December 29, 2016

Hurry Up!

A large cheeseburger with condiments is approximately 600 calories. An hour of high impact aerobics for a 200lb man will burn about 600 calories. A slice of pumpkin pie is about 350 calories. An hour of ice skating for the same man will burn about 340 calories. We know we need to eat better, work out more and take better care of ourselves but (on average) we don’t do that. We eat the cheeseburgers and the pie then get acquainted with the couch.

After a two decades in corporate life and a bunch of years consulting on my own, earlier this year I was recruited by a recruitment firm to become an executive recruiter. It's fun work. It's frustrating work. It's highs and lows and grinding and disappointments and victories. Oh wait, it's like every job!

We Want it Now!

Often companies will look at the success of a certain campaign or promotion to get a sense of customer reaction or appetite. This kind of strategy is both flawed and short-lived. Patience is a virtue but rarely a business plan.

Unless you won the lottery, mom and dad left you money, or you're independently wealthy, you need new business all the time. It’s admirable to see some who have as many customers as they will ever need but the rest of us need to constantly build our business. Not for a week, not once in a while, every day.

The Downside of Now

We want the customers now but can have trouble seeing the long term benefits of a sustained effort throughout the year. We wonder how these available channels can help us without realizing our contribution is critical to the equation. We want the quick wins to sustain our revenue line forever. You and I have the collective patience of a three year old.

We are not built for strategy or long-term thinking. If things are bad, we want them to be good, immediately. If money is tight, we want money, right now. If someone promises that this campaign will help us get us out of this slide, we are happy to listen, right now. We want the burger and pie without waistline.

Maybe we need to start the new year with a salad.
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December 26, 2016

2016 – Year in Review

Most of us get reflective this time of year as humans have probably gotten since the advent of our calendar. We compartmentalize our time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. We probably should look closer at moments than the traditional increments of time but the year is ending and we look back at 12 months' of our lives and take stock.

In entertainment, 2016 began with the passing of one of my favorite artists, David Bowie. We ended with the deaths of far too many musicians, actors, writers, producers, artists, leaders, and perhaps that's the same every year, but this year seemed to be more.

Count the Votes

Brexit marked Great Britain's separation from the European Union and the US elected a new President amid a mountain of controversy. Personally, I launched into a new line of work that was the culmination of my entire career and as I was leaving the team Holiday dinner last week, I felt the tug of pride to be a part of a great team again.

We lost people, gained experience, suffered losses, realized dreams, and all the while, hopefully ensured what was truly important received more of our time and attention. For me, it's people and always will be people. I am so fortunate to have wonderful people in my life that make all the struggles and downturns worth it. Someone is always a phone call or hug away. And I hope the same for you.

Namaste.
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December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas

Tezze Iliniz. Yahsi Olsun. Vesele Vanoce. Tchestita Koleda. Gladelig Jul. Roomsaid Joulu Puhi. Mitho Makosi. Sretan Bozic. Feliz Navidad. Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova. Bada Din Mubarak Ho. Joyeux Noel. Merry Keshmish. Mele Kalikimaka. Merry Christmas. Hyvaa joulua. Buon Natale. Wesolych Swiat. Bozego Narodzenia. Feliz Natal. Craciun Fericit. Krismasi Njema. Froehliche Weihnachten. Srozhdestvom Kristovym.


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December 20, 2016

Time and Spirit

Since 2001, Google has published our collective online behavior entitled Zeitgeist which means the spirit of our time. Here's this year's installment.


2015 to 2001














20092008200720062005
2004200320022001

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December 17, 2016

Nothing

We live busy lives often being busy doing busy things with others getting busy on busy tasks. But how often do we take time for think time or better yet, do nothing?

Andy Puddicombe is the co-founder of Headspace, a project that aims to demystify meditation and make it applicable to everyday life. He is a Clinical Meditation Consultant and former Buddhist monk.

For more than a decade, Andy’s meditation training took him all over the world. He became a fully ordained monk at a Tibetan Monastery in the Indian Himalayas. In his TEDTalk, Puddicombe explains the importance of making time to do nothing.


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December 13, 2016

Great Culture in Seven Steps

As much as it’s funky to have exposed brick, a foosball table in the lunch room, and lattes at 3pm, those won’t ensure your company has engaged employees who will do passionate work. Culture is much deeper. It’s a feeling and an instinct that can’t be forced or faked. And it takes work to upkeep. Every day. From everyone.

Here are seven areas to consider to make your company a great place to work.

Give – No matter the survey, compensation always makes it into one of the top reasons people stay or leave a company. But if money is the number one concern of employees, you have a serious issue. Pay people properly.

Define – What makes people want to bring their best every day and feel appreciated? If you can’t explain it in a sentence or two, dig deeper.

Value – What does your company stand for and what won’t it do? Two significant questions that seem easy enough to answer yet most struggle with them. We want to be a part of something that aligns with our values.

Open – Not all decisions can be made by committee. In fact most people want leadership to guide the way, but keep communication open enough for people to feel you genuinely want their input and ideas.

Stretch – Departments are created for a reason. Sales focuses on revenue while product design improves the offering. But don’t box people in so they can’t offer input to areas where they might not be subject matter experts. Some of the best ideas may come from the most unexpected places.

Lead – From small companies with a handful of employees to the Fortune 50, the relationship people have with their direct report and the people closest to them in their day-to-day work experience, will be the single biggest reason they stay or leave. Model the behavior you want from others.

Together – Teamwork and collaboration are a core elements to great culture. We want to belong and contribute so afford everyone the chance to do both.

Like trust, respect is earned not mandated by an org chart. So if you want great company culture, create an atmosphere of respect and trust and watch what happens.

Or you could order the latte machine and hope for the best. 
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December 10, 2016

Let's Raise a Glass!

Whether you celebrate it or not, it’s impossible to miss the annual onslaught that is the Christmas season. The stores are filled with brightly colored signs and packages, the websites are littered with Holiday specials, and seasonal music is everywhere.

This is the season of parties and get-togethers and – to some – the dreaded company gathering. The mood can be a bit lighter. You may be getting together with clients and customers for a celebratory lunch or beverage. And things may slow down just a bit.

