Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Today And Your Future

Your present is a result of your past history and today you are currently shaping your future with your attitudes and actions. The only time you have at your disposal is the now. Today you have access to all the resources you need to create the changes you want. Every time you procrastinate you continue to push your future further out. Make a decision to work on your future today and every day!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Permanent Decisions

Don't make any permanent decisions when you are overcome with temporary emotion. Make it a principle to not respond while you are upset, angry or depressed. Ask for time to think it over and calm yourself down. For major decisions ask for 48 hours, if possible. When responding in writing while in affect, wait to send the mail for at least 12 hours, to give you time to sleep on it and review it, to see that you still agree with the words, before you send it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Complementary Teams

In our private lives, most of the time we are attracted to opposite temperaments. This make our relationships exciting and dynamic. It is relatively common though, we get upset at each other for the same features later on. Isn't that interesting? Let's not only accept our differences but see the benefits of them. In our professional life, on the other hand, we often make the mistake to hire like minded people. Instead, let's hire complementary skills and temperaments to our team.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't Fear Failure

When kids learn to ride a bike, inevitably they will fall off and get hurt. That's part of the learning process. To learn bicycling properly they have to overcome the pain of failure and jump up on the bike and try again. The same learning process applies to you and me. Fail more often and you learn quicker. Quit being afraid of failure. Once you get used to failing your confidence will go up as you realize it is all part of your learning curve.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Driver Or Passenger?

Are you in charge of your future? Are you in the driver seat or the passenger seat of your life? It seems that some people are not even in the car. I think it is vital to distinguish between what is inside your circle of influence and what is not. It is important to be in the driver seat of your life for the things over which you have control. It is also important to be comfortable in the passenger seat for the things outside your control. Are you?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Delegate Outcomes

The ability to delegate well is a key leadership skill both from personal effectiveness perspective as well as growing and developing your people. Learn to not only delegate activities to be done but outcomes - results to be achieved. When you delegate activities you still own the outcome. When you delegate the outcome your people own the responsibility for achieving the results. You will have less worry about and they will grow much faster.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wabi Sabi

I was reflecting on the word contentment and compared it to the more philosophical Japanese term Wabi Sabi. The words mean simplicity and imperfection, propagating the view to keep things simple and be content even if everything isn't perfect. In nature there are very few squares and straight lines. Plants and trees don't grow in a perfectly orderly fashion. Only humans have this tendency toward perfection. Try a little Wabi Sabi, be happy and know that life maybe isn't supposed to be all that perfect.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Self Esteem, Ambition And Capability

Self esteem is partly a function of capability and ambition. As long as capability is higher than ambition self esteem tends to be fine. When ambition is vastly higher than capability self esteem will start to suffer. Firstly, to grow and maintain a healthy self esteem you can moderate your level of ambition. You can do lots of things but you can not do everything! You have to prioritize and focus! Secondly, continue work on your capabilities to match them to your ambition.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Small Change, Big Results

Think about the game of golf, if you hit the ball just a millimeter off center, over the hundred meter flight or so, the ball may well end up in the bunker or in the weeds. Imagine yourself being close to a break through, only a millimeter off, and one small change is all it takes to slam the door of opportunity open. Small improvements (like hitting the golf ball) can make a tremendous difference in terms of results. What is that one small change that can yield huge results in your life and career?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Will Versus Skill

The notorious NFL coach Vince Lombardi once noted; "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of determination." Your ability and knowledge in your chosen field of endeavor is probably alright, particularly if you enjoy what you are doing. Skill is the how of what ever you are doing. Will deals with motivation, the reasons why you are doing it. To ensure success the WHY must be bigger than the HOW since it turns out will is more important than skill.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Origin Of Emotion

We often have the idea that our feelings are generated by external forces like circumstances outside our own control, the things we acquire or the people we meet. However, upon reflection, none of those carry our feelings inside them. Even though outside things may or do trigger your feelings, your emotional response is entirely your own. You carry your feelings inside you. Now, whose responsibility is it to manage them?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Leadership Consistency

When you are a leader consistency of behavior is important when it comes to building and maintaining high levels of trust in the team. Most challenges in leadership tend to be behavioral. Most people don't like surprises. They like to think they know where you are coming from. Don't you be a chameleon and change your approach every time. As a leader you are a role model for the team. Be consistent and act predictably!

Friday, December 19, 2008

People And Problem Solving

We have reflected on the fact that most times problems can not be solved on the same level they were created. Along the same lines of reasoning goes; the people who get you into trouble are not the ones to get you out of it. To solve issues created by one set of thinking you need a different set of thinking to take a fresh look at it from a different perspective. The team you gather around yourself as a leadership team is crucial. Make sure you get the right team on the bus!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Question For Understanding

People usually behave rationally. Ask questions of others when you don't understand what's going on. The better you understand the beliefs, actions, desires and wants of others, the more likely you are to make the right response. Also dare to ask similar questions of yourself. When you adapt and alter your own thinking where necessary, you generally become more successful.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reproducing Results

It is pretty evident that plants and animals reproduce after their own kind, wouldn't you say? What is not that evident is the fact that so does behaviors and attitudes. Behaviors and attitudes reproduce after their own kind also. Being vague produces vague results. Being diligent produces diligent results and so on. What kind of behaviors and attitudes would you like to reproduce?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Preparedness And Opportunity

If you are ready for opportunity when it comes along you will be successful (however you choose to define success). Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity. The question to ask yourself is; Am I preparing sufficiently? You never graduate from the school of life. When you pay attention, there are lessons to be learned all the time. When opportunity comes, are you ready?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Culture Versus Strategy

