Tuesday, September 16, 2008

22 Vital Traits to Be The Person At The Top - or not ?

In her book, How to Think Like a CEO, Ms. Benton (picture) describes 22 vital traits to be the person at the top:

1. Secure in self
2. In control of attitude
3. Tenacious
4. Continuously Improving
5. Honest and Ethical
6. Thinking before talking
7. Original
8. Publicly modest
9. Aware of style
10. Gutsy / A little wild
11. Humorous
12. A tad theatrical
13. Detail oriented
14. Good at their job and willing to lead
15. Fighters for their people
16. Willing to admit mistakes, yet unapologetic
17. Straightforward
18. Nice
19. Inquisitive
20. Competitive
21. Flexible
22. Good Storytellers

To be the best and the brightest, you must also:
• Build followership
• Be consistently impressive, credible, genuine, trusted, liked, comfortable, and confident
• Avoid self-sabotaging habits
• Create other leaders

I like lists, I like lists very much, but the more lists you read, the more shallow they become. Take the above Benton lists for example. Are we supposed to look at our CEO's and tick any of the 22 items if we recognize such an item or attitude in our CEO ? That is precisely the weak point of the above lists, they only feature attitudes, there is hardly any reference to knowledge. Leadership, it seems to me, has been boiled down to a soft potpourrie of values and attitudes. Attitude is power so to speak. Show me the leadership lists that feature brilliant minds, highlighting exceptional knowledge, in math, in chemistry, 7 languages spoken and written, in depth knowledge of production processes, customer behavior, history, statistical analysis, masters in science and physics, authors of a dissertation or a thesis, I am looking for lists featuring CEO's who can fly a plane, repair a car, build their house, explain the stars and planets using their correct Latin names, understand and speak Chinese, make their own excel spreadsheets with turntables, build a solar panel driven kitchen for the local scouts, write a haiku, were number 1 in class, think faster than the majority of their employees, predict correctly the outcome of an innovation, solve the IHT crossword without mistakes, …knowledge, not attitude, is power!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Massai Wisdom for Western Businesses

A group of tribal Massai elders visited the Institute of Directors in London a few months ago. Purpose of the visit was to discover if leadership skills of Massai could be valuable tools in our Western company cultures.

Some Massai wisdom:
- "One Head is Not So Wise": Business people should seek advice from other members in their organisation, no matter from what level.

- "Think Nomadically": Define your cattle (your customers and capital), define your green pastures (marketing opportunities). Focus on getting the two together.
- "Sense of Community": Makes your company stronger, it keeps your company together, everyone has a say. All members in the organisation are given high levels of responsibility, therefore all members take pride in themselves and in the part they play in the organisation.
- Most Important Qualities of a Massai Leader (CEO): Patience, Courage and the Ability to Ask Questions.
- "Don't Get into a Fair Fight": You might lose. Find out what you are good at, focus on that. Play to win.
- "Take the Lead": Tribal leadership is about courage. Have the courage to take difficult decisions. Luck is not a strategy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Who is more important to you: your CEO or your boss ?

Just ask yourself 1 question:
Whose name do your kids know? The name of your boss or the name of the CEO ?
There is your answer.

About your kids and your company:
This is a perfect litmus test. Your children probably do not know the name of the CEO of your company. But they probably know your boss's name. When current (2008) General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt grew up, his father worked on the line at GE. Immelt says he never knew the name of the CEO of GE, but he always knew who his father worked for. Today Immelt reminds his first line supervisors and middle managers that they are the company for the people who work for them.

(Picture: CEO General Electric, Jeff Immelt)
Or ask yourself the following questions:
- Who has more impact on your workday ? Your boss or the CEO ?
- Who parcels out the rewards ? Your boss or the CEO ?
- Who gives you your annual performance appraisal ? Your boss or the CEO ?
- Who helps you succeed ? Your boss or the CEO ?
- Who helps you achieve your personal goals ? Your boss or the CEO ?
- Who makes a direct difference to the bottom line ? Your boss or the CEO ?

- Who's got the biggest impact on profits and revenue ? Your boss or the CEO ?
At first sight most people might think it is the CEO. But when you think this through, it becomes clear that before making profits you need to establish revenue, and revenue is coming from ...your customers. And who makes a difference to your customers ? The hundreds or thousands of employees going out every day selling and delivering services that make a difference to these customers. It is as simple as that. The C-suite of a multinational is most of the time responsible for laying out a strategy, molded by fashionable management theories from 'hot' highly paid management gurus, always printed in full color on glossy paper. However I know multiple multinationals where official strategy hardly ever makes it beyond the executive suite, while the company is thriving on an army of people lead by first line and middle-managers applying common sense and simple sales tactics.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Former Intel CEO, Craig Barrett, on education

- "Although developing countries are investing heavily in education, along with research and development, the US is not."

- "In the developing world the governments, parents and even children value education over almost everything else, but the situation is very different in the US, and I see a similar situation in the UK."

- "Despite the influx of technology into education, the most important thing in any classroom is a good teacher."

- "Nations are only as strong as their education systems."

- "The world’s most powerful nation needs to do more to nurture Research and Development, as well as overhaul the education system. Putting all the new and fancy equipment found in today’s American classrooms aside."

- "A good teacher is the best tool for a good education anywhere in the world."

