July 31, 2012
Steve Jobs: Genius or Jerk?
Jeff Crosby, our associate publisher for sales and marketing here at IVP, said Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs was simultaneously among the most inspiring and disturbing books he’d ever read. The uncompromising despot of perfectionism at Apple regularly screamed obscenities at coworkers and rolled out one megahit product after another, making Apple one of the most successful companies of our era.Continue reading "Steve Jobs: Genius or Jerk?"
November 14, 2011
John Stott Memorial
Since his death on July 27, more than two dozen memorial services have been held for John Stott on every continent, in such places as Addis Ababa, Auckland, Delhi, Hong Kong, Lima, Manila, Singapore and Vancouver. On November 11, a memorial was held in the United States at College Church, Wheaton, Illinois.Continue reading "John Stott Memorial"
August 26, 2011
Losing Their Jobs
Someone famous once said something like, "Those who live by the sword, die by the sword." Apple has certainly flourished and declined with the comings and goings of Steve Jobs. Now that he has stepped down as CEO due to health reasons, what will happen to Apple?Continue reading "Losing Their Jobs"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:02 AM
April 26, 2011
John Stott at 90
InterVarsity Press is privileged to have been associated with the ministry of John Stott for over fifty years. His clear, balanced, sound perspective on Scripture and life has been filled with a grace and strength that seems rare in this era of extreme viewpoints and harsh rhetoric. As tomorrow marks his ninetieth birthday, I want to consider just one aspect of his character and vast influence.Continue reading "John Stott at 90"
August 5, 2010
What's My Motivation Here?
Many years ago I was talking to a freelance proofreader who was several weeks late getting a project back to me. She chronicled the various issues in her life that were keeping her from completing the job. She concluded by saying, "I really want to get this done. I feel extremely guilty I am so late."
I replied, "Well, that just proves what a poor motivator guilt is."
There was a very long, very silent pause at the other end.Continue reading "What's My Motivation Here?"
March 29, 2010
The Technical Term for No ChangeContinue reading "The Technical Term for No Change"
November 23, 2009
Is Professionalism a Dirty Word?
My wife, Phyllis, was assigned the task of giving a talk on professionalism. She asked me, "What would you say?"
Professionalism can have negative connotations--being artificial or phony. I suppose for some that's what it is. But that's not how I think of it.Continue reading "Is Professionalism a Dirty Word?"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:39 AM
September 9, 2009
When I read a business book, I'm often looking for the hot, sexy idea that puts a new spin on things, the innovative perspective that helps me see things in a new way, the dead-on research that makes a compelling case all by itself. Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell is none of these things.
April 13, 2009
Leading by Listening
Back in the day I was a competitive, wide-ranging, young trivia nerd. (Now I'm a competitive, wide-ranging, old trivia nerd.) So I became a contestant on a local TV quiz show for area high school teams based on the then popular TV show College Bowl. Creatively enough, our competition was called High School Bowl.Continue reading "Leading by Listening"
February 2, 2009
Courage to Publish
No doubt publishing is difficult these days. But whatever challenges you and I may face, they are not very significant compared to what Lasantha Wickrematunge faced in the violence-filled country of Sri Lanka over the last fifteen years. There he was a crusading journalist who was not afraid to expose corruption and scandal both in the government and in the opposition. On January 8 he died for his efforts.
He left behind, however, a last editorial to be published on his death. It is a testament to integrity, to humanity, to doing what is right and to looking to the welfare of others before looking out for ourselves. It is publishing with courage.
January 22, 2009
The Apple of the Day
Back in April 2008 I mused on Steve Jobs's leadership style (brilliant micromanager) and how Apple has benefited from that. Yet making the company so dependent on one (very talented) person has actually made the company more vulnerable.
With news that Jobs had to give up his day-to-day duties on doctor's orders, Wall Street seems to agree. Shares of Apple have dropped about 5 percent since the word got out about his health a week ago.
