I recently started a blog on common sense leadership. Many people I talk to are tired of all the latest trends and fads in leadership and management? Me too. Leadership and management is really quite simple — the common sense application of it is what’s hard. Join a growing number of business people who are fed up with trendy principles and workplace hypotheses created in order to sell sensationalism and books. Check out the new blog and let me know your thoughts and the kinds of content you’d like to see.
It has taken me a while to write this review. Not from lack of reading time, I assure you, I often have 2-3 books going at once. Scott McKain’s book, The Collapse Of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails, is not a book you skim through. I found myself taking it a bite-at-a-time. I often paused to reflect on and look for ways to apply the action steps outlined in the book. I have many pages dog-eared and chunks of the content underlined.
Some of the questions early in the book that bear reflection are:
- How can your customers distinguish you from your competition?
- Do you bring a higher value to customers?
- Besides product and price, what do you really sell?
- Why would your customer pay for you over your competition?
If you are new to brand development or in the process of reviving your brand, answering these initial questions may be all you need in order to set yourself head and shoulders above your competitors. Yet, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not process the remainder of McKain’s material.
Understanding The 3 Destroyers
According to the author, there are 3 destroyers of distinction:
- Incremental Advances – emulation; replicating small advances your competitors make.
- New Competitors – new challenges; trying to be like competitors and not staying on top of the competitive landscape.
- Familiarity Breeds Complacency – customer boredom; being so familiar you are taken for granted.
Think about it – what have you changed in the last year about yourself or your organization to freshen the approach with your customers and constituents?
Don’t Be Different – Be Distinct!
McKain goes on to define what he calls “The Ebert Effect” named after movie critic, Roger Ebert.
When people, from their perspective, are inundated with indistinguishable choices, they perceive a product, service, approach, or experience with a specific point of differentiation to be superior.
This means creating small strategies that are recognizable as different from your competition. This is only one step to being different in the customers eyes. We are encouraged to move toward being distinct. The only way to do this, says McKain, is to create a foundation of distinction built on the following four pillars:
- Clarity – Who are you? Be specific about what your organization is and is not.
- Creativity – McKain says, “Creativity without clarity is devoid of distinction.” What creative strategies are you employing to enhance the quality of customer contacts?
- Communication – Know the benefits of compelling story telling. Tweak your distinct communication for your audiences.
- Customer Experience Focus – Create a unique customer centric experience that cements loyalty.
Each of the pillars works with the next. You cannot have one without the others if you wish to truly be distinct.
The book was more than a business book, it was a work book. It is laid out for those people who have the time to consume the book page by page. It also has executive summaries at the end of each chapter followed by action steps to put the material into practice – which I would highly recommend.
The publisher, Thomas Nelson, also added a unique feature. Published as a “Nelson Free” title allows the buyer access to three formats for the price of one! I got the hardback version and that gave me access to both an ebook and an audio version of the book. At this writing, it looks as though Thomas Nelson has continued this practice with only a small handful of their titles. A nice perk but not a must-have for many readers.
Nevertheless, if you are wanting to improve your brand distinction, The Collapse Of Distinction, is definitely worth the read. It is full of practical tips throughout and resources at the back of the book that can help you dig further into differentiating your company from the myriad of others vying for consumer attention.
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By Dan Coughlin
It’s official. I’m at the halfway point in my career. Over the last 25 years of working with individuals and groups the topic I have focused on the most is leadership. It is my favorite topic of all. Here are five lessons I’ve learned about leadership.
Lesson #1: Leadership is Not a Label
In studying leaders and in working side-by-side with leaders as a management consultant in over 30 industries, I have always searched for what these individuals had in common. First, here is what they did not have in common: height, size, race, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual focus, political preference, or personality type. Leaders come in every size and shape. Some are men and some are women, some are tall and some are short, some are big and some are thin, some are light-skinned and some are dark-skinned, some are straight and some are gay, some are devoutly spiritual and some are atheists, some are conservative and some are liberal, some are quiet and some are loud. I found no title, income level, or authority that ever automatically made a person an effective or an ineffective leader.
Lesson #2: Leadership Means Influencing How Other People Think
After studying leaders for a long period of time, I discovered that leadership really means influencing how other people think in ways that generate better sustainable results both for the organization and the people in it. It is the person’s ability to influence how other people think that determines his or her effectiveness as a leader.
Lesson #3: Leaders Answer Four Critical Questions
I did find one thing that all effective leaders have in common. They all actively worked to answer the Four Critical Leadership Questions. Now they didn’t call it that and most of the time they didn’t write down these questions. However, each person did work to find the answers to these questions and then persevered to implement his or her answers.
The Four Critical Leadership Questions are:
- What outcome do I want to improve for my organization and why do I want to improve it?
- Who do I need to influence in order to improve that outcome?
- What do I need to influence them to think about?
- How will I influence them?
Now let’s go through the four questions together and I’ll offer some additional thoughts for each of them. Take out a sheet of paper and write down your answers to these four questions as we go through them.
What outcome do I want to improve for my organization and why do I want to improve it?
Leadership is not acting. You can’t just walk into a room and say with a deep voice, “Let’s go out there and rock the world.” Leadership has to be geared toward improving some outcome. On your sheet of paper, write down the specific outcome you want to improve in your organization. Be as clear as you can be about what it is you want to have happen. Then write down as many reasons as you can think of as to why you want to improve that outcome.
Who do I need to influence in order to improve that outcome?
After you identify the desired outcome, then write down who needs to be involved in improving that outcome. Be clear about whom it is that you need to influence.
What do I need to influence them to think about?
Notice an important point here. The question doesn’t say, “What do I need to tell people to do?” If people are just doing something because they are told to do it, what happens when you’re not there to tell them what to do? The key is to identify what you want them to think about when you are not present. For example, if your desired outcome is to have customers who are vastly more loyal to your brand than your competitors, you might want to influence your fellow employees to think about the value of significantly more loyal customers. Once people start thinking about that outcome they can come up with all kinds of ideas on how to improve the customer’s experience. If they buy into the idea that vastly more loyal customers will improve their careers over the long term, they may very well focus to an even greater degree than you do and in more of a hands-on fashion than you can toward improving the customer experience on a consistent basis.
How will I influence them?
Now we are getting down to the act of leading, or influencing, others. There are 12 different types of leaders I’ve met or studied in my career. Each type can be effective in leading other people, and you can be more than one type of leader as you go about trying to influence your target audience to improve the desired outcome.
Lesson #4: There are Different Types of Leaders
In reflecting on the various individuals I have watched effectively influence the way other people think and generate significant and sustained results for their organizations, I have found that each of them provided one or more of the following types of leadership.
Types of Leaders
- The Researcher – this person’s advice is based on data and carefully selected interviews and examples from the past.
- The Exemplar – this person’s behaviors and personal choices model the desired performance so well that he or she influences other people simply by being watched.
- The Teacher – this person breaks down the idea and explains it so well that other people truly get it and can run with it even when he or she is not present.
- The Listener – this person simply listens while the other person shares the details of his or her situation.
