Book Review: Full Steam Ahead!

By Steve Koss


‘Full Steam Ahead! Unleash The Power Of Vision In Your Work And Your Life’ is a terrific read.

The authors Jesse Lyn Stoner and Ken Blanchard define vision as knowing who you are, where you are going, and what will guide your journey.

Vision can be a giant jigsaw puzzle. Bring all the stakeholders together to have the vision come alive. Full Steam Ahead! provides the material to become a masterful puzzle builder with vision in your life and in your organization. The authors take you on an extraordinary journey of discovery through superb storytelling to make a vision come alive and stay alive. The characters Ellie and Jim are so vivid that you will find yourself as emerged at times as if they are yourself.

I presented some questions to Jesse about her book and she answered as follows:

1.    What has been your biggest surprise leading with vision?

The radical shift in perspective to doing what is right not who is right. In today’s fear-based flat and global world the focus is often on whether something is legal versus illegal. When leaders create a vision, you see a transformation where they stop expecting others to serve them and instead begin to serve the people who are working to achieve the vision. They naturally become servant leaders.

2.    What is the simplest way we can start applying vision right away?

Begin with self-reflection. Discovery of purpose by examining your motives and answering the ‘why’ you are doing — it at least three times. Reflect on where others are by putting yourself in their shoes. We can never understand what is in the mind of another. Scheduling visioning and reflection solitude time in a comfortable place can be an extraordinary experience.

3.    What has been the one of the greatest challenges to get others to lead with vision?

The process starts with leading yourself before you can lead others. They say you cannot lead a horse to water unless you salt the oats. Salting the inner wisdom (oats) of another can be a magical experience to them.

The book stimulated me to think about my own views of leadership. I believe there is a paradigm shift going on around the world in management, as organizations shift from traditional structures to radical (innovation) management, one of the key ingredients in the revolution is the ability of providing a road map. Touching on the sensory attributes of customers or employees is critical if a vision is to be acted on. The authors present the ‘three how’s’ vision keystones to allow you to stay the course.

1. How it’s created.

2. How it’s communicated.

3. How it’s lived.

During the reading of the book, at times I would start visualizing. An eureka moment occurred as I became a smart fish (the book is worth this pizzazz alone) in a challenging endeavor in my pond. Be prepared for a paradigm shift of your thinking with this book, as the authors bring a significant question to the surface: ‘What is the goal (purpose) of your business?’

There is a chapter to guide you to produce your own living and breathing ‘vision manifesto.’ Imagining creates reality is a mantra that is a strategic fit for ‘Full Steam Ahead.’ You might go off course at times, Full Steam Ahead is a terrific tool to stay the course and lead with vision.

Enjoy the many discoveries within the book and fasten your visionary seatbelts as you stay the course driving Full Steam Ahead!



Social Networking: Let’s Go Crabbing!

The Deadliest Catch Five Steps…


Step 1 – Decide exactly where you want to fish (identify your audience and objectives via targeted searches)

Step 2 – Prepare your boat and crew (equip your people with the right tools and train them…i.e. computers, blogs, social networking tools & training)

Step 3 – Empower you deck hands to bait and set the traps (create informational blog posts and then link to them via the social sites)

Step 4 – Reel in your traps (reply to blog comments, direct messages and track your results via online analytics)

Step 5 – You are now catching crab through the “execution” of your plan (make sales and gain new customers)

10 reasons people resist change…


1.   Failure to understand upside risk, thus the comfort zone is the safe heaven

2.   The greatest monster and competition alive – the status quo

3.   Communications

4.   Fear of the unknown

5.   Bad reward, incentive, training, developmental systems

6.   Failure to focus on workforce alignment, companies are to people or silo centric

7.   Groupthink of project teams

8.   Power and politics – the saving face game

9.   Motivation

10. The cousin of Groupthink – peer pressure

How to bring the counter to zero? Play time in the innovation sandbox…mmm…nope, there will always be resistance to change…enough said.

The Value of Perseverance

“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” — Thomas Foxwell Buxton

To chart the course in the whitewaters of business and life we need a life vest. One such vest to keep you afloat in the high seas is ‘perseverance.’ There are too many people in this world doing things they hate. Two primary reasons for this is lack of passion and perseverance.

