Tag Archives: Trusted Advisor

Kalypsonian of the Year

10 Sep

I get a lot of email. On rare occasions, I get an email that has a meaningful impact on my life.

Seven years ago a former colleague of mine sent me such an email. It was a short note referring his younger cousin as a potential candidate for our new and growing innovation consulting firm. She didn’t have much to offer in the way of relevant business experience, but my friend assured me that she had a strong character and was willing to work hard to make a difference. We needed help, and she didn’t make much money, so we took a chance and offered her a job.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. Hiring Pamela Soin is not one of them. She joined the team as a smart, inexperienced young lady a couple of years out of college and quickly made herself indispensable. In the intervening years we have traveled the world together, serving clients in exciting cities like Seoul, Sydney, San Diego, Amsterdam and even Appleton, Wisconsin. We have shared a lot of laughs, a lot of love, and more than a few tears.

Watching her grow into an accomplished professional advisor with personal eminence and business stature has been one the great privileges of my career. Some moments in life create indelible memories. My repertoire of stories from a twenty-year career in consulting is pretty large. Pam is the principal actor in many of the best and funniest stories I have in my collection. She is one of the original Kalypso “characters with character”.

The Kalypsonian of the Year award is reserved each year for the team member that embodies the ideals of the Kalypso consultant; that leader behind the leader that demonstrates a healthy lack of respect for hierarchy and positional authority. Pamela Soin believes that innovation combined with action can change the world for the better. She is passionate about what she does and knows how to have fun at work – and after. Most importantly, she genuinely cares about the success of her colleagues and goes to extraordinary lengths to help them. Pam is a true professional and a personal role model for us all.

After seven years I am honored to call her a colleague, a friend, and our 2012 Kalypsonian of the Year.

The Hokey Pokey

18 Apr

Van Gresham claims that he does not do the hokey-pokey during Virginia Tech football games. For a proud Hokie that invests considerable sums of time, energy and money into pre-game tailgating festivities, this is a little hard to believe. They play the hokey-pokey at Virginia Tech because you can dance without having to speak with an actual female. At an engineering school this is a big deal. All that talk of differential y and differential x doesn’t leave much room for actual sex. Given the odds stacked against him in this department, let’s just say that Van “got lucky.” I am sure that his wife, Chesley, will agree.

Born and schooled in Virginia and living in North Carolina, the boy knows how to cook a pig. I have enjoyed the product of this particular skill. He may have gotten a little above his raisin’ in the beverage department as he pairs his grilled pork tenderloin with fine California cabernets. Not what you would expect from a pedigreed hillbilly.

In addition to his culinary and rhythmic abilities, he has dedicated himself to raising money for brain cancer research as a participant in “Angels Among Us” which supports the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at (take a deep breath and look past the ACC rivalry) Duke University. Family is apparently more important than football.

I have enjoyed watching Van grow as a professional and develop into a trusted advisor to his clients at Kalypso. Not only do they count on him to get things done, they seem to like him quite a bit as well. His greatest strength is his character. It shows up day to day in his client service work. You can learn more about him here.

Reliability

14 Mar

The students in this spring’s Housley Principled Leadership Program are an amazing group. Spending four hours with them each Friday is invigorating and it renews my sense of purpose heading into the weekend. We are off for a couple of weeks for spring break (Remember those? Maybe not.)

We covered a lot of ground in our recent “Back to Basics” session of the program. (See pics from the session here.) My favorite topic is always the trust equation from Maister and Green’s The Trusted Advisor. The simple and not perfectly mathematical formula postulates that your ability to engender trust is equal to your credibility plus reliability plus intimacy divided by your self-orientation. Thus, we are more likely to trust someone that knows their stuff, does what they say they are going to do, is genuinely interested in knowing us as a person, and behaves in a selfless fashion. We are also much more likely to enjoy their company.

Stereotyping individuals that have a single weak variable is enlightening. The person with low credibility is a blowhard. The unreliable individual is a flake. Score low on the intimacy scale and you will come across as cold as a robot. Score high on all these things, but make it apparent that it is all about you and you may be a politician. We all know people that fall into one of these buckets and we probably don’t trust them much. This formula works in both commercial and personal contexts.

Of all the factors that affect trust the one that is the easiest to master is reliability. It doesn’t take years of education or a personality transplant to start following through on your commitments. In my experience, it is also the easiest way to differentiate yourself from the generally unreliable masses. All of us would benefit from periodically checking ourselves against the trust equation and identifying our weak variable. There is no excuse for letting poor reliability get in the way of building trust.

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