Monthly Archives: May 2019

Book Notes: The Power of Moments

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book presents the importance moments have – these range from how much you enjoyed your holiday to how parents think about schools which impacts their children in schools. The book presents four ways moments can be thought about and by enhancing them can improve the experience.

  • Elevation – how do we make something stick out from the other things going on
  • Insight – how do we gain knowledge
  • Pride – these are moments of achievement, moments of courage
  • Connection – to gain a greater connection with others

A great moment does not have to have all of these components but it is a good way to think about moments through different lenses. The book highlights the issue of people focussing on fixing the potholes but highlights that quite a few of these will be overlooked when people look back so improving the best moment might be a better return on time. Additionally the book highlights that it would be easy to cut costs e.g. not bringing the whole company together etc but this devalues the potential for the moment. Finally there are more moments than you’d expect – such as transitions or milestones, even getting an MRI scan is a moment for the patient and this can go from a traumatic experience to an enjoyable one.


  • Boost the sensory appeal – change the environment such as going to different locations, or changing the way people dress etc.
  • Raise the stakes – such as a competition where one side wins which will provoke greater involvement
  • Break the script – defy the normal way of doing things both for the way you do things normally but also what people expect to happen. Novelty is memorable.
  • Take care that they are not delayed or watered down – it’s easy to reduce a great moment idea to something much less memorable.


  • Deliver realisation and transformation
  • “trip over the truth” – people need to discover things themselves but by guiding people they can pick up the pieces themselves to trip over the truth this involves gaining a clear insight, in a short time discovered by the audience itself.
  • Risk – Sometimes we need to expose ourselves to failure to gain the insight. When it’s others gaining the insight we need to give them space to fail and not jump in quickly.
  • Mentors can stretch us further – high standards + assurance + direction + support
  • Stretching – it’s not about success, it’s about learning


  • Recognise others – we underinvest in recognising others
  • Create more meaningful milestones – refrance a large milestone into multiple smaller ones so we can feel we are progressing. We can surface milestones which might not have otherwise been noticed.
  • Practice courage to push ourselves – though practice our reactions are already “preloaded” so by rehearsing what we want to do we are more likely to do it. Courage is contagious to and from others.
  • Recognition is personal – a generic program does not cut it


  • Creating a synchronised moment –
  • Inviting shared struggles – where people choose to take part this can be powerful e.g. endurance team sports etc
  • Connecting with meaning – where people get to the root of why their work is important and acknowledging the impact it has. Having a strong purpose trumps strong passion but together they are powerful.
  • Deep connections – active listening can greatly boost the depth of a connection with mutual understanding, validation and caring which when combined with openness leads to intimacy with turn taking e.g. using 36 Questions.

Book Notes: Trillion Dollar Coach

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Handbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a look back at some of the advice which senior leaders in silicon valley received from Bill Campbell who was their coach.

  • Corral any “team of rivals” into a community and get them aligned in marching towards a common goal and thus success.
  • The best coach for any team is the manager who leads that tea. Being a good coach is essential to being a good manager and leader. Coaching is no longer a specialty; you cannot be a good manager without being a good coach.
  • Your Title Makes You a Manager. Your People Make You a Leader

How do you bring people around and help them flourish in your environment? It’s not by being a dictator. It’s not by telling them what the hell to do. It’s making sure that they feel valued by being in the room with you. Listen. Pay attention. This is what great managers do.

  • Delivery is important – you have to have good processes, make sure people are accountable, you know how to hire great people, how to evaluate them and give them feedback and pay them well.

People are the foundation of any companies success. The primary job of each manager is to help people be more effective in their job and to grow and develop. We have great people who want to do well, are capable of doing great things, and come to work fired up to do them. Great people flourish in an environment that liberates and amplifies that energy. Managers create this environment through support, respect and trust.

Support means giving people the tools, information, training and coaching they need to succeed. It means continuous effort to develop people’s skills. Great managers help people excel and grow.

Respect means understanding people’s unique career goals and being sensitive to their life choices. It means helping people achieve these career goals in a way that’s consistent with the needs of the company.

Trust means freeing people to do their job and to make decisions. It means knowing people want to do well and believing that they will.