- The Visionary – this person describes a compelling dream of what the future can look like and that vision is what people hold on to as they go about their daily activities.
- The Storyteller – this person tells stories that convey a powerful point.
- The Coach – this person engages the other person in a conversation and offers advice based on observed behavior.
- The Facilitator – this person asks open-ended questions and gets multiple people involved in developing the answers.
- The Collaborator – this person exchanges ideas with the other person and works together with the other person to develop even better ideas.
- The Organizer – this person influences other people based on the roles he or she places them in and the way he or she distributes resources.
- The Motivator – this person provides inspiring words with an inspiring tone, but his or her impact oftentimes has a short shelf life.
- The Dictator – this person tells people exactly what to do and how to do it, but this approach is generally only useful in dramatic life-or-death short-term situations.
To familiarize yourself with these different types of leadership, here are a few exercises for you to consider doing.
Exercise #1: Think of three leaders who affected your life in an important way. Then scan the list above and determine which type or types of leadership they provided.
Exercise #2: Think of a time when you were an effective leader. Then scan the list above and determine the type or types of leadership you provided.
Exercise #3: Write down how you will influence the individuals you identified earlier in question #2. Which type or types of leadership are you going to provide to influence them to think about what you want them to think about?
Lesson #5: You have to Earn Your Platform in Order to Lead
Regardless of the type of leader you want to be in any given situation, you have to earn the right to be the leader. Speaking from a platform is not difficult. You walk up three steps, walk over to the middle of the platform, and start speaking. The greater challenge is to earn your platform as a leader, which is the privilege of having people trust you and be willing to consider your influence. Tony Dungy, the former Indianapolis Colts head football coach, talked about this in his book, Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance.
What do you need to do to earn other people’s trust and their willingness to consider your influence? Essentially, you need to do what you said you would do and you need to be seen as being credible on the topic you want to influence them on. Anyone can be a leader, but no one is guaranteed to be a leader. Take the time to answer the Four Critical Leadership Questions, and then every day act in a way that other people can trust you and will want to consider your influence.
Once you have earned your leadership platform never take the privilege of having a platform to influence other people lightly. It can take many years to earn a platform as a leader and a few minutes to lose it.
Interviews with Experts on Leadership
A relatively new feature on my website is my Featured Book Recommendations section. In this section I provide an in-depth book review and conversation with the author(s). Currently this section contains interviews with three experts on leadership.
The first expert on leadership is Steve Jamison, who is in my opinion the world’s best author at interviewing extraordinarily successful athletic coaches and extracting their insights on leadership and teamwork. He has worked very closely in writing books with the late Bill Walsh, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, John Wooden, the former UCLA men’s basketball coach and winner of 10 NCAA Division I Championships, and Brad Gilbert, the extraordinarily successful tennis coach of Andre Agassi and Andy Murray. I reviewed his newest book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, which he wrote with Bill Walsh and his son, Craig Walsh.
The second expert on leadership is Jason Jennings, who has studied in-depth more carefully selected business leaders than anyone I know of. In his most recent book, Hit the Ground Running, he studied the 10 most successful new CEOs in the first seven years of the 21st Century.
The third expert on leadership is Roy Spence, CEO of GSD&M Idea City, who along with Haley Rushing from GSD&M Idea City, wrote the book, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For. These two have worked closely with leaders at Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, BMW, and a host of other companies.
To read these conversations with the authors and the book reviews, click http://thecoughlincompany.com/featured_book_recommendations.html
About Dan Coughlin
Visit Dan Coughlin’s Free Resource Center on Business Acceleration at www.thecoughlincompany.com. Dan is a student and teacher of practical processes that improve business performance. His purpose is to work with executives and managers so they achieve great performances. He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, executive coach, and author of three books on management performance, including his newest, The Management 500: A High-Octane Formula for Business Success (AMACOM 2009), which has been endorsed by Jason Jennings, Marshall Goldsmith, and Brian Tracy. Dan’s clients include Coca-Cola, Abbott, Toyota, Prudential, Shell, Boeing, Marriott, McDonald’s, Denny’s, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Note: Reposted as a good reminder
This is one of those primary yet tough life principles for me. I have learned that I need others in my life to hold me accountable to this principle. Accountable to my dreams, goals, and aspirations as a businessman, father, and husband. What is this primary life principle? It is balance.
I can still hear Mr. Miyagi yelling at Daniel LaRusso in the movie, The Karate Kid, “Balance Daniel-san, balance!” There is some truth to this in the concept of “life-balance”. We’re all torn in two directions, as illustrated below:
|Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Leading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Speaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Productivity . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Serving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Giving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Applying . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Confidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Duty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
External Life . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So, how do you find balance? Is it appropriate or even possible in this day and age to find balance in life? With all the competing areas above, most people settle for focusing on one area alone.
Sacrifice For The Sake of Excellence
Excelling in one area is good, right? Where would Michael Jordan be, or Donald Trump be unless they excelled in one focused area? By no means am I suggesting we stoop to the level of mediocrity. Yet, while unbridled attention in one area may bring success, it almost always brings failures in many other areas. For example, “it is not uncommon to discover a physician who fails as a parent, an entertainer who fails as a spouse, a pastor who neglects personal health, or an executive who fails at all the other areas,” says author and educator, Dr. Richard Swenson. Stanford Physicist, Dr. Richard Bube, recommends a more balanced approach so that we do not fall into, what he calls, “negative excellence.” A person who chooses to strive for high degrees of excellence in one or two areas often fails in others. While, the person who choses to live balanced has no outstanding levels of excellence but, they do not have any areas of failure either.
There Is An Answer
You’ll be glad to know that life balance is attainable. It starts with time. You thought I was going to say priorities. Business people practice prioritizing a lot. The mistake is, prioritizing dictates that one area is more important than another. What I am saying is that all these areas are important and that to attain balance we need to start with the time we give to each.
Learn to say “no.” In today’s Western society it is easy to overload and overbook ourselves. Saying “no” puts you in control of your time demands. This leads to the next item: Get better control of your life.
Getting control means overthrowing the tyrannical rule of the urgent. Reorient your life around the important, not the urgent things of life.
Next, watch out for the circular trappings of trying to find the imbalance in your life. In doing so you run the risk of becoming even more unbalanced. George Rust warns, “We respond to our sense of imbalance by committing more time and energy to an area in which we feel deficient.” The last thing you need is to commit more time than you have.
Finally, be considerate of others trying to live a balanced life. If someone tells you “no”, learn to accept it. Just because we choose to overburden ourselves doesn’t mean we have to do the same to others.
Balance is attainable. It takes work but it can be done. You might consider sharing your desire to live a balanced-life with a close friend and then ask them to hold you accountable. Give them permission to ask you how you’re doing on a regular basis — and, be honest in your reply.
By Dan Coughlin
Great organizations are defined by what they say no to. The same is true for great individual careers.
A great career is one where the individual made the type of contribution he or she believed was the optimal use of his or her talents, passions, and values and generated the types of desired outcomes that he or she wanted. In other words, the person generated both the desired input and output.
