Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bouncing Out of Bed

Don't tell me that alarm didn't sting your brain this morning. It's cold, dark and desolate out there. You need more than just a job on a day like this...On days like this we have to examine the intent of our higher purpose. The intense chill rises through your chest in the morning shower and asks you a simple question: What The Hell Am I Doing?

I had the answers today, did you?

I Have the Ability to Create
The marketplace is highly competitive, there are applications that can solve any business problem, and anyone can provide "personal attention". Companies that differentiate themselves possess the strong force of Creativity.

Creativity helps embrace change, it motivates people to find doors where others see dead ends, it allows people to synchronize their personal passion and their work!

Call it innovation, enhancement, or development ~ The Art of Business is Creativity!

If your company is still functioning by the measures that formalized the industrial revolution, your creativity has been stifled. Good luck getting it back!

I Am Allowed to Choose
My son is 7, at times he needs to be directed. If a 40 year old man finds himself in the same position, odds are he hit that snooze button 3 or 4 times this morning.

It is amazing to me that companies still think micro-management works. It is amazing that more employees do not stand up and ask for a greater deal of respect. If you knowingly threaten your employees with a clear conscious your business is doomed to fail. If that is the way it has worked for 50 years, you will not last another 50. It is time to grow up!

I Give More than I Take
If you give me the ability to create and the power to choose, I will slay dragons for you on a daily basis. I will achieve things I never thought possible, and having done so, I will achieve even more tomorrow.

All you need to do is empower and trust! It costs nothing and makes your job easier.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Thanksgiving is upon us so naturally posts and tweets are pouring in by people expressing their gratitude. During the holidays we tend to get sentimental. This year, instead of expressing my gratitude, I am going to issue a challenge:

Before we say Thank You, let's reflect....

Do You Really Love Your Job?
Our profession is our livelihood, so we tend to be apprehensive to make drastic changes. No company is perfect, people make mistakes, and systems fail. Life is imperfect and this allows for opportunity. But, do you really love your job?

Do a deep dive assessment of your current job:
~ Are you being challenged or are you settling?
~ Are the people around you invested in your progress?
~ Do the Leaders in your organization understand your challenges?
~ Do your products/services solve business issues?

Before you stuff your face with turkey, take a moment to deeply reflect on the questions above. Are you really thankful or are you pretending that everything is fine? Are you OK with everything being fine, or do you want more?

Just Do!
Time to flip the script. Any job can be great or terrible based on your perception and attitude. If you spend your days complaining about your job, QUIT! If you don't have any other options maybe its because you complain all the time.

Actions speak louder than words. If you are not achieving all you had planned to...take action. Wake up earlier, seek advice from others, learn more about the marketplace, challenge directives.

Complaining will only make your job worse. Get busy living or get busy dying!

Stop Pretending!
Are you complimentary of your superiors simply because you want to be on the "good list". If so, your lack of authenticity probably makes you look like a phony. It is disingenuous to smile at the very people you challenge from a bar stool.

~ If you do not respect your boss, manage up....there is an elegant way to expose inefficiencies.
~ If the top producer does not have sound advice for you...emulate someone else.
~ If that BIG customer you have been chasing treats you like a commodity...find another customer to chase.

Pretending to be someone you are not takes an extraordinary amount of effort and seldom produces meaningful results. Be yourself!

Stop Stealing!
Those who are truly passionate about their work are creative and authentic. They are consistently developing new ideas and are challenging those around them to be part of the solution.

If you emulate the ideas of your competitors, your existence is fraudulent!

The way to winning is to come up with a solution that is different. Stealing your competitors ideas and putting a cheaper price tag on them never works. Commodities are replaceable, you have to believe with all your being in what you are doing.

Do you believe in what you are doing?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Solving The Motivation Crisis

The great Maurice TT Rodriguez gave supportive advice to a friend who was experiencing a fashion crisis...."wear what you dig"! At the time, the reinforcement was what his friend needed. Questioning oneself is a necessary means to progress...but, we tend to wear ourselves out if we concentrate too heavily on what we cannot do.

Early in my career I was experiencing a motivation crisis:
* I sought to impress others
* I continually focused on my weaknesses
* My negativity overwhelmed my intentions

...here's how I solved my motivation crisis....

Grains of Salt
People are always willing to give advice. Too often words are taken with deep literal significance. Asking for advice may assist in considering other angles, but your path has to be your own. You cannot pretend to be someone you are not, you shouldn't read a book you don't believe in, you should not incorporate techniques that feel unnatural, and you can't pretend to trust people you don't admire!

We cannot be genuine to what we believe in if we allow others to predicate our every move. If you are consistently trying to impress others, you will never be happy. It is comparable to driving another man's car but never owning your own. Deeply analyze what resonates with you...and let that drive!

Doubters Never Prosper
Similar to following the path set by another, if you only focus on what you cannot do...you will not do! The only result of consistently concentrating on what you have not done is misery.

