For many years Decurion has offered its members a course called The Practice of Self-Management.  Over ten weeks, we explore readings and practices aimed at helping people develop three skill sets:  the ability to be more present, the ability to dissolve apparent barriers between ourselves and others, and the ability to make what is subject into object in order to reduce reactivity and to engender appropriate responses.  We think these skills enhance both personal development and business effectiveness.

During the course’s penultimate week, we address skillful speech.  We begin with some observations about listening.  Krishnamurti notes “if we try to listen we find it extraordinarily difficult because we are always projecting our opinions and ideas, our prejudices, our background, our inclinations, our impulses; when they dominate we hardly listen at all to what is being said” (from J. Krishnamurti, Talks and Dialogues).  Having spent many weeks working on being more present and on observing our constant internal dialogue, we attempt to create space for true listening. Read the full article…

Servant leadership is one of Decurion’s six core values.  The term comes from Robert K. Greenleaf’s essay, “The Servant as Leader.”  When I first encountered this essay, I had the sense that Greenleaf was describing many of Decurion’s views and approaches but was doing so much more eloquently than we had yet managed.  Many years have passed since that first encounter, and I continue to value not only Greenleaf’s ideas but also the way he expresses them.  The following sentences (with my underlining) come directly from his essay, collected in Servant Leadership:  A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Read the full article…

Here is a talk I gave last month at the 25-year reunion of my class at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.  It picks up and brings together several of the themes from earlier blog posts.

I always knew I would join the family business.  I’d follow my father as he had followed his.  Growing up I didn’t think about a career or about the unfolding of a life filled with purpose.  I certainly didn’t connect the two.  I treated the guarantee of a job as a source of freedom.  And in college and graduate school I studied what I loved (namely, ancient history and philosophy) rather than what I thought might be useful in business.

Then when I began working full-time at the family company (The Decurion Corporation, which operates movie theaters and develops real estate), I was, well, miserable.  The intellectual stimulation and clear standards of academe had disappeared.  In their place were mundane and pointless tasks.  After two years of what seemed like serving time I left for business school. Read the full article…

In my last blog post, I shared a document we created about ten years ago, “Decurion’s Operating Philosophy.”  Over the decade since we first shared that document with our members (employees) and prospective members, we have made several efforts to refine and clarify the way we explain our approach to business.  In this post, I present one of our earlier efforts, “A Note on Decurion’s Operating Philosophy.”

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Ten years ago, more than a decade after we had identified Decurion’s purpose, we attempted to capture in a document our approach to business.  We wrote it mainly for our members (the term we later introduced for employees).  And then we used it in our recruiting efforts.  While imperfect, it did help people here better understand what we were up to, and it gave people thinking about joining us an idea of what they could expect to encounter.  Other than adding an axiom (see below), we have not found it necessary to alter the document.  It remains an accurate description of why we are in business and how we approach it.  So while we think Robert Kegan and his colleagues did a great job of describing Decurion in their Harvard Business Review article “Making Business Personal,” I want to share this document as our best take on ourselves.  We refer to it as “Decurion’s Operating Philosophy”:

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