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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Do Family Business People Have Better Work Ethic?

by Rick Baker
On Jan 4, 2012

Here is the thought behind that Question...

Recently, I read Jim Estill's CEO blog1 about work ethic. It reminded me of the stinging little Thought Post I wrote last year to address claims about attitudes of entitlement around the workplace. [Snakes & Ladders...and Entitlement]

Since reading Jim's blog, I followed his advice and I read the book 'Reviving Work Ethic'.

And, I re-listened to the short version of Napoleon Hill's 'Think and Grow Rich'. [I do that quite regularly]

I like many of the points Eric Chester made in 'Reviving Work Ethic'. Particularly, I like his views about of Work Ethic Markers:

Positive Attitude







Those definitely are facets of a good work ethic.

And, Leaders ought to lead by example as they promote and encourage those facets of good work ethic.

Here is another way to look at it - the Napoleon Hill way...


Napoleon Hill taught:

  • we must over-deliver on Quantity of service,
  • we must over-deliver on Quality of service, and 
  • we must render that service with an enthusiastic Spirit2.

That, in summary, is Napoleon Hill's QQS Formula ["QQS"].

We can use QQS as the guide for good work ethic.

And, we can quickly see how the institution and practice of QQS provides tremendous benefits, ranging from workplace harmony to differential advantage.

That said, the question remains:

Do family business people have better work ethic?



  1. Jim Estill's blog
  2. Spirit, as in Spirited Leaders

Blinded by our own Brilliance

by Rick Baker
On Jan 3, 2012

To what extent are we blinded by our own brilliance?

[Of course, I mean our perception of our own brilliance...whether or not we are anywhere near as bright as we perceive.]

An old friend of mine, George, talked to me many times about his early career where he worked at a multinational energy company that continually found itself 'blinded by its own brilliance'. In fact, some senior folks at the company used that expression almost as often as they use the expression 'paralysis by analysis'. 

My memories of George's stories came back to me when I read the following last week1:

"So, what can business managers do to become better estimators of their team members' skill and ability? Consulting with someone less experienced may do the trick." [Sian Beilock]

This reminded me not only of my friend George's 'big-company stories' but also the story of Obvious Adams2. Obvious Adams was the unassuming fellow who saw obvious and simple solutions while all the people around him were confounded by visions of complexity and mired in unimportant details.

We will definitely take advantage of Sian Beilock's advice: it aligns with Spirited Leaders' philosophy 'Seek Simple'. 

It is easy to believe business is more challenging now than it ever was...and it is easy to forecast that trend will continue. I have heard many people say that. I have said it myself as recently as last week.

But now, after rethinking, I have decided to make a change.

I will never say things like 'business is tougher than it used to be" again. Instead, I will spend the time seeking out and getting advice from more Obvious Adamses.


  1. Sian Beilock, 'Choke', (2010)
  2. Robert R. Updegraff, 'Obvious Adams', (1916)

Emotions - Defined - Positive & Negative

by Rick Baker
On Dec 20, 2011

Napoleon Hill practiced and taught emotional control, seeing it as one of the keys to a pleasing and attractive personality.

He taught, feelings drive and hurl us...either up or down. It is a matter of self-control, actually - self-control over one's mind. It is as simple as accepting or rejecting emotions as they 'hit you'. It is as difficult as accepting or rejecting emotions as they 'hit you'. 

Self-control: simple and difficult.

Difficult because, when it comes to actions and habits, emotions play such a major role.

As a starting point, Napoleon Hill defined 7 positive emotions and 7 negative emotions.


 The 7 Positive Emotions









The 7 Negative Emotions










Napoleon Hill defined 7 Fears:

  • Fear of Poverty
  • Fear of Criticism
  • Fear of Ill Health
  • Fear of Loss of Love
  • Fear of Old Age
  • Fear of Death
  • Fear of Loss of Liberty [he added this fear to the original 6 later in his life]


