Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Year Without Resolutions

PLEASE ENJOY THIS EXCERPT FROM MY 2007 BOOK, "Have a Nice Day" is Not "Thank You", and "No Problem" is Not "You're Welcome"!

“The greatest works are done by the ones. The hundreds do not often do much, the companies never; it is the units, the single individuals, that are the power and the might.” ~ Philemon Charles H. Spurgeon

Every year some time shortly after the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, many people flock to gyms, throw away their cigarettes, start writing a book, change their diet, etc....all in the name of New Year's Resolutions! January is a full month for activities such as those, and, along about February or March, these resolutions to increase, improve, decrease or lose, have, for the most part, dissipated, leaving people feeling they are failures, slackers, or minimally, unresolved...

Rather than set New Year's resolutions, please consider the practice of planned accomplishments throughout the year. Planned accomplishments are goals set with intended results, and are done for a selfish reason of bettering oneself...and often benefit not only you, but others alike.

A proficient (productive and efficient combined) way to plan accomplishments is to think of your three key strengths and write them down, followed by the recording of the three areas of opportunity you observe most in yourself. Then, if you are brave and really determined to improve, poll 6-10 people (on the same two topics) who are important in your life and look for consensus. When you have the top three in each area, personally rank them in order of importance. From there, you have six areas for planned accomplishment (Yes, it is healthy to plan accomplishments for strength areas as's like giving those attributes further enhancement or shine). Determine a workable approach that is measurable for each planned accomplishment, and record them for you before sharing them with minimally three people (ideally, you'd share them with the same 6-10 whom were polled). To ensure you have clear planned accomplishments, when determining them, give yourself a way to recognize your progress. In other words, spending more time with my family is a typical "resolution", where a planned accomplishment is spending at least 1 hour a day with my family in discussion/conversation without the TV or other distractions. Qualifiers such as more, better, stronger, faster, slower, less, provide built-in excuses and/or success. Imagine if someone currently spends 5 minutes a day with his/her family and they "resolve" to spend more time...s/he is magically (read as easily) successful, when 10 minutes is spent...or even 6? Push yourself to know what it is you want to accomplish...and measure up! Similarly, resolving to "lose weight" or get in "better shape" will yield a higher form of accomplishment and purpose when re-focused and rephrased to a specific amount, fitness level, body fat %, or even better, medical health levels, as such planned accomplishments will reflect in one's confidence and in the way others recognize that person's ability to stick with things. Simply stated, set a clear path and follow through. Because of the way your subconscious works, "lost weight" gets found, "better shape" is relative, etc., therefore, I encourage you to look to rid, discard, remove whatever it is you do not want (weight, cholesterol levels, coffee, caffeine, cigarettes, unhealthy relationships, etc.) from your life, so that you are not working against yourself internally without even realizing it, based on your self-talk.

The old adage of plan the work and work the plan, rings true with this process, and the implementation of the methodology will likely keep your focus, commitment and interest level because it is done out of desire and want, rather than in reaction to the tradition of the Babylonians, who were known to have celebrated the new year approximately 4,000 years ago. Picture yourself along about February or March, progressing in/on your planned accomplishments, and, for the most part, none having dissipated, positioning you as a success, a do-er, and quite realistically, already accomplished!

Friday, December 17, 2010

High, Low, Pride Review

“Democracy is the art of thinking independently together.”
~ Alexander Meiklejohn

At the end of a presentation, work day, work week, or project, a good way to kick off a review of the "happenings" is to ask three things:

What was the high from this experience/day/week/project?

What was the low from this experience/day/week/project?

What are you most proud of as it relates to this experience/day/week/project?

The first question starts on a positive note, the second allows you to solution things for next time, and you end with the third question to bring it all into perspective and close strongly as well.

Implement an agenda of just these three things, and watch where the "review"'s democratic, since you each/all can participate, and it's diplomatic in the approach!

Side note - this works great with kids, spouses, and any personal relationships, too!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BTS to Responding over Reacting

“I think it was a good challenge for me to get my reactions across without being able to speak.” ~ Verne Troyer

Sometimes questions, issues, inquiries come in spurts or trends, and perhaps it is because we are at the year-end, entering into more family time than usual, or just because, but I have been asked many times over the past weeks about how to handle something shocking, offensive or just plain inappropriate.

An option for all things in life is to do nothing. Yes, you can walk away…

Still, most of us want to speak, to share and even put things to rest, so here’s an approach that works for most: I call it the BTS way…

The BTS way means as soon as you are shocked, taken aback, or just frustrated by a comment or statement, you:

B – Breathe (this buys you time and actually calms your body – think “take a breath-deeply”)
T – Tilt your head (shifting your head seems less attacking to the other person and softens your view/direction)
S – Smile (Put a smile on your face so your words are said with a smile and sincerity…even on the phone, the smile comes through)

At a family dinner where politics comes up, in a meeting where working on a holiday is mentioned, instead of reacting and attacking, think responding and bonding with the BTS way!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sharing Your Opposing Opinion Professionally

“Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it.” ~ Frank Tyger

A well written opposing opinion message allows for clarity and understanding (not to be confused with agreement). As long as you have an intent that is focused and clear while anticipating your audience, you will likely have success. Still, in order to be as well prepared as possible, the following steps to effectively opposing an opinion, will assist you in achieving just that!

