Leadership Lessons from Dr. Stephen Mack

“…..Don’t stop listening. Keep your ear to the ground. Listen, and listen closely. Your organization is likely serving someone, or something, so there are vested stakeholders in your leadership. And they have things to say. Sure, you are not getting a corporate-sized paycheck, but that does not diminish the work that you are doing, or the expectations that your constituency expresses. Ideas and comment will be numerous, even overflowing times, but everyone needs to be heard, and they need to, at the very least, know they are being heard even if the outcome is different from what they want. Last year, we instituted town hall meetings where families and friends could call in and offer comments about Foundation business, or share their own life stories/challenges. Both sessions were well attended and allowed people to truly, and openly, share!

Don’t stop learning. I hate to tell you this, but you don’t know it all. You have great experience, great talent, great passion, and awesome leadership skills, but there is always room for more. Be voracious, be intentional, and never stop learning. This is why I write and publish here on LinkedIn. I want to continue to learn, continue to consume the feedback, experience other perspectives, and understand knew concepts. As a leader, this is critical to keep your organization at the leading edge of your cause. And, again, this is another opportunity for you to highlight your team, letting them shine. In concert with my executive committee members, we made sure to match the right projects with the right people. These volunteers blossomed and launched successful projects for the betterment of our organization and families.

Don’t stop changing. One of the hardest things for anyone or any organization to undergo is change. It is a constant, along with the infamous “death and taxes” so wittily expressed by Benjamin Franklin. Despite the unchanging nature of…well…change, we would do well to remember that change carries with it a great deal of positivity. It allows for growth, for new knowledge to be gained, and for you to step out of your comfort zone. Getting out of that comfort zone seems to be a bit of a “buzz” word (term) nowadays, but there is significant benefit to doing so. You may gain a new perspective, or at the very least check the experience off your career list. Even if the experience itself is discomforting, you will move forward in some way. Change is there to help us do just that.

Don’t stop serving. There are several forms of leadership, but I would venture to argue that servant leadership is the most rewarding. Not only are you, as a leader, most concerned with the highest order of needs for those who depend on your leadership, but you also hold “service” as you guiding principle rather than the fact that you are in a leadership position. For me, many times in my role, this meant putting aside my needs and what I wanted in order to support someone else, or another idea, or another perspective, or another skill set. It is not easy. My pride, admittedly, got in the way from time to time. But, I learned quickly to get out of my comfort zone, to grow, and most importantly, to serve.

Don’t stop following. This might be the most challenging lesson that I learned. And, I certainly have not perfected it. When we enter into a leadership position, we often feel great pride, great excitement, and a sense that we have reached the top of our craft. It is important, though, that we maintain humility, for two reasons. First, leadership can be, and often is, fleeting. You may not be in the leadership position indefinitely, and relationships that you build with good faith and humility (along with hard work, of course) will keep you connected to those individuals as a resource for future opportunities. Second, as a servant leader, you focus your energy on lifting up others, and highlighting their needs, which usually will result in them taking on some form of leadership that you helped along, and to which you will likely adhere. And that is a very good thing…..”





Europe’s Other Crisis: A Digital Recession

You may have heard that Europe is in a state of crisis. This has nothing to do with an influx of refugees, or Greek debt, or even the future of the European Union. The crisis we speak of has even more severe consequences for Europe’s global competitiveness. In our research on the state and pace of digital evolution worldwide, we have found that the old continent is in the midst of a “digital recession.”

Of the 50 countries we studied in our Digital Evolution Index, 23 were European (not counting Turkey). Of these, only three, Switzerland, Ireland, and Estonia, made it to a commendable “Stand Out” category – which means that their high levels of digital development are attractive to global businesses and investors and that their digital ecosystems are positioned to nurture start ups and internet businesses that can compete globally.

The continent’s glaring tech gap is growing.

Source: Europe’s Other Crisis: A Digital Recession

Unless You’re a Shoe Cobbler, You Can Use CPQ

From time to time, we hear the following response from prospects: “We don’t sell through a catalog. Every product we sell is unique, so we couldn’t use your quoting solution.”


To that I say, unless you’re a neighborhood shoe cobbler, and every quote is determined by the condition of the shoe and how friendly you are with the customer, you are mistaken.

The primary purpose of a Configure-Price-Quote application (like ours, SWARM) is to have your products or services available at your fingertips so you can quickly build a professional-looking quote in minutes from any device. Gone are the days of referencing huge spreadsheets for pricing, typing out a Word doc, reaching out for approvals on discounts and availability and, most importantly, seeing deals die because a quote took too long to turn around.

Now, if you’re saying to yourself, “that’s all well and good, but you can’t upload my products into a software application because each product sale is a one-off custom,” I have two questions for you:

1. What determines pricing for those one-off custom products?
2. How long does it currently take you to generate a quote?

Regarding the first question—unless you’re a neighborhood shoe cobbler—there have to be some standardized variables that go into pricing, such as material costs and labor costs.

Think about an auto collision repair shop. Every job they do is technically custom (no two accidents are exactly alike). But they’re able to turn around an estimate relatively quickly. Why? Because they’ve standardized all the components that go into a quote, like part costs, delivery and labor.

Even if you’re in the business of creating custom art, you still can create a quote made up of materials, supplies and labor costs through a Configure-Price-Quote application.

Now here, comes the important question. How long does it currently take you to generate a quote for a customer?