Monday, November 29, 2010
Bill Parcels had a way of motivating his players by antagonising them. He tempered them to the point that they chose to succeed in spite of him....when they won, he won. Coach Parcels has been profoundly misunderstood. The only shots you see are those of him yelling at his Quarterback after the drive that put them up 4 TD's.
Phil Simms told the story of having played one of the best games of his career after which Coach Parcels discussed with him the potential areas of improvement. Phil felt deflated for giving his best effort, winning, yet receiving no recognition....he told the coach to get lost. To which Coach Parcels responded:
"It pains me to see that my expectations for you are greater than your own"
The Key To Success is to always ask more of yourself than any one else does. To exceed the expectations of others you have to set your own goals higher. To look at your quota, double the number and make that the norm.
Every Company has their Elder Statesman....the guy (or gal) who welcomes you to the company and tells you how 'things are done around here'. This is known as abuse of tenure. The reaction of most 'up and comers' to this altering regulation is usually inspired courage; not because of the Elder Statesmen but in spite of him.
Allow Not The Past to Dictate the Future
Estimate Impossible Revenue Goals (and Double Them)!
The only reason anyone advises you of what is possible in any given profession is to regulate you. Allow not yourself to be regulated. People will tell you of their extraordinary past achievements to show you a line in the sand. Leap the line. We all know that acquisition of knowledge can take a while. One must learn his/her trade and market. As you grow and progress don't allow yourself to regress based on the ill advising of others. The only reason others tell you about the past is because they want to preserve it. Break The Mold.
How do you maximize your plan? Look at the number, put metrics in place to get there incrementally and proceed each day with said plan in mind. Look at the expectation, determine its reality and redefine. Set check points along the way, leave yourself notes and stay the course.
Know this....if you are going to restructure the standard there are no days off, achievement must be measured every day and you have to out work everyone. First to work, last to leave. Are you ready to accept that challenge?
So you have put the past behind, committed to winning on a higher scale and now you have to believe it is possible. There is not an achievement that can be put into motion without a belief in yourself. Doubt will creep in, use it to better prepare. Most people will discourage your effort, find courage in the weakness of your detractors. There are no limits. You can achieve anything. You simply have to walk into every day with fierce determination and sustain it!
Are you ready to redefine possible?
Can you commit yourself to every day?
Progress will have new metrics when you are through!
There are 25 work days left in 2010! Go To Work!
Don't Forget to Remember!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
There have been a lot of come backs in 2010. Tiger Woods emerged from the darkness of his Gigolo soul to play the worst golf of his career. Michael Vick did time in Federal Prison only to present himself as an MVP candidate. Brett Farve seemed to have another season in him but he should have hung it up while he was ahead.
Yesterday Kanye West dropped My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I expected a self-realized apology to the little girl he beat up at the MTV rewards show. I got no explanation but an unapologetic mission statement: I am who I am and if you don't like it....
Tiger, Mike, Brett and Kanye all have faced the unenviable task of acknowledging their mistakes. In some cases like this people seek revenge: who called my bluff? After their resistance subsides they do some internal analysis, realize the human tendency to make mistakes and take accountability. They get back to work and seek to redeem themselves. Retribution always works better than revenge. In the midst of our shame we get sick of hearing ourselves talk, lace up the cleats and get back to playing ball. We shut up and let the results speak for themselves. We slowly get back to who we are. We curse ourselves, learn from our mistakes and vow not to repeat them.
A friend recently told me he was at the lowest point of his professional career. To which I explained to him that he was the perfect consultant to any company:
How can I understand your challenges if I have not been challenged myself
How can I propose solutions if I have not been burned and risen from the ashes
Brother and Sisters, we are going to make errors in judgement! We may forget our phone at home or do something more extreme. The worst thing we can do in light of our errors is blame others or make excuses. The best thing we can do is admit we screwed up, apologize and move on. People are disappointed by excuses. People are encouraged by results through redemptive effort.
Celebrity misbehavior aside, we have to acknowledge that it is better to take action and learn from the practice than to sit back a criticize others. We love reality TV because we like to see people do stupid things and criticize their actions....and for once it is not us who is on the spot. We love to see celebrities fall because we can point fingers to the fact that no one is perfect...and go on being imperfect.
This Thanksgiving instead of superficial reflection your 'luck', reflect on your short comings and set a course to retribution. The key to perfection is learning from your actions without repeating your mistakes. It is time to move forward with grander expectations by being accountable for the results. Better to know how to find success than to look at your failures and 'hope' to get back to success. Luck becomes less significant when you have discipline....a process, a strategy, initiative and the ability to carry out the plan.