Manifesting such a career requires saying yes to a few key opportunities and saying no to a huge number of good, and possibly great, opportunities.
Dedicate Yourself to a Proposition
What’s up with Abraham Lincoln? There have been literally hundreds and hundreds of books written about him. These include the most introductory of children’s books to the most sophisticated of adult books. Why did he have such a memorable career? I think it all comes down to one thing. He dedicated his professional life, his career, to two propositions: “united we stand, and divided we fall” and “all men are created equal.” These two propositions guided his career choices and his decisions within his various jobs. In the end, I think that’s what made his career so successful: he remained committed to two very clear, important propositions.
What is the proposition that you are dedicating your professional life to? This will help you a great deal in deciphering what to do and what not to do in your career.
More than twelve years ago I dedicated my professional life to this proposition: mastering business basics drives better sustainable results. Not quite as catchy or life-changing as Lincoln’s propositions, but it’s been clear enough to help me make decisions on what to do and what not to do.
I then determined that the best contribution I can make toward improving performance in organizations across all industries is to uncover these business basics, these processes for improving results in a sustainable way, and then explain them in a user-friendly manner. In other words, I see myself as a teacher. Not a teacher who has all the answers because there are no set answers in business, but rather a teacher who causes people to focus on understanding and executing the basics of business at a very high level. In choosing to be a teacher, I simultaneously chose not to be a manager or an executive.
Before reading on, take out a sheet of paper. Decide on the proposition that you are willing to dedicate yourself to. Write it down. You may end up rewriting it many times over the months to come. With a clear proposition in hand, you can then decide where to place your time and where not to place your time. Your proposition will help you to choose which roles you will want to fill and which roles you will not want to fill.
Choose Your Opportunity Costs Carefully
My third-grade son, Ben, came home with his folder of papers. One of them said, “Explain the idea of opportunity costs using the example of Pizza Hut.” Ben smiled and said, “That’s easy. I like sausage pizza and I like pepperoni pizza. If I choose the pepperoni pizza my opportunity cost is the sausage pizza.” What a great explanation. He learned something valuable that day from Mrs. Edwards. When you choose something that means you are also choosing not to have something else.
As you go about building a great career always take the time to clarify your opportunity costs, the things you are choosing not to have. If you choose to work as an employee, then you are choosing not to be an entrepreneur. If you choose to be an entrepreneur, you are choosing not to work for someone else. Both choices can be good, but you can’t have both simultaneously.
Fifteen years ago I was considering starting my own business. I was a full-time, tenured teacher at a very well known high school in St. Louis. I wrote down my opportunity costs if I left, which included the following: really wonderful students would no longer just show up for me to teach, I would not have colleagues to bond with between classes or at lunchtime, I would not have a guaranteed paycheck every month or a guaranteed job for life, I would not have three months off in the summer time, and I would not have my curriculum to teach handed to me. To me that was a lot of opportunity costs to give up. Only once I became comfortable with what I was giving up was I able to go out on my own. However, once I left I didn’t go back and try to teach at the high school while trying to run my own business.
I know people who did just the opposite. They were entrepreneurs and chose to teach or to work for someone else. They had considered their own opportunity costs of not running their own businesses and they chose to work inside an organization. My point here is you have to choose what you think is the best route for your career. I’m just encouraging you to step back and clarify what you will do and why you will do it and what you won’t do and why you won’t do it.
You have to choose your opportunity costs as much as, and maybe more than, your opportunities. As you consider your next career move, take out a sheet of paper and write down all the things you are not going to get as a result of going in the direction you are considering to take. Make sure you are comfortable with what you are giving up BEFORE you get comfortable with what you are going after.
The Choices of Charlie Rose
Charlie Rose is my favorite interviewer. I knew who he was, but I didn’t really study him until I recently read an article about him in Fortune magazine. Here it is if you want to read it: http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/25/magazines/fortune/charlie_rose.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2009092811
The proposition that Charlie Rose has dedicated his career to is, “wanting viewers to feel like they were eavesdropping on a conversation each night – fully engaged if not actually participating.” He honed his craft over a number of years until he got the opportunity to do The Charlie Rose Show on PBS Television in 1991.
He had walked away from a well-paying program called Personalities in 1990 because he wanted to do a more serious talk show. He also said no to a full-time anchor slot on Sixty Minutes II in 1996 that would have earned him a great deal more than he makes on his own show on PBS. He turned it down because he felt doing his own show was, as he said, “the chance to find your own reality – for yourself, not for others, what no man can ever know. In the end I have not finished the journey.”
In saying no to a variety of opportunities, Charlie Rose defined who he was and who he wanted to become. He wants to do serious interviews with people on important topics without any pretense whatsoever. And he does it very well. I encourage you to invest a few hours at www.charlierose.com and soak in the lessons that are extracted during a variety of his interviews.
Actively Accept Limitations and Consequences
At some point, and I happen to think this is as good a time as any other, you have to get comfortable with the ideas of limitations and consequences. You can spend your whole life trying to be everything in the world and keep chasing one career dream after another. Or you can say, “I’ve chosen this path for my career. Here is the general path where I believe I can make my greatest contribution.” And then be ok operating within the limitations and consequences of the career you have chosen. Actually, there’s real power in deciding on the limitations you are going to accept. It means you are willing to get seriously focused at work that you have chosen to pursue.
In studying hundreds of really successful people, I’ve noticed that the best of the best stick with their chosen path. What’s Steven Spielberg doing these days? He is still making movies. What’s Oprah doing now that she’s made billions? Still interviewing people to find out what they have to offer her audiences. What’s Steve Jobs up to? He’s working on guiding Apple to make electronic technology incredibly useful for consumers. What is Charlie Rose at the age of 67 doing tonight? He’s interviewing one of the world’s movers and shakers. Now that Bruce Springsteen has turned 60, what’s he doing? Putting on great concerts. What’s my mom doing today at the age of 80? She’s still being a great stay-at-home mom as she has been for the past 54 years and caring for other people.
Be OK with who you are and who you are not. Stop wasting time always wanting to be someone else and always wanting a different career path. To manifest a great career you have to stick to the path of your own choosing, and not feel bad about all the paths you have chosen not to pursue. In reality, the more you consciously say no to alternative paths, the more sincerely you say yes to your life’s work.
About Dan Coughlin
Dan is a student and teacher of practical processes that improve business performance. His purpose is to work with executives and managers so they achieve great performances. He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, executive coach, and author of three books on management performance, including his newest, The Management 500: A High-Octane Formula for Business Success (AMACOM 2009). Read Chapter One from this new book free of charge. Dan’s clients include Coca-Cola, Abbott, Toyota, Prudential, Shell, Boeing, Marriott, McDonald’s, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
By Dan Coughlin
Before you can deliver a great performance, you need to have an opportunity to perform. With at least 15 million Americans out of work, the importance of searching for and gaining a desired type of job may be of importance to you now or in the future or for someone you know. Or you might have a job, but want a different job.
The Definition of a Job
A job is an opportunity to create and deliver value for other people for which you are financially reimbursed. Both parts of that definition are important.