Take a moment...

While you are lifting that cup of cheer, remember one important element which is the people you work and collaborate with because without them, none of this would be possible. That’s not just an overused cliché, it’s the truth.

For many I know, this has been a roller coaster year. Perhaps for you too. Take that well-deserved breath and thank the people in your life, on your team, at your workplace, and yourself for a job well done. And let's remember this in a few months when busy gets in the way of the important stuff.

And please celebrate responsibly!
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December 6, 2016

How Dare You Talk to You Like That!

We all experience them. Those moments when we beat ourselves up. The presentation wasn't perfect, you didn't get the promotion, the relationship didn't work out, the list goes on. Here's something to try; the next time you are talking crap about yourself to yourself, remove your name and add a friend's name and see how comfortable that feels.

There is no way in a hundred lifetimes you would speak to others in the same negative way you speak to yourself. I'm an Olympic gold medalist in beating myself up and let me assure you, it solves nothing.

Try this...

Every time you feel the urge to put yourself down, stop, then force yourself to think of something you are grateful for in your life. It may sound Pollyanna, too bad. You won't do it well the first few times, keep trying.

Or you could try the strategy of talking to others the way you talk to yourself. That's if your plan is to lose friends and people you care about.

Your call.
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December 2, 2016

Marshallows Save The Day

If you have worked a day in your life, it is fairly safe to say you have worked alongside others. In some cases, those experiences have been enjoyable while others have not. You may have had to endure an arrogant selfish boss while other situations have been filled with giving collaborative coworkers.

We seem to enjoy looking at things “on paper” but they get all wobbly when we add the human element and often it’s because we are unclear about the mandate. Often there is a struggle among conflicting agendas or someone comes in and plays the “I’m the boss” card. None of these scenarios are effective, productive, or long lasting business success models. However, sadly they are far too common.

But what happens when you take a group of people and ask them to build a structure out of spaghetti, string and a marshmallow?

Tom Wujec explains.


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November 29, 2016

Let's Not Do That Today

Today we won’t focus on what we can’t change. Today we won’t compare ourselves to others. Today we won’t do what they say we should do. Today we won’t second guess ourselves. Today we won’t make assumptions. Today we won’t worry about yesterday.

Today we won’t sabotage our goals. Today we won’t lament about our weaknesses.

Today we won’t listen to opinions. Today we won’t expect them to read our mind. Today we won’t get distracted by actions that will derail us. Today we won’t change the past.

Today we won’t be hard on ourselves. Today we'll focus on today. Today we won’t fret the details. Today we won’t listen to our inner critic. Today we won't concern ourselves with petty arguments. Today we will get to that item we keep meaning to complete.

Today is all we got.
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November 24, 2016

Collaborative Culture Creates Cash

Every company wants success. Every shareholder wants the stock price go up every day. You want this year to be better than last. So do I. But we hit snags, gain victories, trip up, succeed, and make mistakes, all because that is the human condition.

If you’re open to a bottom line that will grow while you are strengthening the goals and desires of your team members, you're halfway there. Take your eye off the revenue long enough to help your people grow and your revenue will follow.

Give then take

As Daniel Pink says, the carrots and the sticks approach, is antiquated and short-sighted. Time and time again, I've spoken with companies who list talent retention as a big concern yet they don’t invest ample time in helping their team members grow past orientation and basic training.

Money is a driver for why we show up to work every day but it shouldn't be the only one. And if it is for your team, you have a serious issue. We should encourage everyone to bring their life to work if we expect their work to have life. Leadership is about inspiring a culture of collaboration to reach the very goals we seek in the first place.

I think it's worth a try.
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November 21, 2016

Latin Wisdom

Since we haven't reviewed these for a while, it's time for another look. This is a document I found which seems to be rather old but still quite valid. The titles are in Latin, so that may give us a hint of its age. It outlines several leadership styles; see if you recognize any of them.

Scaredycate Closedoorius | This is the manager who has an “open door policy” when no one is actually in her office. Once the meeting begins, doors are sealed. Anything discussed in said meetings are to be filtered through the perception of the boss to then be translated to staff, customers, or clients.

Likedbyallorus Needium | Great guy, super guy, always smiling, always has time for you. He deals with no actual crises. When the bullets fly, he is unfortunately very busy with other issues. As long as things are rosy and fun it’s a great place to work but conflict or client issues are brushed neatly under the corporate non-answer area rug.

Unwantiate Inputariun | The office is adorned with a bright four color bound document which outlines the company’s story, plans and mantra. Embossed on the front is the phrase “Our People Are Our Strongest Asset”. Through the threshold of the lobby is where that mantra dies a rapid painful death to make room for Unwantiate Inputarium’s benevolent dictatorship.

Lackus Spinearia | Much like Pompom Nobadnoos, this type of leader sits in his corner office praising people when things are good but is unable to make one concrete decision of any substance that will actually move the company forward. Some are amazed a human can stand upright with so little support in one's back. He thinks he’s pulling it off whilst fooling no one.

Some of these leaders walk among us.
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November 15, 2016

It's Time to Winterize

As you do every year to ready our vehicles for the impending season change, it’s wise to put your leadership performance up on the hoist once in a while to ensure everything is working well. Work can get busy and increased pressure to the bottom line can become the only focus. If you move your focus away from your people, trouble is ahead.

If you want to check your leadership alignment, see below:

1 - Do you know what you believe?
2 - Will you dedicate a minimum of 25% of your time helping others?
3 - Can you keep a truly open mind?
4 - How will you ensure you have ample think time?
5 - Are you fair and do you care about the people on your team?
6 - Could you identify one personal interest of each team member?
7 - Have you clearly outlined and documented your goals?
8 - Do you encourage an open collaborative co-creative environment?
9 - Do you have trouble asking for help?
10 - Are you sure you know what each person on your team believes?
11 - Can you articulate to others what success looks like to you?
12 - Are you bringing and having fun?