Why didn't Wall Street factor in Apple's inordinate dependence on Jobs during the last five years' run up in the value of Apple stock? Why do they just recognize this vulnerability now? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the sad but shocking truth that I must now convey to you is this: Wall Street is shortsighted.
August 12, 2008
A friend was asking about our office culture. Corporate? Family? Other?
While we've never been a family-owned business, we've always had a family feel. Probably that's because we started small and have grown slowly and steadily over the years. So changes in corporate culture did not come in wrenching jerks and jolts that can occur with fast growth or sudden downsizing. But as my friend and I talked, one change came into focus.Continue reading "Culture Shift"
July 7, 2008
20,000 Staples. How Do You Measure, Measure a Career?
Today I used my 20,000th staple here at IVP. It's taken thirty-five years to reach this milestone. But I have achieved in my career what few others ever dreamed--or ever thought worth keeping track of!
How do I even know this? When I first came as a lowly assistant editor, I was issued a phone, a bunch of blue pencils, a stapler and a box of 5000 staples. After eight years or so, the box of staples was empty. So I went to the supply cabinet and grabbed another. Four empty boxes later, the record was reached. (And that doesn't even count the times I've used someone else's stapler or the automatic stapler in the photocopy machine!)
I'm not sure how many different offices I've occupied (five, I think) in those years, how many commas I've deleted, how many airplane flights I've taken, how many emails I've sent (though I save them all, so I could add them up if you really want to know), how many times someone has interrupted me with a question, how many stories I've listened to in the hallway, how many cups of coffee I've consumed, how many meetings I've been to, how many lame jokes I've laughed at or how many phone calls I've made. (I'm not a nerd after all!) But for some reason the staples stuck.
As I've mentioned here before, large quantities of J course through my veins, which no doubt explains a lot. But why staples? I have no idea. I do know, however, that they've connected pages of memos, letters, reports, forms and faxes representing the birth of ideas and the death of dreams, the routine of standard procedures and the one-of-a-kind reply, the affirmation of a job well done and the diplomatic response to a complaint, the mass dissemination of information and the individual offer of an answer. In this way staples are a metaphor for what editors and publishers do--connecting people and ideas and actions.
All that gets closer than do staples to answering the lead question of how you measure a career. One ancient writer struggled with the same sorts of issues and did a tad better than I have here. He said that rather than counting staples, we should instead number our days. When we do, the first thing we notice is that they are limited, finite. Whether a few or a lot, we only get so many.
What, then, do we do with those days? Will we be wise or foolish with them? In my mind, we have each been given gifts or a gift, some ability in what we do or say, or how we think or see things, that is true to ourselves and that usually stands out to others. It may be the ability to drive a truck safely over hundreds of thousands of miles. It may be the ability to bring healing to the hearts or bodies of people. It may be making numbers into disciplined soldiers. It may be anticipating the needs of others even before they themselves are aware of them.
We begin to measure a career by identifying these gifts. But then we go further. We don't just ask "What am I good at?" but "What gives me pleasure, joy or satisfaction when I do it?" Then we can ask if we have been faithful to the gift we have been given and to the Giver of the gift.
How do you measure a career? Perhaps that's how you do it.
April 3, 2008
Those who are biblically literate know that Genesis doesn’t say what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate. No matter. Centuries of artists have known it was an apple. An apple with a bite out of it. Thus evil entered the world.
So the recent Wired Magazine article by Leander Kahney should come as no surprise.Continue reading "Evil/Genius"
March 18, 2008
Good News, Bad News
When Chris got the report back about the manuscript, he knew it wouldn’t be good news for the author. While there was much to commend, the end result was that the whole manuscript would have to be rewritten. It had simply been done from the wrong perspective and wouldn’t work for the intended audience. And it wasn’t just one report that came to this conclusion. It was three.
So as the editor, Chris knew what he had to do. He called the author and asked if they could meet and talk about the reports. A time and date were set. When they got together, Chris was able to smile warmly and genuinely express what he appreciated and then deliver the no doubt unwelcome news that a large amount of work yet remained. He closed with appreciation again for the author’s hard work already.
