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I send 15-20 tweets per week with links to useful links and research. Here are a few of my latest, including links:

What Pepsi, Victoria's Secret, And Other Corporate Logos Would Say If They Were Being Honest
via @BI_Advertising

Financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald discovers true calling: the casino industry

"Whose Side Is Your Broker On?" Beware of built-in conflicts of interest.

Are our gadgets turning us into bad Samaritans?

"The Boss Is Watching" What's the work world coming to?

Are you aligned with your value proposition, and does everyone know their role?

"The Problem With Principles"

Top Team Misalignment Is Extremely Common

Socio-technical systems on steroids! Employee "wearables" to improve productivity and teamwork

What will we do to stem the STEM shortage?

#1 cause of turnover: lack of trust and confidence in senior leaders

When facing difficult decisions, make sure your "brain is switched on and eyes wide open" -

"May the ears of your ears be awake, and the eyes of your eyes be open." (e. e. cummings)

Are you a Perceiver, Mover, Stimulator or Adaptor?

Ingenious experiment yields surprising connections between money, time, self-reflection and cheating

In addition to not believing all that we read in the newspaper, now add science journals to the list.

Aligning leadership with strategy and the value of leadership assessments

RAND report on the role of management, boards and c-suites cultivating ethical cultures and compliance

'Looks like Goldman Sachs is trying to regain its soul: "Reform School for Bankers"

Insights about the value of simplicity on this side of complexity vs simplicity on its far side

Is Music The Key to Success?

Goldman Sachs- a case study of organizational drift as it abandoned its traditional core ideology

"Kanter's Law:" "Everything looks like a failure in the middle." (Rosabeth Moss Kanter)

What our use of the pronoun "I" says about us

Twitter finding its way into scholarly papers as primary references

Excellent article, and great definition of change: "A continual state of becoming more like the best of...

"Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable." (Barry C. Black, U.S Senate Chaplain)

Good overview of emotional intelligence and its importance, including a quick survey -

'Interesting red from Malcolm Gladwell on the advantages of underdogs

An appropriate handle - "cockroaching:" Expelled Brokers Still Selling Securities

"Do not get caught up in the thick of thin things." (Stephen R. Covey)

Insights into Countrywide Financial's (now BofA) "mortgage hustle" shenanigans. Are we listening to employees'...

Are your job descriptions aligned with the talent that you want to attract?

The "Breaking Bad" school of business . . . Lessons, of course, can be applied for good or evil.

"Many go fishing without knowing that it is not fish they are after." (Thoreau)

If you missed it, below is a copy of my last blog: Doldrums. The introduction to September's article, Persistence,follows; you can access the entire article by clicking the link at the end.  Be sure to enter the "Who Said This?" contest at the bottom of this newsletter to win an autographed copy of Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, no breath no motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

- (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner)


Sailors know doldrums well - persistent stillness and lack of wind that prevents movement. They were the bane of ancient mariners, without benefit of auxiliary power or rigs that worked in light air. Spanish sailors transporting livestock to America were often becalmed around the 35th parallel north or south, severely prolonging their voyage. Those regions became known as the "horse latitudes" because it was where severe water shortages necessitated heaving horses overboard.


Today we can experience doldrums of a different sort, periods in our professional lives when forward momentum seems to cease. We might be clipping along at a great pace, confident of reaching our destination, when inexplicably momentum and forward progress stop. It may not bother us at first; in fact the quiet and inactivity might initially be welcome in contrast to periods of hyperactivity. After a lengthy time in our own "horse latitudes," however, energy, activity, prospects and confidence decline. We wait and hope, then wait and hope more for that next breeze or gust of wind. Ships that are stagnant for long periods develop different problems than wear from activity create, including rusting cables, mildew, rot and barnacles that will slow progress if winds resume. In addition to any of his own personal doubts and demons, a ship's captain has the additional burden of not showing his doubts or fears; that would only aggravate those of an already restless crew.


