E-couragement: Speak Up

January 20, 2015

Voice“I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle.” Sting

“I won’t be writing your speech,” is what I tell potential clients seeking to hire me as their presentation coach. Now, from a sales perspective, you might wonder about this technique. Perhaps it’s what I say next that really matters: “The speech is already in you. My job is to help you bring it out.”

You see, by writing a speech for my client I cheat them out of the opportunity to own their voice. My role is to help them uncover, structure, and deliver the message that’s uniquely theirs to give. Here’s the deal. Everyone has something to say. That includes you.

You may never deliver a formal speech. You will be prompted to speak up. You have something to offer this world in both word and deed. We need your voice. Withholding your divine message robs others of the wisdom and insight that can only show up through you. Here’s a three-step process to help you discover your message inside:

  1. Be quiet. Powerful speaking begins with listening. The thirteenth-century poet, theologian, and mystic, Rumi said, “Since in order to speak, one must first learn to listen, learn to speak by listening.” In this case, listen to your own inner voice. Learn to hear the message that might be hidden inside of you.
  2. Journal. After listening, write. Write your thoughts down. What’s important to you? What matters to you? How has life been preparing you to offer a unique perspective on a specific topic?
  3. Speak. Eventually you’ll have to summon the courage to speak. A face-to-face expression of your thoughts to an “audience” of one or more. This is when the magic happens. You’ll find how your message resonates with others. This is the affirmation of your voice. Keep speaking (go back to step one).

Life has a way of provoking us to speak. What do you have to say? In order to make your message impactful and memorable, you’ll want to communicate clearly and with passion. This will take practice. It’s not an easy process. It takes a lot of work. Your message is worth it. We need to hear you.

Leave your comments: What message should you be sharing with the world?  

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E-couragement: 3 Steps to Make Friends with Change

January 5, 2015

Change“Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor E. Frankl

It happens every year. 2015 will be no different. I’ll receive several calls/emails from clients who are no longer employed. We’ll meet for coffee and chat about their circumstance. It’s an honor to share this journey with them. In general, change makes us uncomfortable, uneasy and even afraid. Since change is an inherent part of our human experience, what if we could transform our relationship with it? Let’s consider 3 steps that could shift change from an adversary to a friend:

1. Be Kind to Yourself: Before takeoff, the flight attendant declares, “If cabin pressure should change, panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks; reach up and pull the mask towards you… Secure your own mask before helping others.” Did you hear it? You have permission to take care of yourself first. At 30,000 feet that makes sense. Yet at sea level many of my clients are blue-in-the-face having spent most of their energy providing oxygen for others. Here are a few ways to be kind to yourself in the midst of a change experience:

  • Acknowledge and validate your feelings: Angry. Scared. Excited. Simply feel it. Be patient. Talk about it. Support yourself.
  • Treat yourself: Vacation. Massage. Pedicure.
  • Carve out time for inspiring activities: Hobby. Music. Read.
  • Spend more time with people who are good to you.

2. Be True to Yourself: Reconnect with your core values. During times of change, be clear where you won’t compromise. Recently, the workplace of a client was closing. His successful operation was being shut down by a corporate mandate. Friends questioned him during the final months. They asked, “Why are you working so hard? Why do you still care?” He replied, “Because that’s who I am. I work hard. I care. These current circumstances won’t change that.” He remained true to himself in the midst of significant change.

3. Be Open to Opportunities: As time progresses, I’ll hear back from clients on their change journey. They’ll tell me about the exciting opportunities that have appeared. They often find themselves reinvigorated and excited about their new path. Whatever change shows up in your life, expected or unexpected, be sure to remain open to the good that will surely come your way.

Every year my business and life change in common ways. Some years, like in 2002 when I got fired and 2012 when my wife died, it was more significant. Whatever level of change you experience this year, apply these 3 steps and allow it to morph into your friend.   

Leave your comments: How have you successfully navigated change in the past?  

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V-couragement: The Power of Why

December 22, 2014

How do successful leaders inspire followers? How do highly effective organizations achieve peak performance? They craft powerful and relevant purpose statements. They give their team a voice in creating these “true north” declarations, utilizing language that speaks to the hearts (emotion) and minds (intellect) of those who follow them. In this 4—minute video, Executive Coach Elaine Penn reveals the 3 critical questions your purpose statement must answer in order to make a difference.  Finally, she unveils the most important aspect in driving others to take action and make difficult change. Enjoy this V-couragement as you fully engage your work and life.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: What’s Your Human Strategy?

