CEO Of OMGPOP Dan Porter Hires Back Laid-Off Workers and Shares the Wealth

Here’s a good news story you certainly don’t see everyday:

OMGPOP — the creator of the popular Draw Something game available for both iPhone and Android — was sold last month for $210 million to social gaming company Zynga Inc.

This was a huge boon to the once-struggling start-up that was close to going bust, according to Fortune. A few months ago, with sales floundering, Porter made the difficult decision to lay off several Flash developers, reports.

Then, of course, the launch — and consequent popularity — of the Pictionary-like game Draw Something changed everything. Within six weeks, it was downloaded by 35 million users, becoming the most popular iPhone/Facebook game around, Wall Street Cheat Sheet reports.

That’s when Zynga came calling — and Porter quickly got to work getting the employees he fired back in the game.

“He was literally negotiating the deal and jamming the re-hires back into payroll to make sure they were covered with hours remaining in the close,” an anonymous source with first-hand knowledge of the situation told Business Insider. “Their options kept vesting and they benefited from the sale.”

In our research on organizational downsizing, this Compassion-based approach to rebuilding trust following layoffs is exceptional.  If there were more CEOs like Dan Porter, the U.S. economy would be much further along in restoring all of the jobs, and the wealth and incomes that go with those jobs, that were lost in the Great Recession of 0f 2008-.


Trust is Everything Now Available in Amazon Kindle Format

Our first book, Trust is Everything:  Become the Leader Others Will Follow is now available in Amazon Kindle format, and for only $6.99, a savings of 65% over the print version!

If you haven’t read our book yet, you’ll want to buy it before our sequel. Becoming a Trustworthy Leader:  Psychology and Practice, is published by Routledge Press this summer.  If you have read it already, you’ll want the ebook version for handing referencing and bookmarking.

In addition to the Kindle models, including the new Kindle Fire, uou can read it on any device with the Kindle app, including iPhones, as well as Android phones and e-readers.

Our book is also available on iTunes in iPad format, and for the Kindle Nook at Barnes and Noble.

Please share this with anyone among your networks you who think might benefit from reading our book.

We look forward to hearing from you as you read it!

Aneil and Karen

Pete Carril and Anne Marie Long, Two of Princeton’s Honorary Classmates, Are True Treasures

I had the privilege of updating the records for some of our honorary classmates for the Great Class of 1984 this past week.  Two of the six people for whom I needed some current information didn’t have email addresses, and so I needed to call them.  As much as I enjoy speaking on the phone with people, I never know when someone receives a call from someone they don’t know whether they’ll actually appreciate the phone call.  That’s almost never the case, however, when I’m calling on behalf of Princeton, and these two calls I made were no different.

Pete Carril, longtime basketball coach at Princeton, answered his phone directly, and recounted how much he enjoyed coming to our Class’s 25th Reunion two years ago.  He also said he’d just returned from a 50th high school reunion to which he’d been invited, as he had taught government and economics classes at that high school.  Who knew?  He told me how important it is to have a strong background in math today for today’w work world, and I said I’d pass that along to my two children.  I also told him I was fan of basketball’s fundamentals because of how he’d coached at Princeton, and that I was also a fan of the film Hoosiers.  He told me to go out and get a copy because that style of play has disappeared.  (Luckily, I own a DVD of it.)  Of course I’m biased, but I think Pete’s coaching philosophy and style have much to commend it, given that he took Princeton to the NCAA tournament 11 times, had a 525-273 win-loss record, and was always entertaining.

My second call was to Anne Marie Long, who used to be Director of Recruiting for Princeton, helping students to land great jobs after college.  She said that in order to be help the students as much as possible, she often worked long hours into the evening to be available to both recruiters and students.  No wonder, given that her tenure included the time after the Crash of ’87.  She also enjoys returning to Princeton for Reunions, and in digging about for information on Anne Marie, I found out that she is one of our Class’s annual dues payers.  Talk about giving back! She’s retired now in Florida, but enjoys visiting the University of New Hampshire for her own college reunions, and just spent a lovely month in Mystic Seaport, CT.

