Monday, January 31, 2011

The Employee Purpose Perspective

The catch phrase "employee engagement" has already become an over-used commodity. That's what we do. We grab on to a catch phrase and seek to wish it into existence. We buy a worn out strategy and hope for unique results.

Everyone wants employee benefits like Google. Everyone wants a corporate culture like Zappos. So they invite a team of consultants in, pay them a ton of money and say, "make my company like Google".

Newsflash: Google, Zappos and all great organizations got that way by taking chances. They did not ask for 'best practices', they created their own. They did not seek to copy a company culture, they took time to understand their employees and create relevance for them.

In the book Linchpin, Seth Godin challenges us to create an indispensable personal value by utilizing our irreplaceable skill. The Blue Ocean Strategy focuses not on bloodying the water in a competitive shark fight but to eliminate competition by charting new waters. Students go to Harvard to 'create careers' not to qualify themselves for a top paying 'job'.

There are no easy answers, there are no expert consultants, and there is no such thing as best practices. I cannot put a 'one size fits all' business plan on your desk and expect to change your organization. You have to try harder. You have to put aside perceived standards and roll up your sleeves. You have to challenge yourself to get up from your desk, get out into your hallways, and find the "IT" that exists there like no where else.

If you are not willing to do the emotional work....your company will never change. Stop wasting your money by paying an outsider to create the next soon-to-be irrelevant catch phrase. Stop paying people to energize your team with temporary motivation. Stop telling your employees to read a book in hope of creating a common organizational purpose.

Over the next several weeks we will review the roadmap for The Employee Purpose Perspective. A challenging 7 step self-analysis that any organization must invest themselves in to create a purpose driven culture. While the execution will be difficult, the premise is simple:
1. Collaboration not competition
2. Purposeful intent creates cultural perspective
3. Organizational initiatives must have personal relevance
4. Every directive must have a unique value proposition
5. Reward the willingness to embrace the impossible
6. Extend a personal mission to each employee
7. Professional purpose is a willingness to fulfill personal desire

Sound Impossible? Good! Let's start thinking about what is impossible and use the aforementioned 7 step process to make it reality.

If you are not ready to dedicate yourself to investigating what today seems completely unachievable, you cannot change your organizational culture.

The only way to enhance employee engagement is to do a deep dive into your culture and enhance daily.

There are no perfect metrics, no case studies, no benchmarking, no references, no best practices and a finish line does not exist. You will have to throw down your crutches and sprint through this process, every day!

If you are willing to change your organization, the lives of your employees, and the world for the better; stay tuned to this blog. If you are looking for easy answers, unsubscribe.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Love & Glory

At a certain point, I came to discover that two things matter:
Love & Glory

You know the joy of triumph. You may find it in the strumming of an acoustic guitar, the words of your beloved, the thrill of victory, the taste of fine wine, as tears roll with movie credits or in viewing your child's foot from their crib.

Brothers and Sisters, we cannot forget these moments in time, for tomorrow they will be gone!

Winning is the accumulation of effort fueled by the strife of our loved ones. We stop feeling sorry for ourselves, leave the front door into darkness and go hunting for what is rightfully ours. Effort and determination ignited by the divine truth that we deserve to be happy.

Love and Glory are ours to experience: Not to force but to forge...Not to assimilate but to realize.

So if you are in strife, you need to remember this:
* When you meet your wife, you will know instantly
* Your effort when coupled with stamina will ALWAYS produce success
* The best way to avoid disappointment is to do only those things that you believe in

I've been waiting for you
When I was a wayward bachelor my friend's told me - "don't worry, when you meet 'the one' you will know". Sounded stupid at the time but sure enough when I met my wife...I knew.

You have to have a certain amount of belief in this life. That nothing is impossible, that the level by which you achieve can be raised every single day, that there is such a thing as magic, and that fate has brought you to this page at this moment for a divine purpose.

If you let your mind overwhelm your heart you are going to miss your wife as she walks past you...only catching the scent of her perfume.

Effort (is not) everything
In a perfect world your results would be a measure of your effort. The world is imperfect. Some times you work your ass off and you get outsmarted, your game plan is misconstrued, you get too caught up in the details.

The definition of character is trying, failing and understanding how to grow from it!

