Archive for 2010

It’s Not the Economy’s Fault; It’s Yours

From Reinvention 101: Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself

Stop making excuses for your poor production.  There is typically a recession every 5 to 7 years.  If you don’t know that, you are to blame for why you weren’t prepared for the last one.

Maybe your organization is “down” because you are a down leader.

Maybe people don’t buy your product or services because you are a sub-par sales person.

Maybe you can’t make ends meet because your employees are costing you more than they are bringing in to your business.

Maybe your budget is cut because you couldn’t manage business at the higher level.

Maybe your spending is down because you are afraid of losing what you have.

You know this and you aren’t doing anything about it.

It’s not the economy’s fault; it’s not your team’s fault; it’s not your customers’ fault; it’s not the government’s fault; it’s not the media’s fault; it’s not anyone else’s fault.

Sorry, it’s yours.

Are You a Giver or a Taker?

“We make a living by what we got, but we make a life by what we give.”   -Winston Churchill

Leaders give; losers take

…and take, and take.  If you spend your life taking and not giving, you are making the world an obnoxious place to live for us all.  It’s time to stop blaming, take responsibility for yourself and start giving.

Givers can’t wait to show their appreciation for others.  They work hard to give, and give, and give.   They don’t need to be reminded. It’s their lifestyle.  They are constant victors.

Takers live for entitlements.  They constantly look for the loophole to avoid gifting to others.  They are the last to volunteer or to do charitable work.   They expect givers to take care of them…forever.  They aren’t pleasant to be around and rarely have many friends. They are perpetual victims.

The world has enough takers.  Don’t believe me?

If most people were givers, there would be no need for people ringing bells with kettles in front of the store at Christmas. we would give year ’round to the Salvation Army.  If most of us were givers, we wouldn’t need tip calculators.  We would tip graciously and generously.  If most of us were givers, there wouldn’t need to be appeals for blood drives, Habitat for Humanity, school fundraisers, the American/Canadian Humane Society and many, many other charities.  We would give them our support without the need for campaigns to appeal to our hearts.   Our hearts would give generously.

I think you should, too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah and Have a “Different”  New Year!

Read Books That DON’T Reinforce Your Position

It’s easy to find resources that back your opinion.  Get out of your comfort zone and read material that doesn’t back your philosophy.

Find books that argue against what you think.  It will make you well-rounded, give you an understanding of your opposition, and might just open your mind to different ideas and thoughts.

Read “The War of Art,” by Steven Pressfield.  Read “Tribes,” by Seth Godin. Read a political book that would normally offend you.

I hope it doesn’t reinforce your position and makes you uncomfortable.

We ONLY Sell to People Who __________________.

From Reinvention 101: Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself:

Companies like Ghirardelli Chocolates and Rolex Watches only sell to one type of customer. The ones who will pay for their special products and services. They make more money because they specialize.

Specialization makes a Lexus more valuable than a Toyota.  Specialization makes Starbucks more valuable than Dunkin’ Donuts.  Specialization makes Jos. A. Bank more valuable than TJ Maxx.

Get the idea?

They make more money as a result of their higher value.  It’s been true in the medical world for decades.  Medical specialists make more money than General Practitioners.

What is the “only” you can create to increase your perceived value and discriminating customer base?

Leaders Embrace Risk; Losers Embrace… Committees.

“A camel is a horse built by a committee.”

As the Recession of 2008-09 began to approach, I watched as leaders, hesitant to make a decision, decided to cut back on everything.  Many of them were answering to boards and committees comprised of members having no experience running an organization that size.   Yet these same boards still maintained an aggressive stance on decisions both made and not made.  Sadly they usually made the wrong, group decision.

It reminded me of my previous ministry experience: often working in churches with lay leaders without seminary training, having never prepared in how to run a church and without enough knowledge of the Bible to teach on these matters.  Yet they exercised control of the pastor and staff and dictated programming and budgetary decisions that influenced how everything ran.

I am reminded of this constantly when working with banks and credit unions who are run by boards of directors who don’t have the faintest idea of how to manage a bank, pass an inspection or lead in financial services.  Trade associations allow committees to make decisions in an effort to empower the members, only to let clueless managers make decisions based on personal fears or preference.

I can understand why real leaders get frustrated.  You know what needs to be done; you know how to get it done; you have to defer to an untrained committee or board member to carry the authority to make the decision. Reinvention means getting away from having to ask “permission” to make the right decisions.

Most people hate jobs with responsibility, and no authority.

