Thursday, May 3, 2012 Review of Get the Cookie, Paco!

This post is going to be shamelessly self-promotional.  The first review of my book, Get the Cookie, Paco! Valuable Lessons in Leadership from My Dogs is out.  See it here at

I've copied it below in it's entirety.  Get your copy today from Amazon!

Here at Dogster we typically don’t do many book reviews, but occasionally something comes along which piques our interest. Andrew Krüger’s new book caught my eye because he claims to have discovered a link between management skills and pet behavior, specifically that of his rescue pups, Paco and Zeke.
Andrew with Zeke and Paco.
Those of you who’ve been around a while will remember that we journeyed down a similar road last year with Mark Levin’s book, All I Know About Management I Learned From My Dog. Mr. Krüger’s book is equally delightful on the dog stories’ side, but far more substantive and scholarly on the management side. To be fair, Levin wasn’t trying to write a textbook. I don’t know if Krüger is aiming to crack the textbook market either, but it won’t take you long to realize that he's discovered some valuable kernels of truth for both academics and dog aficionados.
Get the Cookie, Paco! is equal parts leadership manual, communication devotional, and loveable dog stories, not to mention a human love story, which weaves through the book to the very last page. Krüger is passionate about Paco and Zeke, the intricacies of management and leadership, and the love of his life, Michaele. Somehow he manages to do justice to them all.
Leadership isn’t just for politicians and CEOs to study. It’s for stay-at-home parents, bookstore clerks, and students, too.
According to Krüger, “We need leaders now more than ever. Our world is becoming more complex daily.... If we all increase our everyday leadership skills, even just a little, the accumulated result will be outstanding.” He likens the approach of the book as taking “baby steps.”
This is what I hope you will do with the lessons in this book. Read them. See which ones resonate with you. Try them out. Take baby steps down the hall, out the door, and all the way to becoming a better leader.
Zeke and Paco enjoy the beach.
The approach is not unlike financial advisor and "entreleadership" pioneer Dave Ramsey’s "baby steps" approach to financial freedom. We all know a budget is important, but sometimes we need help devising an effective battle plan to follow in order to achieve financial security. Everyday leadership is the same way. We know it’s important to be a good leader and we want to be better leaders for our families and businesses, but sometimes we need a proven battle plan to guide us. Krüger provides just such a battle plan: baby steps to better leadership, with our dogs guiding the way.
The wisdom Krüger exacts from his pair of lovable pooches is impressive. It's organized into six sections: "Working on Yourself," " Working with Others," "Reading Others," "Leading Others," "The Bigger Picture," and "Parting Thoughts." Here’s a sampling of the chapter titles:
Just Jump In: Acting without complete information
Being Bulldogged: Persistence
The Stare: The drive of a leader
Get the Cookie, Paco! Turning neuroticism into determination
Forget Beer -– Dogs are the Real Social Lubricant: Directing and aligning the efforts of others
Puppy Dog Eyes: Developing personal magnetism
Getting Past Woof: Nonverbal communication is still communication
Not Always the Top Dog: When to lead and when to follow
Chewing Gum Saves Lives: Creating space in the midst of panic and hurry
There are conveniently 52 chapters, so if you’re not one to sit down and barrel through a book in one sitting, Get the Cookie, Paco! works quite nicely as a way to begin or end your week with a little inspiration on leadership. And it is flat out fun to read! Take this gem from chapter 46: “I was stunned. Who thinks to casually unwrap some gum to chew when their plane is going down?” For the details on this true-life crisis in mid-flight, you’ll have to get Krüger’s book.
I’ll close my review with some particularly poignant words from Mr. Krüger:
"If my wife and I had taken everyone else’s advice on what breed of dog to adopt, we most likely would not have adopted either Paco or Zeke. Blue heelers and pit bulls are two of the most abandoned breeds of dogs. They clearly are not very highly valued by others in general as they are dropped off at shelters, left on the side of the road, or worse. We value and love these dogs because of who they are and not because of the perception of others. Something has value because you determine it has value, not because other people say it does."
Get the Cookie, Paco! definitely has value for dog lovers, entrepreneurs, and those interested in the communication skills of effective leaders. Have you learned any lessons in leadership from your pooch? Please share them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Techniques for Developing Charisma

Today we're going to take a look at eight ways that you can develop charisma. Charismatic leaders maximize the relationship between themselves, group members (followers), and other stakeholders. They increase their referent power (the ability to influence others because one is well liked) and expert power (the ability to influence others because of specialized skills or knowledge).