- "In many respects, the same is true in the UK as well, where the state school system just isn’t as good as it should be - even though our students are continually posting record pass rates in GCSE and A-level exams. The problem is that developed countries are using technology to great effect, but they’re forgetting that the most important thing in any classroom is the quality of the teacher, everything else should be secondary to that."

(from Craig Barrett at IDF, the annual Intel Developer Forum, 19 August 2008)


Thursday, September 11, 2008

21 Leadership Tips

1 Fix the problem, not the blame
2 Tell people what you want, not how to do it
3 Manage the function, not the paperwork
4 Don't DO anything
5 You never have to make up for a good start
6 Get out of your office
7 Lead by example
8 Delegate the easy stuff
9 Don't get caught up in looking good
10 Quality is just conformance to requirements
11 Learn from the mistakes of others
12 Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based)
13 Set an example
14 Know Your GPM (Goals, Plans, and Metrics)
15 Train your supervisors
16 You can't listen with your mouth open
17 Practice what you preach
18 Leaders create change
19 Don't limit yourself
20 Anyone can steer the ship in calm waters
21 You have to make a difference

(tips from an Impactroom reader)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vepec evening sponsored by The WSJE Future Leadership Institute

VEPEC, the Belgian Marketing Organization of flamboyant president Jan Bax, organizes every year a series of conferences for her members, most of the time marketing specialists.

The WSJE Future Leadership Institute became a sponsor of the organization because we needed to strengthen relationships with marketing managers and directors as they are the gate to potential sponsorships. I also wanted to learn more about the organization of small but highly qualitative conferences so I could implement the knowledge into our own seminars. Thirdly the Vepec organization allows me to install a WSJE networking table prior to the conference.

Tonight the topic was all about the influence of sensuality and nudity in contemporary advertising. Key speakers were Harm Van Kessel, marketing manager Playboy and James Magazine, Wei-Sen Khor, marketing manager Philips and Siegfried Dewitte, professor marketing of the Catholic University of Louvain. The evening was moderated by Goedele Devroy, a Belgian television news journalist.

I took the opportunity to put a Wall Street Journal Europe copy on all seats in the auditorium before the conference started. The idea was to glue 2 leaflets on top of the cover of the paper to promote the WSJE Future Leadership Institute. Unfortunately I ran out of time to manually glue the 240 leaflets on the paper myself, so I mobilized Vic and Bob, 2 of my children, and my wife to help me put the leaflets on the paper as fast as possible before I took off to the conference. As said, I am a one man company within the company.

We learned from Playboy marketing manager Harm Van Kessel that Playboy has stopped being a magazine, and that it now acts as an advertising agency. From Philips’ Wei-Sen Khor we learned that the least bit of nudity in the environment of a multinational will raise eyebrows but that in the end, they collaborated successfully with Playboy in introducing a bikini-line trimmer to the market. The most exhilarating speech came from marketing professor Dewitte who studied the effects of sensuality into consumer’s behavior. It is actually proven that males with a more than average level of testosterone in their system will become sissies immediately after they see a visual with a sexual connotation. They will loose their normal level of rational and act impulsive compared to their behavior in a non-sexual environment. That doesn’t mean you can sell them a car when it is being promoted by a naked woman. Although they will be in a state of being more open to the suggestion of buying it, it doesn’t mean they actually will buy the car as there are other parameters that influence their decision. They might for example decide at that particular moment to finally buy a car from another brand they saw at another place at another moment.

How do you know you are a male consumer with a high level of testosterone ? Just subtract the length of your ring finger from the length of your forefinger. When the difference is more than 4 mm’s, you have a high level of testosterone and consequently you will be more susceptible for images with a sexual connotation.

above: Jan Bax at Vepec evening
below: Vic and Bob preparing newspapers for the Vepec conference

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Paris, Saint Sulpice

Paris. Since it became clear that The Wall Street Journal Europe will close its Brussels headquarters and make almost everybody redundant before the end of this year, except for a few -including me-, I have changed my mindset about my own programs. I have gone back to my mindset of the nineties, a period in which I established my own companies starting from my small university studio. I had to do it all by myself, and I drove a 2PK which served most of the time as my office. Strangely enough I find myself in a comparable situation today. I am building the programs on my own, no staff to work or start with, driving around in a Fiat Multipla, most of the time serving as an office. I am actually building one of the programs, The Future Leadership Institute, as if I don't have Wall Street Journal Europe capital and that all money spent is my own. Suddenly I find myself booking hotels -almost unconsciously- from the same category as I was booking in the nineties, mainly Christian guesthouses under 50 Euros a night or small 2 star hotels, most of the time in neighborhoods taken from dark epic novels, or not even booking a hotel when driving back home through the night from Paris or London is an option.

When you are building a company, and I don't think I speak for myself, the night becomes your friend. That is inevitable, since you meet people during the day, on their terms, and you follow up with proposals and administration during the night. You hope to reverse the situation in due time when you will be able to hire your first employee, but that means you have to start selling a lot more than you are doing right now. Your last meal is a snack at 2 am from a cafe that closes at 2.30. You might even find friendship from the owner of the cafe as he understands how things work at the sharp side of life.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Wall Street Journal Europe read by rocket engineers

It is not too clear on the picture, but it was very clear to me. Through the doors of the Hilton City Brussels hotel I spotted a Wall Street Journal Europe reader. He turned out to be a high ranking IATA officer, always traveling the world. He usually picks up the WSJE on airlines and in 4 to 5 star hotels. He loved our compact format, especially handy on airplanes. He was very positive about our 'value chain', meaning wherever in Europe he was able to pick up the newspaper on day A (free or paid), which was not always the case for USA Today he added. He was remarkably well informed about all what is happening around our newspaper. He likes WSJE, but doesn't like Murdoch's Fox Channel (the man is Italian, but lives in Canada) in the US. "The only good thing about Fox is the Simpsons on Sundays", or "The experts on Fox Channel are first of all good looking"...

