Archive for the 'Leadership' Category

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The power of why

Today’s blog post is priceless and timeless. Priceless because it can be life-changing and timeless because it dates back several hundred ago and it remains timely and relevant to this day… This was submitted to me by Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters.

When Beethoven was 26, he started to lose his hearing.  It began as a ringing in his ears that got worse and worse until he was almost completely deaf.  It became so bad that the only way he could communicate with his friends was by getting them to write down what they were saying in a book, into which he would write his reply.

Beethoven’s devastation over what was happening led him to live alone in an Austrian town where he spent time contemplating suicide.  And yet he persevered.  In letters penned to his brothers, he wrote that he remained committed to his work because he saw his art as something that had to survive even if it meant enduring the heartache of not hearing his audiences applaud.  “It seemed unthinkable for me to leave the world forever before I had produced all that I felt called upon to produce,” he wrote.

And so, in the face of pain and struggle, he miraculously continued to compose music.  In fact, some of his most brilliant and famous work emerged during the period that his deafness was at its most severe – truly magnificent pieces like his Symphony No. 9.

The reason Beethoven was able to continue so resolutely in the application of his craft can be attributed to the word why.  As is often said, when the why is big enough, the ‘how’ takes care of itself.  In Beethoven’s case, the why was the influence his music had on the world.

The power of why has been proven empirically by psychologists at Ohio State University.  In a number of experiments, researchers discovered that people who considered ‘why’ they performed a challenging task were more likely to persevere with it.  In comparison, those who focused only on ‘how’ to do it were more likely to give up.

So, if you’re trying to get your employees to be committed to a project or to an activity that’s difficult or unenjoyable, or if you’re eager to get their buy-in for an idea or a change that you know they’ll resist, there is rarely anything more urgent than to articulate why.  In particular

  • Why this?
  • Why now?
  • Why them?
  • Why from you?
  • Why in this way?

The why gives people the purpose to follow your vision and it adds meaning to a job that may otherwise be uninteresting. It may be invisible, but the why is what generates the visible.  To those who are feeling uninspired, it is music to their ears.

John Cleese’s Creativity Suggestions

Cleese Creativity, Innovation, Creative ThinkingAs a reader or subscriber to this blog, you’ve come to expect the unexpected, which is why you’re here right now, reading this.

One of the foundational concept of Exponential Internet Marketing that we teach our clients is how to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) by blogging.

Today’s post is a prime example. It was sent to me by Brian Matthews of Axis Planning. He came across a great article on creativity by the legendary John Cleese. I have to admit, it’s brilliant in its simplicity and elegance. It reflects several recent books I’ve been reading on cognition and accelerated learning techniques.

What Brian has done is create user-generated content. Easier said than done. It takes most people YEARS before anyone generates content for them. I teach my clients how to do it in DAYS and WEEKS… Click on the hyperlinks above to learn more about how we do that, but before you do, this blog post encapsulates half a dozen SEO strategies that can help you generate more leads for your business – contact us and we’ll show you how it’s done – using legitimate strategies that are GUARANTEED to work.

Get More Done By Working Less

This is a concept we covered in detail at our latest Exponential Extravaganza. Easier said than done, you have to have a time/life management system to make the concept a reality.

A recent article in Inc Magazine demanded you stop working more than 40 hours a week.

The article revealed that you may think you’re getting more accomplished by working longer hours. But the research shows you’re probably wrong.

There’s been a flurry of recent coverage praising Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, for leaving the office every day at 5:30 p.m. to be with her kids.  Apparently she’s been doing this for years, but only recently “came out of the closet,” as it were.

What’s insane is that Sandberg felt the need to hide the fact, since there’s a century of research establishing the undeniable fact that working more than 40 hours per week actually decreases productivity.

In the early 1900s, Ford Motor ran dozens of tests to discover the optimum work hours for worker productivity.  They discovered that the “sweet spot” is 40 hours a week–and that, while adding another 20 hours provides a minor increase in productivity, that increase only lasts for three to four weeks, and then turns negative.

Anyone who’s spent time in a corporate environment knows that what was true of factory workers a hundred years ago is true of office workers today.  People who put in a solid 40 hours a week get more done than those who regularly work 60 or more hours.

The key is to realise that unless your an hourly wage worker – you need to realise that you get paid according to PERFORMANCE – NOT EFFORT.

Europe’s Ban on 50-Hour Weeks

However, the facts don’t bear this out.  In six of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom), it’s illegal to demand more than a 48-hour work week.  You simply don’t see the 50-, 60-, and 70-hour work weeks that have become de rigeur in some parts of the U.S. business world.

