Best professional development tool of all time (30 sec read)

February 19, 2018

You’ve been searching for it.

Hoping for it.

The best professional development tool of all time.

Is it a motivational seminar or workshop, a new book, cutting edge webinar, an e-learning tool, or executive coaching process?

The answer:

The best tool is the one you use…consistently…over time.

There’s never been a magic bullet and there never will be.

The secret to your growth and development isn’t a secret at all.

It’s a timeless principle that hides out in the open for those who seek it:


Pick a tool you like. Get started. Keep at it.

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Business is Personal (1 min read)

February 12, 2018

“It’s business…it’s not personal.”

This cliché has masqueraded as an acceptable opener to tough conversations for far too long.

When people are on the receiving end of this phrase, they may have a poker face on the outside, but their heart is racing on the inside.

They know things are going to get very personal.

Suggesting that business isn’t personal damages your credibility as a leader and convinces employees that you’re out of touch.

Business has always been personal.


Because people are involved.

Work is intimately connected to our identity and our livelihood.

When it’s time for the inevitable challenging conversation, don’t default to insincere platitudes. Reciting them to settle your nerves frays the nerves of your listener.

Consider starting with honest words:

“This will be a difficult conversation for both of us. Let’s start by sharing our unique perspectives and then discuss how we can work towards a resolution.”

Align your words and actions with truth…even when that truth is hard to share.


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Why you can’t find good people (1 min read)

February 5, 2018

It’s a common complaint: “We just can’t find good people.”

When faced with a problem, a natural response is to deflect:

What’s wrong with them?

What’s their problem?

In the case of locating qualified employees, deflecting the problem won’t fix it;

Owning it will.

Your most powerful tool for attracting and retaining talent is your culture.

A team of engaged employees is more effective at recruiting the right people than any expensive marketing brochure, cutting edge website, or social media strategy.

It doesn’t matter what you say about you.

What matters is what your employees say about you.

Word of mouth is TRUTH. And, the truth about your culture (good or bad) is out there.

Recruitment and retention is an inside-out job.

There’s an abundance of capable, creative, and motivated people looking for the right team to join.

When you do the work required to be an engaged culture, the right people will know about it and seek you out.


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Anonymous feedback doesn’t work (1 min read)

January 22, 2018

Employee feedback is often sought though anonymous surveys.

The default thought process concludes:

“This way people will tell us what they’re really thinking!”

Where else do we turn to an anonymous online tool to understand people’s thoughts and feelings? Do you:

  • Email your friends a link when you’re curious about how the relationship is going?
  • Ask your significant other to log-in so you can better understand their perspective of your partnership?
  • Expect your children to use an online survey to clarify the effectiveness of your parenting skills?

Things get better when people talk.


When dialogue ensues, understanding emerges, and relationships strengthen.

People share their truth when they feel safe sharing their truth.

Here’s some honest feedback:

Anonymity doesn’t feel safe, it feels secretive.

Stop the surveys.

Start the conversations.

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Have you been appreciated today? (2 min read)

January 16, 2018

If you haven’t…you’re not alone.

Of all the things you’ve ever caught yourself complaining about, getting too much appreciation has probably not been one of them.

Culturally, we often restrict appreciation to special occasions.

At home it may not be expressed until a birthday, thanksgiving, an anniversary or, when it’s too late, a funeral.

At work it may not be expressed until the next cookout, holiday party, or the aptly named ‘Employee Appreciation Day’.

Appreciation isn’t a one-day thing, it’s an every-day thing.

Stand-alone activities don’t cut it.

What matters most is what happens in-between those special occasions.

Appreciation is most effective when given in small consistent doses over time.

It’s the gift that shows up when you’re sincerely listened to, recognized, sought out, encouraged, coached, invested in, cheered on, and complimented.

If you’re not getting the appreciation you desire from your leader:

Give it to those you lead.

Give it to those you influence.

Most importantly, give it to yourself.


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You don’t need a diagnosis to know you’re sick (1 min read)

January 10, 2018

We’re a data driven culture.

Over the past decade, data has “proven” that we have a global employee engagement epidemic.

Truth is, disengagement existed long before it was measured.

Do you really need external research to validate what’s happening inside you?

Trust yourself. When something’s awry, you know it…you feel it. That’s all the data you need.

Employee re-engagement starts with you.

You don’t need approval to feel more alive at work; give yourself permission to revive.