When we talked a bit about aviation industry and the future of aviation he educated me as follows: "Yesterday planes were flown by 3 pilots. Today they are flown by 2 pilots. Tomorrow they will be flown by 1 pilot and a dog. The pilot is there to look at his computer, the dog to prevent the pilot of touching the sticks." Surely an IATA joke.

Speaking to this man, undoubtedly well educated (as a rocket engineer I learned), with a very bright eye on the world, it again illustrated to me the high quality of our readership.

Friday, August 15, 2008

South Korea's mysterious Leadership strategy

A few months ago I was asked to speak at the European Regional Economic Forum (EREF) in Slovenia on the topic of Education and the Lisbon Agenda. When preparing for the speech I was surprised to see how many times South Korea came up in all sorts of education rankings. Most recently, in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment South Korea came first in Reading and Problem Solving. When it comes to financing universities in % of GDP, South Korea scored 2,3 % in 2004 (2,03 % going to education and 0,27 % going to research). This was second after the US!!! (US scored 2,9%: 2,03 % for education and 0,87 % for research). Belgium scored a mediocre 1,2 % (0,8% for education and 0,4% for research).

Today South Korea is third in the ranking of the Olympic medals! This could change over the next couple of days, but fact is, after nearly a week of Olympics, South Korea scores a surprising third place after China and the US.

What is the secret here? What is going on in South Korea that brings this country to top positions in education and sport ? Is the answer hidden in the question ? Is their dominance in education also responsible for their dominance in sports ?

A centralized administration in South Korea oversees the process for the education of children from kindergarten to third grade high school. Mathematics, science, Korean, social studies, and English are generally considered to be the most important subjects and are considered compulsory. South Korea was the first country in the world to provide high-speed internet access to every primary, junior, and high school. South Korea's national IQ is estimated at 106, the second highest in the world after Hong Kong. Education in South Korea is regarded crucial to success and competition is consequently very heated and fierce.

If you have more answers, do not hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

The Law of the Lid - Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness
The Law of Influence - The True Measure of Leadership Is Influence– Nothing More, Nothing Less
The Law of Process - Leadership Develops Daily, Not in a Day
The Law of Navigation - Anyone Can Steer the Ship, But It Takes a Leader to Chart the Course
The Law of E.F. Hutton - When the Real Leader Speaks, People Listen
The Law of Solid Ground - Trust Is the Foundation of Leadership
The Law of Respect - People Naturally Follow Leaders Stronger Then Themselves
The Law of Intuition - Leaders Evaluate Everything with a Leadership Bias
The Law of Magnetism - Who You Are Is Who You Attract
The Law of Connection - Leaders Touch a Heart Before They Ask for a Hand
The Law of the Inner Circle - A Leader’s Potential Is Determined by Those Closest to Him
The Law of Empowerment - Only Secure Leaders Give Powers to Others
The Law of Reproduction - It Takes a Leader to Raise Up a Leader
The Law of Buy-In - People Buy Into the Leader, Then the Vision
The Law of Victory - Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win
The Law of the Big MO - Momentum Is a Leader’s Best Friend
The Law of Priorities - Leaders Understand That Activity Is Not Necessarily Accomplishment
The Law of Sacrifice - A Leader Must Give Up to Go Up
The Law of Timing - When to Lead Is As Important As What to Do and Where to Go
The Law of Explosive Growth - To Add Growth, Lead Followers–To Multiply, Lead Leaders
The Law of Legacy - A Leader’s Lasting Value Is Measured by Succession

Laws from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John C Maxwell)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Bob Parsons 16 Rules for Success in Business and Life in General

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone.
I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone. I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security." My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers."

2. Never give up.
Almost nothing works the first time it's attempted. Just because what you're doing does not seem to be working, doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that it might not work the way you're doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn't have an opportunity.

3. When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think.
There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be.
Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of "undefined consequences." My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, "Well, Robert, if it doesn't work, they can't eat you."

5. Focus on what you want to have happen.
Remember that old saying, "As you think, so shall you be."

6. Take things a day at a time.
No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

7. Always be moving forward.
Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.

8. Be quick to decide.
Remember what General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

9. Measure everything of significance.
I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.
If you want to uncover problems you don't know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven't examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing.
When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12. Never let anybody push you around.
In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you're doing as anyone else, provided that what you're doing is legal.

13. Never expect life to be fair.
Life isn't fair. You make your own breaks. You'll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

14. Solve your own problems.
You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others." There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."

15. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

16. There’s always a reason to smile.
Find it. After all, you're really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time!”