If U.S. managers were smart, they’d end this “if you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming to work on Sunday” idiocy.  If you want employees (salaried or hourly) to get the most done–in the shortest amount of time and on a consistent basis–40 hours a week is just about right.

In other words, nobody should be apologizing for leaving at work at a reasonable hour like 5:30 p.m.  In fact, people should be apologizing if they’re working too long each week–because it’s probably making the team less effective overall.

EXPONENTIAL MINDSET THINKING TIP:

All of this is really “cute”, but if you don’t know HOW to make the most of your 40 hours, you’re scr_____.

You’ll stop working longer hours (to compensate for your inefficiency) and you’ll soon be shown the door.

So where does that leave you?

Stuck – until you learn the strategies of highly effective people who KNOW what to do with their time.

Contact us and we’ll help you transform your business or career by doing what works and stop you from wasting valuable time and effort on things that don’t matter.

Preeminence Pyramid

One of the most valuable skills you can learn is speed reading. The reason although self-evident is lost on many professionals and entrepreneurs who struggle to keep up with the demands of their careers and businesses. Preeminence means that your reputation, standing and stature as a source of knowledge, expertise and wisdom precedes you. It’s one of the foundational strategies of Exponential Marketing. However, WHAT you read is as important as how FAST you read it.

I created the Preeminence Pyramid to highlight the evolution of a speed reader as he/she matures to develop his/her preeminence and the skills associated with a ‘higher’ profile persona. Of course you can mix and match your reading serendipitously, but the evolution is suggested in this order to ensure the BASE of the pyramid is as wide and as strong as possible. You know to ascend to the next level in the hierarchy when you’ve more or less saturated yourself in the content and context of that particular level/theme.

This of course is a guideline, not a strict rule. It’s just that without the underlying foundational analysis skills, great biographies are read as great story telling rather than as a revelation of the dynamics at play that intertwine the written passages – they greatest distinctions are unwritten and obtained through osmosis – if you don’t possess the basic skills, you simply can’t decipher the code and lose the most valuable lessons.

Speed Reading, Read Faster, Speed Read

5 Ways Women Sabotage Success: Some Solutions

Women’s History Month began Thursday, March 1, 2012, and ends Saturday, March 31, 2012. Women entrepreneurs are known to be successful and have differentiating characteristics to their male colleagues in fact Erotic Capital is one of the more controversial measures and gender arbitrage one of the most opportunistic.

That being said, everyone has challenges on their way up the ladder or success. A recent article by Lauren Carlson highlighted the 5 ways women sabotage their success. I thought it was worthy to bring them to your attention because by knowing what they are, you can avoided or at least minimise them.

Here is my take on the 5 ways women sabotage their success, using Bree Robbins Top Dog at Paddington Pups as a mini case study.

1. Being Afraid of Self-Promotion

The concept of self-promotion is an Exponential Marketing Strategy called preeminence whereby you create a professional persona that transcends who you are in a relevant context so people know who you are and what you’re about. if you are shy, let your results speak for you. Every time you accomplish something, you don’t have to scream it from the rooftops, but let people know what you’ve done. Everyone wants to deal with a “winner”.

Psst! Did you notice that Bree’s title is Top Dog – not CEO or Managing Director?!?! Hmmmm… Something to think about!

2. Undervaluing Themselves and Their Services

When you promote yourself and your products, you want to do it in a natural, fun way. As the short video below demonstrates. You don’t have to be flamboyant or provocative to sell yourself and your products. Do it naturally and authentically, just don’t sell yourself short by NOT doing anything.

3. Not Asking for Directions

This is where women can make the most improvement – to get the advice, coaching and mentoring that men have been getting for decades.

Listen to Bree’s experience with the devastating floods that swept through her doggy day care facility. She has been a coaching client for several years – you can hear the wisdom that defies her youthfulness because she has learned how to think strategically about business to deal with ANYTHING that is thrown her way.

4. Making Relationships the Priority

When Paddington Pups was flooded, 200+ clients came to the rescue helping get the business back on its feet in a record 8 days. That is priceless – not on financial grounds but because it shows that there is a real relationship withing the Brisbane dog-loving community so strong that it can overcome the worst of circumstances.

Relationships of course also extend to the commercial, advertising and promotion aspect of your business. For example, Bree nurtured a relationship with Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer and was ‘rewarded’ with a site visit and an extensive interview (shown below).