"...the plan was to drink until the pain was over but what's worse: the pain or the hangover..."
- Kanye West
Don't Forget to Remember!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sitting at a conference last week the person next to me turned and said, "why would we care about this?". She didn't know me but she was aware that I could have cared less about the subject matter. The real issue lies in the fact that the speaker failed to recognize what everyone else felt apparent.
Every great Quarterback knows how to read the defense and to call an audible where necessary. As a speaker, presenter, salesperson or conversationalist you have to adapt. Read your audience and adjust your message accordingly.
I have a few confidants that assist in my development as a professional. They do not work for me or with me but we face similar challenges. Our conversations often drift from standardized sales process to human theory. We discover that as we mature as human beings our process becomes less important than our intent. We discover that it is less important to know your product and more important to know your audience...and to differentiate a solution accordingly.
Here are the Keys to Differentiation:
Apply by Situation
Tell a Story
Two Ears & One Mouth
I used to think that possessing the 'gift of gab' was the key to being an admirable professional...I could not have been more wrong! If you walk into an office dressed sharp, pull up a fancy PowerPoint and start laser pointing your outstanding features the reaction of your audience will be two fold:
The precept that you are insanely self-centered
The Charlie Brown Teacher Scenario
I use every introduction to a person as an opportunity to learn as much about them as possible. Ask 20 questions, retain 3 or 4 key facts and work them into your next conversation. Likewise, with a prospective customer, listen to their pain points and articulate your solution to them in a meaningful follow up conversation.
Just for YOU
People are startled when you meet with them a month later and recite things they have mentioned..."you have a great memory", they may say. If you site an entry from this blog in conversation with me you can guarantee my attention.
People exist to have their thoughts validated and addressed. Take in as much information as possible before your propose what you can do for someone.
Expertise is a silly myth. A book cannot tell me what you face in your corporate environment. You have to know the applicable nature of your products and services, the according scalability and how to uniquely apply a prescription for the pain.
We have a customer who we assisted in a similar situation...
I just read a piece that mentioned a similar conundrum...
I walked into an office just last week....
We are 5 times more likely to remember a solution when framed in a real life situation. Get good at story telling.
The way to convey confidence is to address people in direct terms by showing you have listened to them. Hogwash only matters if you are bathing pigs. Your ability to be a skilled professional lies in your ability to convey your human understanding.
Don't Forget to Remember!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In "Delivering Happiness", Tony Hsieh describes a moment in the bar when he asked his soon-to-be COO what it would take to make a Billion dollars. Keith Ferrazzi describes a moment after the "Who's Got Your Back" book tour when he finally allowed himself to celebrate his achievements. Even Gordon Gecko stated that life comes down to a few defining moments.
Where we sit today, we are on the presuppose of greatness...I said that.
It is true, exciting and incredibly important to understand that the hard times may have finally sunset. The stars finally aligning, things falling into place, a lucky break. The reason for it needs not be described but it is time for the fruits of our labor to be piled on our collective drive ways in all of their organic goodness.
Some have lost houses, others their jobs and a few more their marriages. It has been a rough few years. We survived, we are wiser for it and now it's time to move forward.
This is the point in the movie when our hero gets his reward when he least expects it. I want to remind you of a few things:
Nice Guys Finish First
Constant Effort IS a Defensible Strategy
It's OK to Believe
Your Time Will Come
"I too will have my day in the hot sun"
- Nacho Libre
Every dog has his day. It does not matter how many bad decisions you have made, the black cloud that follows you or your miscast career choices. If you endure with genuine intent you will win.
I have come across some tremendous assholes in my career. Today, a few of them are unemployed. Taking short cuts at the expense of others lasts for but a few fleeting moments. Over time the pretenders are revealed as such. Karma is a bitch.
The Working Man (is not) A Sucker!
I was introduced to a book called "Hope is Not a Strategy" - the theme is logical in it's intent. The premise is deflating.
I am the first to say that you have to follow up strategically, determine your target market and deliver a credible message. But all of that has to be driven with the intent that something meaningful is possible. To know that you can excel in every step of business strategy and still care enough to believe that you are forging something special.
There is a God, Santa Claus is coming to town and the war is over (if you need it).
You are stronger than you will ever realize, the world is a kind and forgiving place and everyone needs a little luck.
It's OK to admit you are wrong and I'm sorry if things didn't work out the way you planned. But, we're back! The past is forgiven, the future is limitless and you deserve to be Happy!