If you create and deliver value but don’t get paid for it, that’s a volunteer activity. I’m a big fan of volunteer activities. I’ve invested a great deal of time over the past fifteen years volunteering as the president of three different associations, teaching Sunday School classes at my church, and coaching youth sports. I’m guessing you have volunteered a great deal of time as well. Volunteer efforts are critically important. First, you might make a great positive impact on other people’s lives. Second, you might sharpen your skills in important areas. Third, you might meet someone who enhances your career. Volunteering is important, but it is not a job.
If a person receives financial reimbursement for an activity that does not create and deliver value for other people, he or she may be surprised when that activity is no longer considered valuable enough to keep around. Be sure that as you are being financially compensated you are also creating and delivering value. During a terrible recession sometimes valuable contributions are eliminated. But even during the best of times organizations will examine the value contribution of every role and decide if they are worth keeping around.
A Job Search is a Microcosm of a Business
Everything that is important in searching for a job is also important in running a successful business. Entrepreneurs naturally understand this because entrepreneurs are always searching for the next job, even though they call it the next “project” or “assignment.”
Every business, small, medium, or large, focuses on preparation, operations, research and development, marketing, branding, selling, innovation, problem solving, finances, legal issues, and building value-added relationships with customers and potential customers. Every one of these items is critically important in searching for a job.
Job Search Action #1: Be prepared.
Be ready for an employer BEFORE the employer is ready for you.
If a person has had a job for twenty years and then suddenly finds himself or herself without a paycheck, it can be a very difficult blow to the person’s self-esteem. The person may not clearly see the value he or she brings to life’s party. Consequently, I think it’s very important for the person to take exceptionally good care of himself or herself.
So my very first suggestion when you’re looking for a job is to physically exercise and get in the best condition you can be in. This is something you are in control of. Rather than working eight hours a day searching for a job, I suggest you carve out ninety minutes a day to warm up properly, exercise, and warm down properly. Even if this means walking around the block one time to get started, do it. As you begin to get in much better physical shape, you will strengthen your self-esteem and remind yourself that you are to a large degree in charge of your destiny.
Also, continually sharpen your mind and your skills. This is where volunteering can help you. Put yourself in situations where you have to execute in the types of areas you want to be hired for. If you want a senior-level executive position, volunteer to be a board member for a local or national organization. If you want a sales manager’s position, volunteer to organize a fundraising effort in your community.
Be prepared for an employer before the employer finds out about you.
Job Search Action #2: Research Before You Search
Before you start searching for a job, research the industry and any targeted companies you would like to work for. Learn everything you can. Talk to customers, go on line and study their websites, know the trends and challenges and opportunities in the industry and the organizations, and know who the most important movers and shakers are in that industry or organization.
Before I speak to an audience I always interview at least a dozen people, study as much information as I can get my hands on about the organization, and usually volunteer to go on site and observe people in their normal workday activities. When the actual job opportunity opens up, you will be infinitely better prepared if you’ve been doing your research all along.
Job Search Action #3: Clarify Your Value
Businesses sell products and services. You are selling yourself. You are the product and service that you are selling. Your product consists of your values, strengths, passions, knowledge, skills, and experience. Take out a sheet of paper. Under each of those headlines describe what you bring to a potential employer. Then think of an example that supports why you feel you bring that characteristic. Invest sixty minutes in this exercise. Pretty soon you’ll see that some employer is going to be very fortunate to hire you.
Job Search Action #4: Use a Comprehensive Marketing Program
When I speak to entrepreneurs and salespeople I often explain how some of my biggest business opportunities came from people I never would have expected to help me. I just didn’t know who was going to open a door for me or how big the room was going to be. And neither do you. Never write off the possibility that someone you don’t expect to ever help you might turn out to be the most important person in your career.
I used to be a high school teacher. I wanted to be a management consultant and business speaker. That was thirteen years ago. I taught freshmen algebra. The father of a sophomore whom I had taught the year before worked for McDonald’s Corporation. We connected on a very small school event. A year later he invited me to speak to a group of department heads at McDonald’s. That one speech led to me serving as an executive coach for more than 60 people at McDonald’s and to more than five hundred presentations to executives and managers at a wide range of organizations in over thirty industries.
Think of yourself as a business. Now think of all the ways this business can market what it has to sell to prospective buyers. When it comes to a job search you only need one perspective buyer to actually buy/”hire you.” The key is you may need to attract a mountain of opportunities in order to land one that you are really excited about.
Take out several sheets of paper. Start writing down every single person you know. Really challenge yourself to think of people who might know you. Write their names down. Let these individuals know specifically what type of job you want and what type of organization you want to work for. Remember: clarity is powerful, vagueness is not. You are trying to stir up a wide range of people who can recommend you to a potential employer. If they don’t specifically know what you want, what are the odds they are going to be successful in recommending you?
Go on the internet and be creative. Put in search words for the type of industry, organization, or job that you want. See what you come up with. Keep searching on-line to see if you can find a key person to contact. Intelligently use Facebook and Twitter to reach out to people to see if you can uncover opportunities for the type of job you want and the type of company you want to work for.
Attend meetings at organizations that help people find out about jobs. I’ve spoken at these organizations many times, and I’m always impressed by the quality of folks who attend their meetings. You never know who might know someone that you need to know. Don’t think of a job search as an embarrassing activity. Think of yourself as the CEO of a major company and you are letting the marketplace know about a great new product/service that will be of tremendous benefit to some customer/employer. Be proud of your job search and of what you have to offer. You are like a professional baseball player who just became a free agent. Be selective in whom you decide to play for. And make sure the financial compensation is what you consider to be fair and appropriate. If you go to work every day feeling that you are being taken advantage of, you may very well further hurt your self-esteem.
Job Search Action #5: Establish Your Desired Brand
A brand is the value customers think they get when they buy from a particular organization or prospective customers think they would get if they did buy from that organization. Companies don’t own the brand. The brand exists in the minds of their customers and prospective customers.
You have a brand as well. When potential employers think of you what is the value they think they would be receiving if they hire you? Do they think you are the best at resolving difficult obstacles, a master at negotiating complex contracts, or an expert at explaining in-depth technical information in ways that ordinary people can understand it?
Just as customers and potential customers rank products in their mind for a given category, potential employers rank candidates in their mind for a given position inside their organizations. What can you do to enhance your ranking in the minds of employers for the positions you want to be considered for? This is no simple assignment. It requires thought.
Job Search Action #6: Close the Deal and Sign the Contract
Searching for a job is not a job. A job is when you receive an opportunity to create and deliver value for other people for which you are financially compensated. You don’t have a job until you close the deal. That is, stay focused until you have worked out the details of what you are agreeing to do and the way in which you will be financially compensated. Then sign that contract or shake that hand, and get started on the job.
Instead of thinking of a job search as a once-a-decade activity, think of it as part of your professional life. Whether you have a job right now or not isn’t the point. The point is I encourage you to always sharpen your ability to search for a job. It’s really like running your own business, with you serving as head of research and development, marketing, and sales. Get yourself ready and go after the marketplace. It’s an exciting and challenging adventure, and it will bring out the best in you.