The lesson here is: Don’t be shy – follow your dreams and aspirations!

5. Being Afraid of Making a Mistake

Even though women do tend to be perfectionists, all successful entrepreneurs have this gene, it also causes an affliction called perfectionis.

Just remember that “perfection is the poison of profitability”. Trying to be perfect all the time is not only impossible, it’s not profitable. Perfection is NOT necessary for success. Seeking perfection is admirable and necessary for excellence, but there comes a time when “good is good enough”.

For example, blog posts. It’s better to get 1 or 2 out every week with timely, relevant information than to try to create perfect prose only once a month.

I always tell my clients that with more than 3,000 pages of content on the Internet (including 7 blogs) I have more content with typos and grammatical errors than most people have IN TOTAL CONTENT. Of course I do go back and edit them when they are pointed out, but I don’t hesitate to blog and try to get it perfect each and every time… I just do it as best I can – like this blog post. It’s not ‘perfect’, but good enough to give you some solid advice you can put into practice!

So there you have it – my take on a great article by Lauren Carlson that I hope helps you run up the ladder of success two rungs at a time!

The Top 5 Traits of Toxic Teams

Toxic Teams, Toxic People, Low Performance Teams, TeamworkAt one time or another chances are you’ve worked in a Toxic Team

You know what I’m talking about don’t you?

One of those teams where the week feels like this:

MOANday
TEARSday
WASTEday
THIRSTday
FIGHTday

Seriously though, there are some common traits that are alive and well to some degree in all Toxic Teams and the reason I’m giving them to you is because sometimes you’re in a Toxic Team and you don’t even know it!

As human beings we are very good at adapting to our environment so what this means is, we can sometimes not only endure highly stressful or demoralising situations BUT actually trick ourselves into thinking what’s happening is ‘okay’ or ‘normal’.

So here are The Top 5 traits of Toxic Teams you need to know about:

  1. Favouritism – It is very clear to you that there are some people who have somehow been anointed and are part of the ‘in’ group.  These ‘special’ people get preferential treatment, the best performance reviews, the biggest bonuses, taken to lunch with the boss and when they underperform the manager looks the other way.
  2. Snakes in Suits – The manager hardly ever acknowledges you or anyone else in the team for that matter for the great work they do because they’re too busy taking credit for everyone else’s hard work.  You sometimes wonder if the boss even knows your name… The bottom line is, these managers have no time for anyone that cannot further their OWN career and when things go well they’re right there to accept the kudos and when they go badly they’re Missing in Action.
  3. Mind Numbing Meetings – You dread the meetings and will do anything to get out of them because they’re disorganised, start late, always run over time, are dominated by grandstanders, no one ever follows through on agreed action items and last but not least… They’re BOOOOOOOOOOORING!!!!!!!!
  4. The Mirror Treatment – “We’ll look into it.”  You know this one don’t you?  Every time you need something fixed, need some action taken or waiting to hear the outcome of an important decision you get that famous throwaway line, “We’ll look into it.”  Funnily enough these are the same managers that invite your suggestions or feedback for improvement only to ignore them!  Sometimes there’s even a nice little box where you can put your comments… Just to give you a bit of false hope that things may change.
  5. The YES Man (or woman) – If you’re working for a YES Man it’s excruciatingly frustrating!  They won’t make a decision, they’re always REACTIVE because of poor planning, you don’t know if you’re coming or going due to constantly changing priorities and you end up with work from other departments because your boss CAN’T SAY NO.

Now the good news…

If you’re stuck in a Toxic Team, there is a way out – outperform and outproduce your way out of it!

Seriously.

I mean that – if you can totally outperform your toxic team members, someone who come and snatch you away – either another department of better yet – a headhunter (recruiter)!

The key is to document what you’re doing so you have PROOF of your PERFORMANCE and results and making sure it’s as public and noticeable as possible – so the interested parties who are searching for talent can find you.

Some bad news…

Chances are if your team’s toxic, there’s not much you can do to change it – you want to LEAVE it as quickly as possible, either within the same organisation or another company.

Toxic Teams are like cancer – once they infiltrate their way in, there’s almost no chemotherapy available to eradicate it.

Sorry, but that’s the truth.

Inverview Tip: How To Prevent The Bad Hire

Let’s face it – no one enjoys interviews. They’re awkward, stressful and time consuming. In many (but not all) hiring cases, they’re a necessity.

