Monday, December 12, 2011

Pick the Fit

I've read a number of articles lately about how bad unemployment is BUT how employers can't find the right match to hire. Really?

Companies need to take a look at their current hiring practices, which are quite often OLD hiring practices, and see what can be revamped. Especially in the areas of required experience.

Take a look at some of the most successful companies like Zappo's and Disney. A big focus of theirs is on personality and "fit". Zappo's has two sets of interviews. In Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh says, "The hiring manager and his/her team will do the standard set of interviews looking for relevant experience, technical ability, fit within the team, etc. But then the HR department does a second set of interviews, looking purely for culture fit."

You can sometimes (often) forgo some of the "experience" in order to get a better fit. If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will often happen naturally on its own.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are You Listening?

Listening to your employees is at the top of the list in Boss 101. Your organization depends on you doing this. It’s just as important as listening to your customers.

Your customers are the final authority of your success. But try this out - start there and listen back - to your employees.

It's not necessarily your products or services that create your customers. It's your employees. Take a few minutes and ask yourself a couple of basic questions.

•Are your customers evangelists or vigilantes?
•Do they refer their friends or warn them off?
•Are they repeat buyers or one-hit wonders?
Your employees create, reinforce, and support those definitions OF your customers, FOR your customers.

And remember - your employees are also listening to YOU. They’re listening to you for answers to three questions:

•What’s in it for me?
•Why should I believe?
•Why should I care?
Those answers are delivered by you in everything you say and do in communicating your Purpose, Mission, and Vision.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Full Circle . . . and Beyond!

On November 1, John Lasseter will become the 2,453rd star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Here’s a leader that’s come full circle . . . and beyond!

Lasseter started his career as a Jungle Cruise Skipper at Disneyland in California. It was shortly after that when he became an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation. He realized that computers could be used to make films with three dimensional backgrounds where traditionally animated characters could interact to add a new, visually stunning depth. So he began the push . . . but pushed a little too hard and was terminated.

Lasseter was then hired on at Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group. Here he worked on their first computer animated short: The Adventures of André and Wally B. His original thought had been to create only the backgrounds on computers, but by the time it was all finished everything was computer animated, including the characters.

Most of what Lasseter had been working on had been considered “experiments” by George Lucas and his interest soon began to fade. Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group was acquired by Steve Jobs in 1986, which then became Pixar. Lasseter oversaw all of Pixar's films and associated projects as executive producer. He personally directed Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Cars, and Cars 2 – some of the biggest animated feature films of all time.

When Disney purchased Pixar in April 2006, Lasseter was named Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He was also given the responsibility as Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering. He bypasses Disney's studio and theme park executives and reports directly to Disney President and CEO Bob Iger.

Congratulations John Lasseter!!!

Do you have an idea . . . a dream . . . a plan? See it through and make it happen. You never know - it may take you . . . to infinity and beyond!

For the whole Pixar story check out, The Pixar Touch by David A. Price.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Remarkable In Tampa

The leading new supervisor training, based on the book, From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership, is coming to Tampa, FL on November 9-10. Having worked with the writers, Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris, I recommend this workshop for anyone who is looking to increase their leadership skills. Find out more right here - B2B Workshop Tampa.

Top 10 Reasons to Go to the Bud to Boss Workshop:
#10 You are a new supervisor and you want to learn more so you can be successful in your new role.
#9 You train new supervisors in your organization and you'd like new resources and tips to share.
#8 You'd like to be more effective in leading others.
#7 You loved the book From Bud to Boss and you'd like a chance to interact on the topics in the book with an expert trainer.
#6 You haven't read the book yet but you want a chance to interact and learn from an expert trainer.
#5 You're struggling with a particular leadership issue and you'd like to get insights from others.
#4 You happen to have Nov 9-10 wide open on your calendar, and you have plenty of money left in your training budget.
#3 You're in the mood for a road trip.
#2 You've always wanted to visit Busch Gardens in Tampa.
#1 You want to attend a premier training event for new supervisors because you know you will gain knowledge and skills to raise your leadership expertise to a new level.

You'll have a remarkable time. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do You See What I See?

No, I'm not talking Christmas songs . . . yet.

Robert Frost once said, “Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream of things that never were and say why not?” Doesn’t that sound like a leader?

One of your biggest responsibilities as a leader is to see things that others can’t see. Use your visionary capabilities to grow your mission. Think big! Use your imagination. Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission. Why do children come up with such imaginative ideas? They allow themselves to be imaginative – they don’t know any better. But you know that it’s extremely important to do so.

Allow your mind to look at ALL possibilities. One may not be the answer. But grab assorted details from various ideas and you’ve got a viable solution.

Walt Disney said, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse”. A mouse! Look at Disney today. Although Walt is gone, the empire still grows.

Have faith that you can accomplish the mission that you’ve chosen, and impart that faith on to your staff – and grow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Does It Take?

What does it take to recognize employee's? Not much.

Michael LeBoeuf, author of The Greatest Management Principle in the World said, "Everybody works smarter when there's something in it for them." For you managers that have been around for "awhile" that may be a lot of hoo-hah. For you leaders that work in "the now" it makes a lot of sense.