You have to fill your heart with determination and let that carry your effort. You also have to develop an ability keep your cheeks dry when you lose.

I can tell you with great certainty that the winners are those you develop an ability to see opportunity in disappointment.

Square Pegs
Some times you try and fail and try again without results....this may be because you are miscast. I will never be a calligrapher...I simply don't possess the ability. I could write and draw and trace and never have perfect penmanship. I have owned that. I know what I am good at and that which will never be a possibility for me.

With effort you can achieve anything. But your effort is best directed (and your life benefited) when you perform that which your skill set addresses directly.

Working Hard is the American Dream. Working Smart is the understanding of your skill set. Finding what you are meant to do and dedicating yourself to it is living your true human potential.

Life has it's peaks and valleys. You will see the girl you love walk away. You will practice harder and lose. Terrible things will happen to great people....and sometimes, things will just fall into place!

You have to BELIEVE in yourself! In that you are strong because of your dedication to be a better person. That every time you lose you get closer to winning and that every action has a divine purpose in the bigger picture!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Will Work for Peace

Career progress is an interesting thing. We all want to advance ourselves professionally: to make a few more bucks, to learn, to lead, to be part of something bigger. Unfortunately, our metrics for progress are often skewed. Very few companies have well defined progress planning. It seems developed mentoring programs are a means to pacify ambition not encourage it. Far too many leaders fail to pass the torch for fear of losing their sphere of influence.

We tend to get ourselves caught up in the task list for advancement without clearly defining our personal vision for professional progress.

Do you want to progress because you believe in what you are doing or are you simply charting the next 'logical' step? Do you seek advice from your 'superiors' because you genuinely respect them or because you are looking for shoulders to stand upon? Is the advice you are afforded in-sync with your personal professional vision?

Based on the success of my father, I took to Corporate America with the intent of climbing the Corporate Ladder. Without personal purpose in my intent, I sought promotions and advancement as validation for my hard work. I was told that in order to make it on the 'fast track' I should do the following:
* Perform to my revenue goal
* Be willing to relocate
* Find a leader on the 'fast track' and attach myself to him/her

...bad advice....

I didn't care about the company I worked for at that time. I didn't know what achieving my quota was doing for the world. Relocation was not a means to make the company better, it was a test of commitment. I certainly didn't respect the 'leaders' who gave this advice. I thought I wanted to be a Manager because it was a perceived vertical move.

I pondered the aforementioned advice, quit the job, and came up with my own metrics for success:
* Have the freedom to interpret my job as applicable to the world around me
* Join an organization that trusted me
* Find a role with flexibility

Moving, making more money, taking on more responsibility, and influencing others to fall in line was replaced by one mission:
Allow me to live my job by my own motivation!

I had been dishonest in my pursuit of what didn't matter to me, and so, I vowed to be honest in the pursuit of what did.

At some point in your career, you will discover the following:
Honest Matters Most
You Must Find Purpose in Every Task
Certain things are unavoidable....give them your least attention

Consider Your Sphere of Influence
In sales, you are generally asked to create recommendations to your customers and prospective customers. Sometimes this is your chance to showcase your expertise. Other times this is the measure by which your BS barometer is put to the test.

We face loaded questions from Managers and Customers alike. We often are not prepared for this pre-framed nonsense and this is where we get caught up.

A customer cannot trust you to be an expert if you haven't considered all the angles

Your boss will not be willing to leave you alone if you haven't proven your ability to self-regulate

Make it Matter
If you are waiting for the perfect job you will forever spend your life in the waiting room.

Fact: There are great people and terrible people in every organization
Fact: A good or bad Boss can make any job good or bad
Fact: Only YOU can determine how the aforementioned factors effect your genuine motivation

Learn to be Ignorant!
I am a hard working man who is fiercely competitive. As such, I tend to freak out when I do my part and others do not. These actions, to my own detriment, reveal my insecurity and work against my effort.

The best advice I have received is to ignore that which is out of my control. It was impossible to accept this passive resistance at first. My mind frame of mutual accountability forcing me to believe that my effort needed to be met and replicated.

Then, something annoying happened and I chose not to give it the power of my influence. Strangely enough, life went on....over time I learned to give little (or no) attention to mundane distractions. And Life goes on.....