This cartoon is a funny example to illustrate how you can create a memorable interview that reveals if the person you want to hire is right for the job. It’s both a metaphor as well as a practical example. In this instance it’s appropriate if you’re hiring for a position that requires the person to be able to read instructions, have manual dexterity and patience!

Interview Question, How To Interview, Interview Tip

When I was in the printing industry, I had 3 or 4 specific tasks I would give a candidate at the first interview. All the tasks were designed to weed out the inexperienced or unskilled who “oversold” their abilities by revealing their deficiencies.

For example, I would ask them to open a ream of paper – if they proceeded to peel open the wrapping paper, I would stop them and end the interview.

I would ask them to stack a pile of a few hundred A4 sheets that had been collated, but were not neatly stacked. (There is a specific strategy to do this.)

These are revelatory and instantly assessable – they are pass/fail with no grey area for misinterpretation.

Every industry, profession, trade or process has tell-tale habits and techniques that you can use to quickly assess a person’s skills, abilities and aptitudes.

Ideally, you create 3 or 4 to ensure that the analysis is multi-dimensional. In my case, I had 4 tasks and a candidate had to pass 3 out of 4 to continue to the second, short list interview.

I worked for an IT company that had a technical proficiency test that you had to get 17 out of 20 to proceed to a second interview. PhDs would often struggle, obtain a score of 15 or 16 and would be rejected – to their utter bewilderment.

A process is a process and if it works to acquire the skills, aptitudes and capabilities you’re looking for – stick with it!

Of course there are thousands of personality and behavioural tests that can complement this approach, but that’s a discussion for another blog post!

Willpower

I have mixed feelings about willpower and it’s importance in goal setting and achievement. The main reason is that if you have a clearly articulated goal, outcome or dream you want to achieve that really excites you, you don’t need any willpower to get it done.

Willpower to me is an excuse for impotent goal setters.

Without exciting goals you would need willpower to get motivated.

Willpower, Discipline, Concentration Of Focus

For example, I don’t smoke. It takes no willpower for me to avoid picking up a cigarette, cigar or pipe. The same is true for overeating. I value my vitality, health and wellbeing so much that I don’t overeat or abuse alcohol or other ‘substances’.

If you’re struggling with willpower and are trying to harness more of it – you’re probably heading in the wrong direction.

Focus on your goals, dreams and aspirations instead.

When you do, you’ll find an unquenchable thirst for achievement that will create relentless enthusiasm within you and you’ll be of the same point of view that willpower has no place in genuine and authentic achievement that is congruent with your life’s purpose.

Give it some serious thought the next time you think you’re lacking in willpower – or when you see someone with very little of it.

Share these thoughts with them because that’s what someone did with me when I was a teenager and it changed my life and perspective forever.

Get More Done By Doing Less

I know what you’re thinking… This is just another motivational play on words. It’s not. I mean it, I’m dead serious.

This is one of the most important time management lessons I learned early on in my career. When I got out of university and the whole world lay in front of me and my career was just starting, I wanted to ‘do it all’…

The problem is – there are only 168 hours in a week.

So what’s a driven, ambitious go-getter to do?

Simple: Apply the concept of Concentration Of Focus. Do one thing and only that one thing until you master it and can do it exceptionally well BEFORE you start something else.

Easier said than done when you have multiple interests and a lot of enthusiasm!

One of the strategies I use to ‘park ideas and concepts’ is to write them down and explore them in my journals. By writing them down and adding to them whenever I get a flash of inspiration helps me remain on focus with my current, primary goal or outcome.

I’ve achieved a lot by anyone’s standards and yes, I have achieved multiple goals simultaneously, but each one was accomplished with laser-focused discipline within the context of this philosophy.

I see it all too often, people flip flopping all over the place, trying to run a business, make money online, trading stocks, buying real estate with NO FOCUS OR DISCIPLINE.

They attend all the free weekend events and seminars hoping for the next big thing and off they go in 1, 2 or 3 different directions.

They are called DABBLERS.

I could go on and on about this, but I’ll save you the rant.

All I want to say is what’s in this blog post title – to get more done, you have to do less.

That means you need to cherry pick what you’re going to put your time and effort behind UNTIL you succeed at it.

What you’ll realise is that you might not be willing to do what it takes and you’ll need to switch to something else.

That will help you to better select your outcomes and goals.

One thing is for sure, if you don’t have Concentration Of Focus, you’re sub-optimising your results.

If you want more guidance on subjects like this, I offer a wide range of Business Coaching and Mentoring Services.

Workaholism Infographic

Workaholic, Stressed Out, Overwhelm, Helplessness, Depression