Copyright © 2005-2007 Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

Bob Parsons is the CEO and Founder of The Go Daddy Group, Inc.
Go Daddy was named the fastest-growing privately held technology company (ranked # 8 overall) on the Inc. 500 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies in 2004. See for more details:

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Marketing, Advertising and the Art of Collecting Contacts for WSJE in the Provence, France

My former boss at The Wall Street Journal Europe, Rick Zednik, gave me a WSJE windshield sun shade, before he moved on to a new company. I never knew we had these kind of gadgets. Since my family says I live a life without a separation between private and work time, I decided to try the WSJE sun shade on my holiday in the South of France, in an effort to teach my kids about marketing, advertising and the art of collecting contacts.

This is after I had to explain to my kids that my company car, a Fiat Multipla, plays the role of a running joke at The Wall Street Journal Europe, because it doesn't fit the Audi, VW, BMW category of company cars of my peers.

Sault, market, 30 contacts per hour for 4 hours: 120 contacts

Rousillion, lower parking, 50 contacts per hour x 3 hours: 150 contacts

Our garden, Mont Ventoux in the background, 13 contacts per hour for 1 hour: 13 contacts

Crosspoint Simiane La Rotonde, Revest du Bion, 40 contacts per hour, for 15 minutes: 10 contacts

Road to Simiane La Rotonde: 20 contacts per hour for 30 minutes: 10 contacts (but of high quality because they all thought we were picking lavander)

Simiane La Rotonde, Center, 60 contacts per hour for 1 hour: 60 contacts
Beautiful little town, please do visit.

St Christol d'Albion, sheep market, 100 contacts per hour for 2 hours: 200 contacts.
We bought 'cheese, honey and escargots'.

Apt, city parking nr 2, parked in the wrong direction to generate a lot of contacts, 15 contacts per hour for 2 hours: 30 contacts

Total: 593 contacts
From these 593 contacts at least one third was from foreigners (non-french speaking people)(let's say 200), the rest was native (ca 393).
Then I realised, by joining my family when shopping in the local supermarkets and magazine stores, that our product was no where to be found in the greater area of the Vaucluse. That is a very hard one to explain to kids.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


On holiday in the South of France, Simiane La Rotonde.
Posting on management and leadership issues will resume second week of August.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

European Regional Economic Forum (EREF) elects Gert Van Mol as new member of Steering Committee

President EREF, Dr. Boris Cizelj, asked Gert Van Mol to become member of the Steering Committee behind The European Regional Economic Forum (EREF). Gert is the first non regional memer of the committee. He has been asked to join the committee as media expert.

EREF is a platform of European regions on knowledge economy and society, and has also acted as a bridge between EU Member states and countries of South-Eastern Europe supporting them in their efforts of gradual integration with the Union through discussing policies and measures aiming at implementing the Lisbon Strategy and through the presentation of good practices from European regions. EREF organizes a yearly Forum in Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

The fifth Forum in Nova Gorica in 2009 will bring together about 250 representatives of the economic, research, innovation and education spheres, as well as local and regional actors from EU regions and countries, and regions from South-Eastern and Eastern Europe.

On behalf of the EREF Network the Forum is organised by the Municipality of Nova Gorica, the Government Office for Local Self-government and Regional Policy, together with the Slovenian and Business Research Association in Brussels, under the patronage of the Committee of the Regions and sponsored by HIT Nova Gorica. Members of several European networks will actively participate in the Forum, such as: Lisbon Regions Network, NIROC, IGLO, ERRIN, RIBN, and others,

The EREF Network consists of the following 16 regions: Stockholm, Lapland-Oulu, Flanders, Wallonia, Scotland, Baden Württenberg, Styria, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardia, Emilia Romagna, Valencia, Cataluña, West Pannon, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey.

Monday, July 14, 2008

British Library

Days as today make my job stand out. It humbles me to look back at what I could do working for The Wall Street Journal Europe, and what I probably will be able to do in the future, when at the same time a lot of my colleagues will have to leave that same company because of the restructuring in Brussels. It is difficult; it is re-living the life of the Dazed and Confused generation. My first meeting today in London took place at the British Library (picture), an idea from the person I was going to meet, the press officer of Palgrave Publishing. Palgrave has a list of outstanding publications, some of them I hope to welcome in the Thursday editions of the WSJE Future Leadership Institute Boxes. It all reminded me of the essay on libraries of Umberto Ecco, which came into our lives when my classmates and I fought historical battles with the conservative Antwerp libraries to write our school essays. His essay was like a pamphlet of Che Guevara, demanding coffee, copiers, humor, design and long opening hours from modern libraries. Actually something that looked very similar to the British Library today.

I end the day unexpectedly in a Christian Guest house, all serious hotels in the neighborhood being sold out, in the blue dining room, because that is the only spot with wireless internet access tonight. I am not alone, in the other corner, in the dark, 4 Italian girls, curled up in sofas, eating candy, drinking tea, watching The Phantom of the Opera. How much more Dazed and Confused can it get?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bibliothèque Nationale de France - François Mitterrand

After a diner in Paris my contact takes the time for a nightly visit of the Bibliothèque nationale de France - François Mitterrand.

From what I understand the library was designed by French architect Dominique Perrault and consists of 4 towers, all 79 metres high. Every tower has been dedicated to a literary aspect; the tower of Law, the Tower of Literature, the Tower of Numbers and the Tower of Time.

