Tag Archives: Business

Win by Controlling What You Can

Every great leader I have ever worked with in business, politics or ministry have all had an incredible ability to focus.

It is this ability that rise above the noise or separate the wheat from the chaff that keeps them moving forward when others get distracted or get knocked back by circumstances completely beyond their ability to affect.

So the key question is what can you actually control? How do you stay focused on what matters?

Whether it is my son’s 10 year-old flag football team, a global sales force, or an executive counterpart, every team and person I have had the privilege to lead has heard me mention and repeat the following (over and over.)

The Key to Success is controlling what you can and the only things you can control is your:

·    Attitude – Your attitude will determine your experience.

·     Effort – Your Effort reflects your willingness to fight.

·     Preparation– Your preparation allows you to make the most of the opportunity when it comes.

Notice what is not on this list:

You cannot control:

·     The Result – Sometimes you lose the game, don’t get the deal. Lean what you can and prepare better next time.

·     Other People (As Much as We would like to) – Some people will not like you, their choice. You control your attitude toward them.

·     Timing – Sometimes people get sick or in accidents. Will this distract you or will you put the effort in and get back to work.

As a leader, people are looking to you. They key is you can help them more effectively fail-forward if you can look at a set-back and say, “Next Time, do we need to improve our attitude, Effort or Preparedness?”

A great cake is made of great ingredients. You don’t fix the cake, you fix the what goes into the cake. Same applies here.

Stuff Happen and most of it you can’t control… Get over it and don’t get so paralyzed by the outcome that you don’t learn from the process.

You will see a multiplication of results by putting your and your team’s focus and attention on what you can actually affect.  Let’s go get better.


2016 – Give the Gift of Feedback

Throughout the workplace, people are emerging back from vacations, turning their calendars and perhaps wishing they could push the snooze button for one more day…. Just perhaps

The dawn of 2016 also opens the season of annual performance reviews.  This tends to make people want to crawl back under the covers as managers deliver 10-20 of these reports.

Can I challenge you to embrace this season and encourage you to see feedback as a gift that is worth giving; not just once or twice a year?  Let’s make 2016 the year you give people continual and concrete feedback.  Creating a feedback rich environment will cement your culture as a place where “everyone gets better everyday.”

As a leader, it is one of the most significant changes you can make to increase the level of performance, alignment and satisfaction of your employees and co-workers.

Why is this:

  1. Most people are never told, specifically, that they are doing well and where they can improve. You might be the first person to give them effective feedback.
  2. Most people are never shown the outcome of their behavior.
  3. Most people never get supportive feedback that is specific and applicable.
  4. Most people are never told of their blind-spots, until it is too late.
  5. Most people crave it… Certainly the kids of people you want on your team do.

If any of the above is true, why don’t we do it more.

Carole Rubin states it this way..  “But providing feedback to a colleague or a friend can be difficult and scary, especially when it concerns something that is hurting your company or your relationship with that person. That fear, Robin says, is based on a belief that many hold that constructive criticism will harm the relationship…. The reality is that feedback can actually strengthen a relationship, because knowing that another person is going to tell it to you straight creates and builds trust….Taking the risk of providing feedback shows the other person that you are invested in the relationship and willing to take the time to help fix the issue.”

No matter where you have been…Here are some places to start….

  1. Feedback Needs to be Constructive:

Feedback is applying how actions contributed or detracted from the team and its overall performance. Random criticism and nit-picking is not the feedback that will get you anywhere.  Might make you feel better but it not worth the cost.

There is an urban legend of IBM founder Thomas Watson….  The legend goes that a top salesman lost $5 million on a project he’d been working on.

Called to see the boss, the salesman prepared to be fired. However, once he was ushered into Watson’s office, he was surprised to find that Watson cheerfully started discussing the next big project they were planning.

Dazed and confused the salesman asked Watson if he was going to fire him for the loss.  “Fire you?” responded Watson. “Why would we want to fire you when we’ve just spent $5 million training you up?”

The Point:  There are times, you will have to fire someone but if you want an open environment where people get better, you have to do it together, and you have to lead this from the top.  Feedback is not shaming, it is an opportunity to get better.

2.  Feedback Needs to be Consistent

If Feedback is saved for a couple times and year and worse yet, tied to the same time of pay increases, people are so geared up for it that they can not really take it in.  There is just too much emotion.  People also need feedback more quickly on behavior so that these changes can be applied and recognized.