If you develop the ability to know where to put your energy (almost) every thing you do has a motivation driven by positive results! Hard to believe, but undoubtedly true. You should give it a try.

I am carried away by Martin Luther King and his words of Freedom. The times in which he spoke were loaded with turmoil. If America emerged from the standoff of civil rights a bolder and better nation, why can't you choose to work the way you like?

YOU choose what fuels your day!
YOU have the ability give attention to what matters!
YOU have the choice to empower or deter the naysayers!
YOU make a masterpiece or trash heap of every given day!
YOU can be FREE!

...and so our task is simple....

Ignore what distracts and empower what motivates!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, January 14, 2011


Have you ever heard someone say, "she really has that 'it' factor". The flip side is what people say when they've given up on your issue comprehension, "you just don't get it".

My question: how is it that two little letters can encompass so much? I am all for brevity but it seems reducing awesomeness (or lack there of) down to two letters is a cop out.

So let's explore what we know about "it":
* You either possess the "it" factor or
* You don't get "it"

The Extraordinary Comprehension of Human Interaction
I believe the "it" factor is better described in the above verbiage. There are people that are just really good at understanding people. They know how humans react in certain situations. They can read their partners and opponents and can anticipate their next action. This assists them in pacifying or combating by thinking one step ahead.

...that's better....

I Can't Teach You
I consider myself one who can always give constructive is not always what people want to hear. Most often, I can assist people in pondering what they didn't consider in the trenches of the dilemma's detail. There comes the occasional constituent that has a retort for everything. To these folks I am compelled to say, "if you know everything why would you ask for my input".

There is nothing more helpless than having to give up on someone. But, I don't think I've ever disrespected someone enough to tell them they don't get "it".

Get Over "it":
In a few short paragraphs we have learned that the framing of language into a two letter package is merely a conversation diffuser. We use the term "it" to either put a gold star on someone and dismiss them (or to simply dismiss them). Either way...a cop out.

We all have life changing advice to give. We avoid the discomfort of giving advice because we have crutch phrases to lean on. There are so few extraordinary Mentors in this world. We care not to jump over the fence of mediocrity because we fear we might scrape our butt in the process.

Let's End "it":
Try harder to articulate a unique message than to fall back on simple bookend phrases.

Next to you segue way to a point's conclusion by saying 'at the end of the day'; catch yourself. Try to find a term relevant to the conversation. Emphasize your point instead of discrediting your social grace.

"it" is two letters that are short for: I Don't Care About You!

You can do better than that (or should I say "it")!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I Love My Wife

It's the 150th edition of DFTR and it would only be fitting to dedicate it to my sweetie.

The 3rd Principle of Awesomeness is:
Ease Your Way In

My wife knows the elegance of this principle. When I met her she allowed me to be myself and was to me completely true to herself. She didn't try to be someone she was not and she did not overtly try to be the 'fun girl'. She eased her way in and allowed me time to get to know her.

We can learn a lot from those we love!

Do you pretend to be someone you are not?
Do you dress, act or adjust your tact to be 'professional'?
Is the person you present at work unlike your genuine self?

Last week we revealed a pretty simple secret:
The Pretenders are Always Discovered

Why is it that we think we have to put up a facade? I understand the aspects of professional demeanor...consider your audience, do your best to control your temper, channel your passion to the positive, and try to think objectively. Beyond that you are crossing a line from respectful to kiss ass...this creates a counter-effect.

Here are a couple tips that might assist you in being Genuine to Yourself:
* Don't Fold Your Hands and Smile
* Don't Tout Your Achievements
* Develop a Personal Connection
* Don't Try to Kiss an Alligator

Nose Wipe
A person's true character is revealed when they are talking to their constituent with the least amount of power. If you insult your underlings you are abusing power you do not possess!

Displaying behavior inauthentic to your true self is fatal to your character. Once you are identified as the guy/girl who is full of sh*t - you never get off that list.

If that shirt is uncomfortable - don't wear it!
If you don't respect someone - don't pretend you do!
Do what you are really good at - don't pretend to be good at what you are not!