Reward programs are extremely important today, and contrary to common thought, it does NOT have to be expensive. What's expensive is not having a reward program.

Here are a few examples:

pay for a trade magazine subscription
off-site training seminar
lunch with the CEO
day off with pay
traveling trophy
pay for a professional membership
"thank you" and a handshake (wow, what a concept)
tickets to a game
restaurant gift card
make your own taco party
visit to headquarters
free car washes
spa day
bowling party
off work 1 hour early
Entertainment book
lottery tickets (hope there's not a $20million in it)

All of these things are either inexpensive or basically free to you. Add a little fun to your recognition program and watch employee's get more involved and stick around longer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where The Heck Did The Time Go?

Where the heck did the time go? Wow. How many of us have asked ourselves that one . . . many times?

The average day can be divided into six segments (with average hours):
Sleep - 8
Work - 8
Eat - 3
Personal Hygiene - 1
Commute - 2, and
Various - 2

Most people think they know how much time they spend on what they do. But unless you’re keeping track of it, mmmmm no, you really don’t. It’s like a diet. Until you start writing down EVERYTHING you eat, you don’t really have a clear picture of what you’re putting in your body – believe me, I’ve done it.

According to Merrill & Donna Douglass in their book Manage Your Time Your Work Yourself, “we have about two hours each day to do the various personal things that make life worth living. That’s not much. But it gets worse. By their own account, most people waste at least two hours every day”! Any free evening is a luxury.

The only way to get out of this rut is to sit down and figure out just what you’re spending time on and learn to manage your time better. This is called – work life balance.

The Douglass’s suggest drawing three circles divided like a pie. In one, distribute your time the way you THINK is true. In the second, indicate how you ACTUALLY distribute your time. In the last, draw an IDEAL pie. “The difference between where you are now and where you would like to be is the source for possible goals.”

Just like anything you do to be successful, you need to plan and set goals.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Design Your Culture

"But I thought a culture just happens?" Well Skippy, a lot of them do. But a lot of them are baaaad.

The title of this post comes from one of the strategies that Lee Cockerell discusses in his book, Creating Magic, on how to create a culture of INCLUSION. The first line in that section defines a corporate culture (via Disney Institute) as "the system of values and beliefs an organization holds that drives actions and behaviors and influences relationships."

I've actually heard stories of organizations saying they don't need to work on their culture because it will just happen, that that will be their TRUE culture. Alert - Alert - Alert Will Robinson. You're looking at the makings of one of those baaaad culture's.

Leaders of your organization need to work on directing the culture - focusing on your values, beliefs, and relationships - so that it doesn't turn or work against you. One of the best ways to direct your culture is to use INCLUSION. I don't think there's any faster way to derail a culture than to exclude employee's. The less they know - the less they are asked - the less they are "partners" - the worse your culture will be.

Just think about it a second. With a lack of inclusion, comes more opportunity for "grapevine" and "water-cooler" talk. Your culture quickly becomes one that works AGAINST your organization.

Now I could ramble on about many aspects of growing and directing your organizational culture (and maybe some day I will) but if you create a sense of INCLUSION, you're going to be well on your way.

What kind of changes can you make, today, in the creation of a culture of INCLUSION?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Give Em Your All

Just a quick spiel this week about giving people your all. I'm talking about training. Aaaaand maybe I'm up on my soapbox a bit.

Have you ever been to a training class or workshop that the trainer just doesn't "show up"? He or she is physically there, but is mentally still at home?

Have you ever been to a training class that the format is not taken seriously? That the instructors don't do everything they should . . . and you know it?

Have you ever been to a course where the instructors obviously don't agree with the information they're putting out . . . and show it?

If you're one of these instructors, listen up. You're wasting my time and the time of everyone in the class, their supervisors, and their (your) organizations. Trainers/facilitators have a responsibility to all of the aforementioned people. You're not just dealing with the people in the classroom - it's all of the others also. If you're going to waste my time by not giving me your full effort, hey, I can definitely find many other productive and more important things to be doing.

So the next time you don't quite feel up to facilitating that class or don't agree with those policies, work on the one thing you always CAN change - your attitude - and buck up. I'm going to thank you for it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guestology - Know Your Customers

I had the great privilege of attending Disney Institutes Approach to Quality Service a few months ago. What a great experience. They've really got this customer thing down.

For one thing - customers are GUEST'S. One of the keys to great service is treating people the way you'd treat guests in your own home. Treat them the way you want to be treated. Good leadership understands this type of thing.

Sit yourself in a position to form a customer oriented culture. An organizations culture is only as good as its leadership.

The book, Be Our Guest (from Disney Institute), describes Guestology as "the study of people for whom Disney provides service". For over half a century "the one constant has been a relentless focus on the needs, perceptions, and expectations of Guests". This is driven by great leadership.

In order to treat customers like Guests, you have to learn everything you can about them. Some of the things Disney knows are:

  • where they come from,

  • the average party size,

  • their length of stay,

  • frequency of visits,

  • attraction utilization, and

  • per capita spending patterns.
Wow - wouldn't it be great to have staff that knew that much about their customers?

