As a disclaimer, I do not like Bill O’Reilly, nor his network, Fox News. You might, and that is just fine with me. I chose to become angry at his interview with President Obama before the Super Bowl, where he demonstrated poor questioning skills, poor probing skills, and abysmal listening skills. He was obviously more interested in making a scene for himself than providing a forum on issues for a national viewing audience. A quick review of his television career shows him to be a walking time-bomb, with explosive unsubstantiated commentary, often followed by apologies, corrections, and dissatisfying defenses delivered in a Howard Cosell-like manner. Yet, these are behaviors that make him popular, and create vast viewing audiences.
But, his three best-selling books are another matter. Henry Holt was the publisher of all of these. I have finished two of these, Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (2012), and Killing Jesus: A History (2013), and am now into a third, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (2011). As you see, that one was actually the first in the series. His co-author is Martin Dugard, a not-so-famous historian, who for all we know, may provide gravity to O’Reilly when he might otherwise stray from facts. The fourth, Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General, is due in September this year.
These are all highly readable accounts of famous history. I find them novel-like in their wording, pacing, and unfolding dramatics of events. He adds feelings to facts, and emotions are a strong appeal to his writing. All the books keep you focused, but also move you off-balance in a very positive way. You think you know what will come next, and it will, but not how you expect it. O’Reilly opens several windows as he writes, but not so many that you find yourself flipping back to review. Even his footnotes are interesting and explanatory. And, Iike many people, I don’t usually read footnotes.
The background and context are particularly strong elements. I am grateful, for example, that we are given a condensed review of ancient Roman and Judean history, including key events, characters, traditions, customs, geographies, among others, way before we even read about Jesus’ birth and brief time on earth. The writing is more appealing than even a visual imagery could provide.
I can tell you that I also read things in these books I have never seen before. If you read these, you may occasionally feel the same way. You might react with “I didn’t know that” or “oh, yeah?” Here are two I remember. The JFK-RFK interest in Marilyn Monroe is public knowledge, but I have never before read in such a strong and factually-appearing manner that JFK spent two consecutive nights with her in California. Tiberius was known as power-hungry and egotistical dictator, but I never knew that he swam with young boys who nibbled at him below the water. At minimum, I never remember studying that in Sunday School.
Years ago, I read the famous author, Jim Bishop, who wrote accounts of these same three. He called them The Day…. (Kennedy Died, Christ Died, Lincoln Died). They have been reprinted several times. They were good, but they are nothing like the O’Reilly accounts. Compared to the dynamism from O’Reilly, they seem static to me today.
Perhaps that may be due to the title. Note the word: “killing” begins each of his books. The use of the “ing” means that we are reading a process, not an event. “Kennedy killed” is an account. “Killing Kennedy” is a dynamic, in-action, unfolding of a story.
Put aside any feelings you may have about O’Reilly. If they are negative, don’t let that interfere with your access to these books. You will find your time well-spent by doing so.
And, I plan to order the Patton book when it is ready in September. If nothing else, I can read some new things and replace the George C. Scott image that seems to always be in my head.
So, (courtesy of Slate: Sh*t Facebook Employees Say), here are five maxims/mantras of Facebook buried in their S-1 Filing:
Facebookism No. 1: “Done is better than perfect”
Facebookism No. 2: “Code wins arguments”
Facebookism No. 3: “Move fast and break things”
Facebookism No. 4: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”
Facebookism No. 5: “This journey is 1 percent finished.”
We have posted the phrase “this journey is 1% finished” across many of our office walls, to remind employees that we believe that we have only begun fulfilling our mission to make the world more open and connected.
(Read the article for full descriptives of each).
So here are a few clear lessons
1. Ship fast, then fix… Get it out there!
2. Keep trying new stuff. Constantly! Really — constantly!
3. It is mandatory to take risks!
4. You are nowhere near finished – ever!
You know, I think it will probably take the Coach and the best players of the Super Bowl Champion team about 2 days to get past celebrating and then ask, how do we get better for next year, so that we can win again? And it will take the Coach and the best players of the losing team about 3 days to wallow in the sting of the loss, and then they will ask how do we fix what was wrong, and then get better, so that we can win it all next year?