1. Decide what you want to inspire: thoughts, exchange, debate, etc.
2. Imagine various perspectives, regardless of your position.
3. Assess whether you have exposure, experience or expertise in the subject area and know that your audience will know that as well.
4. Use a considerate approach, including:
a. Background on topic (what you have heard/read) for acknowledgment
b. Share one or two stories with facts and evidence that are compelling/interesting
c. State your opinion

If you are writing to someone, use the following additional tips:
1. Create an outline and draft including an introduction (Background), body (Story) and conclusion (Opinion).
2. Use proper vocabulary, punctuation, spelling and tense without acronyms (unless used only after the full description), slang or colloquial references.

For both verbally and in writing embrace the following:
1. Be passionate about the topic without being emotional about potential conflicts.
2. Look forward to the replies/ideas that you may or may not have considered.

Best wishes on those "used-to-get-heated" topics by using a professional, time-tested approach!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks Verbally!

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~ Albert Schweitzer
It's not that we are not grateful, it's not that we are unappreciative...sometimes it is just challenging to express our gratitude and appreciation. Not this year at Thanksgiving!

You may have seen in my newsletter an example of a way to share verbal appreciation by using the following approach:

(Name), you are very _________ (strength), and that is appreciated because it makes a difference in _________. Thank you!

And, here are some others:

"Thank you, _________(name) for your efforts with ___________________ (task)! You really showed your _________________ (strength), and I appreciate you for that!


Thank you, _________(name) for being so _________________ (strength)! I appreciate it because you _______________________ (difference the person makes)!

Additionally, a toast to one or many people really makes an impression and can show gratitude. An example is:

Thanksgiving is a time for food, people and holiday cheer, so here's to the wonderful dishes we all have prepared, the friends and family who chose to join us, and all the fun conversations and memories we are about to share! I thank you for being here! (Raising glass) Happy Thanksgiving!

Whatever way you show your appreciation, a smile and sincerity are your best assets, and real gratitude cannot be delivered incorrectly, so go ahead, give, give, give!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

APT to Accomplish

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist. 1749-1832

There are likely a lot of things on your "to-do" list right now...perhaps there seem to consistently be many items listed...

If you want to move from a list to being APT to accomplish what lies ahead, consider these three steps:

A - Assess your items.
Review your list or write the list. You are moving things from your mind to a physical place - on paper.

P - Prioritize. Everything is not a top priority, and so some things are "nice to do" activities. Perhaps a 1, 2, 3 or a, b, c categorization will assist you and your team/colleagues in focusing energies.

T - Take action. Without action (and not just the action of thinking about it!!), something is merely a thought or plan, and not something to complete or measure.

Keep in mind that your APTitude is derived in this case from your attitude and your follow-through, so assess, prioritize and take action in order to shift from "to-do" to "already done" this season...and into next year!

Friday, November 12, 2010

3 R's

"People only see what they are prepared to see." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When many of us were growing up, it was the 3 R's that were stressed for success. With Reading , wRiting and aRithmetic as the focus in families, schools and learning, we knew where we stood with grades and feedback (even if we questioned our parents' and teachers' logic with attempting to get us to believe those words were truly R's!).

In business and life outside school, grades and feedback are in different formats. For post-school, I encourage you to consider a new approach to the 3 R's...Risk, Reward and Repercussion. With nearly every situation, every opportunity, every challenge, there is Risk, Reward and Repercussion. How so? If we assess Risk, we know how much we are willing to do or give up to get somewhere. Assessing Risk is what leads to the Reward and Repercussion portions of our decision-making. Rarely is something a neutral outcome. Sure, we can do nothing, but even doing nothing yields changes likely in the long run. So, along with assessing Risk, please review what will be the Reward if the Risk pays off, and also, what will the Repercussions be. It's more fun and engaging to think solely of the outcomes in a positive light, and yet if we are not ready for the possibilities, we too could end up as a statistic of the ill-prepared.

Whether it is something as seemingly small as eating at a new place (Risk=not sure about the food/reputation, Reward=may find a great place at a good price, Repercussion=might not be high quality and may overpay or get sick), or something as big as an expansion (Risk=not known in the area, Reward=grow business, profitability and reach, Repercussion=may be in debt and negatively impact current operations), if you consider the 3 R's before moving forward, you will be in a solid decision-making mindset to expect the best while being prepared for the worst. And after all, isn't that the reason we were supposed to focus on Reading , wRiting and aRithmetic as we'd be in the best position for our future?

Friday, November 5, 2010

4 Words

"When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain." ~ William Shakespeare

There are a lot of words spoken, and sadly, not as much actually said. We celebrate first, second and third places in many events, but not fourth. Often there are times we feel as though we "don't know what to say". Our parents may have raised us to be seen and not heard.

Having shared those 4 thoughts, it may seem strange to encourage you to offer 4 words to someone for whom you want to instill confidence. Sure, sure, those "three little words" are welcomed, too, and are not being discouraged. It's just this approach to uplifting another is a for a varied purpose.

Imagine the difference you might make if instead of silence when you felt awkward or unsure, or asking "what can I do?", you looked the person in the eye and uttered (sincerely, of course) "I believe in you", or "I'm here for you", or "I'm on your side", or "I've got your back", or "I care about you".

What would be different? For the receiver of your message, you might be the only person who shared such a sentiment that day, week, month, etc. Also, your belief, presence, support and care could be what pushes the person to go ahead an act on what she or he is "thinking about doing". For you as the sender of the message, it would be different for you to loan a little of yourself without it costing you anything. You'd get to be a part of consoling, uplifting, encouraging or praising another person...and that's worth being said, being celebrated, being shared, and being heard!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

5 Phases to Our Measured Time/Interest

Every philosophy is the philosophy of some stage of life."

