Thought Leadership

Those Magnificent Men and Their Thinking Machines – Part 2

Jose del Millan robotics Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Robotics thought leader Jose del Millan from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; Photo: Alain Herzog / EPFL

At the recent TEDx conference in Zurich, another thought leader in robotics, Jose del Millan from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, introduced the audience to a different type of robot from Davide Scaramuzza’s flying machine.

Dr Millan’s robot is controlled only by the mind, as he demonstrated with a fellow researcher on stage in Zurich. With wires and electrodes taped to his head, the researcher voluntarily modulated his brain signals to think about a particular direction, and the ”brain robot” moved that way — hundreds of miles from Zurich in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Transferring thoughts remotely into brain machines may sound like a scene from a Brave New World, but the futuristic technology has arrived and is waiting to be commercialized.

In the meantime, how effective are you at projecting your thoughts and ideas remotely to employees who live and work far away from the ”mother ship”? Have you mastered the art of long-distance communication? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Related Post: Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines – Part 1

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Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines – Part 1

davide scaramuzza at tedx zurichNot many conference presentations require the presenters to get clearance from the local airport control tower, but one of the demonstrations at the recent TEDx Zurich conference did.

Davide Scaramuzza, a thought leader in robotics from the University of Zurich, brought a small, vision-controlled autonomous flying robot to the innovation event for ”show and tell.” Because it was literally a flying machine, the Zurich Airport control had to give it clearance to fly around the stage at the event.

The audience was amazed by the technology that will allow the robot to conduct search and rescue operations by ”sight” rather than using lasers or GPS. The visual system gives the robot more accuracy in finding survivors and avoiding dangerous hurdles to reaching them.

flying robot at tedx zurich

At TEDx behind the “safety net.” Can you spot the object in flight?

Are you as a business leader relying only on others to bring you the information you need or are you using your own ”vision system” to see for yourself what is being reported? Can you clearly see the obstacles in the way? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

See related post: Insights on Networks and Nodes at TEDx Zurich 2012

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Insights on Networks and Nodes at TEDx Zurich 2012

insights on networks and nodes at tedx zurich 2012

I took my yearly ”intellectual vacation day” on 25 October to attend the third annual TEDx Zurich conference. With 500 people in attendance and about the same number viewing the event live, TEDx provided food for thought and discussion and a chance to hear from and network with some mighty impressive thought leaders in their chosen fields.

As I did last year, I’ll try to give you a few highlights of the conference and focus on the innovative ideas I heard that apply to business today.

The first couple of segments of the conference were more generally thought provoking and inspiring. With compelling graphics and animation, the opening film illustrated how winning the war on poverty begins with educating girls across the globe and networking them together.

Then Mikael Colville-Andersen, an urban mobility expert from Denmark, asked the audience to clap their hands to a rhythm of 96 beats a minute to illustrate the number of people who die every minute in car accidents around the world. Building better networked bike paths in urban areas was one solution he offered for this problem.

The third speaker was more directly connected to the world of business. James Glatterfelder compared the organizing principles of our economy to nodes of firms in a complex system of ownership networks.

He pointed out the systemic risk in a ”network of global corporate control.” The 43,000 transnational companies (TNCs) who control the world make up 36% of the world’s corporations but create 95% of the value.

Out of those transnational companies, the top 337 companies can control 80% of their total value of these TNCs, and 146 of the key players have the potential to control 40% of their total value. With an estimated 13 million ownership relations shared among the TNCs, this network is too connected to fail.

How does your company measure up in this global world of connectivity? Are you too connected to fail? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

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Senior Leaders versus Seasoned Leaders: Which Type are You?

four seasons with roadway

The journey to seasoned leadership: a long,
sometimes difficult road. Photo: Jeremy Wilburn

I recently ran across a candidate who described himself as a “seasoned leader.” What’s the difference between a senior leader and a seasoned leader, I wondered, so I Google-d and Wikipedia-d and Yahoo-d and LinkedIn my way to this definition:

Seasoned leaders have tenure and clout and gravitas and a broad range of experiences in different industries, geographies and situations. Seasoned leaders are more well rounded because they have perspectives not yet formed in senior leaders. The next stage in the development of a senior leader is to become a seasoned leader. Seasoned leaders and senior leaders alike can certainly be thought leaders.