What is more important between having a strong company culture or a great strategy? The truth of the matter is that culture is more important, in that a bad culture can not implement a good strategy. In a start up it is the same thing. Investors first look at and evaluate the key people and then they look at the strategy and the business plan. Good people can execute to a poor plan and still make it a success but bad people can never execute a great plan. Culture trumps strategy every time.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Keep A Sense Of Humor

Remember to keep everything in perspective. Maintain a healthy sense of humor and laugh when things get tough. Laugh at yourself but not at others. They have their issues to deal with and need not to be laughed at. There are at least two good reasons to look at the humorous side of things; it lessens tension an anxiety and from a physiological point of view releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones into your blood stream. It makes you a happier person!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Have A Plan

Having a plan suggest you have done some thinking, which is good. Having a plan does not mean being inflexible and rigid. Your plans should always be up for revision, amendments and changes. When situations change, your plans may need to change to stay current. I looked through lists of long term goals I had set for myself roughly five years ago and I realized I have already reached half of my ten year goals. Not knowing all the details of your plan is OK, not having a plan is not.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Leaders Listen, Learn And Lift

A true leader first needs to listen to his or her people, learn and lift them before he can lead them. There are three intrinsic questions followers are asking from their leader; they are asking for care, help and trust. "If I follow you, will you make it better for me?" A great question to ask yourself as a leader is; "what can I do and what can I say to give other people something of value?"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Travel Agent Or Tour Guide?

You cannot give what you don't have. You can not lead where you have not gone yourself. In that case you merely act as a travel agent, you have never visited the country, you are only booking the tickets. When you are a tour guide on the other hand, you take people to places you've been many times before. You can explain the history and related details thoroughly because you are well acquainted with the environment. What kind of leader do you want to be?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Connect With Heart And Hand

I have found that in politics as well as in business you first need to touch the heart of people before you can ask them for a hand. You need to establish rapport and trust with your constituency. In sales, when you can connect with the customer on an emotional level about his or her need, then your order is almost always certain. Why is this, you think? I think it is because people don't care that you know until they know that you care. Heart comes first!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Willingness And Capacity

When you are about to hire someone, two great questions to ask are; "Will he or she?" and "Can he or she?" "Will" speaks about attitudes. Is this individual a person who will go that extra mile, work for the betterment of the team etc.? "Can", on the other hand, is about capacity. Does this individual have the potential to get the job done and to grow and skillfully contribute in my organization. Make sure you assess both the attitude and the capacity.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Learn To Banjo

One productivity tip is to deal with a nuisance right away, instead of letting it just sit there unfinished and sap your energy right out of you. Learn to play the Banjo. BANJO is an acronym standing for "Bang a nasty job off". Getting something unpleasant out of the way makes you feel better. Once you finish the task the sense of accomplishment will help you achieve higher levels of energy throughout the day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Benefits Of Teamwork

It is true that in a well functioning team everyone wins because with more people focusing together on a single aim, you increase your capacity as well as combined talent, experience, connections and energy. A great acronym for the benefit of organizing and working in a TEAM is: Together Everyone Achieves More. To achieve maximum benefit, understanding of group dynamics and what it takes to develop a team is a critical leadership skill.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Add, Change Or Scratch?

When you have a specific target it helps you set clear boundaries and it becomes much easier to decide what to say "yes" and what to say "no" to. By the way, have you clearly defined what success looks like to you? In your life and in your business do you have the right balance for you to achieve that success? Ask yourself; among the things I am already doing is there anything I need to add, change or scratch?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Focus On What You Want

There is a big psychological difference between trying not to miss and trying to score! I am thinking about penalty shoots in football as an example. The coach has to pick the right players with the right mental attitude. The mental attitude you need is; focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. Always focus on the positive outcome you want from each interaction, phone call, meeting etc. and set your expectations accordingly.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Law Of 250

When you deal with one individual you indirectly deal with another two hundred fifty people with which he or she has influence. Of course, there are reclusives around with fewer friends but think of this as the average. In business as well as in social life this has tremendous significance. Make sure you deliver good service to the people you get into contact with every time. Remember, everything you do is magnified two hundred fifty fold.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Team Motivation

Here are some practical ways to increase and maintain a good morale and high motivation. To motivate a team, trust has to be established. Firstly, hire the right people! You can hire for attitude and teach for skill. Get the right people on the bus and let the wrong people off. Strive for an as transparent, non-hierarchical structure as possible, give ample of recognition and praise (praise in public, exhort in private). Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Lead the troops from the front and show the way by your personal example.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Complacency or Continuous Improvement?

Sometimes past success can become your future shortfall. Complacency creeps in because you landed a big deal or you feel confident with a proven business model that has served you well in the past. Never rest on your laurels! You either grow or go. Continue to develop and seek out new opportunities. Things can always become better and improve. Think continuous quality improvement in everything you do.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Your Perfect Training Program

Difficulties in life are good for us, are they not? They are challenges to help us grow and mature. Think about how things would be if you just sailed along and every day was a beautiful sunny day. Would it not be boring? Have you ever thought about your troubles and the analogy to the gym? In muscle training it is the resistance of the weight that makes you stronger when you push up against it. Why not view the obstacles you meet as your perfect training program?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advice And Responsibility

Have you ever noticed how some people always ask for advice when they are confronted with a decision? This may be because they are insecure but also it is a convenient way to excuse themselves if something goes wrong. They can always blame it on the advisor, you see. The key here is lack of responsibility. Don't hesitate to ask for advice when you need it but be sure to maintain your personal responsibility. Take responsibility before you take advice.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Report Before The Meeting

Before an important meeting it is good preparation to think it through in advance. What is the ideal and most likely outcome you want to achieve? Go through the meeting in detail in your mind. Who is speaking? What is being said? How do the others in the room react? To focus your thinking even more, write down the meeting report in advance, before the meeting. Now you are prepared and most likely much better than all the other attendees.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Responses To Conflict

People respond to conflicts differently. How we respond can depend on circumstances, the opponents and the relationships involved. In the context of a negotiation there are five distinct styles you can play; you can respond competitively and become aggressive, be accommodating to wants and needs of other party, compromise to maintain relationships, avoid the conflict and walk away or be collaborative and seek to find a mutually beneficial win-win agreement. How do you usually play?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fast Cash?