~ Friedrich Nietzsche, German classical Scholar, Philosopher and Critic of culture, 1844-1900

5 Phases to Our Measured Time/Interest

In our lives, there are many stages, learnings and approaches we will take. From a perspective of stages in your learning and living, please consider the following 5 phases, and where you are now...and where you want to be:

Phase 1 - Alive

We don't have a whole lot to do with this's more on our parents to get us here, nonetheless, each of us who is able to read this message is, in fact, alive.

Phase 2 - Survive

A combination of our parents, care-givers and ourselves eventually, we learn what it takes to get survive. This is not much of a desired state, but one where a lot of Americans reside for most or all of their lives.

Phase 3 - Drive

This is where we begin to differentiate what motivates us. It is in this phase where we consciously or unconsciously start to desire things and work toward them. Oddly, some people go through life with little to no drive, and yet those who have it, share it, and act on it are among the "success stories" we love to hear.

Phase 4 - Arrive

In the arrive phase, we are not comfortable, rather pleased with where we are in life. We have accomplished goals, not lost our drive, feel alive, surpass on the survive portion of living, and are in a position to appreciate and reflect on what we are doing and what got us to that phase.

Phase 5 - Thrive

When we move into thrive, we have hit all the others and are moving onto teaching, sharing and giving back to others through our words, actions, investments and interests. In thrive, we are very aware of being alive, all that drives and have not lost sight of the survive and arrive components. We are fully engaged, with little fear, much motivation, and a true yearning to contribute and continue to learn.

While I share these in order, you may find you are in one phase for a portion of your life, say your career, and perhaps another with your finances or career, and that is quite common. Your challenge, your opportunity, should you care to embrace it, is to set your sights on Thrive in all areas and continue to celebrate the wins and successes on your way, and eventually be excited, humble, grateful and reciprocal to others for being there fully!

With appreciation, make the most of each day, and of each phase!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recognition - Encourage, Praise, Reward

"Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition."
~Abraham Lincoln

A lot of people seek recognition, and a lot of us don't readily "give" recognition. Here is a three step approach to recognition for your consideration in leading yourself and others:

1) Encourage the sharing of ideas and flow of thought openly

2) Praise those who demonstrate the application of learning and taking action on ideas/thoughts

3) Reward based on results

When you are clear and consistent with these three things, your recognition approach is something others will realize, respect, and anticipate.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

10 Times the Leadership!

"Not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow."
~Chinese Saying~

While there are many lists and ideas about leadership, after speaking with a wonderful and talented client about leading during a one-on-one coaching session, I left and really reflected on what we covered, and consolidated the ideas I shared into my ten (perhaps top 10, and definitely current 10) strengths of an effective leader. The list includes (minimally) the ability to:

Envision - Seeing things for what they are and where they can go.

Observe - Looking at things with little bias and an open mind.

Inquire - Asking of others for input, observations, really listen and hear what is being said for feedback without repercussions to the person.

Care - Wanting to know about the people, the teams, the clients/customer and opportunities earned...and missed.

Cheer - Letting someone know he or she can do it. At times, just taking off the title and being a supportive person.

Coach - Being willing and able to meet people where they are and assist them in getting successfully where they are willing and able to go.

Show & Tell - Demonstrating and informing the team of what is behind, in front of and on the horizon for the company/group, and being willing to lead the way in words and actions. These are forms of effective communication.

Reflect - Making time and take time to consider competition, client desires, team interests and what to make of them and how the wins can be developed, and not just expected or taken.

Grow - Knowing others often have the answers and humility and pride can work hand-in-glove when learning and what serves well is top of mind. Being able to own decisions and seize opportunities for self and others.

Share - Being selfish enough to want the best and selfless enough to let others be a part of it. Knowing there is not just one leader, regardless of titles, and that results, victories and overall success in an effort of more than one. Sharing the opportunities and sharing of yourself by giving back in ways that work for you!

How are you, and your fellow leaders doing on these 10 traits? It's okay, be proud of what you are doing, and hone in on those areas where you'd like to see improvement...after all, you are a life-long learner if you are a true leader of self and others!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mindedness...Open or Closed?

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are just rearranging their prejudices." ~ William James

There is a funny expression shown on bumper stickers and t-shirts that reads "A mind is like a only functions when open", and having been an active skydiver in years past, I was drawn to it for the sport. Once again, in this 4th quarter, with people feeling budget crunches, year-end sales deadlines, and the elections coming, I am reminded of it internally, and now sharing here with you externally for the application of the thought versus the funny of the expression. After all, it's funny because it's true.

Remember, under pressure, we do not do what is right, rather, we do what we know. What do you know to do? Have you learned to be open-minded or closed minded?
A good assessment of how open-minded you are is to reflect on how many times you have said something like "good point, I hadn't considered that" versus the frequency of your saying "you just don't understand". It's the former that keeps us open, and the latter...not so much...

So, remind yourself to say something like "that's interesting, I'll consider it", or other expressions like the one above, and then do it...that is, if you are leaning toward wanting your parachute, or rather you mind, open!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cinderella Story: A Name Tag Recovered!

"From our ancestors come our names, but from our virtues our honors." ~Proverb

Cinderella Story: A Name Tag Recovered!

Last week, I was at a large event in the area where people were dressed in cocktail to formal attire, and while I thought there would not be name tags expected, there were, and it was good that there were, as name tags allow us to quickly "remember" those we met long ago or so briefly that age, interest or our memories are hindering us from recalling them.

