete for market dominance without succumbing to market vulnerabilities?

    Mighty Ones (200x133)This is the pivotal point. The choices you make will become either a stepping stone to greater success, or the rock that trips up your company, your team, or your own leadership success. Companies and people don’t automatically enter a “safe” zone when they reach a measure of accomplishment. But in some cases, their behavior suggests that they think their momentum can’t be stopped.

    You’ve heard the saying, “the higher you climb, the harder you fall.”  While that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, in the midst of success, it’s important to remain grounded; like holding onto a guardrail.

    Jim Collins, author of the best-selling books Good to Great and Built to Last, provides an explanation on how once-mighty companies fall. He highlights five stages in his book How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In.

    1. Hubris born of success. Here an organization or team exhibits extreme pride and arrogance based on past accomplishments.
    2. Undisciplined pursuit of more.  Companies in this stage overreach, become obsessed with growth, and fail to manage the process and pace effectively, ultimately undermining their long-term value.
    3. Denial of risk and peril. By this stage, companies are so caught up in successes that they become blind to the possibilities of failure.
    4. Grasping for salvation. This is the moment where the company’s decisions lead to new life or certain death.
    5.  Capitulation to irrelevance or death. At this point organizations are spiraling out of control and either give in to certain death, or shrink into irrelevance.

    So how does one avoid this death spiral, whether within your team, your organization or for your own leadership abilities? Here are a few tips from my playbook.

    1. Build a culture of humility. Keep the focus on the value you provide to your customers; and the “why” of your organization. What’s the impact if you cease to exist? It’s really not all about your company. It’s about the value you provide to others. This is a giving mentality, where long term relationships, integrity and quality products or services are most important; instead of a getting mentality, where there’s constant pressure on the customer to buy.
    2. Find your truth teller. Unfortunately, some leaders surround themselves with other leaders who will tell them what they want to hear. Or they don’t create a culture where their team feels comfortable fully informing them about business issues. Make sure you surround yourself with people who are encouraged and willing to speak up and say the difficult things or raise questions that may be contrary to the prevailing direction.
    3. Strike your balance. If you try to be all things to all customers; if you overreach in too many different directions, you lose your balance and end up grasping for a lifeline. A tightrope walker is constantly shifting his weight to keep his center of mass above his feet. This alignment is critical in your organization or team to ensure stability between competing priorities.
    4. Exhibit learning leadership. Only when the leader of the team demonstrates a continual desire to learn, to admit faults and deficiencies, and to seek input from the entire team and others outside the company, will others in the organization follow suit.
    5. Master discipline. Establish a system that produces results, and keep repeating it.  Measure the right factors. Ensure team members are learning agile and will support the culture. Focus on a consistent vision. Stick to what works.

    Note that these recommendations have nothing to do with functional or technical skills. You can hire individuals on your team to fulfill those roles. This has everything to do with pure leadership; influencing others to move forward in the right direction, based on the right decisions. These are important steps in building a “mighty” organization. So, are you a “mighty” leader?

    From Irritation to Innovation

    Elizabeth Holmes hates needles.  To her, the idea of being poked by a needle and withdrawing blood is more than just unpleasant.  When she knows that she has to give blood, she becomes consumed and overcome with the thought until it’s finally over.

    So it should be no surprise that at age 19 she founded Theranos, a ground-breaking blood diagnostics company that 11 years later is worth more than $9 billion. The company has patented its secret technology of performing 200 different blood tests (soon growing to over 1,000 different tests) without using a syringe.  They use a few drops of blood drawn using a finger stick to minimize discomfort, and collected in a “nanotainer”; a container the size of an electric fuse. Her board is stocked with powerful blue chip members including former cabinet secretaries, former U.S. senators and former military brass. Theranos’ innovative technology is poised to transform health care technology at no more than half the cost of similar tests using current technology.

    Holmes leveraged a process that irritated her to innovate a new method of getting it done.

    ??????????????????Productive Dissatisfaction

    Tony Fadell was building a vacation home for his family.  One of the seemingly mundane decisions was selecting thermostats, but he wasn’t satisfied with his choices. So he developed the Nest Learning Thermostat, a digital and WiFi enabled device that conserves energy by learning its owners’ habits. He also designed the Nest Protect which uses new technology to detect smoke and carbon monoxide.