I'm Still Here
We examined the 'look at me' syndrome last week. I cannot stress enough the importance of eliminating this bravado driven act of selfishness. You don't have to talk about your work before or after you perform it. Let the scoreboard speak for itself.

If you have worked hard...we will take notice. If you have tried and failed...we will forget. If you talk in the lobby bar about what you did right or tarnish your effort!

It is better to keep your mouth shut and let the results exercise themselves than to add a soundtrack to the game. I understand this is easier said than done.

Allow it to come to you
Don't you think the CEO gets sick of having his/her ass kissed? It may stand to reason that they respect their children more than anyone they work with because the kids see through their presumed authoritative profile. Accordingly, Senior Leaders have an acute ability to smell BS from a mile away!

Here's a recommendation: Don't come up to the CEO after 4 vodka tonics and explain your 'plan' to her. Relax, be present and allow her to engage you in conversation. Odds are that by burying the front end bravado and treating them as your equal they will be immediately endeared to your character.

...which brings us to our next point
I was in a conference hall filled with 1,200 sales reps a minute before our release from conference to Happy Hour when our CEO told the group:
"...and to all of you young up-starts that are headed to the bar, if you remember anything let it be this:
If you try to kiss an alligator you will get your head bitten off".

That one stuck with me!

For some reason Senior Executives remember (and never forget) the little things. Ten thousand hours of hard work can be replaced by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Executives are so seldom down on 'our level' and that minute they see you taking a break may be the only thing they affiliate to your name. Unfair but very, very pertinent!

Great ideas with a Martini sidecar put you in the personal memory bank of 'glass ceiling polisher'.

So, after my to-be wife put up with me falling down the stairs on our first 5 dates. I decided to let her in. I would invite her to see my favorite musician perform. She accepted my invitation. She did not study the song book to sing along, she didn't even pretend to like the performer....when the lights went down and the curtain came up, she simply stepped aside and allowed me to be me!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Art of Being Selfless

How is it possible to be giving and self-motivated at the same time?

To support others while focusing on personal directives may categorically be competing ideologies. We strive to convince ourselves that there are two types of people in this world:

1. Those who focus, win, and allow no one to deter their forward motion
2. Those who are passive, ability free, and weak

Today we are going to explore how these seemingly competing ideologies may just be part of the same emotional package. I will do this by examining 3 simple principles:
* The will to win is an act of Love
* To compete only for validation is an act of insecurity
* Giving with the expectation of recognition is an act of cowardice

The Heart is on the Inside
You see the person who wins a football game and thanks God. His faith in himself being just as important. What drove him to win was the total confidence that he had in his ability and his willingness to recreate possible as it happened. His faith in god may have given him the extra inch but the other 10,000 inches came from preparation, self discipline, and creativity.

To win is not in effort to see others lose but rather an offering to lift them up. It is hard to be the best - everyone is always gunning for you while you have reached your highest point of potential. The great ones find an art in the game. They win for the sake of redefining themselves in an effort to create a different landscape; every day. Art is an act of creativity. Creativity is powered by the human condition of Love. Those who find new landscapes win and therefore; Winning is an Act of Love.

In order to be truly great, one must be ignorant of their competition not driven to best them.

Look At Me!!!!!!!!!
You can detect those who are full of sh*t pretty easily:
They talk too much
They consistently tout their achievements
They make an effort to point out their selfless nature

To speak without intent is to babble like a fool. There is never a need for explanation. People get hung up on re-iterating their greatness. They think that by consistently mentioning how awesome they are, we are going to have an Epiphany, and bow to their excellence. Don't flatter yourself and don't insult our intelligence.

The big mouths only act so because they want to beat you to the punch. They would not dare sit down and reveal themselves...they need to be represented by the bravado of their self marketing. They are not shouting for joy, they are crying for help.

No Reciept Necessary
No one ever sees the richest people in the world. Those who are truly charitable send an envelope, they don't require a red carpet. People who are genuinely dedicated to helping in the workplace do not need anything in return for evolving others: they do it because they care about their company and it's legacy.

Halls of Corporations are filled with so-called do-gooders who mask their goals for personal development in the positioning of helping others.

The test is simple: if you wait to pick up that piece of paper in the hall until the boss walks by you are masking your selfishness in pseudo-community service. If you have to have 4 vodka tonics before voicing your professional opinion, your thoughts will never be respected.