I could have talked to both Pete and Anne Marie for hours, but I needed to respect their time (and get back to finishing our book sequel.   My conversations reminded yet again why Old Nassau is the Best Old Place of All.

Aneil Mishra ’84


Leader dictionary picture

Are Leaders Born or Made? The Answer is Both!

Update 9-23-11:

For additional great examples of leaders can be both born and made, please see our latest research on how such leaders balance building trust and maintaining control,  and how they can create lasting positive change.

Update 5-25-10

This post continues to be one of our most popular.  As we write our sequel to our book, we have continued to think about this question, and these are some of the questions and issues we are considering:

  • In light of the fact that we believe that courage, humility and authenticity underpin trustworthy leaders, it would be interesting to discover how a leader develops these characteristics.
  • To what extent do leaders develop these characteristics early in life, or can they acquire them in adulthood?
  • How do leaders’ ability to build trust serve as a foundation for lasting positive change/culture?
  • What developmental experiences contribute to leaders’ ability to demonstrate trustworthiness and building trust with others?

Update 8-19-08:

The Reverend Dr. Jean Smith, the recently retired Executive Director of the Seamen’s Church Institute, who is featured in our book, spoke about this recently at a panel discussion on leading change.  Her husband Peter Smith, who was an executive with McNeil Consumer Products during the Tylenol crisis in 1981, and who recently retired as a marketing executive with Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic was also part of the panel, along with Jeff McBride of McKinsey & Co.

All three discussed their leadership journeys, and their change management work involving other leaders as well, in ways that reaffirmed that great leaders are both born and made.  Early experiences in all three of their careers had significant effects on their own later career choices, their leadership decisions, and their effectiveness in creating positive change in organizations. They all possess what I would call innate qualities, including 1) high intelligence, 2) great energy and passion, and empathy based on outstanding communication skills, the latter of which may be partly genetic or learned at a very early age.  Nonetheless, each also had critical incidents and experiences that shaped how they lead, how they partner with others, and how they make a difference.

One set of insights that I gained from their remarks is that effective leaders need to make the most of their genetic endowments by reflecting on their experiences critically, waiting patiently for new opportunities but then quickly seizing them, and as much as any other approach, listening deeply to people around them.


Update 5-19-08

We answer this question in the first chapter of our new book, Trust is Everything — Become the Leader Others Will Follow, just published on Lulu.


Update 3-08-08:

The answer is both, because it takes courage, humility, and authenticity, which are influenced by nature and nurture. Our forthcoming book addresses this question directly as we profile how leaders build trust with their stakeholders. Stay tuned to this blog for details on our book launch!


Third Update 10/07:

I had great honor and pleasure of meeting with the Reverend Jean Smith Friday, September 21st, a week before her planned retirement from the Seamen’s Church Institute. In a number of interviews I did with her staff, the same themes kept getting repeated: Jean is a coach, a mentor, and a protector of her staff as they minister to mariners both domestic and from around the world. In a world which often views seafarers as either burdens or threats, she and her organization provided a trusted safe-haven for the people that bring us goods from around the world and make our economy even possible.


Second Update 4/07:

Here’s another take on the nature versus nurture perspective on leadership: I’ve decided that most failures of leadership are due in part because the leader wasn’t properly disciplined as a child. In other words, they were either “beaten up to much or not beaten enough.” An overstated perspective perhaps, but it seems to explain much to me. Individuals who weren’t disciplined enough or disciplined inconsistently as youngsters grow up to be narcissistic, unethical adults. Individuals who received discipline that is too harsh, or too arbitrary grow up to be authoritarian adults who disempower others they work with.

More thoughts later…


Update 10/2006: This post, originally written on May 8, 2006, continues to be one of our most popular, judging by the number of hits it receives each day. Since I wrote it, I have become even more convinced that leaders are made and not born. Our current deficiencies among our political and business leaders in my opinion, is not the result of poorly-born leaders, but rather poorly-made leaders. As we have demanded increasingly short-term and simplistic solutions to the many complex problems facing our organizations and our society, it is no wonder that our leaders have responded with inadequate and sometimes harmful solutions. We can, and should demand more from our leaders, and only elect those individuals who are willing and able to tackle problems courageously, who will tell the truth to their constituents, and who can learn from their mistakes.

