7 Rules for a Drama-Free Family Business

Folks, working with family is haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard.

There’s emotional baggage. There’s years of noogies and wedgies. You’ve probably been on the giving or receiving end of at least one teenage “I HATE YOU!” or “GET AWAY FROM ME” from your coworker or boss. And they know just how to push your […]

Why It Pays to Be Paranoid (or, How Frank Became Obsessed with Scanning Receipts)

photo credit here

Most everyone will deny that they’re paranoid, but the truth is that everyone is paranoid to a degree.  The only questions is: are you paranoid enough?  Do you put a letter in a mailbox, close the lid, and then open it again to be sure the letter […]

Slow and Silent and Secondary: The Most Dangerous Crisis of All

photo credit here

Over the weekend, I talked about how mismanaging communication during an initial crisis can trigger an immediate second crisis – the kind that causes angry, confused customers to hit you with a landslide of complaints in a short time period.  These are called secondary crises – ones […]

How NOT to Be a Hero: A Beginner’s Guide to Abusing Power

photo credit: Chicago Art Department here

Have you ever wondered where the point is when a person can become a hero or a louse?*

Darlene Druyun
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

In the late 90s I provided support for Acquisition Reform to the Undersecretary of the Air Force.  In those days, there was […]

Winning, Failure, and the Washington Post Test

photo credit: mike.benedetti  here

I’m fascinated with failure. I’m fascinated with why people fail, especially people with lots of experience in positions of power. What causes someone who has demonstrated the drive, intelligence, smarts and success to end up committing genuinely stupid criminal acts?  Yes, stupid – because they are bound to come out at […]

Crisis Management and Mental Illness: What We Can Learn from Paula Deen

photo credit: lifescript hereIt’s been a bad week for celebrity chefs.In three short days, Paula Deen gone from Food Network darling to being publicly fired by the network. You can read more about it here, but let me sum up: A former employee filed a lawsuit against her charging […]

Godzillas and Frogs: Understanding Potential Crises

Photo Credit: here

Whenever I tell people that I deal in crisis management, their response is, “What type of crisis?”  I can answer with descriptions of personnel, management or even moral crises that I’ve dealt with, but almost every crisis that I have dealt with over the past 30+ years […]

Three Crisis Management Lessons from the Australian Military Sex Scandal (or, Why Lt. Gen. Morrison Wins the Internet This Week)


read the transcript here

Last week on Facebook, I talked about “pivot points” – clear breaks with the past coupled with action to change the future – and why they’re essential to good crisis management. This next story takes pivot points to a whole new level.

In short, a group of Australian Army […]

Crisis Management, Excuses, and the Nigella Lawson Choking Scandal


Photo credit: harlequin_colors via flickr here

On June 6, culinary superstar Nigella Lawson was photographed crying at a restaurant as her husband, advertising mogel Charles Saatchi, repeatedly grabbed her throat with both hands during an argument.  He did it at least 4 times, while she cried and tried to placate […]

You Are Only Two Minutes Away from Being a Better Crisis Manager

I love this quote, because it sums up the first principle of crisis management: get control of yourself.

“Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart
in nearly every great crisis – a good hot cup of coffee.” – Alexander King
Photo Credit: Moyen Brenn via Flickr

When a […]

Baby Elephants and Baby Birds: What Does It Mean To Be A Startup?

photo credit here

These days, the word “start-up” gets tossed around so much that we’re starting to lose its meaning.  And the meaning matters. Consider this: a lot of creatures can be classified as baby animals. But when you want to learn about baby birds, it doesn’t make sense to […]

Personal Lean Day 4 – Why Asking Stupid Questions Makes You Look Smart

Photo Credit: Eleaf via Flickr

Ever heard someone use a word that you didn’t understand, and thought Wait… what does ‘reductive’ mean? I’ve heard that somewhere before… it kind of sounds like ‘redundant’… but different. I…um… oh crap. I’m lost. What do I do??? 

Did you stop them and ask what they […]

Personal Lean Day 3 – Four Brutal Truths for Dealing with the Elephant in the Room

Photo Credit: John Mallon Iphoneography via Flickr

Everyone is going to spend some time hanging out with denial. Yes, that means you. I promise. Something completely unexpected and messy and scary will suckerpunch you, and it will threaten your self-image. You’ll watch in shock as that elephant squeezes through your […]

Q&A: Help! I Have Too Many Ideas and Too Much to Do!

Photo Credit: csm-web via FlickrHey, Mer -My business is really starting to take off and I’m getting lots of feedback from my new customers. I have so many ideas for the new products and services they want, but I’m trying to bring on my new employees so I don’t […]

Five Leadership Lessons from the Men Behind Godzilla

Click here to read Part I – “11 Leadership Lessons from Godzilla”

1. Sometimes, Plan B is WAAAAY Better than Plan A

In 1954, Toho Studios had sunk a lot of money into an epic war movie called Beyond the Glory. It was supposed to be a juggernaut –  think Avatar […]

11 Leadership Lessons From Godzilla

One week when I was eight, Channel 9 in Los Angeles chose Godzilla as their Million Dollar Movie – the original Godzilla with Raymond Burr. They played it every day for a whole week.  I saw the movie eight times in eight days!  It was love at first […]

Three Keys to Successfully Managing Risk in Your Business


There is something deeply satisfying about competence in the face of real risk. Keeping a lid on your fears, knowing what you are doing, and managing the risk to come out alive.
-Euan Semple

Conflict, failure, crisis, funding, cutbacks… all are your constant companions when running a business. They boil down […]