December 28, 2017

Losing the Status Quo

Imagine working where ideas are shared and appreciated, each and every person in the organization is valued, and progress is measured not by empty promises and well crafted corporate speak but by the accomplishments of everyone involved. For real!

When you have a roomful of opinions all fighting for a voice in a decision making process, the result is often a lot of indecision. Each of us is entitled to our thesis but this is where the water gets murky. But if you can take time to entertain new ideas then move them forward with a clear plan and data to in turn shape the idea into something tangible while including input from all involved. You will see stronger ideas for your business and a much more engaged team.

Uncharted Territory

This approach makes some people nervous because the process may seem laborious and could perhaps slow down results when you just want things done. It takes some time to get used to finding room for many voices and opinions while remaining on track.

If it's new to your team, the process won't be perfect, nothing is, but fresh thinking doesn't survive in status quo so it is worth the effort. Let someone on the team facilitate the first few times - not the highest ranking member of the team - and take it slow. Keep things factual and don't make it personal. Your business will be a more collaborative atmosphere where employees can offer opinions and ideas are considered.

People + Priority = Profit

When we meet with a business leader who wants to improve the bottom line, it's usually much more than a revenue issue and it often begins with internal customer service. The relationships you build and nurture inside your business can represent 90% of your bottom line yet far too many companies view it as unimportant.

We work an average of 1,800 hours each year and that number is growing. Collaboration and communication remain critical building blocks for any leader who desires success. But you and I just talking about it won't make it happen.

Let's get to work!
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December 23, 2017

Zeitgeist 2017

Since 2001, Google has published their year in review through search statistics, big news stories, and video clips entitled Zeitgeist which means the spirit of our time.

Here is the 2017 edition



2016 to 2001















20092008200720062005
2004200320022001
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December 14, 2017

Calendars and Reflections

I'm not sure about you, but I get reflective this time of year. I know we can make plans in April and course correct ideas in August, but it's the end of a year and it's as good a time as any to take stalk and get clear. 2017 was a year for confusing elections, technological advances, straight talk about harrassment, and all the events in each of our lives.

As we look back on the year that has almost passed, let’s reflect on the most important element of our lives – our relationships with each other. Money comes and goes; jobs and homes change, but nothing can replace the important people in our lives, love, home, and family. For me, this was a year of challenges, successes, strong career work, and spending time with people I love.

Cheers to you and yours!
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December 9, 2017

Bitcoin and Painters

To anyone’s measurement, Pablo Picasso was one of the most talented artists of all time. His complicated life mixed with inspired work continues to make him a fascinating subject to study and learn about.

Pablo and a friend were having lunch one day and one of the other patrons recognized the great master. After some hesitatation, she approached him with a napkin. She asked Picasso if he would take a moment and do a quick drawing for her.

He said it would cost one million dollars.

Shocked, she questioned why a simple drawing would be that much. Picasso replied that it took him thirty years to perfect his talent and it is not free.

We shouldn't put a price on every moment of the day, and none of us is Picasso, but we should be careful not to always give away our experience simply because it would take just a minute to share it.

Go a pen?
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December 5, 2017

Screens and Faces

At an early age, we’re told to be brave. Don’t whine or I’ll give you something to cry about. We are not born with fear, but it rears its ugly head early on, sometimes through innocuous events. A bit here, a smidge there, and suddenly we are thrust into the world where others are told to be brave and not cry and not show their insecurities.

We climb the ladder, finish the project, attend the meeting, rush to the event, answer that email, respond to that request, get on that conference call, make that flight, make eye contact, smile brightly, and we keep running.

Splash in the face

We get caught in our own race and suddenly run into an old friend and find out what’s going with them. An event, a loss, a choice, and suddenly our challenges don’t seem so unique. Multiple that by the employees of an entire company and suddenly you can see how creating a collaborative culture can be elusive.

Some say we live this life alone – I disagree. We live this life together. It doesn’t mean we can carry each other’s burden but we can certainly lighten each other’s load when we can. A mentor once said we must remember our team members are not cogs in some wheel, they are people with feelings and challenges and dreams and goals.

The human element

Perhaps it's easier to stare at our screens and play with our gadgets, but we are missing an essential piece of life when we do that. I can send you a text and hope the message is clear or we can use the free phone app on our phones to discuss it properly.

We must remember that in order to create a collaborative culture, we can’t forget the element which is far more important than any product or service.

Each other.
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November 23, 2017

It Happens to All of Us

When I was 16, I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid. It took the doctors 10 months to figure out the problem. I lost 40 pounds, missed most of the school year, and it felt like I had the flu for almost a year.

The treatment: removal of about 80% of my thyroid. If they had not taken enough, they would have had to operate again; if they had taken too much, I would have been on medication for the rest of my life. They nailed it. That story was probably marginally interesting. I had a medical condition and doctors treated it.

How about I tell you about the many days when I felt inferior, lost, sad, confused, or unsure what to do with my life? Or the days worrying about my career, finances, future, or self-worth?

Are you wincing a bit?

Why do we have no trouble talking about someone who has an organ malfunction or a broken limb but we get embarrassed to talk about mental illness? The stats say that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have a depressive episode in their lives. This does not mean can't get out of bed for months; it means an episode which is a range from a one time event to a lifetime and any increment in between.