Don't Forget to Remember!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Why would anyone want to be a politician? To have your personal life opened up, to play audience to special interest groups and lobbyist, to constantly be under a microscope, for every decision to be questioned by the less talented...all for much less money than you made as a business leader?
As The Great Jesse Ventura put it, "If Not Me, Then Who?"
My skepticism of the position vs The Governor's optimism makes the case pretty clear:
There is Nothing Easy About Progress!
If everything was easy, we would all be drunk in the town square every day, celebrating our Utopia. We have all learned in recent times that the hours of thankless effort far exceed those spent celebrating in the sunshine. Therein lies our challenge. To put our heads down and progress knowing that the gold stars may be few and far between.
To develop the ability to win in the face of constant adversity with diminishing rewards is a task that less than 25% of American workers are willing to accept. When faced with the challenge of being Genuinely Engaged in your career you can ask yourself but one question:
"If Not Me, Then Who?"
Develop Metrics for Progress Beyond Results
Find Other Avenues
Know That the Willingness to Try Eliminates 75% of Your Competition
Encouragement in All Forms
In a recent survey I conducted regarding workforce engagement, respondents indicated that encouragement from one's peers is equally as important as that from one's manager. This is often because a Manager is caught up in finish line results...that's what pays the bills. There are metrics beyond revenue to get to revenue that when encouraged properly can produce long term success. Whereas, short term revenue may be a stroke of luck or a quick fix product dump.
It is vastly important for organizations to understand business critical behaviors more than just the results they produce. It is even more important to develop programming and training that enriches such behaviors instead of just analyzing results and brow beating assumed under-performers.
The Definition of Insanity
We have identified that life in business is not fair, especially in a floundering economy. Still businesses increase prices, increase quotas and figure that margins will justify themselves in accordance. The thought being....we don't need to produce if we can adjust what we currently have to make up for our lack of production. As such, your loyal customers suffer, your account support spends all day explaining unilateral decision making and your sales people make up for their lack of ability by selling the wrong products & services at the wrong prices to the wrong people....this is exactly how NOT to run a business.
We have to produce by means of DAILY development. Your goals are cemented, how you get there is up to you. Find new ways to penetrate the market, up-sell current customers, develop products and add value.
You can walk into a wall, run into a wall or find a pick axe and bust a whole in it.
A study by HR Solutions indicated that 25% of the workforce are engaged in their work. This seems like a high number. This means only 1 in 4 workers even care about the work they do....what an opportunity! If you know three quarters of the people you walk by every day don't even want to be part of the game, it should be really easy to win. All you really need to do is show up and care.
The odds are steep, the rewards diminishing and the future uncertain. The easy thing to do is give up. If you do then you open the door for the less skilled to take what is yours simply by default.
It is time to no longer accept what we cannot change and change it! To ignore the statistics that serve only to demotivate you, to set your own course, to derive hope from the ambivalence of others.
Show up, find a way and never stop moving forward!
Don't Forget to Remember!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I never understood the touchdown dance...to achieve through determined action and then perform a ballet seems contradictory. I have had my moments of arrogance and I regret them. Worse than failing, is winning and tarnishing your trophy. If you read this blog you know I am anything but traditional. There is, however, a time for respect. A nod to the effort of those you beat down is probably a good Karma measure. Not everybody wins, Capitalism is the American Dream, and respect is not deserved to those who mail it in.
We cannot evolve without those around us who accelerate our effort. The spirit of competition is to push one's self beyond the thershold as a benefit from those with whom you compete. I have spent my greatest moments of achievement alone (and I assure you they have been monumental in scope). I am grateful for that!
Here are 3 ways to Win Gracefully:
Understand the Benefit of Your Work
Replicate the Process
Reward Not the Uncaring
What Got You Here
You won! You gave your full effort to a task, achieved and have progressed from it. Reflect on it......!
Don't throw your hands up or dance...take a breath and to yourself celebrate that achievement!
Learn and Earn
It is difficult to hold off the celebration and retrace your steps when you win...but it is important. To understand the process of your effort, to find the pillars and to make them part of your strategy. You would be surprised how impressive a rehearsed routine can be if presented properly. Point by point procedure is a gateway to production.
Retrace the path to success and replicate it!
No Orange Peels
...let's not confuse the situation. If you put no admirable effort forward, you deserve not a pat on the back. If you busted your hump and fell short, you need not be over critical of yourself!