Still, while the name tags are great, the sticky ones with either typed (or worse yet, hand-written) names, leave much to be desired when they fall off, end up on the back of someone's dress or suit jacket, or simply disappear...

I was tapped on the shoulder by a smiling man who informed me that his name tag fell off and apparently I stepped on it, for my four-inch heel (we were in pretty formal attire) was stuck right there in the middle of his name tag. I smiled and asked what it was worth to him to allow the situation to be funny rather than just plain awkward. We laughed, go to know each other a bit, made some silly comments about name tags and moved on. I did not mind that incident, but I feel for anyone who feels s/he must get the tag off the floor to wear it per the rules and professionalism of networking.

Oh, I agree, wear a name tag! Yes indeed, just get a name tag with your name and your company on it. This is a small investment once your logo is in the system. Get two for each person within your company, and three for those who network a lot. These are remembered (if you remember to wear them - you may want to keep one in your desk, and one in your car with the 3rd in your planner if you are a consistent networker). Put the magnetic tag on your right side (so people shaking your hand will look up and associate your name and company with your face) in between your collar bone and breast bone, and know you will be well represented, will assist others in "knowing" your name, and it won't ever be you with the Cinderella syndrome over a lost adhesive name tag!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The AGILE Leader

"There are many victories worse than a defeat." ~ George Eliot

In order for leaders to embrace change, inspire followers (who are often other leaders in their own right), and get to the end result successfully, agility is key!

Agility in a leader is not simply the flexibility to change, rather the ability to demonstrate awareness and action while not losing sight of the people, the goals and the community/company.

How agile are you? A quick assessment is below...are you:
A - Available
G - Giving
I - Interested
L - Learning
E - Effective

If you are a yes on all of these, you are likely demonstrating agility. If you reflect and find you are not available, giving, interested, learning and effective, then make some changes and get agile to improve and enhance your leadership!

Mind the Gap!

"Perhaps the best definition of progress would be the continuing efforts of men and women to narrow the gap between the convenience of the powers that be and the unwritten charter."
~ Nadine Gordimer, South-African Writer,
& Nobel Peace Prize Winner

"Mind the Gap" seems so much more civilized than "caution", "danger", or "step back"! And yet, I have only really seen it used in Europe for politely warning people of what is, in fact, a gap in the area for footing. I like it. Naturally, my mind wandered to what else we could mind...what were our American gaps?

In addition to the gaps in politics, religion and road construction, other gaps quickly entered my mind. Sticking with leadership of ourselves and others, it seems appropriate to be aware enough to mind the following gaps in order to ensure we are using our resources (time, energy, money, etc.) to the best of our abilities in order to yield positive, productive results:

* Complaining vs. Solutioning (the gap leaves positivity out and sadly welcomes negativity)
* Judging vs. Appreciating (the gap ignores differences and our strengths that combine)
* Advising vs. Friending (sometimes someone just wants an ear for listening and not a mouth full of advice)
* Snobbery vs. Exclusivity (It is not good to exclude for ill-intended reasons, yet it is smart to build and grow a niche/target)
* Demanding vs. Commanding (demanding gets compliance while commanding yields commitment)
* Expecting vs. Leading (communication, effective communication that is, is definitely not overrated)
* Telling vs. Selling (there is nothing wrong with passionately pitching an idea and getting buy-in)
* Needing vs. Wanting (need is burdensome, where want is anticipatory and focused on the results and potential outcomes)
* Hearing vs. Listening (hearing is a physical act where listening is physiological)
* Taken/Given vs. Earned (the act of realizing efforts in the form of money or accolades will likely never compare to that which is simply bestowed)
* False Politeness vs. Sincerity (people can see through the first, and long to see the second)
* Positioning vs. Interest (I said it wasn't political, but this one can cause office politics to get out of hand)
* Intent vs. Result (while intent is a consideration, results are lasting and likely tangible)

Stick with the second half, the right side, of this list, and ensure you are one who will "mind the gap" by being intentional, direct and communicative as a leader of thoughts and actions!

Friday, September 10, 2010

4 Questions

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning."

~ Albert Einstein

4 Questions

While I often share the idea of three - seven questions to ask in certain situations, yesterday, with three different colleagues/clients, the topic of ineffective work performance was broached. When I am asked what to do/say, my mind thinks what not to do/say, as often as leaders, we tell people what we want, when we want it, and think that is interactive somehow.

Instead, an effective and revealing approach is to ask four questions of the under-performer:

1. What is going well?

2. What would you like to improve?

You have seen these first two questions many times before, and they are timeless and true, so, here are the new ones:

3. What is getting/standing in the way of you getting where you want to be/do/have?

4. As your leader, what can I do to assist you, break down any barriers, guide you, etc.?

Leave it up to them to share and communicate after you facilitate open communication. For as a leader, your role is to meet your team members where they are, and lead them where they are willing and able to go. Those four questions will uncover (or reinforce) the willing and likely the able, parts for you!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stepping Through Change

"Change can either challenge or threaten us...Your beliefs pave your way to success or block you."
~ Marsha Sinetar

Stepping Through Change

Considering I am participating in a Change Management webinar in September, I think it is fitting to preview some of the ideas here…

Whether it is a large or small, impactful or seemingly slight alteration of plans or routine, we process these actions (or lack of them) as change. Change is not to be taken lightly, for while change is not regularly the issue, how it is presented is what we take to task, change itself has merit for discussion.