It's as pervasive as the common cold and we'd rather ignore it, shy away from it, hope it's someone else's problem. I'm going to be bold and say every human on the planet has at least one episode in their lives and it's nothing to be ashamed about and we need to talk about it. I'm not ashamed I had thyroid disease or that I've had bad days

Neither should you!
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November 18, 2017

Org Charts and Other Data

It’s simple to develop responsibilities, titles, direct reports and deliverables. But how will you allow a place of teamwork to resemble reality? The organizational chart is probably necessary for you to chunk up the work, responsibilities and strengths of your business but how you build a great, sustaining and successful company is through your people. There are no short cuts.

If you have ever experienced a true open environment it can be exciting - yet to some - chaotic. And because most don't want chaos, they choose to keep things nice and neat and departmentalized. They may like being a boss everyone obeys. But we know the flaws in that model are vast.

Human Supply Chain

The perception of losing focus or control can block potential for significant growth in your organization and the careers of each person inside it. If ideas aren't shared, department walls get higher and silos deepen.

The position of Chairperson, CEO or President may appear to be at the top of the company chart. But it's actually in the middle. This is the person who sets the tone; makes the big decisions that could affect the workload of everyone else. It can be a very busy place. She must answer to the owners, shareholders, investors, customers, employees and the public. If a company relies solely on her decisions, millions or even billions can hang in the balance.

Great Idea

A former boss taught me about reversed delegation. This is where someone suggests a half-baked idea and you try to run with it. This neither encourages their further thought nor helps you with what you want to accomplish. Push it back on their plate and see what happens.

For decades we have followed an enterprise model that resembled a flow chart. Nice and clean, easy to follow, department and leaders, directors and work flow. But without an unwavering commitment to the people in your company you may simply be sharing a parking lot and florescent lights for 1,800 hours a year. And the four most powerful words you can use are; “How can I help?” The challenge for leaders who want a successful business is to make their people their top priority.

For real.
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November 14, 2017

Doing Our Happy Work

There aren’t usually many surprises in most employee surveys. We want to be compensated fairly, enjoy a collaborative work environment, and have the ability to advance within the organization.

Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics who explains some of the elements that make us happy or unhappy at work.


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November 10, 2017

Coffee and TV and Sleep

Here are some interesting facts about how we spend our lives from Distractify.

Twenty five years is for sleeping. We’ll work about 10-12 years in real time. This is discouraging, only 48 days having sex – keep in mind, it’s an average. We’ll watch about 9 years of television. Close to 3 years cooking, another year cleaning, and just over 4 years driving our cars.

We’ll drink 12,000 cups of coffee, 48 pounds of tea, and a measly 14 days kissing. Tack on another year of our lives deciding what to wear, 8 years shopping, 5 years sitting at a desk, and we’ll swear about 2 million times.

Life Gets in the Way

Interesting stats but if the average person in North America lives just over 78 years, it doesn’t leave us much time for reflection. But we’re far too busy for that. We have stuff to do, places to go.

When was the last time you gave your team a few minutes off, during the day, at work, to just clear their heads? Yes, quiet time at work. Life is an instant yet we take so little time for ourselves. You just spent about a minute reading this post.

Give yourself the next moment to reflect.
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November 6, 2017

Cobbling Along

I've run into more and more people suffering the fate of the cobbler. Something we all have to manage. It's the story of the shoemaker who works hard but has no time to make shoes for his own children.

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, tweet, 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 this time. But the familiar bell rings on the shop front door and those shoes will have to wait. You know indistinctly those meetings could be half as long to give you more time to help your team and clear your head yet you go headlong into another day full of them.

Let's try again tomorrow.
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October 30, 2017

Clearing the Rubble

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. Purpose can often be more important than only making quota or hitting our numbers.

Clutter makes us nervous and stressed; it can derail us from our goals. While clarity will help us find our baseline and silence some of that unnecessary noise.

To gain clarity, there are three questions we can ask yourselves;

1. For what do we stand?
2. What will we not do?
3. Why do we do what we do?
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October 26, 2017

Are You Selling or Solving?

Think about the last time you walked into a store and the clerk was on you from the second your foot crossed their front door. You probably quickly told them you were just looking because your personal space was crushed by someone trying to sell you something even though you were in their store.

Now imagine you're at a networking event and you meet John who shoves his card in your hand before you can say hello. You can feel yourself backing up and scanning the room for a few gulps of fresh air, a lifeline, a way out. Despite being at an event where you are trying to meet potential customers, clients or partners, John's approach is a bit much so you recoil. You quickly realize the room is full of two types of people - sellers and those who are too scared to sell.

Beyond the Elevator

Everyone tells you that you need to get out there and meet people, shake hands, let them know you’re looking and what you offer. Yet few people enjoy networking. It can be intimidating to try and 'sell yourself' in a room void of buyers. Most shun those who pitch their offer on the social web yet I'm unaware of anyone who can pay their bills with followers and a better Klout score.

Perhaps if I was painter, it would be easier to explain. My passion to provide business solutions to owners and managers who want to become better leaders and improve their people and revenue. The process isn't easy to define because it changes with each situation. When you look closer at your offer, you may say the same.

Beyond the Title

We need to know how best to explain what we stand for and how we help others. Even the painter does more than slap paint on a wall. She may enhance the feel of the office while it blends with the dark cherry desk and black leather chair.

So before walking in a room to sell your wares or greet new customers in your space, figure out how you can help them and the process may be smoother. This isn't an issue exclusive to service providers and small business owners.

