Good Boss, Bad Boss – Learning from Leaders

This September we started the month with the statement that learning is not just for kids.   I promised you a look behind the scenes at some great books that we grown ups can use as tools to tune up our leadership and business skills.  That’s right, the kids are not the only ones who have the opportunity to  learn something new this Fall.  

We started the series with a look at Amilya Antonetti’s The Recipe a fable for leaders and teams. Antonetti’s book is a fable, set in a fictional bakery – demonstrating leadership lessons through the eyes and experiences of the characters.    Now let’s shift gears and look at what happens when you study real life bosses up close and personal.  That’s just what Stanford Professor Robert I. Sutton has done in his new book, Good Boss Bad Boss:  How to be the best…and learn from the worst

Sutton is no newbie on my business bookshelf.  His last book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t was a  smash hit in management circles this year.  As a matter of fact, he got so much feedback from The No Asshole Rule that Good Boss, Bad Boss was written as a result.   Dr. Sutton was kind enough to reach out to me on Twitter (he’s @work_matters ) and to share an early copy with me before the official launch  this September 7th.  So, I got a head start in reading the book.  What a treat! Good Boss, Bad Boss is a great read – full of real life stories and situations that many of us can relate to from our own workplace experiences.  I’ll tell you more in a bit, but first, here’s a clip where you can hear more about the book from Bob Sutton himself: 


(video credit: Stanford Graduate School of Business – via YouTube video link)

Dr. Sutton’s guest posts at The Harvard Business Review have always been favorites of mine because he does not just spout theory or opinion, he bases his statements on real people and real life examples. Good Boss, Bad Boss follows this same winning formula. 

Front CoverAs bosses we all have to do a bit of a balancing act, and I loved the example of the see-saw with “love” in one side and “$” on the other that he shared in his discussion about David Kelley, Chairman and CEO of IDEO.  (I’ve been a big IDEO fan for years and hope that someday I have the opportunity to work with them at one on my companies.)

Further in there is a great reminder to all of us to “Protect Yourself from the Energy Suckers.” (p.120-121) This is one of the lessons I have learned the hard way over my career.  If only I had read this chapter a few years ago!

In Chapter 7 – “Don’t Shirk from the Dirty Work” I found great examples including stories about experiences Ann Rhoades  (founder of PeopleINK and another of my favorite leaders) had at Southwest and later at Jet Blue that illustrate that how you deal with a tricky situation makes all the difference. 

Well, I’m getting close to my word limit (self imposed) or I could go on and on.  But the point is to give you a taste so you will want to check out this book.  Hopefully I have succeeded in whetting your appetite.  It really is worth the read.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned… There are more peeks inside some great business books coming this September.


Joan Koerber-Walker


The secret to building a great team – Get The Recipe

This September, as the kids head back to school,  we will be reviewing some great books for executives and entrepreneurs here at the CorePurpose Business Blog .

As we all know, building a championship team is a great way to move closer to your goals.  But how will you pull that team together and how will you lead it.  A great little book on just this subject is The Recipe: A fable for leaders and teams by Amilya Antonetti (CorePurpose Publishing, May 2010) .Continue reading

Learning is not just for kids

academics,apples,books,education,education on a pedestal,food,fruits,knowledge,learning,metaphors,pedestals,PhotographsHere in Arizona the kids have already headed back to school.  In other parts of the country, summer vacation may extend to after Labor Day.  But one way or another, by mid September over 50 million Americans will be heading into the classroom. For them their days will be filled with lessons, books, and homework.  It’s time to for the kids to dedicate themselves to learning new things.

For those of us who have left our school years behind us, we can still make a commitment to learn new things this September.

Gain New Insights with the Kolbe

In August, we profiled inventor and innovator Kathy Kolbe.  Kathy and her team have been helping leaders and their teams learn about their conative and how together they can get more done for over 20 years.  You can take the Kolbe A™ Index  by clicking the line (purchase required) to learn about how you naturally get things done. Kathy shares great insights in the information that comes with your index results.  In addition, if you DM your results to me @JKWgrowth , I will be happy to review them with you also as a thank you for visiting us here on the blog.