Any change is a loss of sorts, and so be it quick or slow, the process is similar to that for true grieving of a significant loss including the steps:
1. Denial. (No, that’s not true – it really isn’t happening, right?!?)
2. Anger. (I cannot believe “they” are doing this – someone should have asked me!)
3. Negotiating Often called Barganing. (Would if we put it off – couldn’t we compromise? This seems drastic!)
4. Doubt/Disappointment. Often called Depression. (This probably won’t work. It might, but it is going to be tougher the way it was handled!)
5. Acceptance. (It is not changing, and I am moving forward. Okay, even if I don’t like it, I am not going to fight it.)

Keep these things in mind and resist “springing” change on your partners and/or team members. Bringing up something as a discussion/consideration allows people to process through these steps in a healthy fashion rather than being put in a position where they seem like they have reached Acceptance, but they are back in Anger. Imagine the difference in allowing for processing with questions and interface over the get over it approach that we may sometime unwittingly use without the intent of a rush, but still the impact. Let’s go for appreciating each of us, some tremendously fast, go through this process with change, and allow the change to take hold instead of being overlaid at the risk of the repercussions!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Assert Yourself

" The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others." ~ Sharon Anthony

Assert Yourself!

Can you be assertive without being considered wimpy or aggressive?
Of course…but how?

The difference between being assertive (standing up for yourself and/or others to get things accomplished professionally) and being overly aggressive is simply the difference of not badgering or insisting to the point of being rude. You can be assertive and consider others and/or the lasting impact of your actions without being antagonistic or labeled aggressive.

The difference between being assertive and being wimpy is often the difference in being direct and not being direct. Often people who do not stick with a thought or direction are perceived as wimpy.

Words, body language, positioning and tone all play a part in whether or not you are perceived as wimpy, assertive or aggressive. You can share ideas and be passionate while considering and hearing other without being seen as too wimpy (weak) or aggressive (forceful).

Let’s say you are in a restaurant or club ordering a meal, which is aggressive, and what is not?

A. I’ll have the blackened salmon with asparagus and a side salad with vinaigrette dressing, please.
B. I’ll take the salmon…how do you recommend it be cooked? Is the asparagus any good? Do you think a side salad will be too much with that? Will the vinaigrette be too tangy?
C. I'm having the salmon – make sure it’s blackened, and don't overcook it. And I'll have firm asparagus on the side, with a side salad with dressing on the side, if you can remember that.
D. Would you mind bringing me some salmon, please if it’s not too much trouble. Thank you and asparagus or something else with it will be fine.

A= Assertive, right?
B=Boy, oh boy, could you possibly remember the waiter/waitress does not know you, your likes, and dislikes, your capacity for food, etc.?
C=Caustic. Enough said, yet many handle things this way.
D=Dump all over me whenever you like…

You don’t have to go from wimpy to aggressive or vice versa. It's like when there is a hole in your driveway, and each time you drive through it, your car bottoms out a bit (the driveway integrity is wimpy), filling it with too much cement doesn’t solve the problem, it only changes it…it will still be a bumpy jolt on you and the car now, just in the opposite direction (like aggression). The true fix to the drive is an approach, a plan, a solution (assertive).

Sure steps to being assertive over wimpy or aggressive:
Think first, feel second.
Let things go.
Be inclusive. Solicit input in a way that is about “ask and incorporate”, vs. “ask and defend”.
Stay the course when decision is made.
Stop apologizing more than once.
Leave ego at the door.
Expect collaboration. Be prepared for competition.
Be consistent.
Share in the efforts and share in the wins.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Basic: AAA Social Media

"Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it." – Erin Bury, Sprouter Community Manager

AAA Social Media for B2B & B2C

For “Triple A” engagement and outcomes for your social media efforts in the realm of Business-to-Business(B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C), consider the following A’s:

ASSIST – Think in terms of assisting your followers, readers, subscribers, and onlookers. How are you a resource to offer ideas, people and other resources. This is not the realm to sell, sell, sell! This is the area to offer, show, share and connect. The business will follow where appropriate. Be seen as the expert who offers freely without expectation, and when the time is right, others will engage in your services and/or products.

ACT – Interface with others on the sites and media you use (LinkedIn, Facebook, Names, Blogs, Twitter, Plaxo, etc.). Take action by posting, commenting and sharing where appropriate. Resist being a know-it-all, rather share questions or thoughts like “have you considered XYZ?” so that you are acting in their interest by sharing your information/ideas.

APPRECIATE – Show thanks to those who assist you, act on your posts and/or offer criticism or other ideas for your approach and/or your business. Even a bad review is welcomed, as it gives you free feedback that you can address and might not have known before. No matter what is posted, thank the person for the idea, taking the time, etc. Appreciation shows you care and does not present you in a defensive way.

If you are unsure about Social Media, jump in, have fun, and remember, it is one aspect of your business approach and marketing, so commit to it, do it on minimally twice a week, be consistent in your approach, and enjoy the opportunities...and the learning!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Basic #2: The Thank You Note

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
~G.B. Stern

The Power of Written Appreciation

Fast paced days filled with meeting, appointment, activities and people can become a blur…and yet without the human interaction, kindness, collaboration and interactions, we would be alone…and likely far less productive!

Basic #2: The Thank You Note

It is not a lost art, it is not a lost art, it is not a lost art! At least that is what I keep telling myself as it relates to thank you notes. These personal, hand-written scribbles of appreciation not only make the recipient’s day, but it will make the sender take a look back on a full day and share gratitude in a way that few people do nowadays.

