Learning from Lee Iacocca

As a business owner it can be easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on in your business. We all have challenges, things that frustrate us and almost always run out of time at the end of the day. But one of the best things we can do if we’re interested in growing our business is to seek the wisdom of others, whether working with a coach, or learning from great business leaders like Lee Iacocca. Lee Iacocca celebrates his birthday on the 15th of this month, so today I thought we’d take a look at a little of his wisdom.   A couple of the quotes may not seem like they are relevant or really share any knowledge that can help you in your business, but if you take a minute to think about what they’re really saying, I think you’ll learn something valuable.

“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.”

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”

“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.”

“In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product, and profits.”

“The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.”

“To succeed today, you have to set priorities, decide what you stand for.”

“I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re willing to sacrifice to accomplish it.”

“What is wrong with changing your mind because the facts changed? But you have to be able to say why you changed your mind and how the facts changed.”

“I have always found that if I move with seventy-five percent or more of the facts that I usually never regret it. It’s the guys who wait to have everything perfect that drive you crazy.”

“There is no substitute for accurate knowledge. Know yourself, know your business, know your men.”

“The ability to concentrate and to use time well is everything.”

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

“A guy named Charlie Beacham was my first mentor at Ford. He taught me the importance of the dealers, and he rubbed my nose in the retail business.”

“I guess I invented extended warranties, because that’s all we had to sell at Chrysler in those days.”

“Over the years, many executives have said to me with pride: ‘Boy, I worked so hard last year that I didn’t take any vacation.’ I always feel like responding, “You dummy. You mean to tell me you can take responsibility for an eighty-million-dollar project and you can’t plan two weeks out of the year to have some fun?”

“I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”

“To solve big problems you have to be willing to do unpopular things.”

“There’s no great mystery to satisfying your customers. Build them a quality product and treat them with respect. It’s that simple.”

 

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Helped to Succeed

This month one of the topics we’ll be talking about is help. It’s an appropriate topic as students head back to school and parts of the US are being battered by hurricanes, not to mention all the needs that continue on a regular basis like hungry kids and veterans their families. I think being helpful should be an important part of your life, and that of your family. I make it a point to donate every month to a variety of organizations who do all kinds of work around the US and world. But as you know there are tons of other ways that you can be a help, and we’ll be talking about some of them as we go through this month.

But for this post I wanted to keep the focus on being successful as it relates to help. I have yet to meet anyone who is an island when it comes to success. There’s always someone somewhere who has helped with it, whether it’s in creating the website program that the person used to build their own website or the company that sells the wood products you use to build decks or even the people behind the social sites that you put ads on to get local customers for your consulting practice. Simply put, everyone needs help at one point in time or another.

However, I don’t believe that you should be a victim or receive handouts forever. We see lots of people stepping up to help with the difficult hurricane season we’re currently experiencing and that’s great. It’s important to step up and help out when there’s a disaster like that, or even something much simpler like a senior citizen trying to reach an item on the top shelf at the grocery store. But you should not remain in “recovery mode” forever. You should be able to take the help that’s given to you, or find the help you need, and be able to build, grow and thrive from there.

What have been some of the stepping stones or ladders that have helped you get from where you were to where you are today?

Mother Teresa on Life, Love, Loneliness and Hurt

Over 100 years ago this month Mother Teresa was born. She was a woman who had incredible wisdom, dedicated her life to a very selfless mission, and taught the world a lot about love. As I was considering her life, I happened upon a few quotes that speak to some insights on how we may be able to help the world heal from the tragic events that have unfolded around the US and world in the past few weeks, not to mention those that are ongoing situations. These situations can’t be resolved with a simple shaking of hands or trading of objects, these are issues that have remained and repeated in one way or another for decades, if not centuries. Resolution will take time, effort on everyone’s part and ultimately a decision that the world is a better place if things were different. Mother Teresa said:

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”

“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”

“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”

“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.”

