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Braindrops from My Holiday Readings

Over the past few weeks I have been catching-up on my notes and reading. Here are six of my braindrops from those notes and readings. (A special thank you to the late George Carlin for giving us the phrase “braindropping.”)

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Over the past few weeks I have been catching-up on my notes and reading. Here are six of my braindrops from those notes and readings. (A special thank you to the late George Carlin for giving us the phrase “braindropping.”)

African Proverb

Fred, a visiting friend from Zimbabwe, shared with us this wonderful African Proverb, “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.” He used this as he spoke about teamwork in his village. Great proverb for all of us to remember.

Company Museums

This won’t come as a shock to my children – I love to go to company museums and go on company tours. Do you know which company museums get the most visitors worldwide? (I’ve only been to one of these.) Here are the top five:

#5 = Louisville Slugger – Louisville, Kentucky (263,000 annual visitors)
#4 = Ben & Jerry’s – Waterbury, VT (320,000)
#3 = Harley Davidson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin (350,000)
#2 = Crayola – Easton, PA (400,000)
#1 = Cadbury – Birmingham, England (500,000)

Productivity Tips

In the December/January issue of Fast Company there is a terrific article on productivity. They present short tips from successful people, which they organize into eight groups – the night owl, the early bird, the multi-tasker, the mono-tasker, the connector, the procrastinator, the lone wolf, and the firefighter. Here are three tips that interested me:

  1. Spend early hours on your highest-value thinking tasks, not e-mail. Your brain is usually at is best during the first 3-4 hours you are awake.
  2. When you are trying to get a project done, turn-off e-mail screen notifications and text messages and schedule time to specifically deal with these 2-3 times a day. Studies show it can take 23 minutes to get back into workflow after interruptions.
  3. When you really need to get something done that gets procrastinated, pull an all-nighter. You can sleep the next night.


Americans are very much uninformed about our own history. Did you know the first large city in “America” wasn’t Philadelphia or New York, it was Cahokia? Cahokia was a city built around 600 AD and is located just across the Mississippi River from what is St. Louis today. At its peak it had about 40,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area. It mysteriously disappeared around 1400. By the way, it would be after 1800 before Philadelphia got that large.

Lessons from a Great Soccer Coach

In the October issue of Harvard Business Review, writer Anita Elberse wrote about Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson just retired from being the coach of the Manchester United soccer team in the United Kingdom. During his 26 year tenure, the United won 13 English League titles, which is like our Super Bowl. Here are his eight tips for managers:

  1. Start with a foundation. Make sure you have a core group of skilled players on the team.
  2. Dare to Rebuild Your Team. When you are under-performing and the players you have just aren’t able to get the job done, rebuild. You will be better off tomorrow.
  3. Set High Standards and Hold Everyone Accountable. Ferguson set very high training and practice standards and expected the stars to work even harder than the average players. One quote I like is what he says to his players if they seem to be coasting through a practice, “If you give in once, you’ll give in twice.” Discipline and hard work is a life-long talent.
  4. Never, Ever Cede Control. When a player gets out of line he responds immediately. His response depends on the player and the problem. If the player continues to get out of line, he trades them and brings in a new player.
  5. Match the Message to the Moment. During training, encourage. During the action encourage and provide quick, professional corrections. Immediately after the game or activity, provide construction feedback. If anger is appropriate, use it sparingly and usually toward a whole team or group. Never get angry with one person in public, always in private.
  6. Prepare to Win. Ferguson’s teams always practiced to win. What this means is that he would have his team practice what they would do if they were down goals in a game or up goals in game. He would teach them how to take risks when they were behind.
  7. Rely on the Power of Observation. Ferguson lets his assistant coaches run the practice sessions and he observes. This lets him get a much better idea of what needs to be worked on because he isn’t worried about the details of the practice session itself.
  8. Never Stop Adapting. There were numerous examples of how Ferguson adapted and actually led change in his realm. He was often one step ahead of the others because he liked to try new things. Many things worked and change happened.

The Guillotine

I was astonished to learn that the guillotine was used as recently as 1977 in France. It was eliminated that year when the French outlawed capital punishment. This reminds me of that early diet book from 1793, How I Lost 10 Pounds in One Day by Marie Antoinette.

I think it is a good time to chop off my braindrops for this week. Next week we’ll explore what ever happened to Circuit City.