Original post:

I have tried to teach my students over the years that leaders are made and not born. By this I mean that even though some individuals are naturally more inclined to become leaders, based on their early life experiences and yes, even genetics, all people have the capacity to become leaders if they have the desire and make the effort to do so.

I have had my students read Bob Quinn’s books Deep Change and Building the Bridge as you Walk on it. I have also provided what I consider to be some very compelling examples of leaders who were made, not born, including Jean Smith who leads the Seamen’s Church Institute, Bob Lintz, former executive at General Motors, the family members of Two Men and a Truck, International, Dennis Quaintance of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, my college classmates Bill Bass and Dave Lassman, and many others. Despite these efforts, I still have many students who believe that these examples are really evidence of born leaders. While I believe that these people are extraordinary leaders, I still think they are ordinary people that rose to the challenge of creating transformational change.

What do you think? Are leaders born, or can they be made?

GM’s Parma Plant Received $60 million in new investment

As many of you read in our first book about Bob Lintz and the transformational change he led at GM’s Parma Stamping Plant in the ’80s and ’90s near Cleveland, Ohio, I thought you’d be interested in some recent news about Parma, in which GM will be invested $60 million dollars as part of the plant’s most recent modernization.

This is truly a lasting legacy that Bob left, as the plant continues to improve and be one of the world’s very best stamping plants years AFTER Bob retired.  For you Good To Great and Built to Last fans, Parma is a compelling example of a Level 5 Leader who built a Flywheel that continues to demonstrate significant bottom-line results for both GM and its employees who work at Parma.

Karen and I be continuing our profile of Bob and discussing what he has learned as a result of his inspiring leadership efforts in our forthcoming sequel, Becoming a Trustworthy Leader:  Psychology and Practice, due out later this by Routledge Press.

How do you build team trust?

If you want to know, we will tell you on December 3rd at 9 a.m. at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business at a Three University Positive Workplace Seminar.  Aneil and I will be presenting our chapter on team trust from our forthcoming book “Becoming a Trustworthy Leader: Psychology and Practice” to be published by Routledge Press next year.

To learn more about how teams build trust, we interviewed Ross Smith from Microsoft who has been very successful in creating trustworthy teams.  We really admire his leadership approach to building a trustworthy team and will be sharing his story at this event.

There will also be scholars there from the University of Michigan and Wayne State, thus the three university event.

Other studies (Panteli & Tucker (2009) have found that the biggest success in building team trust come from

1) sharing information widely

2) sharing team leadership across team members, and

3) minimizing power differentials among team members

If you would like to share your tips on how you have built trust with your team, we’d love to hear about it.


Cutting Costs without Cutting People — Rhino Foods Does it Right!

Update 6-10-10:

I recently taught a group of Nissan managers about the ROCC of Trust and the Competing Values.  I shared Ted Castle’s story and how it related to building lasting positive change.  Here is some follow-up information:

If you would like additional tools that you can use in your organization, and are current or former student or client of ours, please contact us at trustdr at gmail

For more on Ted’s company, please read our book, Trust is Everything.

Ted Castle and Rhino Foods were profiled in the latest issue of Business Week for being able to reduce costs without resorting to layoffs, not an easy accomplishment as demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands of layoffs by scores of firms around the U.S. and around the world over the past several weeks.rhino-foods-employee-exchange-program

As Matthew Boyle writes:

Instead of jettisoning workers during the Great Depression, Iowa-based window maker Pella had its employees wash and rewash the windows it could not sell. These days, companies such as FedEx (FDX), Dell (DELL), and Motorola (MOT) are adopting their own tactics to hold on to jobs, from hiring freezes to companywide unpaid vacations. (All have had to resort to layoffs as well.) And some are doing more than chopping pay or perks.

Vermont’s Rhino Foods, which makes the cookie dough for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, recently sent 15 factory workers to nearby lip balm manufacturer Autumn Harp for a week to help it handle a holiday rush. The employees were paid by Rhino, which then invoiced its neighbor for the hours worked. President Ted Castle is looking to adopt a similar approach with salaried managers, too. “It’s a lot easier to just do the layoff,” says Castle. “But in the long term, it’s not easier for the business.”