Let's grab some snacks and hit the road!
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November 12, 2016

Lead by Doing Less

History was made this week with the results of the US Election and the topic of leadership is on everyone's mind around the world. If you're a regular or even occasional visitor here, you know I have a deep passion for leadership and have been working in the field of talent development for about two decades.

Can one person run a country? No.
Can one person run your company? No!

There is a ravenous appetite for information that seems to be more pronounced than in any other time in history. Information is travelling at the speed of light. Theories, news, priorities, ideas, deadlines, profits, voices, thoughts, it never seems to end but to borrow from the Bard, how much has any significance?

The problem we often face is we don't know what may be important until its emergency has passed. Everything is code red, all meetings deemed critical, every email needs a reply. Hurry up, this is important! I need to get to the next crucial deadline!

Busy is the new black

Here's a suggestion. Ask your team to cut every meeting next week by 50%. That one-hour meeting on Tuesday is now 30 minutes. If it doesn't have a stated reason, cancel it. Only those necessary should attend. And without clearly stating who does what by when, the meeting may be a complete waste of everyone's time.

A room full of people not paying attention while staring at their smartphones looking at email that might be important is not a collaborative exchange.

If we do less, perhaps we can accomplish more?
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November 8, 2016

Autumn Cleaning


I was doing some weeding; you know those times when you open a cupboard or closet or drawer and decide right then and there it is finally time to clear it out? I found a coffee mug and wrote about it here in the past but I think its worth looking at again.

It's a black mug I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago with an interesting message on the side written by Mary Ann Radmacher. The mug reads:

Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard.
Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh.
Choose with no regrets. Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends. Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.

Sometimes weeding can give us great perspective.
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November 3, 2016

Ask and Clarify

To gain clarity, there are three questions you can ask yourself, your team members or anyone with whom you collaborate...

1. What do you stand for?
2. What will you not do?
3. Why do you do what you do?

This quick but powerful exercise can work for someone new to the workforce or a highly paid barrister. It can unearth the deep rooted needs of a member of the leadership team and the guy who runs the local garage. It's industry and job level agnostic.

Clutter makes us nervous and stressed. It can derail us from our goals. Clarity will help you find your baseline and silence some of that unnecessary noise. And what you stand for, what you will not do and why you do what you do, will remain.

Ask yourself the three questions and get clear.
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October 30, 2016

Today

Millions of us live in a time with no limitations or shortage of ideas swirling around us. But in a world where choice and possibilities seem endless, we can paralyze ourselves from making decisions, creating change, and sharing those ideas

What Will We Do?

You’re looking at ideas right now that you haven’t acted on. Some might need more money, others need more people to help, and several will never get out of your head because you don’t know what steps to take next.

Where Will We Change?

Regret is one of the most destructive emotions we possess and with a layer of hindsight can be a terrible place to reside. Yet if we move on just one of our ideas right now, we can change the course of history. Yes, history. Not just our lives, but millions of others.

How Will We Share?

Our first step is to be brave and share our ideas with someone. They might laugh and scoff, they might say it’s not going to work, but no one who has ever moved any idea along has ever done it on their own.

When Will We Move?

So who cares if they think your idea isn’t worthy, move to the next person, and the next, and the next until you find someone who can help you shape it. And if you remain open to feedback, your idea will improve and grow.

Let's Act Today. Move Today. Share Today.
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October 26, 2016

We're All Afraid

We've heard the old saying ‘starve a fever, feed a cold’. As leaders, what would happen if we applied that to our lives by feeding our passions and not giving any table scraps to our fears? Yes, easier said than done but worth a shot.

Some organizations, for all their efforts, become a dysfunctional environment. This is where I can help. Some don't want to be helped and it's best we leave them to their misery. But perhaps there is an underlying issue that needs to be put on a diet.

Often, much of what we may fear isn’t the big scary monster but simply something we haven’t tried or an instance where we need help from others or a bit more experience. We may have fear while others navigate it with ease and can help us. There will be times the roles are reversed but we need to starve our fears together.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, fear is the enemy.
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October 23, 2016

Motivation - It's Not What You Think

Scientists have tried to explain our existence for as long as we have existed. I hear business owners often claim they want to improve the bottom line while playing lip service to the importance of people – which includes stakeholders and customers. Dan Pink delivered this TEDTalk in 2009 and it’s just as valid today.

If you think you know what motivates people, watch this.


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October 19, 2016

My Priority not Your Emergency

It doesn’t matter what we read or see or share; no one has our experience. No two experiences in the history of humankind have been identical. I may not know what you mean; I cannot understand what you’re saying. I am not you.

John Percy once said “We judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intent.” This is important if you manage people or own a company. You can threaten life or limb but if someone doesn’t want to be on time for the sales meeting, they will not be on time for the sales meeting.

Who am I to say?

If you're a parent, you may not fathom why someone would be angry that you must leave the shareholder’s meeting to pick up kids from day care. Your passion may be golf and you could be outraged that someone bought the land at your favorite club to build homes for hundreds of families.

You can't worry about everything you enjoy in your life because others suffer. But you can be compassionate and understand that life is a lot more that all the crap we spent far too much time obsessing about.

To each their own which is the magic of life.
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October 15, 2016

Are You Good With People?

Time and time again, employee and human resource surveys show us compensation is not the sole driver for our work. We all want to make a good living but if it’s the main reason people work at your company, you may have bigger issues.

If you think you can make people happy with their 2% increase during annual review time, you may have lost the room. Compensate people properly but pay close attention to why they come to work every day. Ask them, get their feedback, and act on it. The majority are unhappy at work and it’s not necessarily because of the work!

Human stuff

It’s all that human stuff that few have time to talk about because they have to deal with the deadline for the client who needs that report by 3pm. However, it is that very human stuff that will eventually affect your relationship with that client.

Those who think they can fool their customers or clients with a smile while they're internal customer service is crumbling, need to give it more thought. What happens outside of the organization begins inside it.

Culture is Critical

It doesn’t matter the industry or level of complexity, pay people properly, give them time to have a life, and remember they have hopes and dreams and feelings and a need to have purpose too.