People can only absorb 1-2 things at at time.  If changing behavior was easy…  well, then it would be easy.  It is just not.  Until the robots are ready…  Anyway, think about how you like to get feedback and start there.

Too often we put off giving feedback when someone does something that bugs us. We say, “it’s not a big deal.”  Over time, the person does the same thing again, and again. Now we are hacked off at the person.  This is a leadership issue, not a behavioral one.

The Point.  What gets measured, gets done.  When we focus on constant, consistent feedback, we take the emotion out of it and put the focus on constant and consistent improvement.

3.  Feedback Needs to Focused on Person and Progress

In order for someone to receive and apply feedback, there are a couple of vitals.

They Trust You

OK, there is really ONE vital element for feedback to be effective.

How do you build this trust?

  • Tie Feedback to Their Goals.  Example.”  I know you want to lead this team one day….
  • Make the Feedback Behavior Specific.  This behavior caused this reaction. Specific feedback influences specific behavior.  General feedback changes general behavior.
  • Balance Positive and Negative Feedback
  • Be Transparent – Be open to talking about your journey
  • Be Open and Seek Out Feedback about yourself.

Giving effective come more naturally for some then others but there is no excuse. you may have to practice.  So get out there and practice.  Ask for forgiveness if you come on too strong or unintentionally offend someone.  Let’s get better… Everyday.

Excellence is Your Best Long Term Growth Strategy

My grandfather used to day that, “Excellence was its own Reward.” Sounded like an excuse not to pay me at the time.

This was reinforced by my father. He would make us go back outside and rewash the car a second time without even seeing it. He would put it this way. There is no way you could have done your best that fast. He new that rushing a job meant we cut corners and he didn’t even have to see it, to know. Man, I hated that. BTW, He didn’t pay me either… just sayin.

Of course He was right and of coarse I didn’t want to admit it.

Something must have stuck because I got my first job at the balloon shop, I would try and find ways to do my job better, sell more balloons, delight the customers and make the store a fun place to work. If I had time, I put it to work.

I didn’t make more money, but everyone had a better time and the business improved. I also had a better time at work and a job became a joy.

That experience and my grandfather’s wisdom has stayed with me throughout my life.   I find the more I help others improve, the better we all get and the fuller my life becomes.

Today, there is a lot of talk around “building your brand. “ Many want their brand to be relevant, innovative, hip, bleeding edge, a leader, people-focused, etc….

I get it, these are good and helpful. May I boldly state that the world needs most of all are people who will build their brand and companies on Excellence for the Sake of Excellence?

Apple, Tesla, Chick-Fil-A, Virgin Air are all examples of “excellence led” companies where what they produce delights and overwhelms their customers and the process they use encourage and promote innovation.

They then build systems that support you through your interaction. Their systems and product are all designed to deliver an experience that is unique and purposefully different than their competitors.

Put a Chick-Fill-A in NY and just see what happens. Long lines…. That what happens… Repeat Customers… that what happens…. Incredible Growth… That what happens. Chick-Filet and Apple releases have a ton in common. One just comes with pickles.

Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.

Here are three things to consider as you contemplate how you want to infuse excellence into your team, company, group, community, church, or non-profit.

Excellence is not Perfection – Perfectionism is nasty and not reachable. It limits thoughts, innovation and progress by only focusing on output.. Excellence is focused on doing the best you can and then getting better. Excellence drives Innovation, Open Thought and a focus on the process and output.

Excellence is not tied to Compensation, or Title – Excellence is, in fact, its own reward. Thanks grandpa… My grandfather started out working in a service station. One of his customers would come in twice a year to change his tires. He would always ask for my grand-father. This was back just after World War 2 and my grandpa had served in the army. One time, this man had come in with a proposition. He wanted to start a fuel company and he wanted my grandpa to run it.

Grandpa didn’t know anything about running a fuel company. The man said this to him. “I can teach you about fuel, but this is a people business, and I can’t teach someone to treat people with the care that you have.” They ran that business together for over 20 years.

We all work in a people business. Don’t let your job define how you act, Let your excellence infuse your job. Excellence opens doors and people are attracted to it.