It is a constantly changing, gotta-get-better fast world out there.
On February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, a Super Bowl Champion will be crowned. I do not know which team will win, although, though I am a Cowboys fan, you almost have to root for Manning and the Colts at their home field.
But I know that every team in the league will follow pretty much the same disciplines to try to win the prize.
Here’s what no team will do: the supervisors of each department (the coaches over each area) will not gather their players together and say, “ok guys – our goal is to win the Super Bowl. Here’s your assignments – We’ll check back with you in December to see how you are doing.”
You get it, don’t you?! Such an approach would be ridiculous.
Each team will have countless meetings. The entire team will meet, and then, each player meets with the other players and the coach over his area, over and over and over again, throughout the season. They have mid-course corrections every week, every day, every game. If the defensive coach sees a problem, he will call an “emergency” meeting in the middle of the game, on the sidelines, and give corrective instructions. And player after player receives one-on-one coaching constantly, throughout each game
These guys take it seriously.
And yet, as seriously as every team, every player, every coach takes it, only one team can come out on top. It really is a competitive world out there.
So – what’s the point of this short blog post? It is this. The ridiculous scenario, the “here’s your assignment, I’ll check back in five months” approach, is exactly how too many people “try to succeed” in their business. People are given assignments, and then left on their own. No meetings, no mid-course-correctives – just “Here’s your assignment – I’ll check back in five months.” So many leave it all to an “annual performance review” to “check in, and offer needed coaching and correctives.” This is a guaranteed scenario for failure.
You may not win the Super Bowl, but without regular meetings, constant coaching, mid-course correctives, constant attention, and constant encouragement when the job is well done, you won’t even be able to play on the same field as the big boys.
As I have said and written often, “you accomplish what you meet about!”
From Sara: Open letter to Jerry Jones: “Jerry, I heard you interviewed on TV last night and you were asked about the chemistry of the Cowboys football team. You basically told the reporters that good chemistry would happen when the team wins. You went on to explain that bad chemistry is to be expected when the team loses…in fact, I think your conclusion was that “chemistry” isn’t important in your locker room. I am not surprised the enormous talents of these athletes don’t translate into a winning team. Do you hear your own message, Jerry? You are devaluing the very element that your game is missing – being a team. You can’t just pay people and expect them to be a team. There are so many directions to take the conversation from here! I could point you towards building teamwork by reading Good to Great by Jim Collins; or talk about the responsibility the leader has to results as described in Primal Leadership by Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee. (BTW, those are both relevant topics for the Cowboy organization.) In my role as executive coach, I would ask you “How are you regarding the players?” You seem to view them as objects; you pay them so they should do what you want. Martin Buber the 20th century philosopher calls that an “I-It” relationship. That’s where you treat people as commodities, not as people. There is better way. It is to see and treat people like people. Want to win the Super Bowl? Read Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute and give me a call.
Cheryl Adds: Most people might tell you that it wasn’t the words you spoke last night in that interview that they recall, it was the emotions you displayed. There was arrogance and blame plain as day. It was the underlying tone saying, in other words “It’s not my fault; blame someone else.” And what great justification you have for feeling that way; after all, you pay all the money so it must be someone else’s fault. What’s missing is the acknowledgement that emotions are contagious as pointed out in Resonant Leadership by Annie McKee and Richard Boyatzis. This translates into an emotional viral infection of the team where every member of the Cowboys now has permission to say and worse, feel the same way. Any time a group is saying to themselves, “It’s someone else’s fault for this result”, in your case losing, then the culture created is one of blame and no trust. How can team members work together effectively with no trust? And who is working on taking responsibility and thus working on a solution to this problem if they are busy pointing fingers towards their team mates? There will never be accountability if the leader is not accountable, visibly and emotionally. As McKee, Boyatzis, and Goleman point out in Primal Leadership, “The glue that holds people together in a team, and that commits people to an organization, is the emotions they feel.” Still think chemistry isn’t important in the locker room, Big J?