Around the Library a whole new area of interest was developed, commonly called Paris Rive Gauche. At this Rive Gauge two universities found a new home: Paris VII and L'INALCO.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

EU Bubble Dinner Party with Wall Street Journal Europe Networking Table

It is the first time I organized a Wall Street Journal Europe Networking Table. I invited interested readers via the daily WSJE Future Leadership Institute Box I have in the newspaper. An innocent hand picked 3 readers out of all emails I received via the daily FLI Box. The quality and level of our readers still amazes me. One can question our organization these days, but one can not question our readership. Our clients, our readers are top level. When I was heading the distribution operations for The Wall Street Journal Europe for 5 years I often wondered how our clients would look like, especially when I coincidentally received the results of a survey into the average income of our readers (240.000$/year). Today I have the opportunity to reach out to them, to speak with them, to learn from them. The power of our brand can not only be attributed to our journalists and editors but has also to be attributed to our readership.
I have decided to take the concept of a Wall Street Journal Europe Networking table into my negotiations with the conference organizers who are interested to sponsor the daily FLI Box. One of the returns I will ask is the introduction of such a networking table into their lunch or dinner schedule.
The EU Bubble Dinner Party turned out to be a classy event, a perfect setting for a Wall Street Journal Europe networking table. Organizer Patrick Stumm (picture) did a marvelous job.

Monday, July 07, 2008

NEW! Blogs by Leaders

Blogging is everywhere. And it is rising to the top of famous brands. I started a small section on "Blogs by Leaders" in the right hand margin of this Impactroom blog. Find out more about a.o. Randy Tinseth, the VP Marketing of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, or William Marriott J. Jr, the CEO of Marriott International, or the Federico Minoli, the President of Ducati as you scroll down.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Leadership Framework: BE KNOW DO Theory


BE a professional. Examples: Be loyal to the organization, perform selfless service, take personal responsibility.
BE a professional who possess good character traits. Examples: honesty, competence, candor, commitment, integrity, courage, straightforwardness, imagination.

KNOW the four factors of leadership - follower, leader, communication, situation.
KNOW yourself. Examples: strengths and weakness of your character, knowledge, and skills.
KNOW human nature. Examples: Human needs, emotions, and how people respond to stress.
KNOW your job. Examples: be proficient and be able to train others in their tasks.
KNOW your organization. Examples: where to go for help, its climate and culture, who the unofficial leaders are.

DO provide direction. Examples: goal setting, problem solving, decision making, planning.
DO implement. Examples: communicating, coordinating, supervising, evaluating.
DO motivate. Examples: develop morale and esprit de corps in the organization, train, coach, counsel.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wall Street Journal Europe relocates to Financial News Offices

The Wall Street Journal Europe is relocating to the premises of Financial News in London (blue building on picture). The FN office is a statement. It is the office of the challenger. Look and feel is completely different from the former WSJE Long Acre offices. I was very impressed with the salesdepartement, with its open landscape structure, with its directors seated in the middle of their teams (not in closed corner offices), with all the last quarter results individually, clearly and openly posted on a big board. I probably will learn a lot from this departement.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Working on the ferry

On the road to the new head office of The Wall Street Journal Europe in London to meet my new bosses. Since I plan to visit some universities around London, which invariably means taking along a spare stand in case our old WSJE stand has to be replaced, I will take my car to drive around. One of our salespeople suggested to try to take a ferry, Norfolkline, out of Dunkerque. Indeed a good sugesstion. Not expensive, departure every 2 hours, access to a VIP lounge with wireless internet for a small extra amount. Travel takes a bit longer than Eurotunnel but price difference is substantial and one can work during the crossing.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Big Blue Lady and Solvay Business School

The first thing I noticed at the end of the long drive way was ‘something’ big and blue. When driving up to the ‘blue’ thing I suddenly realized it was the statue of a gigantic woman in bathing suit. It was as if I entered a parallel universe.

The reason why I seemed to be driving to a blue big woman was a complaint email I received a couple of weeks ago. A man complained about the invoice we had sent to Solvay business school, one of the leading business schools in Belgium. I called the man, something that surprised him, and he grabbed the opportunity to not only complain about the invoice but also about our roll in one of their events in the past. Apparently we hadn’t delivered what we promised. Since universities are my thing, I proposed to meet him and sort everything out.

So here I was, driving up to the office of the man who made the complaint, a man who seemed to nurture a 2 stores high big blue lady in his front yard. I parked next to the woman, she was gigantesque.
The entrance hall of the office was even more of a surprise. It was actually an art gallery. Now, in my eyes you have modern art and modern art. The first kind of modern art is the kind you completely fail to understand, the kind you think you can produce yourself if you invested a little time in it. The second kind of modern art is that art that amazes you because you see the point, but you would never be able to create it. The gallery was full of this second kind of modern art. Brilliant stuff. A M A Z I N G.

The whole building seemed empty, besides the presence of 1 woman who modestly opened the door and asked me to wait for my appointment. This was not an office, this was a sanctuary. Whatever business man was behind this building, the set up proved beyond a point that I had entered the environment of a free spirit, somebody who couldn’t care less about his name and fame, who else dares to welcome his suppliers and clients with a big fat lady? The bigger surroundings, i.e. the immense gardens, drive ways, ponds and outdoor monumental art also suggested power and wealth.
In the back of my mind a petite voice whispered I had already seen the image of the reception-turned-art-gallery, but I wasn’t able to remember correctly, was it from television, or pictures in a glossy magazine, …?

