Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How To Do Five Percent More To Achieve Extraordinary Results

“Making small changes to reach big goals is the answer,” says entrepreneur and bestselling author Michael Alden in his book, 5% MORE: Making Small Changes To Achieve Extraordinary Results. “If you just put 5% more effort into any aspect of your life, you will not only achieve your goals, you will surpass them,” he explains. 

“Far too often, people become paralyzed when they want to improve their lives, because the effort to reach their goals seems overwhelming,” adds Alden. “Or the opposite occurs. They decide to dive into something one hundred percent, but then quickly lose steam.”

Therefore, Alden demonstrates that long-lasting success is based on small increases in effort. “Five percent is almost unnoticeable in terms of effort—but it accrues quickly, with each step boosting the baseline,” he declares.

Although much of Alden’s advice is based on personal experience, observation, and common sense, he is careful to discuss the studies and research that support his ideas throughout the book. 

Michael Alden

Some of his advice for entrepreneurs and business owners includes:

Spend 5% more time with your current customers: It is much smarter to spend a little more time with your current customers than to chase new “leads.” Your customers have already decided to buy from you. The key is to make sure that they are satisfied -- or better, yet, delighted with your product or service.

Increase product/service prices by 5%: 
Don’t be afraid to increase your prices. People will pay slightly more, if you are providing something that adds value to their lives. 

Increase results by 5%
: Stop focusing on activities, and focus on results instead. Looking at how to increase results, even by a small amount, will help you identify and eliminate actions that waste time.

Do something 5% differently than your competitors: 
Be a little more creative and think a little bit harder than your competitors. Whether it is going the extra mile in customer service, or offering a product that's just slightly better than that of your competitors, makes the difference in winning sales.

Motivate your team to give 5% More: 
Your business will never grow, if your team keeps doing the same thing over and over again. Invest 5% more in training and supporting them, so that they can do the best job possible.

Alden is the founder and CEO of Blue Vase Marketing, a multi-million dollar marketing firm that has been ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing private firms in America. Alden is also a recipient of SmartCEO Magazine’s 2016 Future 50 Award. His first book, Ask More, Get More, was a national bestseller.  For more information, visit his website.

Monday, June 19, 2017

How To Make An Apology

The following great advice about how to apologize is from the new book, The Courage Solution, by Mindy Mackenzie. I'll be posting a full review of the book in a few days. In the meantime, Mackenzie recommends you include these three elements when you apologize:
  1. Actually say "I'm sorry" out loud, while making eye contact, if possible.
  2. Acknowledging your error by adding the phrase "I was wrong...but more importantly, you were right."
  3. Asking humbly, "How can I fix this?" Keep in mind that an effective apology requires you to have actually begun working on a solution by the time you get to this step.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Business And Life Lessons My Father Taught Me

My father passed away 16 years ago this month. What he taught me has served me well in business and in life. Even lessons I learned when I didn't at the time necessarily realize I was learning from him.

So, I thank my dad for teaching me the following business and life lessons:

Listen - Growing up, I thought my Dad was perhaps shy or quiet. Really, he was just a great listener. I believe that's what made him so wise. He would listen to anyone. Young or old.  New acquaintance or friend.

Provide - My Dad provided for me. Music lessons. Vacations. Summer camp. Boy Scouts.  He gave. He put others' needs first. Today, I find in volunteering likely the same satisfaction he felt when he provided.

Educate - My Dad's passion was education. He loved to learn. He loved even more to teach. He lived to help other people learn. In the workplace, providing learning opportunities is one of the most powerful things you can do for an employee. Mentoring is equally powerful.

Train and Prepare - All those years of hearing, "Have you done your homework?" and "practice your trombone," served me well.  I fully understand the need to prepare for presentations, meetings, interviews, etc.

Dress The Part - I admit. When I was younger, I sometimes didn't understand why my Dad dressed the way he did. Now I understand the value of dressing appropriately for the situation and circumstance.

Respect And Accept - My Dad showed respect to and acceptance of people different from himself.

Inject Humor - I would consider my Dad to have been a serious kind of guy. More serious than many other fathers in the neighborhood where I grew up. So, when he told a funny story, sang a silly song, or acted goofy, it was particularly memorable. At work, I inject humor to diffuse stressful situations. And, to build stronger bonds with my colleagues.

Thank you, Dad, for teaching me these valuable lessons by setting such a good example. I miss you. Happy Father's Day.

How To Identify And Develop Emerging Talent In Your Company

From the book, Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change, comes this useful checklist from author H. James Dallas for how to identify and develop emerging talent in your company/organization.