(Note: If you want the MP3 recording of this article, please send an e-mail to email@example.com “Job Search Article” in the subject heading.)
About Dan Coughlin
Dan is a student and teacher of practical processes that improve business performance. His purpose is to work with executives and managers so they achieve great performances. He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, executive coach, and author of three books on management performance, including his newest, The Management 500: A High-Octane Formula for Business Success (AMACOM 2009). Read Chapter One from this new book free of charge. Dan’s clients include Coca-Cola, Abbott, Toyota, Prudential, Shell, Boeing, Marriott, McDonald’s, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
By Dan Coughlin
I’ve learned that writing a book is an exhilarating experience. Essentially an author is handed 250 blank canvasses and is allowed to create whatever he or she wants. However, the canvasses do have to fit under a certain theme and the chapters, while being able to stand alone in terms of their uniqueness and contribution, have to connect to one another in some meaningful way.
Your career is like a book where you fill in the blank canvasses.
Writing a book requires a person to both step back and visualize how the chapters fit together and step forward to the keyboard and fill in the words. To build a great career you need to step back and visualize how the various jobs you take on fit together in a meaningful way and step forward to each job and execute your responsibilities masterfully. This article is about stepping back and visualizing how your next job will fit meaningfully within your overall career.
Move within Your Purpose, Passions, Strengths, and Values
You have roughly 1,000 different things you can do as your next job. As a starting point to narrow your job search, I suggest that any job you take on should fit within your purpose, passions, strengths, and values. Take out a sheet of paper and answer these four questions:
- What is the purpose I want guiding my career?
- What gets me excited when I do it?
- What am I good at doing?
- What beliefs determine my behaviors?
After you answer these questions you’re in a much better position to select your next job. Some people might argue that during a tough recession all of those things should be put on the back burner and that making money should be the driving force. In other words, the only question that should be answered is, “How much does the job pay?”
I don’t think that is a good idea. If you take a job just for the money and you find no purpose in your work, you have no passion for doing it, you are not particularly good at it, and the work does not match your values, then you are destined to fail. So how worthwhile will that good paycheck be then?
Put in place the four critical career screens of purpose, passion, strengths, and values first, and then begin to consider various career moves that fit within them.
Career Move #1: Same Organization, Expanded Responsibilities
The grass is not always greener at the next organization. And if you keep chasing greener grass eventually you will run out of grass to chase. Sometimes the very best career move for you is to stay within your organization.
Two organizations I worked with for over a decade as a consultant are McDonald’s Corporation and Marriott International. I admired these two companies long before I worked with their executives and managers, but in being side by side with these individuals I learned one of their most important keys to success: they provide opportunities for people to expand their responsibilities. At McDonald’s USA, many of their top executives started working in a single restaurant. Then the person became in charge of the restaurant, then oversaw four restaurants, then 16 restaurants, then 500 restaurants, and ultimately all 13,000 restaurants. And with each expansion of responsibilities the person’s breadth and depth of leadership and management skills grew and grew. The same pattern is true within Marriott. I’ve seen a bellman become general manager of major Marriott hotels.
Is there a possibility that you can expand your responsibilities within your organization as your next career move?
Career Move #2: Same Organization, Different Responsibilities
I have a good friend who received her degree in Economics from Northwestern University. She started her career in finance at a large national company. After a few years, her boss offered her a brilliant piece of advice: learn different parts of the business and it may help you later in your career. So she went on to take jobs in marketing, sales, and operations. Today she is the Chief Global Marketing Officer of a massive company that spans countries around the world, and she never had to change employers.
If you’ve become a great performer within a particular function in your organization, then your next best move might be to leave that function and dive into a different one. If you know operations, apply for a job in human resources or marketing or sales or business research. What makes Roger Federer such a great tennis player is his mastery of all of the different aspects of the game. Master the different aspects of your organization and make yourself dramatically more valuable.
What function within your organization could you step into to expand your skill set?
Career Move #3: Same Industry, Different Organization
Sometimes you just need to refresh your perspective, opportunities, and relationships. A lateral move to a different company in your same industry may be just the ticket to reignite your career. Like a professional baseball player who finds new levels of success with a different team, you may find that people view you differently when you walk through a different door.
A friend of mine went from a sales manager position at Procter & Gamble, which was his first employer out of college, to a sales manager position at Brach’s Candy. He was still in the consumer goods retail industry, but he was seen in a new light. Instead of bosses seeing him as the 21-year-old college grad with no experience, he became seen as a fast-rising 25-year-old with experience at one of the world’s greatest companies. Suddenly he was given opportunities that he never would have received as quickly at P&G.
Assess your situation. Are you being perceived by your boss and peers in ways that are keeping you from receiving meaningful new opportunities? Is it them or is it you that is keeping you from advancing in the organization? That’s a tough call to make, but it’s a crossroads we almost all face at some point.
Can you leverage your industry knowledge into a new job that may lead to an even brighter future for your career?
Career Move #4: Same Skills, Different Industry
This is the move that opens up your career chessboard considerably. It is where some careers accelerate to new heights and where others crash and burn. Leaving an industry is fraught with challenges. For one you’re leaving your contacts and relationships and reputation behind you. The personal brand you’ve built for yourself is no longer going to win you new opportunities. You have to start over and build a new brand one for yourself. If you’ve been a star performer, this can be a daunting mental challenge to overcome. You also are leaving behind all of the industry knowledge you’ve developed that allowed you to resolve issues quickly and move forward effectively.
However, if you move forward with your enhanced experiences, maturity, sense of purpose, passions, strengths, and values, you may very well build a far stronger brand in the new industry. This is certainly a viable option if you want to create a variety of new opportunities for your career. My friend went from Brach’s Candy to a tremendous opportunity in the medical device industry because he was willing to let go of one industry and step into the challenges of another industry.
Career Move #5: Turn a Dead End into an Eight-Lane Superhighway
Considering the incredibly high percentage of layoffs among white-collar workers over the past 12 months, this next career move might apply to you now or in the near future. Managers and knowledge workers in virtually every industry have lost jobs in huge numbers, and the end may not be in sight yet.
Rather than seeing the end of one job as the end of your career, I encourage you to see it as a valuable time to step back and rethink the future of your career. Go back to the four questions at the beginning of this article and really clarify the purpose you want to fulfill in your work, the things you are most passionate about, the strengths you bring to the table, and the values you absolutely, positively want guiding your life and your work.
Invariably it was the forced stops in the game that caused some of the world’s greatest performers to step back, rethink their next move, and come back with renewed focus that made them vastly more successful in their new job than in their previous ones. In 1981, at the age of 39, Michael Bloomberg was fired at Salomon Brothers. He went on to build Innovative Market Systems (later named Bloomberg L.P.) that today is worth $16 Billion. In addition, he has been Mayor of New York City since 2001. None of this may have happened if he had not been forced to deal with a dead end.