Excellence is not a sometimes thing – Excellence is not limited to your job, your role and those things at your work. Excellence is a mindset of where we decide that whatever we produce, whatever we spend our time on is done to the best of our ability. It becomes a process where I measure my life and I will then commit to get a little better everyday in everything.   From being a father, husband, leader, pastor, son and friend… If it worth doing…. It is worth doing well.

Hope this helps. Now, Let’s Get Moving.

5 Ways to Have a Greater Impact

In the world today many people are overwhelmed at what is going on. Maybe something is stirring in side of you. We want to make a difference but may not know where to start.  You are not alone.

Maybe you want to have a greater impact in your community, at work, in school or in your family. Maybe you want to take a leadership position and start leading people in government or in your company. Maybe you want to start organizing your community or your church to pull together and make a difference.  Heck, maybe you just want to have a neighborhood BBQ.

I get this. Here are 5 areas that can help you get started, keep you moving and make sure you are able to stay in the game for a long time.

There is no Impact without Contact

Life is a contact sport. Start with the people in front of you. Don’t miss the miracle God wants to do right outside your door. Many times, we will walk by the one we can impact the most because they are the one we will see daily.  Stop and look whom you can help today.

Aim Small… Miss Small

Be specific with what you want to do then start moving in that direction. Your dreams can and should be big. Just don’t make them general. Be purposeful with your walk and your time.

Big accomplishments are achieved through a series of small victories. Progress is made one step at a time.

 Provide Value – Start with the Question… “How can I help?”

Making an Impact is about those you want to reach, lead, teach and help. You will be blessed by and through it you will find out that you gained more out of it than those you helped. Shift the focus to others and trust that God will always take care of you.

Make sure that you are focused on bringing value every time. The world is too busy for more meetings that transfer information.

Value breaks through the noise. Value changes people.

 Embrace the Small Beginnings

It breaks my heart to think most potentially incredible leaders give up before they even really get started.

 You may want to be an executive but for right now you are leading one intern. You want to speak in front of thousands but right now, your mom is the only one who listens to your podcast or Blog. (God Bless Moms) You may want to be at the end of your journey but you are just getting started.

The beginning is when you get to build the foundation of who you are without the pressure of others. Focus on building a strong foundation and keep moving forward. Embrace and Enjoy this time.

Lastly, your voice, your hands, your ideas are needed. Don’t think someone else has it all figured it all out. People need to hear you.

 Don’t Quit

This one is the most important. Don’t every underestimate what God can do with someone who is willing. Your final story is not yet written. You may have messed us in the past, fix it and keep moving. You may have been trying to plow ground for years, keep plowing. The only way to blow it is to quit.

Your breakthrough is closer than you think. Keep praying that you are on the right track and stay fresh. Too often people give up too soon. They jump from idea to idea… from company to company…. from church to church and they wonder why they never see the fruit of their labor.

Fruit grows where you plant it. Stay in the game. Keep at it, get better every day, learn from experience and apply that be more effective.

People will learn more from your persistence than they ever will from your advice.

God Bless You.

Please let me know what you are working on so I can be praying for you. nothing would bless me more.  What is in your heart matters.

Now, Let’s get Moving.

Raise Up for Higher Performance

There sure seems to be a lot of pressure in business today. Pressure to grow, pressure to come out with the next “New Thing, pressure to hit targets, pressure to win, and pressure to beat out the competition.

The drumbeat of commerce has gotten louder and the pressure to win continues to be at a high-level.

I grew up in a community that was surrounded by wheat-farmers. These man and women actually had their lives fully dependent on getting top dollar for their crops.

One bad year, and they could lose everything.

An amazing part of this community was that when one of them was in trouble, instead of pouncing on their competition, they all rallied around. The entire community would sacrifice to make sure that everyone was ok. Instead of pouncing at the chance, they used that opportunity that take care of the person and build them up.

In today’s marketplace, people’s failures are way more public. With access to social media, it has never been easier to complain about or pile on a business failure. This is the time to find out who you really are and what you want o be about.

If your business plan depends on you piling on a competitor, you need a better business plan.

The truth is you can have high growth and still walk the high-road. If your only goal is to beat your competition, then you need to set your sites higher. Build your skills, your team, your company or your industry. You can be a person who tears down or builds, not both. How do you want to build impact and legacy?

The real value of a leader is setting and living the culture. This has to start with you.

We are called to be a light to those around us… to be that helping hand that reaches out to those in need and helps them back to their feet.… The Marketplace has never needed this, real leadership more than today.