Dallas recommends that each question should be graded on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being the best. Use the questions and the scoring for you and your employee to work together toward the highest ratings across the board.
  1. Has the person demonstrated a "getting lost with confidence" mind-set?
  2. Does the person communicate with authenticity?
  3. Has the person created a strong personal brand that is recognized by colleagues of all levels?
  4. Does the person know his or her blind spots and have people watching to prevent him or her from crashing?
  5. Is the person getting exposure to executive management?
  6. Does the person seek out and seriously consider advice?
  7. Is the person building an inclusive team and sponsoring others?
  8. Is the person proactive in finding opportunities to initiate and lead change?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Seven Tough Questions To Ask Your Teams

High-functioning and effective teams can disagree and still produce excellent products and results. Team members can also disagree and still care about each other. And, they can challenge each other to think differently.

Best-selling leadership book authors Scott J. Allen and Mitchell Kusy recommend that leaders ask seven tough questions of their teams to help maximize their results. Here are those questions to ask each team member:
  • What are some obstacles affecting this team?
  • What are opportunities we could take advantage of that we have been largely ignoring?
  • Where can you take greater ownership on this team?
  • Where have you let this team down?
  • Compared to other teams with which you are familiar, how are we doing?
  • When was the last time you complimented the team or one of its members?
  • How open are you to giving direct feedback to team members?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How To Be An Open Leader

Open Leadership author Charlene Li reminds leaders to periodically ask themselves these "open leadership skills assessment" questions:
  1. Do I seek out and listen to different points of view?
  2. Do I make myself available to people at all levels of the organization?
  3. Do I actively manage how I am authentic?
  4. Do I encourage people to share information?
  5. Do I publicly admit when I am wrong?
  6. Do I update people regularly?
  7. Do I take the time to explain how decisions are being made?
Thanks for these great questions, Charlene!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Leaving Your Legacy

Today's leadership thought comes from the new book, Trap Tales, by David M. R. Covey and Stephan M. Mardyks.

"True happiness does not come from possessions. It comes from serving others and making meaningful contributions that benefit other people long after we are gone. It is prioritizing experiences over possessions."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Five Tips For Making A Presentation

There is lots of good advice in Bob Kulhan's new book, Getting To Yes And, One of my favorites is his tips for making a presentation.

Kulhan recommends you follow these five tips:

  1. Warm Up. It's not enough to review your notecards and double-check your PowerPoint. Give yourself time to get your body and mind ready for peak performance.
  2. Relax. You've done all the prep work and you know what you're talking about, so give yourself permission to adapt to changes in your presentation as they occur.
  3. Adapt. You cannot plan for every question, and no matter how much you prepare there will always be uncontrollable surprises that pop up and potentially undermine your presentation. Don't try to control them. Try to adapt to them.
  4. Focus on Engaging. Put your energy into making sure that you are communicating your points clearly and effectively. You are not talking to a group; you are talking to individuals within the group.
  5. Be Yourself. You are not bound by slides. Your slides are there to support you, not vice versa. Let your natural energy come out and let your personality shine.
The bottom line, explains Kulhan, is, "Being a dynamic speaker is about bringing out the best of yourself, connecting with your audience, and communicating a simple message memorably."

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Broader Definition Of Work Ethic

I really appreciate author Valerie M. Grubb's broader than typical definition of work ethic for leaders, as she details it in her book, Clash of the Generations.

Here is what she says defines work ethic for leaders:

  • Honest. Be truthful in your dealings with employees, vendors, customers, and anyone else with whom you come in contact on behalf of the company.
  • Full of Integrity. Maintain high-quality standards despite schedule pressures. Demonstrate and uphold values and principles that create a climate of trust.
  • Law-abiding. Act within the statutes of the law and the company's rules and regulations.
  • Trustworthy. Speak the truth even when no one else does. Be candid and forthcoming. Give credit freely for others' accomplishments. Stand by your commitments and own up to your mistakes. 
  • Fair. Be fair and just in dealings with employees. Value and support diversity and inclusion across the board.
  • Respectful of others. Display grace under pressure and don't lash out at employees, even when deadlines are tight or tempers flare. Show respect for all your colleagues by seeking heir input when trying to solve problems.
  • Dedicated. Continually strive to solve problems, even in the face of adversity. Don't accept business as usual.
  • Accountable. Take personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes.
  • Concern for others. Show gratitude to direct reports and colleagues who work hard. Say thank you when your employees complete tasks and projects.
  • Encouraging. Help your employees achieve their professional goals (even if that leads them out of your department). Care about their success.
Thank you, Valerie, for this wise advice.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Communication Secrets For A Distracted World

According to a 2015 Microsoft study, the average attention span for us ever-scattered humans is now shorter that a goldfish's; eight seconds. So, how do you stand out? How do you communicate effectively? How do you not waste time?

Paul Hellman answers these questions and gives you 100 fast and actionable tactics to make your eights seconds meaningful. It's all in his new book, You've Got 00:00:08 Seconds.

