LEADING BY READING

By G. A. Finch

It may sound trite but it is generally true that “leaders are readers.”  That is not to say that an uneducated person cannot be a leader in his or her own way; nevertheless, reading has its advantages. We have read or heard that Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, among many other successful business people, are/were avid readers. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson read books as far into old age as they physically could and prized their personal libraries. Benjamin Franklin valued books so much that he created the first lending library in America, and we know what a wise and accomplished man he was.

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More recent presidents, like William Jefferson Clinton and Barack Obama, are known to like to pick up a book.  Whatever your politics may be, Clinton and Obama sound erudite, do they not?  Their knowledge enables them to sound more persuasive and sound more credible, does it not?  An effective executive seeks to become well read by reading often and reading a variety of genres.

Comparable to reading, but not as much as a deep-seated learning and not, I believe, as satisfying, would be listening to audio books and podcasts and watching substantive videos.  In reading, you have time to ponder, contemplate, linger over and ultimately process the content.  One’s listening to audio or watching videos constitutes a more passive brain activity than the act of reading.  It is, of course, better than no learning activity.

The most cerebral people I know voraciously read books and periodicals.  They are well versed on many topics and subjects and are able to connect them, contrast them, 12386-an-stack-of-old-books-isolated-on-a-white-background-pvcompare them, analogize them, extrapolate from them and meaningfully unpack them.

The act of reading or listening to books is the intention and commitment to learn new things and to be in a continuously learning mode –   kind of like a continuing liberal arts education.  Especially now, the  intention-and-commitment-to-learn mode has become imperative given that the rate of expansion of knowledge and innovation seems to double whether in hours, weeks, months or years depending on the field.

My base technology knowledge as a 15-year old was rather primitive and quaint compared to my 15-year-old son who knows how to put together a computer from off-the-shelf components and to program a robot.  He reads articles and blogs on the internet and watches YouTube videos when he wants to learn how to do something.  That is useful learning.  However, he and my teenage daughter and most other teenagers I know do not do enough reading of books, let alone wide and deep reading of books.  I fear their writing and critical thinking skills and broad base knowledge could suffer.  My base general knowledge as a teenager was far greater than theirs is.  I attribute this gap to the fact that I had read many more books by their ages.13728-a-smart-girl-with-glasses-holding-a-book-pv

By reading, you learn how to write better by seeing word usage, different vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and syntax and hearing in the mind’s ear the writer’s voice.   As I alluded earlier about being well versed, by reading you also know more about different topics to inform your professional or social conversations with others.  It can make your conversations more interesting.  Moreover, by reading you bring to bear more knowledge to understand and solve problems and ask the right questions in your work whether it be professional or volunteer work.  When you face industry disruption, must be a change agent, or need to reinvent your business or yourself, your store of knowledge from reading will come in handy!

For those for whom reading does not come readily because of lack of habit or interest, or busyness, the trick is to approach it like starting any new program (like physical exercise or learning a new language): begin lightly with 15 minutes a day and incrementally work your way up to a robust hour.  You may just remember or find what you have been missing all these years: the joys of reading.  You will certainly grow smarter.  Oh, and by the way, if you have trouble falling  asleep at night, start reading a book; it is quicker and healthier than a sleeping pill.

 

Copyright © 2017 by G. A. Finch, All rights reserved.

NON-CIRCUMVENTION AGREEMENTS

BY G. A. FINCH

 

This post is for those executives and professionals who have left their organizations  for one reason or another and are bursting with great ideas for business opportunities.  We have all heard stories from people who lament that “my business idea was stolen from me” or “this person I trusted cut me out of the very deal that I conceived.” anger-svg-med A well drafted non-circumvention document could have protected them from such shenanigans.    A non-circumvention provision or agreement is designed to prevent a party from taking an opportunity or idea brought to this first party by a second party and then doing an end run around the second party to a third party. football10Typically, the second party expects to engage in or execute some kind of commercial transaction together with the first party in relation to some third party.

The non-circumvention can also be mutual so neither party can go around the other using the information obtained from one another.  The third party could be a prospective seller, customer, client, vendor, supplier, investor, inventor, etc.  As the opportunity or idea is usually considered proprietary and confidential, the non-circumvention agreement is often used in conjunction with a non-disclosure/confidentiality provision.  Sometimes for good measure, companion non-competition, non-solicitation and no-grant-of-license provisions may be added.quiet-1

What does a scenario for non-circumvention look like?  One of my clients was negotiating with an investor to fund an acquisition of unique assets that had tremendous upside value and the client inked an agreement that prevented the investor from directly acquiring the assets from the seller without involvement of my client.  A confidentiality provision was also included in the agreement.

What does a non-circumvention provision look like?  Here are two examples:

  • “Non-circumvention. The Receiving Party and its officers, employees and directors will not make any effort to circumvent terms of this Agreement in an attempt to gain the benefits or considerations granted to it under this Agreement by taking any of the following actions:    The Receiving Party will not in any way use, sell, transfer, develop, market, finance, or invest in directly or indirectly, through its owners, shareholders, directors, advisors, employees, subsidiaries, agents or other parties under its direction or control, any product or  service that contains or uses the Confidential Information.”

 

  • “Non-circumvention. Receiving Party agrees that it shall not, either directly or through any third party, enter into any contract, joint venture, partnership, business arrangement or otherwise conduct any business whatsoever with any person regarding the Transaction without the written consent of Disclosing Party.”

 

The upshot in your business dealings is create trust but construct protection.  content_tn-smiley-face A non-circumvention agreement is a building block of protection.

 

Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Copyright © 2017 by G. A. Finch, All rights reserved.