Some claim that’s too touchy feely and we will agree to disagree. Leadership is about the human side of getting the job done. It begins with understanding the layers of people. And none of us needs to go any further than ourselves to get those answers.

Then we can get back to products and services.
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October 12, 2016

Let's Mean it This Time

It’s been said for generations – leadership is an action, not a title. It comes from inside us, not on a company organizational chart. But when the busy work of business crushes our day, when do we have time to recognize and nurture that in each other?

There are deadlines and customers, meetings and emails, far too many things on the to-do list to make time for the people stuff. But the very reason your business exists is because of people. The supply chain which drives your company and keeps it running is fueled by the people on your team, in your division, in your plant, in your building, in your customers' and suppliers' businesses. It's the six degrees of all of us.

Human Supply Chain

Every human we connect with has goals, dreams, and a life. Our collaboration is not a simple infographic to display on the wall, it’s the living breathing essence of our lives and business.

It's easy to say people are a top priority. It's equally cynical to remark that's just a tightly crafted message for marketing collateral. The day-to-day actions we take one-on-one with each other is what counts.

Make people a priority and results will become clearer.
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October 8, 2016

Ninety-Five Percent

A few weeks ago, I took my mom out for a birthday dinner. It was nice to take her out for a nice meal and catch up. We arrived, they seated us immediately, and the friendly server came over to take our drink order and tell us about the specials. We pursued the menu and ordered our meal.

Our food arrived and that’s when the evening went downhill. Mine was cold; mom’s was overdone; it was an epic fail. I called our server over and told her that our meals weren’t good and she immediately offered a refund and a free replacement meal for each of us. But we decided to skip the whole thing and I took mom home with the promise of a rain check at a different restaurant.

Order Up

Our dinner was a disaster but the restaurant handled it well. They offered to remove the original order from my bill and give us a free dinner right then and there. It was our choice to leave and we may never return. But the point is they tried to fix it right away. Their apologies were sincere; no one got flustered; they handled it well.

That’s the 95%. That’s the majority of what your company is and it has nothing to do with what you do or sell. It’s your people, your customer service, your ability to handle conflict, your capacity to deal with change and potential conflict.

They Did It Right

I may try this restaurant again, but that’s not the point. The real take away was how they dealt with it and treated us with care and respect. We didn’t make a fuss, we didn’t storm out, and we did demand to see the manager or yell and scream. We simply decided our meals weren’t good and we didn’t want to order anything else. But they did try and make it right.

Conflict and communication breakdown happens. It’s what we do about it that really matters. You will mess up with customer and clients, so will I. You will make mistakes, so will I. It’s called being human. But it’s how we deal with it in the heat of any moment that counts most. It’s that connective tissue within your company and relationships with those who engage with your services or buy your products that is critical. And it’s how we take care of things when things don't go well.

That’s the 95% which will separate you from everyone else.
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October 4, 2016

Hindsight is Easy

The red element on the stove means it’s hot. The amber light means slow down. The object 100 yards ahead of our car may be danger. These are things we have learned are to be avoided. Is it critical to look back and sift through evidence, examine results, and take to the present the lessons we learned? In part, yes. But beating ourselves up over the past in the comfort of now is dangerous.

Celebrating what worked is important. Letting go of those lessons to make room to do it better this time is the point, but what if this time is slightly different or we don't see it coming until after it happens?

Warning Signs

You may have learned the hard way as a kid not to touch the stove element again. Perhaps it was your experience with a punctured tire at 2am in the thunderstorm that ensured you would swerve around foreign objects on the road again. Learning from the past is important; embracing the lessons is critical.

We may not see the next stove element, road object, or conflict before it arrives. Perhaps the only way to manage that uncertainty is to understand we may mess up again and perfection is an impossible pursuit.

We only ever have right now.
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October 1, 2016

You Will Never Be Ready

When I was a kid, my parents would try and tell me to enjoy life and not get too caught up in the minutiae, but they did all the time. Now that my mom is in her late 70's, we're able to have wicked discussions about life and her common message remains clear - don't live with regrets. If you want that relationship, go for it. If you want to try that new job, don't wait for an invitation.

This is not a new revelation; we've been saying and reading it our entire lives. The classic; no one will be on their death bed wishing they had spent more time at the office. But it's deeper than that. It's more than what we do for a paycheck or even better a passion that pays our bills. It's ubiquitous; it doesn't go away after work or on the weekends. It's with us always.

What are we gonna do about it?

I saw this wonderful quote recently from actor Hugh Laurie and it's been rattling around in my grey matter ever since and it sums it up nicely. The question isn't whether we have the guts or time or ability or talent or money to go for it. It's a much deeper yet simpler issue.

“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” Hugh Laurie
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September 26, 2016

Are You Cobbling Through?

We all suffer the fate of the cobbler. It's the story of the shoemaker who works hard but has no time to make shoes for his own children. He's too busy to get any more done. Customers are waiting; others need their shoes. His will have to wait.

It's also the story of us. It's the story of how we feel the need to constantly keep up, have more meetings, be on more channels, do more stuff, meet, check email, and keep busy busy. One hundred years ago, there was the same number of hours in the calendar week yet we foolishly think we can cram more into it and still be efficient.

Take a Number

Customers were waiting for their orders so the cobbler will have to wait until tomorrow to fix his children's tattered boots. There's a meeting at 10 that conflicts with a conference call at 10:30, but you can't move it to 11 because there's a client coming in, so your 1:30 will have to be changed to tomorrow because the boss is going over every single client file which will take well over three hours to resolve nothing. But you answer four more emails on your way to grab a coffee before the meeting.

The shoemaker has one more order then he may finally make a pair for himself. But the familiar bell rings on the shop front door and those shoes will have to wait.