Read a great book

This summer I had the chance to preview some great books including the latest from Amilya Antonetti, Rebel Brown, Clate Mask, Bob Sutton, and Marty Zwilling.  Stay tuned throughout the month of September when I will be sharing reviews of these great books – you might want read them too!

Sign up for a conference

The Fall is a great time to reconnect with thought leaders and your community at a conference.  Once of my favorites is the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference.  This year AZEC10 will be held on November 17th in Phoenix, Arizona, but you can save money by registering in September’s Early Bird Registration.  This year’s speaker line up is one of the best yet.  You can see for yourself by clicking here.

Challenge yourself to learn something new.

So, what will your learning opportunity be this Fall?  As the kids head back to school, join me in committing to learning something new this September.  Share your commitment here by leaving a comment, and we can inspire each other and all learn together.


Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker



Disclosures:  Joan Koerber-Walker is chairman of the board of the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation which hosts AZEC10, is a certified Kolbe Consultant, and may have received complimentary review copies of the books listed from the authors mentioned.

Wisdom, Insight, Invention – Kathy Kolbe

clip_image002Kathy Kolbe, Founder of Kolbe Corp,  did not invent conation, but the history, the study of conation, and most importantly the measurement and application of conative ability in individuals and teams has been her passion for decades.  It was through this journey that Kathy created The Kolbe Wisdom™  and invented the first assessment specifically designed to measure and describe conative ability, the Kolbe A™ Index.

Assessing the Mind:

Today’s assessment tools break out the functional areas of the mind into three areas, Cognitive (how we think),  Affective (how we feel) and Conative (how we get things done).

One of the first modern day measurement tools in this area , The Wonderlic Test was created by industrial psychologist Eldon F. Wonderlic in 1936 and a form of the test  is still used today by many organizations including the National Football League.

Later new tests were developed that focused on the  affective portion of the mind, some of the most popular include the DISC (1948),  Birkman  (1951), and the  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1962).   These test were designed to measure feelings, social styles, and other affective behaviors. 

It was not until 1987 that the first assessment for conative abilities, The Kolbe A ™Index was introduced to the public.  Interestingly, the journey to bring it into being is almost as interesting as the test itself.  As a young girl and a student, Kathy had to learn how to look at things differently.  As a dyslexic in a time where we did not have the accommodations and resources  that students have today, traditional learning was an uphill battle.  (Kathy’s form of dyslexia is so strong that things we take for granted like telling right from left or reading the hands of a clock are a challenge.)  Differences in how she and other learned led to her fascination with the patterns she began to see in the way minds worked. She had a natural mentor whose thoughts she often challenged. Eldon F. Wonderlic was Kathy’s father.  Her early work was with all forms of uniqueness, including the gifted and learning disabled in educational environments. But a near fatal 1985 auto accident put things in a new perspective  Kathy’s severe injuries included both physical and mental trauma that left her unable to read or write for over a year. She overcame what many believed would be career ending disabilities by using what she had learned about conation, the instinct-driven capabilities she knew she could count on. In the process of re-training her own brain, she learned more about not just how to measure conative abilities, but how to apply them to work situations, relationships, health and other adult challenges.  Her determination to write the book that became the foundation of The Kolbe Wisdom™  startled all doubters and led to her becoming known as the proof of her own theories.

The basis of her consulting and coaching process is her discovery of our conative Action Modes® that are the basis of a person’s MO (modus operandi). Since conation is the source of human actions, reactions and interactions knowing a person’s MO allowed Kathy company, Kolbe Corp, to predict human performance.

Four Action Modes®


Fact Finder – the instinctive way we gather and share information.
Follow Thru – the instinctive way we arrange and design.
Quick Start – the instinctive way we deal with risk and uncertainty.
Implementor – the instinctive way we handle space and tangibles.

The Kolbe A Index result is a graphical representation of an individual’s way of getting things done. Numeric results in each Action Mode represent different points on a continuum, on which every possibility is an equally positive behavior. There is no such thing as a negative or “bad” Kolbe Index result. Some, however, are more appropriate results for a specific job or on a particular team.