Even large enterprise stumbles on this stuff.
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October 24, 2017

Sure We Can

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 may not be whether we can but whether we will.
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October 18, 2017

When is Right?

I was sifting through old notes and saw two quotes that were well timed. Karen Lamb said a year from now you will wish you had started today while Jim Rohn said if you really want to do something, you'll find a way, if you don't, you'll find an excuse.

We all have ideas we don’t act on. We may be waiting for the best time, more money, or permission. We may be out of excuses and left with one option.

The best time is right now.
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October 10, 2017

Deal with It

"We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it."
Cluetrain Manifesto (1999)

The moment you think you have the superior product, service, device, solution, might be the same moment your company foundation begins to crack. Sears Canada has filed for bankruptcy and asked the government for approval to close all of their stores and collapse the company. It has been a spectacular implosion of a company that was in business for over 130 years and now it's pennies on the dollars while the vultures pick the bones clean.

Nothing for Service

Long-term Sears' employees are getting nothing for their years of service and the whole story is tragic. But it's also a lesson that your customers, my customers, our customers, decide whether we stay in business. Without sales, we don't have much, and anyone involved in Sears is finding that out in a stark and painful way.

As an executive recruiter, I am often speaking with candidates who are gainfully employed, happy where they are, but willing to keep an open mind about new opportunities. You may wonder why they are open when they're happy but no one is immune, and we all have customers whose reach exceeds our grasp.
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October 5, 2017

Beyond Our Grey Matter

It’s often said that we use a small percentage of the potential of our brain. There are things we can overcome, do, create, and accomplish, if we access additional information and abilities within it and ourselves. Teamwork, trust, and collaboration are becoming even more important in the workplace. Competencies are important, abilities are critical, but where companies find success is when the connections between us strengthen.

Tom Wujec is an information designer who explains in his TEDTalk three areas of our brain that help us understand words, images, feelings, and connections and how to better help us understand bigger ideas and possibilities.


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September 28, 2017

Gimme Five

It's a simple group exercise. Each person has five minutes to make note of as many of their interests and/or abilities as they can. Then share it with the team. The lists usually begin with work items but eventually get to personal interests and passions.

The purpose of this five minute exercise is to hit re-set and help everyone remember that outside world they've been told to leave at the door.

The results may surprise you.
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September 25, 2017

Youer than You

Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel was a clever yet shy raconteur who created timeless work. For example; "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 one of my all-time favorite sayings and it's brilliant. 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. 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 may be happy to do it for you.
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September 19, 2017

Passion is not Ordinary

Synonyms include enthusiasm or obsession, zeal or excitement, fervor or infatuation but it can be crushed like a bug on a windshield in seconds. I see it in the enterprise, with clients, colleagues, friends and family. The work day is simply a “means to an end” which is a horrific way to spend a third of our life. Ideas are pushed down toward the lowest common denominator while good enough becomes the gold standard.

Leadership is crucial when passion is present because it must be mined and carefully protected. Passion is the reason a woman born of poverty in a shack in Kosciusko, Mississippi became one of the most successful television personalities of all time.

Airplanes and Light Bulbs

Obsession is what fuelled a man to try thousands of ideas until he found a way to harness light. Infatuation was the genesis of an idea by a man with dyslexia to create a global brand which features an airline, a media company and a private island.

It took zeal for the returning founder of a computer company to use innovation rather than budget cuts to help his creation realize the largest profits in its history.

Ladders and Climbing Gear

Passion isn’t about owning things or having money. It isn’t about beating someone or market share. It's about running toward your purpose. Look at your team, the people around you, those you connect in business and through the social web along with your family and your friends. Embrace and cherish their passion.

Corporate governance, strategic policy and revenue generation are all part of work life. But without passion, we would never had heard of Winfrey, Franklin, Branson or Jobs.
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September 15, 2017

18 Random Thoughts

Make time for think time. Help someone without them knowing
Call them back. Make it about them.

Bury the past. Laugh at least once a day
Complaining solves nothing.

Stop comparing yourself to others
Trust your gut. Pick up the phone.
Connect don’t collect.
Say no. Own your decisions.

Balance confidence with competence
Self doubt won’t help. Don’t hesitate this time

Be kind to yourself.
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September 11, 2017

Keep it Simple

If you have ever spent time with a group of people from the same industry that you’re not a part of, you know how narrow we can all be at times. There are acronyms and terms you have no clue how to decipher. It’s almost as if they are speaking another language, their own language.

I was in a client meeting last week and we had to stop and realize we had become so insular we had lost the plot. One of the team members stood up and said; “Can we just speak English, please!” and it broke the ice.

We do it in our everyday lives and relationships.

We think we’re being clear but we have to understand that our thoughts may not align with others’ understanding. When we take the time to step back, breathe, and gain more insight into how others are perceiving us, we stand a better chance of understanding each other.

Technical speak and industry specifics are often needed but sometimes just boiling things down to the most basic level is the best way to avoid misinterpretation. If we take a moment and suspend our beliefs to check for understanding, conflict can be avoided and teamwork can be improved.

Maybe simple is our best strategy?
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September 6, 2017

Three Things

Call three friends. Do three on your to-do list.
Help three ideas grow. Delete three ideas that slow you down.
Select three colleagues and offer a hand.
Identify three personal strengths you will exploit.
Eliminate three unnecessary possessions.
Flush out three thoughts that may a chance.
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August 31, 2017

Watching Your P's

Anyone in marketing can recite the four P's which are; product, price, placement and promotion. Here are four P's you may want to apply to your business.