How, you might ask, do they increase these measures of power? By painting a vivid picture or vision for others, being dramatic and unique, being a good storyteller, and being an affable "character." Charismatic leaders are especially effective at what they do, and communicate using metaphors and analogies to inspire others. They also know their audiences and tailor their messages accordingly. After all, leading a pack of girl scouts takes different communication tactics than leading a squad of marines!

Undoubtedly, some are born more naturally charismatic than others. Yet there are ways to develop charisma:*

1. Create vision for others. Paint a picture of where you are all going, and how great it will be to get there. Attract others to your vision by describing it in ways that are meaningful to them.

2. Be enthusiastic, optimistic, and energetic. Note: this does not mean be fake and inauthentic. Cultivate your real enthusiasm and share it with others.

3. Be persistent. Don't take no for an answer unless you really have no other option. What does this mean? Use energetic good-natured stubborness to push until you can't push anymore. Then know when to change your strategy.

4. Remember people's names. Everyone's loves hearing their own name. Of course you can use tricks and techniques to remember names, but the good old fashioned (and best) way to learn people's names is to actually get to know them and care about them on a personal level.

5. Develop synchrony with others. This has to do with connecting well- "clicking" with others. Search the internet for an emotional intelligence self-test and find ways to develop your EI (emotional intelligence).

6. Develop a personal brand, including making an impressive appearance. Be bold (but not ridiculous) and let your personality out a little bit. As long as you have the skills and knowledge to back you up (and you are tactful - see #5 above), a little flair and confidence can go a long way.

7. Be candid. As long as you are adept at delivering difficult news, speak your mind and communicate directly. You don't want to be abrasive, but simple effective communication is an asset for a leader. Don't beat around the bush- get to the point while still being respectful and polite.

8. Don't be afraid to be tough and aggressive when needed. Although this can isolate you from some people, if your assertiveness is warranted it can gain you a lot of respect from your followers. For example, think of a bartender. While it pays to be a nice guy and treat everyone well to get good tips, the best bartenders know when to lay down the law and get tough with unruly patrons. Kicking out someone who is harassing others at the bar will win lots of goodwill (and tips!) from all the remaining good customers.

*List adapted from DuBrin's textbook Principles of Leadership

(For those of you paying especially close attention, you may notice that this post also appears on Boston University's Leadership Blog. Well, there's a good reason for that- I write those posts as well, and every so often feel a post needs to be in both places.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

People's Choice Awards 2012: Followers, Choose Your Leader!

anyone else think this looks like Cruella DeVille's younger sister?

The people have spoken!  Long live Katy Perry!  Never mind the divorce, the cancelled tour dates, the mindless hypnotic songs (yes, I find them catchy too- junk food for the brain).  So why is this all on a leadership blog?

As the 2012 People's Choice Awards reminds us, the people choose their own idols, role models, and leaders.  We, individually and collectively, look at the offerings (the endless stream of new faces thrown at the media wall every year), and vote with our dollars, our pageviews and clicks, and sometimes even simply with our votes (I'm looking at you, American Idol).

We ask ourselves of each of the candidates for our attention: do they look like a star to me?  do they sound like one?  do they act like one?  what do my friends think?  are they not popular enough (the band Gotye) yet?  are they too popular and therefore not cool to associate with (Bieber)?  We ask these questions, and we answer in our minds and determine if there are enough "yes's" for us to accept them as a role model, an idol, a star.

This same process happens every day, from the 14-debate riddled Republican primary to the little work group you were put into at school or at work.  At every level we choose our leaders.  Are they enough like us?  Are they better in the important areas (singing, leading a country, getting the project done by the deadline)?  Do we like them?  Are we willing to give our power over to them?  Because make no mistake, that is exactly what we do.  Attention, money, time, energy-- these are all forms of power we voluntarily give up to those we elevate above us.

Just a friendly reminder that to become a leader, it matters not only what's inside, but the perception of others as well.  You can't be a leader all by yourself.  And if you never want to lead, remember that you have a very strong voice in choosing who you are led my.  Exercise it!