Getting to the Point | The Exkalibur Newsletter | April 28, 2017

This week, we’re finally debuting the first edition of our new newsletter format.

Our intention is to serve you more effectively by making it easy for you to access the items that interest you. When you click on any link, you’ll be taken directly to that section of the newsletter.

With this update, the Exkalibur Newsletter will always be available on our website, so you’ll be able to find it and access it at any time.


I would love to get your feedback on our newsletter.

– Do you like the content?
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– Is there anything we should do differently?

You can provide your comments by replying to this email, leaving a comment on the newsletter page itself, or by visiting our Facebook page.

Don’t stop leading … and we’ll keep working hard to help you Become a More Effective Leader.


Upcoming Events

  • The largest single-day leadership event in the world is ONLY 1 WEEK AWAY.

Featured Article

  • If you find yourself regularly asking “Why aren’t my people getting more done?”, you’ll usually find that your failure to Set Clear Expectations, written down and followed up regularly, is at the heart of the problem.

Geeking Out

  • 2 Billion people are on Facebook. Here’s a great cheat sheet to help you take control of your Facebook News Feed and make it work for you.

Business Brief

  • Pricing is one of the most crucial aspects of any business and it’s under siege from all sides. If you’re in business, you need to read, How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All.
  • Big tax cuts are proposed. Will an increase in growth offset the drop in revenue? That critical question will have a big impact on all of us.
  • In What Sets What Sets Successful CEOs Apart?, you’ll discover four specific behaviors that prove critical to their performance.

Around The Web

  • A Video Game to Cope with Grief
  • Now You Can Find Out What the Government does with all of OUR Money.
  • Think You’ve Got Problems? Challenges? Obstacles. What about this kid?
  • Amazon’s latest device helps you see How You’re Looking These Days?

What I’m Reading (Non-Fiction)

Option B – Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy

  • Option B by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, is a powerful, inspiring an practical book describing what she learned about grief and resilience when her husband died suddenly two years ago.

What I’m Watching

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more.

What I’m Reading (Fiction)

Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles, the last of the Natchez Trilogy

  • The Natchez Trilogy by Greg Iles which I’ve told you about previously, comes to its conclusion in the recent novel, Mississippi Blood. It’s another long series you absolutely don’t want to miss.

Leadercast LIVE is ONE WEEK from TODAY on Friday, May 5th

If you’re really devoted to Becoming a More Effective Leader and a Leader Worth Following, you should join us and over 120,000 leaders from around the world at Leadercast LIVE, the Largest One-Day Leadership Event in the World. You’ll network with local leaders, including CEOs from the wine industry and leaders from companies like the Exchange Bank, The Gap, Mary’s Pizza Shack, Heffernan Insurance and many others.

And, since it’s Cinco de Mayo, guess what La Tortilla Factory and Mary’s Pizza Shack has in store?

It’s not too late, so clear your schedule and join us for this singular event.

You will find all of the details here.

Set Clear Expectations.

What a simple concept … and yet it’s often the missing link in the Accountability leaders seek from their teams.

In Is it Too Much Trouble to Set Clear Expectations? If So, Be Prepared for Mediocre Results, I outline the steps needed to make sure this simple concept drives your organization’s Accountability.

Every day when I talk to executives, there’s hardly a conversation that doesn’t include the same 2 questions:

“Why aren’t I getting more done?”, and
“Why aren’t my people getting more done?”

If you’re looking for the secret sauce, and want to eliminate uncertainty from your dealings with your direct reports, these guidelines will help ensure that Accountability is embedded across your organization.

How to Customize Your Facebook News Feed to Maximize Your Productivity

With over 2 Billion people on Facebook, it’s good to know you have a lot more control over your News Feed and how you can access everyone and everything you’re following.

Here’s a great cheat sheet about how to organize it. I used it recently and it’s a big help if you use Facebook and want to make it more effective and efficient.


Pricing? Who Knows What Prices Should Be?

The fixed-price environment in which we all grew up started in the 1860’s to eliminate the perpetual hostility of haggling.

“At the time, merchants saw the practical benefits of Macy’s and Wanamaker’s prix fixe policies. As they staffed up their new department stores, it was expensive to train hundreds of clerks in the art of haggling. Fixed prices offered a measure of predictability to bookkeeping, sped up the sales process, and made possible the proliferation of printed retail ads highlighting a given price for a given good.”

In How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All, a fascinating history of pricing emerges that brings us up to the new era of internet retailing.

“The right price—the one that will extract the most profit from consumers’ wallets—has become the fixation of a large and growing number of quantitative types, many of them economists who have left academia for Silicon Valley.”

When you consider that in mid-March, Amazon was looking to hire 59 additional economists, seeking the optimal price at all times is the new pricing mantra.

To wit:

  • “The price of a can of soda in a vending machine can now vary with the temperature outside.”
  • “In one study, computers with addresses in greater Boston were shown lower prices than those in more-remote parts of Massachusetts.”

Further on pricing …

+ You might also consider, Is Pricing a Powerful Tool, a Slippery Slope or a Crap Shoot?

+ In an older article, CFO Magazine suggests that while it’s tempting to cut prices during tough economic times, a better approach may be to introduce a “fighter brand.”