Practice – Have you ever been to a sporting event or seen a live play or concert? Have you watched a great movie? Do you have any experience meeting someone else who is successful in business? Do you find motivation from people who show talent and prowess in a particular discipline? 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 – When I was a kid I couldn't get through an NHL game without calling my buddies to see if any were interested in a little pick up game on the street. We couldn't wait to be the next big star. It wasn't important whether that dream would be realized, the key was to try and emulate our favorite players who had worked their entire lives to get to the highest level in the sport. 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. Seeing others succeed may give you reason to study their process to improve your business.

Persistence – It requires working nights and weekends, writing ideas on scraps of paper you later find in the laundry, networking well, reading incessantly while life blends with work. No successful person in history has gotten it right the first time. And we may point to the occasional situation that appears to be an instant win. But once you dig deeper you realize it took a lot of persistence to happen. 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 – There are many ways to be successful. What's important is 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, swing at the fence and remember the importance of passion.
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August 26, 2017

What Drives You?

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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August 15, 2017

Seven Percent

Communication is at the cornerstone of our lives. We email, text, phone, meet, talk, and connect because we have an inherent need to belong. And there are countless studies out there that point to the way we receive communication.

One of the most adopted and accepted appeared in a book by Albert Mehrabian entitled Silent Messages. His research found that the person receiving our messages gives 55% of their attention on our body language and eye contact, 38% to our tone, and just 7% to our words. So how we say it carries more weight than what we say.

According to Mehrabian and many others, non-verbal cues carry 93% of the weight of any communication. So if you’re in a leadership role, think about how that can help you strengthen or hinder the culture in your business.

Something to gesture about. 
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August 7, 2017

Time is a Dangerous Partner

Time can fool us into thinking we can buy her or wait for her or allow her to show us when to strike; when to move; when to take that step. All the while she is still. She is where she was a moment ago and where she'll be a year from now.

She is time. It is us who moves through her; not her who moves through us.

She knows what we want and yet we often wait for that perfect sign from her in an imperfectly gorgeous life that will never show us until we open our eyes and be honest with ourselves.

Time doesn't wait; it's up to us to move.

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July 25, 2017

What's Your Story?

We love stories. They give our lives perspective. They help give context to concepts we share. If we can present a new idea that resonates with the audience, it holds more credibility. But if I share an idea with you, you don’t just digest what I'm saying; your beliefs, perceptions, and point of view come into play. Your experience and bias is always part of the equation.

The same happens with team culture. If you work in an environment that encourages sales at all costs but you prefer building relationships first, your time will be challenged. Those who measure success solely by financial gain may tell you to just make more calls because their perspective is relationships are a numbers game.

It’s the way we do it around here

If your leadership style is to give a good portion of your time to help the development of your people to in turn grow the bottom line; someone who tells you the best way to motivate people is through fear, will be a recipe for conflict.

The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. They feed our narrative, perspective, and beliefs. They can become our truth regardless of reality or facts. And it gets even trickier when you have culture comprised of people from different points of view, demographics, or psychographics. This is not to suggest teams succeed when everyone thinks the same way - just the opposite - but if we become rigid, we can close ourselves off from even better ideas.

The stories we embrace can also get in our way.
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July 19, 2017

Only Seven?

Communication is at the cornerstone of our lives. We email, text, phone, meet, talk, and connect because we have an inherent need to belong. And there are countless studies out there that point to the way we receive communication.

One of the most adopted and accepted appeared in a book by Albert Mehrabian entitled Silent Messages. His research found that the person receiving our messages gives 55% of their attention on our body language and eye contact, 38% to our tone, and just 7% to our words. So how we say it carries more weight than what we say.

What do you mean?

It becomes even trickier with the myriad technology and platforms we use to communicate. This explains a lot of misunderstood emails which we've all received and sent. Sometimes a simple :-) can save a lot of grief.

According to Mehrabian and many others, non-verbal cues carry 93% of the weight of any communication. So if you’re in a leadership role, think about how that can help you strengthen or hinder the culture in your business.

Something to gesture about.
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July 15, 2017

Wanna Create Some Trouble?

Mignon McLaughlin was an American journalist and author. In the 1950s she began publishing aphorisms - a pithy observation that contains a general truth. My favorite was; "Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers."

We do look at those who blazed a path before us with admiration but how often do we grasp the uphill climb each had to endure? It's not easy to share a new idea until it’s adopted by others. But without the bravery to share it, the idea goes nowhere.

Lead first

Leonardo da Vinci, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, Elon Musk, Susan B. Anthony, Les Paul, Sally Ride, Louis Pasteur, Kathryn Bigelow, Thomas Edison, Margaret Thatcher, Johannes Gutenberg, Florence Nightingale, Alfred Nobel, Steve Jobs, the list goes on and on. These people didn't play it safe but they certainly didn't succeed without struggles.

Doing what is safe and what others may agree with is adhering to a matrix each of us hold as a manufactured line that’s not to be crossed. We've all done it.

Are You Ready?

You're sitting on an idea right now that you keep trying to find the guts to share. It's not easy, we all know. But it's necessary to fight those fears and doubts or you might end up being - to paraphrase McLaughlin's quote - a dead conformist.

Let's take one small step this week toward sharing our ideas, pushing ourselves past our fears, and seeing what happens. Regret is a horrible emotion we have all experienced.