If your career has suddenly run into a dramatic dead end, I encourage you to step back and start over. Go back to the original questions concerning your purpose, passions, strengths, and values. Then go through each of the career move options discussed in this article, and visualize what your next job might look like.
Do you want to seek a different position in your company, possibly in a different function?
Do you want to seek a job at a different company in your industry where you can leverage your industry knowledge?
Do you want to seek a job at a company outside of your industry where you can leverage your passions and strengths while still operating within your purpose and values?
Or do you want to start your own business where you can create an organization that reflects your purpose, passions, strengths, and values?
In his autobiography, The Other Side of Me (Warner Books 2005), Sidney Sheldon, whose books sold more than 300 million copies, told a powerful story. He wrote that in 1934 when he was 17 he tried to commit suicide because there didn’t seem to be any opportunities for him. His father found him at the last second and after a little warm-up conversation said,
“Sidney, you told me that you wanted to be a writer more than anything in the world. You don’t know what can happen tomorrow. Life is like a novel, isn’t it? It’s filled with suspense. You have no idea what’s going to happen until you turn the page. Every day is a different page, Sidney, and they can be full of surprises. You’ll never know what’s next until you turn the page. If you really want to commit suicide, Sidney, I understand. But I’d hate to see you close the book too soon and miss all the excitement that could happen to you on the next page – the page you’re going to write.”
Sheldon didn’t commit suicide. Instead he went on to become a prolific writer of stories in Hollywood, on Broadway, and in his 18 novels.
Your career consists of a series of chapters. Choose each job carefully, execute your responsibilities as well as you can, and take time to step back and visualize your next chapter.
About Dan Coughlin
Visit Dan at www.thecoughlincompany.com. Dan is a student and teacher of practical processes that improve business performance. His purpose is to work with executives and managers so they achieve great performances. He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, executive coach, and author of three books, including his newest, The Management 500: A High-Octane Formula for Business Success (AMACOM 2009).
By Roy Williams (The Wizard of Ads)
What will be your customer’s memory of you?
“It [the Cheshire Cat] vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
I never ask the graduates of Wizard Academy, “What could we have done differently? How might we improve?” To do so would be to ask them to search their memories for disappointing moments. These are not the images I want to cement in their minds.
Instead, I ask, “What was your favorite moment during your time with us?” This causes the students to recall each of the high-impact moments during of their time on campus and relive those moments in their mind. It doesn’t matter what they choose as their favorite, I just want to flood their minds with happy memories.
The grin will remain after the rest of it is gone.
It is important to control the Last Mental Image (LMI.) What procedures do you employ to make sure your customer has a positive LMI of their experience with you? Comment below.
- Monday Morning Memo
Good tips from WikiHow
Everyone suffers from Someday Syndrome at some point in their lives, often catching it repeatedly. You probably have something similar going on in your life – a project, a task, a goal – that you just haven’t got around to doing yet. Right? It would be easy to quote Nike and say: Just Do It, but if it were that simple Someday Syndrome wouldn’t exist. Here are some key ways to cure Someday Syndrome so that you don’t need to suffer through a cure.
- Be you.
- Clear out the junk.
- Know what you want.
- Make a grand plan.
- Take one step at a time.
- Ignore the rest.
- Get help.
- Don’t compare.
- Be uncomfortable.
- Celebrate the process as well as the end.
- Don’t stop at the easy point.
By Dan Coughlin
Assume that all of your hard work over all these years has suddenly paid off in the form of you achieving what you’ve always wanted. You now have the income, title, responsibilities, authority, scope of influence, skills, reputation, clients, and flow of opportunities that you’ve always dreamed of having.
Now the real work begins.
It is far harder to handle success successfully than it is to persevere through tough times. Are you really ready to demonstrate long-term greatness if great success suddenly comes your way?
A Brief History of Being Good with Bad Times and Bad with Good Times
Over the past one hundred years, Americans have demonstrated they are very good at dealing with bad times and very bad at dealing with good times.
During the U.S. involvement in World War I (1915-1918) Americans pulled together and demonstrated extraordinary levels of sacrifice, commitment, and teamwork to pull through the country’s worst catastrophe since the Civil War. This was followed by the Roaring 20s when many Americans thought they had discovered the secret to wealth in the stock market and danced their hearts away.
That was followed by the Great Depression and World War II, a time once again marked by long-term sacrifice, focus, commitment, and teamwork. In the relatively affluent 50s, American companies flourished and Americans bought toasters, washing machines, televisions, cars, and refrigerators like they were going out of style, which they often did. This was followed by the tumultuous late 60s and the economic recession throughout much of the 70s.
The materialism and economic growth of the 80s were followed by the recession of the early 90s. The wild prosperity fueled by the dot com craze of the late 90s was followed by the dot com bubble burst in March 2000 and the ensuing recession that marked those years. U.S. citizens bonded together after the terrorist attack of September 11th 2001 in ways many people had never seen before. The rise in home prices and the stock market in 2003-2006 were followed by the prolonged recession from December 2007 through today. Once again Americans are becoming good at sacrifice, commitment, and teamwork.
But why are we so bad at handling good times in ways that could allow us to continually improve our results? Why are we so often are own worst enemy when we are in the best position to generate long-term sustainable success? And what lessons can be learned from history that an individual can apply in his or her own career to sustain greatness when success finally arrives?
Lesson #1: Remember there ain’t no free lunch, no silver bullets, and no secret fountains of money.
During good times, Americans have consistently thought they had it all figured out. Somehow we forget that we’ve had short-term success in the past that didn’t work out very well.
In the mid-1920s, mid-1980s, late 1990s, and mid-2000s, many Americans thought buying stocks would automatically move them up the economic ladder. The greatest piece of business advice I’ve ever learned is “there ain’t no free lunch.” In the late 1890s people thought finding gold was the key and in the late 1990s people thought buying dot-com “gold” was the answer. Don’t ever assume that a stock purchase, a good relationship with your boss, a degree from the “right” university, or employment at a “great” company will ensure your long-term greatness. It won’t. The stock market collapses in 1929, 1987, 2000, and 2008 have shown what goes up doesn’t necessarily always continue to go up.
Based on the amazing sales of American manufactured products and the extraordinary rise in the standard of living for Americans in the 1950s, many people thought that U.S. managers had discovered a silver bullet and would continue to generate incredible economic growth forever. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Many key U.S. executives in the 1960s focused more on profits than on constantly improving the quality and safety of what their companies were producing and they made their companies and industries vulnerable to attacks from a host of other companies.
They quickly learned through the painful 70s that customers don’t care about their profits. They also learned that customers do care about quality, safety, and value. Many executives in the financial industry from 2003-2007 thought they had figured out a way to turn bad loans into great products until one day they found out that wasn’t a secret fountain of money either.
When your great day of success shows up, don’t waste any energy thinking you have it all figured out. Keep striving to get better. Success just means you have a better foundation to work off of for the future. It doesn’t mean you have a guaranteed incredible future.
Lesson #2: Great performance creates great value, and poor performance ruins it.
