Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why Have Good Character?

Few parents REALLY know how to prepare their children for work life.  Even fewer take the
time. Joanie B. Connell’s new book, Flying Without a Helicopter, will give them a needed boost towards their child’s journey of self-awareness to prepare them for success, not requiring them to take years to figure it out.

This book is broken down into Problems, Solutions, and Exercises, making it easy to follow and to understand.  Whether you’re a parent, a young adult, or even a manager or business owner, you’re going to read this book and end up with some much needed insight into the TRUE meaning of work and life skills.


My guest blogger today just happens to be Joanie Connell. Think about your own character. Is it appropriate for teaching your children?


Why Have Good Character?
By Joanie Connell
One evening several years back, my husband, daughter and I were sitting around the kitchen table after dinner. My husband got up and went into the pantry and shut the door behind him. I heard a bunch of rustling noises, like plastic bags being handled. I couldn’t for the life of me think of why my husband would go into the pantry and shut the door, and what he could possibly be doing in there. Then all of a sudden I remembered that I had hidden all of the Halloween candy in there! He was eating it! What do you think I did? I covered for him in front of my daughter then I took a turn!

Yes, I still do feel guilty about it, 8 years later. It just doesn’t seem right to tell my daughter that she can’t eat candy but I can. But how many of us do this? How many parents hold their children to different standards than they hold themselves? It occurs in various forms.
  • The children should get all A’s, even though the parents didn’t.
  • The children should cross at the crosswalk, even though the parents don’t.
  • The children should never lie, even though the parents do.
  • The children should not drink alcohol before the legal age, even though the parents did.
  • The children should perform community service, but the parents don’t.

Children learn character from their parents. They catch us in a lie. They ask why it is okay to tell Grandma that her cake was delicious even though we threw it away. They hear us yelling at other drivers from the car. They see whether we return the shopping cart, whether we come to a full stop at the intersection, whether we download music from iTunes or someone else’s computer.

But we shouldn’t just have good character for our kids. We should have it for ourselves first and foremost. And if we don’t have good character for ourselves or our kids, we should have it because society needs people of character for it to succeed. If we all let ourselves go, looking out for no one but ourselves, cheating the rules, and ignoring requests, we will all lose. Humans are social beings; we need each other to survive. Why not treat each other well in the process?


Joanie B. Connell, Ph.D., is a talent management expert and career coach for people across job levels, ages, and industries. She works with companies to attract, develop, and retain top talent and she works with individuals to improve their success and happiness in their careers. Learn more about Joanie and her new book, Flying without a Helicopter online at flyingwithout.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sprinkles - It's What They Want

What an absolute joy to read.  Chip Bell’s new book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, kept a smile on my face the whole way through.


As a customer service program/training developer, I’m always looking for new ideas and twists.  Looking at it from the perspective of a fun food that (most) everyone likes is brilliant.  It’s so easy to identify with.  Customers aren’t so brand loyal anymore.  They don’t want just everyday service.  They want it “a la mode”.  They want crushed graham crackers (my favorite), cherry’s, chocolate, candy, . . . they want sprinkles.

Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends”.  People will talk about your great service.  They won’t talk about you if you’re just, meh.  You have to add that extra sprinkle.

There are so many wonderfully entertaining stories, examples, and inspirations in this book that you’ll want to share it with others.  You won’t just want to share the book but actually start implementing some of the ideas Chip speaks about.  This is the type of book that reignites.  Reignites thinking, reignites desire, reignites the spirit of why you’re in business in the first place.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Hidden Leader

Monday launched the new book, The Hidden Leader, by Steve Edinger and Laurie Sain.  It definitely hits the nail on the head and should be read by anyone who searches out leaders.  Future leaders aren't always the most confident extroverts.  They're the ones taking the initiative to get the job done.  Today I'm happy to host a blog post by author Steve Edinger.  Enjoy.

This post was originally published at www.edingergroup.com on August 1, 2014
On July 14th, 2014, I was running with the bulls in Pamplona. The running of the bulls is part of the Festival of San Fermin, which has been held annually since the middle ages, honoring the patron saint of the city. I ran on the last day of the festival with a small group of friends. On the return flight home I couldn’t help but reflect on the experience, and some parallels to my work with clients designing and implementing successful strategies. Here they are.