It's even worse than failure.
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July 12, 2017

Time Off. Phone Off.

It's summer in North America. The pace is a bit more friendly or collaborative or something I can't quite put said finger on. We are all still working hard but it feels less cumbersome when we don't have eight feet of snow to get through on our way to work.

And yes, we are all taking some time here and there to get a break. I've tried quite unsuccessfully not to check my phone for an entire day and lasted maybe a few hours. But wWhat would happen if you didn't check email for a day or attend a meeting tomorrow or not return that call until next week?

The sun will come up, life will go on, and in fact, you may even be more rested and sharper to deal with deadlines after some time away. So cheers to our vacation. We can reconnect when we get back.
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July 8, 2017

What Makes You Happy?

Make more money, have more time, buy more things, all seem to be what we think are linked to happiness. Matt Killingsworth has been studying what makes us happy.

It's not what you may think.


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July 4, 2017

Less Might be More

Fulfil 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. Meet less.

Do less and enjoy more.
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July 1, 2017

Oh Canada – You're 150!

Today is Canada’s 150th birthday. I was born in this wonderful country and proud to call it my home. Our second official language is French but most of us don’t speak it. Most French speaking Canadians live in areas such as New Brunswick and Quebec though the majority of government jobs require you to be bilingual.

Canada is the most multicultural country on the planet. There are over 150 registered languages in this country; which means fabulous restaurants and culture to sample!

Some other Canada fun facts...

Canada’s name comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, kanata, which means village or settlement. A sofa is a couch. We have butter tarts, clamato juice, and ketchup chips. This country has the longest coastline in the world, about 243,000 kilometers or about 150,000 miles in length.

Canada has the fourth lowest population density index in the world with just over 36 million people in the second largest country in the world by land mass – 9.9 million square kilometers or 3.8 million square miles.

Silverware is cutlery. Canada is in the top five producing countries of gold, copper, zinc, nickel, aluminum, and natural gas. Soda is referred to as pop.

Basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith. No we don't live in igloos and we do have running water and paved roads. When someone says thank-you, we do not reply; uh huh, cheers, or no worries; we simply say you're welcome.

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks!
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June 28, 2017

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. Meet less. Do more.

Let's do less more better
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June 24, 2017

Feeling Vulnerable

Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, has been studying a topic most of us have trouble discussing which is vulnerability. It appears in many forms; imposer syndrome, feeling inadequate, feeling like a fake, or not knowing the answer.

We all have moments when we feel emotionally weakened. Dr. Brown explains how it affects our whole life while being authentic can help those same areas.


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June 20, 2017

Mom's Wisdom

On the night before I left for college, my mom said: "I'm so proud of you. Enjoy this time as you are going out into the world and as much as I'd love to help you never make mistakes, you will make lots of them. I can teach you not to make the same ones I made, but you'll make news ones all on our own."

That talk has carried me through some rough times and mom still helps me with her wisdom. But what is in a mistake? You spent too much on that dinner; you took that relationship too far when you knew it was over; you took that gig you knew you didn't really want; you trusted that person you know was lying to you.

Time's wisdom

The key element to any mistake is time and more importantly time after the event. I'm not referring to those decisions we make when when we know right at that moment we aren't making the right call. This is about that relationship, job, or experience that we endured because we decided with all the evidence we had at the time.

I don't know about you, but I've spent far too much of my life regretting stuff I can't change. Then again, those mistakes can often push us to where we need to go and the doorway was the so-called misstep we made in the past.

Let's live for today not yesterday.
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June 16, 2017

Summer Leadership Tune-Up

In the Western part of the planet, summer has arrived and as we embark on this season, vacation plans come to mind. It feels less stressed this time of year and perhaps I may sound like a buzzkill but it's always dangerous as we could let up on our work when we're not off to enjoy adventures with friends and families and sunshine.

But if you are planning a road trip this summer, you will ensure your vehicles get a once over. It's also a chance to put your leadership performance on the hoist once in a while to ensure everything is in working order.

If you want to check your 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?

Now let's hit the road!
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June 13, 2017

The Dreaded F-Word

You're not fine. You will never feel like doing it. Get off your ass and get going.
Wise words from Mel Robbins. Watch this.


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June 8, 2017

Be Picasso

I love this story.

To anyone’s measurement, Pablo Picasso was one of the most talented artists of all time. His complicated life mixed with inspired work continues to make him a fascinating subject to study and learn about.

Pablo and a friend were having lunch one day and one of the other patrons recognized the great master. After some hesitation, she approached him with a napkin. She asked Picasso if he would take a moment and do a quick drawing for her.

He said it would cost one million dollars. Shocked, she questioned why a simple drawing would be that much. Picasso replied that it took him thirty years to perfect his talent and it is not free.

We shouldn't put a price on every moment of the day, and none of us is Picasso, but we should be careful not to always give away our experience simply because it would take just a minute to share it.

Got a napkin?
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June 5, 2017

I'm Weird. You're Weird.

The great Mark Twain once quipped; "Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story”, which is funny at first but quite correct with a closer look. We all have our own truths. Sure, most of us agree gravity keeps us on the ground and the sky is blue, but how many truths do we hold on to that may or may not be in fact true?

If you multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of employees, you can see how we get into trouble in the business world. Michael Shermer examines why we believe and hear weird things in science, relationships, and music.