Lead your staff in a direction that exceeds expectations. Keep the bar high. Guests continually tell Disney that "a key driver determining their overall level of satisfaction is the interaction they have with Cast Members" (employee's).

Remember that leaders are role models. The better service that YOU provide and the more YOU learn will directly affect the service your staff provides.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's New, It's Exciting

"What?", you ask. Why Google+ of course. Hey. Everyone else is talking about it, why can't I.

What is Google+? It's a new social network. You can either share with people you actually know, or with anyone who wants to follow you. Seems to me like a cross between Facebook and Twitter. Until it's fully up and they have the kinks out, you can join only by limited invitations - I got one.

I was lucky enough to get an invite last week and jumped right on it. At first glance it didn't seem too awful special. But as I started getting into it a little I quickly began to see some good things.

First of all, it's a chance to start over. How many people have a bazillion friends on that other big social network and only actually know a handful? How many people have friended all of your elementary and high school buddies and are now realizing, "I hadn't communicated with these people in years for a reason"?

The best thing I like, so far, about Google+ - besides the slate being clean - is the use of Circles of friends. You can add friends to Circles like, Business, Family, Acquaintances, or just Following. Instead of seeing every Tom, Dick, and Harry in your Stream of posts, you can click on a Circle and see only those people.

And another neat thing - if people add you to their Circle . . . you don't have to follow them back - it's not automatic. And visa versa. No requesting to "be friends". Plus, neither party knows what Circle they're a part of.

Check it out. Google is on to something here. Stay tuned for the expansion.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cliques Gone Organized

I first learned of "tribal leadership" while reviewing the pre-launch book by Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness. I was curious to find out more about it when low-and-behold I received an email from the publisher of Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization (Dave Logan, John King & Halee Fischer-Wright) asking me to review the updated re-release (June 7) of the book. Awesome!

At first glance tribal leadership reminds me of cliques in school. There are various groups of kids who hang around together - preps, jocks, etc. - which you have to belong to in order to "hang" with them. As the school year progresses, so do the groups . . . or not.

LinkedIn co-founder, Reid Hoffman described Tribal Leadership as "a clear road map for the new reality of managing organizations, careers, and life". The key words here are, "new reality of managing organizations". In today's world, leaders must manage all aspects of the organization including the tribes. We have to help our people go from "they" or "I" attitudes to "we" attitudes.

The authors of Tribal Leadership take us through the five stages of building relationships between leaders, tribes and culture. It's, at times, comical because of the way tribes and leaders are described is sadly so true - reality check.

The goal of tribal leadership is to "upgrade as many people, and clusters of people, as are willing and able to move forward to Stage Four, the zone of tribal pride". A tribal leader is "someone who artfully builds his corporate tribes, then gets out of the way so people can achieve greatness".

By developing the tribe you'll create loyalty, hard workers, innovation and collaboration. Helllooo. Doesn't that make your job a bit easier? Sure it does. And just as importantly, it contributes more effectively to the success of the organization . . . and doesn't exactly hurt your own chances for advancement.

Tribes - culture - is not something that you want to "just happen". There's guidance and building that needs to be done in order for them to jive with your organization in order to create overall success.

Reading this book really opened my eyes to what was happening in my own organization. Pick up a copy of Tribal Leadership and learn how to become the leader of the tribe - go from "life sucks" to "life is great" - and you'll have that success.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gotta Have It

Energy, that is. We’ve all been there – some more than others – wish you had more energy to do more, stay awake longer, or have more concentration. Yeah, you’ve been there.

Jon Gordon, author of The 10-Minute Energy Solution says that, "Everyone has lows. The key is to know when your energy is down and what you can do to turn it around." He maps out a 30-day plan with a simple 10-minute exercise each day to give you a boost physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Here are 10 things you can do:
1. Start your day with a positive energy walk. Step briskly and say what you're thankful for. Think positive thoughts like "I look forward to the rest of the day, the people I'm going to meet, the things I'm going to learn." Or complete these sentences: "I believe that... I trust that..."
2. Neutralize the "energy vampires," the people who drain you. They’re everywhere. Counter their negative comments and attitude with kindness and compassion. Notice something? Another person's negativity can only bring you down if you let it. Like I always say, attitude you give = attitude you get.
3. Lose your mind. No, don't go any more crazy than you already are. Go meditate. Sit in a quiet place. Focus on your breathing. Inhale and think of a word like "so" or "one" or "peace". Exhale and think of the same word or another. (Gordon likes the mantra "so hum".) Repeat with each breath. If a thought floats into your head, let it float out, and focus on your breathing and mantra again. "You want to lose your thoughts, your thinking mind, so you can be one with the moment," Gordon explains.
4. Add play to your day. Run around the yard with your kids or your dog (chase a squirrel). Put on your favorite pick-me-up song and dance. Grab three tennis balls and try to juggle them. Go for a bike ride. Build something out of Legos or Lincoln Logs – remember those? Write the lyrics to your life as a funny country song (and then share it with me!).
5. Connect. Call an old friend you haven't talked to in a while. Invite a coworker to lunch. Drop a line - not by email but by good, old-fashioned pen and paper (wow, what a concept) - to someone you don't see often.
6. Smile and laugh. Walk around your office and smile at your coworkers. They won't think you're strange (probably), just in a good mood. Several times a day, think of a funny joke or experience, and laugh.
7. Let stress go. "Energy is like a river," Gordon says. "Stress blocks it." To get it flowing again, first, list your stresses. Take a deep breath and clench your hands into fists, as if you're holding on to all the stress. Exhale forcefully, opening your hands and throwing your arms wide. Feel your tension release? Good. Say, "I choose not to have my stress. I let it go." Repeat this exercise for each stress you listed and let it go.
8. Pray for someone. It recharges your spiritual batteries. Studies suggest those who have a strong faith are better able to handle adversity. Make a list of people and what they need help and prayers for. Find a quiet spot and get comfortable. Listen to your breath, feel your heart beat. When you're nice and relaxed, pray for each person on your list.
9. Look for signs of grace. Think about the times in your life when you thought something bad happened, but it turned out to be a blessing. It may have happened and you just haven't realized it yet. Write these experiences down. Next time something you didn't want or expect occurs, look back on this list and remind yourself everything happens for a reason, even if you don't see it just yet.
10. Do a little lifting. Giving someone else a lift gives you a lift too. In one study, college students who performed five small acts of kindness a day (such as helping a friend with a paper or visiting an elderly relative) experienced a significant increase in well-being.

