Getting to the Point | The Exkalibur Newsletter | August 11, 2017

The sole purpose of Getting to the Point is Helping YOU Become a More Effective Leader. For each of the topics included in our Business Brief segment, for example, there’s an important point I want to share that applies equally to all leaders and businesses.

There’s clearly a “crisis of confidence” in corporate America … in both a company’s ability to create the desired culture, as you’ll see in our Featured Article, and its success in Leadership Development programs as you’ll see in our Business Brief. I’m excited to report that’s a problem that Exkalibur University is tackling next month. You’ll also find some excellent interview questions you can use and a list of the essential eight technologies companies should watch.

But with all of our technology prowess, you’ll learn as we go Around the Web, that its effect on child development … not so great. As a parent, you’ll want to carefully consider some of the latest research about the how smartphones have destroyed a generation and the related increase in depression, anxiety and teen suicide. On the brighter side, you can learn about the science behind how the brain perceives beauty.

We’ll have a little fun, too, with a few laughs, a study of the fortunes in fortune cookies and how the top 50 musical artists fare depending on where you live … and a little less fun as we consider the rabid growth of partisan politics. There’s a great series of action movies for you to catch up on along with the latest badass SpecOps character from the pen of Brad Thor.

Make it a great weekend … and don’t stop leading.

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The Top 50 Artists … and The Favorites In Your Area

The NY Times recently “looked at the 50 artists that were most watched on YouTube in the United States between January 2016 and April 2017. Each map shows relative popularity in different parts of the country.”

In What Music Do Americans Love the Most? 50 Detailed Fan Maps, you can see the complete set of fan maps.

You can enter a U.S. location in the search box to get a custom playlist based on that area’s favorite artists among those in their data, or skip straight to the maps.

When I entered the zip code for San Francisco, I got Metallica. I listened for 7 minutes before my brain exploded.

Question: Do you like the choice for your area? Hit the Facebook icon, below, and let me know what you found. It couldn’t be worse than heavy metal, could it?

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If Mom & Dad Were Watching … Would You Be Proud of the Culture You’re Creating?

Today’s whipping boy is Uber, but plenty of other firms have had their turn in the barrel over a toxic and broken company culture.

You Don’t Want to be This Week’s Whipping Boy

Today’s whipping boy is Uber, but if you’re not paying close attention, your turn could be just around the corner.

In just the last few years, several surveys have identified culture and engagement as the #1 challenge around the world, with this startling statistic:

“… only 12 percent (of the survey respondents) believe their organizations are excellent at effectively driving the desired culture.”

How Often Did You Hear This Growing Up?

“You grabbed the last piece of cake before your sister could get it?”

“The principal called and said you broke another girl’s toy because she got to it first?”

“Did you push a boy on the playground because that boy got the last place on the teeter-totter?”

I’m pretty these were followed closely by something like this:

“You know better than that!”

In If Mom & Dad Were Watching … Would You Be Proud of the Culture You’re Creating?, you’ll find some tips to remind you of some simple steps you can take to improve your company culture.

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Your Next Step to Becoming a More Effective Leader

I’m excited to announce the first course in the Leadership Development curriculum being launched at Exkalibur University.

Beginning immediately after Labor Day, we will begin our first Leadership course, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – 7 Remarkably Simple Steps to Earn Respect. It’s designed to help you accelerate your Leadership Journey based on this indisputable premise:

“To Become a More Effective Leader you must first Become a Respected Leader.”

The course will include a series of emails over a two-week period. Along the way, we will hold several LIVE Office Hours sessions where we will dive deeper into some of the subjects you will read about, with a Q&A period each time to answer all of your questions. You can also expect a few special bonuses along the way to supplement the course materials.

Next week, we will begin to share additional details with you, so keep your eye on your inbox for further information. If you’re already an Exkalibur Subscriber, you’ll receive a super special discount to make it easy for you and your team to enroll in our new Leadership Series and advance your professional development.

I hope we’ll have a chance to talk together in class.