When I met my contact I quickly learned I was in the building of one of the benefactors of Solvay Business School (SBS). We talked about the past and the future, until my contact received a phone call. Instead of asking me to leave his office, he walked out. This gave me the time to look around in the broad clean office (absolutely paperless rest assured). A simple poster with 4 lines attracted the eye:

“First Say Yes.”
“Keep Things Simple.”
“Make Decissions.”
“Never Regret.”

While I silently contemplated about the 4 lines, my contact re-entered (through a door without handles). He looked at me and said “I am so glad we are still a small family. I just had Albert on the phone”. Then all the pieces of the puzzle fell together, I was in the office of the richest man in Belgium, Albert Frere (also in the Fortune 500 worldwide). And my contact turned out to be his right hand.

(sculpture of the big blue lady is from artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002))

Former F15 fighter pilot turns into publisher

Former F15 fighter pilot John Thompson is living his life in Germany, consciously growing his publishing house 'AdvantiPro'.

AdvantiPro makes newspapers for the military stationed in Germany. He found himself a well defined target audience of 150,000 American military consumers in Germany who enjoy all of his publications free-of-charge.

John will soon end a 3 month intense 'search' campaign, a campaign he designed himself to look at all ins and outs of his own business, 'searching' for all possible ways to make the business more efficient. This meant looking at cost side, but also looking at sales side and HR. He rolled up his sleeves and is actually going out in the night distributing his own newspapers with his team to check up on all exisiting processes, questioning them one by one. He told me he found numerous ways to significantly reduce logistical costs.

Because of the fact he has a lot of American customers and advertisers, all working with a weak dollar, he needed ways to boost business. He hired more sales people and asked good people already working for him a long time to adapt to a more sales oriented roll. These employees are now bringing in more and new revenue.

On the picture, John holds a new newspaperstand for one of his new pubications "The Reporter".
He publishes newspapers such as The Saber Herald, The Herald Union, The Kaiserslautern American and The Reporter, as well as the popular Find-It Guide, a yellow pages for American Military living in Germany. AdvantiPro and The Wall Street Journal Europe collaborated successfully in Jan- Feb of this year, whereby we as WSJE started tapping into the American military community in Germany through AdvantiPro's newspapers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Networking with The Wall Street Journal Europe

Networking with The Wall Street Journal Europe ?

Win 1 out of 5 seats at our Wall Street Journal Europe table at the EU Bubble Dinner Party.

To win a seat email us your full contact details with“BUBBLE” in the subject field.

Reply by noon CET, July 2, ’08 to the address below. Winners will be informed by email.

For rules and responses contact: gert.vanmol(at)dowjones.com

EU Bubble Diner address:
4 July Rhode-Saint-Genèse, Waterloo, Belgium
Start: 20h


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

UK London

See sticker at window: "No Insurance means NO CAR!"
I like it when government or local authority is very clear in their communication.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Battle of Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo reenactment is an annual recreation of the 19th Century Battle of Waterloo on the original battlefield in Waterloo, Belgium. I am usually not a fan of the military, but I didn't want to miss this historic re-enactement of the Waterloo battle, with ca 1,200 re-enactors coming from some 15 countries. I hadn't heard about the event until late last Friday night at a diner table full of American expats who always seem to know more about your country than you know about it yourself.

The historical society who organizes the re-enactement is so concentrated on the historical side of the event, that they tend to forget to think about the comfort of the visitors. I think there must have been at least 10.000 people lined up along the battlefield, in the burning sun, many of them on a steep slope to be able to see something over the heads of the people in front of them. Tip for the society next time: MOW the slope!

I developed an interest in the army because of the specific leadership culture in such an organization. I am planning to roll out a 'WSJE Management and the Military Lab' in a couple of months at The Wall Street Journal Europe. It will be a research project looking into the transfer of coaching techniques from the military commanders to the industry.

The Battle of Waterloo took place at 18 June 1815, 15 years before Belgium came into existence in 1830. The Battle ended the Napoleonic era. Napoleon's dream to unify Europe under French leadership died at Waterloo after his troops were beaten by an alliance of UK and Prussian troops under the command of Lord Wellington. It was actually the second time that Napoleon was defeated. In 1813 he lost the Battle of Leipzig and also some campaigns of 1814 in France after which he was exiled to the Island of Elba. Ironically, the EU has nowadays her headquarters about 8 kilometers from the battle field.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Wall Street Journal Europe

Sad day today. My boss Rick Zednik decided to leave The Wall Street Journal Europe. He will join the Brussels based EU policy website Euractiv. Today he organized a farewell lunch. Instead of giving a farewell speech he wrote a short play featuring a 'normal' working day at WSJE and the daily actors he had to work with as a boss. Brilliant. He managed to capture the essence of each and one of us and put it in the script. One of my new -higher up- bosses captured the 'essence' of RZ and called him a true 'gentleman'. I couldn't agree more. RZ made our quaterly meetings more interesting by inviting guestspeakers from other departments. I will never forget how RZ pointed out what was happening with the 'Randy Paush' story on the internet after he invited a Dowjones.com editor to come and speak about our .com endeavors. I haven't had many bosses in my life, so it is difficult to compare, but I have learned a lot from this man. His email follow up on all my requests and ideas, and his general 'care' for our company, brand and people was exemplary.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

About the obsession with detail by great leaders.