What will your five acts of kindness be? Plan two. Then look for three random opportunities to be kind as the day unfolds. If you come across more, keep going! As Gordon says, "Positive energy never decreases by being shared. With each gift, it grows."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dare to Expect

What we usually get from people is what we expect to get. If we expect greatness, we'll get greatness. If we expect mediocrity, we'll get mediocrity.

Good leaders expect the BEST from themselves and their staff. Your expectations play a huge role in your own success and they also have a profound effect on the people around you.

ATTITUDE - What you expect from your staff determines your attitude toward them. And those around you reflect your attitudes right back to you - whether those expectations and attitudes are positive or negative. Attitude out=attitude back.

How many have ever worked for, or known, someone who thinks all staff are there just for a job. They have no motivation and will take advantage of any situation that comes along? Wow - that does sound familiar. If that's what the leader believes - that's what the leader will expect - that's how their staff WILL act.

In ALL relationships with others, develop a positive outlook. One that recognizes that they have the very best of intentions - with no ulterior motives.

Hey! Here's another good reason to be positive and expect the best. According to The Longevity Quotient, by Edward L. Schneider, M.D., "researchers interviewed 800 Minnesota residents to assess and rate their optimism levels, then tracked them for 35 years to see how long they lived." And the results? "Regardless of age or sex, the optimists lived longer. The pessimists died prematurely. In fact, for every 10 percent increase in the pessimism index, there were 20 percent more early deaths." That sounds like a pretty decent reason to think positively.

Communicate your expectations! Let your team know you have faith in them, while they might not yet have enough faith on their own. Knowing your expectations of working toward their best and being a positive influence will carry everyone to higher successes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You ARE Your Staff

You are your staff - Your staff are you. Huh? In other words, the way customers, competition, and your bosses look at you is a direct reflection of your staff . . . and visa versa.

As Lee Cockerell says in his book, Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From a Life at Disney, "your people are your brand". As I've said before, you are not alone. Leadership is not a one way street. If you have remarkable staff, chances are you'll be looked at as remarkable. If you have lazy staff, well, you get the picture.

Just as you would work hard to choose the best materials to create a product or develop the best routine's for your CSRs, you have to choose the right people to create those products and answer those phones. It all really becomes part of your brand - the ability to make the right choices.

Lee uses a great example in his book to illustrate this: "A head chef may be a great culinary artist, but if he or she does not hire the right people, train them well, and inspire them to prepare every single dish perfectly, he or she will quickly end up cooking for one."

A key to your top branding is - hire people with leadership ability and potential. These people think - and perform - differently than your average "it's just a job" employee. They WANT to be there. They WANT to learn and succeed. They WANT the organization to succeed. They'll act as a positive influence on others and help "keep the peace". You think you're stressed? Hire the right people and watch that stress level drop.

Remember - Leadership is not a one man show. You are not alone. You CAN'T be alone. It takes some good planning and smart thinking.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I had a great time last week at the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) Expo in Orlando. It was actually my first time attending, but definitely won’t be my last.

Networking is so important these days for advancement. One of the best ways to network is by joining associations related to your profession. Just about every profession has at least one association. You can connect with people all over the world through the organizations website (blogs, forums, etc).

With membership in the group usually comes an annual meeting or conference. Now you have a great opportunity to “put faces to the names” and meet many more people (and maybe have a nice vacation mixed in).

At this year’s ASTD Expo I was able to meet one of the great “guru’s” in leadership, Ken Blanchard. That was an extreme honor. You know why you always see pictures of him smiling? Because that’s exactly the way he is. I was able to talk to him for just a couple of minutes, but that was all it took to know that he’d be just a pleasure to be around.

I was also able to meet Kevin Eikenberry, Guy Harris, and Becky Robinson of the Kevin Eikenberry Group. Kevin and Guy wrote the remarkable book, From Bud to Boss, which I had the honor of reading, pre-launch, and writing about here on my blog, Twitter, and Linked2Leadership. What fantastic people they are.