Like squeezing a tube of toothpaste, pressure will push out what is really inside us.

I am all for healthy competition. Competition can give us a chance to challenge ourselves to bring out our best. Let’s make sure, it brings out our best and that excellence is the standard we judge against.

So here comes that test, everyone will stumble, including you, what will you do when your competitor stumbles? When you see that opportunity, how far will you go? How far will you go when you see a chance to build your career by knocking someone down a peg? Will you take credit for someone-else’s work? How far will go?

Take the opportunity to reach out, teach, counsel and help. Encourage them to learn and get back up. That’s Leadership.

Excellence needs to be our standard and we should expect nothing less from ourselves and our teams. Excellence includes not just what we do but how we do it. Excellence means that we bring value to every transaction and interaction and that we see the growth opportunity in building… Not tearing down.

Let’s Raise the Bar by Raising Each Other!!!

High-Heel Impact… Simple

Did you know that a 120 pound woman in high heel delivers more pressure per square inch impact than a barefooted 6000 pound elephant?

I shouldn’t have to say this but please do not relay this directly to your friend or spouse while they happen to be wearing high heals or you may find yourself on the wrong side of them testing this on your foot.

What if you could have the influence you really wanted in your Community, in Business, in your Family?  What if you could accomplish more by doing less?  Sound Crazy?

All leaders desire to have a great impact.  This is what motivates them to step up into leadership and what draws people to follow them.  Otherwise, they are just out for a walk.

This is something that comes from inside them.  After all, leadership is about taking people on a journey.  If people aren’t trying to get anywhere or aren’t trying to do something, the importance of leadership is greatly diminished.  You don’t need a leader to go nowhere.

Some of the most important responsibilities of a leader are to set, communicate and reinforce the vision.  Vision is a word that really means a description of a place or circumstance better than the current one.   This more simple the vision, the easier and more effective this job is.  As Steve Jobs put it “Simple is harder than complex.”

When a leader is focused, the organization can be focused and can build real momentum.  (Momentum for me is defined as people heading in the same direction)  It is no guarantee the organization will build momentum but the more focused a team is, the better chance they have.

I can promise if the leader does not protect the vision and allow it to get complex, organization will never gain real momentum. No one else will protect your vision.  This is the leader’s #1 job and You can’t go two directions at the same time.  Make Sense?

When vision gets too wide, it loses it meaning, and its ability to define what we are and what we are not. 

Vision must burn hot, be clear and be reinforced over and over in words and in action.  Things get added over time because we worry we are too simple, see a shiny new object or we hear another vision and it has all the cool buzz-words.  Let’s be honest.  These additions send us down rabbit holes, burn out our people and kill momentum.

The truth is your organization, career, family, community exist for a unique purpose and when you water down the vision, you lose your differentiation and turn your-self from something memorable to something forgettable.

The more clear your vision, the less you will chase time-wasters and money-wasters.  

Many of us try and be elephants where we can be everything to everyone when actually it is the impact  of the high heals that will leave permanent indents on the floor. 

We need to get more focused to put ourselves in position for incredible growth.  Say yes to what propels you closer to your vision and no to those that do not.

Can you communicate your vision easily? 

Do you use this to define what you do and don’t do? 

How do you protect it?

Stop the Busy-Ness – It’s Crazy….


When you asked someone how it was going five years ago, the dreaded answer used to be “fine.” I never knew what that meant other than:
1.     They were in a hurry.
2.     Things were not horrible.
3.     They did not want to talk to me.
4.     In fact, things were just fine.

Worst was if you knew things were not fine, like you just screwed up and my wife told me things were fine.  Even I knew this meant they were not fine.

Whatever the reason, it used to drive me crazy as it is an innocuous answer that has no real meaning but is accepted everywhere. Even now as I am writing, I can feel myself getting frustrated with this word.

Language has power. Fine has been replaced over the last 5 years with an even worse word that has overtaken our society. The #1 answer I get to the question of “How are you?” “How are Things going?” Etc. is the word “Busy.”

It does not matter who I ask. Business colleagues are busy, Mothers are busy, Pastors are busy, Teachers are busy and we know our kids are busy.  
We have become addicted to being busy.  Don’t agree with me?  Try not using the word for a Week. 

This addiction is killing us and as as hard to break as any other.  The challenge is that one is reinforced by everyone around us as positive.