When you are catching passion and perseverance on the field you can perform as a major league ballplayer turning triple plays and swinging with precession in your endeavors. Let’s look at how perseverance was a key success to Carl Ripken, Jr. A few years ago at a conference we had the pleasure to listen to and meet Carl Ripken, Jr.  Having a dash of perseverance allowed him to play in 2,632 consecutive games and nearly 17 straight years without missing a game.  

The value gained from the conference was priceless. The roadmap to break Ripken’s record or to make your business successful can follow the attributes needed to break his records.

1.  The right approach

2.  Strong will to succeed

3.  Passion

4.  Love to compete

5.  Consistency

6.  Conviction

7.  Strength

8.  Life management

A wow moment came when a few of us kept a secret nugget in our wallets which Ripken carried with him and credited his success in baseball. The priceless value of perseverance is told in this quote:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Hoist the sail and enjoy the priceless journey of life, business in the high seas…the life vest of perseverance will keep you from drowning.

United States Football League Arrives Into Sacramento Region

Job creation and economic impact for the region!

Welcome to the Sacramento region UFL!

The press conference with Head Coach Dennis Green, officials from the UFL, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson filled the air with excitement.  This just might be the John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaboration as highlighted in the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Does Repeat Collaboration Really Kill Creativity?” to display government and private business working together for significance of shared goals.

You can follow the team on Twitter @UFLSacramento and now the journey begins to name the team. To read about how you can get on the field to name the team click here for the fun West Coast offense action.

Exciting times for the Sacramento region!

Creating an Early Warning System With Environmental Scanning

What is the importance of continuously validating an environmental scan?

Innovation, the siteless web, social media, and social commerce (ecommerce) bring the need to consistency scan the business environments at play. Performing an environmental analysis or PEST (political, economic, social, technology) can make or break an organization.  Environmental scanning generally produces large amounts of data. With large volumes of data, having strategic ROI models and scenario predictive analytical models for data mining becomes critical to boost strategic analysis and decision making. 

Strategic planners today are consistently performing with artistry balancing trade-offs. Social media trends are causing huge changes in strategic focus requiring innovation to turn the process into (social) commerce. Scanning the business environment can predict early warning signals for ‘correct’ action and not ‘corrective’ action. A series of sample questions are provided to kick start PEST.  The questions are focused on the remote, internal, and industry areas in an environmental scan.  Before the list of questions can be determined we must establish the areas at play in Michael Porter’s Five Forces model – rivals (jockeying for position), new entrants, buyers, suppliers, and substitutes.  We undertake the forces of change (strength or resistance) matrix of four domains:

1.  Weak change forces, strong resistance

2.  Strong change forces, weak resistance

3.  Weak change forces, weak resistance

4.  Strong change forces, strong resistance

Using the change matrix and force field analysis the strategic trade-offs are determined after answering a series of questions, rated to mitigate risk based on ‘cause and effect.’ Questions in environmental scanning may include:

Is this a comprehensive strategy and operating plan to realize the performance potential?

Is the necessary human capital, financial, physical and other resources provided and allocated to achieve success or do we need a GAP analysis?

Is there use of effective system of key performance measurements, indicators/trends to monitor and control strategic operating performance?

Does the board/stakeholders understand and support the resolution of short-term, intermediate, long-term priorities of management?

What are the specific competitive strengths and weaknesses, market forces or drivers of profitability that determine performance results?

What is the generic strategy and mantra?

Are we running the alternatives through scenario and financial analysis?

What is our position on the strategy – a shaper or adapter or reserving the right to play?

The competitive advantage of environmental scanning is the identification of trends, forces at play, and keeping one-eye opened when challenges or opportunities sail up to the boat dock.  In two words – adaptability and predictability.

E-commerce Me Out to the Ball Game

Solving Problems Mean a Better Run Scored, More Fun Results

It seems only a short time ago that people were complaining about connecting the bases of social media and social commerce (eCommerce). Discovery of an ‘innovation process’ is your greatest competitive weapon if applied in a strategic manner, it’s all about having people work smarter and more efficiently and producing more revenue. You don’t even need to know how the technology works; you do it for your bottom line. The lost art base running is being missed on the field – artistry of not getting the people, process and technology sequence out of sync.

A review of the game action at E-Commerce stadium reveals…most ecommerce players are missing their target audience, the art of base running is SEO (product/service 1st, business and branding 2nd ) is the star player. At the end of the day, consumers do not care about the business, or the stakeholders running the business…consumers are searching for products and services.