Whether it is for making time for you, going out of their way, or doing something else that you recognized as something of value, it is worthwhile to make time for that person, shift your focus off yourself and your tasks/stress, and allow someone else’ life and efforts come into view. It’s one thing to see/observe something, and it is another to act on it.

Time to take action with a simple concept – the thank you card/note. Whether you use custom notes or generic cards, the sentiment is what is most important. Date your card, people often keep these seemingly rare finds, and address the card with the person’s name followed by something about them (not you with “I” to start the note). Let the person know what s/he did, said or didn’t do or say that you appreciated. Tell that person it did not go unnoticed and close with something to reinforce your relationship. Send it within 24 hours ideally, and within the week of something happening (on the outset).

It is a 90-second process that costs less than $1, and yet the payoff for your sense of human kindness, and possibly even your business, will likely be priceless.

Thank you for being a client and/or follower!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Basic #1: The Suggestion Box

"Putting pen to paper lights more fire than matches ever will."
-Malcolm Forbes

The Suggestion Box

We’ve advanced. We’ve gotten high tech. We are sophisticated, integrated, and sometimes over-stimulated in the workplace.

This is a time to take a look at the basics, and ensure some subtleties and sound ideas are not being overlooked. The concept of “the right people send the right message to the right customers for the right partnerships and the right wins for both” has a lot of aspects to it, and in the next few weeks, it’s an opportunity to take a look back, a look around and a look to the future…full of basics!

Basic #1: The Suggestion Box
It’s terrific to have a process that has a lot of input and review, formatting and forming opinion within the team, group or full company. Still, the simple idea of a suggestion box is where a lot of lasting ideas originated…and it took a form, a signature, an idea, and feedback…

Suggestion boxes are fast to implement since they take little planning, and/or space/time. Suggestion boxes allow most all involved in your business/practice to make their contributions and share thoughts that they might not be comfortable/confident to share in a group. Boxes can be placed in production facilities and in retail stores, and in any office area, providing a low-cost, high-touch means of collecting ideas!

Ensure you have a few, very few, guidelines in place, such as:
Everyone from team members to clients and vendors are included.
The simple form has less than 10 required responses with the name and signature of the submitter included, and is hand-written.
Reward cost-saving ideas with a percentage of savings for a set amount of time.
Reward leaders who encourage people to contribute.
Have the ideas published/posted.
Get a group involved for reviewing/assessing, and keep a firm timeline for responding.
Announce the program fully and stick with it.
Have contests for implementable winning ideas.
Others you deem appropriate.

You may keep the box for a long or short time. Put a test-drive date on the idea, and see where it goes. If this is not a basic that works well at your place of business, you’ll not have failed at suggestions; rather you will have learned that isn’t a process to use where you are. This will cost you almost nothing, and the ideas you get just might be priceless…

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Practice First

“Practice is the best of all instructors.”

~ Publilius Syrus, Roman author, 1st century B.C.

Practice First

While it may be exciting to get something new out in the field, to patients or to your customers, remember, the patients, customers and clients were once someone else’s...or could be someone else's at some point, so the practice needs to come sooner rather than later, and internally instead of externally.

To minimize issues, embrace the ideas of "practice on your person or your pals and not your patients, clients or customers". This means role-play, situational probing, experiential learning through sharing, and consideration of what may arise when in front of patients, clients or customers. Brainstorm, green-light think through the process, product or approach from many angles.

Sure, you will not be able to cover absolutely everything in your practice efforts, but out of respect for your patients, clients and customers, just remember to value them and practice prior to meeting with them in order to perform, deliver and provide the best service, product, message possible for/to them.

Once you finish your initial practicing, still seek input for future improvements and the next generation/update, and then it's back to the drawing board, or rather practice field, for you and your team in an effort to keep those clients, customers and patients from being someone else's again, for as the quotation reads, our practice really is the best of instructors!

Monday, July 12, 2010

5 Tips for Landing the Job! (As seen on Fox 35)

“There has never been another you. With no effort on your part you were born to be something very special and set apart. What you are going to do in appreciation of that gift is a decision only you can make.” ~ Dan Zadra

5 Tips for Landing the Job!

When searching for a new career, position or role, remember, I.A.A.I. - in other words, It's Always An Interview...even if you have not applied for a position yet. Each person you meet, place you go and site you visit and make comments on is an impression. So, keeping that in mind, still be yourself, have fun, and focus on what matters! The following 5 tips will assist job-seekers in honing their skills:

1) Your resume, emails, bio, and an other communication are a reflection of mindful of your approach, spelling, tone, professional and about results. Put yourself in a position to make the next stalking...get permission to do so by stating clearly in emails and voice communication when you will follow-up (as opposed to the "feel free to contact me" line).

2) Phone interviews are interviews...dress as though you were in person, have the job posting and your resume in front of you, and conduct the interview in front of a mirror (not for vanity, rather for seeing your impression on the interviewer).

3) In-person interviews are about presence, style, skills and will. Ensure you show you are respectful, fit in, either know or can learn the skills and that you want the position...and have the job description, multiple copies of your resume, and no electronic devices distracting you.

4) Ask for feedback. While it is bold, it is memorable, and you will get it with the right question. Ask something at the end of a phone interview like "Based on this phone interview, is there any reason we would not progress to the next step in the interview and hiring process?", and following the formal part of the in-person interview share "Thank you for the interview. I am interested in earning the opportunity to land this position. At this point, is there any reason you would not hire me for the job?". The interviewers may be surprised, and you may be a bit nervous, but confidence is key, and readiness follows. You may not hear what you want to hear, but it is better to know, and then take the feedback in an effort to grow.