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May 30, 2017

Non-Verbal Clues

We know ideas are the beginning of everything. The keyboard I'm using to write this started with an idea; the laptop I'm using started with an idea; this website started with an idea; the internet started with an idea; you and I deciding to connect though we don't know each other started with an idea.

But what do we do with a hunch? It's not an idea yet; it's just a feeling or a nudge. It's a pause or a quick wave of inspiration we can't even form into an idea yet.

Stephen Johnson explains how ideas are born and executed.


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May 26, 2017

Defined by Busy

There are meetings and family commitments and chores and email and deadlines and calls and stress and projects and the list continues. We are busy people doing busy things keeping busy with our busy lives being busy.

Years ago, I worked with a mentor who compared the work we were doing in a larger city next to when he lived in a smaller urban area. He said; “Sure this is a busier place, but I’m not convinced people are getting any more done.”

Technology Tether

We have devices that can share information across the planet in seconds. There are virtual teaming solutions that shrink the globe. We have no shortage of ways to connect to each other. But do we really need to check our smartphones every waking moment in case we get an email we'll ignore because we're far too busy for that.

If you think if you can cram more into today than you did yesterday without paying much attention to any of it and grow your business, good luck. If you put the phone and busy away from a moment and enhance the relationships around you, I like your chances.

Maybe not, you're probably busy.
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May 23, 2017

The Importance of Trust

In a work environment, everyone is under a lot of stress. Words are spoken. Blame is heaved. Accusations lobbed. If we step away for even a few minutes, we can remember the relationship – work, life, wherever – is built on respect and trust and can withstand those types of interactions.

Respect and trust are earned but can’t be expected. Something to think about with your business. Great service is what we want yet we're blown away when we get it. But we can't expect if we're not prepared to give it.

The Gift of Being Honest

This is especially critical in personal relationships. If you want her to trust you, be trustworthy. If he is dishonest, especially without remorse, it's probably time you exclude him from your life. You deserve honest people in your life if you are prepared to be honest with them. If they don't hold up their end, get rid of them.

Does this mean trust and respect are only present when it's convenient? Can one argument tarnish a relationship like a bad experience with a plumber? I’d like to think we try our level best to remember why we have the people in our lives that we do and earn their trust and respect.

Without it, there is no relationship.
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May 19, 2017

Your Unexpected Ally

For most of my life, I've been called an extrovert. I can stand in front of a crowd and deliver a talk; as an executive recruiter I'm able to call complete strangers and tell them about an opportunity; and yet I need a lot of quiet alone time. I used to think you had to be either an introvert or an extrovert and being both was confusing to me.

Kare Anderson shares her story as someone who suffered from chronic shyness and found the capacity to make change through her challenges to become an opportunity maker and how we can do the same.


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May 15, 2017

Be True to Yourself

I was having dinner this week with a close friend and we started talking about past missteps, relationships, jobs, and family stuff. It's so very easy to look back with the wisdom of now but we never get that then so why do we torture ourselves with something in our past we can't change and how we'd do it differently?

She shared a story of a former relationship she thought was based on trust and found it was built on lies. Been there? Yeah, me too. It's worse than coming home to realize someone has broken into your home. In these cases, someone has broken into your heart and trust. How can someone be so selfish and mean? Because someone people are selfish and mean.

Watch for Oncoming Traffic

It sounds so blissfully simply to suggest we need to take care of our own needs first. Secure your mask before helping other passengers, they say. And yet we walk into these situations throughout our lives. Perhaps it's an innocent way to put it but if we know the element is hot, we may not want to touch the stove this time. It shouldn't make us mistrust everyone but we may want to heed the warnings this time.

You will run into people who will lie to you; I will as well. You will wonder if it's okay to be true to you; I will too. And the best way we can navigate these challenges it to look back for the lessons, try not to repeat them, and when they show up again, stop them quicker. If they lie to you, they will lie to others and it's not your fault.

Let's not forget ourselves in our own lives.
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May 10, 2017

Watch Your Diet

I often go back to this story when I'm struggling with something. I'm facing a decision or a feeling and need some guidance; this powerful lesson helps immensely.

The story is about a man and his grandson. He reminds the young boy that we have a battle of two wolves inside of us - one that is filled with anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is filled with joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, compassion and faith. The grandson then asks a simple yet critical question; "Which one wins?"

The older wiser man replies; "The one you feed.”
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May 6, 2017

Scary Monsters

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. 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.

Look under the bed

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.

Recently, I've made some big leaps and some were scary but none guaranteed or easy. But in my gut I knew they had to be made.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said: "Fear is the enemy".
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May 2, 2017

Sliced Bread

We are living in a Snapchat Instagram patience of a three year old world. We want the thing to work. We want to make quick touches. We rely too much on technology. Sometimes we just want to buy a loaf of bread and have a sandwich.


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April 30, 2017

Be Human. Be Honest.

Surround yourself with smart people. Quality not quantity. Remove negative people from your life. Have a flexible strategy. Avoid playing favorites. Follow your passion. Never stand for dishonesty.

Believe in you. Do what you say you will do. Recognize the efforts of everyone on your team. Disconnect at least once a day. Don't pull rank. Take one think day every month. Pay it forward. Read and seek knowledge daily. Imagine often.