Jason Jennings has written a tremendous new book called, Hit The Ground Running: A Manual for New Leaders (Portfolio 2009). I’ve decided to rename the subtitle: A Manual for Leaders Who Aspire for Greatness because I believe any executive or manager in any for-profit or not-for-profit organization would benefit tremendously from this remarkably powerful book.
Jason Jennings is the rare person who has the energy to climb the massive mountain of research necessary to really understand an issue and the patience to climb down the mountain and explain what he has learned in practical ways that people can actually use. He and his research team took the 1,000 largest publicly-owned U.S. companies and searched for the best performers from 2001-2007. He wanted the whole focus to be on performance that occurred in the 21st century. Through a series of extraordinarily stringent filters, he narrowed his list to the nine best-performing American companies in this century. He then personally interviewed the ten CEOs (one company has co-CEOs) of these companies. What he found re-energized me. These ten CEOs did, and did not do, some very unusual things.
They were clearly anti-fancy. When they inherited large personal offices, they got rid of the fancy furniture, brought in conference tables and whiteboards, and created working functional spaces for themselves and their team members. One took out his private bathroom and asked why in the world he would need his own bathroom.
They were anti-buzzwords. None of them talked about six-month strategic development processes, stated lofty and complicated visions, spent insane amounts of money for big-name consulting firms to tell them what to do, or hung posters with catchy themes at every one of their business locations.
They talked with employees, board members, managers, and past CEOs. These high-performing CEOs are very down-to-earth individuals. Consistently, they said they didn’t have all the answers and wanted to get to know and learn from as many people connected with their organizations as they could. They were not acting like the proverbial superhero action figures ready to save people from peril. They were genuine individuals who simply wanted to learn anything they could to help their companies succeed in the short and long term.
They clarified a destination and practical steps to achieve that destination in a reasonable time frame. They simply refused to get caught up in making wild predictions to drive their stock price higher. They were maniacal about establishing practical plans and continually monitoring progress to make sure those plans were on track. They remained flexible in making adjustments to hit their desired destination. They kept their businesses as simple as they possibly could in order to optimize efficiency and productivity.
The single biggest takeaway for me from the very best CEOs and their companies is that they maintained a singular focus on improving the performance they felt would benefit their customers the most in terms of creating real value for them.
If you want to be able to strengthen your mantle for greatness, the absolute key is to always improve your performance, which is the actual creation of value that other people will want to use and will benefit from in a meaningful way. If you develop the ability to always do exactly that in good economic and bad economic times, you will be able to handle success and maintain the capacity for greatness over the long term.
Lesson #3: Avoid the “So what are you up to lately?” dilemma.
I think this is the most subtle and pervasive problem in the history of U.S. economics. No matter how successful a company or an individual becomes, the first question asked of him or her by friends and family is, “So what are you up to lately?” In other words, “What have you achieved lately, what is your salary, what new homes are you buying, what vacation homes are you building, and where is the next fancy resort you’re going to visit?” The problem isn’t with the question or the questioners. The problem is the distraction that individuals allow it to create.
This obsession with more, more, more, bigger, bigger, bigger, and faster, faster, faster throws out of whack the steady, plain, simple, consistent, and boring process of creating greater value that customers will want to purchase at reasonable fees that will generate long-term growth. This is not a modern phenomenon. At least since the 1920s, and then repeated at least every couple of decades, Americans have become maniacal about taking some short-term success and wanting to convert it immediately into much greater success. Whatever happened to the tortoise beating the hare?
I encourage you to improve, create greater value, achieve some success, and then repeat that formula consistently over the entire period of your working life. It is what made you successful once and it is what will consistently make you successful in the future. Just don’t force the future into today’s envelope. Be patient and let your improvements generate greater success when the time is right.
Lesson #4: Values matter and so do lack of values.
Nothing has ever destroyed future greatness faster than a breakdown in personal values. Values are beliefs that determine behaviors. You get to choose six. What six values do you want guiding your behaviors? Ok, if you really want, you can choose eight, but that’s it. Here are mine: integrity, curiosity, friendliness, open-mindedness, innovation, and empathy. OK, two more: tenacity and accountability. That’s it.
Choose your values carefully. If you want to build a personal mantle that can handle success and sustain itself for a lifetime of greatness, then you have to live by the values you’ve chosen carefully. I’ve never met the person who chose cheating, lying, and stealing to be the values that would guide his or her life. For some people, those things snuck in when they weren’t watching their values. Watch your values carefully and let greatness sneak in when you’re not looking.
If you lie about little things, you’ll lie about big things. If you’ll take more money than your company can realistically afford to pay you just because you can get away with it, you’ve shown where your priorities are for the long term. Don’t reward yourself today based on dreams for tomorrow. If you’re honest in little things, you will be in big things as well. Values have a way of repeating themselves.
Be ready for success. It can happen at any moment.
About Dan Coughlin
He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, and author of ACCELERATE: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum. He speaks on leadership, branding, sales, and innovation. His next book, The Management 500: A High-Octane Formula for Business Success, which is about practical management lessons from the history of professional auto racing, will be published in May 2009.
By Dan Coughlin
I just love that phrase. It means, “reason for existence.” If you want to maintain the enthusiasm and make the effective decisions necessary to accelerate through this economic crisis, it is critical to take the time necessary to clarify the purpose of your career, the purpose of your work group, and the purpose of your organization. Being excited all day won’t help you find a purpose in your work. Knowing the reason why you, your group, and your organization do what you do will generate a steady flow of passion even in the worst of times as long as you really believe in the purpose of that work. If not, then find the work that has the purpose you want.
My next book, The Management 500, is about management lessons from the history of auto racing. As I peeled back the layers of the auto racing onion, I found a heart. A great big pulsating heart. Actually I found a lot of hearts. The secret to the success of NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula 1 racing is passion. Drivers, engineers, mechanics, crew chiefs, crew members, and fans alike derive incredible passion from a simple purpose: a desire to win the race.
One of my favorite pieces in my research was finding an original copy of Enzo Ferrari’s 1964 autobiography. One sentence stands out above all the others. He wrote,
“Fate is to a good extent in our own hands if we only know clearly what we want
and are steadfast in our purpose.”
Carl Edwards was named the NASCAR.com 2008 Driver of the Year. How did he do it? He finished in 2nd place in both the season-long NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AND the season-long NASCAR Nationwide Series. This means that from February through November of 2008, Carl Edwards competed successfully over the course of 36 races in two different leagues. It would be like a professional basketball team coming in second in the NBA and second in the top Spanish League in the same season. And where does his passion come from? He has an extraordinary desire to win races.
Dan Harbaugh is president of Ronald McDonald House Charities in St. Louis. Dan Harbaugh is one of the most consistently passionate people I’ve ever met. I’ve known Dan for ten years and have seen him present to hundreds of people, have discussions in small groups, and attend seminars as a student in the very best of economic times and the very worst. In every situation he brings an extraordinary degree of passion. Where does this passion come from and how can he possibly sustain it so consistently? The answer lies in his purpose. He absolutely believes in the purpose of RMHC, which is primarily to provide a home away from home for the families of very sick children. With that purpose in mind, he continues to march forward with enthusiasm.
