February 2017

Masterpiece from Abandoned Stone

2017-03-07T16:39:15+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |


The statue of David is one of the most recognizable pieces of art and is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture.

It was carved by Michelangelo (Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni), towers at 17-feet (5.17 meters) tall, took just over three years to complete, and was unveiled in 1504.

It was such an impressive piece in both content (David about to fight Goliath) and form (representing strength and beauty) that it became an icon of pride for the Florentine Republic in a time when they were fighting their surrounding rival states. Today it confidently stands in the Gallery of the Academy of the Art of Design (Galleria dell’Accademia) in Florence.

David is an inspiration to view.

Even more interesting…

It was turned into a work of art from a ‘discarded’ block of marble that had been quarried 40 years earlier. The stone contains a fault… microscopic holes that cause the marble to deteriorate faster than higher-quality marble. Two other sculptors started to carve it… but abandoned their projects.

At 26 years old, Michelangelo convinced the powers that were that he deserved the commission and was awarded the contract.

That was over 500 years ago… we’re still in awe.

What’s this have to do with marketing? Ideas? Innovation? Work?

Where is discarded marble at your business? What is that overlooked masterpiece needing a bit of mallet, chisel, and sanding?

Is it a product? – You should ask to manage it.
Is it an abandoned project? РYou should serve as the champion.
Is it a person? – You should coach them and share your success skills.

I know… I know… It’s not your job, right? But that’s what everyone else is saying. Are there to collect a paycheck or to make a difference?

So, you don’t have to create something that stands 17-feet tall and serves as an icon of pride for your company… But wouldn’t it be cool if you did?

August 2016

10-Point Presidential Formula For Success

2016-08-07T12:14:26+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

I didn’t know a lot about President Lyndon Johnson, but I’ve enjoyed learning about him via Wikipedia.

While reading the terrific book, The Magic Of Thinking Big, by Dr. Joseph Schwartz. In a section about “Thinking Right Toward People,” Dr. Schwartz featured the 10 Point Formula For Success created and followed by Lyndon Johnson. And now I share it with you…

10 Point Formula For Success

  1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may indicate that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
  2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old-shoe, old-hat kind of individual.
  3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
  4. Don’t be egotistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.
  5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
  6. Study to get “scratchy” elements out of your personality, even those of which you may be unconscious.
  7. Sincerely attempt to heal, on an honest Christian basis, every misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off grievances.
  8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement, or express sympathy in sorrow or disappointment.
  10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

Magic_Of_Thinking_BigWhen I find something helpful in a book I underline it and fold over the page corner. These “dog ears” let me return to the good stuff in a book.

I’m pretty sure this book has the most dog ears than any other I’ve ever read. It was written in 1959 and – other than a few outdated salary and home price references – it is incredibly relevant today.

April 2016

How To Be Like Walt Disney

2016-04-12T16:19:00+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

Be Like Walt Disney

In How to Be Like Walt, Pat Williams cites what are considered the six qualities that made the work Walt Disney did so creative and innovative. In re-reading How To Be Like Walt, it was a great refresher on what contributed to Walt’s success.

The Six Factors of Walt’s Genius

Paul Anderson, a Disney historian and a professor at Brigham Young University teaches a course called “Walt Disney and American Culture.” Anderson spent years studying, interviewing, and reading about Walt to determine the source of Walt’s genius. The six factors they concluded are…

  • Knowledge – Walt had a thirst for knowledge. He tried to impart this love of knowledge to everyone around him… He knew that it would pay dividends for the studio.
  • Experimentation – Walt was always pushing the envelope and testing new ideas. He was on a continual quest for discovery, and he encouraged that same spirit in his staff.
  • Quality at All Costs – Walt’s philosophy was “Whatever you do, do it right.” He was always reaching for perfection, and his eye never missed a detail.
  • Control – Walt hired the best people and gave them a lot of creative freedom. but he always had control of the final results.
  • Vision – Walt’s special gift. He had a unique sense of what would sell and what the public wanted to see.

And the greatest of Walt’s qualities…

  • Curiosity – Walt was intensely curious about everything life had to offer… He had a childlike curiosity about anything and everything.

May 2011

What Makes A Creative Director A Great Leader?

2011-05-11T00:15:51+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , |

In speaking with a friend about the Creative Director role at their agency, we exchanged ideas about what makes a Creative Director. I made some notes for her and thought you’d like to see them… The ideas go beyond that of just a Creative Director.