It’s the People
  • It’s the people – the top priority of any manager is the well-being and success of her people
  • Start with trip reports – to build rapport and better relationships among team members, start team meetings with trip reports or other type of more personal, non-bussiness topic.
  • 5 words on a whiteboard – have a structure for 1:1s and take the time to prepare for them as they are the best way to help people be more effective and to grow
    • Performance on job requirements
    • Relationships with peer groups
    • Management/Leadership
    • Innovation (best practices)
  • The throne behind the round table – the manager’s job is to run a decision-making process that ensures all perspectives get heard and considered, and, if necessary, to break ties and make decisions.
  • Lead based on first principles – define the “first principles” for the situation, the immutable truths that are the foundations for the company or product and help guide the decision from those principles.
  • Manage the aberrant genius – aberrant geniuses (high performance but difficult team members) should be tolerated and even protected, as long as their behaviour isn’t unethical or abusive and their value outweighs the toll their behavior takes on management, colleagues and teams.
  • Money’s not about money – compensating people well demonstrates love and respect and ties them strongly to the goals of the company
  • Innovation is where the crazy people have stature – the purpose of a company is to bring a product vision to life. All the other components are in service to the product.
  • Heads held high – if you have to let people go, be generous, treat them well and celebrate their accomplishments.
  • Bill on boards – it’s the CEO’s job to manager boards, not the other way around
  • Only coach the coachable – the traits that make a person coachable include honesty and humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.
  • Practice free-form listening – listen to people with your full and undivided attention (don’t think ahead to what you’re going to say next) and ask questions to get to the real issue.
  • No gap between statements and facts – be relentlessly honest and candid, couple negative feedback with caring, give feedback as soon as possible, and if the feedback is negative, deliver it privately.
  • Don’t’ stick it in their ear – don’t tell people what to do; offer stories and help guide them to the best decisions for them.
  • Be the evangelist for courage -believe in people more than they believe in themselves, and push them to be more courageous.
  • Full identity front and center – people are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work.
  • Work the team, then the problem – when faced with problem or opportunity, the first step is to ensure the right team is in place and working on it.
  • Pick the right players – the top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts: the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit , empathy and a team-first attitude.
  • Pair people – peer relationships are critical and often overlooked, so seek opportunities to pair people up on projects or decisions.
  • Peer feedback survey:
    • Core attributes – For the past 12 months, to what extent do you agree/disagree that each person:
      • Displayed extraordinary in-role performance.
      • Exemplified world-class leadership
      • Achieved outcomes that were in the best interest for both the company as a whole and his/her organisation.
      • Expanded the boundaries of what is possible for the company through innovation and/or application of best practices.
      • Collaborated effectively with peers (e.g. worked well together, resolved barriers/issues with others) and championed the same in his/her team.
      • Contributed effectively during senior team meetings (e.g was prepared, participated actively, listened well, was open and respectful to others, disagreed constructively)
    • Product leadership – For the past 12 months to what extent do you agree/disagree that each person demonstrated exemplary leadership in the following areas:
      • Product Vision
      • Product Quality
      • Product Execution
    • Open-text questions
      • What differentiated each SVP and makes him/her effective today?
      • What advice would you give each SVP to be more effective and/or have greater impact?
  • Get to the table – winning depends on having the best team, and the best teams have more women.
  • Solve the biggest problem – identify the biggest problem, the “elephant in the room”, bring it front an center and tackle it first.
  • Don’t let the bitch sessions last – air all the negative issues, but don’t dwell on them. Move on as fast as possible.
  • Winning right – strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork and integrity.
  • Leaders lead – when things are going bad, teams are looking for even more loyalty, commitment, and decisiveness from their leaders.
  • Fill the gaps between people – listen, observe, and fill the communication and understanding gaps between people.
  • Permission to be empathetic – leading teams becomes a lot more joyful, and the teams more effective, when you know and care about the people.
  • The lovely reset – to care about people you have to care about people: ask about their lives outside of work, understand their families and when things get rough show up.
  • The percussive clap – cheer demonstrably for people and their successes.
  • Always build communities – build communities inside and outside of work. A place is much stronger when people are connected.
  • Help people – be generous with your time, connections and other resources.
  • Love the founders – old a special reverence for – and protect – the people with the most vision and passion for the company.
  • The elevator chat – loving colleagues in the workplace may be challenging, so practice it until it becomes more natural.

The book ends with a forward looking page for advice given to Eric when he was stepping down from CEO of Google on how to stay engaged in later life: Be creative, don’t be a portfolio of interests, fine people with vitality, apply your gifts, don’t waste time worrying about the future.

Book Notes: The Coach’s Casebook

The Coach’s Casebook: Mastering the Twelve Traits That Trap Us by Geoff Watts and Kim Morgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book presents 12 different traits which they find are common along with 38 different techniques of which different techniques might work well for different people with the different traits. The book also provides some hints to become a better coach. I’m just going to summarise the traits here along with key questions and useful models presented in the book.

Impostor Syndrome

Common characteristics:

  • Having an inability to internalise your accomplishments
  • Feeling that other people have an over-inflated view of you
  • Attributing any success you have to luck or just being in the right place at the right time
  • Being fearful of being “found out”
  • Feeling like a fraud
  • Believing that the very fact that you got the job/do the work means that it can’t be that difficult. Your ability to do something negates the value of it
  • Looking more at what you can’t do, rather than valuing what you can do

How would you describe yourself if you were being as kind and generous to yourself as you are to your friends?

You are never as good or as bad as you think you are

People Pleasing

People-pleasing is associated with a passive behaviour style, the opposite being aggressive. The middle is an assertive style.

