How to mentor people without being a mama bear | Can Pelican persuade the world to buy U.S.-made boxes? | Apple plans to build employee restaurant to protect trade secrets
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April 30, 2012
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SmartBrief on Leadership

Leading Edge
How to mentor people without being a mama bear
Bosses who start mentoring junior workers should be sure not to "be a mama bear," says Shellye Archambeau, chief executive of MetricStream. That means not swooping in to solve your protege's problems for them, but rather helping them to figure out solutions on their own. "If you keep solving problems for your people, they don't learn how to actually solve problems for themselves, and it doesn't scale," Archambeau explains. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (4/28)
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Strategic Management
Can Pelican persuade the world to buy U.S.-made boxes?
Pelican Products makes some of the toughest containers around, and stories abound of its plastic crates and cases being fished intact from the wreckage of helicopter crashes or bombed-out armored vehicles. Now Pelican is aiming to build on its reputation for ruggedness by opening sales offices around the world. "Nothing sells our products better than our products," says CEO Lyndon Faulkner. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (4/29)
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Apple plans to build employee restaurant to protect trade secrets
Apple's workers like to talk shop at lunch, but the chatter can be risky in a company town like Silicon Valley. That's why the company is building a 21,468-square-foot private off-site restaurant. "We like to provide a level of security so that people and employees can feel comfortable talking about their business, their research, and whatever project they're engineering without fear of competition sort of overhearing their conversations," said Dan Whisenhunt, director of real estate facilities at Apple. VentureBeat (4/26)
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Innovation and Creativity
More money, more innovation problems
After his PowerSquid power-outlet strip started selling well, professional inventor Christopher Hawker sat back and counted his money -- until sales and revenues dried up. That forced Hawker to rethink his business strategy, which now focuses on providing "invention incubator" services to other innovators. "Every breakdown is an opportunity for a breakthrough," Hawker explains. Entrepreneur online (4/26)
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Can HP reclaim its innovation heritage?
Hewlett-Packard aims to recapture its "heritage of innovation" with a new software and immersive-display package called Photon Engine, says Executive Vice President Todd Bradley. If the technology proves a money-spinner, it could help HP break the cycle of underinvestment that's seen R&D fall from 4% of sales seven years ago to just 2.6% of sales this year. Bloomberg Businessweek (4/26)
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The Global Perspective
Some companies battle the "mordida"
Wal-mart's bribery scandal came as no surprise to Mexican business experts, who say foreign firms are often asked to give local officials a "mordida," or a "little bite," to expedite the bureaucratic process. Still, they add, some companies refuse to pay the bribes, and still manage to thrive in Mexico. "I know people who have never paid bribes," says consultant Lee Iwan. "It is part of daily life but it is something you can avoid." Inc. online (free registration) (4/27)
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Engage. Innovate. Discuss.
Why "Lego thinkers" make the best innovators
To be truly innovative, you need to think like a kid playing with Legos, write Hal Gregersen, Jeff Dyer and Clayton M. Christensen. The most creative designs come about when children bring together pieces from lots of different Lego kits, they write. "Similarly, the more knowledge, experience, or ideas you add from wide-ranging fields to your total stock of ideas, the greater the variety of ideas you can construct by combining these basic knowledge building blocks in unique ways," they argue. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (4/27)
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Daily Diversion
The bees are here, and they want to drink your sweat
Honeybees are immigrants to America, but countless native species are still going strong -- including a number of bizarre bee species that like to drink human sweat. The "sweat bees" are particularly prevalent in New York City, where they nest in sidewalk cracks and balcony flowerpots. "They use humans as a salt lick," explains entomologist John Ascher. "They land on your arm and lap up the sweat." The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (4/28)
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Editor's Note
Follow @SBLeaders at the Milken Institute Global Conference
SmartBrief on Leadership editor James daSilva is attending the Milken Institute Global Conference in California from April 30 to May 2. Follow @SBLeaders this week for an inside look at the speakers and sessions.
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Good cash flow can make you sloppy."
-- Christopher Hawker, inventor of the PowerSquid, as quoted in Entrepreneur
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