    Fadell’s real goal is to use technology to redesign and control all technology in the home.  He was successful in raising startup capital as a result of his Apple pedigree, and extensive connections in Silicon Valley. He previously led the team that created the iPod, thereby rejuvenating Apple and transforming the music industry (yes, I love iTunes), and assisted in the development of the iPhone. Fadell left Apple in 2008 (along with his wife who was an HR executive there) and his thermostat irritation became the epiphany to innovate his next career move. As evidence of his success, Nest was purchased by Google earlier this year for $3.2 billion.

    Innovation Mindset

    Holmes and Fadell were irritated by processes and technology that others accepted as status quo. Obviously this wasn’t just a minor irritation either. Most of us would have dismissed it, avoided it, complained a bit while it was on our minds, then moved on to what we believed were more important things. We would think that change wasn’t needed, or that technology couldn’t effectively be applied to it and scaled for use. Instead, they saw it as a challenge and took the opportunity to do something about it. They had a mindset for innovation that they applied to their environment.

    At the time, Holmes was a sophomore at Stanford, and according to her chemical engineering professor, viewed complex technical problems differently than other students.  She dropped out shortly thereafter and persuaded her parents to invest her education fund into the business start-up.

    Fadell’s tenure at Apple was distinguished by asking lots of questions, challenging Steve Jobs, and building his network in the “valley” outside the company; something normally reserved for Jobs himself. He didn’t conform to the typical concept of the Apple executive.

    The Key to Innovation

    So what is the key to your innovation?  What is it that irritates you, but you find it difficult to simply walk away or ignore it. Instead, you keep trying to figure it out. This may be your opportunity to move from irritation to innovation; to find new approaches to address old ways of doing things. Though Holmes and Fadell applied innovation on a large scale, you can easily do this within a smaller sphere of influence; in your work team, organization, community group or family. Here are a few simple steps.

    1. Tap into what’s irritating you.  What problem needs to be solved? Chances are it’s right in front of you.
    2. Find the benefit. Who will it add value to? Identifying your stakeholders will help you to target what action to take, and encourage you to stick with it for their benefit.
    3. Ignore the naysayers. What do you believe is possible? If you don’t have faith in yourself, no one else will either.
    4. Identify all the assumptions associated with the status quo. Why do people do it this way? Calling them out individually helps to break the innovation opportunity down into workable sizes for better analysis.
    5. Methodically challenge each assumption. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?  By the time you’ve asked “why” five times, you’ll uncover some suppositions that really don’t have a strong foundation.
    6. Think of a new approach. What if we did it this way instead?  Then think of another different approach.  This practice gets you into the mode of change.

    If you’re really irritated, true innovation will typically involve transformation, not evolution. It will yield a totally unexpected outcome that represents a leap ahead, not just a step forward.  So embrace that impatience and exasperation with the current situation, and press forward to a new mindset of innovation.

    Read the articles on Elizabeth Holmes and Tony Fadell in the June 12, 2014 issue of Fortune.

    Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel


    Lead With Your Why

    In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Simon Sinek describes our why as “our driving purpose, cause or belief”.  This why never changes, no matter what we do. A critical role of leaders is to define and communicate the why of their organization in a way that unites the leadership team and all employees around it. A shared why among the leadership team translates into alignment and consistency in decision making regarding the company’s products and services. It drives brand marketing; financial and legal matters; and treatment of employees, customers and shareholders. A shared why will also keep the organization focused on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. This becomes a standard or benchmark against which all strategies are measured to ensure they deliver on the brand promise.

    Start With Your Why

    When Bill and Melinda Gates we seeking a new CEO to lead their $40 billion foundation, they led with their why when they enticed Susan Desmond-Hellmann to accept the position. At the time she was passionate about her role as chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco, thus wasn’t initially interested. But after two months of conversations, she decided to accept the role because their vision, mission and plans gave her an opportunity to be a part of a team that could change the world. The interview process between the Gates and Desmond-Hellmann cinched the deal because it brought out the shared why that motivated each of them to action.  While it was possible for the Gates to find someone capable of performing the role as CEO of the world’s second largest foundation, it was even more important to find one who shared their why, who shared their passion for improving the lives of women and girls in developing countries, and eradicating disease. And sharing that why made all the difference.