So check out your professional associations. You never know what doors it will open or success it will bring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Oh yeah"

This past weekend, right up the street from me in Seminole, FL, we lost a great example of personal “branding”. “Macho Man” Randy Savage suffered a fatal heart attack while driving and hit head on into a tree.

“Macho Man”, as he is affectionately referred to the world around by young and old, grew up in Downers Grove, IL where he dreamed about becoming a baseball player. He would eventually do just that, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds. You don’t remember that? That’s okay. I don’t either. However I do remember “Macho Man” Randy Savage - the wrestler.

After his baseball career took a sudden downfall, Randall Poffo of Downers Grove, IL took to professional (you be the judge) wrestling. He completely re-made himself with a new look, a new name, flamboyant attire, an ‘I will succeed’ attitude, and a flair for business.

Through Savage’s wrestling career, he was a “good guy” and a “bad guy” - but always likeable. But no matter what he did or who he teamed up with (like Hulk Hogan), he’s always going to be remembered as the “Macho Man” – good, bad, or indifferent. He’s still very well known and his image can be seen, and bought, all over the world.

His wrestling career began in 1974 and ran until 2004. “Oh yeah!” Randy Savage knew how to play the game and use it to his advantage.

RIP “Macho Man”.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keep It Fresh

Fresh. Up to date. Renewed. Different. People get tired of the same ole, same ole. Whether you're selling products, services, or your leadership style - you have to keep it fresh.

I remember going to Walt Disney World (WDW) as a child and seeing Tropical Serenade (Tiki Room). The 200 birds, tiki's, and flowers were based on Disneyland's Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room which was the first attraction to ever use Audio-Animatronics (1963). Tropical Serenade opened at WDW in 1971. Over the years it's been updated with new characters and is currently being renovated yet again. It will be opening as Enchanted Tiki Room later this summer.

The point here is that you HAVE to change. You HAVE to update. Tropical Serenade would have fallen by the wayside years ago if Disney had not continued to update it. People return to WDW for years by themselves, with children, and grandchildren, and just like your products and services they have to change with the times in order to stick around for so long or they get too dated and bland.

Leadership is the same way. If you're still "leading" like you were 15-20 years ago, you're out-dated dude. As generations change, leadership styles have to change with them or you won't be nearly as effective as you could be.

Jim Rohn said, "For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better". To do this, you need to READ. Two of the best books I've read lately should be added to your library - From Bud to Boss and 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role. Leadership is not rocket science but you do have to work at it.

Make the move. Step away from the TV. Keep it fresh and up-to-date by reading - and changing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

You Did It? You Fix It.

Have you ever worked for a "leader" that didn't accept blame? It can be extreeeemely frustrating - especially if he turns it back on you.

I believe one of the biggest positive factors in success is having the ability to say, "I did it", "I'm sorry", or just plain, "I screwed up". I've always taken responsibility for my actions and believe it's one of the biggest reasons for my success. I have NEVER tried to push blame onto others. Frankly, that's about the worst thing you can do as a leader. You will NEVER have the respect of your staff if you do.

In Pam Fox Rollins new book, 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role, she says to "ban the blame" and ask "what are we learning from this?" Screw ups are learning experiences, folks. If it was your screw up, "say you were wrong, make repairs, and explain how you're going to ensure it doesn't happen again".

Don't waste time and energy on the blame-game. Hold yourself and your staff accountable. When you come across a problem, use your problem-solving tools to find the root cause as soon as possible. Remember, the actual cause is not always as obvious as it seems.

Immediately acknowledge mistakes, figure out what went wrong and why, fix it, and learn from it. Then all that's left is to mooove on.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Read Your Email

You heard me. Read you email. "But I do", you say. I bet you do it selectively though. Do you look at the emails that impact only your immediate job? The one's that affect what you're doing at that moment?

There are other emails out there. You can usually tell the jokes and the "pass this on" one's just by the subject or even the sender. That's okay. Leave those alone. But email has become an easy, quick, universal way of getting important information out to the masses. Sometimes it's the only way.

Here's a great example of why you need to look a little closer. A friend of mine works at an organization that's recently gone through a major IS project that changed the way that EVERYONE interacts with their computers - new servers, new Windows, version jump in MS Office, etc.

In order to help employee's make this change, one person in the IS department (so they would always know to look for it) had been sending out updates with FAQs to help make the transition a little less "scary". You would think that people would at least take a glance at these communications, if not for any other reason, to see what would be affecting them.

Implementation was postponed THREE times - not because IS wasn't ready - because too many employee's had NOT been reading those emails and literally had no idea what was going on.

My point here is that the world doesn't always revolve around what you're immediately working on. No matter how busy you are (or think you are), instead of looking for specific emails from specific people, open up your "search criteria" so you can see the whole picture. There are other people in your organization trying to get their jobs done also.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's The Little Things

In a recent blog by Mike Reardon, Disney Institute Facilitator, he describes a personal note left in his room by a Marriott Courtyard housekeeper, wishing him a good stay. It made his "whole stay more enjoyable". Funny how some of the most "trivial" things can make such a difference.