Never stop learning.
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April 28, 2017

A Dozen Ideas for Leaders

• Stop hiding behind email
• Don’t avoid difficult conversations and have them with respect and compassion
• Keep meetings to 30 minutes and on topic
• Allow all voices to be heard
• Be clear on expectations
• Don’t play favorites
• Be of service to your team/department/company; not the other way around
• Allow creativity to flourish
• Don’t evade conflict
• Remember every person on the team is just as important as any other person
• Hold yourself and others accountable
• Show up when things get difficult
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April 24, 2017

Not 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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April 18, 2017

The Key Ingredient

There are plenty of data to show we admire people who take chances as well as create and share new ideas. The things we can accomplish are astounding but are we admiring more than doing? It takes effort to have an idea, it takes guts to act on it. But what if you let everyone take more chances, act on ideas, and embrace a more creative culture within your organization?

We often hear of companies that tout their forward thinking attitude and openness. But perhaps cynicism creeps in when those promises are broken or don’t come to fruition in the purest of ways. Life gets busy and we pacify our need for engaging interactions by telling ourselves it only happens elsewhere.

The creation of meaningful experiences is often replaced by fear and inaction. Cutting the budget seems easier than taking more chances. The intersection of people and business requires relationships and one important element...

Desire.
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April 12, 2017

People Are Human Too

Leadership is the small things wrapped up in the big things. Leaders often manage the chaos so new ideas can be allowed to grow even when they may not seem like good ones at first. And thanking employees for their ideas and work is critical.

Employees get paid, they show up every day, they have bills to pay. If that’s all that’s going on, then you’re managing a transaction. If you can engage and encourage, you build a company. If you embrace the fact employees have lives too but want to bring their lives to work so they can bring their work to life, you create the seeds of a collaborative culture.

More Than a Paycheck

We work a lot throughout our lifetime and many companies are now expecting you to answer email on your smartphone on Sunday afternoons, in the evenings, give up family time, and sacrifice your space to give more to them. Balance isn’t just a handy word to use, it’s important to put into practice. And it begins when leaders consistently recognize employees' efforts with action.

You may think this is only possible in larger companies or specific sectors. Well, I’ve been fortunate to work with Fortune 50 organizations, large companies, medium to small businesses, and start-ups in a myriad industries. It can work in all of them.

Say thank you often.
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April 8, 2017

Do You Trust?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists "trust" as a belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, and effective. They use words like assured reliance on the character and a charge or duty imposed in confidence.

Trust is a big word we far too often toss around like it's part of a sales pitch. Trust me, my friend. It's all about trust. I trust that guy. But what is trust, really?

Trust is the transference of faith and Rachel Botsman examined the trust economy and collaborative consumption in her 2012 TEDTalk which continues to grow.


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April 4, 2017

Customized Motivation

We live in a plug-in-play world. The gadget comes with an instructional manual but few of us take the time to read it. Our collective impatience is too strong. We want to open the box and start using it. If there’s a problem, we’ll call someone or research the answer online. But what do we do when we can’t figure out how people work?

There is no owner’s manual with human interaction and relationships. Decades of experience can only give us a guide but each person is wired and motivated differently. We can’t simply apply one rule for all yet often the business world tries to do just that.

Leadership and People are Complex

You hear claims such as; “millennials behave this way” or “women 25-49 don’t like that” which are a generalizations. Marketing companies try and predict habits and companies attempt to guide behavior. No two people in history are identical.

If you have kids, you may have taught them how to ride a bike. At first, you put on training wheels, and then over time you raised them off the ground so your child could slowly learn how to balance.

Then the day came when the training wheels were removed. You may have stood nervously as they started to pedal off without your help or the help of two extra wheels. That’s trust in them, the system, and yourself. You gave them the tools but eventually had to let them find their way. Take time to find their motivation

Or you may never know how the gadget works.
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April 2, 2017

Random Thoughts

Embrace that there are many things you don't know. Focus on your strengths. Help something without their knowledge. Teach others. Waste no time with naysayers. Skip email for a day. Take time for you.

Surround yourself with smart people. Quality not quantity. Collaborate often. Remove negative people from your life. Have a flexible strategy. Avoid playing favorites. Leave politics to politicians.

Adopt an open-mind policy. Be true to you. Be clear on your beliefs. Let your team take credit. Surround yourself with people who improve you. Say thank-you often.

Don't compare yourself to others. Clearly define your boundaries. Believe in you. Do what you say you will do. Recognize the efforts of everyone on your team.

Never stop learning.
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March 31, 2017

Eating Lemons

It's hard to believe that the worst economic downturn in the previous nine decades was almost a decade ago. But the world was forever changed. I'm an executive recruiter and I hear stories every day what people went through during that time and emerged with a creative calling that changed their lives for the better.

The Lemonade Movement has been around since 2007 and perhaps you've living it and don't even know it. If you're making a change, you may not need a movie or a group but perhaps this two minutes will give you inspiration that you can do it.


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March 28, 2017

Everything to Everyone

You may often hear others claim they’re good with people or they can increase the bottom line. Those are excellent attributes but need to be further defined and refined. For fear of being specific and potentially losing a deal, many will promise to help anyone who asks them and that can be a dangerous tactic.

Many of us have fallen victim of the plan of trying to have an offer with a wide scope. But if we say everyone is our target customer we can be in trouble. Some feel they don't want to limit their potential. But if we narrow our focus, we can become stronger in those areas we can help the most. We often see this in the start-up world; the company starts to get legs and the offering widens which can be dangerous.

Do one thing really well

The retail space has gotten fuzzy over the last decade. You can buy groceries at your pharmacy and furniture in your electronics store. Widening the offer is watering down the focus and may appear to be working but is actually hurting many of the large companies attempting this strategy.