Be suspicious of promises of fast cash! If something looks too good to be true, it usually is. When someone offers you a get-rich-quick scheme it is a scheme to get rich alright; for them - while you have to pay for it! Years ago I was conned to buy three leather jackets with a bogus brand name, from an Italian guy in a parking lot. How stupid can you get!? Research the proposition thoroughly before you jump in. If it looks like it could be your lucky break it is usually nothing but a scam.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hard Questions - Easy Life

If you only ask yourself easy questions you will have a hard life. Easy questions are questions about what to eat for dinner, what television show to follow and other shallow, relatively inconsequential matters like that. If you ask yourself the hard questions you will have an easy life. With hard questions I mean questions that trigger more reflection about values and shaping definitions of goals and related plans to reach those goals. What are you going to do about asking those hard questions?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recipe For Success

To bake a cake you need certain ingredients to get it right. The ingredients you need for success are direction (know where you are heading), action (doing it), passion (energy and drive), attitude and measurement (follow up). If there is too little or one ingredient is completely missing in the mix, the result will suffer. When you follow the recipe you will produce great results. Do you have all the right ingredients?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monologue Or Dialogue?

Much communication is done in monologue style with little room for dialogue. For example, people tend to express themselves as definitive where opinions are stated as facts. Variants are the exaggerated, with categorical statements such as "John is always late" and the forcing and commanding; "you must/should." Instead I suggest you use personal I-statements; "In my opinion/I feel/John is often late/Next time it would..." This way you become more personable and invite others into dialogue.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Work While Alert

I recently came across a graph showing the levels of alertness of working people between the ages of 18-65. (Teenagers seem to have a distinctively different sleeping pattern.) It shows, that on average, we are the most awake at around noon, three o'clock in the afternoon and during the early hours of the evening. How come we take breaks during the periods we are most alert? As a high achiever schedule your working hours for the times you are the most alert.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Intention And Attention

The force behind all actions is the power of our intention, the thing we want to achieve, the outcome we set out to accomplish. Once we have a clear picture of intended outcome now we can turn to the task at hand with full attention. With this reasoning in mind we get a better understanding of what concentration is all about. The formula is: intention x attention = concentration. Don't let yourself be distracted by anything. Give your intention your full attention.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Use An Agenda

For all meetings make use of an agenda. Use the agenda to first establish the purpose and the objectives of the meeting, including the important meetings with yourself. Stick to the points and go through them one by one. At the end, make note of the items you discussed, what decisions were made, who was going to take action and by when they are expected to be completed. This way the agenda also can serve as a simple follow up tool after the meeting. With a constructive use of an agenda your meetings can be made shorter and much more effective.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recognition Leads To Repetition

Reinforce the behaviors you like to see more often in your team members. Oftentimes and instinctively we do the opposite both as managers and as parents. We nag about what we don't want them to do instead of encouraging the behaviors we want. Focus on catching your people doing right. Bragg on them publicly! There is a saying that goes; "if they overhear you telling someone else, they will remember it forever." Recognition leads to repetition. You can deal with criticism later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Reckon Your Resources

Before launching out into a new venture first appraise your power-base. What about the concept, is your new idea sound? Check the calendar, can you devote the necessary time? Do you have the cash you need and the character to bring it to conclusion? What about your competition and your connections? It is who you know that counts, you know. Finally, are you cool to stay flexible and adaptable as the project progresses? Reckon your resources before you begin.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Change Yourself First

Have you ever noticed it is easier to change yourself than to change everyone else? What do we learn from this? In relationships and communication work on yourself first. People behave rationally from their own point of view. Don't ask what they can do for you, ask what you can do for them. Try to understand before you try to make yourself understood. Adapt to their style of communication. Probe for greater clarity and understanding. You change first!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Set Smarter Goals

Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T. with the acronyms meaning; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Herein lies the difference between dreaming and setting goals. If you don't know exactly what you want, how to measure success, achieve it through a well thought out action plan that is realistic on a deadline, you don't have a goal, just a dream. To set smarter goals add expectation management to stay flexible and adaptable if needed and finally make sure the goal is relevant for you, in sync with all the other parts of your life.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Close The Loops

Have you ever forgotten to do something you promised someone? Have you missed to check if a delegated task has been completed? Open loops, unfinished business, drain energy from your brain and can be the cause of anxiety and restlessness. Create a system for closing loops that work for you. You need a system for capture; note pad, Dictaphone, folders on you computer and you need a system for recall; making sure you check your notes on a daily and weekly basis. Close the loops in your life.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Leaders Are Readers

Today knowledge becomes obsolete at an ever increasing rate. Knowledge is like vegetables. They keep fresh only for so long. With any perishable commodity it is vital to renew and refresh our knowledge base. Be a lifelong student and read a little every day. You invest in your personal development by your continuous learning efforts. In addition to your field of special interest read up on history, philosophy and biographies of men and women you admire. You stay ahead and read to lead.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Avoid The Blame Game

It is easy to focus on whose fault it is, instead of on solutions, when something goes wrong. It is much more constructive to look ahead and take away the heat from bad news by focusing on future action instead of past blame. Questions to ask include: What can be done now to solve the problem? Who is the best person to solve it? What can we do to prevent this problem from happening again? Focus on action and avoid blame!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Get What You Deserve