Put other people’s feelings and needs above their own
Get pushed around or taken advantage of
Are indecisive
Have a knee-jerk “yes” response to requests
Apologise excessively
Feel guilty for other people’s feelings
Put their needs and feelings before others’
Use emotional blackmail such as sulking, silence or threats to get their own way
Persist until they get what they want
Shout, intimidate and get violent

How would somebody who you really respect and admire deal with the same situation?

Going to Excess

Often when someone is doing things to excess they have a feeling of emotional emptiness inside them that they are trying to fill with other things. These emptiness can come from any aspect in the Wheel of Human Givens.

Wheel of Human Givens

Fierce Independence

People with a strong, fierce independent trait rarely work for long in conventional corporate environments.

How might other people (with a different personality from you) approach your situation?


Energy Investment Model

While we may have a lot less control over the world than we would like, we actually have a lot more control over ourselves and our responses than we appreciate.

Our minds regularly delete things that don’t conform to our view and can distort events to make them fit.

Try keeping a journal of good things which happen. Consciously challenging your response to things. Share these challenges with friends and family so they can support the change.

Change can be brought about at a behavioural level or a belief level – a behavioural level change will likely not last long.

When did you decide to see the world this way?

Driven by Fear

Storytelling may be a defence or a smokescreen to avoid the “real” conversation that is needed. At other times it may be a sign of entrenched or “stuck” thinking.

Motivation is either “towards” what they want or “away from” what they don’t want.#

How much would you say you enjoy the destination compared to the journey?

Ostrich Syndrome

SARA Model

When someone receives some feedback which they don’t want to accept they can get stuck in rejecting the feedback. If this is regarding how they are as a person then one technique is the Johari Window approach where you choose six words from the list which you feel describe yourself and you get others to select six words as well – words you put and others respond go into the open box, things you put but others didn’t in the hidden and things other see but you did not in the blind spots.

Johari Window

What would be the worst piece of feedback that anyone could give you? Why would that be so bad?

Who do you want to be? How close are you to who you want to be? How can you find out more about yourself?


Work and home life have an interdependence so getting a holistic picture can be useful.

Wheel Of Life

What does Perfect meant to you?

What would be the impact of reducing by 10% the standard you set yourself?

How could making mistakes be less painful?


Causes for procrastination include:

  • The task appearing overwhelming
  • Not possessing the knowledge or skills to complete the task
  • Lack of time-management skills
  • Inability to prioritise

These can come about because of:

  • Fear of failure – We instinctively seek to protect ourselves from failure, often without realising we are doing so or acknowledging the consequences. This allows a lack of time to be used as the reason for failure but because you could not do it.
  • Perfectionism – Those who exhibit perfectionism often have unrealistically high standards and expectations for themselves so breaking things down into smaller achievable steps is key.
  • Lack of assertiveness – Which results in over committing to to many things.
  • Lack of autonomy – Could be delaying a task to exert some form of autonomy and control over a situation.

Ways to overcome it:

  • Write down all the reasons for delaying the task. Then create a convincing argument against each one.
  • Break the task into small, manageable “chunks”
  • Tell other people you are going to be doing in order to introduce an element of accountability and peer pressure.
  • Schedule a realistic time slot each day to get a little bit done. Plan a small reward after completing each time slot.
  • If the task seems overwhelming, remind yourself of all your past achievements so you know you are capable of succeeding.
Do you have low frustration tolerance?
Do you believe that life should be easy and comfortable?
Do you find being bored intolerable?
Do you find yourself saying “I can’t live without that” or “I just can’t bare this”?
Are you bored easily?
Do you choose short-term pleasures over important duties?
Do you often feel lethargic?
Do you have episodes of feeling “hard done by”?
Do you have a history of starting lots of things but not finishing them?

Performance Anxiety

If we stretch too much too soon then we can go too far.

How will this moment seem to you when you look back in 10 year time?

If your stress is 10/10 what would it take to lower it to 9/10?

Searching for Fulfilment

Explore your values – identify the five values which are core to you from a longer list. Using the selected values over a week record at the end of each day for each value 🙂 to :-(. Use this to identify days which you were more fulfilled than others, try to use this as a pointer to be able to get more fulfilling days.

How in control of life do you fee?

Statements – strong agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree
Our society is run by a few people with a lot of power and there is not much the ordinary person can do about it.
Success hinges on being in the right place at the right time.
There will always be conflict in the world, however hard people work to stop it
There is no point in voting, it won’t change anything.
Everything which happens in life is predestined.
Its a waste of time trying to change people, they will always stay the same.
Whether I work hard or not it won’t make any difference to how others assess my performance.
Leaders are born not made
Luck and chance play a key role in life.
Most of what happens in life is controlled by forces that we do not understand and can’t control.

Coping with loss

A loss can come in many forms (e.g. loosing a job) and when it happens people have to go through a number of stages for them to come out the other side. For coaching its important to listen and support them through the stages and to not rush things.