In the beginning of 2020, I pledged to read at least new 50 books by the end of the year. I fell short to that pledge, and was only able to read 45 books. (Reread around seven other books) Despite missing my goal, I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from several thought leaders and various leaders of nations, the military, global organizations, and pioneers of their own industries.

From the brothers who pioneered aviation, to the person who perfected French fries-there are so much to learn from their stories, their experiences, and their adventures!

In this…


As leaders in an organization, we may have had the opportunity to provide and recommend coaching for individuals in our team.

The question is, who needs coaching?

The common answer to this question is that coaching is needed by individuals who are not performing well. For the most part, coaching is used as a final exercise before further disciplinary actions will be taken for underperformance. In my opinion, coaching at this point of the journey is already too late.

Coaching, IMHO, needs to be provided to three types of individuals: the underperformers, those stuck in the messy middle, and the…


Immature leaders focus more on hiring talent who will produce results, regardless of character. Almost every leader has done this mistake in their careers. Hiring brilliant jerks would definitely result in immediate wins or sprints, but sustainability of any organization is a marathon. A leader who wants to create lasting organizations will need to focus on longevity versus immediate results.

In an interview by the Pensacola News Journal , I’ve shared that in hiring talent, I don’t just look at an individual’s qualifications on paper. I also take into great consideration the type of character a candidate has. …


COVID-19 has forced businesses and organizations to embrace a level of change that we could never have imagined a year ago. In our organization, we moved from about 5% of our team members who are teleworking, to around 85%. We were able to execute that transition between two to three weeks.

Leaders— when addressing our team members on our current situation, avoid the line “We’re all in the same boat.” That is not true. We are NOT in the same boat. Yes, we are weathering the same storm, but we’re definitely not in the same boat. Some have extravagant yachts…


Unplug. Disconnect. Nowadays, technology is considered the evil distractor-making anybody it touches into unproductive zombies.

But is it technology’s fault? Technology has been instrumental to achieve what seemed impossible in the past. It has saved lives and it has been a major source of livelihood for many.

Should we blame technology for being distracted? — IMHO, no.

What moves the ‘numbered’ balls in billiards? What drives these balls to go around the pool table? Is it the ‘cue ball’ or the billiard stick? Yes, many of us would assume that. But is that correct? No. …


Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about why teamwork can be the greatest drain in organizational productivity. Yes — “What’s gonna work is not always teamwork!”

Team involvement is not always necessary. Instead of achieving team work, you’ll end up achieving a “team trap” when you start to include everybody in making a decision and in all activities. Team traps slow down the process and it reduces the decisions down to the least common solutions. It adds unnecessary noise and friction into the process, that serve as speed bumps on your path to achieving something.

Only include people…


Meetings are necessary in any organization, whether you like it or not. We use meetings to collaborate, inform, make decisions, and to celebrate. Admit it-many of us are not fans of meetings. If we can ban these time-wasters, we would!

Meetings are not evil-bad, unnecessary meetings are. In order to avoid these bad apples that give meetings a bad name, we need to start having great meetings.

To help have great meetings, here are four questions you should ask before sending that invite. …


Keeping things short and simple is not as easy at sounds. To be an effective communicator, one needs to understand how important it is to be clear and direct with the messaging. Only then can you get immediate and clear understanding (and ultimately, action) from your audience.

Keeping things short and concise is not easy. It requires deep thought and deep understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.

“I apologize for writing such a long letter-I didn’t have time to write a short one.” — Mark Twain

Crowdsourcing FTW

Can you share tips on how you kept things short and simple-in a speech or in a letter? What benefits did you find in keeping things short?

Originally published at https://donvarela.com on June 29, 2020.


Firing an employee is not an easy task. It’s one of the most dreaded tasks any manager has to take in their career as a leader. Many leaders try to justify NOT firing someone using these five common excuses. If you’re a leader of people, you have encountered these excuses one way or another.

It takes discipline, consistency, and courage to overcome these-it’s not easy, but it’s very possible. The first step is to identify and define them. Once you’ve done that, you can come up with essential steps to work around these excuses.

Good news! After reading this post…


People are not the greatest assets in your organization. The ‘right people’ are. Not everyone is fit to do well in any position in your organization.

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” has found that great companies first get the ‘right’ people on the bus, then the wrong people off the bus. Only then can a leader figure out where to drive that bus.

Here are the high-level steps in getting the right people on the bus:
STEP 1: Get the RIGHT people on the bus
STEP 2: Get the RIGHT people in the RIGHT SEATS on the bus (the right…

Don Varela

20-Year Financial Services Veteran. Leader and Contributor in IT, Marketing/Advertising, PR, Lending, and Customer Service. Coach. Author. Speaker.

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