Here are some strategies for navigating personal and professional doldrums:

  • Move; do something. A friend recently reminded me of a scene in the 1935 movie "Mutiny on the Bounty." When the HMS Bounty is becalmed for days, her ruthless Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) commands her crew to man the lifeboats, attach lines and begin towing the mega-ton ship. It reminded us that sometimes in the doldrums, it's a good idea to just move, to do anything that at at least keeps us active and seemingly taking charge of our situation. There's a Russian proverb that comes to mind: "Trust God, but row to shore." Even if we're just treading water, it beats sinking.
  • Do things differently. Stuck on a sand bar in the Apostle Islands once, we freed ourselves only after trying many different ways of breaking loose. Our last and successful effort required some ingenuity; you can read about it in my August 2009 newsletter,  "In Praise of Outsiders." 
  • As Stephen R. Covey put it, use the time to "sharpen our saws." If we're trying to fell a large tree, taking time to occasionally sharpen our saw will save time and energy when we resume. We just saw Robert Redford's new movie "All Is Lost." When "our man's" (as Redford's character is named) sloop capsizes after colliding with a shipping container, he takes to his life raft and spends days aimlessly drifting in the Indian Ocean. He uses the time attempting to learn celestial navigation using a new, boxed sextant with instructions that he hurriedly threw in his raft. That kept his mind engaged, and was certainly effort that could pay dividends when lost at sea.
  • Stay alert. The biggest potential breaks or opportunities can arrive in the midst of doldrums, after allowing ourselves to be lulled into inattention. In "All Is Lost," "our man" awakes from slumber just as the aft section of a giant freighter passes close by. Had he been more alert, he might have succeeded capturing its attention.
  • Get and provide support. In personal or professional doldrums, we are usually surrounded by potentially useful and supportive others, even if it doesn't feel that way; many would be happy to lend support if we reached out. It is important to tap resources already available, and to position ourselves where new resources might present themselves (e.g. networking.) If a team is experiencing the doldrums, especially if we are its leader, it is important to reach out and provide support to each other.
  • Take stock. We seldom take time on our own for self-reflection; doldrums might be the universe's way of suggesting that we slow down. We can use that time to literally "take stock" (as "our man" in All Is Lost did with supplies.) We might also use the time for objective evaluation of what contributed to our doldrums and how best to navigate away from them. Kevin Cashman's book The Pause Principle is a wonderful guide for how to use "taking stock" time.
  • Navigate. Even if unable to move at the moment, planning and charting our course for when winds return pay dividends. It may not, or perhaps shouldn't, be our original course; circumstances or motivations could be very different than they were. Last month's newsletter about "Persistence - Is It Always Good?" offers some guidelines for determining when pressing on is admirable and when it might be just stubbornness or counterproductive.
  • Stay positive. 'Easier said than done of course when we're in the doldrums. Nevertheless the reality is that maintaining a positive outlook and not abandoning hope are among the strongest factors contributing to survival in any disaster situation. I'm all for authenticity, but sometimes to escape a funk we need to act our way out of it; if we're part of a team, that's usually contagious.

I hope that these reflections are useful should you find yourself in the doldrums. May you pass little time there, and make the best of it when you do.


Fair winds!




"Greatness is not where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.  We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."

Oliver Wendell Holmes



"There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm."

Willa Cather


I've been thinking about persistence a lot lately. It started in the middle of gathering firewood in the BWCA, sawing a downed log that was a tad large for my folding saw. I kept at it, and was eventually rewarded with enough wood to grill our freshly caught bass. Over dinner, conversation turned to Diana Nyad and her remarkable 53-hour non-stop swim from Cuba to Florida. Her successful swim that day was a crowning achievement following years of unsuccessful attempts; taken together they were a remarkable testament to persistence. Today I am celebrating Team Oracle's recent win in the America's Cup sailing race. The U. S. team trailed New Zealand's 8-0, then in one of the most stunning come-backs in sports history, proceeded to win the next 9 races and retain the Cup. Persistence.


Persistence is admirable; it has fueled most of the victories, inventions, rags-to-riches journeys, entrepreneurial successes, scientific advances, cures and worthwhile developments in recorded history. However there is a potential dark side to persistence. Persistence in excess, or the wrong kind of persistence, could be merely stubbornness in disguise, just like too much courage or the wrong kind of courage could be just recklessness or adrenalin. When is persistence a good thing and when isn't it? I think there are four main determinants:


Worthiness of a goal - It's a pretty easy call when survival is at stake - lives or livelihoods. If I'm starving I will keep searching for food, or if I'm freezing in the wild I will keep trying to light a fire until physically unable to. Peace in northern Ireland remained a worthy yet illusive goal for decades, and persistent diplomacy eventually prevailed; peace in the

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"In this new book, Al Watts does a masterful job articulating how to live with integrity in your organization, on your team and in your life. A highly practical guide for leveraging the power of integrity."
(Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner Korn Ferrry).
Contact inTEgro to explore how we can be of service for strategic planning, senior team and board development or facilitating critical meetings. Click "Services" on our home page to learn more, including inTEgro's array of professional organization, team and leader surveys.

All the best,

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc.
ph: (612) 827-2363