Well sometimes it IS just the "little things" that make the biggest difference. That goes for customer service and employee motivation.

About 11 years ago I was walking into the building I worked in and I picked up a piece of trash (as I normally do). My supervisor saw me from her office window and about five minutes after I reached my office she came around the corner, told me she had seen what I'd done, thanked me, and gave me a little "good job" sticker. Not much. Just a sticker. But I really appreciated it. So much so, that I still have it to this day.

Don't ignore good service just because you don't have it "within your budget". Sometimes it's JUST THE LITTLE THINGS that MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Freshen Up

"Freshen up" is one of the headings in Rule 2 in Pam Fox Rollin's new book, 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role: The Manual They Didn't Hand You When You Made VP, Director, or Manager. It comes out the week of May 9th.

As I was reading through my advance copy, Rule 2: Begin Ready, really caught my eye. Pam says, “Shake off your old job (or job hunt), and start the new one rested.” Think about that. How many people actually do that? How many of us go from one job or position to the next by ending one day and starting the next? I believe that’s one of the main reasons that people fail or don’t live up to their expectations. Think Transition!

You really need to have some transition time – especially when going from one position to the next, within your organization. You’re used to doing things a certain way and employee’s are used to seeing you in a certain light. That all changes now. Prior to beginning your new position – especially if it’s into a leadership role - be sure that you complete some research. Not only do you want to check into,
• “the company site,
• blogs, and
• news releases for clues on strategy and culture”,
but also ask yourself what you'll need to do to thrive in your new position and what needs to be done to help your new team succeed. These are all things that will help you effectively get up to speed.

In freshening up, Pam refers to things that you may need to clean up prior to starting – your calendar, car, or relationships. Have you thought of any of this? Take a “reset” vacation. Take some time off to leave behind the old position and rest up and plan for the next.

Becoming a successful leader means more than moving into another office and getting more responsibilities. Whether you’re a new manager or moving into the corner office, pick up a copy of Pam’s book next month (already available on and recognize those things that you hadn’t thought about. You’ll be amazed at just how successful you can be.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's All In The Details

Dick Nunis, former Chairman, Walt Disney Attractions said, "There are two words that make (operations) work around here . . . quality and pride. If you design, build, operate, and maintain with quality, people will take pride in what they do".

It's not enough to design and build. Without proper operation and maintenance there will be no pride - there will be no quality. Whatever you design will ultimately be a wonderful new product, service, or attraction. But what happens when it's just left to tend to itself?

Everyone "picks up trash". In other words, everyone pays attention-to-detail. That goes for all staff, from the CEO to the guy that just started at minimum wage yesterday. Quality and Pride are a part of everybody's job description. It's the entire "show" that, in the end, "wow's" your customers and guests.

React rather than overlook. It's really quite easy. When you approach your customers - smile and greet them. If you see trash on the floor - pick it up. If you see a burned out light - report it. If you see a customer looking confused - help him/her. If you see magazines scattered in the lobby - straighten them. Now how much time does that take? Seconds. You can afford seconds. React rather than overlook.

Your ability to provide attention-to-detail in all respects is the key to delivering that extraordinary experience that will keep your customers coming back.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Leading Happiness

This week I’m attending Disney’s Approach to Quality Service at the Disney Institute at Walt Disney World. In the last couple of days, so far, I’ve learned an incredible amount of proven service traits. I thought I knew a lot about Disney already, but wow, I had only the tip of the iceberg.

Disney is continuously translating Walt’s simple philosophies into successful business strategies.

One of the first things that stood out for me was the simplicity of the Disney Strategy:

- Exceed our Guests’ expectations,

and the Disney Tactic:

- Pay attention to every detail of the delivery.

Again, Wow – just think how successful your organization would be, just by building these two things into your culture.

Research has shown that consumers believe that about 48% of employee’s, collectively, are helpful, but don’t go the extra mile. That’s almost half, folks! If the same survey was completed, specifically, at Disney Parks, I’d be willing to bet that that percentage would be WAY less than that. Where would your employee’s fall in that same survey?

How many of you REALLY pay attention to detail? Don’t just look at things that you know your customers will see. Disney thinks that it’s better if Guests DON’T notice something rather than notice something that’s out of place or not up to standards.

For those of you who have been to the Magic Kingdom, have you ever noticed the hitching posts on Main Street? Most people I ask that of haven’t noticed them. That’s because they’re painted every night. If they weren’t, Guests would notice scratches and chips. It’s better that they aren’t noticed.

The next time you watch a Disney/Pixar movie, pause it here and there and take note of everything you see. There’s an abundance of visuals in there for everyone.

Exceeding expectations and paying attention to detail . . . two things that will make the difference between success and mediocrity.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vision At Any Age

I'm honored to have for a guest post, Kevin Eikenberry, author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group . His new book, co-authored with Guy Harris, From Bud to Boss – Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership launched on February 15, 2011. When you buy the book this week (through Friday), you'll be able to access valuable gifts from Kevin and Guy’s partners.

While I’ve never worn any sort of corrective lenses, at my age, I am becoming increasingly more aware of my vision.