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.”

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

“Peace begins with a smile.”

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

No war is won or lost by the actions of one person. No one person could have won WW2 or the Civil War or the Trojan War by themselves. But without each of the individuals who participated in those wars on the winning side, the history may have happened much differently, likely creating a much different today. If the world is to become a healthy, fulfilling, thriving place, we have to start doing something different and treating each other different, starting with ending the violence. Yes, there will always be violence, but in the majority of the time, a simple, quiet word can do more than an abrasive, violent tantrum.  I encourage you to take a deep breath the next time your first reaction is to be nasty or overreact, and see if you can’t communicate with a little more patience, peace, respect and love first.

Bully Free School Zone

Last week we started a conversation about two of the challenges that kids going back to school face, and we started by looking at drugs. Today we’re going to talk about a topic that is definitely more talked about with relationship to kids and teens, but can affect adults as well: bullying. According to the dictionary a bully is “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people. A man hired to do violence.” In some ways the second definition would make it easier if that was the majority of the way that bullying happened, but more often than not there’s no money involved, it’s someone who picks on others.

Let’s start by being completely honest. Almost all of us have at one point in time or another throughout our lives picked on someone else. Maybe we did it as part of a crowd, maybe we were there when others did it, and maybe it was done in jest, but most of us have experienced what it’s like to bully or pick on someone. When you’re bullying others or picking on them there’s definitely a rush that you experience, a feeling of power and domination, and it can be seductive. I get that, really I do. But there are so many better ways to experience a rush and be in power than to beat down on someone else.  If you’re someone who tends to bully or pick on other people I strongly encourage you to work on your interpersonal skills and channel that energy into more productive activities like skydiving or catching alligators.

The other feeling that most of us experience (because we’re not true bullies) is the feeling of guilt. That’s the feeling we need to keep at the forefront of our minds when we think about getting involved with a bully or bully someone ourselves. The other feeling we need to keep in mind when considering bullying is of course what the person being bullied feels, which again is something that most of us can understand. Maybe you’ve never been a true target that faced incessant, debilitating or viral bullying, but just about every one of us has been picked on at some point in time or another. It does not feel good to be the target of one or many individuals picking on you, how you look, what you say, how you say it, what you did, who your family is or where you live, or any other number of things that you may have been picked on regarding.

If you’re facing bullying or your kids are, or if you’re just wanting to prepare them for if and when it happens, start with talking about how bullying feels and why it’s wrong with them, and let them know that you’re there for them should they be bullied, as are their teachers and the other adults in their lives. Second, it’s important to instill self-confidence and teach them to value themselves for whomever they are, whatever they like, however they look and wherever they go. They don’t have to be the same as anyone else, they can and should be their own person with their own interests and appearance. Third, don’t let them dismiss it more than once from a person. Sometimes the best thing to do is ignore the person or people and they’ll stop. But if it happens again they (and you) have to learn to stand up for themselves and ask for help if they need it. Maybe the help isn’t someone charging in and demanding the person stop (maybe it is), maybe it’s just giving and/or teaching the person the resources they need to fight this particular bullying situation and individual or group.

With the number of bullying related suicides each year becoming more publicly known more schools and businesses are taking a stand against those who would be bullies or try to demean people. While we still have a long way to go, it’s good that we’re having discussions about it and taking steps to stop it before there are even more bullying-related suicides each year. So the question is, what are you going to do to stop bullying?

We Are All

In case you missed it there was a really big football game this past weekend.  It was a huge upset and a huge shock to many people.  However, there are people who experienced some serious stress during the game but remained fully confident in their team, and were able to experience a huge victory.  Who are these people? Patriot fans.

While I can’t say that the Patriots are “my team”, I have to respect their team, their coaches and their quarterback(s) who have come together time and again to create some incredible results.  I know from talking with Patriot fans how dedicated their team is, how hard they work and how much passion and energy they put into this organization that they are committed to.  They’ve fought against some serious challenges the past few years and bad press from those who don’t like their success or because they may have tried to bend the rules.  I’m not here to place or suggest guilt or innocence.  That’s a whole different conversation that we’re not having today.

