Tag Archives: leadership

The Power of Control


As the High Net Wealth Individuals’ (HNWI) wealth grows substantially quicker than the rest of the population (http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/06/hnwi-populations-statistics/), the question of control springs to mind. How much control (economically as well as politically) do these individuals hold? On a related topic: as unanimously agreed by everyone, big corporations continue to get larger. I’m sure there is a direct correlation between HNWI and Big Corporations (shouldn’t have to even mention it really) but on the topic of control ‘they’ have a not-so-hidden power to allow us to use only what ‘they’ want us to use. In the case of Apple, the selling point is quality control:

 “Imagine buying a car but having the car maker retain control over which roads you can drive on. Looking to go down that small road to the beach? Your car just won’t move. I think very few people would find that an acceptable limitation on how they can use a car, which after all, they have paid for. In the case of software, the limitation is less obvious. After all, you can download apps from the App Store for seemingly everything (“there’s an app for that”). But the second you dig a little bit you realize that Apple had and is exercising all sorts of control, including for example what ecommerce experience you can have, how potentially offensive content is treated and what you can do with crypto currencies.”

There is a similar argument over why Google should not be allowed to “hide” or move search results, as the results drastically affect who sees what links. Imagine looking up doggy-day-care services in your home town and only seeing the results of PetCo (or whomever, I don’t have a dog) and missing out on that great local business right in front of your apartment because it was link #8 or on page 2 (even page 4!). I rarely go beyond the first page of my Google results, expecting to find what I’m looking for at the top, or making due with the results. This type of control is the same argument that some proponents of the Open Internet use against the big telecoms and the Comcast/Time Warner merger! And if I recall correctly, the FCC determined that telecoms cannot exert their power of control to favor different types of services (such as Netflix—even though they still do, just not in Netflix’s favor for the sake of their own cable subscription services), and the merger failed! What makes control different between consumer goods and the services we use?


I know that consumers have the power to vote. And they use that power every single day. With every single dollar that consumers spend, they vote on who or what they believe deserves their money (and thus, power). It’s probably just more effort for some than they want (read: people are lazy and don’t care enough).

The Role of the Corporation to Employees

What is the role to the corporation to individual employees? What is the best way, as an employee, to think about the corporation?

In today’s ever changing society, there is a shift from those working long-term for a single company to making several jumps in a career to new companies, freelancing, or even starting a new company. This leads me to wonder how others view companies, but I’ll include here my thoughts (assuming things like salary, selfish desires, etc. do not play a role):

A company, to me, is an organized pool of talents. There are many resources of individuals, who do their specific task to the best of their abilities, working alongside many other individuals who do their specific task to the best of their abilities. When these individuals are organized in a way that they can collaborate, they leverage each others skills and make something even better than the sum of two parts. In other words, the role of the corporation should be to make this formula work: 2+2=5. It fails when either customers are not on board or when 2+2=<4. I’d even throw in factors like mismanagement, bankruptcy, culture clashes, etc. into the failed formula group since it means that leverage was not satisfactorily achieved and resources were not properly placed. Another reason for failure are unforeseen external factors (i.e. overall market or economy, or perhaps failure/success of a comparable company), typically this cannot be managed (outside of risk management and scenario analysis) so it doesn’t factor into this topic even though it is certainly worth mentioning.

When 2+2>5, success follows. Some reasons for this could be culture success, high performing individuals, synergy, and excellent resource management. As with before, unforeseen external factors can help a firm succeed, but in the long run 2+2 MUST > 4 so we’ll exclude external factors. The role of the corporation, in these cases, is to leverage individual skills into a singular “team” (or sum of smaller products/services). These individuals are given the right tools (or enough tools to be useful), have the right knowledge (or enough knowledge to be useful), and the right amount of time (or enough time to be useful) to create this 2+2=>5. It seems that when individuals feel their contributions to this formula do not sufficiently equate (or their contributions could be improved but are unable to improve it themselves), friction exists causing resources to leave. And, like any team sport, the whole is only as good as it’s weakest link so under-performing team members must necessarily be removed from the equation (or separated from the whole) to keep the balance.

In summation: The role of the corporation for employees should be to give them the tools they could otherwise not obtain so that their individual contributions can, when combined with the contributions of other individuals, create something better than the sum of its parts. 2+2=5. When individuals believe their contributions are not sufficiently utilized, the friction causes them to leave. If an individual believes they can do better on their own, or they (usually do to empirical experiences) find that they are better utilized outside of an organization, they create their own venture.

The question I have is, if this is all true, is the feeling of under-utilization (or alienation) of an individual come from more experience in the workforce, or is it more weighted towards our general cultures such as the Millennial generation? It’s easier than ever to venture out on our own, especially when the market is as “frothy” as it is now. Costs to create a company are way lower than ever, it’s very easy to hire freelancers to do basic (or complex) tasks if specific skills are needed, and the information is readily available to anyone willing to put the time in. Will we be seeing a “freelancer” economy in the future? (I don’t think so) or will we move back to the “company-man” culture as corporations get more data on how to retain employees and how to better utilize their individual skills? I believe we will see “leaner” organizations in the future, where companies are run solely by more “experienced” individuals looking for responsibility without the headaches of “hot-shot” companies run by young entrepreneurs or large corporations. Perhaps they themselves were ex-entrepreneurs. Think co-op but for larger scale business solutions. Run on a non-profit tax status or taxable with low retained earnings.

Own The Room

Perhaps my favorite inspirational message: “Own the Room”. I couldn’t say where it comes from, there are several books using this moniker, articles written, and speeches given about this topic, but it does offer several different key points that inspire in three short words.

It’s about leadership. The ability to take control of the situation, guide the conversation, be the focal point. When you own the room, you are not only in the presence, you own it.

During my time marketing video games, I would always say that we’re not just competing with other video games, we’re competing for time. Every second counts. For every second that someone is not doing something related to our game, they are doing something else. That is the competition. Time is a scarce resource. I made it my mission to make sure our game gets the most resources it could.

Of course, no one can constantly live being surrounded by a video game (though, some have tried.) Nor would I want someone to be. Rather, the mission was to make sure that: of all the other things someone can do, if they haven’t given our game a shot then they should at least have a reason to.  Or at least be aware of it. I wasn’t trying to convince someone to buy the game; I was trying to convince them to invest in it. Invest their time.

This change of thought added some interesting dynamics to the field. Rather than saying: “Buy us, not them”, I was saying: “Spend your time here, with us, not playing puzzles or riding your bike.” The demographic opened up from “People who bought Mario Kart”, to “People who have an interest in motorcycles”.

We didn’t try to change the market, which will always be what it is; we tried to change the conversations. Changing the conversation from whatever celebrity gossip happened to be choice topic, to us. We tried to lead the conversations. We tried to take their time. We tried to own the room. For just a second.