Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friend of Simplicity - Nick McCormick

Last year I published a series of “Friend of Simplicity" interviews with people I’ve met through Blogging. It proved to be a popular addition to the regular Blogging and so I’ve decided to resurrect the series.

I’m delighted to kick off the new series with an interview featuring business author Nick McCormick from the US.

Last year I read Nick's superb book “Lead Well and Prosper.”
I was very impressed with its messages of simplicity, common sense and Nick’s plea for us all to get the basics right.

I hope you enjoy the interview and give Nick some feedback.


Trevor – Hi Nick, where are you based in the US?

Nick - I live just west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and work out of an office in Wilmington, Delaware

Trevor - Tell us about your career and what took you down the path of writing books?


Nick - I've been in the Information Technology field my entire career which spans about 19 years. I began as a programmer and have progressed through various management positions since.
I never set out to write a book. After a few years in management, though, I did realize I had something to say and sought out a vehicle for doing so. I started by just jotting down some thoughts periodically. That led to the writing of a couple of articles. Eventually I had enough information to assemble into a short book.

The process actually took years. I enjoyed it very much. It was a great learning experience that consistently pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I've since taken up blogging and most recently, podcasting. All these new experiences give me the opportunity to express myself, and hopefully benefit others along the way.


Trevor - I loved your book “Lead Well and Prosper” – it’s full of good common sense, practical suggestions and of course, simplicity. How do you think your message received in the business world?


Nick - The book has been well received by managers of all levels. A lengthy list of endorsements is evidence of that. There is something to be said for sticking to the fundamentals and for keeping things simple, right Trevor?


That's what my book does. It sticks to the basics. Just like anything else, if you don't practice and master the fundamentals, you don't have much of a shot at success. Some think they can leap frog the basics and go right into things like visioning (My book is not for them!). Just one problem with that though, if you don't execute the fundamentals well, no one will follow your vision.


Trevor - If you could give young potential leaders three tips on leadership what would they be?

Nick - Focus on the fundamentals. It's the same with any discipline, whether you participate in sports, play an instrument, or manage a group of people. Work on the basics. Don't make it more complicated than it is. Lot's of managers get enamoured with their titles and perks and develop an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Management is not about you. It's about them. It's a management fundamental that we often forget.

Another tip would be to persist. It may be fairly simple and straight forward, but being a good manager is not easy. It's much easier to just go with the flow. It takes courage to do the right thing and to keep doing it. You will make mistakes. Recognize when you do, apologise and then work to avoid the same mistake in the future. Keep at it.


Finally, keep learning. Learn about your company, your industry, your customers, and your competition. Learn about management and leadership. Then turn your learning into action to help your organization improve.


Trevor - Where do you look for inspiration in your leadership research? For instance are there any well known authors that inspire you?


Nick - The author that has probably influence me the most is Stephen Covey. When I first read "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" it really made an impression on me. It validated some of what I had already been doing, and it also let me know what was possible.
There is so much good stuff out there. I try to read at least one book each month. I find that I can glean value from almost any book.

Trevor - Do you have any role model leaders that you can point us to in the business world or indeed non business and why do they inspire you?


Nick - I don't have any single leader that I point to. I'm actually hesitant to do that because it's so hard to know what the "famous leaders" are really like. The way they are portrayed in the media does not always reflect reality. The media likes to build people up into mystical figures and then relishes in their inevitable fall from grace.

In general, I'm impressed any time leaders go against the tide. I'm not talking about the ones that talk a good game. I'm talking about the ones that actually do it. The business world is filled with fakers and lemmings, but every once in a while there is an example in the news or in my work life that demonstrates good leadership in action. That is refreshing, and it keeps me going.

Trevor - Have you visited the UK and if not, do you have any plans to come over the pond?


Nick - No, I have not, and I have no plans to do so in the immediate future, although I'd really like to at some point. When I do, I'll have to stop by to see you and the many other wonderful people from the UK that I've met via the Internet in the last couple of years.


Trevor - Tell us about your latest business project.


Nick - I have started working on my second book. I've completed a first draft. It's somewhat similar to the first in that it aims to teach. It also contains a fair dose of humour. I don't have an immediate publication date yet. I hope to get it out some time in 2009.


Trevor - Is there anything else you would like Simplicity readers to hear about?


Nick - I'd like to encourage them to check out my blog http://begoodventures.com/joeandwanda/ It's unique in that it is written from the perspective of the two characters from my book, "Lead Well and Prosper." The blog also houses my "Management Tips Podcast." In each podcast a special guest provides a tip for the management practitioner. They are in bite sized chunks, with none being over 10 minutes long - perfect for the manager on the go.


There's also a lot of stuff out on my website http://begoodventures.com/ to include book reviews, a quiz you can take to see if you are a good manager, free offers, and other items to purchase.


Trevor - Thanks Nick. It's great to hear from you again and I wish you good luck in all that you do.


21 comments:

dave wheeler said...

Trevor,

Great interview. "Management is not about you it is about them" is on point and the single biggest barrier that prevents managers from becoming leaders. I will have to get the book for sure. Thanks Nick/Trevor...

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dave - you will not regret buying Nick's book. Like you, Nick is grounded in reality.

Scott said...