(Source: )

For over 20 years Kolbe’s assessments, strategies, and wisdom have benefited tens of thousands of individuals and thousands of corporations and organizations around the globe. Great examples of how individuals and organizations respond to Kolbe resources can be found in this article by Joe Williams speaking about his experience with Kolbe at NASA, as well as these article from the Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, and  Time Magazine.

To experience the  Kolbe A Index for yourself, simply click here. (purchase required) After you complete the assessment be sure to listen to the audio sessions that accompany your results from Kathy Kolbe herself.  It’s just one more form of Kolbe innovation.   

I hope you enjoyed this Inventor’s Profile as we celebrate National Innovators Month. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking at things in a new way – Lon Safko

Inventors live a life of ‘firsts” where the ideas they dream up become new products, create solutions, and sometimes just bring a smile.  To kick off August’s series on for National Inventors Month, I reached out to an inventor who always makes me smile – the one and only Lon Safko. 

Lon is the founder of eleven successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc., which developed Three-Dimensional Internet Advertising for business, promotions, and education, for which Lon holds two patents one on Virtual Electronic Retailing and the other Three Dimensional  Internet Advertising.(US Pat. 7072949 and US Pat. 7546356)  and has a third pending. As an inventor in the early days of personal computing and software development, the patent laws were different. If Lon’s copyrights from the ’80’s and ’90’s were patents like we do it today, he would have an additional  125 software and 35 hardware patents.

Lon been recognized for his creativity with such prestigious awards as; The Westinghouse Entrepreneur of the Year, Arizona Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year, The Arizona Software Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year, twice nominated for the Ernst & Young / Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, The Public Relations Society of America’s, Edward Bernays, Mark of Excellence Award, and nominated as a Fellow of the nation’s Computer History Museum. Lon has also been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, PC Novice, Inc. Magazine, and Popular Science Magazines just to name a few. Lon was recently selected by the Smithsonian institution to represent “The American Inventor” at their annual conference.

I chatted with Lon this week and asked him a few questions.  Here is what he had to say…

“When you see your world in a different perspective, you see new ways to do everything!”  ~ Lon Safko

What is your favorite invention?

I like all of the obvious one’s like the car, electricity, the light bulb.  No invention has affected my life more than the computer.  From the very first Apple II  until today.  I learn from it, make a living from it, am entertained by it, manage my companies with it, communicate through it, and make a living from it.  If you take away every major modern invention today, but leave me my computer…  I can still do it all!

Why do you invent?

Because I see things.  I make matches.  I see a problem, then immediately see something that can be combined to solve that problem. It’s kind of  like a Google search engine in my head, everything just matches together. I also look at things from behind, backwards, upside down.  Like the paper models that have become so popular . (For one of Lon’s favorite models  click here. They are fun for kids and grown ups alike not to mention great for classroom projects.)

 What was it like the first time you saw one of your inventions in the Smithsonian?

Wow!  It was humbling.  Before I saw the items, they published a newsletter, that featured: Darwin, Wyeth, Edison, and Safko.   That was insane!  When they actually asked me to represent the “American Inventor” at their annual conference, I couldn’t speak.  I did speak, just not for a day after they asked.  Having 18 inventions in the Smithsonian Institute and more than 30,000 personal documents, is like being an actor and winning 18 Academy Awards.  The “Smith” is the ultimate valuator.  I guess to make a short story long, I felt honored.

How does your passion for innovation and invention tie into your work and books on Social Media.

Just as when the computer first came out, I immediately recognized it as disruptive technology.  Then it was the Internet.  Then Email.  Then eCommerce.  Then Social Media.  We haven’t even scratched the surface on how we can combine all of these technologies to create amazing new applications.  And, social media incorporates many of my passions; innovation, creativity, communications, computers, marketing, and sales.  It’s just the next cutting edge innovation!

( Lon’s book on social media, The Social Media Bible, at 840 pages is by far the biggest book  there is on the topic.  It’s choc full of the stories of the the evolution of the medium though interviews with the innovators and inventors how have pioneered the industry. Watch for The Social Media Bible II coming out this Fall from John Wiley and Sons.)


I hope you enjoyed meeting one of my “inventor” friends.  There are more to come.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking for Inspiration and Innovation

August is National Inventors Month,  a time when we celebrate invention and creativity. The tradition began in 1998 when  the United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors’ Digest magazine came together to honor our country’s creators. 

