The Answer: Quantity vs. Quality Time.

March 30, 2015

QualityThe gift of presence is a rare and beautiful gift.” Staci Eldredge

My oldest daughter, Taylor, was homeschooled through 5th grade. Once while attending a workshop at the North Carolina Home Educators Conference, the speaker took on the subject of quantity time vs. quality time. I was particularly interested in hearing his thoughts since none of our modern day philosophy seemed to resonate with me. He summed up his viewpoint with this; “Quality time magically appears within the midst of quantity time.” I had found my answer. Case closed.

The idea that quality time appears magically within the midst of quantity time isn’t an ideology limited to home schooling, parenting, or significant others. This is a universal human principle that is desperately needed in the workplace.

Want to know what’s important to you? Check your calendars. What do you see? Meetings, projects, tasks, and deadlines? Engaging leaders know that the traditional once-a-year mandatory performance evaluation doesn’t cut it. Those who look to you for guidance require and deserve more quantity time.

Go ahead and carve out the time required to lead, coach, listen, understand, provide advice, care, encourage, and hold people accountable. You can’t microwave effective workplace relationships, it’s best served in a slow cooker. If you do this, you’ll reap a significant harvest in terms of loyalty, productivity, innovation, and long-term success.

When Taylor was a freshman in college, I drove to Raleigh and we met for lunch. She recalled a conversation during her high-school years, saying, “Dad, remember when you told me you’d outlast all my friends and no matter how difficult our relationship got you’d stick by me?” “Yes I do,” was my response. “Thanks. I’m glad you didn’t quit on me when I really needed you.” I smiled, wrapped my arm around her and thought: There it is again, quality time magically appearing within the midst of quantity time.

Leave your comments: Who in your organization deserves more quantity time from you?

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Show and Tell. Not the Other Way Around.

March 17, 2015

Show and Tell“Who you are shouts so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was in elementary school when I proudly hoisted the cage for all my classmates to see. They crowded around, excited to peer through the glass. After providing just the right amount of time for my audience to “ohhhh and ahhhh,” like a circus ringmaster I barked, “His name is Igor. He’s a chameleon and eats crickets!”

I was taking part in one of the greatest community events of all time: Show and Tell. Why is Show and Tell so popular and engaging? It aligns with our human condition. Show me, and then tell me; visual example first, verbal explanation second. 

Our present day adult workplace could learn a lesson from Show and Tell. All too frequently we get this process backwards.

Leaders often default to telling their direct reports what to do and how to behave without first showing them what that looks like (modeling). Companies invest millions in telling us why they’re the greatest when they could save millions just by demonstrating their greatness.

Show first. Then tell. Let that be your credo. It’s a time tested formula to engage both your followers and customers.

Leave your comments: Where in your life might you do a better job of showing first and telling later?   

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E-couragement: Nick’s Drive Through

March 3, 2015

Drive Thru“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

Nick is a genius. Not so much in a Mensa or valedictorian type of way. Not even in a PhD, Steven Hawking, or Beethoven manner. He is a genius in the way of Albert Einstein. In the method where Einstein states, “Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.” Yes, that’s it. Nick is a genius of simplicity.

Who is Nick? He’s a drive through bank teller. He’s more like the king of drive throughs. Nick has created the most socially interactive banking experience in town. He’s accomplished this through the genius of simplicity.

It all started when I pulled up to his window to make my deposit. Through the intercom, Nick asked, “Do you prefer to be called Richard?” I replied, “You can call me Rich.” And so he did…and he’s never stopped. Nick leveraged common information on my deposit slip and transformed a banking transaction into a meaningful encounter that grew into an ongoing business relationship.

I visit Nick’s drive through lane whenever I get the opportunity. Why? Because I get to hear my name and enjoy some banter. While waiting, I overhear Nick carrying on personal conversations with customers all around me. Simple—and very effective.

While businesses are pouring marketing dollars into gaining new customers, Nick is garnering free word of mouth advertising. As organizations toil over the secret to retaining key clients, Nick is fostering customer loyalty.

Here’s the lesson for engaging leaders. You can be a simple genius. Resist the urge to over complicate your work. Pay attention to the simple actions that often go neglected to pursue seemingly more important tasks. Remembering a name, a hand written note of appreciation, a sincere thank you, or a thoughtful word will all fit into your budget and yield you a nice return. Take it from Nick…this is not complex. Being a genius is pretty simple.

Leave your comments: In what ways have you experienced the genius of simplicity in your workplace?

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E-couragement: 3 Ways You’re P-ing on Your Customers

February 17, 2015

Customer Loyalty“Customer loyalty is lost or solidified after the sale.” Rich Schlentz

Engaged and loyal customers. That’s what you’re after. Loyal customers exhibit powerful buying behaviors:

  • They revisit your organization—happily leaving money with you each time.
  • They’re evangelists, imploring friends to pop in and give their money to you.
  • They drive right by your competition in order to visit you.
  • They throw your competitor’s coupons in the trash.
  • When you’re not perfect, they forgive you.

Loyal customers are more profitable than those coerced through the door with expensive advertising and marketing campaigns. Yet, you might be losing these priceless business boosters by P-ing on them. Here are 3 interactions that prevent your customers from becoming loyal:

  1. Policy: “Well, our policy is…” NO! Keep your policies to yourself and don’t allow them to become barriers to potential loyalty. Instead, tell your customer how you can make things work for them.
  2. Problem: “Ms. Client, you see, the problem is…” NO! They have enough problems of their own without you piling on more. Instead, talk about the solution you can provide.
  3. Pass-it-along: “Mr. Patient, I’m gonna have to pass this along to my manager…” NO! Don’t demonstrate a fundamental lack of trust in your staff by stripping them of the power required to fix things. Instead, explain how you can take care of them right here, right now.

Perhaps loyal customers/clients/patients are rare because they continually encounter mediocre interactions. Your customers are seeking an experience that will cause them to transform from merely satisfied to loyal. Won’t you help them? You can start by not P-ing on them anymore.

Leave your comments: What practices (a good P-word) does your company use in order to prevent P-ing on your customers/clients/patients?   

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E-couragement: Your Brain at Positive…

February 3, 2015

Stress Free“Your brain at positive performs significantly better than negative, neutral, or stressed.” Shawn Achor

Overwhelmed. Stressed. Exhausted. Deadlines. Outnumbered. Powerless. These are the words I recently received after asking  client team members to describe the feelings of their employees. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard similar descriptors from clients across various industries. Perhaps that’s why many of them are asking for help with positivity, work/life balance, and managing stress.

At EXTRAordinary! Inc., our job is to provide information, ideas, and tools that clients can apply in order to be more successful individually and collectively. Since the challenges my clients face are not unique, here are a few resources that you’ll find helpful in your quest to live and work with more engagement:

  1. In this 12-minute video, psychologist Shawn Achor describes how the lens through which your brain views the world determines levels of positivity and happiness.
  2. This 7-minute video takes an experimental approach to exploring the question: What makes you happy?
  3. A short article reviewing the works of Dr. Martin Seligman (founding father of positive psychology) offering a simple practice for enhancing wellbeing.
  4. A brief blog by Leo Babauta considers how you can drop stress levels while still getting your job done and take care of your family.

We trust these resources will prove valuable for you. Read. Reflect. Apply.

Leave your comments: What practices are helping you improve positivity and manage stress?

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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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