The editor was following a principle I heard many years ago that applies well beyond the realm of editing: The worse the news, the more personal the communication should be; the better the news, the more permanent the communication should be.
So if you’ve got bad news to deliver, do it in person or (if that is not possible) on the phone. If it is good news, do it in e-mail or (preferably and if time allows) a handwritten note.
The message of good news offered in writing allows the receiver to reread it and come back to the compliment, word of praise, comment of thanks or report of good results more than once. It has a lasting, tangible quality that makes it feel more permanent. If it is spoken, it can easily fade from memory. Certainly we often want to--and it is appropriate to--get good news to people quickly, and in person is often best for that. But following that up with a note is a good idea.
With bad news, it is tempting to fire off an e-mail or letter and not have to face the unhappy recipient so directly. That may help you not feel so bad, but it won’t help the person you are contacting. With the personal touch, people are more likely to be responsive to what you have to say. At the least, one hopes they will feel they were treated with some respect.
The personal meeting between Chris and the author made all the difference. Certainly, that was not what the author wanted to hear. But because it was delivered in a personal, human way, the message was palatable. Work on revising the book began very soon.
January 24, 2008
Stories Are the Point
Bob Harvey, my former pastor, told the congregation in a sermon about the time he was on vacation at a lake, sitting in a giant inner tube when suddenly and unexpectedly he lost his balance and found himself upside down in the water, still stuck in the tube. As a man with a few extra pounds on his frame, he was unable to get out and right himself. While he was underwater trying to figure out what to do, he told us, he thought, You know, this will make a good sermon illustration.Continue reading "Stories Are the Point"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:15 AM
January 21, 2008
Nobody Likes Planning
Corporate planning is the butt of many jokes and the bane of many managers. But as folks in InterVarsity have said for years, "Aim at nothing and you are sure to hit it." Tom Woll offers 35 pages on planning in his book Publishing for Profit, a book on which I've been offering a serial review. Woll covers a lot of territory. Here are some highlights:Continue reading "Nobody Likes Planning"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:56 AM
November 29, 2007
Getting on the Bus
My friend Steve worked as a school bus driver to help pay his way through seminary. His first year on the job was the horror story you would imagine--chaos, unruliness, insolence, anarchy. His second year on the job was a model of order, civility, respect and humanity. What made the difference?Continue reading "Getting on the Bus"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 12:27 PM
October 9, 2007
Vice President of Looking Out of the Window
The story was a legend in my family when I was growing up.
Once my mom went to have lunch with my dad, who worked as an executive at a company in downtown Minneapolis. When she got to his office she saw him behind his desk with his back turned to the door, looking out the window. She was so impressed by how hard he was working that she immediately elevated him to "Vice President of Looking Out of the Window."Continue reading "Vice President of Looking Out of the Window"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 5:39 AM
September 6, 2007
Some years ago we promised an author that if he signed his book contract with us that we would advertise the book in several key magazines. So he signed the contract, completed the manuscript and sent it in. It was a strong piece, and we were happy to publish it. However, we also discovered that it did not come to us very well targeted for the particular audiences of the magazines in which we had promised to advertise the book. As we discussed the audience for his book and possible revisions with the author, he was not inclined to make any significant changes.Continue reading "Keeping Promises"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 11:05 AM
August 20, 2007
What Are You Passionate About?
"Dad, what would you say is your calling in life?"
The question seemed to come out of the blue from my college-age daughter. As we stood in the kitchen, inwardly I was a bit taken aback. It was totally legitimate to ask, but it got so quickly to the core of things that I felt momentarily stunned. Did I have a calling? Had I thought about it much? What was I good at and motivated to do? What was my purpose for being on this planet?Continue reading "What Are You Passionate About?"
August 8, 2007
For Those with Management Talent
OK, is there anything I don’t like about First, Break All the Rules? Yes. The title.Continue reading "For Those with Management Talent"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 5:22 AM
August 1, 2007
Why Do Employees Stay?