Like the cobbler, maybe we'll get to that tomorrow.
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September 22, 2016

Wisdom and Inspiration

Tell me and I'll forget.
Show me and I may remember.
Involve me and I'll understand.
Chinese Proverb

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people,
but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.
John Buchan

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
Steve Jobs

Don't waste a single second.
Just move forward as fast as you can and go for it.
Rebecca Woodcock

The price of greatness is responsibility.
Winston Churchill

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
concerned citizens can change world.
Margaret Mead

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers,
who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer
a solution everybody can understand.
Colin Powell

If you want anything said, ask a man.
If you want anything done, ask a woman.
Margaret Thatcher

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
John F Kennedy

Never hold too closely to your idea but be open to change and innovation.
Jean Chong

The led must not be compelled; they must be able to choose their own leader.
Albert Einstein

When you accept a leadership role, you take on extra responsibility
for your actions toward others.
Kelley Armstrong

If you're not confused, you're not paying attention.
Tom Peters

Take successes and failures as they come,
since things often change at a moments notice.
Juliette Brindak

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more,
do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams

The road to success is always under construction.
Lilly Tomlin

Leadership is the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard;
the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.
Peter Drucker

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
Mother Teresa
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September 19, 2016

Three Things...

Three is a manageable and attainable number. There's a symmetry to it. There's flexibility and stability to a series of three items. Perhaps we can apply it to various aspects of our lives? Do three good deeds without anyone knowing about them.

Pick three business objectives. Write down three things just for you. Do three on your to-do list. Help three ideas grow. Delete three that slow you down. Remove three negative influences in your life.

Call three friends.

Eliminate three unnecessary possessions. Identify three personal strengths you will share. Remove three excuses. Select three colleagues you believe deserve a shot and offer a hand. Flush out three thoughts that may have a legitimate shot.

What are your three things?
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September 16, 2016

Change vs Changed

Change is a concept that seems to drive us, win elections, look great on a t-shirt, and create stress. We hear the word and feel two immediate and visceral responses: things will improve for us and everyone will need to change but us. Things need to change around here, but I'm fine!

We love the idea of it; the cozy non-committal nature of talking about it. It's as if the world was covered in magic dust and all is well. "They need to change." "We need to bring about change." "Change is gonna come." It all sounds so good, doesn't it?

Someday does not appear on the calendar 

To most, change is about control and standing still while others make the shift. You may be one who thrives on change but be careful when you want to instill it on others. They too may like the theory but will define it to fit their own convenience. Who among us admits to be part of the problem?

We want things to change but often under our rules and our guidelines. And whenever you include anything or anyone outside of your own mind, the grip must be loosened or collaboration becomes a challenge.

Actual change verses talking about change is the key.
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September 13, 2016

Six Important Words

We all have tools to choose from but let's not forget to focus on people. Much has been and will be said and written about the social web; we can't forget the human web.

Business owners and managers may understand that certain tactics and channels will help their business but through research, data, and measurement, we can look at outcomes more accurately.

It takes more than counting beans

Having lots of "likes" on your Facebook group, comments on your Instagram post, views on Snapchat, and a lot of page views on your website without commitment to engage your customers won't magically bring in revenue.

And it begins by engaging your own people. Strong internal customer service happens long before anyone outside your company even cares.

Do you know how you help?
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September 10, 2016

Facing Danger

Manage risk, financial risk, reputation risk, market share risk, relationship risk, shareholder risk, the risks of risks, the risk of focusing on risks, the discussion of risks, the endless what if's that stall our journey risk.

Perhaps we perceive it will be difficult or worse, not successful. We often fear our own abilities and guts to take that ride. One of the worst emotions I think we can possess is regret. The idea we didn't act on can often be the one that stops the flow. The safety of inaction becomes our comfort zone.

Risk often focuses on what will, would, or could go wrong. It's a preemptive strike, a proactive measure, to protect the outcome. The biggest risk is when we use it to endorse inaction. I know of what I write only too well. Maybe you can relate.

The biggest risk is the bet we fail to make on ourselves.
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September 6, 2016

Learning for Life

Summer vacation is over. It's time for a new semester, new topics, and new learning. I had some great teachers when I was a kid and helped shape my curiosity to this day.

I had Mr. Balcaras four times for science in high school. He taught us how to dissect a frog and explained how much energy was inside a peanut by setting it on fire. I can still see the periodic table on the wall by his desk. Ms. Young was my grade one teacher. A woman in her 60’s who was like a second grandmother. It was grade one, we weren't doing much, but she was cool.

Lasting impressions

I had Mr. Peters for grade six. I ran in to him years after high school and he still remembered me. I never did ask him if that was a good or a bad thing. The delightful (and hot) Ms. Rolo was my grade ten English teacher who had patience with a fidgety geek who was bored with English. I'm glad she persevered.

Replace the word teacher with coach or mentor and have a look at your career. Give some thought to those who have helped you. Now give some thought to those you’ve helped along the way.

While we lament the near end of summer, increased traffic, and a full fall work schedule, let’s salute teachers, leaders, and mentors today.

Are you ready to teach?
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September 2, 2016

Three Questions

We all know we are flawed and make mistakes. We know we don’t have it all figured out. And we know there's work to do. But part of finding clarity is discovering the joy in work rather than the seemingly unattainable finish line.

Clutter makes us nervous and stressed. It can derail us from our goals. Clarity can help us find our baseline and silence some of that unnecessary noise.

To gain clarity, there are three questions you can ask yourself

1. What do you stand for?
2. What will you not do?
3. Why do you do what you do?
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August 30, 2016

Will we?

We can learn. We can teach. We can hear. We can stop. We can know.
We can act. We can drive. We can grow. We can cry. We can do.

We can switch. We can help. We can call. We can bend. We can try.
We can play. We can like. We can think. We can stretch. We can live.

We can gift. We can swerve. We can go. We can dream. We can touch.

We can move. We can thank. We can shape. We can win. We can fall.
We can lend. We can run. We can draw. We can reach. We can love.

The key isn't whether we can but whether we will.
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August 26, 2016

Someday

I have literally lost count how many times I've heard a phrase that begins with the words; "Some day I'm going to..." Do we mean it or are we stalling? If you want to write some day, start writing today. If you want a new job, start looking today. If you want to leave that relationship, leave it today.

Easier said that done? That's one excuse. But if you look back at your life, how often when you've taken that action have you've said you should have done it earlier? Are we afraid to make the changes, moves, shifts, in our lives or are we more happy to complain about not making them?