Finding the bright light

Lots of us see things that we would like to change or problems we would like to solve.  Inventors have the ability to take that idea and bring it to life. 

I love hanging out with inventors

My love of invention and passion for innovation just may be genetic. Both of my grandfathers were inventors – Grandpa Bill focused his creativity on his trade as a brew master (here is a link I found to one of his patents from 1937) while Grandpa Leo was an engineer and focused on mechanical devices.    Early in my career I had the opportunity to spend six years in the Silicon Valley and work with some brilliant inventors as the re-invented the way we work with data, created portable computers – wow can you imagine –  and dreamed up things that today we take for granted.

Vision Creates Energy

What I learned at Grandpa’s knee and later in the emerging world of technology is that an inventor’s vision creates energy.  In the inventors I know, it is so charged that you can feel it.  So in honor of National Inventor’s Month I have asked some of them for permission to tell their stories.  I hope you will follow along, it’s bound to be enlightening.


Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Timing is everything and the time is now

According to the the New York Times, there is an Epic Battle Looming Over the Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts.  Here is an excerpt from the article:architecture,buildings,capitol buildings,capitols,congresses,domed buildings,domes,government,landmarks,legislatures,lights,nighttimes,photographs,United States,USA,Washington,Washington D.C.

Democratic leaders, including Mr. Obama, say they are intent on letting the tax cuts for the wealthy expire as scheduled at the end of this year. But they have pledged to continue the lower tax rates for individuals earning less than $200,000 and families earning less than $250,000 — what Democrats call the middle class.

Most Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone, and some Democrats agree, saying it would be unwise to raise taxes on anyone while the economy remains weak. If no action is taken, taxes on income, dividends, capital gains and estates would all rise.

The issue has generated little public attention this year as Congress grappled with health care, financial regulation, energy, a Supreme Court nomination and other divisive topics. But it will move to the top of the agenda when lawmakers return to Washington in September from their summer recess, just as the midterm campaign gets under way in earnest. In recent days, intense discussions have begun at the Capitol.

It’s a matter of priorities

As we look at our nation from an economic perspective we have two critical priorities, 1) reducing a ballooning  Federal Deficit and 2) building an economy that is sustaining and creating more jobs.  In reading the preceding sentence, it may seem that these are two separate and distinct issues, when in fact they should be considered together. The question becomes one of a short term fix or a long term gain.

Where will the dollars do the most good?

Letting the tax cuts expire is a short term fix.  There is no question that the middle class (as defined above) needs help.  Lowering taxes for lower and middle income Americans may help reduce credit card debt or increase consumer spending a little per household. Yet raising taxes on “the rich” will reduce their consumer spending and investment capital.  Thus we get a little more spending from one side while reducing spending AND investment more on the other as we shift the net tax increase to the Federal Government to apply to the budget and hopefully the deficit. (This Net Gain is calculated as an Upper Income Tax Increase LESS  Middle and Lower Income tax reduction)   

The argument for renewing the tax cuts is simple, keep the money in the economy and in the hands of the people who can use it to invest in struggling markets, to support business growth, and most importantly to create and protect jobs.   In today’s economy, the capital to do this comes from the people.  Many of “the rich” are small business owners who are investing in their business, others are family businesses that may be crippled by estate taxes should a business owner pass away.  Still others are investors whose money goes into the capital markets to support the capital needs of larger businesses through the stock market or as angel investments.  Renewing the tax cuts so they do not expire leaves the money in the hands of the people who directly or indirectly support job growth.For when people are working THEY pay taxes which again the Federal Government can apply to the deficit.

The greatest Net Gain

Most decisions have pros and cons.  This one is no different.   The big question is where the American people and the country will get the greatest net gain.  Congress has three choices:

  • They can extend the tax cuts.
  • They  can let them permanently expire and then institute a new structure to help lower and middle income earners.
  • They can issue a temporary extension and pass the buck on the decision to the next session.