Today what we’re talking about is a slogan that I saw after the game: “We Are All Patriots.”  I don’t know of any true Patriot’s fan who doubted them or gave them up as a result of the challenges of the past few years.  They’ve remained loyal to them, and this year their loyalty was rewarded in a big way.

But this really speaks to a bigger conversation, how we all identify with each other.  Do you see that we’re all one people?  We can all break our bones, work a job, love someone, or enjoy a laugh.  Whether we’re black or white, police or civilian, PhD or high school graduate, dog lover or cat lover, parent or not, or TV buff or not, we are all human.  You can’t change that unless you change your body and DNA and that’s not a direction science has been working in that I know of.  We all have differences, yes.  But when it comes down to it there’s a very high probability that you want the same thing I do: to get through tomorrow alive, to be loved, to enjoy life more and to have more time with the people we love.

So congratulations to the Patriots, and I encourage you to think about the community, the state, the country that you belong to and how you’re helping make it a better place to live in for everyone.

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 Job Well Done?

Today I’m writing from a friend’s kitchen.  I’m seeing the inside of their house for the first time after they began a big renovation a year or so ago.  As I walked through the house I looked for places and spaces that would connect me with the old house, because they built up and around the old one.  Now, I don’t know all the details and do know that there were some issues that delayed the finish, but I was surprised how much of the house wasn’t done yet.  Painting, area rugs and furniture I could understand, but I can’t understand the missing back splash in the kitchen, a missing shower door and temporary fixtures in a bathroom.

As we talk about health this month one of the important areas of our lives to talk about is our work lives.  Whether you look at it from the perspective of owning a business or working for someone else, I would not feel good about leaving the house in the condition that it is in and calling the job complete.  Yes, I would be proud of what has been accomplished so far, but not as satisfied or proud of what it could be if the job had really been completed.  I’m not talking about perfection here, but about completing the entire task to the best of your ability, being able to look at what should be the finished product and be satisfied with the work I have done.

I believe it’s important to be proud of the work you do and to celebrate the work you do.   Too many people don’t seem to get any recognition for a job well done, even if they were doing just what they were asked to do.  But I believe all of it should be celebrated, not just the big stuff or the stuff done by the big bosses.  But you can’t celebrate what isn’t complete or what isn’t done well, it’s just not right.  We don’t celebrate when we get some of the cancer or beat 20% of the other teams in the league, we celebrate most when all of the cancer is gone or beat all the other teams, because we know we’ve done our best and accomplished what we set out to do. So I guess the question is are you satisfied with what you have done and what you’re doing in your life or are you dragging through the day because you don’t have any pride for what you’re doing?  If you aren’t satisfied what are you going to do or think different to change that?

Confidence Building Celebrations

Like much of the world I’m thinking about the Olympics today.  I love how it brings people and countries together regardless of language, location, sex or economic status.  It’s a chance for all kinds of people to show their particular athletic abilities and show off some country pride too.  Events like the Olympics are a chance for the world to put aside differences and disagreements and instead focus on encouraging each other and raising each other up.

Yes, there is a sense of pride for those who win, both the people and their country, but it’s fun to celebrate all winners because regardless of where you and they call home, as they’ve accomplished a feat that most of us couldn’t begin to do whether it be swimming so fast, running so far or hitting a target. Plus you’ve got all of the challenges the athletes have had to overcome and victories they’ve had to achieve in their personal lives to get to this point.

It’s important to share our gifts and talents with the world, and just as important to recognize the good things each of us can do.  It’s such a simple thing to tune in to the Olympics, to cheer at a little league game or celebrate when your kids get a good grade, but it’s so important to not only recognize the good they’ve done, but encourage them to continue doing their best.