Change is hard; doing nothing is harder

In the last two years, I have sold a house, moved twice, shifted my consulting business to a full-time roll at an agency, reconnected with some great friends, and I often think it was easier than I feared it would be while I stayed stuck for far too many years. You know what you want. It may take time, more money, some additional training,

I don't write that from some perfect perch above fear, I have lost count the things I've "meant to" or "wanted to" do; we all have that list. The key question is whether we're going to take those items off the list or actually do them. Because we could keep nestled in the safety of "some day I'm going to..." or take the shot.

It's irrelevant without one critical ingredient – action

Try this. Put your entire focus on that one single thing. Now make only one decision; whether you are prepared to do what it takes to accomplish it, or accept you don't really have the desire.

The late Jim Rohn had a great phrase I remind myself often - especially in those moments when I'm lying to myself about some day I'm going to - and that is; if you want something bad enough, you'll find a way; if not, you'll find an excuse.

Let's find a way.
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August 23, 2016

Asking and Listening

We admire those who seem crystal clear on their calling, their goals, and their passions. Most of us perhaps just think we are clear. But it can be tough when mortgages and car payments and our myriad responsibilities can crush our day. Corporations often compensate people for being agreeable and not making a fuss.

To get clear, I think we need to stop thinking the answer is one crisp well-crafted sentence. We can get clear by deciding what we don't want to do, who we may want to avoid, who could be a good fit, and how we want to spend the rest of our lives.

Here's an idea; let's reach out to two people tomorrow who will help us and tell us the truth and have that open conversation. Share that big idea you have, get some feedback, and ask them for one idea that may push it forward. Saying no is easy, finding out how is where the work resides.

Let’s be open for real answers.
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August 21, 2016

Big Ideas

We all have big ideas yet often we don’t know what to do with them or we fold our hand the moment we get negative feedback. Most of this is self-inflicted conditioning.

It's common to get stuck on that fearful part rather than to keep working no matter how much resistance we face. We may not be able to visualize the final solution so we give up. We may be making it more complicated than necessary.

What If It Doesn't Work?

It can be scary to share our ideas and often we make the early decision to keep them to ourselves. Shoulda coulda woulda replaces why not and what do we have to lose.

The late Princeton philosopher and author Walter Kaufmann coined the phrase decidophobia to describe those who would rather leave the deciding to some authority. Kaufmann opined once the decidophobe has relinquished they will accept anything argued by that authority. I call it "boss is always right" syndrome.

Let Someone Else Decide?

She's a thought leader, he's a thinker, they're the idea team. All crutches we create to stop us from contributing to the process. We all have ideas that are valuable and if you are in a leadership role, open the doors a little wider and let those ideas in because there's brilliance waiting to be seen.

Two hundred years ago there was no Internet. A century ago we didn't have interactive technology built into the steering wheels of cars. And unless you share it, we will never enjoy what you have been thinking about which could change the world.

Let’s think big and stop over thinking.
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August 18, 2016

Shhhh!

Ernesto Sirolli is a charming and engaging man and the founder of the Sirolli Institute, an international nonprofit organization that teaches community leaders how to establish and maintain enterprise facilitation projects in their community.

He shares with one important instruction.


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August 13, 2016

What?

What do we do?
What's holding us back?
What do we want to do?

What will we give up?
What are we willing to do?

What do we fear?
What won't we do?
What will we sacrifice?
What if we went for it?

What if we couldn't fail?
What if we started right now?

What if we stop wondering what if?
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August 10, 2016

Have You Ever?

Have you ever had a complete out loud conversation with someone and they've not in the room? Have you ever sang every word to a song you love but profess your hatred to it in front of friends? Have you ever stared at your phone pretending to be reading something important to avoid making eye contact with other humans?

We love, we lose, we overcome, and we try and figure out this unexplained occurrence called life and Ze Frank wants to know the answer to a simple question.


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August 5, 2016

Who Are You?

Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel was a clever yet shy raconteur who created timeless work. One of my all-time favorite sayings of his was; "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

It's not suggesting we disrespect those around us and for us to become unbearably arrogant. It points to the simple genius that says we need not worry so much about what others think about us. There will always be naysayers and complainers. You rarely need travel far to find someone with an opinion or criticism.

Don't Matter. Don't Mind.

Simon Sinek says leaders find others who believe in what they believe. Tom Peters says leadership is not about creating followers, it's about creating more leaders.

Seldom does someone who fails to stand for something, find others who are interested in what they have to say or offer. I'll skip the temptation to comment about the US election. So be bold, be yourself, and take charge. Respect those around you - especially yourself.

Be who you are and say what you mean, or someone else may be quite happy to make that decision for you.
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August 1, 2016

Hearing Your Gut

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great book entitled Blink and it begins with a story about an art gallery that is presented with what appears to be authentic pieces. The curator suspects the pieces are fakes but then a layer of hope takes over and changes his mind. But to be safe, he hires appraisal experts to ensure he’s right. They confirm authenticity and the gallery purchases the pieces which were fakes.

The curator – like all of us – didn't listen to his gut. He wanted the pieces to be real despite his spidey senses. And his overwhelming desire for them to be real transported to the appraisers. It sounds impossible and happens all day long. Have you ever felt that? Of course you have and it’s almost as if we have to deliberate for a while because the right answer couldn't possibly come to us that effortlessly.

Heart v Gut

We have the chance everyday to make a quick decision or belabor for a potentially better outcome. But if we wait for the perfect time to do anything, it will never arrive. The guarantee we seek is a fabrication we have created for the sole purpose of not making the call. That is true of business, relationships, and life.

Change holds a certain allure until you realize what it entails. There are many moving parts but often we think we can stand still while the rest move in our favor and that's simply not reality. We have to affect the change, we can't expect others do to it then blame them when they put the pieces in the wrong order.

Are you acting on your gut or are you waiting?
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July 29, 2016

The Five P's of Business

Anyone in marketing can recite the four P's which are product, price, placement and promotion. But if marketing is all you do, how do you apply them to your business and go one further?