December 16, 2014

Question“You can’t fuel a growing organization with stagnant people.” Rich Schlentz

‘Tis the season for developing 2015 strategies that grow revenue, unleash product innovation, capture market share, improve profitability, and more. These important opportunities deserve your attention and resources. These strategies also require engaged employees to breathe life into them. So, let’s talk about your human strategy for 2015. How might you ensure your critical plans are implemented while your goals are reached and sustained?

First, an engaging human strategy is not: sheet cake celebrating monthly birthdays, a summer company picnic, or corporate bowling night. These are nice activities and should not be confused with your human strategy.

Here are some examples of how engaging leaders are intentionally unleashing a human strategy to engage their teams:

  • Mark Hyman, DDS: Conducts a team huddle each morning from 7:45 – 7:55. It’s a chance to connect, communicate, read an inspiring message, and prepare for a productive day.
  • Paolo Chiappina, VP of Operations: Invests in people development. Many leaders say, “My people are valuable.” Paolo proves it by placing his money where his mouth is.
  • Marty Freeman, Sr. VP of Sales: Connects one-on-one with his reports. He builds personal relationships in the workplace, carving out time to listen and understand his team.
  • Jeff Burkett, President: Shares financial information with his staff. His “open books” policy enhances communication, builds trust, and inspires employees to hit target goals.
  • Mary Cloninger, CEO: Looks for opportunities to advance her employees. She spends time getting to know their career aspirations, invests in their development, and encourages them to grow.

The good news, most human strategies are low-to-no cost. Some require monetary investment. All require your personal commitment. Either way, you’ll yield a powerful ROI for you and your organization. Unleash your human strategy for 2015 and watch engagement levels soar along with productivity and profitability.

Leave your comments: What is a current human strategy you deploy that engages your people?  

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V-couragement: Chapter 12 – Buckle Up

December 9, 2014

Welcome to the final chapter of Your Employees Have Quit – They Just Haven’t LeftHow might we sum up this book? It’s about Transformation. Author and speaker, Michael Bernard Beckwith states,“Transformation is limitless since it stems from an evolving discovery and expression of the authentic self. Transformation gets us free.” With transformation, there’s no going back to our former self. Yet the road to transformation is not easy. In this video you’ll learn how to overcome 5 potential barriers to your own transformation. We need engaging leaders in the workplace. In our communities. In our homes. Be one of them. These principles are simple, timeless, and fundamental. The application is difficult, life changing, and valuable. Glad to share this journey along side of you.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: Your Giving Philosophy: Weight or Volume?

December 2, 2014

Water Bucket“For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis of Assisi

I’ve seen the message for years. Like most repetitive announcements, we can become blind to it: “This package is sold by weight not volume. Some settling may occur during shipping.” Innocent enough. Yet recently it caused me to stop and reflect. How might this declaration, often found on packaged goods, reflect upon your business philosophy?

Let’s start by interpreting this statement: A good portion of your purchase is air. Empty space. When you buy cereal, half the content is nothing. When you buy vitamins, half the bottle is cotton. Today businesses often default to a “sold by weight” mentality that manifests in giving as little as they can. Initially this belief may feel safe and even yield short-term profits, but over the long haul, it costs you dearly.

To engage your customers and earn life-long loyal buyers, you’ll need a different way of thinking, one that’s built upon a “sold by volume” philosophy. The Bible describes this method of giving nicely in Luke 6:38 (NLV): “Pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and pouring into your lap.” In other words, in every way possible, give extra. Give additional. Give more.

Here’s a business philosophy that will serve you well in 2015. Give more to your customers/clients. How? Listen more intently. Follow-up sooner. Over communicate. Improve your product and services. Deliver earlier than expected. Seek customer feedback and opinions. Show up early. Take responsibility. Stay late. Apologize. Make amends. Provide a “sold by volume” experience and you become the clear choice for buyers seeking a place to spend their money.

Leave your comments: How is your business intentionally creating a “sold by volume” experience for your clients/customers?  

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E-couragement: The 1% Rule

November 11, 2014

Honored Guest“If your view is basic badness, you see it wherever you go. If your view is basic goodness, you see it wherever you go.” Pema Chodron

It was summer 2012 and our conversation started like this, “My wife had an account with you. She died 7-months ago and was the big Netflix user. I haven’t watched a single movie since she passed. I need to cancel her membership. Can you help me?” I had low expectations based on my typical customer experience. I was hoping for the cancellation of my draft within 30-days without having to produce a stack of legal documents validating my request. What she did next demonstrated a company culture that embraces the 1% rule and harnesses its power for customer engagement.