Congratulations, Ted and Rhino Foods!


Dennis Quaintance and Proximity Hotel: Clean and Green

Update 4/27/10:

Just returned from trip to North Carolina, and another stay at the wonderful Proximity Hotel.  The accommodations, food, and service as usual were superb!


Original post 7-29-08:

If you look in your current issue of Forbes magazine (August 11, 2008), on page 34, it looks to us like a picture of the solar panels from the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina. We’ve sent a message to the author of the story asking for confirmation. In the Forbes story, they say “from a hotel in NC” but don’t specify which hotel.

Dennis Quaintance, one of our ROCC Stars, developed Proximity, earning Platinum LEED certification for his hotel with his business partners, Mike Weaver and Nancy King Quaintance.

Dennis is profiled in our new book, “Trust is Everything” because he is a leader who encourages the best in others–wants to have fun while offering great customer service–and because he is always striving for new and exciting ways of doing business–like creating a LEED certified hotel.

We had the opportunity to spend July 4th (Karen’s birthday) at Proximity. What a treat! The hotel is elegant while also being “green.” The kids loved the pool and the cool hybrid-type elevators.

Downsizing with Downsizing Employee Morale

Update 11-24-09:

I’ve been keeping track of a number of firms that have been downsizing for quite some time, and here is one snapshot. For more information, read on below.


Original Post 10-14-09:

The French business magazine, Business Digest, recently interviewed us as part of their profile of publication this spring in the MIT Sloan Management Review.  We were able to elaborate on our study and provide additional information not available in our original article.  Here is an excerpt from the Business Digest article:

In the face of a downturn, many companies turn to downsizing to cut costs. Yet, they often fail to achieve the expected payoffs, and in some cases, they end up worse off than they started. According to Aneil K. Mishra and his co-authors, downsizing doesn’t have to spell corporate disaster. When companies increase flexibility, innovation, and communication, they can emerge stronger, faster, and smarter.

“When leaders use open, empathetic communication (that is, they listen to employees with an open mind and try to understand their thoughts and feelings) and are clear about how the organization needs to improve, employees will feel ‘heard,’” says Karen Mishra. This in turn fosters trust, empowerment, and innovative behavior.  A.Mishra explains, “When people have the necessary information to make informed decisions, they will start to say, ‘How can we get better?’ The only way they’re going to [get better] is by being flexible and innovative—because they’re typically not going to get new resources.” And, Gretchen Spreitzer adds,
“Flexibility and innovation also encourage empowerment because they allow the possibility of new ways of doing things—not just one way—the bosses’ way.”

For a copy of the full article in French or in English, please go here, or contact us.


Anthony Horowitz is a genuinely nice guy (and author)!

Our son, Jack, loves the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz.  Maggie has read and enjoyed them, as well.  So, when we learned that Mr. Horowitz would be at our local Schuler’s book store, we just had to go.  We bought his new book, Crocodile Tears, the day that it came out (2 days earlier) and Jack had it finished by the time he met Mr. Horowitz.  I didn’t know what to expect since I had not read any of his books, but after hearing him talk, I’m ready to read his books over the Christmas break.

Meeting their favorite author

Mr. Horowitz spent about 45 minutes talking to all of us (kids and parents) about how he decided to write the Alex Rider series, how he chose the names of his characters, why he enjoys writing YA (young adult) books, and anything else the audience asked of him.  He was engaging and genuinely enthusiastic about writing and being with his readers.  It was very refreshing, to hear someone to excited about what he does for a living.  Since he has sold more than 12 million of these books, he probably did not need to do a traditional book-tour, but you could tell that he enjoyed it and that his young fans enjoyed it as well.  One topic that he touched on that I appreciated was that he feels that he has an obligation to his young audience to be very careful with his characters, for instance, NOT to kill them off at a young age like a certain other author he mentioned.  He feels that it is his responsibility to care for our childrens’ feelings and emotions when he is writing, which I appreciate as a parent.

This is not the best picture–I took it with my blackberry, but we had to capture this moment.  Mr. Horowitz was very gracious, signing books and having his picture taking with kids both young and old.  It was a great evening!