February 28, 2017

Watch out for Elephants!

If you ask most company managers, executives, or owners, they will undoubtedly be able to tell you what their company stands for in a nice tight mission statement. You may hear words like integrity, leading, best, or pick your platitude. After all, what organization would proudly claim they are the worst or provide bad service?

Jay Wilkinson is the founder and CEO of Firespring. He and his team have stringent measures to ensure they have the best people join the organization.

He has been through a lot since launching the company but remains focused on one prime element of his business which comes before products and profit.


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February 24, 2017

Work Life Imbalance

We've all heard the phrase; “leave it at the door”, which is a warning that when you’re at work, you should focus on work. But we're human and we work with humans and we have lives and issues and sadness and joy and events and those aren’t easily shut off.

In the last year, I know of a couple who finalized their divorce, someone who lost their spouse, a couple who had to say their final goodbyes to their beloved pet, someone who lost a parent, and many people who lost their job. It’s a bit tough to be a robot in those situations. It's unrealistic to expect life not to seep into our work.

Bring your life to work.

Leadership is not daycare but we are not machines. To tell people to ignore their world isn’t realistic. Sure, we have to be mindful that deadlines need to be met, but the human condition can help our professional pursuits. Many claim a life/work balance is important but few act on it.

Allowing your team to bring life to work can open up possibilities. It can unlock their minds to include situations outside of their work environment. It can create free discussion and brainstorming that may help solve issues that are too close to the team because they’re trying to apply work related tactics. It can create a more malleable atmosphere which will be more enjoyable and efficient.

Bring your work to life.

This can panic some leaders who are used to conformed enterprise where co-workers focus linearly on actual tasks within a confined agenda. Change is scary and it’s much easier to manage rather than guide people to work freely and use all of their human experience during work hours. This is not to suggest your company becomes a free-for-all but nothing in work or life needs to be zero-sum.

We all want to be loved, noticed, and appreciated. We have fear and dreams; hopes, and plans. We all want to belong and feel purpose. We are them, you are me, they are us. It's not as difficult as it may appear. And a small shift can create the positive growth you may have been seeking by reminding everyone to focus on their job.

What happens in life affects what happens at work.
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February 21, 2017

Investing Unwisely

You don’t have to go too far before you hear some mutation of the phrase “we can't do that here”. At first, it almost seems believable but with some thought it's more of an auto-response. No new ideas is often next in line.

It reminds me of what a colleague once said to me. He often boasted that "employees are overhead, customers are profit". Yes, dinosaurs do walk among us.

But before you feel compelled to say “we can’t do that”, one suggestion is to put the company on the hoist to expose waste before you make cuts on essential items such as the people who work there. Companies often bemoan decreasing results but think they can cut themselves into the black.

Or worse, do nothing.
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February 18, 2017

Do You Have a Mentor?

I've been fortunate to have had a couple of excellent mentors in my career and been even more fortunate to be a mentor. It's a special relationship that can't be mandated by any company initiative. It just happens over time and in many important patient steps and it's vastly different than training or taking a course.

Teacher

There must be trust. Your mentor has to care about you and your success not simply put their theories and goals on you. My most influential mentor was my boss Stewart. In just five years, I learned more about leadership and myself than I could have in twenty. He was a student of human behavior and not only understood we were different but accepted and embraced it.

He said leadership was 10% about the work and 90% about life, relationships, and people. It's important to do good work but without human connection, company culture won't be strong and your business will struggle. Stewart knew this and created it in our organization. And he's still doing it today.

Student

Stew understood human systems, team dynamics, and the importance of pushing people to be their best. His biggest gift as my mentor was to find those moments to explain how he did what he did and allow me space to find my own style and process. Oh, and if you know him, don't tell him I wrote this, he isn't the look-at-me type.

I connected with his ability to set the course but also explain how he arrived at the plan and how I could find my own way to lead my team, and years later, even bigger teams. He gave me another view of how to find my own way. I didn't realize at the time, but he gave me the foundation for my work today.

Graduate

Mentors are priceless yet the relationship is often not evident at first. You don't see "mentor" on an org chart or job board. It happens when it happens and can't be forced. But as the mentor relationship develops, it will garner immeasurable results.

If you've been fortunate to be a mentor, are one now, or become one in the future, cherish the opportunity to help someone find their way.

Enjoy the journey!
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February 15, 2017

Recruiting Your Company

As an executive recruiter, I spend a lot of my time speaking with people who are gainfully employed and for the most part happy where they're working now until I call them. Many say no thank you. Some say tell me more. And a few say yes eventually.

It's interesting to be in those conversations after we discuss the opportunity and company because execs want to know what kind of company and what type of people work there before considering a career move.

Here are five simple yet telling questions you can ask your team, owner, boss, or company and it will tell you everything you need to know.


  • What do we stand for?
  • How do we help?
  • Where do we impact?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • What will we not do?
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  • February 11, 2017

    Wash Your Hands

    There are products, sales, marketing, people, share price, competition and many other factors that keep business people up at night. In the documentary "The Corporation", producers examined the modern-day company. They evaluated its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person.

    They concluded if the corporation was human, her ultimate goal would be to make money above all else. If that is the sole purpose of your company, be nervous. Fiscal health is imperative but without strong internal customer service, it will be a struggle.

    If you don’t treat people well, they won't stick around, or worse they may stay and have a hand in your demise. Treat them right with strong and fair leadership and those profits will actually increase. We all share an inherent human need to belong.

    That doesn't stop when entering the work area.
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    February 8, 2017

    Clearing our Lens

    It’s right there every day. You may recognize it but do you heed it often enough? Do we pay close enough attention to the lessons that touch our lives?

    One definition of perspective is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view. You and I could look at the same situation with a different interpretation. Your experience may be a factor. My attitude may alter my standpoint. But the important question is, do we do anything about it.

    Point of View

    We know life can be fragile but perhaps we go through our day without thinking too deeply about its meaning. Of course, we can’t spend every moment over thinking it all and overwhelm ourselves. How do we strike a balance to ensure we aren’t flippant about the essential elements in our lives, work, and relationships?

    One way is to take a few moments each week to make a physical list of things we’re thankful for and balance that against the stress and busy of our everyday lives. The daily duties, deadlines, and stress seem to take up more of our consciousness than the important elements that shape our experience.

    We might spend too much time complaining and wishing things were better rather than embracing the aspects that really are going well. Perhaps some perspective when we focus too much on the unimportant while forgetting the essential.

    I think it's worth a shot.
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    February 5, 2017

    Stop Comparing

    Not many of us human types get up in the morning to focus on failing. We do our best, we learn each day, we try a little harder, we get a little smarter, and we focus a bit more on being successful. Whatever that means to each of us. One of our worst measurements of success is comparing ourselves to others.

    She has a better gig, he has a nicer car, they have a better life. Most of us have fallen into the trap but the key is to stay focused on what success means to each of us. But we get stuck, meet resistance, and sometimes get in our own way.

    Richard St. John has been teaching his principles since he learned the hard way. The concept may be simple but it requires determination and a lifetime of focus to execute.


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    February 2, 2017

    Freedom is a Privilege

    Millions of women and men of all races and nationalities have given their lives for the freedoms we embrace. Those freedoms are not a right; they are a privilege we hold dearly in our souls. You and I may disagree but we both cherish our ability to do just that.

    No one, no matter who they are, what office they hold, or how many names they call those who oppose them, has the right to unilaterally decide those freedoms simply by our faith, the country of our birth, or the colour of our skin.

    No one.
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