There Is No Secret Sauce

Yes, you saw the title correctly. There is no secret sauce.

I am a reader. I read lots of blogs and lots of books. I often can’t resist the ones titled something like… “3 Ways to Success”, “5 Killer Traits of Leaders”, or especially anything titled “The Secret Sauce.”

However, the more I read the articles titled this way, the more I get let down. Everyone wants instant pudding. Everyone wants the one thing they can do tomorrow that fixes everything. Look, I want that too, but here’s the thing: THERE IS NO SECRET SAUCE.

The people who think there is such a thing will publish another article in 2 months with a different secret sauce. We live in a copycat world (well some do and it is a problem). If you choose to see someone else’s secret sauce and try to just copy it, you MAY achieve their results. This, however is unlikely, and at best you will still be far behind. That person likely didn’t stop learning and growing, so unless you’re in the business of chasing after the leftovers of someone else, you might consider a less glamorous, yet more reliable approach.

A mentor of mine, Rafael Aguayo, once shared with me a great metaphor. Great hockey players do not go to where the puck is. They go to where the puck is going to be.

From my experience there is no one path, or 3 killer steps, but rather a simple philosophy:

Everyday up.

Today I am going to work hard, learn as much as I can and focus on building something of great quality.  

Whether I am the CEO or I feel like the smallest person in the company, I keep building, learning, and working hard.

Today I can learn something that matters.

Today I can get one step better.

It may be hard, but that is what breeds success.

There is no instant pudding and unless you win the lotto, you will not be an overnight millionaire. There is no such thing.


Since luck is not a plan I will continue to grind – Today, tomorrow, and next week. Every day, up.

We Need More Accountability

Once upon a time, in a business far far away, a well meaning manager sat in a training session. He read a book. He sat with his Sr managers. This manager was struggling to get the results everyone wanted.

His sales team wasn’t generating enough opportunities. They didn’t have enough first meetings and they most certainly didn’t have enough revenue.

He heard a consistent message. You need to have more accountability.  Your team doesn’t want it enough.  They aren’t working hard enough.  You should have them check in: daily, weekly, and they need quotas.

 This advice was very well meaning. It is built on two rather big assumptions:

  1. Your team is not motivated
  2. The way to motivate them is accountability

Once upon a time, in a household far far away, a hard working employee is sitting down for dinner. He is talking with his wife and venting.  He is dialing the phone, he is meeting with prospects and he is loaded with ideas of how to do it better. Unfortunately, no one hears those ideas other than his wife.

He doesn’t seem unmotivated. Accountability will not change the results.

This is a story I hear and see over … and over … and over again.

To this day I have never seen the problem be motivation. Thus, the solution for more meetings, more accountability rarely changes the results.


Change your volume, change your frequency – get the same results with more meetings

Change the system – Change the results.

Problems Don’t Have to Suck

Time and time again I have seen all to many people avoid problems. Avoid the issues. They pretend to have solutions.

The common theme is shuffling the chairs on the deck. They will look at financials, they will do layoffs, they will re-purpose resources, and they will start pointing the fingers at people. They will demand results despite not having a clue as to what drives the results.

Read moreProblems Don’t Have to Suck

Employee Engagement Has to be More Than a Tagline

Employee engagement is a priority that will never be finished.

I have seen just about every attempt you could think of to motivate employees. Employee Engagement is a cliche for some, a problem for some but the companies that get it right always seem to succeed.

There are many options on how to build employee engagement but for the most part I have seen one of two options.

Read moreEmployee Engagement Has to be More Than a Tagline

Agile Is All The Rage

Agile is all the rage. Scrum has worked wonders. Lean is reducing waste. Six Sigma is saving millions.

All of the companies using the set of tools used in these are looking for what is next. It seems that while all of these theories have their merits they will be another fad soon enough.

0 defects. 0 waste and fast production does not build a company. It does not sell a service.

One of the consistent discussions I am pulled into is what is next. What will be the next thing in management?

My answer is almost the same: These tools are not going away. They shouldn’t go away. However, we need something to tie them into the bigger picture. We need a management theory. Something to take those tools and tie them into the bigger picture.

Installing a theory that will tie these tools together is not a light undertaking nor is it something that should be done on a whim. It takes much time and thought. Planning.

Don’t let that scare you away. Not doing it will end with the same fate as Motorola.

Success is Not Scarce

Why are we having a discussion around participation trophies?

Many people believe that by giving participation trophies we are devaluing the first place trophy. Some have even gone far enough to say that the child receiving the participation trophy feels worse from receiving it.

The discussion and the debate around this is the problem – NOT THE TROPHY.

Read moreSuccess is Not Scarce

Stop Using Analytical Thinking

Will you imagine something with me for a second?

You own a car and one day you walk out to find: You have a tire issue. You are unclear on what tire issue you have, but you can see just by looking at it that you do not want to drive on that tire. What is your next step?

Read moreStop Using Analytical Thinking