There is nothing worse than trying your hardest only to be chastised for your lack of execution. A key fault in leadership is the ignorance of unseen effort. Like it or not, Leaders assume.... If I have been in business for 40 years, I have seen it all. So, I assume a person fails based on a scenario I have seen a thousand times before. This commoditized human capital management style can permanently ruin a person's motivation.

There are things you can do well and others that will take greater effort while producing fewer results. Focus on that which you do well...and let that lead! Your effort will never be analyzed if you are consistently producing results. The doubters only doubt if you give them a reason to.

The Making of a Pariah
We all hit a flat spot in our career. That point where you feel you have given all you can and luck just hasn't pushed the puck your way. Make no mistake about it, there is luck in success.

Our perception and attitude fuel our success. If we meet every challenge with the past in mind, we may drown ourselves in doubt. If we doubt enough, it will get to the point that no one wants to be around us. It is much harder to navigate failure alone!

At the lowest point in my career, I had terribly mismanaged the aforementioned flat point. In every step of my life I had seen challenges as opportunities. When I lost sight of that I compounded my failures. Instead of solving problems, I made excuses....and made my problems worse. I listened far too much to those who said I could not do something, I made excuses instead of programming action items, and I continually felt sorry for myself.

Perseverance is one of the greatest characteristics anyone can possess. The greatest of all time have failed consistently...their brilliance lies in their uncompromising ability to overcome. They know they are capable and lack of luck in any given moment does not trump their genuine skill. You are the driver...take the wheel and put the pedal to the floor!!!!!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Left to Learn

Having just attended the E2Innovate conference, I am full of fresh and meaningful ideas! I found myself most intrigued by a conversation facilitated by IT Directors from Facebook, Mozilla, and PayPal. Taking into account the company names and presenter titles the last topic you would think they would tackle is...recruiting. Fortunately, companies are embracing the concept that every employee is part of the organizational development process.

The aforementioned session was facilitated by Gerald Chertavian of Year Up. Year Up is an organization founded on the principle of delivering quality education to people of all economic backgrounds. Year Up gives young people with high school degrees or GED's an opportunity to take a year of highly intensive technical courses while providing a pipeline to IT professionals in the Silicon Valley.

I am consistently reminded of two unfair workforce stereotypes:
1. Young people are entitled.
2. Senior staff members are threatened by the rise of technology in the workplace.

In reality, people care about their companies far more than we might assume. In a day and age when people spend 80% to 90% of their waking hours at work, one cannot help but assume a sense of pride in what they do. As such, the investment in a new generation of workers is met with hope for the future and an openness to the innovative ideas new people bring into the working world. We are all part of the recruiting effort and we can all learn from each other.

How to Make Your Company Obsolete
There was a time when the hiring process was a series of grueling interviews. Those days are over. Face it, you need young talent more than they need you. People coming out of college (or high school)  have far more options nowadays. The stereotype of young people being entitled in holey false. A new generation of workers is looking for fewer benefits and has learned to work lean. Entrepreneurship has never been more accessible and the expectation of signing bonuses has been replaced with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. You should use the hiring process as an opportunity to learn...I'm talking to you Hiring Manager.

Admit You Care
I love to see senior staff members who have a sense of youthful exuberance. The days of dictatorship are gone and those unadaptive to change are finding an express lane to early retirement. The best leaders serve as teachers who are willing to learn from their pupils.

It is wise of any organization to develop a culture of learning. The emphasis on titles is being dispelled and we are all interested in sharing. A true trait of leadership is to pass along the knowledge you have gained in the workplace to help your co-workers grow with you. We have learned that internal competition only serves to muddy the workplace waters. Collaboration for the collective good is the best way to propel the organization forward.

Be a team player, be a coach, be a teacher. Look over your shoulder, pick someone up, and help them get to where they want to be.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Truth About Sales

My professional life exists in contradiction:
1. I am a business development professional.
2. I am a leadership advisor to HR professionals.

When I started in sales, I believed that my "gift of gab" would help me win the day....some how it worked. Then I grew up and I realized I was doing it all wrong!

The Truth About Sales
It takes incredible confidence to be a sales professional. One must be uncompromising in the drive to succeed and be unflappable in their ability to handle rejection. The extreme swings in sales take a special type of level-headed demeanor. There are always sales jobs available because very few people can handle the daily uncertainty of the trade. A sales job is never "safe".

With uncertainty comes insecurity and confidence competes with a need for validation. Sales people may want you to think they are invincible but the path to winning has to be complimented with daily pats on the back. Show me a supremely confident sales professional and I will show you a person who is deeply insecure.

Don't worry, we won't tell anyone! 

Take a Breath.......  
As we grow in the trade we come to understand that sales is not a game of confidence but a game of empathy. Salespeople do not have to prove their confidence but rather that they genuinely understand their buyers motives. The name of the game is building trust....and it requires:
a. Endless research.
b. The ability to listen more than you talk.