“Mr. Schlentz, let me start by saying how sorry I am for your loss. Here’s what I’m going to do: your membership will be cancelled today. I’m also going to provide a refund for the last seven months. You’ll see that credit posted to your card within 48-hours.” I sat silent for a moment. This representative blew me away. The total cost to Netflix was $55.65. The experience was priceless for me.

Here’s how the rule works: 1% of your customers are thieves, liars, and cheats. They’ll steal whatever they can from your business. They’re better at taking than you are at keeping. Here’s the key. They can never steal or lie enough to hurt your business—ever. The other 99% of your customer are honest, trustworthy, hard working people. They are willing to pay a fair price for your product/service. They want to be loyal buyers and establish an ongoing business relationship with you.

It’s a poor business decision to focus precious time and attention on the 1%. Your policies will reflect a belief that buyers are thieves. Employees will treat your customers as liars. Good clients will be forced to your competition. You’ll spend more time brooding over the 1% who took from you instead of loving the 99% who want to give you money and refer their friends (perhaps even write a blog about you).

I understand how bad it hurts that 1% of your customers are no good. Resist giving them power over you. Let them go (emotionally, intellectually, and physically). Concentrate your energy, policies, and resources on the 99% of your customers who have the biggest impact on your growth and profitability. Welcome them. Believe them. Serve them. Honor them. Make it easy for them. If you do that, they’ll willingly give you money and tell the world about you. Isn’t that why you got into business in the first place?

Leave your comments: How does your company engage customers and treat them as honored guests?  

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V-couragement: Chapter 11 – Inspire Them

November 5, 2014

In the movie, Jerry Maguire, Jerry has a powerful vision to launch his own company. Initially, business is slow—almost non-existent. This causes tension between Jerry and his only employee, Dorothy Boyd. They begin to argue. That’s when she says the phrase we all believe and rarely articulate: “I care about the job, of course, but mostly, I just want to be inspired.” Most of us are conscientious. We work hard and do the right thing. Yet deep down inside, we hear our inner thoughts whisper, There’s got to be more to it than this. We want a work experience that inspires us. That’s why our ninth fundamental engagement principle from Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left  is…Inspire Them. Watch this video and uncover three recommended action steps that are sure to inspire and engage your culture.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: Fine Print Debacle

October 28, 2014

Fine Print“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.” Jim Rohn

It didn’t feel good. I recall thinking: “This is my reward for loyalty? I rack up thousands of miles on this airline—and this is what I get?” These days, companies are feverishly looking for ways to distinguish themselves from their competition. They’re searching for best practices that will engage customers and create long-term loyal buyers. Yet, there’s one insulting practice that remains alive and well. Refrain from using it and you’ll have a distinct advantage over your competitors.

Here’s the scenario. I was finally cashing in miles earned from consistent domestic and international flights. Carley and I were headed to Northern California for a week-long “dad-daughter” camp. After securing our complimentary tickets, the airline was unable to provide adjoining seats based on the fine print: limited seating selection. My daughter and I traveled cross-country sitting on different rows—victims of fine print trickery.

I recently received an email from a resort I’d visited. At first glance the bold print seemed to promote an enticing opportunity for loyal customers. It read, “GO DISCOVER. Save up to 30% at one of our 60 properties…” Then, just like the airline experience, they stripped away value in the fine print:

Subject to availability. Minimum stay varies by property, see participating property for details. Application for new reservations only. Not applicable to groups, conventions or in combination with other savings or discounts. Blah, blah, blah…(delete email promotion).

Compare these experiences to the time I visited Starbucks and I had to wait longer than expected for my drink. As a means of making amends, an employee handed me a free drink coupon. My natural reflex was to search for restrictions and limitations. I found none. Starbucks had forgone the fine print in order to simply and powerfully demonstrate their appreciation for my business. Any drink I wanted at any time I wanted it. What a novel idea to substantiate my value as a customer.

Abort fine print. If your goal is to recognize, appreciate, or apologize to customers through a special offer—then do that. You’re better off to forgo the offer all together rather than deflate the customer’s value by restricting how they might enjoy it. A no-strings-attached approach is a sure way to engage your customers. Give without limitations and watch customer loyalty (and profits) soar.

Leave your comments: Tell us about a no-strings-attached approach your organization uses to recognize/reward customers or employees?

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V-couragement: Lead, Connect, and Trust

October 23, 2014

Communication is the #1 issue managers deal with today. It can make or break your organization and can hinder your growth or lead your team to a bright future. In this V-couragement, Executive Coach Elaine Penn uncovers 5-steps to ensure your communication is powerful and impactful. She’ll remind you how effective communication is critical for building trust and enhancing engagement. As a result of applying these steps, you’ll create a team that is committed to achieving significant and sustained results.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

 

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