Of course, it wasn’t easy to ”define definitively” what a seasoned leader is and does. And the term ”seasoned” itself could be misinterpreted. The problem is that a “seasoned” leader could refer to any season – how confusing is that! If you think about what those seasons represent, you might want to steer clear of describing yourself in that way. I’m not sure all four types of seasoned leaders can be considered complimentary.

For example, the description of a “Spring” seasoned leader seems to be contradictory. If leaders are fresh and spouting – or sprouting – new ideas, they can’t be seasoned, can they?

“Summer” seasoned leaders, I would then assume, are in the prime of their lives and careers. They’re sowing in rich, fertile soil in their companies and making hay – or moula – while the sun is shining on their careers.

“Fall” seasoned leaders are clearly not British or they would be “autumn” seasoned leaders, right? But the connotation of that season – fall or autumn – is that things are dying and falling and decaying. It seems to imply that things are ending and winding down as far as the leader’s career is concerned.

Finally, the term “Winter” seasoned leaders would seem to imply that the leaders are used up, dormant, hibernating or dead. That’s not a very appealing description of someone with great experience and honed skills of leadership, is it?

Are you a seasoned leader? What season of seasoned leader are you? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

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Senior-Level Social Strategy: Building a Virtual ‘Brand You’

social media usage statistics infographicA solid social media strategy can help a thought leader build a reputation within an industry and among a wider public. You can also gain traction for your ideas and get real-time feedback. And if you are skillful, your virtual presence can reinforce a positive image of an up-to-date “brand you.”

But what channels do you need to use to get your message out beyond the walls of your company? Any and all of them…as long as they are used by your target audiences and are appropriate to the messages you want to convey.

There’s no need to limit yourself by anything but time. A wide range of options exist depending on your purpose.

According to Edison Research’s report “The Social Habit 2012,” Facebook is the dominant social media channel, with 54% of respondents saying they have a profile page on it. LinkedIn came in second at 13%, Twitter third at 10% and Google+ at 8%. The telephone survey of 2,020 people in the U.S. was the 20th in the series, begun in 1998.

Nearly 80% of respondents said that Facebook is the networking service or site they use the most to connect with brands and services, with Twitter in a distant second place with 9%. More than half of Facebook users are accessing sites on their mobile devices, and a quarter of respondents are on the site five or more times per day.

Researchers also found that compared with 2011, increases in social networking were greatest among those 45 and older although over half of social media users are still under 34.

Among other interesting findings, about 10% of respondents are Twitter users; but of those people, about a third check it several times every day. About half of social networkers shared YouTube videos in the previous month.

Clearly, you have choices, but what’s best for you as a thought leader? Do you need guidance and advice as you choreograph those communications choices? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

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Watching your Development as a Thought Leader

great business leaders dont age they matureIn my last entry, I introduced you to two popular videos on Vimeo and YouTube that use time-lapse photography to demonstrate how the subjects grew from babies into teens. (Read the full blog entry here.)

If someone put together this type of time-lapse video to reflect your development as a thought leader, what would the result look like? Could viewers “read your face” and perceive the maturation of your leadership skills?

Are you the kind of leader you wanted to grow up to be? When you look at your photos over the years in your role, do they accurately reflect your personality and show your development as the type of leader you want to be?

Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

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Leadership Means Demonstrating the “Power of We”

blog action day logo

Bloggers from 108 countries around the world are taking part in this year’s Blog Action Day focused on “the Power of We.”

Did you know that today, 15 October, is Blog Action Day 2012? For the sixth year in a row, Blog Action Day is bringing together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day.

Past topics have included water, climate change, poverty and food with thousands of blogs, big and small, taking part. This year the theme is the ”Power of We.” You can follow what’s happening online with either of these two hashtags: #powerofwe  or #bad12

We – as thought leaders, as business leaders, as a community – can make change happen in a positive way for our environment. That’s the “Power of We.”

Take the opportunity today to donate to a charity of your choice so you, too, can demonstrate that “Power of We” at work.

If you’re looking for a good cause, why not consider one of three key water charities:, or

Are you ready to show the “Power of We” inside your company, too? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Writing – but not Rewriting – Your Professional History

file cabinet have you documented your professional history”History will be kind to me because I wrote it,” Winston Churchill once said. If you are a thought leader in your industry, then you are writing your own history every day. But are you fully documenting that career path as you take the journey?