1. Clearly define your strategy in specific detail. We wanted to complete the run safely by:
Holding off on our start until the bulls ran by. Nobody can keep up with a bull running 22-24 mph and we wanted to run with the bulls (behind them really), not in front of the bulls.

Running as close to the left side of the street as possible. (In our observation of the run on the previous day, and video footage of past races, it seemed that because of the turn before the area of our starting position, they tended to drift to the right side.)
Sticking together in pairs. We used the buddy system to look out for each other.

Finishing the run by breaking left toward the 9 o’clock position of the bullring as soon as we entered.

Defining the outcomes with specificity is much harder than it seems, and good strategies are clarified so that they are easily understood. They are precise and specific as it relates to objectives, and how those objectives are going to be achieved. This is the most difficult part of executive work, as it requires patience, making tough decisions and judgments, as well as a lot of critical thinking. Because of that, leaders are often in a rush to just get this work done. It is much easier to read and respond to emails, attend meetings and focus on the tactical work that doesn’t require as much thought.

2. Be prepared for your strategy not to go according to plan. How many projects or initiatives in your business have turned out exactly as they were planned? My experience has been that it is rare. On the morning of the run there was a light rain, which made the streets a little more slick than usual. Instead of the bulls running together in a pack (which is the best case) they got separated as they came around one of the turns. On this day, they were running closer to the left side of the street.  Despite your best efforts and research, you will never be able to rely completely on it, and you will never have all of the facts. For example, we learned only on the morning of the race that the Miura Bulls, renowned as Spain’s largest and fastest bulls, were reserved for the final day. Imagine how that made us feel.

Even if the assumptions we make in formulating strategies are incorrect, it is critically important to go through the progression of doing so. In the process you become keenly aware of different alternatives, capabilities, and scenarios, and if necessary can adapt quickly and make adjustments in real time. As Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, “plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

3. Getting everyone in your company to understand and behave consistently with your culture is the most important thing you can do to get your strategy implemented.  Most of the runners in Pamplona shared the same goal—to finish without being punctured, pierced, or steamrolled. While there are always a few with different goals (some want to touch or run in between them), the vast majority shared that objective. But as soon as the rocket to start the race went off, things got pretty chaotic with runners of different speeds getting in each other’s way, and often hindering one another in their own rational self-interest.

Even when people in an organization have the same overall goals for the company to succeed, individual approaches can vary greatly. This tends to reduce quality of work and productivity, as well as create conflict. To prevent this, people must understand what is expected of them in your culture, and how they fulfill your strategy. Further, they need to have exemplars to look to as role models, and appropriate rewards and consequences.

4. Take time to evaluate your performance. For the entire day following the run as we traveled from Pamplona to Madrid before heading home, we relived every moment. The emotions leading up to the run, what happened during the run, what others saw from their vantage point and so forth. We only ran once, and in your organization the run is continuous.

My most successful clients are unquestionably those who review their strategy at regular intervals, make adjustments, and keep it dynamic. It doesn’t sit on a shelf in a binder. They work hard to integrate strategic perspective into all of the work they do and for any projects or initiatives.  They ask the question “how will this help us to achieve our strategy?”

The running of the bulls is an extraordinary and unique experience. While I’ll never do it again, I found valuable insights from the run that illustrated what is critical when creating and executing a strategy. Done well, you can still succeed even when everything doesn’t go as you expected. All 8 of us completed the running of the bulls, unscathed.


Scott Edinger is co-author of the new book The Hidden Leader. As founder of Edinger Consulting Group, Scott has worked with leaders in nearly every industry sector, helping them formulate and implement growth strategies, increase revenue and profit, develop leadership capacity, drive employee engagement, and attract and retain talent.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Refire! Don't Retire

Age is an attitude, not a number.  Anyone who’s “getting older” should read Ken Blanchard and Morton Schaevitz new book, Refire! Don’t Retire.

Too many people use age as an excuse to slow down, stop learning, and retire.  You’ve got a lot more time and adventure in you than you think.  Too many people just give in to time.  Here, you have an outline to refiring emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually.