In general you get in life what you are ready for. Our opportunities and challenges are proportionate to our level of growth. We get the salary we deserve. We get the business and the customers we deserve. There is a saying that goes: “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” The key is to work on your capacity for learning or any other skill, for that matter. You get what you deserve. If you want more you have to deserve more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Practice The Drill

In the military when new recruits start they get a drill-sergeant assigned to them to train them in such areas as military discipline, physical fitness and weapons training. Soldiers are subjected to long hours of disciplinary training of things they already know so they will continue to function properly when they are put under extreme stress and no longer can think clearly. When you prepare and practice a lot you too will be able to perform well under pressure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Learn To Cut Your Losses

Sometimes you need to cut your losses of time and effort when a financial investment is not performing or a negotiation has come to a stand still. Cutting your losses is difficult emotionally because of the perception that I have already invested so much. However, the sober way of looking at it is to view any continued, future investment in a negotiation or financial instruments as a new decision to make an investment from now on out. What happened yesterday is sunk cost and should not go into the decision making process at all. Learn to cut your losses.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finding Your Passion

Finding what you are interested in and enjoy doing is an important step to higher achievements. When you find your passion you will experience excitement, more energy and increased levels of creativity. Questions to ask are; What would I do if I knew I could not fail? What's the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning? If the associated emotions are positive that's a clue you are on to your passion. You owe it to yourself to find it!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Your Guanxi Account

In the Chinese culture they have something called Guanxi. You have to first build your Guanxi in every relationship involved in order to do business. In the western world we are willing to give credit and treat new relationships under a benefit of the doubt policy. Not so in China! I once saw a sign in a Chinese store in San Francisco that read; "In God we trust, all others pay cash." Focus on the relationship first and build up your Guanxi account. You never know when you need to make a withdrawal.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Forgetting A Debt Doesn't Pay It

Denial is an interesting phenomenon and perhaps relatively common because escape is easier than change many times. Managing risk means facing those risks, not ignoring them. Pretending problems do not exist will not solve those problems. Only when you face your issues and deal with them will you stand a chance to solve them. Don't stick your head in the sand! Remember; forgetting a debt doesn't pay it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

See Failure As A Verb

Try to look at failure from the perspective of it being a verb rather than a noun. If we view it as a noun we tend to think of failure in terms of identity, as something we are. When we think of failure as a verb it is an experience we are going through, not a permanent condition. Successful people are those who have dared more, failed more and hence learned more than ordinary people have. Do you want to be successful? Try, fail, try again and never give up!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Business Or Busyness?

Are the things you occupy yourself with driving your business forward or are you just keeping busy spinning your wheels? A lot of people mistake activity for action and busyness for business. It is so easy to get caught up in being busy that you never get anything of significant value done. Don't be like that! Stop being busy and start focusing on doing the right things (the actions that drive your results).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Get Yourself Mentors

It is a good idea to have mentors with greater experience to teach you what you need to know and show how to go about certain things. This does not have to be formal. I have learned a lot from every boss I've had and they are many. So on a basic level it is very easy, just let everyone be your mentor! There are things you can learn from good examples as well as bad ones. From good examples your learn how and from bad you learn how not to do things.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Win Or Be Right?

The world can be divided into two categories of people; positive people who expect to succeed and negative people who expect to be right. Don't argue with negative people! Let them have their way. A great way to silence the person who always want to be right is to simply say: "My dear friend, you may well be right!" The question for you on the other hand is: "Do you want to win or do you want to be right?"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Aikido Negotiation Tactics

Aikido is a martial art based on principles of high integrity. In Aikido, you defend yourself against attack, without harming yourself or your opponent. Aikido is designed to use your opponents force against them. You simply redirect it, guide it, and diffuse it. This principle works very well in the context of a negotiation. You can use the force of your counterpart's arguments for your purposes without even upsetting them. In both negotiations and Aikido there are moves that allow you to evade and redirect the attack.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Replace The Payoffs

When we look into the behaviors of ourselves and others we have to understand that these behaviors are there for a reason; that there is an emotional payoff attached to them. This is why it sometimes is difficult to change bad habits with new ones. In order to change a poor behavior you need to figure out a way to replace the emotional payoff and switch it to the new behavior you would like to establish. Ask yourself; is there another way I can experience the same payoff?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Make Plans Firm And Flexible

Set and use objectives the way an airplane pilot uses schedules and flight plans. With schedules the airline sets a goal to be in a city of destination at a certain time. They plan the route in the flight plan. So they have a goal and a plan, however, they are flexible to change in response to situations, weather conditions and other hazards. They may decide to fly around or over bad weather and if the destination airport is closed they quickly choose an alternative landing ground as close to their original destination as possible. Make your plans firm yet flexible!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Play For Position

Should you ever study championship billiard players you will find they have almost equal capabilities to pocket the next ball, all other things being equal. However, the winning advantage usually belongs to the player with the best acumen to predict and position himself well for the next shot. Most successful business people similarly look a few steps ahead in a sales situation or in deal making. It is a good idea to do as the great chess players do and always play position for the next move.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Create Conditions For Success

As a contributor in a team you create value by getting your job done and producing results. When you are in a leadership role your primary value creation comes from getting the team to deliver the results. As a leader your responsibility is to create the conditions for success. Putting the right people and processes in place, building trust, raising morale, creating a good environment to help the members of your team to perform at their highest potential.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Speculate With Your Time And Effort