We measure all kinds of things in our organizations—sales, profit, growth, productivity, square footage and so on. But Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman say that there’s no measuring stick for a manager’s ability to find, focus and keep talented people. They try to fill in the gap by identifying the key questions every employee asks, consciously or unconsciously (pp. 43ff.).Continue reading "Why Do Employees Stay?"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:09 AM
July 30, 2007
Nothing Beats Talent
As I wrote in a previous blog entry, First, Break All the Rules is the best management book I’ve read. One of most useful concepts that Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman offer is that of distinguishing talent (p. 71) from skill and knowledge (p. 83). Talent is “a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” Talents are “the driving force behind an individual’s job performance.” They are “the four-lane highways in your mind.”Continue reading "Nothing Beats Talent"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:04 AM
July 25, 2007
The Best Management Book I've Read
First, Break All the Rules is without a doubt the best management book I’ve ever read. All I can say is read it and do likewise.
Well, actually, I can say more. Why is it good? The way it was put together. It’s not just some management consultants giving you their dog and pony show. Two Gallup Organization leaders, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, took the results of surveys and interviews with eighty thousand managers in over four hundred companies, summarizing what the best actually do best and how they do it.
Here’s a sampling of the management myths they bust.Continue reading "The Best Management Book I've Read"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:58 AM
July 23, 2007
The Art of Pastoring
For years people have been telling me that The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen is a great book. They said it really isn't just for pastors but for any Christian who seeks to minister to others. They said it was not superficial but full of deep insights. They said the author, David Hansen, told great stories.
Even though InterVarsity Press published it a baker's dozen years ago, I had never read it. Until now. What I have discovered is that everyone was right.Continue reading "The Art of Pastoring"
June 28, 2007
Integrity and Mission
Joe Klein wrote in his book Politics Lost that maybe the reason Al Gore lost the 2000 election is that he listened to political handlers too much. They massaged and homogenized his message so much that it felt flabby. Gore was passionate about the environment but the polling said the public was not. So, don’t talk about global warming, Al.Continue reading "Integrity and Mission"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 11:42 AM
June 7, 2007
Have you ever noticed that when people don’t like a decision, they start obsessing about process? They complain about the timing of an announcement (not on a Friday but on a Monday) or how it was made (it shouldn’t have been via email but on paper, not via paper but in person, not in a large group but one on one) or how they weren’t adequately consulted or that they didn’t know a decision was about to be made.Continue reading "Gaining Buy-In"
May 30, 2007
What Would Jesus Delegate?
It's dangerous, of course, to impose any mode of thinking on Jesus. It is his mode of thinking that should be imposed on us.
I suppose it is doubly dangerous when talking about business models.Continue reading "What Would Jesus Delegate?"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 11:42 AM
May 29, 2007
The One-Note Manager
Most supervisors (myself included) tend to lean on one style of leadership. You find what works for you, and you stick with it. Or, worse yet, even if it doesn't work, you stick with it anyway. You've fallen into one pattern out of habit or because it makes you comfortable (even if it makes those who work for you uncomfortable).Continue reading "The One-Note Manager"
May 16, 2007
Good Conflict, Bad Conflict
It may surprise my coworkers (though not my wife) that I don't like conflict. I like to make nice. Tension among people is very uncomfortable for me.
The hard lesson I have learned over the years is that dealing with conflict is like that old commercial about changing the oil in your car--pay now or pay later. It is much less painful regarding conflict and oil changes to pay now. If you let conflict simmer or fester (to mix metaphors), it can only get worse.Continue reading "Good Conflict, Bad Conflict"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 12:57 PM
April 18, 2007
An Underrated Quality
One overlooked and underrated leadership quality that has gotten a bit more press recently is humility.
We should be grateful to Jim Collins for raising our consciousness about this trait with his concept of Level 5 Leadership--a person who combines great ambition for the organization with great personal humility. He offers a number of examples of leaders who missed this mark and those who hit the target, most famously, perhaps, Abraham Lincoln.Continue reading "An Underrated Quality"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 4:49 AM