All I Need to Know about Business I Learned from a Duck


All Work and No Play …

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

I was reminded about the importance of playing a while back when my brother and I were out in the Sea of Cortez fishing for marlin.  I noticed a huge group of spinner dolphins as they worked a school of mackerel into position so they could enjoy an afternoon snack. 

It looked like a lot of work so when 20-30 of them broke from the group to have some fun swimming in the bow wave of our boat my initial reaction was surprise; however  my secondary take was that play is instinctive and fundamental in the lives of all animals, including humans.

Check out the video, below, as man and dolphin literally play together in the ocean surf.

According to experts, play isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity and is as important to our physical and mental health as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising. And taking the time to replenish yourself through play is one of the best things you can do for your career. Here are just a few of the benefits of play:

  • Keeps you functional when under stress
  • Refreshes your mind and body
  • Encourages teamwork
  • Helps you see problems in new ways
  • Triggers creativity and innovation
  • Increases energy and prevents burnout
  •  So now I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Today is Friday, July 2 – the beginning of the 4th of July weekend and up until this moment I was planning to work all day tomorrow.  Instead I think I’ll do the responsible thing and go outside and play!

    How a lesson from honey bees can improve the performance of your top executives.

    Friday, April 30th, 2010

    Recent studies show that a typical executive spends 1 ½ days (30%) out of a 5-day work week sorting, reading, filing, writing, sending and recovering from email messages. Put another way, that time is money so if an executive’s salary is $150,000; he or she is being paid $45,000 for processing email messages.

    What’s more, email volume is growing at a rate of 66% a year, according to the E-Policy Institute in part because of the avalanche of messaging that occurs on BlackBerrys and cell phones and the fact that more and more people are texting, and using Facebook or Twitter for work.

    This email epidemic is reaching a crisis point at some companies, but in my opinion we won’t find the cure by relying on more and/or better technology (email organizing software, for example). Instead, let’s look in the exact opposite direction for a “nature inspired” solution – check out the video, below:

    Communication specialists would categorize the Waggle Dance as 1-way communication. And as you can easily see, it’s a very powerful, pragmatic, concise method of sharing information. In my experience 50% to 70% of email messages are monologues that are mistakenly interpreted as dialogues. Why all the confusion? No one knows when an e-conversation is 1-way without an explicit signal! So if you want to increase the performance of the executives in your company, show them how to Waggle Dance by typing the following words in the subject line of their email messages if it applies: No Response Necessary!

    Your thoughts?

    Business Lessons From Humpback Whales

    Monday, March 15th, 2010

    When it comes to effective teamwork, business leaders can learn a lot from Humpback whales. If you watch a group of these magnificent creatures carry out their unique technique of bubble net feeding, you’ll probably agree that they display nearly all of the eight characteristics of a high performing team identified by Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson, authors of the book Teamwork: (1) A clear compelling goal or vision; (2) Standards of excellence; (3) Competent members; (4) Unified commitment; (5) Climate of collaboration (i.e. trust, clear communication, listening); (6) Results driven structure; (7) Principled leadership and; (8) External support and recognition. (Click on video, below):

    In my opinion the most important lessons we can learn from bubble net feeding are: (1) It is important to think as one team; (2) Teams are most effective if the group works on one single concept; and (3) Clear communication among participants is crucial to success.

    What’s your opinion?

    Business Lessons From Elephants

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    When it comes to creating a distinct, competitive advantage in the market place sometimes owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses are intimidated by the resources available to larger businesses and national conglomerates. What with their huge budgets and their ability to not only access sophisticated methods of marketing research but also tap into mounds of data that can be mined for purchase behaviors and buying trends; how can the small guy possibly compete?

    In a word, to beat out the big boys, you have to be more creative then they are (you can’t out spend them so you have to out think them). And after more than 25 years of working in the advertising business where individuals make a living from generating creative ideas, I have determined that the best creative people have developed a system or process that provides them with an ability to see the world from a different perspective than the rest of us; and in so doing they develop truly unique solutions to business and communications challenges.

    That was a long lead-in to the crux of my message; however it is important to understand that creating innovative ideas, strategies and tactics requires a departure from traditional linear thinking to smack-on-the-side-of-the-head thinking. Which is another lead-in to the subject of elephants … and the book I just published.

    Edward DeBono, world-leading authority in the field of creative thinking, developed a lateral thinking technique where you first fully focus on the problem you’re trying to solve and then inject the idea of something that is far removed from the problem – the further from the subject the better. So as you consider the problem of creating a competitive advantage for your company, watch the video about elephants grieving, below, and remain open to the business lesson inherent in their behavior:

    Here’s what I came up with for myself: Grieving is a form of empathy because both emotions require the ability to imagine being in someone else’s position. And because I recently read an article by Bruna Martinuzzi, president and founder of Clarion Enterprises, a company that (more…)