Leaders in Life

Today I’ve got some wise words from one of the leadership experts today, Dr Henry Cloud.  I believe that everyone is a leader in one way or another, but even if you don’t work in a traditional leadership role, there are wise words that you can learn from as well.

“Nothing good is going to happen if you can’t deal with the bad things that are going to happen.”

“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where i end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with. We must own our own thoughts and clarify distorted thinking.”

“Encourage literally came from “in courage.” The courage is put “into” you from outside. Our character and abilities grow through internalizing from others what we do not possess in ourselves.”

“True intimacy is only build around the freedom to disagree.”  

“Just as we leave the effects of our work behind in results, we leave the effects of our interactions with people in their hearts, minds, and souls.”

“Your business and your life will change when you really, really get it that some people are not going to change, no matter what you do, and that still others have a vested interest in being destructive.”

“When we ask we are owning our needs. Asking for love, comfort or understanding is a transaction between two people. You are saying: I have a need. It’s not your problem. It’s not your responsibility. You don’t have to respond, but I’d like something from you.  This frees the other person to connect with you freely and without obligation. When we own that our needs are our responsibility we allow others to love us because we have something to offer. Asking is a far cry from demanding. When we demand love, we destroy it.”

“Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Growth itself demands that we move on. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.”  

“Who a person is will ultimately determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed.”

“If you want to become healthy, you have to surround yourself with a group of people that are getting healthy, and you have to be connected to a community that is doing what you want to do.”

Remembering Who You Were Born To Be

Parents have a lot of pressure on them, well, the good ones do.  Parents who don’t care about their kids don’t experience life the same way that true, caring parents do.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I love supporting parents and business owners and people in general who are passionate about life, who truly care about their lives, their families, their customers and the world.  I’m all for having fun and trying new things.  I’m not a fan of the people who think they’re too good for the rest of us, who don’t care about others, who aren’t willing to let others win and those who give only because it benefits them.  Yes, we can all have some selfish moments, and moments that we want the attention to be all on us, but for the most part that’s not how those of us who really care live our lives.  Yes, we think about ourselves, but we also think about others and the world around us, and genuinely care what happens to them.

That’s not to say that we don’t have our differences and disagreements, I believe it’s healthy for us to all enjoy different things and even healthy for us to see the world different ways and try to do things different ways.  The caveat to that is that the goal is usually technically the same: that we want a better world for our children and ourselves.  We may not think that it will be achieved in the same way and sometimes we can get so lost in what we think is right that we forget about the goal. But I digress.

As parents, mentors, leaders, and adults we’ve got a big responsibility of teaching the next generation.  We have to be honest about our mistakes.  We have to help them learn from the lessons we’ve had and failed in.  We have to teach them to do better than we’ve done. But at the same time we have to let them be who they are and do what they’re here to do.  I can’t do what you can do and I’m not here to do what you’re here to do.  You’re not here to do what your kids are here to do, nor are they here to do what you are here to do.  Yes, you can spend time together doing your passion or theirs, but that doesn’t mean they need to devote their life to fulfilling a lost dream of yours: they’re not here to be anyone but themselves.

As adults we may have forgotten the passion, curiosity, creativity and drive that we had as kids, but they still have those feelings.   It’s up to us to let them be kids, let them learn who they are and accept the teaching moments when they come our way.  Teach them how to be strong and then let them fly.  Maybe in the process you’ll even remember how awesome it is to fly as well.

“We want you to know you are exactly where you are meant to be. Where you are is perfect for the magnificent unfolding that is before you. Embrace it fully. You are here to be of great service in this world…” Theos

Excited Employees or Pissed People?

Do you know one of the quickest ways to ruin your business? It’s quite simple and I see it with too many business owners: treat your people like they’re worthless, stupid or incompetent.  I’m not really talking about customers, although if you treat them poorly of course you’ll ruin your business, but what we’re really talking about are your employees, joint venture partners and suppliers.  How you treat these people has a direct impact on your business and on your customers.

I believe that everything can be connected back to a person, and that everything should be considered and decided with a person in mind.  Yes, you need to make decisions that support your bottom line because you are running a business, but with any decision you make, you should consider the impact it will have on the people it affects.  When you take people out of the equation because you don’t think they really matter or think the only person who matters is the customer or you the business owner, you’re opening yourself up to a world of trouble.

Just from the concept of the IQ you know that people have a range of intelligence levels.  Not everyone was born or can learn to be a rocket scientist.  However, most people have at least some smarts and no one should be treated as a pawn or unintelligent piece of property.  If people aren’t doing the right thing or aren’t doing things as you want them done, there may be an issue with your communication to them or with their interest or motivation.  You should explore this before assuming they’re stupid, talking down to them, yelling at them or micromanaging things.