Many young salespeople rush into a room with a well-prepared presentation and tell the prospective customer how great their product is. Wrong move! You have to diagnose before you prescribe. You have to analyze those in the pew before you preach to them. In fact, save the preaching altogether.

Don't Be Cocky
Most people hate salespeople because their disingenuous demeanor reveals their personal goals as a priority over collective success. Many salespeople also have short tempers because their work in the trenches is often misunderstood by their office counterparts. Salespeople are driven (and measured) by their individual effort....so they often have issues with authority.

So, Let's Dispel the Myth
1. Don't be fooled, Salespeople are among the hardest working in your organization.
2. Salespeople possess a skill that most others don't: the ability to confront uncertainty, every day!
3. When ego drives effort it creates a bad perception (a common foe paw).
4. Salespeople's effort exist in the Marketplace, not in the office.
5. Salespeople are not as confident as you think:
- We stay up at night fearing what tomorrow will bring, and pretend to be brave enough to handle it.

The day of the barrel-chested bully pushing you into a purchase are over. The charmer without substance now loses more than she wins. Buyers are more aware, administrators are more strategic, and the sale is often trial by committee.

The process of inviting partnership is a consultation not a transaction: quick talk is transparent and insulting.

Note to Salespeople:
1. Know the extended purpose of your products and services and how they apply to your buyer's business issue.
2. Build trust.
3. Spend more time in the library and less time in the bar!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Employee Engagement - 2012

Throughout this year I have presented "Cultivating Employee Engagement" to HR professionals across Northern California. 500+ local HR Pros attended these seminars. The great attendance and positive feedback were a result of 2 things:
1. An energetic approach to presenting
2. A collaborative forum for idea sharing

It is always interesting when a salesperson presents to HR. The initial reactions are furrowed brows and raised eye brows. Attendees are there to receive re-certification credits.....they will do what they must to digest the material. Attendee apprehension is understood because most presenters do not conduct sessions with enough conviction (or they use the opportunity to sell something). You cannot establish influence without teaching skills that will contribute to the success of your audience. It's not all about us!

Here are 8 things learned in 10 seminars, countless miles on the road, and a whole lot of open and honest conversation:

Seize the Leadership Opportunity - HR has been categorized as an administrative stop gap in an organization. More and more, HR is becoming a key strategic function to organizational progress. The door is open, but you must be armed with numbers and a correlating strategy to back up your mission for organizational engagement. We can no longer be cautious, we cannot share without enforcement, employees will not be engaged by passive strategy. HR cannot be a strategic partner if we allow ourselves to be cast aside as administrators.

Demolish the Silos - Organizational progress cannot be made strictly through the manager to peer channel. Performance reviews may be a legal necessity, but they do nothing to motivate. Employee goals should be acknowledged and broadcast for the entire organization to witness. Progress should be encouraged by everyone, not regimented by a superior. Career advancement should be a result of a transparent, personal commitment to progress, not closed door office politics.

Poll the Audience - The incoming workforce is full of ideas for organizational development. That should be celebrated not ignored. Every organization needs a strategy for gathering organizational feedback to ensure Executive action.

Make it Cool - Core Values written 100 years ago need to be redefined in terms relevant to today's workforce. Wearing lapel pins is not an organizational strategy, it is a way to further commoditize an out-of-touch brand. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to excel based on well-rounded behavioral competencies.

Prioritize - HR is the key to organizational engagement. You can reduce turnover, drive results, and create a company culture that is totally unique. It takes creativity, a knowledge of your employee pedigree, and the ability to quantify effort. It is not turnkey, it is not easily defined, and it will take a lot of time. If you want to make a difference you have to believe with uncompromised conviction. Get busy doing the things that will change lives for the better, save the spreadsheets for the weekend.

Be a Business Partner - HR opposes the sales pitch. This because, if you are selling more than a widget, a pitch doesn't work. To promote an effective program you have to have: a mission unique to your organization, internal branding that empowers adoption, cool rewards, and metrics that measure program effectiveness. In order to gain adoption you have to have the aforementioned elements of program success in mind.....and then you have to sell it your Executives and Employees!

Communicate - A Marketers goal is to expose the brand, HR's goal is to protect the brand. Creativity is the key to effective program adoption. You know your workforce better than anyone. Get creative! Market your program! This is the best way to gain program adoption and to help your program grow!

Debunk the Myth - The best way to prove you are not a paper pusher or the employee police is to prove it. Organizational development is converting from a top down to a bottoms up game. You can be the change agent in communicating the employee voice.

Don't Kid Yourself.....HR is Cool!

If you stepped out of your comfort zone in my 2012 seminars, just wait until next year when the "HR as a Business Partner" series puts you in the organizational drivers seat!

Don't Forget to Remember!