Friday, August 31, 2007

10 tips for leaders

An Impactroom reader sent me following 10 tips for leaders. Author of the 10 tips is Alvah Parker, an advisor for lawyers.

1. The leader has a strong vision for the firm and knows how s(he) sees it growing. S(he) shares that vision with administrative staff and all others in the firm.

2. The leader has a simple mission statement that is read each week as the leader plans the week. Making business choices that are in line with the mission is a key to success.

3. The leader writes a business plan including a marketing plan every year and manages to it during the year. Everyone in the firm understands the plan and how his or her work impacts the plan.

4. Team work is encouraged by the leader and the firm’s culture is cooperative rather than adversarial and competitive.

5. The leader has big goals that everyone understands and is committed to – more than just a perfunctory commitment everyone is excited about the possibilities.

6. The leader interacts with all the employees and understands how the work flows through the office. S(he) is on top of bottlenecks that slow the work flow. S(he) helps to resolve the bottlenecks by appointing a team to investigate it or adds the necessary resource.

7. The leader checks frequently to see if s(he) is on track with the business plan. When the firm is not on track, the plan is adjusted to get back on track.

8. The leader gives frequent feedback to employees regarding their progress toward their goals. S(he) keeps the firm updated as to progress on the business plan.

9. The staff is recognized by the leader for the high quality work they do and the staff is acknowledged for the integral part each person has in the success of the firm.

10. The leader is grooming others in the firm to be leaders not just managers.

(Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor for Lawyers and Career Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why Belgium should stop to exist - or not ?

Last year Belgium was not represented as a country at the Cannes filmfestival. Instead the Flemish Ministery of Culture installed a booth to represent Flanders and the Walloon Ministery of Culture installed another booth to represent Wallonia. In the end most foreign journalists thought that Belgium hadn't been present at the festival. Some "Belgian" artists, forced to be present in one of the two regional booths, received mails afterwards with the question why they hadn't come to the festival and why Belgium wasn't present that year. A little survey of one of the attending artists reveiled that most foreign journalists didn't know the meaning of something called "Flanders" and something called "Wallonia". Most of them had never heard about Flanders and Wallonia before, and they hadn't certainly realised that both names represented 2 regions in Belgium.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why Belgium should stop to exist - or not ?

This is not a political blog. This is a blog about management and leadership issues. A conversation earlier this week however brought politics, management and leadership together as if matching ingredients on 1 plate. The message triggering this mix was delivered to me by a successful Flemish entrepreneur. His message was short and simple: "Every time our Prime-Minister-To-Be (Mr. Leterme, red) opens his mouth, I loose a client in Wallonia". I was quite surprised to hear this. And the entrepreneur went on: " I will be obliged to buy a sick Walloon company, as a front store to keep Walloon clients. They do not have to know I will still produce their products in my plant in Flanders." It is true the Belgian politicians have a hard time installing a new Belgian government. And it is true that a difference in opinion about the future of this country separates Flemish and Walloon parties. And apparently the result of the recent elections proved in a way that a majority of the Flemish people want Flanders to be running the show in Belgium. Even worse a lot of Flemish people seem to want to destroy Belgium as a country and install the "Republic of Flanders" in Europe.

Question: Do regions in other countries have the right to fight their constitutional motherland to become independent ?
Answer: The answer is yes, if these regions are oppressed. If their freedom or language or future is taken away from them by an hostile group of people in power.

Logical question now: Is Flanders an oppressed region in Belgium ?
Realistic answer: I don't think so. On the contrary.

Question: Why is a growing group of people in Belgium trying to destroy the concept of Belgium as a country and install instead an autonomous Republic of Flanders?
Answer: ....

Question: Why is growing group of people in Belgium convinced the Monarchy should be replaced by a Presidency ?
Answer: ....

Question: Are there people that want to destroy Belgian as a Kingdom and replace it by the Kingdom of Flanders ?
Answer: ....