You need not pick up your rivals when they fall. You don't have to shake hands if you're pissed. There is nothing wrong with being distraught for not measuring up. I will take the guy who does not accept failure (regardless of qualification) over he who smiles in defeat, every day!
Pin your opponent, score the game winning touchdown, win the million dollar deal...and give yourself a few moments to take it all in!
Congratulations! You Deserve It!
Don't Forget to Remember!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
– Winston Churchill
This quote from Sir Winston presents simple terms that address the most difficult conundrum anyone can face:
Dealing with Failure
There are 2 categories for those who have been challenged and have fallen short:
Those mired in self pity who never challenge themselves again
Those who put on a facade to present themselves as bullet proof
It's Not My Fault
Do you know someone who is consistently angry? Every day sucks because they wake up with the foresight of dread. From the minute they walk out the door they project their discontent on others so they never have to be accountable to themselves again. They use negativity to provoke others prepared to respond because they cannot stand to see another smile.
Don't allow these folks to suck you in...they are the cowards who have tried, failed and cannot bear to face disappointment again.
The Smile Guy
Do you see that person in the office that always smiles, that laughs at all your jokes, that folds his hands properly in his lap when the boss speaks (nodding in approval). I get it, sometimes you need unflappable positivity to navigate the overwhelming negativity that others will heap upon you.
It can be said, however, that those who find the positive in everything may be just as cowardly as the person who blames everyone else. If you never hold anyone accountable, odds are you will be trampled at every turn.
Don't be the Fault Deflector or the Smile Guy....find the strategic medium:
Develop Candid Relationships
Find the Solution
Touch All The Bases
You have to carry the weight...every day. Accept that you will quarterback every task, every day. Know that those helping you will try and fail. Be willing to be the focal point. Out work everyone: your partners, your managers, your support staff.
Be Humble in Victory and Accountable in Defeat. Never deflect blame or brag over accomplishments. Every game has a critical turn....the person who drove the victory or is responsible for the defeat knows who they are (as does everyone else).
Wake Up Call
You cannot advise someone without their respect. If someone is failing and they are continually badgered they will continually ignore advice. We all face our pivotal moments, usually a reflection of some hard words from someone who loves us dearly.
It is difficult to tell a friend they have hit their bottom. You have to have relationships within which you can tell those who are falling how to get back up in light of their ignorance to reality.
Solutions Not Excuses
Don't be the smiley guy, don't ignore misconduct with a smile, don't pretend you can wish away the inefficiency. But, stay upbeat!
You don't have to smile and laugh loud to be positive. You DO have to find a solution in everything. Save time arguing your point to prove your personal relevance and find a gateway to progress. No one cares who forgot the copies if you win the deal. Put aside the insignificant, think big picture, be adaptable, don't show your cards and accept nothing other than victory.
Let it be known that a person's character shines greatest in their moments of discontent....it is easy to smile when you are winning!
You cannot grow without failure. If you win all the time you might be selective in the challenges you accept. Break the mold, continue to develop and never compromise.
We Can Do This!
Don't Forget to Remember!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
There is a spreading epidemic: Competitive Paranoia Syndrome (CPS). CPS is an affect of the lack of strategic purpose due to concerns over what one's competitors are doing in the market place. Of course, it is healthy to know your opponents and to formulate a strategy that pits your strengths against their weaknesses. But, if you are consistently concerned over what 'they' are doing, you will lose focus on what 'you' should be doing.
In the great sport of football research and development has become a prominent department. Players and coaches alike spend a dedicated portion of every day studying their opponent's playbook. In reaction, some teams completely change their playbook every week. Other teams know their opponents know their plays...and run them anyway! That's Right, if 'you' do what 'you' do very well, what 'they' know means nothing.
So here's the premise: Execute Your Strategy (and disregard what the competition knows)
1. Your competition has an edge only if you haven't prepared properly
2. Don't disparage the other team
3. Competition is everywhere
If you are concerned that your competition has an edge you haven't prepared properly. Out game them! Address client needs within the context of your differentiating skills and knowledge. In the lost moments that you obsess over your competition's philandering tactics you could have been out prepping them.
Concentrate on what you are good at, show your clients what you can do, and work candidly to develop a fit. Dishonesty is transparent! There is never an edge in underhanded tactics.
Talk Is Cheap
Prospects need to trust you. They may bait you with the question of what differentiates you from the other guys. Responding by trashing the competition breaks your trust with the prospect. Don't do it.
Tell the prospect what you are good at and allow them to evaluate the other guys. If they play dirty, you will win.
It's Not Just Them
You compete against other vendors, the prospect, your constituents, your management team, the market, your family, alternative solutions, and everyone you come across.