This book is so full of thought provoking ideas, you’re not going to want to put it down.  I know, I know, “I don’t like to read”.  Well, fine.  Get the book anyway and just go through the Pause, Reflect, Take Action questions at the end of each section.  I guarantee you’ll have a number of “a-ha” moments.

Not thinking about retirement yet?  Read it anyway.  There are many doors waiting in your future (and present) besides the retirement door.  Start your renewal now.  Enhance relationships, stimulate minds, and revitalize bodies.  You have the knowledge and ability in you, you just need some help pulling it out and putting it all together.  Blanchard and Shaevitz are going to guide you.

Don’t plan on getting old.  Plan on living life.  If you’re living too well to look at the clock, you won’t need to know what time it is.  You’ve got the steps to a more fulfilling life, now put it all together and live!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Leaders Need Change

If you think back a number of years you may recall that there used to be a VERY distinguishable difference between leaders and staff.  ALL work was done by the staff and the leaders oversaw that work.  The leaders’ thought was, “I don’t care how you get it done, just do it.  Now!”  There was a very clear line in the sand.

Today’s leaders are finding out that they can’t command staff’s best work.  An environment must be created to promote the desire to do their best.  It’s actually become more of a partnership between leader and staff.

Think of all the things that have gone on over the years, like:
  • more competition,
  • new technology,
  • restructuring/mergers,
  • changing values and needs of today’s staff,
  • increased demand for better customer service.
This is all reflected in the way we lead.

Three basic things can help you out on your road to a new partnership.
  • Energize: It’s not possible to be effective while just trying to infuse energy in your team.  Use their energy, channel into it, and leave them with more than what they started out with.
  • Support: You’ll need to be there for them to pick up the pieces if they fall.  That doesn’t mean to be there to stop them from falling.  This is how people learn.  Encourage staff to question.  Even if it’s the dumbest question you’ve ever heard, it’s a learning time for them.
  • Communicate: You’ve heard the old saying, “knowledge is power”, I’m sure.  True statement.  But the only way that it can be good is to spread some of that knowledge around.  The constant changes that we live with requires you to communicate more and more.  Don’t always rely on training, memos, etc.  Get out there and do it yourself.

For goodness sakes, don’t be afraid of change.  Change is good.  Most people just make it bad.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I Love a Spicy Meatball

Yes, I love a spicy meatball . . . and wings, and dips, and pizza.  But they sometimes rub 
me the wrong way, if you get my drift.  Spicy is good.  Too spicy is bad.

Kind of like people.  You've heard the saying, "If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room".  Don't be the equalizer.  You've got to add some spice to the room.  But you can't just do it randomly.  Just like spicy foods, if someone on the team is too spicy, you're going to have problems.

A good spicy team member is going to communicate, share openly and willingly, question ideas/decisions, and be honest and straight forward.  But to keep from becoming too spicy, he/she's also going to actively treat others with respect and be supportive.

You don't want all yes wo/men on your teams.  You'll never improve to the degree that you need to keep up.  Spicy people are a key.  You need people to keep things active and to keep everyone's minds flowing and thinking.  The first idea isn't always the best.  In fact, it usually isn't.  You need quality discussion.

Walt Disney once said that, "Ideas come from curiosity".  When setting up teams, take care to really look at everyone you're considering.  You need people that exhibit curiosity.  Spice it up a bit and get a good mix.  A good mix equals good results.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Don't Forget the Thanks

As Christmas quickly approaches don't forget to thank the people that have supported you all year. If you think about it for a minute you'll probably come up with a much bigger list than you thought you would. Thank your:
  • supervisor/manager,
  • team members,
  • assistants,
  • customers,
  • confidant,
  • mentors,
  • spouse,
  • family members,
  • friends,
  • business associates,
  • students/learners,
  • office mates,
  • Military,
  • first responders,
  • financier,
  • lawyer,
  • dry cleaner,
  • insurance agent,
  • the kid that cuts your grass,
  • dog walker,
  • mail delivery/newspaper delivery, and
  • God.
A pretty long list, right? You're probably starting to get the picture now. You have a pretty extensive "supporting cast". I bet you can think of more.

You didn't get where you are, all by yourself. You can't do what you do, all by yourself. You can't live the way you do, all by yourself. Skip to the end of the Scrooge movie and go right to the thanks!