    Rapper and music producer Dr. Dre (Andre Young) champions the why for the Beats by Dre brand, and Beats Electronics, which was co-founded by he and music mogul Jimmy Iovine. They produce the high-priced Beats headphones and provide a streaming music service. Dr. Dre maintains a focus on what’s “cool” by ensuring they have the best quality sound, and overseeing marketing strategies in minute detail. He’s known as a perfectionist, a workaholic, and eschews market research in favor of his gut instinct, which has paid off handsomely for him in past music endeavors. This was reinforced when Apple recently purchased Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion.

    Steve Jobs was similarly known for avoiding market research because in his opinion, the customer doesn’t know what they want until someone shows it to them (yes, I didn’t know how much I needed my iPad until I got one). Jobs was famous for his product launches where he educated customers on the capabilities of new products and how it would help them. He spoke from the passion of his why instead of using a hard sell mode.

    Know Your Why

    The leadership of the Gates, Dr. Dre and Steve Jobs to define and communicate their company’s why attracts others who share the same why, and want to help them bring it to life. The why attracts customers to products and employees to positions. We identify with companies and brands that share beliefs similar to ours, that support causes we believe are worthy, and that provide services we feel are valuable. It takes focus for leaders to be clear about their why and to continuously steer their organizations in that direction, avoiding distractions and seemingly logical arguments to veer off track.  It requires a deep-rooted understanding of what you want to accomplish, and a personal belief in your ability to do so. It requires the ability to block out the glittering lights of other leaders’ why, that may look cool, but doesn’t match your passion and motivation.

    The driving cause or belief of your organization should evoke emotion and passion. It should be motivational. Sinek says that making money is the result, not the cause, and companies should think, act and communicate starting with their why. It engages employees and customers. So though you may think is obvious to all your stakeholders, take a moment to query those around you. If you’re not hearing consistent responses there’s an opportunity to provide clarity to your team and begin to drive that through all their decisions.  

    So know your why. Show your why. Grow your why

    Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

    Copyright Priscilla Archangel 2014

    Read about Dr. Dre and Apple here.

    Read the interview with Melinda Gates and Susan Desmond-Hellmann in Fortune here.

    The Giving Challenge


    What would you do with $4.5 billion? Most people would start with a list of how they’d invest it and what they’d purchase.  But John and Laura Arnold have decided to give it away. John began his career as a successful natural gas trader at Enron. He left before it went bankrupt, and founded a hedge fund. He’s known as an introvert, very smart and low key, but diligent in his research of every detail around his oil investments. His ability to correctly anticipate gas and commodities prices paid off handsomely so that in October 2012, a few years shy of age 40, he closed his fund and retired.

    He and Laura, a Yale grad and former corporate attorney, then focused their energy on the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, with the vision of giving money where it can produce the most good. For example, they’re funding projects that could make a difference in criminal justice sentencing guidelines, or how our bodies process food which could impact how obesity is treated.

    The Arnold’s know that some of their projects will fail, but they’re betting on the upside risk that some will be a big success and will positively impact society.  Young Man with money in one hand outstretched to give it away, and money in the other handTheir style of “high impact philanthropy” is increasing among the super wealthy. Rather than simply writing a check to the many existing worthy causes, they’re looking for opportunities to fund social initiatives, eradicate societal ills and solve vexing problems. They want their money to have a long term effect.

    They also don’t believe in “dynastic wealth”, or giving the money to their three children, because they feel it’s important for them to learn to create wealth for themselves. They’ve seen too many examples of children who’ve made poor decisions with such an inheritance, and don’t want theirs to feel entitled. John and Laura also think it’s a mistake to believe that having more money makes children happier or more productive. They share the perspective of other billionaires like Warren Buffett that there’s no value in gifting large sums of money to their kids.


    While most of us can’t directly relate to building this level of wealth, much less giving it away, their story raises some questions that we can relate to.