Practice

Have you ever been to a sporting event, good concert, or watched great acting? In each case, someone spent years honing their skills to make it appear effortless. Yet we are quick to criticize from the comfort of our 20oz beer mug in the 300 level. Now think about your skill set and what you can bring to any situation. Did you learn and execute all you know immediately?

Patience

If you enjoy writing, reading a good book may give you more determination to work on your own novel. You may know someone who went back to school and emerged with a whole new career path. I'm paying close attention to this one because I started a brand new role just a few months ago. My patience with myself is getting tested daily.

Persistence

No successful person in history has gotten it right the first time. This is one we all need to remember yet it can be tough on those days, you know, those days. After all, business isn't simply created, that's up to us.

Play

It's important to be organized and have a strategic plan. It is equally essential not to settle for good enough - that's what the other guys do. And it's okay to get a little messy once in a while, take some chances and swing at the fence.

Our most important "P" is probably passion.
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July 25, 2016

The Biggest Mistake a Leader Can Make?

Being a leader has absolutely nothing to do what what it says on your business card or company org chart. A few years ago, the Harvard Business Review asked that simple question. Here are some valuable responses.


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July 22, 2016

Five Pillars

There has been significant change in my life this year and if you've ever had a patch like this, you may have reflected on it the same way. The change is big but what has been the most stark is the areas of my life that haven't moved forward or improved and they seem even more in need of my attention.

Many say we have five pillars in our lives; health, finances, spirituality, relationships, and intellectual growth. If money needs our attention, our relationships suffer; if we're focusing on our studies, our health falters, etc. I feel all pillars are integrated.

Changes and Reflections

So how does this all play into leadership and culture, careers and collaboration? In every way! If we are concerned about personal issues then our work will be affected; not always overly negative, but in some way or another.

So take time with your team to understand what they're going through outside of the office. I'm not suggesting you get too personal, that's up to each individual, and don't run the risk of losing the too much information work life balance.

We are all flawed people going through stuff at work and/or at home and one size fits all is a myth. Remember the people part of your work and your work will become much more personable.

The results just might amaze you.
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July 20, 2016

Bossy Bosserton

As our days are filled by commiserating about that stuff that may be missing from our work, we must look at the top. If you work long enough, you will eventually be given more responsibility and perhaps other people who will look to you for direction.

I once worked for a "boss" who felt compelled to raise his voice in every meeting like the alpha male pounding his chest to remind the minions who’s in charge. He also had skin thinner than phyllo pastry, so you didn't dare challenge him or he would get offended or upset or throw a tantrum. Perhaps you've met that guy.

Organizational attrition is rarely documented if one or two people leave every couple of months but over the course of a decade, how much of your team has been replaced? Do you think it could be linked to weak leadership?

The human network is more vital than ever before. Your team does not want to fear you. They don’t want to walk on egg shells around you. They don’t want to hate their jobs. They want to respect you.

Help your team; they don't want a boss.
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July 16, 2016

Your Driving Force

They say we have to do what we're passionate about and what will motivate us. But is that a job? A salary? A promotion? A career change? A location switch? A new relationship? What?

To say we have to follow our passion isn't the entire task. Dan Pink looks at 50 behavioral triggers that motivate us.


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July 12, 2016

A Couple of Dozen Thoughts for Leaders

Allow others to inspire. Find the how. Get out of their way. Be present even during challenging times. Have clear expectations. Don't expect to ever have all the answers.

Helping others is a privilege. Back your people up. Be bold. Never stop learning. Open door policies are for those who mean it. Don’t hide behind busy. It’s their career too.

Be inquisitive. Invest at least half of your time helping people. Hire passion. A team is more than celebrating victories. Don’t be a boss. Listen.

Don’t hide when your people need you. Grow their strengths. Let them shine. Be fair. Get to know what motivates your people. Seek guidance from those who are committed to helping you grow.

Customer service begins with you. Never settle. Understand that it will be the most rewarding work you’ll ever have the privilege to do.

And it won't be listed on your business card.
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July 5, 2016

More or Less

Fulfill more. Take less. Focus more. Talk less. Start more. Eat less. Laugh more. Work less. Give more. Regret less. See more. Ignore less. Progress more. Criticize less. Invent more. Renounce less. Embrace more. Spend less. Share more. Measure less.

Move more. Envy less. Sing more. Cling less. Accomplish more. Show less. Complain less. Live more. Compare less. Contribute more. Annoy less. Enjoy more. Worry less.

Listen more. Waste less. Smile more. Own less. Learn more. Say less. Help more. Use less. Connect more. Stop less. Play more. Hope less. Communicate more. Skim less.

Thank more. Fret less. View more. Reflect less. Originate more. Copy less.

Collaborate more. Upset less. Dream more. Irritate less. Write more. Doubt less.
Read more. Whine less. Accomplish more. Drink less.

Love more. 
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July 2, 2016

Breathe and Think

The challenge for any business leader is to try and remain a few steps ahead of the day-to-day which is near impossible because of distractions and deadlines. But who has time to plan and look forward when you’re trying to keep a company rolling in the right direction and trying not to hit a pothole?

Some say you’re not embracing all the right tools to maximize revenue. Others claim you are missing opportunities right under your nose. You need to manage all the moving parts, ensure stakeholders are working toward their strengths, keep employees happy and the black ink flowing.

What they say

If you travel in some circles, they will say you need to be everywhere. Others claim promise of instant results. If you are one of the few who can eliminate judgment from others, clear your mind enough to focus on exactly what you are good at and more importantly decide what you want to do, you are way ahead of the curve.

The challenge is often not making things more complicated but rather embracing complexity, finding what's important, and making things simple.

Taking a breath to think can often be your best strategy.
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June 28, 2016

Before They Are Customers

You want to take your significant other out for a nice dinner. Maybe you'll check out that new steak place? They claim they have best Kobe beef this side of Tokyo. Decision made. Reservation for 7:30.

What they didn’t tell you in the advertising was that there is a mandatory $10 parking fee. A bit annoying and scam-like. Still not fazed, you head inside. You are met at the threshold with a line-up. Not a bad thing, it means this new place is doing well and you’re not worried, you have a reservation.