Over the past few years there have been debates on telecommuting for work, maternity/paternity leave, and number of days in the work week, and benefits/bonuses as well as other work and people related topics.  We’ve seen some businesses trying different things out including increasing the minimum wage or changing their work/life practices and respecting the fact that people want to have a life aside from work.  There are also businesses who are reinvesting in a mission or vision and choosing to make a positive impact and give back in one way or another.  I have to give these businesses credit for really trying to listen to their employees and doing something about the things that matter to them, as well as giving them and their customers an emotional and more personal reason to choose that business.

I believe that you can have employees who are fully engaged and excited to come to work.  These are people who love what they do and who work at or with a company who respects them and treats them with dignity.  When the business is a miserable place to work, when it’s dirty, when you’re constantly yelled at, when you’re belittled, when you’re not given the tools or resources you need to do your job, and when you’re not educated in the practices and procedures of the way the company prefers to do things, it’s not fun or exciting to come to work, and requires more and more effort with each passing month and year to drag yourself to working there.  And as a result you’ve got unhappy employees who give less and less effort, care and attention to their job.  Companies and business owners need to do a lot more to make sure that their employees are at the very least equipped to do the job they’re hired for and able to do so in a way that speaks well for the company, and maybe even enjoy their job and want to invest themselves in their job and the future of the company.

I encourage you to take time in the coming week to evaluate your practices with your employees and extended team.  How are they treated? Do you really use their skills to the best of their ability and for the growth of the company?  What can you do to improve the experience your employees have with your company, and by extension everyone else they talk or work with?

Productive Priorities

One of the things we struggle with is productivity.  We’re good at getting distracted, find other things that need our attention, and are often overbooking our schedules.  I get it-we want to keep everyone happy, take advantage of all the great opportunities for ourselves and our kids and fully experience life.  However, as scattered and distracted as we are it’s seriously hurting our quality of life, not to mention the stuff that we actually end up accomplishing at the end of the day, and how we feel about what we accomplish.  Sometimes we’re so over-committed we’re not only overbooked, we’re not getting the important stuff done, and sometimes we’re not getting anything done at all.

The first step is to realize that you’ve got an issue and decide to get help, and maybe it’s as simple as admitting it to a trusted colleague or your partner.  But most people need to reach out to a strategist or organizer to help them restructure their life and make tough decisions.

Once that first step has happened the next thing that needs to happen is prioritizing.  What is truly a priority?  What are you pretending is a priority?  What are you ignoring? Who are you letting down?  These are some very difficult questions to face and answer, but they’re necessary.

After you’ve decided what’s important, it’s time to start making changes in your life and scheduling in the things that are truly priorities and putting to the side things that aren’t.  These changes won’t happen over night but do take time.

Finally, now that you’re more productive and prioritizing what’s actually important, there’s one more step: learning to say no.  One of the reasons you got into the mess in the first place is because you were filling your life with things that were and weren’t good for you.  Learning how to say and mean no in your life is one of the biggest keys to truly having a life you love, and a life that’s productive as well.

A Family United or Divided?

You’ve probably heard the saying “a house divided against itself will fall.”  I believe this statement is very true and is one of the reasons that individuals, those in partnerships (aka relationships) and families struggle.  We personally go through our lives experiencing different things, thinking about public impressions, things we “should” do and our own dreams and desires.  All of these things pull and tug us in different directions.  In relationships you’re dealing with 2 people who have their own preferences, desires, loves, dreams, hopes, challenges and fears. Yes, you would hope in a loving partnership that some of those things would line up because the two people have similar desires, loves, dreams etc. But everyone is different, so it won’t always be the case.  As families we have tons of different people involved in the shuffle, with different opinions, schedules, needs and plans.  It’s not easy to find a happy medium that allows the parents to be parents, the kids to be kids, the family to come together and everyone get along fantastic.

I believe that some things and some people are meant to come together for a period of time and then go their separate ways or be done. I believe there are things and people that should never have come together. I believe that some things and some people are meant to last forever.  I believe that some people and things stick around only through sheer grit and a can-do spirit.  Life isn’t always going to be cupcakes and chicken soup.  Sometimes you’ve got to get down and dirty and really work to make things continue.  And sometimes we keep working on things long after they’re broken beyond repair (the nasty and graphic phrase “beat a dead horse” applies here).