    • Are you making money for what you can do with it, or for how you can help others? Even while the Arnolds were massing their fortune, they were talking to others about causes that they could fund. So as you’re making money are you thinking and talking about who you can help, or just what can you buy? Are you looking for opportunities to help others? Are you looking for meaningful causes that can benefit from your support?


    •  Do you believe your giving can make a difference in the lives of others? Maybe you don’t have “high impact” funds, but low impact is better than no impact.  If you’re able to help only one person and make a difference in their life, then it’s a worthwhile effort. You can pay it forward.


    •  Are you giving a gift that keeps on giving? Yes, there are times when many people need a “fish”, but at the same time they need someone to “teach them to fish”. So will your gift help better a life or a situation long term?


    •  Are you taking a risk with your giving? Philanthropists know that the organizations they give to won’t always be successful in their mission. There are risks involved, and the greater and more game changing the potential impact, the greater the potential risk. But sometimes those are the causes that need benefactors the most.
    • Do you investigate the credibility and effectiveness of the organizations that receive your money? In spite of the risks associated with various social initiatives, you should still scrutinize the organizations that receive your hard earned funds with the same degree of detail that you would scrutinize a potential investment decision. You do have a responsibility to ensure that you properly evaluate their track record of accomplishing their goals, and reaching the target market.


    •  Is your giving reactive or proactive? Requests for donations come from many sources.  There are appeals for support from robocalls during the dinner hour, panhandlers on the street, co-workers’ fundraising initiatives, church building drives, political campaigns, financially strapped friends, and educational institutions.  Many of these entreaties are for worthy causes, but every worthy cause isn’t the right cause for you. You are chief steward of your resources, and it’s important to proactively determine your giving priorities, and the circumstances under which you’ll respond to such requests instead of letting someone else determine them for you. This will provide the framework for you to appropriately respond when the time comes.


    So if you don’t have $4.5 billion, let’s start a little smaller.  What would you do with $450, or $4,500 or $45,000? What are your giving priorities? What organizations would you allocate it to? How would you use it to make an impact in the world around you? Spend some time pondering this, and as you do so, you’ll begin to find more meaning in your giving. You can make a difference at whatever level you are…..just give.


    Source articles from and


    The Spark That Ignited a Firestorm


    Caine was a nine year old boy trying to keep himself busy during summer vacation. He spent his days with his father who owned a used auto parts store. The store had a lot of empty boxes in the back room, so Caine had an idea.  He began creating arcade games out of the empty boxes and setting them up in the front of the store. Not just one game, but many games, intricate games. There was just one problem.  Because most of his father’s customers purchased via the internet, there wasn’t much walk-in traffic, and no one was interested in playing his games. Until one day, Nirvan Mullick walked into the store looking for a part for his car.  He was Caine’s first customer, and he thought Caine was really bright. So Nirvan had an idea to bring a lot of customers to Caine’s arcade. He created a flashmob event that brought hundreds of people to that small store. And Nirvan’s small gesture was a spark that ignited a firestorm and changed Caine’s young life, and along with the lives of many other children and adults.

    Caine's Arcade

    It turned into a Global Cardboard Challenge with over 270 Events in 41 countries, celebrating creativity and community around the world, while raising funds for various causes. Watch the videos to find out what happened and how a seemingly chance meeting sparked a firestorm.

    Then think about these leadership lessons from a nine year old boy. In fact, are you a better leader than a nine year old?

    • You’re never too young to develop and use your gift.
    •  Follow your passion.  Find your magic moment, your spark. That’s where your leadership will shine.
    • The best gifts serve others. How are you serving others with your gift?
    • Success in leadership doesn’t happen solely based on your own actions. You must walk with others in your leadership journey.
    • Don’t sell yourself short. Even when it doesn’t look like much, things can change quickly.
    • If you build it will they really come? Maybe not, but maybe so. But even if they don’t, there’s a lesson in the process alone.
    • Never discourage creativity, even when it doesn’t look like reality. Instead provide encouragement in constructive ways.
    • Always be ready for your big break. You never know what opportunity is right around the corner.
    • One simple idea may be more powerful than you could ever imagine.



    Leadership Development Lesson

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