Each company or position is another chapter in your history book. Take time soon, if you haven’t already, to capture sample pieces of documentation or videos or articles about you that belong to each chapter of your work life.

Beyond the CV: Items that help fully document your career and professional history

  • Articles or papers or presentations you have published
  • Articles written about you
  • Resumes, CVs or short biographies while you were in each role
  • Reference letters
  • Photos of you and your team in action
  • Videos of interviews
  • Short descriptions of each company and position
  • List of trade or industry associations you belonged to in each role

Sounds a bit like a comprehensive personnel file, doesn’t it?

Be a tough editor of your professional history book. Edit out any unnecessary pieces; but resist the temptation to rewrite history by only including complimentary articles or video clips, for example.

One last tip: keep these items in a safe, dry, accessible place.

Are you the historian of your own career? Are you keeping copies of clippings and videos and presentations that document your full career path and demonstrate your thought-leadership journey? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Views with a Viewpoint on a Busy Commute

Two buildings in Zurich ”speak to me” – not literally, of course, and not in the architectural aesthetic sense either. They both present business lessons and life lessons for my edification during my daily commute.

On the side of one Zurich high-rise building belonging to Migros , the main nationwide grocery chain, is a neon sign proclaiming: ”Everything is going to be alright!” These soothing words at the end of a long day at work reflect the values of the firm, which has a strong reputation for good business practices.

Fischli & Weiss, How to Work Better

Fischli & Weiss, How to Work Better (1991) Hüttisstrasse 6, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland; Photo by rytc on Flickr

Through a tunnel and past the historic Oerlikon building  that was moved this summer, another building reminds me to think more deeply about the meaning of success. The sign on the side of this office building lists the following rules for “How to Work Better”:

• Do one thing at a time
• Know the problem
• Learn to listen
• Learn to ask questions
• Distinguish sense from nonsense
• Accept change as inevitable
• Admit mistakes
• Say it simple
• Be calm
• Smile

Despite the first rule, I’m compelled to do more than one thing on my commuter train – I’m prompted daily to think about these mini-lessons and apply them to the day just ending, even though I probably would rather not think at all and just read the paper!

If your company were to put its own “rules for working” on the side of its headquarters building, would those values come as a surprise to the public? Are the values you yourself display clearly reflecting the firm’s values? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Key actions for the CEO’s First 100 Days (Part 1)

search for ceo first 100 daysA friend gave me a birthday gift of a small computer accessory bag with a drawing on it of a vampy 1950’s gal batting her eyes and saying, “The key word is … alleged.”

In this century, the term ”keyword” has a different meaning and is intended to draw eyes to a website or other online platform. There’s a science developing that helps predict the most effective combination of words you should use to get your site noticed.

The website offers you a free tool to analyze and design the terms to best attract readers to look at a particular page. It evens tells you how many people are searching for those terms and how great the competition is for those keywords. Competition is defined as how many people are bidding on those adwords.

So the ”sweet spot” is finding the terminology that many people are searching for but few websites are providing. Then you can place those words in prominent positions on your own page and capture more eyes.

Here are some examples:

  • The keywords ”leadership skills,” with a competition score of 0.63 out of 1.00, appears on a large number of sites; but each month, 246,000 people globally are searching for that term.
  • On the other hand, ”chief executive” has few competitors with a score of 0.11 and 301,000 global monthly searches.

Those two examples were more clear cut than this next one:

  • The term ”CEO first 100 days” has low competition with 0.09 and only 260 monthly global searches. But if you’re a thought leader in, say, CEO transition planning, one of those 260 people might be your next client.

In fact, that’s why I chose that those terms as the title for this blog — planning for a CEO’s first 100 days is one of the services that Thought Leader Zone offers. So hopefully someone searching for help with that challenge will find me.

To summarize, it’s not just a matter of getting a large number of eyes but of getting the right eyes. Using keywords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques will help you find ”the riches in the niches.”

Are you optimizing your social media platforms? Are you helping potential clients and customers find your needle in the haystack? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Related Post: Communications Planning for the CEO’s first 100 Days (Part 2)

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