The real trick here is to score runs with Google. Google is for all intents and purposes in complete control of the shoppers’ destiny. There is definitely some competition, but for the most part, if people want to find anything they go to first!

Let us look at how running each of the bases on the infield will lead to a grand slam in your social media and social commerce strategic initiatives.

First Base – Encountering where you want to go and how to get to home plate with your vision or problem statement. Pose those heresy/heretical questions for whole brain thinking.

Second Base – Equip your people with the right balls. Seek the “opinion leaders” within your organization or customer base to make the running the bases easier to cross home plate for results and significance.

Third Base – Empower the stakeholders through the “right” measurements for “correct action” and not corrective action.

Home Plate – You are now scoring runs (results) through “execution” of a plan. Utopia arrives when you have your initiatives on all the bases; a long-ball hitter comes to the plate and blasts the ball into the stands for the revenue grand slam.

Batter-up question:

If you needed a pinch hitter who would you trust…the rookie or the proven clutch player?

Find a social media and ecommerce team that has been swinging and scoring runs with countless successful stories, grand slamming e-commerce engines, and performing social media triple plays… then swing for the fences!

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – Babe Ruth

The Power To Change Anything

Local Local Local – How to increase the bottom line…

What’s all the hubbub about local, cloud computing, social media, and the web? It is all about increasing the bottom line.

Why are so many searches going local? Simply put, many people are looking for products and services that are close to where they live and do business. Not only for ease of proximity but if they are ordering any products or services online they either want to go pick it up themselves or simply keep the shipping costs down. It’s really that simple.

There isn’t an industry out there that couldn’t benefit from the scalability of the cloud… especially if implemented within the parameters of an online marketplace. But again, the paradigm must shift from business first, products and services second… and trying to compete alone in the vast Cloud. There is strength in numbers where a pool of local small businesses can create a much bigger pie. Merchants must learn to step out of the way of the sale and let the transactions happen organically. Consumers want what they want and they want it immediately. Scalability really is a key factor in the consumer experience. If the product or service doesn’t exist for them (because of a lack of scale), they simply move on. All of us as web users have the attention spans of gnats. The great e-tailers embrace this and use it as a competitive advantage when providing their services and products on the web.

The “Great Equalizer” for small businesses is to market their products and services in a collective process using the cloud, thinking local with search engine optimization, and to transmute an electronic brochure or yellow page web site to increase revenues and to increase the bottom line. Walking the walk is harder than talking the talk. Using simplicity, speed, and spontaneity in a revenue model can covert skeptics into powerful opinion leaders and influencers through social motivation.

The real trick here is Google. Google is for all intents and purposes in complete control of the merchants’ and shoppers’ destiny. There is definitely some competition, but for the most part, if people want to find anything they go to first. Which means merchants should do the same. (at least in terms of getting their products and services found). You don’t even need to know how (the technology) works; you do it for your bottom line.

The Skeptic Conversion Model

The Skeptic Conversion Model

Still a skeptic? Read on… (true story)

When we first came to present our marketplace system to local merchants’ business associations in Auburn, California (, there were plenty of skeptics. One old-school merchant in particular asked many great questions, but was determined to hate the web and anything tech. So as a direct challenge, we took a few of his products (many of them pricey crystal pieces) and uploaded them into our marketplace system for free. Within two weeks his merchandise was selling… including one of his most expensive pieces (over $ 2300) to a collector in Chicago. (talk about the power of search engine optimization) We sold one of his most expensive pieces on a Sunday… and he wasn’t even open on Sunday.

Needless to say, we have yet another Local Marketplace ™ believer!

The Search:


The Results:


The Marketplace Product Detail: maxi swan product details

The PayPal Payment:


The Mind Map of Local Marketplaces Online

The Mind Map of Local Marketplaces

Click image to enlarge...

Click to Enlarge

MAMA Meets DADDY For Rhythm With Social Media

Social media brand management of all the working parts can be related to putting on an event at a stadium or arena. Event (Brand) Management requires lots of MAMAMarshaling, Allocating, Monitoring, and Adjusting resources.

When an event manager oversees new venue construction, manages some high-profile Super Bowl-scale event, or sponsors an unfamiliar technology project, MAMA isn’t enough. Every event manager learns that her job demands some DADDYDetermined Appraiser Designated to Disappoint You, (aka, Project Management), too.

