Nurture your roots

June 26, 2017

Nurture with Shadow

Running through a favorite park, I noticed a number of pine trees had toppled over.

A death sentence from saturated soil and strong winds.

The elements don’t deserve the entire blame though. The pines had a role in their demise.

Shallow roots.

That’s why it’s so rare to see an oak tree on its side.

An oak’s deep roots make the difference between standing firm and crashing to the ground.

Over time, your organization will face its own version of heavy rains and blustery winds.

The best way to remain stable is to ensure you have deep and sturdy roots.

Your marketing strategy, cutting-edge technology, innovative products and services are above ground attributes.

People are your roots.

Nurture your people and they’ll ensure the rest of your business will flourish.

Ignore them and you’ll sap your infrastructure of the passion it depends on to keep it strong.

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The one type of person you can’t reason with

June 19, 2017

reason with

Whether you’re motivated by internal desire or external pressure to tackle an issue, a fundamental truth can’t be ignored:

Relationship precedes resolution.

The one type of person you can’t reason with is the person you don’t take the time to know.

Devoid of a relationship, we’re not as compelled to invest the energy required to resolve conflict.

Digging the foundation of a strong and meaningful relationship is necessary if you want to move from avoiding issues to addressing them.

Knowing your colleagues solely from a professional point-of-view isn’t enough.

Take the initiative to know them as people.

Push yourself past the “Hey, how are you?…Fine, how are you?” existence.

Ask about family, hobbies, a favorite vacation, a significant life achievement, future goals, or what motivates them.

Be curious. Be authentic. Listen intently.

Do the work up front so when inevitable conflicts arise, you’re positioned to resolve the issue, preserve the relationship, and forge a more resilient partnership going forward.

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

June 11, 2017

Words Matter #5

It’s easy to default to cozy phrases like:

  • “I’d love to schedule some time to tell you about our company.”
  • “I’d love to show you our new product.”
  • “I’d love for you to visit our website.”

Perpetuating phrases that don’t have anything to do with your listener gets you nowhere. Instead of telling them what you’d love, find out what they’d love.

Here’s some wisdom that works:

  1. Drop the cliché commentary. Your listener is motivated by your aptitudes; not your platitudes.
  2. Ask questions that uncover what your listener wants, needs, and cares about.
  3. Show how your idea, product, or service aligns with that in a unique and meaningful way. People respond when you can improve what’s going well or solve a problem.

So, what’s love got to do with it?


As long as it’s not about you.

Words matter: Motivate action by focusing on what your listener would love.

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The open door policy is dead

June 5, 2017

the open door policy

It sounds honorable.

Perhaps the words have even come out of your mouth…

“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to come to my office.”

Time passes. Few ever come.

People want your time and attention; what they don’t want is to be the initiator.

The open door policy doesn’t work because engaging leaders aren’t passive.

Get out from behind your desk and connect with the frontline.

Some leaders call it Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) , others call it the Gemba Walk, or Rounding.

It doesn’t matter what you call it. Do it.

March through that open door of yours and enter the lives of people you lead.

Ask. Listen. Affirm. Coach. Encourage. Support.

They’re waiting for you. Will you go?


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Practical Pointer: How to pick the best option

May 29, 2017

Practical Pointer #1

“Which one works best?”

It was the #1 question I heard during 15 years in the fitness industry as people sought insider information into which machine would burn the most calories in the least time.

Feeling like an expert, I’d point, “That one burns the most calories.”

The person would charge toward the equipment with all the enthusiasm they could muster and workout like a rock star.

Then, after a few days…maybe a week…never again.

I saw this trend over and over.

It took me a long time to figure out that I had been giving the wrong answer.

One day as someone again uttered that familiar question, a realization hit me and my response forever changed to:

“The one you’ll use.”

Similar questions show up in the workplace:

  • What’s the best time-management tool?
  • Which customer service process is the best to implement?
  • What is the best professional development course for our team?

The answer is the same whether you’re considering how to get in shape, manage your priorities, wow your customers, or fuel your career trajectory.

Which machine, tool, process, or course works best?

The one you’ll use.

Consistent use, over time, delivers the results you’re after.

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My wife and I are in counseling

May 22, 2017

counseling shadow

Ask me how I’m enjoying married life and I’ll tell you the truth.

My wife and I are in counseling.

This response is typically followed by an awkward pause, a puzzled look, and a question few ever voice: You’ve only been married a year and you’re already in counseling?

Here’s the catch…and the beauty of this whole thing:

We aren’t “already” in counseling; we always have been. We started six-months before we took our vows.

It’s one of the smartest things we’ve ever done.

Some couples view marriage counseling as their last resort. We view it as our first priority.

Why wait to strengthen a relationship until things get bad? Real bad. The success rate in those cases is low. Real low.

The best time to work on a healthy and effective partnership is right from the start.

The emotional, spiritual, and financial cost of a broken marriage makes our investment of time, energy, and money well worth the effort.

Workplace development too often follows suit with traditional marriage counseling philosophy. Wait until leaders and teams are dysfunctional before investing time and resources in them.