This week I encourage you to step up in your regular life and recognize the people around you and the gifts they have.  Celebrate with them their accomplishments.  It may be challenging for you to do if you’re losing out on a position you were hoping to get that they got, or when they got a house when you’ve lost out on several, or got pregnant when you’ve been trying so hard.  Sometimes we have to wait (patiently) for our chance to celebrate, other times we’re the first ones celebrating.  What will you celebrate this week?

“What a gift it is when we can inspire others to have courage and to hope, when we can raise another’s confidence, when we can instill in them life and energy and vigor. How important it is for us to express care for one another regularly and explicitly, to commend and cherish one another, to work actively to build up [each other] by our words and actions, and not to undermine its health by bitterness and complaining.”  Br. David Vryhof

The Business of Big Ideas

Today I’m thinking about the big, bold ideas that we always wish we could pull off.  Most of us are really good at coming up with great ideas that are cool or interesting or could help others or make us lots of money, but not always ideas that are big or bold or have the potential to make a huge impact on the world.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the world needs the little ideas and little things as well. We wouldn’t live as we do without the “simple” doctors offices, secretaries, farmers, police/military and cleaning people.  Simple doesn’t mean not important, and you know that without some of those people we’d die a lot quicker.  So don’t give up on the simple ideas, the ideas that make things easier for you, make you simply a little happier, or make things work in harmony better.  Those are really important ideas and we need more of them.

So what’s so great about big ideas anyway?  For one they’re impressive.  We are attracted to things that are big and bold and catch our attention. But what about from a business perspective?  Big ideas are great at catching people’s attention and getting them talking about us too.  But they’re also great for sharing and bringing to life visions and missions that we have in our businesses.  Big ideas are great, but when they’re big ideas that are in support of or part of visions and missions that are core to our businesses they become much more powerful.

But big ideas and missions and visions are only as powerful as the follow through.  On paper or discussions they’re great, but without coming up with a plan on how to bring them to life they’re just ideas or nice words. And we know that ideas and nice words aren’t just what customers want to hear.  They want to see or feel or experience results too.

So what if you don’t have big ideas?  Just because you have smaller and less grand ideas doesn’t mean you can’t support them with visions and missions or that you can’t you can’t present them with care, and attention to details.  As I said before small can matter, it’s just about whether you appreciate and present the value or not.   But, if you only have small ideas and want to think bigger, bringing a visionary (someone who does think in big ideas) in to join your team for a season is always an option.

This weekend I encourage you to think.  Take time to come up with big and small ideas that can support your business and customers and see if you can make them feasibly work for you and them.  Then pick the ones you like the most and seem the most feasible and get to work!

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”  Goethe

Thankful for Second Chances

Last night the US watched the last football game of the 2015-2016 season. A new top team has been given the trophy and signature rings. Do you know what else you could have watched yesterday? That’s right, the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. I’m an animal lover and a big dog lover so whenever I hear about things like the Puppy Bowl I watch them or at the very least check them out online. As I was reviewing the puppy lineup last week before the big game I was struck not by how many cute dogs there were (which is what you would expect) but by the number of puppies that looked like scrappy, albeit victorious, little fighters.

I know that the Puppy Bowl is a great opportunity to adopt out some dogs (and the cats that run the half time show) from shelters around the US but usually at least half the team gives you the warm fuzzies. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be very happy to take any of those dogs home, but I wouldn’t be bringing these dogs home due to their overwhelming cuteness, which is what many people pick out their pets based on. Instead I’d bring one (or more) of these dogs home because of another factor: they remind me that we can overcome.

Each time I would look at one of these scrappy dogs I would be reminded of their start to life and how they were able to overcome whatever obstacles they faced. It wouldn’t be a bad reminder or one that would make me unhappy each time I saw the dog. No, it would be a grateful reminder. If something so little can survive and learn to thrive and love I can overcome whatever I face too.

What positive reminders do you have in your life?