Genes, Optimism, & Pessimism

by Rick Baker
On Sep 22, 2011
When we are born we are predisposed to be negative or middle-of-the-road or positive.
I envision this like a Bell Curvewhere:
  • 25% of people are genetically negative/pessimistic,
  • 50% are genetically middle-of-the-road, and
  • 25% are genetically positive/optimistic.
The extent of negativity or positivity is not fixed.
Picture it as falling within a range…i.e., each of us is born with a predetermined range where we either ‘tend’ to be negative , ‘tend’ to be neutral, or ‘tend’ to be positive. While, as research strongly suggests, a range like the one I have described is set by genetics:
  • pessimistic people can work at being at the most-optimistic end of their range,
  • neutral people can work at being more-optimistic, and
  • optimistic people can work at making sure their optimism stays within the bounds of realism. [Too much optimism carries some unfortunate consequences.]
When genes tend toward optimism:
Some folks are born with a tendency toward optimism and their life experiences taught them how to keep their optimism within realistic bounds. When compared to pessimists, these realistic optimists have a far greater chance of seeing the world as an abundant place.
Other folks allow their optimism to rule them…I mean, their ego is taking advantage of the optimistic predisposition and their optimism, call it mania, causes them to become disconnected from other people. They live in their own Can-Do world where there are few if any limits. While, from time to time, this shows up in the form of great genius more often it shows up as in the form of alienation from ‘lesser folks’.
When genes tend toward middle-of-the-road:
Some folks are born without a tendency toward optimism or pessimism. They are born neutral. They have broader choices. It makes sense these people should choose to be as optimistic as possible. They should do what it takes to maximize their optimism. The risk of overachieving and becoming too optimistic is small.
When genes tend toward pessimism:
Some folks are born with a tendency toward pessimism. They will rarely if ever be able to leap from pessimism to optimism. They will, however, be able to be neutral, neither pessimistic nor optimistic…call them realists. Realistic people: nothing wrong with being in that zone.


Attitude: Creating Positive Attitude | Optimism & Pessimism

Doubters don’t build!

by Rick Baker
On Jun 16, 2011
I have said and repeated, “There is no such thing as constructive criticism”.
I have said and repeated, “Constructive criticism is an oxymoron”.
While those conclusions came to me through independent thought, I have discovered many hold similar views and some folks even use the same words.
2 examples:
Both of these references describe the same thoughts I have come to accept as reality.
In summary:
  • Criticism, regardless of how carefully we try to package it, is poorly received almost each and every time it is delivered
  • Almost each and every time we deliver criticism it is destructive
  • Often, criticism is well-intended, well-packaged, and well-delivered…yet, it has no chance of being received as constructive [the door is closed and locked tight before it arrives]
  • And…people will always have differing views and there will often be a need to share those views…particularly, if we wish to create change…and, in business, we often do want to create change…hence, a major question: How do we create change without being received as deliverers of destructive messages?
That last bullet point gets to the root of business…people, interpersonal relationships, and change.
Napoleon Hill taught the value of faith.
He made it clear he meant 'faith' in the broadest sense, not just religious faith. And, he expressed his view, 'doubters do not build'. Hill's research showed every major business development and contribution had been founded on faith.
And, Hill established, ‘those who doubt do not build’.
You have ideas.
You want to build business things.
You have visions of what could be....what could be created...what could be built.
Do you have the right amount of faith to achieve 'what could be built'?
I say 'the right amount of faith' because I want to highlight a balanced approach to building business. I am not comfortable with blind faith. Few things lend themselves to blind faith. Blind faith fails too often. Few things in business lend themselves to blind faith. So, in business, blind faith is a problem in the making. Blind faith is whimsical wishing. And, wishing and hoping don’t get it done!
So, faith in business needs some boundaries.
How will those business boundaries set?
Will they set by you alone?
Will they set by you, working with others?
I think you will set your business boundaries both ways.
Sometimes, you, alone, will set the boundaries. You will use your personal values to guide you and you will use your good judgment.
Other times, you will work with other people to set business boundaries.
And, that’s where criticism arrives.
  • Doing things right is subjective…you have views and other people have views…often the views differ
  • Doing the right things is subjective…you have views and other people have views…often the views differ
  • Predicting or forecasting the future…you have views and other people have views…often the views differ…and none of us have a crystal ball…and some of us fail to recognize that last point
Obviously, we are discussing a fundamental issue here. We are discussing a fundamental people-issue with broad business application.
I think constructive criticism is an oxymoron.
I think most people disagree with that point.
Most people believe in or blindly accept the constructive capability of criticism.
And that causes more problems than are required.

The Power Of and the Problem With Thinking

by Rick Baker
On Mar 9, 2011
Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
Marcus Aurelius
No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.
Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.
Thomas Szasz
You must continue to gain expertise, but avoid thinking like an expert.
Denis Waitley
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
William James
Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.
Winston Churchill
Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Most of us are consumed with our own thoughts and desires and are not always thinking about what other people may want. This is not necessarily being egocentric; it is just being human.
Bo Bennett
The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than others are saying.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most of one's life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself thinking.
Aldous Huxley
Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.
Ray Bradbury
Our thinking and our behaviour are always in anticipation of a response. It is therefore fear-based.
Deepak Chopra
Misery is almost always the result of thinking.
Joseph Joubert

Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.