Elaine Floyd is a small business owner with two busy teenagers and a very busy husband. Elaine Floyd is one of the most passionate people I’ve met in the past fifteen years. She is the president of EFG, Inc., which helps clients craft their messages into really powerful professionally published books. And where does Elaine draw her passion from? She finds enormous excitement and satisfaction in helping other people get their message out by intersecting cutting-edge computer technology with the creative flair of high-end book publishing.
Matt Miller is a grade school principal. Matt Miller brings more passion to his work than almost anyone I know. I’ve seen him get four hundred kids to scream and yell about reading books and comprehending what they know. I’ve seen him get students to cheer for each other for being kind to one another. I’ve seen him wander into classrooms, accept trays in the cafeteria, and pat kids on the back. I’ve seen him snap two fingers and get hundreds of loud kids to become instantly quiet. And where does his daily enthusiasm come from? He wants kids to succeed in life, and he understands that it’s the little things that make for long-term, life-long success.
Roy Spence is Chairman and CEO of GSD&M Idea City, which over the past twenty years has been the advertising agency for BMW, AT&T, Wal-Mart, AARP, Southwest Airlines, the PGA Tour, American Red Cross, and a host of other major organizations. Roy Spence is the most passionate person I’ve ever met, and his purpose is to help organizations make a difference in the world. And he’s very, very good at it. Over the course of three years, I worked as a consultant with a few dozen people at GSD&M Idea City in a wide variety of functions and up and down the org chart. Every time I walked into their building I felt as though I was stepping into the Disney Company back in the 1930s when Walt Disney was actively involved. The creative energy pulsated throughout the building.
In the more than forty meetings I attended there a single common theme came up every time. In every meeting, the common question was, “How will this idea support the purpose of this client’s business?” Everything at GSD&M Idea City revolved around this question. If the idea did not support the client organization’s purpose for existence, then it was rejected. It was this passionate commitment to finding and supporting the client’s purpose that helped lead to extraordinary breakthrough results for many of these organizations.
Roy Spence, and GSD&M Idea City’s chief purposeologist, Haley Rushing, have written an extraordinary new book called, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For. I encourage you to read this book. It is packed with practical advice and real-world examples on how to intersect the idealism of purpose with the pragmatism necessary to generate extraordinary business results.
I believe that as you read it you will find yourself, as I did, thinking more and more about why you do what you do, why your groups do what they do, and why your organization exists. You will also find the key questions to answer on how to convert a business purpose into a driver of better sustainable results. This book is really a masterpiece on making the purpose of an organization the driver of effective decision-making. Through its ideas, suggested tactics, and real-life examples at Southwest Airlines, BMW, the PGA Tour, and many others you will clearly see how a well-defined purpose can impact your operations, research and development, hiring, and marketing, and produce extraordinary sustainable results.
Downtime is a Terrific Time to Prepare for Greatness
If your business has slowed down, don’t waste a minute worrying. Instead use this time to clarify your answers to these three critically important questions:
i. Why do I do what I do for a living?
ii. Why does my work group exist?
iii. What purpose is our organization trying to fulfill?
The first step to building an extraordinary career, team, and organization is to know the reason behind the activities. This clarification will help you and others decide what to do and more importantly what not to do. With a clear purpose, you can sustain a focused effort over the long term and generate extraordinary results.
By E. Brown
If you’re a Web designer or part of a Web development team you gotta check out iPlotz. This subscription based SaaS has some very cool application for collaborative wire-frame development and workflow.
Browser-based, it works with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can easily add and delete pages from your sitemap. THen add images, fields, navigation, etc. and size them accordingly. You can even link from within and without of your wireframe project.
To me, the real power comes in the collaborative aspects. You can invite others to work on the project and comment regarding any element or component of the pages being built. You can then assign to-do’s to members that only they can see as you start to move the project into production.
Check it out. For $99/yr and a gig of space you cannot beat the time savings.
Don’t know what you may think of Dave Ramsey, but there is no doubt he has helped many people become financially free. Here is a list Dave has recently been using on his daily radio program . Enjoy!
By William J. H. Boetcker (wrongfully attributed to Abraham Lincoln)
- You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
- You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
- You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
- You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
- You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
- You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
- You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
- You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
- You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
- You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.
I saw this collection of humorous excuses that Patrick Erwin put together on the CareerBuilder Job Blog. Do not try these at home unless you want to spend time looking for a new job at CareerBuilder :)
What are some of the most outrageous excuses (and by excuses, we mean ‘lies’) that an employee has give as a reason for their absence? Here’s the best of the best:
- Employee didn’t want to lose the parking space in front of his house.
- Employee hit a turkey while riding a bike.
- Employee said he had a heart attack early that morning, but that he was “all better now.”
- Employee donated too much blood.
- Employee’s dog was stressed out after a family reunion.
- Employee was kicked by a deer.
- Employee contracted mono after kissing a mailroom intern at the company holiday party and suggested the company post some sort of notice to warn others who may have kissed him.
- Employee swallowed too much mouthwash.
- Employee’s wife burned all his clothes and he had nothing to wear to work.
- Employee’s toe was injured when a soda can fell out of the refrigerator.
- Employee was up all night because the police were investigating the death of someone discovered behind her house.
- Employee’s psychic told her to stay home.
I saw this nice little article on PC Mag.com and had to share. Some of these I knew and some are now favorites. Enjoy!
Everyone has secrets—even your Mac. And your Mac may be your friend, your best friend, or even your only friend, but there are still a few things it’s not going to share with you no matter how close the two of you are. Did you know that your Mac can proofread—out loud? That it can help you create new keyboard shortcuts in most apps? Are you familiar with its security tricks? Its productivity skills? Come along as we uncover some of your Mac’s more exotic capabilities. Some you probably already know about. But we’re willing to wager that most will be new to you, though they’ve all been around at least since Panther (OS 10.3) and some have been a part of the Mac experience for as long as we can remember. Let’s get started.
(Image Credit – PC Mag.com)
Are you on a virtual team? Are you amongst the next generation web workers of the world? Then Wiggio is for you!
From Wiggio’s About Page
As seniors at Cornell, we started wiggio out of our own frustrations with unnecessarily clogged inboxes, using five different websites for five different functions, and all the other hassles associated with working in groups. We were tired of sending eleven emails back and forth just to set a meeting time. We were tired of that guy who just never knows where and when to be there. We were tired of list-servs, contact lists, phone-chains and incompatibilities. We wanted everything to be in one place, and we wanted it simple. So we created wiggio.
- Messages— send mass text messages, voice messages and emails from wiggio
- Calendar— keep a shared group calendar that will send you text message reminders before all your meetings, practices, rehearsals, games and other events
- Poll—survey your entire group and get their responses as they answer
- Folder— dump all your groups’ files into one folder and never send another attachment
- Meetings— never walk 15 minutes through the snow to get to a 10 minute meeting again… setup free conference calls and web chats on Wiggio
- Links— keep a shared favorites folder