He teaches you three key ingredients:

  1. Focus: How to say less with more meaning.
  2. Variety: How to stand out as slightly different.
  3. Presence. How to be notable and boost your reputation.

Paul Hellman

His tactics will serve you well in all these types of situations:

  • Making presentations
  • Interviewing
  • Emailing
  • Networking
  • Storytelling
  • Leaving voice mail
Here are some of my favorite takeaways from Hellman's book:

  • In one-to-one conversations, talk less than the other person. Ask at least one thought-provoking question per conversation.
  • In meetings, speak in 30-60 second bites. Provide the headline news first, with details later, and only give details if asked. You'll be surprised by how much you can say in 30 seconds.
  • When presenting, slim down to 10 PowerPoint slides or less. 
And, if you really want to Own the Room when presenting, Hellman recommends you:
  1. Avoid the podium.
  2. Move. 
  3. When you get a question, step forward toward the audience.
  4. Keep your hands in front of your body.
  5. Gesture.
  6. Look at individuals.
  7. Speak louder (as though the room were twice as large and you wanted to be heard).
  8. Speak as though your message matters.

Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Today's Leadership Thought: Celebrate Learning

Today's leadership thought comes from the new book, Trap Tales, by David M. R. Covey and Stephan M. Mardyks.

"Rejoice and celebrate in the effort, the journey, and the process as much as in the end result. Mistakes are instructive. Learn from them instead of hiding them."

Monday, June 5, 2017

Leading Versus Managing

Here are some great insights about leading versus managing from Bob Kulhan and his new book, Getting To Yes And.

He says, "Leading is not managing. Managing is not leading."

"Managing is taking care of logistical and practical details. Every team-related task needs to be managed to some extent, and the quality of managing can fall anywhere on a spectrum that runs from well-oiled machine to gear-grinding nightmare."

"The real problem arises when anyone confuses the managing of job-specific details with actual leadership. One does not need to be a visionary to qualify as a leader, but leadership does imply vision from a position of oversight."

"Managing is a part of leading, and a great leader can and should be an excellent manager. While a good manager needs to effectively communicate data and details, a good leader communicates on a broader, higher level. A leader drives for results, leads by example, and develops talent."

Finally, he adds that, "A great improvisational leader promotes teamwork and co-operation, values and respects the differences of team members, connects with others in empathetic ways, and leverages the talents of others to get the best possible results out of a team, all while hitting the strategically targeted bull's-eye.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

How To Create Your Mission Statement

Here's some good "how-to" advice for creating your mission statement, from the book, Total Alignment. According to authors Riaz Khadem and Linda Khadem:

Basically, your mission statement includes:

  • What you do
  • Where you operate
  • Whom you are serving
  • Why
And, they explain that the first step in developing your mission is to ask and answer these key questions:
  1. What do we do?
  2. Where and for whom?
  3. Why do we do this? What is our purpose?
  4. Does what we do today limit us in fulfilling our purpose in five years or beyond?
  5. If so, how can we broaden the statement of what we do today?
  6. What would be a brief inspiring statement describing our mission?
The answer to Question 6 is your mission statement.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Outsmarting The 7 Hidden Obstacles To Success

Last month brought the new book, Trap Tales, by David M. R. Covey and Stephan M. Mardyks.

It's a guide to avoiding the seven obstacles that ensnare people every day.

Those common seven traps are:

  1. The Relationship Trap
  2. The Money Trap
  3. The Focus Trap
  4. The Change Trap
  5. The Learning Trap
  6. The Career Trap
  7. The Purpose Trap
With sometimes counter-intuitive strategies and uncoventional wisdom, the authors teach you how to:
  • Identify the traps that are holding you back right now
  • Discover your escape routes
  • Avoid traps altogether
Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Friday, June 2, 2017

How To Improve Your Decision Making Skills

Plan now for the September 2017 release of the new book, The Decision Makeoever, by Mike Whitaker. It's a fascinating look at decision making and the importance of decision size and timing.

As you read the book, you'll gain a better understanding of:

  • The power of decisions
  • Why we make bad decisions
  • How to deal with bad decisions
  • How to deal with regret
  • How to take control of decision making
  • How goals and decisions can help each other
Perhaps the most significant part of the book is the author's perspective on goals. "Knowing your goals is the key to making good decisions," says Whitaker. "Because goals and decision-making are so intimately intertwined."

Therefore, he advises that you:
  1. Keep a few key goals close: Choice five prime goals and stay focused on them.
  2. Decide which goal is top priority and always give it favorable treatment when making decisions.
  3. Know that when a decision overlaps a prime goal, it becomes a prime decision. And, prime decisions are to be treated with more care because these will significantly affect your life results.
  4. Recognize momentum: Identify and appreciate the benefits of your good decisions.
Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.