  • Understanding not just what someone states they need, but to look further to what they really need.
  • Is multi-lingual… they understand can speak, and translate: design, brand, and client.
  • Understands how to make it work – the words, the art, the vehicle.
  • Helps people see things from other perspectives.
  • Helps people break the ‘curse of knowledge’ – knowing so much about a topic they forget what it is to be a confused newbie.
  • Is a plusser.
    • Challenges people to plus their work to the next level. Helps them work at their full potential.
    • Goes beyond to create new standards, doesn’t settle for the current status.
    • Looks to the industry for the trend… but relies on other resources to push things further.
    • Pushes to plus her or himself. To do better this year than last.
  • Provides usable feedback. And in a way that doesn’t kill confidence!
  • Treats people with respect and dignity.
  • Knows when to help clear a path… and when to stay out of the way.
  • Takes blame. Gives credit.

I’m sure I’m missing other important things… What are your thoughts?

April 2010

Don’t Hog Glory, Invest It Instead

2011-04-07T17:39:27+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: , , |

Sand for Your Inbox
April 2010

There are many versions of the advice, “Surround yourself with great people – and you’ll get great things.” However, it isn’t enough just to surround yourself, you must also take care and nurture the people that surround you.

Here is a great example of nurturing, from the pages of the book, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. I hope you enjoy this month’s Sand for Your Inbox…

Don’t Hog Glory, Invest It Instead

Just recently I was a guest at an all-day sales convention. After dinner that evening the vice-president in charge of sales for the company passed out awards to the two district managers, a man and a woman, whose sales organizations had attained the best records for the year just ended. The vice president asked those district managers to take 15 minutes to tell the entire group how their organization did so exceptionally well.

The first district manager (who, I learned later, had been appointed a manager only three months before and therefore only partially responsible for his organization’s record) got up and explained how he did it.

He conveyed the impression that his efforts and his efforts alone caused the sales increase. Remarks such as, “When I took over I did such-and-such”; “Things were in a mess but I cleared them up”; “It wasn’t easy but I just grabbed hold of the situation and wouldn’t let go” characterized his talk.

As he talked, I could see the increasing resentment gathering in the faces of his salespeople. They were being ignored for the sake of the district manager’s personal glory. Their hard work, which was responsible for the sales increase, was completely unrecognized.

Then, the second district manager got up to make her short talk. But this lady used an entirely different approach. First, she explained that the reason for her organization’s success was the whole-hearted effort of her sales force. Then she asked each one to stand and paid a sincere personal compliment to each for his or her efforts.

Note this difference; the first manager squandered the vice-president’s praise entirely on himself. In doing so, he offended his own people. His sales force was demoralized. The second passed the praise on to her sales force where it could do more good. This manager knows that praise, like money, can be invested to pay dividends. She knew that the passing the credit on to her sales people would make them work even harder next year.

Remember, praise is power. Invest praise you receive from your superior. Pass praise to your team where it will encourage still greater performance. When you share praise, your team will know you sincerely appreciate their value.

One stipulation to this story – investing praise must be genuine. If the second district manager said those things without meaning it, she’s as bad as the first. I’d rather have a boss that hogs praise than insincere who pretends to share it.

When investing praise, be generous and genuine.

Take care,

Paul Williams
professional problem solver
Idea Sandbox
Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

The story “Don’t Hog Glory, Invest It Instead” is from pages 209-211 of the book, The Magic Of Thinking Big: Set Your Goals High Then Exceed Them by David J. Schwartz. ¬© 2006 Pocket Books.

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October 2008

Be Part Of The Solution: Vote

2011-04-14T01:25:22+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , |

I often write in this space about problem solving techniques. I plan to do so today as well, but with a different spin.

When organizing a brainstorm or problem solving session, I always recommend taking great care when selecting the team of participants. Here are some tips…

  1. Make sure you include experts who know all about the topic – their subject matter expertise will be critical.
  2. Make sure you include people who know nothing about the topic, their naiveté will help ground the conversation.
  3. Include those who will ultimately implement the idea. As a marketer at Starbucks, when coming up with consumer promotion ideas that would be executed by store employees, getting input from the Operations team was invaluable to success.
  4. Most importantly however, make sure those invited don’t only attend the brainstorm session, but that they actively participate.

Someone who sits there, not participating, has become part of the problem. If they’re not adding value, there is a strong chance they’re only adding noise.

If you actively engage and add your voice, you can consider yourself part of the solution.

What’s more, you’ve earned the right to voice your opinion about the outcome after the fact. Participation is the price of criticism.


On Tuesday, November 4th, the United States is holding a nationwide problem solving session.

Your role as a citizen is to be an active participant. If you actively engage and add your VOTE, consider yourself part of the solution.

If you’re not happy with the outcome and didn’t participate, you’ve lost your right to criticize.

Your vote counts. Did you know ultimately 537 votes ultimately decided the outcome of the 2000 election?

I’m sending this message to you. You should send it to five more friends…

Five More Friends