Question: What are the actual reasons for a group of Belgian people to ask the termination of Belgium ?
Answer 1: The only thing I hear is that Wallonia is sick and that Flanders is paying the bill. A radical Flemish party illustrated this situation by filling trucks with (fake) money and drive them from Flanders to Wallonia. The amount of money in the trucks apparently resembled the amount of money Flanders is paying every year to Wallonia (depending on the source this amount varies between 3,5 and 12,5 billion Euro/year. More accurately, specialists claim the yearly transfer of money from Flanders to Wallonia is expected to be around 6,6 billion Euro (according to an Abafim study in 2004)).

Answer 2: To my surprise "the money" seems the only reason why we (Flanders) should separate from Wallonia. I haven't heard anybody complain about the smell of the Walloon people (horrible), their laziness (repulsive), their arrogance (we all had to speak French in the past), their lack of intelligence (well hidden until our Prime-Minister-To-Be unmasked this a few weeks ago by warning us that Walloon people can not learn to speak Flemish because they lack the intelligence), their mafia-led cities (dangerous, it's a cancer that could infect Flanders), and last but not least their inhospitality (they typically burn the houses of Flemish people who once bought a house in the Ardennes, and they invariably abduct the women of the Flemish men daring to go on holiday in Wallonia!!)(appalling, Walloons are true animals).
So yes of course there are all sorts of good reasons to divorce Wallonia.

Question: Isn't it true that a good part of the people shouting for the termination of Belgium today, desperately wanted to annex Flanders to Germany before and during the Second World War ?
Answer: Of course not, what a stupid question is this ?

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Gotta have it" products

To make money, a business must generate products that demand attention -ones so compelling that they push the consumer's "gotta have it" button, rather than the one marked "hmmm, that's nice."
To get such products, foster a corporate culture where right-brained visionaries feel safe suggesting "gotta have it" ideas. Then only after giving your enthusiasts a respectful hearing should you ask the necessary left-brained questions. (Robert A. Lutz, former President and Vice Chairman Chrysler Corporation)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Monocle from magazine entrepreneur Tyler Brûlé

Tyler Brûlé once shook my world by creating one of the best international glossy magazines of the nineties, “Wallpaper”. In February of this year he launched a new magazine, Monocle.
Brûlé describes Monocle as a mix between Vanity Fair and the Economist. Actually it is a slick, extremely well designed glossy magazine about (geo)politics, business, culture, art and design. Together with the magazine a website, as attractive as the magazine, was launched (

Brûlé (1968, Canada) rose to semi-stardom in the nineties after having created “Wallpaper*”, a lifestyle bible for the semi-intellectual. He decided to start the magazine while in hospital, recovering
from a sniper bullet he received covering the Afghanistan war as a journalist (1994). He lost hereby the use of his left hand. Once the magazine sold 150.000 copies per issue worldwide he was able to sell the magazine to TimeWarner in 1997. He went on setting up a design agency (Winkmedia later to be transformed in Winkreative), hosting and producing TV shows, and writing columns for a.o. the Weekend supplement of the Financial Times, the Neue Zurcher Zeiting am Sonntag and lately The International Herald Tribune.
To be able to start Monocle in February of 2007, he raised 5 million Pounds from private investors. For some people Brule is God, for others he is an arrogant, style obsessed, shrewd gay marketeer.
I have never met him, don’t know him, can’t judge him, but in my book, Monocle is just one of the best new magazines in the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Best 366 colleges in the US

The new 2008 edition of The Princeton Review's annual college guide Best 366 Colleges came out today in the US (authored by Robert Franek). 120.000 students attending 366 colleges were asked to rate their schools in a number of categories. The rankings have become required reading among high school students contemplating over which college to attend.

Snapshot of the rankings categories and the #1 college on each:
Best Classroom Experience
Reed College (Portland, Ore.)
Toughest to Get Into
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.)
Most Beautiful Campus
Sweet Briar College (Sweet Briar, Va.)
Best Career/Job Placement
University of Texas at Austin
Most Liberal Students
Warren Wilson College (Asheville, N.C.)
Most Conservative Students
Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, Calif.)
Most Politically Active Students
The George Washington University (Washington, D.C.)
Biggest Frat & Sorority Scene
DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.)
Top Party School
West Virginia University (Morgantown)
Best Campus Food
Virginia Tech (Blacksburg)
Best Financial Aid
Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.)
Most Diverse Student Body
Temple University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Happiest Students
Whitman College (Walla Walla, Wash.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Do you want to sponsor your University and become member of a Wall Street Journal think tank on management and education ?

