410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

Our Iceberg Is Melting

Our Iceberg Is Melting

October 03, 2018

Today I’m actually going to share a book review. It’s a little book about penguins with some big ideas on what it takes to succeed in business.

Because here’s something you and I both know all-too-well: success ain’t just a onetime thing. Making it in business is a process that takes tremendous grit. And it all boils down to how we respond to this one thing: change. This is what we and those penguins have in common.

The book is called Our Iceberg Is Melting, written by John Cotter, and its subtitle says it all: “Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions.”

You see, one little penguin named Fred makes a harrowing discovery that will affect his herd's entire way of life: the huge chunk of ice they call their home has a deep chasm going right through the center. Wait much longer, and the ground will shatter right beneath their feet, causing mayhem and destruction for all.

So Fred does what any noble penguin should do: he goes to the band of decision-makers, the Leadership Council, knowing that they will do what it takes to get everyone safely off their glacier-island.

Only that doesn’t happen—at least not right away. Why? Because they don’t believe him.

They want evidence, stats, and grand presentations. They’ve got hoops, and by golly do they want those hoops to be jumped through.

Sound familiar? It does to me!

A few years back, the personalization and branding industry went through an immense change. Customers were jumping ship, and the business owners pulled their membership from the industry’s official association. The higher-ups were baffled. Their iceberg was developing a huge, water-filled cavern, and boy were they going to sink once the ice started to fly.

So I did something about it. I approached the board of directors, and helped them change the way they saw their own industry. That’s why penguin Fred resonates so much with me, and why I think every business owner should read John Cotter’s “Our Iceberg is Melting.”

Here are my top 3 takeaways from “Our Iceberg is Melting,” and how you can create a company that not only survives change, but leverages it to reach even greater success:

1. Establish a culture of Courageous Conversations

Those elder penguins didn't like being told that they did not, in fact, know everything there was to know about their frozen home. Much less from some pipsqueak like Fred! But it was high-time that they finally listened up.

So what does it really take to save an industry, and on a smaller scale, save a business? It often means saying what no one is ready to hear, and putting our pride aside to face reality.

When I approached the board of directors, I had to say in no uncertain terms that their association members are dropping like flies, and their inevitable future doesn’t look good.

Create a culture in your workplace where Courageous Conversations are welcome. This gives your team the chance to decide whether they’re on board with your vision and values, or whether they’re not. This also gives your team the freedom to approach you about potential problems that might be just outside your current vantage point.

Download the Courageous Conversations Guide here to learn how.

2. Be Active in Resolving The Meeting Conundrum.

The penguin herd had meetings. They liked to get together and squawk towards the sky about what should be done next. The meetings of band of chief penguins weren’t that much more effective. They liked to talk, but didn’t have the equal amount of patience to listen.

This is where meetings go wrong, and this is why society today thinks meetings are a waste of time. Take a look at my Top 10 Leader Personality Types That Destroy Your Meetings, alongside the 10 members of the penguin Leadership council, and see if there are any similarities between this bunch and your own company's leadership:

“ • Two of the birds on the Leadership Council loved to debate the validity of any statistics. And they loved to debate for hours and hours. These two were the more vocal advocates lobbying for longer meetings.

• One of the Leadership Council members would usually fall asleep—or at least come awfully close—during long presentations with statistics. His snoring could be disruptive.

• Another bird was very uncomfortable with numbers. He tried to hide his feelings, usually by nodding his head a great deal. All the head-nodding tended to annoy some other members of the group. Which could lead to bad moods and bickering.

• At least two other Council members made it pretty clear that they did not like to be TOLD much of anything. They saw it as their job to do much of the TELLING.

Among these was Nono, my favorite, the most vocal critic of Fred’s dire concerns for the wellbeing of their herd.

Next time you have a meeting, keep this downloadable card of the Top 10 Leader Personality Types That Destroy Your Meetings, and notice how they affect the dynamics of meetings, and the environment in your workplace.

Maybe you even see yourself in one of these personas. That’s OK. Remember: change is inevitable and something to be embraced.

And just because I don’t like talking about problems without offering any solutions, I’ll throw in a bonus here: the Ultimate Meeting Guide that brings you the how to on running meetings that are more effective and time efficient.

3. Name it, Frame it, and Claim it

This is where where you can really start moving subterranean, frozen mountains. These penguins had a major change coming their way. Ready or not, they had to find a solution. It was sink or swim—literally!

So little Fred took them through the process of framing the inevitable future, naming the challenge as it stands now, and claiming it by committing to find the best possible solution with a competent team.

Ultimately, that solution took an entire mind shift. Instead of calling one place home, the penguins agreed to take on a new, nomadic way of life, following the best fish and nicest ice blocks to live on.

As for my own story, they, too, had to change everything they thought about what value they’re truly bringing to their customers. And I got to make this awesome video to help make that happen.

You’ve got changes coming your way all the time. Are you doing what it takes to meet those changes head on and succeed?

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,