Things that were once perfectly clear are now sometimes hazy. I once took my vision for granted; now it is becoming harder to do so. (Before you all give me the name of your optometrist, know that a new eye exam is already on my list.)

In a literal sense if you don’t see something you can’t react to it – if I am driving and don’t see the deer in the road clearly I can’t apply my brakes or otherwise try to avoid it.

The vision I am writing about today is just as literal, but far less obvious. In fact it might be something you’ve never thought about before now.

If you have ever purchased a new car (or a new one to you) you have probably experienced this situation: when you drove it off the lot and as you drove for the next several weeks, didn’t it seem like your car is everywhere! You had no idea Honda even made that color, but now you see your car model and color everywhere you go.

Now logic would tell you that these people didn’t all conspire and buy the very same car the very same day you did. But didn’t it sort of feel that way?

Of course those cars were on the road before, you just didn’t see them.

The reason for this phenomenon is something in your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS works as a filter between your all-noticing and very powerful subconscious and your far-less-powerful conscious mind.

When you bought your car your conscious mind told your subconscious that these cars were important to you. So, dutifully, your subconscious with the help of the RAS let you “see” your car like never before – on the road, on the television and even hearing ads on the radio and noticing it being discussed in everyday conversation.

The fact is the RAS allows you to see exactly what you are looking for.

Stop and read that sentence again.

If the RAS allows you to see what you are looking for, then perhaps the most important vision question for us all is … “What am I looking for?”

You are looking for what you are seeing!

Let me get less esoteric.

Have you ever left a movie and talked with someone about it, and through your conversation it seemed like you saw two completely different movies? You each noticed different things, cared about different things and were moved in different ways by different parts of the film? Since we each have our own powerful RAS filters, this is easy to understand. Each person sees what his/her brain was looking for and therefore “wanted” to see.

Let me make this more useful for leaders and high performers:

Feedback. Most people realize that positive feedback is important (if you don’t think so, think again!). The challenge most people find in giving more positive feedback is finding the positive things to comment on. Challenges and problems will always be there, and they will always be noticed. However, if you want to give more positive feedback and support, you need to first adjust your vision! You must begin looking for what people are doing well. Once you adjust your vision, you will see these things everywhere.

Challenges. Many people look at every situation and see only the problem. They see all the reasons things can go wrong; all the cracks in the concrete. Some people look at the situation, and while recognizing the problems, see all the opportunities and notice possible solutions. It all starts with the choice of how to use your powerful RAS and to look for what we want to find. Would you rather find problems or solutions? Which are you looking for?

World view. Many people will tell you to stop watching the news, it will only bring you down. While I agree that a huge inflow of negative images isn’t what you want to continually plant in your brain, you must recognize the power of the RAS here too.

When you watch the news, what do you see and hear? Remember your RAS is helping you filter those words and images. Some people see opportunity, some see strife. Some see change, some see chaos. Some see recession, others, recovery. In every case, the same words create different visions for every person – based on what you are looking for.

These are just three examples, I could cite many more, but these hopefully will open your mind (and your RAS) to think about your context differently and allow you to choose to see the things you want to see in your life.

A final and very important note: while your RAS works most of the time without you even noticing, it is important to remember that you can choose what you want to look for, and therefore improve the chances you will see it.

If you aren’t seeing what you want, adjust your vision and make some new choices.

So, what do you see?

Potential Pointer: To create the future you want you must have a clear vision – and you must be able to see the world you want to create. You can make choices that will allow you to correct your vision and see the opportunities and situations that will lead you to your desired future.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Launch Day!

As I've mentioned before, I've had the great opportunity to receive and read an advance copy of From Bud to Boss. Over the last couple of weeks I've been writing and tweeting about it as I've found it to be a VERY refreshing look at what it takes, when promoted, to leave the "bud" mentality behind and gain the "boss" mentality.

Not having the knowledge for proper change is the biggest obstacle to becoming a successful leader. Change can be many things in different situations. As Kevin and Guy discuss in their book, "people who are feeling good about something that is changing in their lives will generally look more favorably on other changes at the same time and soon thereafter". Promotion means people believe in you. Believe in yourself and the change "from bud to boss" and in other things in your life will come so much easier. Living up to the challenge of leading your former peers doesn't have to be as stressful as some people make it out to be.

In this book you'll find all of the tools you need to become a great boss, whether you're just beginning or have been a leader for some time. The information is easily understood. They even make sense of the popular DISC model!

To celebrate today's launch of From Bud to Boss, authors Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris are offering great gifts including the chance to win a Kindle - . So go to your favorite online bookseller today and purchase the book that really will make a difference in your life.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Great Scott!!!

I've had a great opportunity to preview a new book that's already making a lot of "buzz" around the leadership community. From Bud To Boss is a title you're going to want to get whether you're a new OR seasoned supervisor. From Bud To Boss covers, in a new refreshing light, everything you need to succeed, including why and how you need to change, and the commitment you need to succeed.