Trevor,

Good interview and thanks for the link to some of Nick's stuff. Sounds like Nick has a great approach to understanding business, and more importantly, people.

I'll have to grab a copy as well...

The Dan Ward said...

Fun interview - good luck with the new book, Nick! I look forward to hearing more about it.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Scott and Dan - great to hear of your support for Nick's work. He deserves wider coverage - please tell your friends :-)

Best to you both

Trevor

J.KANNAN said...

Trevor,

The very title of the book by Nick it self conveys excellent and useful message of meaning and added with your message, as usual simplicity way, Trevor, it adds to the title décor.

Its indeed too good of Nick, being a programmer, progressed through and ultimately became a very good author, though took long years (to go with the saying “Good things always take time to get seen and noticed”) I like Nick’s words, as rightly mentioned “If you don’t execute the fundamentals well no one will follow your vision”-its too good, and I do believe in “Fundamentals are Foundation for vision & success”

Three very good tips by Nick for the benefit of “Simplicity” readers:

1. To Focus on Fundamentals.

2. To Persist.

3. To keep learning………….(A never ending process according to me).

Vow. Great.

I had a glance at Nick’s Blog. Lots of good stuff to read and gain knowledge and shall start on it from now on.

A very good friendly interview in the Simplicity way.

I wish all the best and good luck to Nick, and may Jesus grace and blessings be with Nick for successful attainment of all his future ventures.

J.K

dannielo said...

If you would like to implement some of Stephen Covey's best ideas, you can use this web aplication:

http://www.Gtdagenda.com

You can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (in each of your life's categories), projects and tasks, in an intuitive interface. It has a Checklists section, for the repetitive activities you have to do, important but not urgent (Quadrant II, for example your routines/habits). Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time, activities and for the weekly review.

Some features from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.

And it's available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it wherever you are.

felix said...

It's always refreshing to read such fresh ideas. Though I find them so rarely in real business life. I mean, after the Big Recession, Madoff, spurious personal interests everywhere ,can we keep talking about honesty or leadership without feeling ashamed?

I think Nick's focus on persistence is important though I am persuaded all of us should be able to discover when we have already achieved success. And it shouldn't be the same for everybody.

Ken said...

loved Nick's comment about keep learning-correct me if I am wrong but the older one gets the more one learns & the more one realises there is so much more to learn ie learning increases exponentially with age

I've been to Wilmington,well passed through it-the Delaware gap is truly amazing geographical feature & must have been really something for original pioneers.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Felix, JK, Dannielo and Ken - I'm sure Nick will be pleased to see your comments and respond in due course.

Nick is a man with important things to say and I hope his message gets wider coverage in the coming months/years. please tell your friends about his book.

Nick McCormick said...

Trevor, Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog. I really enjoyed it. I’m thrilled to see all the wonderful comments.

Dave, Scott, Dan, J.K., Felix, and Ken, So glad some of the thoughts resonated with you. Thanks very much for the kind words and well wishes. Dannielo, thanks for the time management tip. It’s tough to go wrong with Covey and Allen.

Believe, Begin, Be Good!
Nick

Mike Gardner said...

Thanks for introducing us to Nick, Trevor. We're practically next-door neighbors now, since we moved out of the frozen auto-wasteland and are now in Delaware. I have encountered several excellent leadership thinkers and lean thinkers in the Philly-Delaware area since relocating here, so I'm thinking it must be some kind of karmic alignment going on...

...or not.

Cheers,

Mike

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mike - Hope you and Keiko are both well and settling in to your new neighbourhood! Amazing small world we live in – maybe you can try and hook up with Nick!

Nick McCormick said...

Welcome to the area Mike! Drop me a note any time. I look forward to meeting you. I may be heading to your old stomping grounds for the NCAA final four in a few weeks.

John O'Leary said...

Ya can't knock continuous learning. Even when I pick up an old chestnut (like Covey's book) or watch a biz video I'll find something great I completely forgot or something I already knew but don't PRACTICE (a common sin among us training professionals). Reading one business book a month is a great goal. I START a new one every month but don't always...

Trevor Gay said...

John - My Grandmother died when she was 92 and always told me she was still learning. Once we say we are not learning is the time to curl up our toes and call in the undertaker.

Nick McCormick said...

John, one thing I try to do is actually take a single tip from each book I read and put it into practice. Sometimes it’s just a matter of altering a behavior. Although it doesn’t seem like much, over time the results can be significant. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not that easy to do. I confess that I don’t always make it happen.

Trevor Gay said...

Mike - can you send me your e-mail address as I keep getting my e-mails to you returned!

Best to you and Keiko

trevor.simplicity@gmail.com

Marilyn Jess, DTM said...

Brilliant interview, Trevor & Nick.

I liked the emphasis on fundamentals. If business leaders concentrated on those--I include having integrity as a fundamental, since we learn this first at home--we'd be in less dire financial straits than we are now.

Hope to get to your neck of the woods again, Nick, sometime soon. I'm a Civil War fanatic--so your area is on the way. I'm up here in chilly VT.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Marilyn - maybe you and Nick can hook up too!

Nick McCormick said...

Agreed Marilyn. Thanks for the comment. Drop me a note if/when you head south.