If you’ve ever been to a general store in a small town it’s like a different world. You can buy everything from candy to camping equipment. But if you looked at your business and more importantly how you grow your team, you probably wouldn’t think it wise to be too wide and hire generalists. Shifting into areas that get away from our strengths in order to grow revenue and market share can be tempting. Doing what we do well, more often, can often be the wiser tactic.

Sometimes offering less can create a lot more.
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March 25, 2017

Leadership and the General Ledger

The foundation of your business is people. That’s not some fluffy nice to have statement; it has been scientifically proven. If you have good relationships in your business, your chances of success will exponentially improve. If you view the human stuff as a waste of time, or a job for someone else, your company will be built on sand. And this is not something to do only during quarterly or annual reviews.

If you asked any business leader if they would like to have the most talented people on their team, it's certain they would resoundingly say yes! Who doesn't want the best?

Open Mind Policy

But if you were to subsequently ask them what specific daily steps are they personally making to ensure that happens, the answers could become a bit vaguer. I'm not referring to the employee handbook or some slick delegation process someone else oversees – steps they do themselves.

Now ask yourself those same two questions. You want the best, but what are you doing today – not monthly or in your weekly wrap-up meetings or some all-staff email – but today, to help your team be the best?

Your answer is not about better services or products.
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March 22, 2017

One Question

We work thousands of hours each year. Life gets busy. There are deadlines and meetings, commitments and activities. Someday becomes part of our daily routine. We plan for the future, we look forward to a time when we'll have more time or money.

Then suddenly another decade is gone. And no matter how much time or money we spend, we cannot change the past. That is what is going on in each of us, in each of the people in our organization, in each of our clients. That is what is happening with everyone you meet on social channels, in the grocery store, at that business function, in your company. None of us escapes it.

Filmmaker Kamil Krolak asked the same question to fifty people. What's your answer?


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March 18, 2017

One Mann's Opinion

My grade 10 history teacher proclaimed there is no such thing as an unbiased opinion. News agencies have purported they are your source for the real stories void of any slant or partiality. Marketing companies create campaigns to convince us this is the best product there ever has existed in that category. Some leaders espouse open collaboration whilst showing clear favoritism to some employees. We all do it even though we may claim to be unbiased.

So when two people are having a conversation – they begin with their own bias, opinion, and experience. It doesn’t start on even footing. You and I may think we agree on something but there are nuances we may not discuss. And if we continue to make them along the way, in short order, we could be far apart from each other because we make assumptions we’re on the same proverbial page.

No expectations

In a team environment, making assumptions can be dangerous as well. It can be difficult to keep that in check if you have been working together for a while. There's a dance and an unspoken language among a group that forms over time. So if you do regular check-ins with each other, it can create even stronger collaborative situation.

I have opinions, you have biases, we have our own view. If we simply ask each other, we may discover a better way of looking at the world.

That's just my opinion.
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March 13, 2017

Meet Sue Austin

Like you, I’ve seen and read plenty of content on how to get out of our heads or push through adversity, and more will be required as we live our lives, but I wanted something different, something that would be a good stiff kick in the butt.

Leadership isn't about being in control when the road is straight and dry but rather handling difficulties and unforeseen curves along the way.

This is Sue Austin


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March 9, 2017

Count the I's

Involve - We've heard the tired cliche countless times; "There’s no “I” in team”. I disagree and here's why.

Imagine - We travel in packs, so it’s safe to say you more often work in a team environment. A group of people all wandering in different directions can be extremely dangerous. When we can share ideas with each other, magic can happen.

Inspire - One of the coolest television shows ever was Long Way Down featuring actor Ewan McGregor along with his best mate and fellow actor Charley Boorman. This was the follow-up to their original trip entitled Long Way Around which began in April 2004. The goal was to take the long way around the earth - on motorcycles.

Instigate - Charley, Ewan and their crew left from London, crossed over to mainland Europe then rode to France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada, into the U.S. and finally arrived in NYC. You don’t just wake up one more morning and try this. It takes a lot of preparation and a lot of people.

Integrate - In January 2004 the boys began intense physical training which included weights, boxing, and cardio. In between workouts, they joined the rest of the team for intense road planning research. They also had to educate themselves on issues such as possible bear attacks, language barriers, passports, every possible weather condition, medicine, proper supplies and just for fun there was a television crew filming everything from day one.

Improve - They also had to be trained to deal with survival issues, possible hostile environments and of course first-aid. Nutritionists, GPS experts and seasoned outdoor travelers were consulted. This was all to prepare for their mammoth trip.

Implement - Three years later, they wanted to do another trip. This time, Scotland to South Africa. The same detail had to go in to this trip as with the last. They ran in to some passport issues and Ewan broke his leg which delayed things. But when you see them riding their bikes around the Great Pyramid of Giza or stopping to bungee jump over Victoria Falls, it's proof the prep was well worth it. Long Way Around was 115 days covering 15,000 miles. Long Way Down covered more than 20,000 miles in 85 days.

Initiate - You may not have the desire to spend twelve months of your life training and riding motorcycles but the elements are the same. Working in a team environment takes many moving parts and many talented people who can take thoughts and turn them into actions and results.

You have to imagine the ideainspire the rest of the team to get moving; integrate everyone involved; then implement the plan.

Count the I's in your team.
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© 2018 Kneale Mann | knealemann@gmail.com | people + priority = profit
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