Make Up Your Mind!

From Reinvention 101: Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself:

Analysis paralysis sets in when you have…. surmised, reviewed, surveyed, analyzed, thought over, looked at other options, ruminated, asked all the right questions, made models, sought others’ opinions, slept on it, played wait-and-see, evaluated, formed a study committee, concentrated on it, put it off, waited for all of the evidence to come in, formed an action group (committee), chose the right moment, took a walk around the block, made plans, set the foundation, sent it to a committee, held meetings, sent it back to the committee,  sought agreement and prayed over it….

…and you still didn’t DO anything!

Are Your Employees “Leaking” to Your Customers?

Your people don’t all like working for you.

Sorry, but they tell negative stories about you and their work to each other year after year and pass them along to new employees (0nce they have checked them out and approved them to stay – an unwritten policy).  The new crop of trainees has already been indoctrinated by them.  This is one of the reasons the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright preferred to train his own apprentices.

But much worse, these are most often revealed to customers both verbally and non-verbally.

Yes, just like Wikileaks… only about you and your business.

Their “tells” are given away with looks, glances, rolling of the eyes and outright truth-telling.  The most dangerous employee is one who is assisting your competitors by driving your business away (while you are keeping them on the payroll).  They are sabotaging your customers with stories that support their claims of poor service. “You think this is bad?  Let me tell you what it is like working for him….”

Get the picture?  You can do what you like, but these stories persist.

Believe this: your customers know whether your people like working for you.  Have you ever been tipped off by an employee as to how they don’t like their job?  Has anyone ever complained about their company to you?  What was your reaction as a customer?  Did you keep the same opinion of the company or their boss they told you about?

Constant nagging, complaining or poor attitudes with customers are signs that your culture is sick and in need of reinvention.  If you don’t know this yet, trust me, your customers do.  They get it regularly from your own people.

Adding new employees either enriches or discourages this culture.  It adds to the stories and takes away from them.  Like it or not, this is your company culture and it permeates the relationship every employee has with one another and the customers.

Your company culture has traditions just like your family does.  And it continues those traditions and tales just like a family passes its heritage along to each new generation.  And the longer they stay, the more they hear.  Ever notice when you go home to visit family it takes several days for them to “open up” and start telling the stories they won’t tell on a short visit?

Your people do the same with your customers.  Are you feeding this behavior by rewarding it or punishing it?

Wander Your Organization

From Reinvention 101, Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself:

Walk the floors.  Visit the cubicles.  Go out into the “field” to visit your sales staff and customer service representatives.  Spend a day with each branch manager or vice president.  Spend quality time with frontline workers, sales people, customer service representatives,call center/telephone responders, supervisors, help desk personnel, etc. 

Ask them what they like about their work.  Ask them what improvements they wish you would make to streamline their job or please the customers.  Take a notebook with you and write down everything they tell you. 


Encourage their feedback.  Let them know telling you is safe for them.  Thank them and say you will be back to report on your progress to them.

Bold Idea:  Borrow someone’s cell phone (so the caller ID won’t give you away) and call the office while you are out.

…and ask for you! 

What does the receptionist say when they answer the phone for your organization?  How hard is it to get to you?  Where do they say you are?  What do they say about you?

 You can’t begin the reinvention process for your company, your association or your organization until you know where people are at this very moment in time.

Fight for Your Staff

From Reinvention 101, Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself:

Your staff are the people who you depend on for ideas and productivity.  If they feel you won’t go to bat for them, they will not go to bat for you.   Nothing is more frustrating than a boss or manager who won’t step up and support their employees.

Empower them to make decisions in your absence.  Then fight for them when they do.  Help them feel safe and secure.  Be their champion when the chips are down.

Reinvent the way you talk and deal with your staff when they aren’t there to defend themselves.  They will be loyal to you forever!

It’s More About What You DO; Not What You Say…

No one cares what you say NEAR as much as what they see you do.  Someone somewhere is watching your actions.

And watching…

Watching to see if your words match your actions.  Watching to see if you are willing to live out the stupid rules you made for everyone to follow.  Watching to see how successful you are under the same circumstances they are under.

What you say can be writeen and/or recorded. 

What you do will be emulated and copied.  It will be videoed and placed on YouTube.  It will be repeated in office breakrooms.  It will be posted on Facebook.  It will be made fun of at social gatherings.  It will be remembered forever. It will make or break you as an example, model or standard by which everyone is measured.

Watch what you say.  It needs to mirror your ACTIONS.

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