5) Show appreciation throughout...even if you do not get the posted position...often people are asked back for other roles based on how they have behaved. An email "thanks" is not enough. Sure, you can send one, and additionally send a hand-written note. Remember each person's name with whom you spoke. Thank them, and be sincere. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way...sometimes right to a new career!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Steps 1 - 7 to Small Talk Heaven

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
~ Robert McCloskey

Steps 1 – 7 to Small Talk Heaven

1. Be likable – not to be confused with being “like a bull”. Go ahead, be the first to say greet other guests with a smile as you say “hello”!

2. Shake hands when you meet someone…even if you’ve met before or there are a lot of people around. Shaking hands stems from a ritual of trusting the other person had “nothing hidden up his sleeve like poison in the “olden days”, and as odd and germy as it may seem to do it today, it is still a professional courtesy (and even expectation) if you want to be taken seriously. Say your first and last name slowly to the person (even if you have met him or her before) so that you can save those “I’m bad with names, but good with faces” people.

3. Be mindful during introductions. Make the effort to remember names of those you meet, and use them readily. Be the person who introduces new acquaintances to others so that you are seen as the connector.

4. Ask a direct, non-intimidating question like “how do you know the host?” if at a house party, or “what attracted you to this event?” if at a conference, so that the conversation begins on a positive reference point/perspective. Also, know what current events, movies and books are being talked about. Have an opinion on them, but ask others theirs first so as to not get confrontational right away.

5. Stay engaged verbally and with eye contact. Resist glancing around the room while others are talking to you, as it appears you are flighty and/or looking for a better opportunity elsewhere. Listen more than you talk if you are not there to be the entertainer/speaker.

6. If/when appropriate, present two business cards to the other person with the cards framed with your index finger and thumb…facing the full card to the recipient. If the other person reciprocates, look at the card and comment on something positive/interesting about the card. Put other cards in the same place you keep yours to show those received have the same value.

7. Watch monopolizing others. Be friendly, be memorable, and be moving on. Know when and how to exit a conversation by stating things like “it’ll be great to speak more about this at another time, I’ll follow up with you later this week via email” (if you will), or “surely there are a lot of people who want to meet you, so I will respect that and not monopolize your time. It was a pleasure”. Close with shaking the person’s hand and using his/her name again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

To Friend or Not to Friend...That is the Question!

“The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.”
~ Justice William O. Douglas

To Friend or Not to Friend…That is the Question

And, the answer is…

If you use Facebook and LinkedIn (highly recommended), and you receive a friend request from a colleague, manager, acquaintance, or co-worker, you may get that odd twinge in your belly that tells you if you confirm, you will be exposed, and if you decline, you will be a jerk. Ah, but there is another option, and that is by clicking the send a message link and replying with something similar to the following:

While I appreciate your seeking me out on Facebook, my professional contacts and messaging are on LinkedIn, so here is that contact information Please connect with me there.
Thank you, and see you on LinkedIn!
Your Signature

This will keep you in touch, out of reach of the awkwardness of that person being your FB friend, or having to adjust your privacy settings for each person, and still make the connection on social media…

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Top 10 Tips for Landing Your Next Position

“I feel sorry for the person who can't get genuinely excited about his work. Not only will he never be satisfied, but he will never achieve anything worthwhile.” ~ Walter Chrysler

Top 10 Tips for Landing Your Next Position

If you are thinking of changing roles, positions, or directions in your career, consider the following:
1) Assess your past and the results you have accomplished to determine your 2 - 4 areas of expertise. Resist attempting to be "all things to all companies/roles".

2) Get clear on, and excited about what you offer and the areas/industries for your talents. Watch words like "I could" or "I'd be willing to", as these are red flags for people to realize you will bolt when another opportunity comes along. Know that if you cannot articulate your strengths, nobody else will be able to do so either. Have a quick 15-30 second "pitch" regarding your offerings - not just what you do.

3) Vow not to change your resume for every position/posting. It seems tempting, but that is the purpose of your cover letter.

4) Use job sites and industry-leading resources like institutes or associations to stay up on language, lingo and the buzz words that are likely key for your resume and/or cover letter to get selected from the scanning software that many companies use to assist in their vetting of potential candidates.

5) Update your resume and stop changing it weekly. Decide if you are staying in the same or related field that you can use a reverse chronology approach, and embrace the idea that if you are shifting gears, you will likely want a functional/skills resume that reflects those 2 - 4 areas of expertise.

6) Consider your audience and that you have much competition. Too much I, I, I can sound like it's all about you, and not about the company and their customers and/or clients.

7) Google yourself to see what everyone else can see. Revisit all your links, websites, blogs, tweets, posts, etc., as you will be researched by any serious potential employers or business partners. Present publicly what you want to be discussed privately.

8) Know that you are more than what you do for a living. You are a second-rate someone else, but a first-rate you. Keep yourself healthy and focused so that you do not start to resemble a tired version of yourself, or worse yet, someone you are not!
9) Be productive over being busy with what you are doing and with whom you are interfacing and collaborating. Never underestimate the power of contacts, professionalism and follow-through on comments, commitments and opportunities...