Conduct some internal research of your own by asking these 6 questions:

  1. What specific work activities or projects make me feel “in the zone”?
  2. What unique strengths do I possess?
  3. How can I best apply these strengths to my work?
  4. What new skill do I want to learn this year?
  5. When do I provide the most value for my company?
  6. Who might be a good professional mentor for me?

Identify what makes your work meaningful.

Go after it by engaging in what engages you.

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It’s not about the work

January 3, 2018

What if work is bigger than tasks, products, profitability, and bonuses?

What if work is really about things more important than the work itself?

What if the alarming rate of disengagement is a symptom of focusing on the wrong things.

Give yourself permission to reclaim what’s being neglected.

Focus on the right things:

  1. You. Most of your adult life is spent at work. Transform it into a place where you can figure yourself out. Take responsibility for your individual growth, uncover your strengths, and look your shortcomings in the eye. Dare to ask yourself tough questions and receive honest feedback from a source you trust…even if that source is the quiet voice in your heart you tend to ignore.
  2. Them. Coworkers are powerful teachers. Some serve as invitations and others serve as warnings. Learn from them all. They’ll teach you how to listen, gain understanding, compromise, negotiate, and empathize. With and through others you have the opportunity to follow, lead, make mistakes, and resolve conflict. Without “Them” you won’t become fully “You”.
  3. Us. “You” vs. “Them” prevents the shared purpose of “Us”. The magic of shared purpose is synergy, meaning, and community. Success is much sweeter, and failure is less painful, when it’s shared.

Stop worrying about the work.

Start caring for the people who make the work worth it.

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Run your own race

December 27, 2017

Learning is not a one-time event.

Your development requires practice and hard work, over time.

That book you want to read, that webinar you signed up for, that workshop you are looking forward to…

They are starting points; not destinations.

Growth occurs when you shift from an observer to a contributor.

It’s the difference between watching the race and running it.

Your personal development R.A.C.E should have 4 key elements that leave you feeling:

  1. Revived: “You’re worth it” sounds corny. Many truths do. Investing time and resources into self-improvement isn’t selfish. What feels like a gift to you is also a gift to everyone else you interact with.
  2. Accountable: You are in charge of your growth (or, lack thereof). If you’re expecting someone else to lead the way—you’ll end up stuck at the starting line.
  3. Challenged: Growing into your full potential has a price. Turning a tool into a skill is difficult. That’s what makes it valuable. In the long run, “free and easy” shortcuts are neither.
  4. Encouraged: Embarking on your personal development journey will leave you inspired about the trajectory of your career path and the impact you can have on your surroundings.

Don’t exhaust yourself in the sprint of a quick fix.

Find your stride for the long haul.

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Words Matter #11: Earn your audience’s attention

December 18, 2017

Attention spans are short and distractions are abundant.

It’s easy to blame your audience when it seems like no one is listening.

It’s not them.

What appears to be disrespect is really boredom.

Want to capture their undivided attention?

Be interesting.

You don’t have to put on a show to be interesting, you do have to:

Speak with confidence.

Speak with clarity.

Speak with conviction.

As you prepare for your next presentation ask yourself 2 key questions:

  • Why is this topic important to my listeners?
  • Why must this message come through me?

Infuse these answers into every word you say.

Words Matter: Earn your audience’s attention.


Click to hone your skills with another topic in the Words Matter series:

Words Matter #10: Choose learning over knowing

Words Matter #9: Say what you want

Words Matter #8: Maximize your conversational influence

Words Matter #7: Face your truth

Words Matter #6: Aim to impact; not impress

Words Matter #5: What’s love got to do with it?

Words Matter #4: Don’t contaminate the conversation

Words Matter #3: It’s not about you

Words Matter #2: Three dead-weight words to leave behind

Words Matter #1: Communicate with power

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Are you really listening?

December 13, 2017

Listening is tough.

It requires physical, emotional, and intellectual presence.

It is an authentic expenditure of time and energy and truth be told, it can wear you out.

For many, paying that caliber of attention costs too much.

Have you ever tried to pass off counterfeit listening for the real thing?

  • Distracted – engaging in an obsessive relationship with your phone or computer
  • Pretending – trapped in your own head, fixating on what you might say next

Active listening is rare. Perhaps that’s why it offers a huge return on your investment:

  1. Be present
  2. Seek to understand
  3. Resist judgement

When you gain insight, you gain respect.

Try it in your next conversation at work.

Or better yet, try it at home.

Who will you actively listen to today?

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