Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Which Battle Did You Pick Today?

"Pick your battles." the saying goes. 

I propose a new question: "Which battle did you pick today?"

Not in the sense of being antagonistic for the sake of it, but choosing every day to disrupt, question, and challenge those around you in some way.

You owe it to yourself to seek ways to improve your organization.  If not you, than who? 
We no longer can wait for bosses to lead - that person is often waiting someone else to lead.
Head down is great for preservation, but what story does it create?

By questioning (battling), you show you are invested, engaged, and seeking improvement.  What's the alternative?  Floating through life, just showing up, hoping things will change?

Every day is an opportunity to grow yourself and those around you.  
This is especially true for those in customer-facing positions where the gaps are exposed real-time.
Problems hit you in the face, and you need to own the solution. 
If you don't care enough to own it, why should your superior?

Take it upon yourself to set the expectation that good enough is not good enough and that what got us here won't get us there.

Again, if not you, who?  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Driving in Kansas

We often find our define our careers based on the peaks and valleys, from promotions and new responsibilities to layoffs and missteps.

What about when we're just cruising along?  How long should you be coasting before it becomes a problem?  Do we always need to be striving for something different to be successful?

The challenge is that most of us aren't being challenged every day or pushed towards some new breakthrough.  So how do you make the most of that?

If you're managing a team of people, your responsibility is to them first.  They are looking to you to help them reach those peaks and avoid those valleys.  You need to be okay with the constant of flat land to help you concentrate on them.

If you're managing yourself, maybe this is an opportunity to concentrate on being the best you can be at you do because doing great work matters.

We constantly compare our current career altitude and speed to everyone.  It's also easy with all the information out there to feel inadequate or that we need to make some change.

Consider being okay with where you are and concentrating on what you have -- for now.
You might find yourself becoming an expert at what you do while you just cruise along.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Art of the Deal

In business, we focus on negotiation constantly.  What can I get for what I have?  If I offer this concession, will the deal close?  What's the least I have to give to get what I want?
You can't give away something without knowing what you're getting, right?

Our initial instinct is to protect what we have and see if we can get more.  More is good;
more customers, more salespeople, more real estate, more power.  Our success often comes at the expense of others.

What if we took a different approach?  What if you base your success on how much you give instead of how much you receive? 

Could you give that customer to a colleague knowing that they would probably be a better fit for each other?
Could you ship that order for free knowing it would help your customer be more profitable - without them asking for it?
Could you mentor salesperson on another team that competes with you?

The business world expects you to want something for the things you give. 

Take a different approach: differentiate yourself or your company by the story of your generosity.  Use your skills as a shining light to accelerate the growth of those around you.  Think long term relationships instead of short term gain.  Be okay with getting taking advantage of by some -- the ones you really want along for the ride will outweigh them.  Have your customers tell others of the great things you did for them because you gave more than expected.  Be indispensable at work because you always help your peers become successful.

The next time you need something, give more than you have to.  You're in it for the long haul, and by creating a culture of giving, you'll get more back than you expect the next time.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


As defined by Merriam-Webster: "The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness."

Integrity is a powerful quality.  I argue we're born with it. With some, it gets whittled away little by little to nothing. With others, it is the one thing that is consistent throughout their lives.  Driving our decision-making, our world view, and our choices, it is something one can count as asset or a liability. 

Life is full of unknowns and variables, and it is often our integrity that guides us.

Integrity is why we choose to walk away from a bad deal.
Integrity is why we think beyond ourselves and how our actions affect the rest of the organization.
Integrity is why we don't force inventory on customers to make our quota.
Integrity is why we agree that commission should go to someone else.
Integrity is why we share information that may help others.
Integrity is why we fire bad customers.

When you deal with a customer, what drives you the most? Closing the deal at any cost or thinking about a future together?

When you compete with a co-worker for business, are you hiding information that results in more resources being used?

When you make a mistake, do you admit it freely or find ways to hide it or shift blame?

You drive through the crossroads of integrity every day in all of your business relationships.  You choose at these moments your success and your legacy. 

By choosing integrity, you choose to be surrounded by others who share that same view.

It is here where your customers find you irreplaceable and where you and you co-workers create a culture where work has meaning and purpose.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Can You Stop Doing?

What are you going stop doing in your business this year?

We often get bogged down in big plans and initiatives, but we often forget to examine and cut loose the things dragging down our bottom line.

Things to consider stopping or cutting loose:

1) That failing business unit that's been unprofitable but you keep hoping it will turn around

2) That "hard-working" salesperson who has missed quota the last six months 

3) That policy that helps you avoid risk but makes it twice as hard for your customers to buy

4) That manager that keeps chasing away good employees because of his management style

5) That monthly management meeting that is heavy in spreadsheets and light on inspiration

6) That lack of trust in your front line employees 

Make the decision, pull the trigger, and let go of those things hindering your growth.