In general terms I am not a proponent of speculation. Personally I never gamble in the casino or the lottery. I would rather gamble in places where the odds were stacked in my favor, you see. From a business development perspective however, it makes all the sense in the world to devote a portion of your time to speculative efforts. Try new things! Develop your marketing programs. Speculate with your time and effort in order to accumulate. You got to be in it to win it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Samurai Decision Making

The fear of making a bad decision stalls most decision makers at times. In many situations it is better to make any decision than no decision at all. You see, doing nothing is really a decision to maintain status quo. The samurai lived by a simple creed - no hesitation, no doubt, no surprise, no fear. Of course you need a little time to think hard before major decisions but once you make up your mind, get on with it swiftly. Make your decisions timely, wisely, and responsibly.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ask Questions To Learn More

Sometimes when you ask an open ended question you still only get a short reply. No problem! Here are a few tips how you can get more information. Just be silent and let the silence draw out the other person. You can say "And...?" or "Therefore...?" in an inquiring tone of voice. Finally you can ask follow up questions to get the other person to speak more. Say something along the lines of; "What does that mean for you?" or "And how is that better?"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's A Small World After All

It is safe to say that due to technology and globalization the world is getting smaller. There is a theory about six degrees of separation, suggesting that you can get in contact with anyone on the planet through the linkage between your friends and their respective acquaintances in no more than six steps. Social networking experiments on the Internet verifies this is plausible. So what can you do with this piece of information? Figure out ways to stay in touch with business associates, friends, classmates, previous co-workers etc. Work your end of the network. You never know when an introduction may come in handy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Follow Through

In Canadian ice hockey, they play a very physical game with the tradition to seek body contact and always follow through with every tackling. This is a great trait to display in business, whether you are in sales or working to complete your latest project. Never, ever give up and follow everything up to completion. This advice is particularly relevant when you worked long and hard. Don't give up when it looks tough! Call the customer again, work that plan! Don't quit! Remember, to finish everything you start and follow through with every tackling.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Priorities And Time Allocation

Time management is a misnomer really. Time can not be managed, only your priorities can. Once you set your priorities here is a suggestion for use of your valuable time. Increase your time allocation to things that are important, valuable, fun and rewarding. Maintain your time allocation to things that are important, even if they are tedious and boring. Decrease your time allocation to things that are trivial, even if they are fun. Finally, eliminate your time allocation to things neither important nor fun and rewarding.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Help Make Decisions

Sometimes when prospective customers say they want to think about it, in a sales situation, it can be a polite objection used instead of saying "no". Don't just accept that. Make it your job to help them make a decision. Say something along the lines of; "Ok, great, what exactly is it you need to think through? Let's do it together. What additional information can I give you to help you make your decision?"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Don't Jump To Conclusions

We think much faster than we speak and our brain has excess capacity while listening to others. It is very tempting (and in fact we do it all the time) to assume, interpret and judge the communication we receive from other people. Even when you are knowledgeable about the subject matter at hand refrain from this. Don't finish other peoples sentences and don't jump to conclusions. Let the other party explain and interpret themselves. Challenge your own assumptions and ask clarifying questions. You will be surprised more often than not.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"I Am Not Happy"

To get great customer service you need to be a great customer. One way to be a great customer when delivering complaints is to use the I-am-not-happy routine. It goes like this; use clear I messages: "I am not happy with this situation!" Then go on to tell why you are not happy and most importantly explain what would make you happy. When you don't raise your voice, use foul language nor blame the people on the other end but clearly state what you expect it is very difficult to resist honoring your reasonable claim.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time Shortage And Downshifting

One trend in coping with time shortage and finding that delicate work life balance is downshifting. With downshifting comes the idea to set limits to what others expect of you and lower your own ambitions for professional success in favor of other things in life. Strategies to reduce work time can be manifold, including change of boss or job, move for shorter of commuting time, doing less business travel, reduce over time, work part time etc. On a personal level it raises the all important question; "what you do want to get out of life?"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shut The Door

If you constantly find it difficult to get a full day's work into you day due to phone calls and interruptions from your people in the office, try the shut-door-policy for a couple of hours. Schedule a closed-door meeting with yourself in the calendar. Manage the expectations from your co-workers and the switchboard operator by explaining that you are busy in a meeting between, say 10 to 12. Put a sign on the door and bring the pieces of work where you need full concentration of efforts to complete into the meeting.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs

So many times our own thinking holds us back. I am sure you have heard the story about the little elephant that was tied to a rope and eventually stopped trying to break free. When the elephant grew older and stronger it could easily have broken the rope but the elephant had given up. Behaviors of learned helplessness, like this, are all in our mind. What limiting beliefs do you live by? What are the money myths, idea idioms or time thoughts holding you back, that you would like to challenge today?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Power of Expectation

The Rosenthal effect (expectation influences the result) is apparent in persuasion and sales situations and not only in teacher-student relationships. Somehow the outcome you expect from an encounter transfers into the dialogue and the relationship. This seems to happen mysteriously but when we consider the fact that 93% of our communication is based on non-verbal clues, such as tone of voice and body language it is not difficult to understand. Develop your confidence and expectation levels and you will see a tremendous difference.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Enemy To Best

It is normally not that hard to make a decision between what is good and bad. The real trick when it comes to success is to choose between what is very good and what is better. Good is the worst enemy to best. Unless you have a clear vision and a strong focus to guide you by it is so easy to settle for second best. When you don't know where you are going all roads lead there. With a clear destination in your mind, you will be able to always take the right turn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


In a negotiation or sales situation instead of simply answering a question with yes, turn the question around, isolate the issue and let the other party say "yes". For example; question: "Is this item available in green?" answer: "If I can find it in green for you, will you consider a purchase/place an order/buy?" Don't give away the opportunity to "yes". Use the if... then logic to create a question in response to get the other party to say "yes". "Do you have these chairs in stock?" "Is this the chair you are interested in?" "Yes!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Help People Remember

When you are presenting something in order to influence or persuade here are some tips for helping people to remember your arguments better. People remember what is being said first and last and tend to forget more of what was said in between. This has to do with concentration and attention span. Say your main points and use your strongest arguments in the beginning and in the end. Link the information to what the other person already knows. Present your information in an unusual way and people will easily remember. Be enthusiastic and repeat your main points through summaries. This way you help your audience to remember!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't Lose Your Temper!