Why the time for the people to act is now

On August 9th the Senate and the House begin the Summer Recess that extends until after Labor Day. Our elected representatives are headed home to meet with constituents and in many cases to hit the campaign trail either for themselves or others.  If we have an opinion, NOW is the time to voice it.  Contacting your Congressman is easy.  You don’t even have to go to a rally or make an appointment.  Just reach out to them. Every phone call or email does have an impact.  Your Congressman may not personally read it but their staffers do and the feedback ends up in the briefings they get when it comes time to vote.  So what ever side of the battle you rest on, don’t miss your chance to be heard.  After all, the beauty of our system of government is that it is supposed to be representative of the people.  So help them do their their job and tell them what you think.


Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

HELP! We ALL Need Some

As the song says… “When I was younger so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way…”

Well today, we all need help whether it is with a personal goal, a business challenge, or in making a difference on a much broader scale.

Help by the Beatles

I was in kindergarten in 1965 when the Beatles released Help!.  It did not mean much to me except as a song with a catchy beat to bop around the kitchen to.  Mom was the one who probably needed HELP! back then with 4 babies under the age of 6 and another on on the way.  Our country needed HELP! too.  Key topics of the day included a war we could not win, healthcare, racial inequality, new technologies, and a generation struggling to make a difference and leave a mark  a new way.  Well the song means a lot more to me now.  It’s been a long time since kindergarten – but interestingly, in 2010, many of the same themes remain. The words and the names are different – but there is still a need for help.

Help Requires Courage

Whether you are asking for help or offering it, help requires courage.

We often won’t ask for help when we need it.  Perhaps because people might think we are weak or don’t know what we are doing.  Yet if the fear of asking for help holds us back – we rarely get it when we need it.

Offering to help can be just as scary.  People don’t always appreciate you when you offer to help.  I’ve seen leaders and volunteers alike become targets  personally and professionally just because they stepped out, spoke up, or got involved in helping someone else.  Yet true leaders keep doing it.  They make the time, proactively offer assistance,  take the criticism, and keep moving forward.

Helping Takes Commitment

I’ve watched Lynn Tilton take her message of how to turn the economy around and create more jobs out across traditional and social media while working 20 hour days, seven days a week to help save companies and jobs.  It must be working – Lynn and her team have saved 250,000 jobs on the last 9 years. (You can hear what Lynn has to say about this when she will be the featured guest on Huckabee, at 8:00pm ET on the FOX News Channel tomorrow (Saturday, July 17th) with on FOX News Channel at 8:00pm and 11:00pm ET on Sunday, July 18th she’ll be talking about job creation in the current economic crisis.)

Francine Hardaway is committed to job creation too.  Working at the ground level with entrepreneurs in the Southwest and around the country, she has not stopped for 30 years.  Whether it is flying to Kansas City on her own dime to learn about programs she can bring back to help other entrepreneurs, launching a conference to bring entrepreneurs and thought leaders together, or just spending time one on one, Francine is committed to making a difference with the entrepreneurs she touches.

Dr. Michelle Hanna, founder of RiboMed Biotechnologies, has dedicated the last ten years of her life to developing new tests that will help us battle cancer.  Today she and her team are focusing on ways to make a major difference not just in the lives of the patients but  have also found a way to do so that could result in billions of dollars in healthcare savings and that affects ALL of us.

Amilya Antonetti, founder of Soapworks, today takes what she learned along the journey to help other entrepreneurs bring out products that provide better choices to today’s consumer.  Along the way she learned that every leader needs the help of their team – to share it she wove it into a story and wrote a book.

In a quiet manner, one on one, Morris Callaman shares his story and his expertise in helping entrepreneurs with great ideas move forward.  A successful investor and venture attorney, Morris finds projects that he believes will make a difference and help people – and in turn he helps them.

But you don’t have to be running a $7 billion private equity fund, be a social media maven, a PhD, a serial entrepreneur, or a certified member of MENSA, to help others.  You just have to have something to offer and be willing to share.

Everyone can help

Take a look at this post by Domenic Alvaro who graduated High School with my son Nick this year. He has a better handle on how our attitude makes a difference than many adults I know.  And he is sharing it with others so that what he has learned in his life can help them.

Each of us will need help sometime.  And each of us has something to offer that will help someone else.  We just need the courage, the commitment, and the willingness to HELP!


Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

P.S. to everyone who has helped me along the journey -Thank You!  I promise to keep passing it forward to help others too. ~ JKW