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Leadership Development Should Always Be On Your Mind

Most businesses, and their leaders, struggle to create and sustain a meaningful leadership development program. In What’s missing in leadership development?, some troubling findings emerge:

“According to a recent Fortune survey, only 7 percent of CEOs believe their companies are building effective global leaders, and just 10 percent said that their leadership-development initiatives have a clear business impact.”

“Our (McKinsey & Co.) latest research has a similar message: only 11 percent of more than 500 executives we polled around the globe strongly agreed with the statement that their leadership-development interventions achieve and sustain the desired results.”

In Why leadership-development programs fail, you’ll also find general agreement about the priority of Leadership Development:

“Almost two-thirds of the respondents identified leadership development as their number-one concern.”

Looking for Questions to Ask Job Candidates?

In 16 of the Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates (And What to Look for in Their Answers), they offer some of the best job interview questions to ask along with the answers you should expect.

Here are a few of them:

“What’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make in the past year? Why was it so big?”

“Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?”

“What single project or task would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?”

How Big is the Value of Merchandise Returns?

According to a CBS report, Many happy returns, here’s the answer:

If the value of merchandise returns were a corporation, it would be #3 on the Fortune 500.”


Do You Need Any of these Cutting-Edge Technologies?

You may want to consider 8 Cutting-Edge Technologies Companies Should be Evaluating and Integrating

“A new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers may help. PwC analyzed more than 150 technologies and whittled them down to the “essential eight” technologies companies and boards should pay attention to.”

Don’t They Say … “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions”?

If you’ve read the terrific book, Freakonomics Rev Ed: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, you’ll remember how the authors found that so many well-intended incentives backfired when the results were objectively considered. (If you haven’t read it, you’ll love it.)

In How Fast Food Chains Supersized Inequality, another interesting turn of events is presented that started as a well-intended program:

“Supersizing Urban America, a new book by the historian of public health, Chin Jou, shows that fast food did not just find its way to low-income urban areas: It was brought there by the federal government.

“In the wake of the 1968 riots, Nixon’s law-and-order presidency began programs that doled out federal funds to fast food franchises. The administration asserted that black-owned businesses serving fast food would help to cure urban unrest by promoting an entrepreneurial spirit in poor communities. The federal subsidization of McDonald’s and other chains to enter urban markets previously considered too poor or dangerous was meant to promote ”black capitalism.“ It did make a select group of black entrepreneurs wealthy, but it was mostly a boon to fast food giants searching for new market demographics.”

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The Numbers from Fortune Cookies are “Legit Lucky”?

The folks at are apparently obsessed with fortune cookies, and got really serious about their analysis in We Analyzed 1,000 Fortune Cookies To Unlock Their Secrets.

“The lucky numbers came out ahead in Powerball.”

“Anyone who tried to pick up Mandarin from our 1,035 fortunes in some bootleg flashcard stratagem would be in decent luck. At 173 words, we’re talking the vocabulary of a highly precocious 2-year-old or a late-blooming toddler.”

Chinese takeout anyone?

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You’d Have To Click A Mouse 10 Million Times To Burn One Calorie

“My daughter has spent the past week telling me, ”Did you know that every time you click a mouse, you burn one calorie?”


This man was determined to find out.

The Blue Whale Challenge is REPUGNANT

It’s hard to believe there is such a thing as the Blue Whale Challenge, which is reportedly an internet trend “which involves participants sharing a series of instructions on how to harm themselves that end in suicide — and which was blamed for the deaths of several teens in Russia and the United States.”

As incredibly repulsive as this idea is, it’s rewarding to see that people are creating anti-Blue Whale Challenges to combat it … even more so because of this tragic statistic from ‘I tried to kill myself 3 times’: Suicide rate for teenage girls hits 40-year high:

“A new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the rate of suicide among teenage girls hit a 40-year high in 2015.”

MORE GOOD REASONS to monitor your children’s online access.

Speaking of Parenting … READ THIS.

I think all of us have wondered about the implications of the technology that surrounds us and our children.

You must read Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? from the Atlantic:

“More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.”

“The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet.”