Service On Hold

At 7:45, you inquire with the snappy dressed guy at the front if your table is ready. He doesn’t take his eyes of the calculus that is the restaurant floor plan and barks that the kitchen is busy, they are new, and all reservations are 30 minutes behind.

It’s a nice night out, why spoil it with complaints so you go back to the bench and wait quietly. Several minutes later a woman approaches you with two white cards. On one side is the restaurant’s logo and on the other is a questionnaire.

Survey Says

They want to know your demographic, how you found out about the place, how many times you go out for a meal each month, how much alcohol you consume in a year, and for your trouble your name is put in a draw for one free dessert on your next trip - if you go to their website and register.

It’s 8:43 and burgers sound good about now.

Before getting caught up in metrics, surveys, and coupons, be careful people don't walk out before you get a chance to help them as customers.

Let them try it before asking their opinion.
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June 24, 2016

Change for a Change

It wins elections, looks great on a coffee cup, and can inspire nations. The promise of improvement can move people to do immense things. 50.1% of the British population voted to leave the European Union. Did they vote for change or a hope to change back the clocks of time?

Change can also mean alter, transform, amend, or revolutionize which sound powerful. The way it is isn't as good as the way it could be, and for that we need change. But with change comes resistance and conflict.

Often we can look back and know the change was a good thing but our fear of the unknown can make us freeze. Change can be hard and comfort zone has its name for a reason. Whether its voting out a government, renovating the upstairs bathroom, or taking that new job, change is around us constantly.

It's what we do about it that counts.
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June 21, 2016

How Are You?

Good thanks and you? Fine, just fine, thanks for asking. We say it a hundred times a day and don't even break stride. We connect with each other like flat stones skimming the morning lake. Busy lives make for quick exchanges and we keep moving. Apparently I'm not fine and neither are you.

Mel Robbins explains why.


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June 17, 2016

Seventeen Thoughts

Yes, you can, if you want it bad enough. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Take the high road, there’s less traffic. You were born to lead in your own way.

Embrace ideas that are different than yours. Ignore naysayers. The best time to start is that place between tomorrow and yesterday. Once you decide, you’ll make it happen. If it doesn't help you grow, get rid of it. Listen to your gut.

You have all you need to succeed if you look hard enough. The choice really is yours. There are people in your life right now ready to help you if you ask. Change is enviable. You will never get it perfect. Excuses are the easiest way to avoid trying.

That idea you keep putting off is ready to ship.
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June 14, 2016

You Have Great Ones Everyday

We have them every day; often several times each day. We're faced with a problem, one pops to mind. They are plentiful and everywhere. We are doing something innocuous, and one breaks our consciousness. But what do we do with them?

This video is a few years old and just as valid as the day it was produced. Stephen Johnson discusses how ideas are born, incubated, and ultimately acted upon. He studies how we think about ideas and then actually execute them.

What will you do with your next idea?


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June 10, 2016

Stay Curious

Curiosity is an emotion related to natural inquisitive behavior such as exploration, investigation and learning, evident by observation in human and many animal species. The term can also be used to denote the behavior itself being caused by the emotion of curiosity.

So with that in mind...

Stay curious for learning. Stay curious about improving. Stay curious through searching. Stay curious like a child. Stay curious about now. Stay curious in life. Stay curious about others. Stay curious about learning. Stay curious for you. Stay curious through listening. Stay curious through living. Stay curious about possibilities. Stay curious in business. Stay curious about experiences. Stay curious for next.

Stay curious always.
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June 7, 2016

Smile and Wave

We've heard it our entire life; smile and people will like you better and you'll feel better. Well, sometimes we don't want to smile because we're stressed.

How often do you smile? How important is smiling? How inviting are others when they frown? It may sound like a superficial discussion, but Ron Gutman explains it can affect our success, lifespan, and the quality of our very existence.

Watch and smile.


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June 4, 2016

Missing the Signs

This came up in a conversation again this week so it's a review.

The news reports are telling residents to leave town. The authorities are feverishly going around the city to gather up those who don’t have the means to do it themselves and all the while Bill has decided he is going to stay in his home and wait out the storm.

Stubborn rarely wins

A few hours later the rain is coming down in sheets. Bill is forced out of his home and onto his roof where the water is now five feet deep on his street. Two police officers in a motorboat come by to rescue Bill and bring him to safety. Bill declines their offer and proclaims; “God will send me a sign!”

Several hours later, the water is now at Bill’s waist as he struggles to survive on his now submerged roof. Another police boat comes to rescue him and take him to safety. He again says “No thank-you, God will send me a sign”. A half hour later, Bill drowns.

Pondering minds wonder

Bill is shocked and says; “Why didn’t you send me a sign?”
God replies; “I sent you two boats!”

How often do we ignore the help we need in our quest for the clear path? How do we miss those signs that are there to guide us when we’re looking for guidance? How often are we quick to help others but not as swift to accept help from them in return?

The help we seek can often be right in front of us.
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May 27, 2016

You Don't Know

As leaders, they can be the three most powerful words you can say. Some may feel it shows weakness but I’m of the belief it shows tremendous strength. A job title doesn’t make you perfect. Do you think Richard Branson pretends he knows everything? Is it possible that Oprah Winfrey had some help along the way?

"I don’t know" can be tough to say when you are told to lead others. After all, the company believes in you enough to put you in the position to make these decisions but that doesn't mean you can't get things done, motivate your team, and create a more social business with openness.

The Human Org Chart

"I don’t know" to some, may appear indecisive. Some fear it may show investors the company is on shaky ground. But leaders who show they rely on their entire team for ideas and solutions can build a stronger foundation than those who get out the pom poms during good times and hide during challenges.

It’s clear that some feel they must appear infallible once gaining a leadership position but since the rest of the room knows it’s not the case, a pay stub every two weeks is hardly a strong enough strategy to keep your best people. Asking for feedback, opinions, and ideas strengthens your team.

You won't always know and that's the point.
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© 2017 Kneale Mann | knealemann@gmail.com | people + priority = profit
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