The marriage of MAMA event managers with DADDY project managers is not always easy. Whether the union becomes harmonious depends upon both partners understanding some basic facts of life. With social media we are seeing the need to align business strategy with social media platforms to integrate extreme SEO and eCommerce.

Fact of Life One: You’re Going to Do Some Things Only Once

Newly-wedded event and project managers see different horizons. Much of an event manager’s world must be managed as an endless-evolving series of similar experiences. Over time, as each repetition informs future iterations, the whole operation should mature. So, while the event manager focuses her energy on creating satisfying individual events, she keeps one eye on the far distant future: repeating, defining, managing, and optimizing for the longer-term.

How many new venue constructions will an event manager oversee in her career? MAYBE one? These blue-moon events cannot be managed with the same evolutionary eye that guides normal operations.

The project manager brings a narrower view—a sharp focus upon maintaining a sharp focus—interested in defining and then hitting a much more distinct target.

You will find your DADDY disinterested in optimizing. He might find your eternal focus upon domestication equally distracting. Get over it!

Fact of Life Two: You’re Going to Experience Your World Differently

eskimo_indianWhat do you see in this picture? Some see an Eskimo peering into a dark cavern while others see the profile of an Indian Chief’s head. Seeing the Eskimo might prevent you from shifting your vision to see anything but an Eskimo. Others see only the Chief.

The project manager understands that every project starts off as a Bright Idea: peering into a dark cavern, more cloudy aspiration than guiding light. He shifts everyone’s focus Eskimo-to-Chief away from whatever each might have innocently mistaken their effort to be, redirecting attention toward what every-one must see together to succeed.

DADDY says: “If I can’t disappoint you today, I won’t be able to delight you tomorrow.” This is the most caring and difficult sort of relationship to create. It’s hard on you both. He understands that merely satisfying you every step of the way won’t make anyone successful, so he judiciously injects the necessary spoonfuls of disappointment that curiously comprise a delightful meal.

He’ll re-open the one can of worms you thought you’d firmly sealed, then challenge and re-challenge your purpose for initiating the effort until what you were certain you understood reconfigures itself. He trades in the control of uncertainty, where your certainty—along with his—is the most insidious barriers to achieving results. So, while your instincts expect a certain Marshalling,Allocating, Monitoring, and Adjusting, he will be poking at that deeper purpose and helping you discover the real project lurking behind your Bright Idea.

Any event or social media manager might think their DADDY crazy, but there’s true wisdom in his madness. Like a rocket scientist, he understands that the rocket must be on course only that last inch of its flight, and that it can be trending toward proper trajectory—”off course”—the rest of the way.

If you expect MAMA’s clockwork precision in DADDY’s methods, you’ll never discover delight together.

Fact of Life Three: The Rhythm Method Works

MAMA social media managers’ and DADDY project managers’ unique perspectives can bring real strength to any social media initiative, but can also encourage divisions. Each move to a different natural rhythm: MAMA’s more cyclical. DADDY’s more episodic.

In The Blind Men and the Elephant, Mastering Project Work David Schmaltz retells the fable of six blind men who decide to “see” an elephant. Their attempt to see together rapidly degrades into a battle, as the one who encounters the tusk experiences the elephant as being “rather like a spear,” then argues with the one who, finding the trunk, concludes it’s really more like a snake.

These theological wars can only be won by choosing not to engage in them. Each of the blind men are right, while all of them are wrong. And each special event—each once-in-a-lifetime initiative— will challenge MAMA’s sense of propriety with DADDY’s sense of mission. Well- coordinated, the elephant can reliably appear. Failing to understand that blue- moon events disrupt normal rhythm can create the very mother of all unmanageable dilemmas: organizational arrhythmia.

Find the natural rhythm and match your actions to it. If you can’t find that rhythm, it won’t much matter how you try to control the social media or any other initiative. If you can find it, it also won’t matter what you do to try to control it, but it’ll work. Find that rhythm, match it, and DADDY it just works!

Happily Ever After?

It is time for social media initiatives to be aligned with business strategy theme of “silos of collaboration” with the CEO, CFO, CMO offices and project management to get hitched! This is no shotgun ceremony, but the result of a natural horse-and-carriage courtship. Whether our differences work together like right and left hand or right brain and left foot depends on both MAMA and DADDYappreciating that our differences ARE our strengths. We couldn’t have either without each other!