I fully believe that we should each be our own person.  We should have our own interests, personalities, dreams, talents and perspectives.  I don’t see a need for carbon copy people.  But with that individuality comes the responsibility of respecting the individuality of others, which is something I think we sometimes forget.  But the simple wisdom applies that if you want to be treated well, you should do the same to others.  If you treat others like crap do you really expect they’ll treat you like your the Next Big Thing?  Some of us need to work more on being our own person, but quite a few of us need to work on working together better.  Working together doesn’t mean that you ignore who you are or turn yourself off, it’s about learning how to bring what you can contribute to the table and working it in with what everyone else can contribute.  What will you contribute this week?

What Does It Take To Be On Top?

Recently as I was on my way to a client appointment I passed a sign that advertises for a Chevy car dealer. It said that the dealership was one of the top 50 in the nation in terms of sales volume again for the past year. There are over 3000 dealerships for Chevy in the US, so I was a little surprised that this company was able to do so well because it didn’t strike me as being the typical dealership that we see today. So I thought I’d take a look around the internet and see what I saw.

First, let’s review some numbers. In 2013 the number to win the award of number one sales volume seller was over 4,500 cars sold in the year. Numbers for Chevy’s have been increasing since the last high in 2007 according to GM, and 2016’s numbers were the highest since 2007. So I’d say it’s safe to assume that the number to win was over 4,500 this year. Even if you were to sell 3000 cars in a year you’d have to sell at least 8 every day, or more if the state/county has laws about being open on Sundays, or chooses to close for Sundays or another day.

Let’s talk about what this company is not. They’re not super social stars. They do have some social presence, but it’s not hundreds of people interacting on every post, or tens of thousands of fans or followers. They’re not on the highway like many other dealerships today. Although there is easy access nearby to the highway, they’re still in the middle of a town. They also don’t have thousands of reviews posted online, although they do have several hundred.

Let’s talk about what this company is:

They are family owned.  The company has been in the family since the 1920’s.

They are locally focused. Not only are they aware that they are located within a town and not just part of a stretch of highway like most auto dealers, they also get involved locally with their customers and charity programs like Toys for Tots.

They do care about their customers.  The customer reviews typically speak very highly of the people there and their service to their customers.

They do offer both new and used cars and trucks as well as commercial vehicles.  Many auto dealers don’t the depth of inventory and variety of products that they offer.  They’ve expanded their real estate over the past few years as surrounding property has become available.

They do offer service as well as sell cars. This is typical for many auto dealers, but it’s also one of the things that they get a lot of positive reviews regarding.

They’re committed to staying on top of things and update their facilities on a regular basis.  As mentioned earlier not only are they expanding their real estate, they’re also updating their facilities and have done some major updates in the past few years.

You don’t have to be the flashiest, easiest to get to, biggest, or most marketed business in your industry to be successful.  Some of the best things you can do are be the most consistently helpful, offer the most consistent value, and show honest attention to your customers and their needs.

Speak or Suffer

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He’s best known for his leadership in the Civil Rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s, and his “I have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.  He was a great man, a brave man, a wise man, a family man and a community man.  He believed in something that wasn’t a reality then and he may not have really believed it would come true in his lifetime.  I do wonder what/if things would have been different if he had lived and had not been assassinated.

One of the reasons Dr. King was so well loved and respected then and now is because of who he was and what he believed.  He didn’t sit down and accept that because he was a black dude he should be treated as less than any other man.  It’s great he was part of the movement at all, and there are certainly other ways he could have been involved.  But Dr. King knew as a leader that it was his responsibility to be in front.  Yes, others could have stepped up but he knew that part of his purpose was to be a leader in this movement.

The same is true for our lives, we all have purposes to fulfill and steps to take in our lives.  I believe we should all do better in stepping up for ourselves and each other.  We need to do more to stand up for what we believe and not let others trample on our rights as a human.  I also think we should take note of the non-violent way that Dr. King made an impact.  He had a huge impact that is still talked about today without ever raising a fist or using a weapon like a gun or knife.

I believe our world is greatly improved by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other men and women who chose to stand up for what they believed in.  What will you choose to stand up for today?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Happy Home

As we start this new year with our families I thought today we’d talk about what the goal is for most families: a happy, safe home.  I know that’s not how it always works out and I know that there are many reasons for that.  The world isn’t perfect, and we’re each very capable of making mistakes, I know I do.  Sometimes we make mistakes or lash out because we’re tired or hurt or upset or because someone says something that pushes our buttons, and other times there’s not really a good reason, it just happens.