The only time it may be appropriate to get angry is when you do it on purpose, to the right audience, for effect. When I was younger I allowed myself to get angry up to two times per year. Now I put much stricter requirements on myself. This can be difficult if you are temperamental and prone to get hot under your collar. Remember this; when you lose your temper you lose control. You see, you only lose temper if you are involved so don't take anything personally however annoying it might be. Should the pressure get too high simply walk out of the room before you blow a fuse but whatever you do; don't lose your temper.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Things Take Your Time

I saw a commercial from a leasing company, depicting a happy old man from India owning only his shoes and walking stick, renting everything else. It was funny! The more things you have the more of your precious time they will take from you. Ownership comes at a price not only in monetary terms but also terms of time. Things have to be taken care of, stored, guarded, refurbished, painted, greased, oiled, cut, serviced, cleaned. You name it. The list goes on and on. Maybe it is time to start selling some of your stuff, gaining back some free time in the transaction.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is Two Enough?

In my first sales training class many years ago, I learned the idea of the assumptive close. Assume that the customer is interested and will buy, it is only a matter of working out the details and giving him or her a choice. Don't use it too early in a discussion though. One effective word to use when influencing people is the word "enough". It is commonly used in retail shops to up sell. You are in a shop and have just decided to buy a pair of trousers. The clerk can ask; "Sure you would want matching socks with your new trousers. Would four pairs of socks be enough?" It works. Many people will say "yes". Try it yourself some time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Plan Before You Do

When an emergency strikes, plans must be known in advance in order to secure a successful outcome. It is said that proper planning prevents particularly poor performance. It is obvious when it comes to fire and safety plans for example. But also true for everything you do. When you follow a plan you can also use it to determine corrective actions when you are deviating from it. If circumstances change significantly and the old plan doesn't serve your purpose, make a new plan! Plan before you do and you will prevent particularly poor performance.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Expect The Best Of Your People

Psychology professor Robert Rosenthal studied and documented the "teacher-expectancy effect" referring to situations in which students perform better simply because they are expected to do so. We call this the Rosenthal effect or the Pygmalion effect (after G.B. Shaw's play Pygmalion). It requires a student to internalise the expectations of their superiors. Students with poor expectations internalise their negative label, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly. As parents, teachers and managers this is an awesome responsibility. Expect the best from your people and give them a fine reputation to live up to.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Outside Your Circle Of Influence

I have found there are actually very few things worth worrying about in times of distress. Focus your entire attention on the things you can influence. Don't worry about things you can not do anything about. The classical serenity prayer, commonly used by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) comes to mind: "Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When Giving Critique

When you provide feedback always start with something positive. Tell the other person what they did well. A self depreciating comment about your own shortcomings in a similar situation also work wonders. Now they are ready to listen to the critique. I like to think of this as a hamburger; first you give them a bun, then the meat and finally another bun on top. End with a positive encouraging note to instill confidence in the other persons ability. "Come on, I know you can do it!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

No Such Thing As Over Night Success

Success is usually the result of years of training and practice. As spectators we only see the finished result and marvel at the achievement. People will say, "I would do anything to be able to do what you are doing." Not so! If they really wanted it they too would have paid the price of countless hours in study, training, practice or rehearsal but they didn't. Formula for you is to decide what you want to be great at and go to work on your training program. There is no such thing as over night success!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Where Is The Wow Factor?

Examine your points of differentiation. How can you load your offers with things that make your customers go "wow!" What could it be? Don't use price as a wow factor. Figure out how you can add value instead of subtracting price. Use contrasting messages in your advertising. Show customers their hell (problems) before you show them your heaven (solution). Chances are they will go "wow"!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Skill, Supply And Demand

We talk about ability and skill development in the context of continuous improvement in this column. Let's put skill into the context of supply and demand. To improve your earnings you should apply your abilities in areas with high demand and seek to differentiate yourself in such a way that few others can compete with what you offer (minimize supply). The resulting equation would look like this: Ability multiplied by Demand, divided by Supply equal Earnings.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Make Use Of "Yes-Tags"

A good communicator gets others to say yes, through the creative use of language. One such example is the "yes-tag", a suffix asking a rhetorical question easily answered by a "yes". For example, "I think this is important to you, isn't it?" or other short and sweet expressions like; wouldn't you, could you..., etc. They can be used anywhere in a sentence, really, in the end, in the middle or in the beginning;"Would you mind staying late and finish that rapport?" "Don't you think it is awfully cold in here?" Try yes-tagging yourself, wouldn't that be a great idea?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Listening Power

If you believe in the proposition that information is power, active listening is a source of more power. The better you listen the more information power you will gain. This is true in a negotiation or in a sales call but work the same with bosses, colleagues and at home with friends, your partner and children. Listen attentively with both ears, not only at the words but their tone of voice also carries lot of information once you start listening for it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Complete, Start Or Stop?