Taxes Chainsaw Massacre? Will We Finally Get Lower Taxes?

Will the proposed tax cuts create enough growth to offset the drop in tax revenue? That’s the challenge every time a significant text got his considered.

It’s virtually impossible to predict human behavior, but Growth Can Solve the Debt Dilemma offers an encouraging outlook.

What Sets Successful CEOs Apart?

Last week, in What Makes a CEO Exceptional, three lessons emerge from McKinsey & Co’s close scrutiny of exceptional leaders.

This week, in What Sets Successful CEOs Apart, Harvard Business School, partnering with economists at the University of Chicago and Copenhagen Business School and with analysts at SAS Inc., tapped into a database containing more than 17,000 assessments of C-suite executives, including 2,000 CEOs.

A Video Game to Cope with Grief

“When Amy Green’s young son was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, she made up a bedtime story for his siblings to teach them about cancer. What resulted was a video game, That Dragon, Cancer, which takes players on a journey they can’t win.”

In this beautiful talk about coping with loss, Green brings joy and play to tragedy.

‘We made a game that’s hard to play,’ she says, ‘because the hardest moments of our lives change us more than any goal we could ever accomplish.'”

What Does the Government Do with All of OUR Money?

That’s what Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO, has spent the last three years figuring out.

He’s created what he calls a “10-K for Government”.

  • “Want to know how many police officers are employed in various parts of the country and compare that against crime rates?
  • Want to know how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets and the cost to collect?
  • Want to know what percentage of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government spends on it?”

He recently unveiled a public database and a report that he and a small army of economists, professors and other professionals have been assembling as part of a stealth start-up over the last three years called USAFacts, which you can access here.

Looking for Inspiration? Motivation? Start Here!

Think you got Problems? Issues! Challenges? Obstacles?

Do you have the same drive as this young kid?

Wonder How You’re Looking These Days?

Amazon has just announced a companion product to their popular Echo device.

If love “Alexa”, which I do – you’ll want to learn more about Echo Look and see how she can help you look your best.

Just In Case You Ever Step In Quicksand …

Watch this 2-minute video so you can save yourself … just in case.

A man was walking down the street when he was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby- looking man who asked him for a couple of dollars for dinner.

The man took out his wallet, extracted ten dollars and asked,

“If I give you this money, will you buy some booze with it instead of dinner?”

“No, I had to stop drinking years ago,” the homeless man replied.

“Will you spend this on green fees at a golf course instead of food?” the man asked.

“Are you NUTS!” replied the homeless man. “I haven’t played golf in 20 years!”

“Well,” said the man, “I’m not going to give you money. Instead, I’m going to take you home for a hot shower and a terrific dinner cooked by my wife.”

The homeless man was astounded.

“Won’t your wife be furious with you for doing that?

The man replied,

“That’s okay. It’s important for her to see what a man looks like after he has given up drinking and golf.”

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg

From Facebook’s COO and Wharton’s top-rated professor, the #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Lean In and Originals: a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.

After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences.

Option B – Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead.

Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity.

“I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied,

“Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.

We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This past Saturday, HBO debuted this movie based on the eponymous book by Rebecca Skloot, named by more than 60 critics as one of the best books of 2010.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.

“Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne star in this adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed, bestselling nonfiction book of the same name. Told through the eyes of Henrietta Lacks’ daughter, Deborah Lacks, the film chronicles her search, along with journalist Rebecca Skloot (Byrne), to learn about the mother she never knew and understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks’ cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.”

The greatest compliment you can pay an actor is that they’re so lost in the role that you forget who they are. Oprah Winfrey is certainly recognizable in the film, but she does an excellent job of disappearing into the troubled, anxious and stubborn sister who’s determined to find out why her sibling made history while also being lost to it.

If you’re hankering for something to read … maybe to carry you into summer and beyond … you’ll want to include me in your will for recommending this book and the entire Penn Cage series. Here’s my address ….

Finally, the 6th novel in the Penn Cage series, Mississippi Blood, and the final book in the Natchez Trilogy (which comprises Book #s 4-6) arrived and it is absolutely fabulous,

Last summer, I described the terrific series from Greg Iles starring Penn Cage, a lawyer turned novelist turned Mayor, who has to deal with a murder charge leveled against his father, a beloved local doctor for over 40 years, who is accused of killing the African American nurse with whom he worked in the 1960s.

But his father invokes doctor-patient privilege and refuses to speak in his own defense. The quest for the truth unravels sexually-charged secrets, vestiges of the KKK and some of the most powerful men in Mississippi.

At around 700pp, it’s shorter than its two predecessors, but brings the Natchez Trilogy to over 2,300pp. But it’s worth every moment you’ll spend.

Like all of the Penn Cage books, it’s a captivating story, rich with Southern traditions and chock-full with menace, suspense and close calls. The Natchez Burning Trilogy is being turned into an Amazon TV series starring Toby McGuire.

This is one of the best series I’ve read in a long time, remarkably different than the equally long Clifton Chronicles which is terrific for so many different reasons.

As I’ve said, when I discover a new series, I follow my own recommendation to start from the beginning. So, start with first book in this series, The Quiet Game.

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