From the book: "Allan Leighton on Leadership".
See further for more posts about this book.

Following testimony from Allan Leighton explains about his first meeting with Rupert Murdoch and the obsession with detail to be found in truly great leaders.

Allan Leighton: "The voice on the other end of the mobile phone is friendly, but immediately comes to the point. "Allan, it’s Rupert. l’d like to meet with you tomorrow to discuss your joining the board of BSkyB."
"Id love to see you," I replied, doing my best to hide my amazement at the call from this business icon who, until then, I’d never met. "But I’m going to be in Hull visiting an ASDA store."
"Fine, I’ll see you there," came the reply. Then he added, "Is it OK if I get there at lunch time?"

Rupert Murdoch, the most powerful media baron in the world, immediately put a line through his obviously frantic schedule to walk the aisles of a supermarket in northern Britain. He had made a decision about the BSkyB board and wanted to act on it immediately. His action that day encapsulates everything I admire about good leadership -seizing the opportunity, focusing and getting the job done.

But when Rupert walked into the ASDA supermarket that day, much to the shock of all the store staff who recognised him, the first thing he did was not to bend my ear. Instead he strode over to the newspaper display. Seeing that the Sun, the flagship title of his publishing empire, had sold out he picked up his mobile and phoned the then editor, David Yelland.

"I’m in an ASDA in Hull, it’s lunchtime and there are no copies of the Sun," he barked. "Find Out why."

You can only imagine the head-scratching at News Corporation’s HQ in London’s Wapping. What could Rupert Murdoch, presumed to be safely ensconced in his London base, possibly be doing at a supermarket in Hull counting, or more to the point not counting, copies of tabloid newspapers? But it isn’thard to guess the effect.

You could call this an obsession with detail! And it certainly is. Whenever I visit a store or a depot, I never fail to pick up the phone to the office with a question for the man or woman who is responsible for something that isn’t quite right. Not only does it get the problem sorted — and fast — but it also lets everyone know I don’t miss a thing. It’s also part and parcel of getting things right for the customer.

Friday, June 13, 2008

EDHEC Institutional Days, Paris

Topic: "Bringing research insights to institutional investors."

EDHEC is a famous French business school known to put a lot of emphasis on research. Meeting with EDHEC executives. EDHEC has a campus in Nice and Lille, but they want to expand internationally. I learn they will start a Phd course in London as of September 2008. Contrary to Belgium it is possible in France and the UK to enlist for a Phd in a faculty you do not already have a master degree from.

EDHEC–Wall Street Journal Europe Institutional Investor Forum:
Friday, 13 June, 2008: 08:45-11:00

The inaugural edition of the EDHEC–Wall Street Journal Europe Institutional Investor Forum proposes to bring together the foremost representatives of European pension schemes, insurance companies, and regulatory authorities to debate the key issues affecting the pensions and investment industry.

"Insurance Companies, Pension Funds, and the European Regulator: Reconciling short-term prudential requirements with long-term economic performance".

Leadership Lessons from an Allan Leighton book

I am immensely enjoying a paperback I bought in an ASDA store in the UK a few weeks ago: "Allan Leighton on Leadership".

I hadn't heard of Mr. Leighton before, but I understand he is a popular turnaround CEO in the UK, having worked for Mars, The Royal Mail and ...ASDA.

He interviewed a series of CEO colleagues and asked them about all sorts of leadership issues, which he compiled in a book. What made me buy the book was the fact that also Rupert Murdoch was among the CEO's who were interviewed by Leighton.

Here are a few leadership ideas from Mr. Murdoch taken from the book from Allan Leighton:

Leighton: "Incidentally, one very useful trick I've learned from Rupert Murdoch is to use meetings as a way to keep people on their toes. He (Mr. Murdoch) reckons that he is given so many papers and board minutes to wade through that he may not always have time to read them all. Instead, he will simply flick to, say, page 56 and focus on a detail that no one has really considered. Quite nonchalantly, he will then refer to the item and ask a detailed question. Of course, unless the rest of the executives have taken care to be exceptio0nally well briefed, they are left open-mouthed and floundering. It's a very clever, effective way to ensure that everyone consistently stays on the ball."

Rupert Murdoch about communication:
"Build a reputation for openness, honesty and good ethics in a company. You must have that and do everything you can to stamp out any politics that might be going on behind you."

Rupert Murdoch Leadership Lessons:
- Keep in touch with details
- Get involved
- Capitalise quickly on changing opportunities

James Murdoch (son of) Leadership Lessons:
- Be inclusive, but at the same time decisive.
- Constantly change and show a willingness to change.
- When everybody says we're crazy, that's when we feel best about our direction.

Leighton: "Rupert Murdoch clearly loves new technology and anything that enables him to open up entirely new markets. His approach shows a passionate engagement with the newspapers that created his empire, and a clear-sighted acceptance of the necessity and inevitability of change. When I spoke to him, he talked generally about technological innovation, and then specifically about how it is affecting, among other things, politics and the reporting of politics."