It is good to review your list of current projects every once in a while. What projects do you have that are not finished you would like to complete? If it's not moving forward, ask yourself; "What is the next action to get it going?" Do you have projects that you haven't started but want to start? Can you make the time and resources available to do it? Finally, are there projects underway that that no longer seem meaningful? Maybe you should stop and scratch it. Try not to think about sunk cost, such as your time and energy spent. Stopping something provides time for starting something else.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Retain Your Good Ideas

The other night I must have been very creative because I woke up four times, each time with a new, what seemed to be, brilliant idea. The thought appeared so clear to my mind I thought I would never lose it again and I fell back to sleep. When I woke up later in the morning, I had lost all four ideas. It is a good idea to have a pad and pen by the bed to be able to catch the idea immediately when you get it. I will equip my bedroom tonight. What do you do to retain your good ideas?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Determination To Follow Through

In order to reach anything of significance there is sacrifice and hard work involved. Once you set your mind on an objective, are you determined to stay the course no matter what price you have to pay? Be cautious with your commitments in the first place but once given follow them through to the end. They that mind don't matter and they that matter don't mind. Determination wins the day!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Acorn

The small acorn has within it everything it takes to become the great, giant oak tree. It's just not fully developed yet. Similarly you have the seed of greatness in you to become all you can be and reach your full potential. We don't expect a child in second grade to be able to read fluently and solve difficult math problems. The child has to develop it's capabilities over time and the journey doesn't end at graduation. You have to continue to grow and develop all your life to develop your full potential.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Steady Pace

When you prepare to run a marathon you practice to run slower than you'd normally do, in order to last the distance. It is the same with everything you decide to run for in life. A steady pace wins in the long run, whether we talk about achieving success, creating wealth, raising a family or lowering the waist line. They all depend on the small things we do repeatedly on a daily basis. We are talking about lifestyle here. When you review your goals are there any steady pace activities, that come to mind, you want to add to your daily schedule?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Give Something Back

Margret Thatcher had a very unsentimental comment on the good Samaritan. She said: "We do not remember the good Samaritan because he had good intentions. We remember him because he had money." And Abraham Lincoln said: "The best way to help the poor is to not be one of them." Giving something back to society from our success and help the less fortunate, one way or the other, is almost a moral obligation. How can you best contribute?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Understand Power Dress Code

Be aware of the signal value of a consistent dress code. You are treated exactly according to the way you are dressed. I have personally been stopped at customs when travelling wearing blue jeans many times but never once wearing a suit. As you can imagine I always travel in business attire. Particularly if there is a problem, you get the help you deserve when you are properly dressed. When you need to make maximum use of power attire (with a difficult customer or your bank manager) wear a black or dark blue suit, white shirt and a red tie.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

5,000 Hours Of Practice

There are studies suggesting that if you are going to become excellent at a complex skill, like playing a musical instrument, reading with comprehension, learning another language, or flying an airplane you need to spend 5,000 hours practicing that skill. That is a lot of time! It means years of dedication! If you spend two hours, seven days per week, it will take you seven years to reach that level of proficiency. How determined are you to reach that expert level in your chosen field of endeavor?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Create A Filing System

I file all my stuff in a simple file folder system in my office. It is a simple system where content is stored based on name of customers, objects, companies or projects. This way it is easy to quickly retrieve any information. I just need to look in a few places to find it. I have a master list on my computer to keep track of them. Key to a working system is short archiving and retrieval time. Take the time to get yourself organized but keep it simple.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are You Chasing Too Many Rabbits?

There is an old Russian Proverb saying; "If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one." Focus is of uttermost importance when it comes to doing anything worth while. Very few professional golfers are known to be good hockey players even though both sports involve hitting balls with a stick. To become really good you have to specialize. To catch one of the rabbits, you have to let go of the other. Are you trying to accomplish too much? Maybe it is time to figure out which rabbit you will chase after.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

De-Clutter Your Life

We gather lots of stuff during the years. It is a good habit to clean out your storage spaces at home, on the computer and in the office from time to time. Decide to create a de-clutter plan. Prioritize the different areas; allocate time in your calendar and go to work on it. The most important place to de-clutter is your own mind. Take a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind so you can deal with it and take appropriate actions. Then make it a habit to always have pen and paper handy and write things down as you come to think of them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Measure Progress Early On

If you are moving in a wrong direction, over time you get further and further from where you want to be. Time and distance travelled compound the errors. In the end, it will be more costly to correct an error of judgment the earlier it was made in the first place. In business this means measure progress early in a project and take necessary action. Ask yourself; "Do we have the right people, procedures and resources in place?"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Show Genuine Interest

There is a humorous saying; "Everyone look out for themselves. I am the only one looking out for me". It is an enlightening realization that others generally are not interested in you. They think about themselves all the time. This means you don't have to worry so much about what others think of you, because they very rarely do. Instead you can relax and focus your interest on the other party. The best way to be interesting to others, is to show them genuine interest first.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Marinate Yourself In A Topic

Whenever you get a new assignment immerse yourself into it fully. Study everything you can find related to that subject. Attempt to become one of the most knowledgeable persons in that particular field. Figure out who is who and get the help you need to attain the expert level you aspire to. When I prepare a speech, for example, I think about oversampling, getting more data points, examples or stories than I will ever have time to use. In a similar way you can build your confidence and know you could handle any situation because you prepared yourself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dress And Talk One Step Ahead

One key to advance in your career is to start to dress and talk one step ahead. If you want to move to the position of your boss (let's say), take a look at how that person dresses and start to dress for the position you want to reach. If that means wearing a suit and tie, wear a suit and tie! Listen to the language of the person in the position today and start to mimic their lingo. Usually the boss talks more about what is important from the company's point of view. For starters, substitute "I" for "we".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Expectation As Motivator

People are different and respond to very different motivators. One powerful way to motivate your people is by changing their expectations. When you help them see positive consequences in their future as a result of their activity today that can tremendously boost their determination and effort. How can you work with changing expectations in your team or with your own children?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Be A Prime Time Producer

