What I learned from Lightning McQueen about being an SAP Mentor

Sometimes inspiration comes from an unlikely source. Last week, it came when I took my 7-year-old son to see Cars 3, the latest Disney/Pixar movie. As its title indicates, Cars 3 is the third installment in a series that began in 2006 with the original Cars. Maligned by many computer animation fans as the worst movies created by the usually innovative Pixar, I could tell from its movie trailer that Cars 3 was going to be different from the previous two movies and deal with some adult themes.

Even if you don’t have a 7-year-old child as I do, I recommend taking in Cars 3 while it’s still in theaters. Appreciate how Pixar has taken realistic scenery beyond what we’ve seen in previous Pixar films. And see if you can find even more leadership lessons (author Joseph LaLonde found twenty-nine), celebrity voices, and the infamous Pizza Planet truck.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Love works: seven timeless principles for effective leaders by Joel Manby

Love works, even at work.

With just a little bit of irony, I finished Joel Manby’s book, Love Works, as my plane was touching down in Orlando, Florida for the 2015 ASUG Annual Conference and SAP SAPPHIRE NOW. Joel Manby was recently hired as an outsider CEO for the beleaguered SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, also in Orlando. He began his career at General Motors, first at Saturn then rising to CEO of Saab North America. Prior to his new SeaWorld appointment, Mr. Manby was president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, a theme park operator probably best known for their operation of Dollywood. And he is probably best known for his appearance on Undercover Boss. Mr. Manby writes about “seven timeless principles for effective leaders” and punctuates these principles with examples (both good and bad) from his career at General Motors and Herschend Family Entertainment. Those seven principles are being patient, kind, trusting, unselfish, truthful, forgiving, and dedicated.

Lest you think all this talk about love is an excuse to avoid the hard truths about leading an organization, let me set your mind at ease.

The bottom line is essential.

If we don’t hit our financial goals, we cannot achieve the other objectives we have… However, we achieve profits by doing the right thing for customers and employees; profits are not an end in themselves. Profits are a product of doing the right thing- over and over again.

Joel Manby in Love Works

These management philosophies put Joel Manby in the company of CEO’s like Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, who places a high priority on treating both employees and the bottom line with great respect. The world will be watching as Joel Manby brings these principles to SeaWorld. This 208-page book is easy to consume, as I did, on an average airline flight. Love Works is a must-read for leaders who want “to be the same person all the time: at work, with my family, at my church, and when I [am] alone.”

  • Purchase Love Works (hardcover edition) on Amazon.com
  • Purchase Love Works (Kindle edition) on Amazon.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Winners Dream

Bill McDermott’s Winners Dream is an inspiring life story and a must-read for SAP users.

Winners Dream by SAP CEO Bill McDermott (October 2014, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-4767-6108-4) chronicles his story from a working class neighborhood in New York to the corner office of one of the world’s most respected software companies.

winner – noun – one that is successful especially through praiseworthy ability and hard work

dream – verb – to think about something that you wish would happen or something that you want to do or be

The book is biographical, chronicling the “journey from corner store to corner office,” according to the book’s subtitle. It’s an inspirational tale because Bill McDermott was not a child of privilege- he has clearly worked hard for every milestone of success in his career.

“Mr. Fullwood, I don’t think you completely understand the situation.” I pause, and then explain. “I told my father as I left him at the train station today, that I guaranteed that I would come home tonight with my employee badge in my pocket. In twenty-one years, I’ve never broken a promise to my dad, and I can’t start now.” Silence. I don’t fill it. Mr. Fullwood looks at me with his head kind of tilted, like a puppy waiting to see what I’m going to do next, but I don’t make the next move.

As an analytics professional, with “classic BusinessObjects” pedigree, I never paid much attention to who was helming SAP. I spent more time studying the analytics roadmap and the ever-changing series of mid-level executives who created it. But there’s a lot to learn from here. Although Mr. McDermott was never the CEO of Xerox, he learned first-hand that a highly successful organization that buries its head in the sand might fade into irrelevance, which explains his passion for casting clear visions (via simple memorable phrases like “on demand, on premise, on device”) and pushing SAP into new frontiers like in-memory and cloud computing. It’s all about being “consumed with what people wanted and how I could give it to them,” whether as a teen-aged deli owner, an entry-level sales rep, a mid-level manager or CEO. Those looking for dirt about the inner workings of SAP won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll find relentless optimism from a business leader with a well-developed emotional intelligence and a positive outlook on work and life.

If your career depends on using SAP software, it’s time well-spent reading to learn more about the man currently leading the company.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Creativity, Inc.

A thought-provoking book for those that inspire and motivate teams.

Ed Catmull is co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. Dr. Catmull is a recognized pioneer in the field of computer animation and joined George Lucas at Lucasfilm in 1979. What we now know as Pixar would be spun off and acquired in 1986 by none other than Steve Jobs, who simultaneously led both Pixar and NeXT Computer after his exile from Apple Computer. Creativity, Inc., Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand In the Way of True Inspiration (Random House, 2014, ISBN 978-0812993011) documents not only Dr. Catmull’s journey, but also the journey of computer animation from a university research topic to SIGGRAPH short films like Red’s Dream and Tin Toy to 1995’s Toy Story, the first fully computer animated film. In my college days, I would watch Pixar shorts at computer animation festivals. Now that I’m a parent, I still have a valid “excuse” to see each and every Pixar film.

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Judging Pixar’s exceptional track record, it might not seem that its employees need help being creative. But every one of its films has struggled at some point during its development. What Pixar has developed over the years, under Ed Catmull’s leadership, is an evolving set of principles and practices that help it deliver award-winning stories that touch the hearts of children and adults alike.

We tend to think only of artists and musicians when the topic of creativity is mentioned. But creativity underlies nearly every human endeavor, including business intelligence. And not just the visual aspects of our work. Data architecture and integration require just as much creativity as data visualization. What I most appreciated about this book was its insights on how a diverse group of professionals can learn to work more effectively together, be more candid in giving feedback and more gracious in receiving it.

A thought-provoking book for those that inspire and motivate teams.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”