Archive for October, 2011

Bill Gates Says Having Billions Is Strange

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

In the Q&A session following his lecture at the University of Washington on Thursday, Bill Gates told students that when he heard Intel’s founders had become billionaires, he thought, “wow, that must be strange…and it is.” He also added that being super-rich isn’t what it seems.

“Wealth beyond a certain level…really, it’s a responsibility.” One option is to leave everything to your heirs, he said, or else “be smart about giving it away.” The Seattle Times reported that Gates went on to explain “there’s meaningful freedom” in having millions but beyond that “I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger.”

He should know. Local legend says that Gates still loves the burgers at a popular drive-in next door to the office building where Microsoft was housed in the early years. And in his session at the UW, Gates referenced another favorite drive-in chain that recently smashed its own sales record (by more than 30 percent) at the grand opening of its sixth location.  Bill knows burgers!

Bill Gates Advice on Building Wealth

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates advised computer-science and engineering students at the University of Washington yesterday to find something you’re “nuts about doing” rather than focusing on building wealth.

As reported in The Seattle Times today, Gates gave a long and thoughtful response to a student who said she grew up wanting to become the richest person in the world and asked his advice. Appearing as the “distinguished lecturer” at the Paul G. Allen Center, Gates said, “I didn’t start out with a dream of being super-rich…. Most people who have done well have sort of found something they’re nuts about doing. Then they figure out a system to hire their friends to do it with them. If it’s an area of great impact, then sometimes you get sort of (sic) financial independence.”

Stay tuned for more interesting comments from Gates’ appearance at the school where he developed his command of computer programming as a high school student by sneaking into the computer lab in the middle of the night.



Words to Take You From Ordinary to Extraordinary

Friday, October 7th, 2011

How can you take your business from ordinary to extraordinary? Dr. Frank Luntz, communication consultant and author of Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary,  says there are five phrases that help people succeed in every aspect of their lives. He articulated these when, in the process of conducting interviews for the book, he was asked to identify which five words or phrases mattered more than any others. Here’s what he came up with:

  • Imagine
  • I get it
  • No excuses
  • The simple truth
  • Let’s get to work

Dr. Luntz includes more than 100 powerful words in Win, along with his original goal for the book. He set out to gather the key life lessons gained by successful people in a wide variety of professions and “overlay” those with words that “help people maximize their daily achievements.” I imagine you get the concept, so there are no excuses now. The simple truth is, we all need to get to work!

Advertising Week: Execs Focus on Storytelling

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

As ad execs gathered in Manhattan for Advertising Week, the meetings got underway, perhaps not surprisingly, with yesterday’s panel on “Masters of Monetization.” What was unexpected was that, rather than conducting a hard-core discussion of revenue streams, the panelists from companies such as AT&T, BuzzFeed, Facebook, Groupon, Huffington Post and LinkedIn, focused on  storytelling along with data.

“The Wall Street Journal” reported that the advertising heavyweights agreed “the best way to educate advertisers is to show them meaningful results” and the powerhouse firms plan to grow by “being as relevant as possible to consumers by merging technology and creative content.”

Mike Gamson, LinkedIn’s senior vice president of global sales, says, “It’s the combination of the targeting with the storytelling that creates effective advertising.” And Taylor Gray, vice president of marketing and social media strategy at “uffington Post, observes, “All the big brands are engaged in this. They understand that they need to get in the storytelling business.” The entire article is at


WaMu: A Cautionary Tale about Core Values

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

A recent opinion piece in The Seattle Times offers an enlightening perspective on the rapid decline and eventual demise of Washington Mutual. Formerly a senior vice president of WaMu, Mark C. Crowley says the bank’s sad ending was due to an intentional move away from the first three of the five core values (fair, caring, human, dynamic and driven) that had built the highly respected Northwest-based institution into a national powerhouse.

Why would leaders of a venerable institution choose to abandon values that had endured for well over 100 years? Reviewing the events leading to the largest bank failure in the history of the U.S., Crowley says that after President and COO Steve Rotella was brought in to help CEO Kerry Killinger run the fast-growing organization after a financial loss in 2004, Rotella chose to ignore “fair, caring and human” in favor of “dynamic and driven.” Caught up in the race to write as many mortgage loans as possible for short-term shareholder gains, the new leader took an approach that soon generated 50% turnover. Employees sensed that they no longer mattered, customers complained that service  had disappeared, traditional loan standards were abandoned–and in just a few years the entire organization disappeared.

WaMu had lost its heart. Ironically, Crowley says, WaMu’s five core values–in balance–are exactly the values that will drive success in 21st-Century organizations, just as they served as a solid foundation for WaMu over its first 115+ years. Author of a new book, Lead from the Heart: Transformational Leadership for the 21st Century, Crowley concludes that “successful leadership requires a balance…between our minds–and our hearts.” Read his entire article at