There’s no reason to wait for things to get bad. Real bad. The success rate in those cases is low. Real low.

If you want influential leaders in dynamic partnership with highly effective teams, invest in them from the start.

The fall-out from failed leaders and dysfunctional teams is too expensive, both financially and emotionally.

The best time to make something better is before it’s broke.

Make sure your leaders and teams get the support they need.

It will be one of the smartest things you ever do.


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Words Matter: Don’t contaminate the conversation

May 15, 2017

Words Matter #1 (9)

It’s obvious when the only voice you value is your own.

Here’s the status-quo scenario:

  1. Manager starts meeting
  2. Manager points out what’s going wrong
  3. Manager offers a solution to fix the problem
  4. Manager asks, “Any other ideas?” (cue the sound of crickets and a collective corporate nod)
  5. Manager interprets silence as confirmation to move forward with their plan

Leaders who speak too soon contaminate the conversation.

Engaging leaders need innovative ideas, thoughtful insight, alternative perspectives, and buy-in.

How the heck is that achieved?

Seek answers before you speak answers.

Change your interactions from a monologue to a dialogue.

Skillful listening cultivates the raw ingredients required for collective success and demonstrates to your team that their voice has value.

Imagine the difference:

  1. Manager starts meeting
  2. Manager recognizes what’s going well…then asks their team what challenges they’ve been facing
  3. Manager listens as team members identify where they’re getting stuck
  4. Manager facilitates a collaborative discussion of potential solutions (cue energized conversation with innovative ideas)
  5. Manager mobilizes the best plan by equipping their team with clearly defined action steps and mutual accountability

Stop talking. Start asking. Listen intently.

What you’ll hear will transform your results.

Words matter: don’t contaminate the conversation.

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Why you need to fire Eeyore

May 3, 2017

why you need to fire eeyore shadow

Every team has one. Most teams have several. They tend to travel in packs.


Eeyores are people who choose to see things from a negative perspective. They delight in reciting phrases like:

  • We work harder than anyone here
  • Oh, we tried that before
  • Nope, that will never work
  • This is how we’ve always done it

What makes the Eeyore mentality believable (and addictive) is that their nay-sayings are sprinkled with specks of truth.

Below the problems they promote is the real issue: Eeyores don’t want to fix things. They don’t want to solve problems because wallowing in problems is what fuels them. Their struggle is part of their identity.

Eeyore’s negativity is contagious. It spreads like a virus.

A Harvard based study tells us that a negative mindset hinders sales, innovation, loyalty, resilience…and productivity.

Alternately, your mind at positive is 31% more productive than negative, neutral, or stressed. (Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage)

There’s an emotional, intellectual, and bottom-line cost to negativity.

Get your Eeyores the help they need to transform their point of view from negative to optimistic. Help them seek the “wows” instead of the “woes”. It’s imperative for their success and the success of your team.

It all comes down to this: Inspire them or fire them.

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The problem with millennials

April 29, 2017

the problem with millennials

Colleagues are frustrated by them, “They don’t have the same work ethic we do.”

Leaders are confused by them, “Why are they always searching for meaning in their work?”

 Speakers complain about them, “They’re constantly distracted during my presentation.

Millennials are different.

That’s the point.

They’re supposed to be.

No generation is like the one before. Ever.

…And that’s good news.

Instead of frustration, confusion, and complaining, let’s consider understanding.

Colleagues: millennials have the same work ethic we do – only during different work hours. They seek hard work empowered by flexibility.

Leaders: we can learn something from them. It’s about time we look for a meaningful connection between the work we do and the results we achieve.

Speakers: the audience doesn’t owe us anything. It’s our job to be interesting and capture their attention. Millennials will turn from their phones when we say something relevant and valuable. And, if we’re lucky, they might even tweet it.

The problem with millennials is us.

Millennials: good luck.

Remember, you’ll end up complaining about the generation right behind you. Try not to be as hard on them as we’ve been on you.



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Objections are not rejections

April 23, 2017

objections aren't rejections (4)

The objection.

It can feel like an impenetrable barrier when selling your idea, product, or service.

Objections sound like:

  • We don’t need it
  • We’ve tried that before
  • It’s too expensive
  • I’ll have to think about it
  • We’re too busy

Are you quick to convert these statements into personal rejections? Perhaps your ears are hearing “We don’t need you” or “You’re too expensive…”

Objections are not rejections.

Hidden within an objection statement is a question of doubt. Let’s translate:

  • We don’t need it = How will this help accomplish our goal?
  • We’ve tried that before = What makes this different from past experiences?
  • It’s too expensive = What value will I receive from my investment?
  • I’ll have to think about it = Is this more complicated than its worth?
  • We’re too busy = How will this improve our overcrowded schedule?

Objections express genuine concerns that need to be uncovered and addressed.

Instead of running from the objection, keep the conversation flowing. Ask clarifying questions. Seek understanding. Provide clarity.

The goal is to communicate the value of your idea, product, or service in terms that matter to your listener. If you haven’t done that, objections invite you to dig deeper and do better.



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