You don't think everyone has ulterior motives? You don't think everyone who intends well for you won't provoke your competitive nature to ignite your full potential? You don't think your prospect wants your fullest commitment?
Wake Up Man....competition is everywhere. You need to put your game face on, perform and win! Accept not defeat! It's you against the world. You don't have to be mean spirited...but you do need to look out for YOUR best interest! Be the best you can be, drive the process and proceed with class.
No one trusts a slick talker and talking bad about others will only reveal your insecurity. Drive the bus and you will eventually shake the hangers on!
Don't Forget to Remember!
Monday, November 1, 2010
More often than not when people see my last name I get one of the following responses:
Where are you from?
What Nationality are you?
Is that Russian?
To which I respond: I'm from California, the nation I represent is America and I'm not Russian but I love Vodka (being that we're playing the stereotype game).
Frankly, I found my culture on La Pera circle in the early 80's. Karen Hunter, Gabe Rowland and the Walker Brothers were my countrymen. We started playing ball on our block and when we were old enough we ventured a few blocks over to challenge those kids in a game of touch football. We banned together, we looked out for one another, we took pride in our block and no one was f-ing with us. We didn't need a flag to fly or a discernible physical commonality; it was in the air. If you came on our block you had to get through the guard to play kick ball.
The culture I subscribed to was created by me and my friends and it meant more to me than the songs of my forefathers or the meals my Grandmother made. So, It stands to reason that in evolution from our names, skin colors or gender; there is a climate to our lives that focuses on now not then. In example, it can be said that the place you work is a culture in-and-of-itself.
A lot has been said about organizational culture of late and this is one HR trend that I believe in. Without question, if you can create an engaging environment between the four walls of any office, satisfaction is guaranteed.
So what do you need to do to create an Engaging Organizational Culture:
* Core Values
* Metrics for Success that Reflect the Population
* Action Oriented Leadership
How Do You Spell Integrity?
Recite your organization's core values...How many people can actually do it? My guess is not many and that is a shame. Take away departmental goals, rank, tenure & the Core Values of any organization are what level the playing field.
Core Values fail to engage for two reasons:
They are too broad
Middle Managers have failed to interpret them to in a meaningful way
I would bet that 80% of organizations have Integrity and/or Accountability as a core value. The extended definition is honesty, the most important professional characteristic any one can possess, why don't we understand that? If as a Manager you cannot explain to your team why honesty is important you are mis-cast. Traditionally, what you will hear from Middle Managers is, "its a core value, its important to our Chairman, know the definition". What a waste!
The definition of engagement is knowing the significance organizational core values have to YOUR role in the company.
* If you can differentiate the company mission to your own success you are guaranteed to find personal significance in every day....within the goals of the organization.
Know Your People
As a consultant people ask me, "as an expert, what would you recommend to improve our culture?". How should I know, it's YOUR company. If you don't know what the people who work for you want, how can I help you? If I offer industry best practices that are not applicable to the people who walk your halls, you are simply re-manufacturing more mediocrity...that's what got you into this mess in the first place:
- Don't worry about being safe
- Make it meaningful
- Make it fun
Detachment is not a Strategy
How often do our Leaders work from a 10,000 foot view? Of course, our CEO cannot be in Kansas every month to opinion poll the Transportation Supervisor. But, there are a few ways to get the real facts:
- Use your Open Door Policy as a means for improvement not to judge who is un-coachable
- Engage real conversation with people at all levels to get 'real' feedback
- Take the formality out of Organizational Input
Surveys are tough because I know that even though they are framed as 'confidential', someone above me will be looking at my feedback and judging me accordingly. This is not the fault of the CEO or the individual contributor but rather an affect of insecure Middle Managers. (see a trend developing here?)
You have to develop a culture of trust! To know that I can give you feedback and you can discern if I am bitching or actually interested in evolving organizational objectives. How can we do this?
- Look for hard facts to accompany the (sob) story
- Ask how the 'problem' effects the Organizational Mission
- Share feedback instead of burying it
- Help redirect instead of judging
In Summation (without assuming):
It doesn't matter what you look like, how you talk or what your life goals might be. If I can ask everyone to find the pot of gold on the same treasure map, our goals are laid out for us. Different teams may take different routes but in the end we all find the treasure.
Create a Mission and help each of us understand it's significance to our own lives. Stop asking for feedback if you are not going to use it to evolve organizational goals! Create team goals that reflect our input and strategize accordingly.
Don't Forget to Remember!