Rupert Murdoch: "The internet will have a huge role in the political process in future. At the last election, people set up websites, usually to oppose something and News Corporation's MySpace could play a terrific part in the next one. The whole thing about sites like MySpace is that people contribute every word. It can be hugely powerful at spreading stories that otherwise might go unnoticed. For all that, newspapers are still going to be around, very strong and very influential for a long time. In Britain we consider ourselves to have the best quality daily and we certainly have got the most successful Sunday newspapers. At the very least we will be the last ones left standing."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

European Regional Economic Forum - Slovenia

Mr. Gert Van Mol was invited to speak at the EREF 2008 conference in Slovenia.
by Charuta Vaidhyanathan

Mirko Brulc, mayor of Nova Gorica, explains to Gert Van Mol how the Europa Square came into existence. Gert is standing with his left foot in Italy and with his right foot in Slovenia.

Gert Van Mol and major Brulc talk about The WSJE Future Leadership Institute after Gert gave a speech at the European Regional Economic Forum hosted by the city of Nova Gorica.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"The Business of Football", result of new sponsor strategy

from Dow Jones Corporate Communications Department:

European football champions Manchester United went head to head with Premier One league side Millwall at the London Business School last night – but in the lecture theatre, rather than the football field. Thanks to the efforts of The Wall Street Journal Europe’s VIP programme manager Gert van Mol, more than 50 of the School’s MBA students came together with selected Journal Europe readers to hear views on the business of football from Sameer Pabari, director of media at Manchester United, and Andy Ambler, COO and director of finance at Millwall. They were joined by Jo Swinnen, professor of developmental economics at the Catholic University of Louvain, who is currently studying the effects of football on developing economies, and international football journalist Ben Lyttleton, who moderated proceedings. With Manchester United the most profitable club in the world – and arguably also the most popular – its business model dwarfs that of Millwall; making more money in a couple of games than the lesser-ranked side does in a year. The Journal Europe is looking at rolling the inaugural event out to a seasonal series of moderated discussions, focusing on the business of sport.
The combined discussions with the members of the Football Club of London Business School, and the Lisbon Agenda specialists at Itinera and EREF (European Regional Economic Forum) last year led me to believe we should completely rethink our sponsoring strategy. Traditionally a university or a student club would apply for some sponsorship money. We would pay a certain amount and in return we would receive our logo on a flag, t-shirt or website.
I completely abandoned that idea.

In the future we will carefully select some student clubs and only give them money if they agree on becoming our co-organizer of small, manageable, quality seminars, preferably on school grounds. Together we then select a topic, we invite specialists (from the industry) and organize an afternoon or evening seminar, extra curricular (or part of the curriculum in case of some Business Schools). This effectively reflects the set up of the WSJE Future Leadership Institute, the virtual institute we created January 2008, with ultimate goal to bridge industry and university.

“The Business of Football” seminar is the first seminar we set up this way.

Guy Levy, President London Business School Football Club

Panel Front left: Sameer Pabari, Director of Media Manchester United, Director Man U TV

Prof. Dr. Jo Swinnen, Director LICOS Center for Institutions and Economic Performance KULeuven Belgium

Andy Ambler, CFO Millwall Football Club

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Preparing Seminar at The London Business School

I'm working together with the Football Club of the London Business School (LBS) to organize a WSJE-LBS Seminar on Football and Business. The seminar is part of the further development of The WSJE Future Leadership Institute. We originally planned to have the 'event' at the final of the Champions League, i.e. May 21, so we could have ended the event with a live session of the final on a big screen. However one of the key note speakers is attached to a club that might end up playing the final. If that would be the case the speaker wouldn't be able to attend. Therefore we moved our seminar to May 29.

In working towards the final the students of the football club asked me to sponsor the games (quarter finals, semi finals etc) leading up to the final. They asked money for each game. I asked why they needed money for each final. "To buy beer", they said. Our policy is not to pay cash for sponsorship deals. But I understood their 'need'. It led me to contact a friend at a Belgian brewery to discuss sponsorship with Belgian beers. I quickly closed a deal, until the moment it became clear the beer had to be delivered in London. The taxes to be paid to import the beer in the UK were so hefty the brewery decided against the sponsoring. But I already had promised the Belgian beer to the students. I had no other choice than to call in a favor of another friend at a beer wholesale factory, hide a superb collection of Belgian beers in the trunk of my car, and deliver the beer myself. In the past, UK customs never ever inspected my car when I used the Eurotunnel so I thought it to be a safe strategy. Indeed, it worked. On the way back to Belgium however I was asked to pull over at Eurotunnel, five custom agents came out and strip searched the car. They even took a drug sample from the seating. Luckily my car was clean...and empty.

(Picture: The President (r) and his team of the London Business School Football Club receiving a collection of Belgian beers)

25th anniversary The Wall Street Journal Europe at the Gherkin

Two events in 1 go (April 16, 2008):
1. The Wall Street Journal Europe invited clients, readers and other VIPS to celebrate the 25th anniversary at the Gherkin in London. We rented both top floors, to accommodate the guests. Spectacular 360° view on London. A bit noisy because of the dome effect but certainly a place to impress your guests with.

2. For first time in history of The Wall Street Journal, the US version will be printed in London. At the moment WSJ will only be sold in the financial district of London. That means that in that area both WSJ and WSJE will be sold as separate products. In the rest of Europe we will still be selling WSJE.

Les Hinton, the new CEO of Dow Jones (former The Times) joined the party. He said we could be printing and selling WSJ also in other financial districts across Europe in the future.