Then, Sprinkle a Little More Science on this Smartphone Phenomena

The study, Depression, anxiety, and smartphone addiction in university students- A cross sectional study, was established to:

“assess prevalence of smartphone addiction symptoms, and to ascertain whether depression or anxiety, independently, contributes to smartphone addiction level among a sample of Lebanese university students, while adjusting simultaneously for important sociodemographic, academic, lifestyle, personality trait, and smartphone-related variables.”

There’s much more here, but this is one of the conclusions:

“Prevalence rates of smartphone-related compulsive behavior, functional impairment, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms were substantial. 35.9% felt tired during daytime due to late-night smartphone use, 38.1% acknowledged decreased sleep quality, and 35.8% slept less than four hours due to smartphone use more than once. ”

How your brain decides what is beautiful

“Anjan Chatterjee uses tools from evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience to study one of nature’s most captivating concepts: beauty. Learn more about the science behind why certain configurations of line, color and form excite us in this fascinating, deep look inside your brain.”

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If You Had Any Doubt About the Rabid Growth of Partisan Politics …

You’ll find these and more insights in Inside The Partisan Fight For Your News Feed:

“The most comprehensive study to date of the growing universe of partisan websites and Facebook pages about US politics reveals that in 2016 alone at least 187 new websites launched, and that the candidacy and election of Donald Trump has unleashed a golden age of aggressive, divisive political content that reaches a massive amount of people on Facebook.”

“At its root, the analysis of 667 websites and 452 associated Facebook pages reveals the extent to which American online political discourse is powered by a mix of money and outrage.”

“The extensive BuzzFeed News analysis shows just how deeply outrage and the revenue it generates are tied to divisive online discussions.”

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Tom Clancy, A World Class Espionage Thriller Author

The Jack Ryan film series is an American series of thriller films, based on the fictional character of Jack Ryan, who originally appeared in a series of books by Tom Clancy. In the series of five films, four actors have portrayed Ryan.

Tom Clancy (1947–2013), whose meteoric career from insurance agent to #1 NY Times Bestselling author began with The Hunt for Red October in 1984, is a legend among espionage thriller writers.

The Jack Ryan Books

The book series, which now totals over 25 novels in various configurations, has been extended since Clancy’s death by other talented thriller writers. If you’ve been paying attention, I have also written about those authors and their own series, including Mark Greaney, author of the terrific Gray Man series and Marc Cameron, author of the equally terrific Jericho Quinn series, another of the SpecOps badasses.

The Jack Ryan Movies

Over a few stolen moments in the last few weeks, I stumbled across The Sum of All Fears (2002), which I don’t think I’ve seen before even though I thought I had seen all 5 movies. In this one, Ben Affleck plays Jack Ryan while in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), Chris Pine plays Ryan in his younger days.

If you’re looking for a little action, with very talented casts, you won’t go wrong with either of these. When you’re done, feel free to hit The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger to complete the cycle.

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Use of Force by Brad Thor (Scot Harvath #17)

It’s quite the season for the bad-ass SpecOps characters that are filling up my bookshelf. Over the last few weeks, I’ve read and shared with you the latest novel from:

  • the Jonathan Graves series from John Gilstrap,
  • the John Rain series from Barry Eisler, and
  • the Dewey Andreas series from Ben Coes.

This is not a group of guys you want to mess with.

Now in Use of Force, #17 in his series, comes another of my favorites in Scot Harvath, a former Navy seal who has become a covert counterterrorism operative, black cover all the way.

“As a storm rages across the Mediterranean Sea, a terrifying distress call is made to the Italian Coast Guard. Days later, a body washes ashore. Identified as a high value terrorism suspect (who had disappeared three years prior), his name sends panic through the Central Intelligence Agency. Where was he headed? What was he planning? And could he be connected to the ”spectacular attack“ they have been fearing all summer? In a race against time, the CIA taps an unorthodox source to get answers: Navy SEAL turned covert counterterrorism operative, Scot Harvath.” [Amazon]

As always, I suggest starting with The Lions of Lucerne, the first book in the series.

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