It's OK to care and show that you do. It's OK to shelf the facade and speak your mind. You have to help those around you without expecting a pat on the back.

No deed goes unnoticed and the pretenders are always exposed!!!!!!! Trust me on that one!

You need to validate those that are busting their tail for the sake of contributing to the success of your organization (and expect nothing in return). The moment you pull your hand back and put your head down, everything you were grabbing for will come to you. Helping others is the only way to help yourself. Do unto others without worrying about how it will advance you!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

3 Trends to Sunset in 2011

The great Paul Hebert wrote a piece for Fistful of Talent that touched on the metric validation most organizations seem to seek in programming. His point was not lost on me. I have seen an influx of organizations seeking buzz words and statistical proof to frame new directives. Paul's extended point being that there is not a score that can address the level of engagement in a corporate culture and that there is no 'end game' in assessing Employee Engagement.

Too often organizations seek statistics to validate employee's shelf life or pull in a 'vendor' to formulate a program upon whom to blame failed engagement. Is there a less flattering term than 'vendor'?

Great companies love their people, unconditionally, every day. Great companies find an honest approach to forming business partnerships and honor their 'vendors' in the same respect that they do their employees. Organizational culture starts with an Executive vision, extends through your Linchpin employees and further to the fantastic professionals that represent you as business partners (not vendors).

We have lost our ability to cultivate and grow unique and meaningful human motivation. We have taken the people out of the equation and made it about numbers....shame on us.

In furtherance to Paul Hebert's blog post and the great minds of Keith Ferrazzi, Tony Hsieh, Seth Godin, Chris Guillebeau and Dan Pink....I am going to issue a challenge to the world:
Stop looking for statistics to marginalize thought leadership (or lack there of)
Stop looking for the next catch phrase to fuel white paper and webinar dribble

There are 3 trends that I would like to see sunset in 2011:
Generational Generalization
The request for ROI
Transparent Insecurity

X, Y, Boomer
The Millennials are taking over the workplace, the Baby Boomers are retiring. We get it: different generations have different forms of education, training and resource access. Regardless of our date of birth, We are not babies. Quit trying to simplify the organizational vision 'in terms we can understand'.

How do you think your Gen Y employees feel when you publish marketing materials that categorize them as complacent?
How do you think Baby Boomers feel when you invalidate their existence?

Here's the big picture: There are 90 year old people who are wizards on an I-pad and 22 year old people that do not use Facebook.

When a 'new' worker comes into a company an elder statesman or woman pulls him/her aside and tells them 'how it is around here'. The 'new' person dismisses the elder statesman or woman as insecure and shoots for their sales record. At a certain point the 'new' person begins to assert themselves and the elder statesman or woman dismisses them as a loud mouth without a proven track record. It's exhausting...and there in lies my point!

Return Our Investment
ROI is the talk of the town. Show me the money. Show me how my competitors have used your services and how they have profited accordingly. I want a formula to show to my boss to defend my decision in case the 'vendor' turns out to be bad at what they do.

Are we not beyond the point of needing a reciept to validate our decisions? Can we not watch 3 acts on American Idol and decide whose record we would buy? Can we not judge human character rather than crunching numbers.....?

Trust Fuels Partnerships!

The request for an ROI formula enhances BS, it does not dissolve it!

A diatribe in Defense of what I'm about to say....
Test your client's company culture. Make an inquiry. If you get a 2 paragraph diatribe...the culture is broken.

The 'struggling economy' (another tired term) has prompted Managers to beat their employees into submission. It is no longer OK to say, 'I screwed up'. You have to explain every detail of the thought process and every other person who touched the product....Micro-Management driven by negative consequence creates a culture of fear and paranoia. Motivation is replaced by indecision, blame passing and the unexplainable need to explain one's every action. Employees are forced to beg forgiveness before they act....It's Exhausting and there in continues my point!

We Have To Get Better!

4 wishes for 2011:
1. Dissolve catch phrases that marginalize our behavior
2. Stop simplifying employees existence by categorizing by generation
3. ROI formulas are trusting relationships instead
4. Dispel transparent insecurity by trusting your employees to make decisions

Don't Forget to Remember!