Managing Creativity with Harriet Tubman

I just read the most cool article in Mental_Floss magazine.  Check out the magazine sometime…interesting facts that are stimulating and out of the ordinary. The article was about Harriet Tubman, the famous lady who led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad during the US Civil War.  She redefined leveraging creativity to achieve her goals.  It is fascinating and written by Erik Sass.


There was a bounty on Harriet for the equivalent of $1 million as she led 19 journeys freeing more than 300 slaves. This wasn’t easy as you can imagine.  The obstacles to achieve our goals for the most part pale in comparison.  She followed several approaches that are reflective of successful people today.

*  Know your terrain and where you are heading
Slave owners often kept their slaves close so they wouldn’t know their surroundings and wouldn’t know how to escape. Tubman would manage the navigation and at times on the fly leveraging dense forests, and swamps. Sometimes she would need to split the group up and provide to the group simple easy to follow advise for a meeting point.

* Know your clients and manage them effectively
The slaves were often brought to freedom as a family unit. Kids could give away their presence by crying so to address this, she always carried paragoric, an opium varient.

* Make sure everyone knew who’s in charge
Runaway slaves faced draconian punishments if they were caught so sometimes, they would change their minds and wish to return to servitude. But going back would have exposed her Underground Railroad network. So she gave them a choice facing the barrel of a gun. Die a slave or be free!!!

* Work the News Cycle, control your messaging.
Slave owners would alert bounty hunters with substantial rewards to capture runaway slaves. So Harriet would initiate her rescues on a Saturday giving her a 48 hour head start before the ads circulate in the Monday paper.

Since Harriet was engaged in activities with life/death implications, clearly some of her actions would be viewed as over the top in what most of us face in our day to day lives. But, she addressed problems through solution approaches you can use.

Action of the Day
Imagine you were rescuing your career and running yourself through the Underground Railroad. How would you prepare for this herculean task?  Pretend Harriet is right beside you ready to coach you. What would she tell you?  Are you ready to take the lead?

Quote of the Day
“Everything depends upon execution; having just a vision is no solution.”  Stephen Sondheim:  Award-winning American composer & lyricist

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Solving Business Problems Methodically

In our careers, we are always faced with uncertainty.

Uncertainty comes from things we cannot control. This includes the economy, how other people act/perform, and just pure fate. Successful people don’t stress out because there are uncontrollable factors in their lives. By definition, they are uncontrollable.

What we focus on are the things we can control.  Marty Zwilling from Startup Professionals, Inc. wrote a terrific blog on the 6 Tips to Max Your Business Problem Solving Skills.  You can train yourself to be a problem solver. Here are the 6 tenants:

1. Practice Active Listening  – Resist the urge to vocally jump into the fray, and listen attentively without interruption.
2. Promise Action but Manage Expectations – You know the drill….Undercommit, Overdeliver!!
3. Investigate thoroughly – Don’t assume anything…GATHER THE FACTS!!!
4. Provide Regular Updates to All – Communication is the most underrated element of problem solving but probably the most important step.
5. Make a Timely Decision – Assemble the facts, talk to all the stakeholders of a problem, then make the solution decision. Don’t delay….that’s status quo.
6. Follow up – Reconfirm your decision within hours or latest days by all who is impacted. Explain why.

Action of the Day : Review the last decision you have made (or led others in making) that impacted more than yourself. Did you follow each of the above 6 steps. If not, which one did you fail to adequately address? What happened as a result? Write down these 6 steps onto a small index card. Carry it with you for a week. Refer to it daily. You are working to modify your behavior. This typically takes a period of constant repetition until it is habit. You will find over several weeks that you have trained yourself to follow these steps intuitively whenever confronted with a significant business problem/decision you need to make.

Quote of the Day :  “Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.  ~Author Unknown

Picture Credit: © Ginasanders | Dreamstime.com

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Top 3 Reasons You Want to be from a Dysfunctional Family

Did you grow up in an emotionally unstable family situation? Maybe you didn’t even have a family.  You could be that one in five person who seems to attract strange and potentially abusive people into your lives.  For some, going to sleep equates to a temporary escape into a more peaceful world.

I wanted to share a fascinating blog by Steve Blank, titled, “Dysfunctional Family, you would make a great entrepreneur”  The skills you possess from these kind of experiences could give you an upper hand in today’s chaotic economy and even more effectively prepare you for the successful life of an entrepreneur.

Let’s get to the Top 3 Reasons you would want to grow up in a dysfunctional Family

YOU ARE WIRED FOR CHAOS
If that is not a competitive advantage in today’s wild global economy, I don’t know what is. People spend well over $200,000 for their college education and still cannot survive in a chaotic environment.

YOU KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Lucky you. And you thought you were cursed to need to be around people who seem to have personality disorders. Guess what, those raised in a sheltered life of stable emotionally mature people have some huge surprises in store for them.

YOU DON’T GIVE UP
Has everything you accomplished in your life so far resulted from someone giving it to you on a silver platter?   While there might have been some days you felt like throwing in the towel, you never gave up. You are still standing and ready for the next challenge.

If you took a survey of all those you believe are successful due to their own efforts and creativity, I am confident you will find they all possess the above qualities. I bet many of you have them too and not aware of it.

EMBRACE YOUR DYSFUNCTIONAL PAST….You are more setup for future success than you thought!!!

Action for the Day: Think of a very challenging emotional experience in your past.  No one would naturally choose to have had hard and emotionally difficult life experience. But the reality is that we all have experience something unpleasant because life is unpredictable.  How can you frame that experience in a way that it actually helped you to be a stronger person and deal with life’s uncertainties in a more effective way?

Quote of the Day:   People begin to become successful the minute they decide to be.” — Harvey Mackay: Best-selling business author, columnist & speaker