Families are supposed to be close units, that’s been the intention since they were created.  I think it works well at least in theory because having people that are very close to you in both a physical and relational sense of the word means that you’ve got people who know you, accept you and you can depend on.  The place you call home and the people you call family are supposed to be a safety net and something you look forward to at the end of the day.  I know that’s not always the reality.  I know that some of us live in less than ideal home situations, but there are very few reasons that, if we all work together, we can’t improve those situations.

Yes, that does mean that everyone would have to want to change in order for there to be an improvement.  I know that there are some people who are happy being miserable, but that’s certainly not the way I want to live, and I don’t think you do either.   If your family is struggling to work together or isn’t working together the first thing to do is talk with everyone about whether or not they want things to improve.  If they don’t then you should just work on improving yourself to the best of your ability and making whatever changes and updates you can without causing too much (more) friction.  If they’re open to making the situation a better one for everyone, make a plan for steps you can all take to a better family and home.  The new year is a great time to resolve and take action on working towards the family and home life you want.

“May this home be a place of happiness, health, creativity, kindness and love.  May all who visit and live here know only blessings and peace.”

Video Sound Smarts

As we get back into the swing of things in this new year, today I want to talk about something that I don’t talk about a lot and isn’t a personal preference: video.  That said video is wildly popular for both marketing and entertainment.  If you’re using video for marketing or if you’re considering it, here are a few things to consider when making your next video.

Video on your websites: one of the quickest ways to send potential customers packing is to have a video that autoplays on your website.  Video is great, but you should give your website visitor the controls for watching your video.  The only website that has an exception to this is a site like YouTube because people go there for the videos.  You may have great videos on your website, but that’s not typically why people are there, they’re there to learn about your company.

The second two things to consider for videos are about your marketing videos.  These are things to consider whether you’re using video in your Facebook ads, on TV or even on your website for when your visitors click on them.

Soundless videos: I’d say it’s a trend, but it’s not something that’s going away and it’s really something that’s always existed because of closed captioning.  When doing a soundless video, or the video is on a platform that cuts the sound unless the watcher engages it, or the user just doesn’t have the ability to use sound at the moment, one of the most important things to include is proper text. Obviously you’re not going to include the amount of text that closed captioning includes, but you should include enough text that those watching it can understand what’s going on in the video.

Include the right sound:  No, I’m not really talking about the background music although that’s important.  What I’m really talking about here is making sure that for those who aren’t watching the video or can’t watch the video that they understand what’s going on in it.  Two obvious examples would be if your laundry room is in the room next to your TV and you’re in the laundry room getting the laundry done or folding it and can’t see the TV but can hear it, and the other example would be if you have a sight impairment.  These two people can’t see what’s on the TV so if you’ve got a well dramatized commercial going on and all it has is nice background music and maybe mentions how many awards in general it’s won and that there’s a special deal and then the commercial ends, you have no clue what the commercial was about, do you?  I’d have to tell you or you would have to be able to see the TV to know that it was a car commercial.  Including the right words in your video is essential because you don’t know that someone has their eyes glued to the screen, especially in this age of multiple devices at our fingertips at all times.

As a marketer I spend a lot of time checking out what businesses are doing.  I would say that at least half of the videos I see have one or all of these issues.  So this week as you’re consider or getting started on your new year of marketing make sure that you’re doing the very best you can to reach your potential customers with your videos.

Reflection Time

I’m still doing some reflecting and considering as we work into this new year.   2016 felt like being in a cement mixer at times for some of us, it certainly didn’t seem like a smooth ride personally or in the world.  As I’ve been reading a number of posts at the end of the year and the beginning of this one, I identified with what a number of people were saying about the year that just ended and how they felt about it, what they ended up doing in that year and of course where they’re headed in this new year.

For many 2016 ended up being a year of personal growth, not so much professional, although plenty of people and companies did have a very successful year.  For some 2016 was so bumpy that it was hard to even identify or understand that until new year reflections happened.  So if your year was anything like mine, I’m going to encourage you to work through these questions over this week before you give up on your resolutions and/or before you make final decisions about where you want this coming year to go:

What was your best memory?
What was your worst memory?
What was your biggest accomplishment?
What was your most satisfying victory?

What goals do you have for 2017?
What relationships are you going to create or work on in 2017?
What do you want to stop doing in 2017?
What needs to most change in 2017?

Just how good can life get?
Will this be a courageous year for me?
What will make you happy?
What will you love?

As I do my own reflecting and consider where I’m taking things this year, I’d love to hear from you what you would like from me in this blog and/or in what I offer in my business? How can I best help you make more victories in your life and what are you struggling with?