10) Network, network, network, and when you are tired of it all, get re-energized, and network more! Network to assist others, and not just to focus on yourself and your job search. You'll be surprised how true the adage is of "you get what you give"! Networking is how most people land positions now...and it's not likely to change in the future.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Disagree Professionally and LAST

“The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

How to Disagree Professionally and LAST

A well written opinion message allows for clarity and understanding (not to be confused with agreement). As long as you have an intent that is focused and clear while anticipating your audience, you will likely have success. Still, in order to be as well prepared as possible, the following steps to effectively disagreeing agreeably will assist you in achieving just that!

1. Decide what you want to inspire: thoughts, exchange, debate…

2. Imagine various perspectives…regardless of your position.

3. Assess whether you have exposure, experience or expertise in the subject area and know that your audience will know that as well.

4. Use the LAST approach, including:

a. Listen and have respect for the other person’s opinion
b. Acknowledge: (what you have heard/read) for connection, and to show respect
b. Share one or two stories with facts and evidence that are compelling/interesting
c. Tell your opinion

5. Create an outline and draft including an introduction L(Listen), A(Acknowledge), S(Share), and T(Tell).

6. Use proper vocabulary, punctuation, spelling and tense without acronyms (unless used only after the full description), slang or colloquial references.

7. Be passionate about the topic without being emotional about potential conflicts.

8. Look forward to the replies/ideas that you may or may not have considered.

9. Know you may not change the person’s mind, and that you still both have your opinion without there being a fight.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Soft COACHing Connects People

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them,
but by building a fire within.” - Bob Nelson

Soft COACHing Connects People

Surely it is wonderful to recognize and appreciate someone verbally and in writing! I encourage it readily!

Additionally, sharing praise about someone to another person is also an excellent way to offer recognition and allow others to know about it in an appropriate and professional manner. I call it soft COACHing.

Soft COACHing in their Presence with Another person includes:

C - Connect with another about someone
O - Offer what the person does
A - Abilities are the focus
C - Compliment sincerely
H - High praise and expectation for continued results

Remember, when you have the opportunity, coach others on the merits of people you know to be a referral of quality individuals and to encourage connections!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

5 Steps To Effective Employee Education and Communication

“Don't Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, Author

5 Steps To Effective Employee Education and Communication

It is tempting to quickly summarize happenings when time is tight and deadlines are looming, but often that just confuses or alienates people further. When complex or important occurrences are minimized, people tend to feel left out or suspicious about what they do not know. It is reminiscent of the concept “we know just enough to be dangerous”. Danger is not what we want… knowledge is. Just as talking is not communicating, providing documents such as organizational charts or spreadsheets, is not educating. Having stated that, together effective employee education and communication can be accomplished in 5 straight-forward steps.

1. Prioritize expectations and deliverables. Basing priorities on cost verses benefits and tying them to realistic time lines will educate team members on reasoning and timing. Communicating these things to all involved limits discrepancies in importance.
2. Define and communicate (verbally and in written form) each role and those role responsibilities. By breaking down the responsibilities, overlap will not occur often and strengths are directed toward the proper channels. Additionally, when people know their roles and responsibilities, they are able to work both independently and as teammates when needed.
3. Review progress on a regular, frequent basis. This is not to micromanage, rather to allow people to know when you are going to check in, and what you want to see. Additionally, you can celebrate wins, review what is going well, and determine what you want to reassign, change or update. This formal communication need not be lengthy, yet it is tremendously valuable.
4. Reassess priorities and focus. By tracking and reevaluating where each role/responsibility is and how they fit the “big picture” is an effective way to consistently reinforce priorities and/or change direction calmly and clearly to all involved. If something gets added or changed, or the scope is slightly different at some point, it is too easy to think it does not impact people when it does, and this step will include communicating influxes of new expectations or the elimination of others; keeping the focus clear for all.
5. Measure and share results. Be direct on what is measurable and when it will be measured. This supports the adage “actions speak louder than words” and will keep people productive over just being busy. When people exceed or miss targets, all is communicated together. Wins are still celebrated and called out, while misses are not overlooked. These results become inspiration and accountability for those involved.

While the steps here are covering both education and communication, they combine to create a leadership and teamwork environment regardless of your industry, group, project or system. Once these steps become part of your leadership style, you will be less tempted to summarize or skim and more inclined to include and yield even higher results!

Friday, February 5, 2010

7 Steps to Email Wow!

“Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.”

- Michael J. Gelb

7 Steps to Effective Emailing

With people getting multiple emails each day, how does your email get read?

Remember that people have choices for what to do with their time, and reading emails fully become “optional” to a lot of individuals, and even within some company/corporate cultures. So, to set yourself apart and increase your “readability” factor with outgoing emails, keep in mind that most everyone’s favorite topic is himself or herself, and not you…meaning appeal to them rather than just what you want to “say” in the message.

Here are 7 simple tips to effective emailing:

1. Have a subject line that is capitalized, and reads like a book title. Do you inform and intrigue people with your 6 words-or-less subject line?

2. Have a greeting that is simple, and includes minimally the recipient’s name.

3. Briefly lead-in or bridge, which gets you connected to the reader (such as “Thank you for your prompt response”, or “What a great idea you shared in the meeting”).

4. Get to the point of the message or request.

5. Offer to own the follow-up (something like “should I not hear from you by Tuesday, I will go ahead and book the meeting for 4:00 PM at your office, and send you a confirmation”).

6. Go for the quick close (“Warm Regards”, “Kindly”).

7. Include your full signature with your contact information.

Be brief, direct, and be gone so that your reader’s time is respected, and you make a compelling reason for the reader to respond…and read your future communication!