Just assembling some ideas. Suppose: You are a successful manager, you work for a good company, preferably a well known multinational, or you are a successful business owner, and you think you reached your current position (or at least a significant part of it) thx to your university education or MBA. Would you then be interested to sponsor a bundle of Wall Street Journal copies to be delivered daily under your name to your former university ? Send me your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Wall Street Journal Europe: a new function

After a few months of thinking, waiting, discussing, holiday schedules and rethinking I decided to accept the job offer I received from the Circulation Marketing Department of The Wall Street Journal Europe. After having led the Distribution Operations team for 5 years it will be an opportunity and a challenge to switch to the marketing side of the company. I will be directly responsible for 2 programs, good for one third of our audited circulation. First program is the Future Leadership Program of The Wall Street Journal (all newspapers going to all the European top universities). Second program is the European Travel Program (all sponsored copies going to the 4 and 5 star hotels in the major European cities). I have been asked to rewrite both programs and put them back in the market.
It is one of the tricks of life to realize that this blog kind of paved the way to this new job. When I started this private and personal blog about management issues more then a year and a half ago, while professionally completely imbedded in the operations side of the company, nobody could have foreseen that I would become responsible for The Future Leadership Program, an area where I will be working daily around topics as management knowledge, training programs, institutes, universities, MBA's etc. (I am even pretty sure that the new line of bosses I will work for haven't any knowledge about the existence of this blog.) So it must have been the power of mind, or the radiation of thoughts and wishes that fertilized the company ground I walked on so one day somebody high up the marketing ladder decided to come down to the operations field with the question to join them. I don't think I ever heard about such a move in our company before. Normally operations people and marketing people don't blend. They support each other, but that doesn't mean they have compatible building blocks. I hope I will grow into being the exception which proves the rule.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

While on holiday: Business and Borders Gift from the Provence

Following on the last post: We are looking for comments from readers who consider themselves to be international business travellers. Send us a list with:
- what you consider to be the essence of an International Business Traveller
- list of 10 points: grievances of the International Business Traveller
- list of 10 points: things that make you happy as an International Business Traveller

Most interesting list receives the Provence Gift basket as pictured in this post (I bought most of the ingredients on the market in St Christol d'Albion). Send lists to gertvanmol at (remove this text) hotmail dot com or use the comment buttons (don't forget to include your name, company and address)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

While on holiday: The Essence of the International Business Traveller

Just a question. I am listing with some friends what the essence might be of the International Business Traveller. Besides the essential characteristics of such a person we are discussing a 10 point list of the things an International Business Traveller might appeal or distress about his/her travels. A fine assortment of Provence goodies will be send to the traveller with the most interesting list. Send your list to gertvanmol at (remove this text) or use the comment buttons.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

While on holiday: Dow Jones sold

I receive numerous messages on Blackberry. Apparently the company I work for, Dow Jones, mother company of The Wall Street Journal newspaper, has finally been sold to News Corp, owned by Mr. Murdoch. The current owners, the Bancroft family, have agreed to sell 37 % of the voting shares, which apparently opens the door for a merger. I spoke to several journalists before leaving on holiday. They all were very, I must say VERY, worried about a potential merger with the Murdoch company. Most of them opposed the potential deal vehemently. On the other hand the people from the business side I spoke to rather welcomed such a deal because it would probably lead to more investments in areas that were heavily hit by the cut backs from the past years. Personally I think it's an interesting management case portraying the advantages and disadvantages of family owned businesses who come to survive several generations. From what I have read it seems that in this case a younger generation chose to cash in on the legacy of their forefathers. It is like selling the diamond ring on the hand of your grandmother while she is still alive. Of course I am in no position at all to judge other people's dealings and decisions. It still will be a thrill to work for a prestigious brand and I am very curious to see how the merger will affect the business.