Now here's the kicker - Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris' new book, From Bud to Boss, launches on February 15th. To celebrate the launch, they're offering special bonuses to people who purchase the book on the day of the launch. These bonuses include FREE content from a variety of partners who are promoting the launch. To take advantage of these bonuses when you buy the book, be sure to visit the special links - I'll be posting them when provided. Be sure to join the new Bud to Boss Community to be connected with a wealth of resources about how to be a better leader every day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

BELIEVE in Yourself - As Others Do

Every time I think of the word, BELIEVE, I can't help but think of Josh Groban's song from the movie, The Polar Express. By the end of the movie the boy believes in Santa, Christmas, good unto others . . . and himself. Wouldn't it be great if everyone just believed in themselves.

I've had the privilege of reviewing Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris's new book,"From Bud to Boss" (due out Feb 15) and before I even got into the meat and potatoes of the book, something struck me right off the bat. When you're chosen to become your organizations next supervisor a couple things have happened:
  • someone in your organization has thought you're able to succeed, and
  • people who care about you thought you can succeed.
Those are things new supervisors don't always think about. They just take the promotion and kind of move on.

Those are two very important aspects to promotion but the thing that Kevin and Guy go on to discuss is the need for YOU to BELIEVE in YOURSELF and your ABILITY to SUCCEED. Without your own belief, success is going to be much more difficult - if it happens at all.

I've known a few people who have fit right into this category. Everyone knew that they could be great leaders, but they lacked just ONE thing . . . their belief in themselves. Most of them returned to their previous position, while one actually ended up quitting.

Do yourself a favor. Get on Amazon, Borders, B&N, whatever - and purchase "From Bud to Boss". BELIEVE in yourself, LEARN from others, and become the successful leader you're cut out to be.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Every now and then when I receive exceptional customer service, I like to pass the story on.

My wife (Judy) and I stopped at a local KFC last night to get a 12-piece Family Meal - we had a $3 off coupon. We ordered from the drive-up and got our food very promptly. Sounds good so far, right?

Well, we got home and started sorting things out and found that we'd been given the 10-piece Family Meal instead. We should have thought something was up when we got the order so quickly (it was on special).

Anyway. Judy got on the phone and called the manager at the KFC. He was very cordial, apologized and told her he'd give us what we were missing if we'd want to come back - plus something extra for having to return.

After diner we did return and picked up the extra pieces of chicken and biscuit's (we were shorted 2 of each). PLUS he gave us 6 of the most delicious chocolate chip cookies (yes, we shared with the kids). Chocolate chip cookies may not sound like much to some, but it's not something he HAD to do.

What may have turned out to be a very negative experience and the last time we went to that KFC store - and probably would have been - turned out to be a positive experience and kept us as customers.

It doesn't always take an extravagant form of service to make people happy. All you have to do is show you actually do care about your customers.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Take A Culture

When staff speak and understand the language of their organization’s culture, they know how to behave in the organization and what’s expected of them. How’s YOUR culture?

Founders of organizations can have a profound – and long lasting - effect on the organizations culture. But so can you, the leader. You, along with your counterparts, have an ability to hold onto that culture or to mold a brand new one.

A founder’s own values guide the building of the company. He/she has substantial influence on the values, norms, and standards of behavior that develop over time. That’s typically a good thing. But what happens once the founder is gone?

Creator and President of Wendy’s, Dave Thomas, resigned from his day-to-day operations in 1982. However, by 1985, several company business decisions and loss of brand awareness and organizational culture urged the new president to bring Thomas back into an active role with Wendy's. He began to visit franchises and promote his hardworking, “mop-bucket attitude” - something that hadn’t been seen since he left. New management just didn’t keep up with the successful culture of the organization.

Marty Sklar, former Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, said, "From the beginning, starting with Walt Disney, we have had five things that make me proud to be part of this Company: high-quality products, optimism for the future, great storytelling, an emphasis on family entertainment and great talent, passion and dedication from our Cast Members." This has been the Disney culture from Walt, through the Michael Eisner years, and now with Bob Iger.

In the case of Wendy’s, new leadership allowed the culture to change - for the worse. With Disney, they recognized a good thing and stuck with it. A saying they have at Disney Traditions sums it up the best – “We don’t put people in Disney, we put Disney in people.” Do the same with your organization.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Soccer-Mom Communication

Next time you’re on any of the social networks or your email, take a look at the differences in writing styles (linguistics). Who writes “softer” and who writes “harder”? Without sounding sexist . . . I bet you’ll find there’s a difference between women and men.

Gender differences are evident in the ways that women and men use email and other types of electronic forms of communication – such as social networks. For example, Susan Herring, a researcher at Indiana University, has found that in public electronic forums such as message boards, Facebook, Twitter, etc., men tend to make stronger assertions, be more sarcastic, and be more likely to use insults and profanity than women, while women are more likely to be supportive, agreeable, and polite.

David Silver, a researcher at the University of Washington, has found that women are more expressive communicators in the social media arena and encourage others to express their thoughts and feelings, while men are more brief and to the point.

Of course these are just general tendencies, evident in MANY women and men, not in ALL women and men. But before you go assigning someone as your organization’s social media writer/poster, take a good hard look at their writing and communication styles. The best choice may not be the CEO’s long-time male speech-writer. It just may be the soccer-mom admin assistant you just hired.