I think even babies are busy. I talk to young people who work 10 hours a week and guess what? They are busy as well. How in the world did everyone get so busy? It is amazing we can barely agree on politics, God’s role in our lives, education, etc .  but we can all agree that we are busy.

It seems like we are a world of people that is be unified in our “busy-ness.” I am sure you have used the word no less than 30 times in the last week. Isn’t it amazing that with so many people being so busy that it seems like less and less is actually getting done? I know there are great things going on. We have new technologies being invented all the time.

Do not take this for negativity on what is being accomplished in the world.  It is the cost of our addiction to Busy that has real consequences.

Technology has sped us up. That is for sure. We have certainly over-filled and over-complicated our lives. That is true as well.  

Before, we can work on a Cure, we have to first admit we have a problem and that that problem has consequences.

So, let’s start with the language we use. As I stated before, language has power and I think if we can talk differently, we can begin to think differently.   Then, we can actually be able to change our perceptions, our activities and our lives. My problem is the use of the word busy. It does not relate the meaning we prescribe to it. We use it as a positive. We use it as an excuse. We use it like we are passive victims to a day that someone else planned. We use it to obfuscate our responsibility in our day. Think about it this way. I have a 4 year old, Evan. He is awesome and guess what? He is amazingly busy.

I would not call him exactly productive, but definitely busy. We should judge ourselves on a different scale. The word busy is like the word food. If you walked up to me and asked what I had for lunch and I said “food” you would think I was such a jerk and did not want to talk to you.

The truth is that the word busy is just as unhelpful in describing your day.  Food in many cases is actually better as it is at least accurate. It is crazy. The word busy now includes the time filled texting, adding photos to Instagram or trolling Facebook. Just in case you wondered. Those do not count as busy and are actually things you do when you are not busy 90% of the time. The word busy also has become an answer to. “How are you?” When did busy become an emotion?

The craziness of busy has got to stop. Today, it all counts as busy and we all just go on agreeing with each other as if there was no other choice.

THERE IS ANOTHER CHOICE. The only New Year’s resolution I have ever kept was the one I made three years ago to stop using the word “busy.” When I stopped using this word, I realized I had to actually describe what I was doing, not doing, prioritizing and forgetting. I actually had to start looking at my days, my emotions and my life and provide the language that actually described what I was doing and how I was feeling.  

I was making choice and prioritizing and if I didn’t want to go to something, I actually had to tell that person why.

All of a sudden,  I was having to use like productive, unproductive, lost, excited, nervous, frustrated, challenged, etc.  I started to become real and my relationships became stronger.

Here is a big one. I actually had to apologize when I did not get back to someone or blew someone off and I had to start owning my actions and outcomes. A funny thing began to happen. I became much more productive with my time and my schedule began to line up with my priorities. I had more time in my day and I actually got much more done.

This is not because I was so great. (Trust Me) I had to start assigning value to my day, to my activities and measuring the outcomes. Busy was not longer good enough. I began to schedule my priorities first and let the little things go. I am still a work in progress on making sure my priorities are correct.

Following are a couple of changes that were helpful for me. My point is not to turn every moment into another productive opportunity or to replace the word busy with the word productive. Lying in the grass, playing catch, worshipping and going swimming are all incredibly valuable and make life worth living.  

 This is about being truthful with ourselves and each other. This exercise is about taking ownership of your life and setting your direction and agenda for your life.

(Hopefully) Helpful and Practical Hints:
1. Stop Multi-tasking… It does not work and it annoys people.  Every time you are multi-tasking, one of those things does not need to be done.
2. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to evaluate your day and set the top priorities for the following morning.  Congratulate yourself for your successes and forgive yourself when you blow it.  . Grace abounds anew each day in case you feel like you missed it.
3. Have more fun with life and build in moments to take a breath and think.  We will talk more about thinking later.
4. Be honest and say you are sorry when you blow it. People are very forgiving but your schedule did not miss lunch, you did.
5. 90% of on-line activities are time takes, not time makers. You decide what you do, what you don’t’ do and own the results. You deserve better than busy. We all do.

If you were not allowed you use the words Busy, how would you describe your day?

All of our time has an opportunity cost as we could be doing something else.  It is when we don’t assign a value to our time, that we can just fill our lives.

Life is too important to miss.  Start Today.