When others in the family are watching TV at night you can decide to use that time for productive work. During that prime time slot between 20:00 and 21:00 you could become a producer rather than merely being a consumer. You can write, read, study or prepare yourself for weeks coming up ahead. Think what you could accomplish if you dedicated five hours per week like this. It would be equivalent to one and a half extra, full time working month per year.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Different Strokes For Different Folks

In your dealings with people be flexible and adapt your communication style to that of the other person. Different people respond differently to the exact same message. We are not advocating a treat-everybody-the-same policy. Some people are open, others are more guarded. Some people are direct and others operate through indirect means. Once you understand how to approach these different personalities you can adapt and match your style to get your messages across in a more effective way.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

You Get What You Negotiate

I remember an old advertisement for a negotiation course from an in flight magazine. It said; "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." And it is so true! Prices do not exist, they are just arbitrary numbers, pulled out of a hat, written on a piece of paper. The same holds true with terms, they are to be discussed and agreed upon. Learning how to negotiate well is one of the best investments you can make. It can pay off instantly in the first couple of deals you do.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Create A Stop-Doing List

Management consultant Peter Drucker used to ask; "Which of your current businesses would you not enter if you were making a blank-page decision about it today?" Those you identify are businesses to exit. You can extend this logic to every aspect of your company's activities — people, products, systems, structures, and even how you spend your time. Why not create a "stop doing" list to complement your "to do" list? What would it say on yours?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Problem Solving Money Making

A regular fireman maybe makes $ 15/hour. I once read about a Canadian firefighter who gets hundred times that amount. Whenever an oil well is on fire, anywhere in the world, they call on him. He specializes and is the world's foremost expert on quenching such fires. You see, the bigger problems you can solve the more money you will make. In what area could you become a world expert?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Take Responsibility For You

In life and in business we can only take responsibility for ourselves. In sales for example, you can do everything right, according to the book and still not get the sale. On the other hand you can do a mediocre sales call and sometimes get the order anyway. The customer is part of the deal too. You are catalyst in the situation but you do not entirely control the outcome by yourself. You need to take responsibility for your skill and customer focus (being the cause) and let the other party take responsibility for the outcome (the effect).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The 10x Improvement Challenge

I like the challenge of the 10x improvement question. This line of thinking was introduced by General Electric and has since been used in many other places. The answer to the question suggests what you need to do differently in order to deliver something of ten times the value. The power of this question is that you can not arrive at the answer with incremental, slightly improved ways of doing business but that you have to re-engineer the entire process in order to get there, ten times faster or cheaper or whatever. Try the 10x logic of thinking next time you are faced with a business challenge.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Feed Your Hunger For Success

We talk a lot about the importance of continuous improvement, to keep upgrading our skills and it is important. However, inner drive or hunger for success is even more important. Hunger make up for lack of talent. This hunger gets you going and creates inspiration and excitement of future rewards. How hungry for success are you? Make sure to feed this inner drive of yours.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The How And The Why

A person with enough technical skills, with the know-how, will always have a job. A person that understands the why, on the other hand, will be the boss. In the knowledge worker industry the boss does often not have the same technical skill as his subordinates. Instead he has the ability to see the bigger picture and think strategically about how bits and pieces fit together. These are the skills you need to develop if you are interested in one day occupying the corner office.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Plan For Tax Implications

In any revenue generating endeavor you can either attempt to earn more money from labor, intellectual property and capital gains or lower your expenditures and cost base. In reality you want to do both at the same time. However, money you save is better than money you earn, because the money you save is not taxed and go straight to the bottom line. This difference can be significant in places with progressive taxation on incremental marginal income. Review and plan with tax implications in mind.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

I recently had a conversation with my high school language teacher of old about the virtue of speaking well. Incidentally she has been conducting rhetoric classes for many years and has come to the same conclusion as Andrew Carnegie did; students that improve and do well in public speaking raise their grades in all other academic programs at the same time. We have established earlier in this column that there is a direct correlation between your vocabulary and your wage grade. It pays to learn the art of speaking well.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Identify Resisting Forces

In order to accomplish a your plans swiftly you need three things; set an objective, develop an action plan and identify the resisting forces that would hinder you to succeed. Without the action plan your vision is merely a dream. Perception and skewed vision are common resisting forces of our own mind. Not until you have identified the opposing forces you can build in steps on how to deal with them in your plans.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Accumulative Advantage

Life isn't fair. There is this principle of accumulative advantage that says if you win, it is more likely you will win again. It creates a "winner-takes-it-all" logic; a few authors for example represent 90% of all book sales. This holds true for recording artists, football players and sales people a like. Figure out how you can join the top 10% crowd that reap 90% of all the rewards. What would you have to do to join the accumulative advantage club?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When You Turn Hundred

When you turn a hundred years old you will have a party and celebrate together with your friends, most of them younger than you. They will tell stories about all the things you have accomplished in your life and most of those initiatives will have been launched after you turned fifty. Many great entrepreneurs, like Ray Croc of McDonalds and Colonel Sanders of KFC started later in life to build what became their legacy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Say Good Things About Others

Speak well of everybody. Don’t gossip, don’t badmouth even if what you say would be true. If you can’t think of anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Talk to people, not about people. It is good office-karma to refrain from negative comments about people not present in the room. It makes others comfortable that you will not speak evil of them when they are not there. Only say good things about others.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Let Go Of Perfect

If you have a slant of perfectionism in your personality let me suggest you lower your sight somewhat. It is good enough to get better as long as you consistently improve. You don't have to be perfect. Perfectionists tend to be late because they work on small insignificant changes that do not add value and very few people will notice, anyway. Don't overwork anything where the incremental improvement won't pay off due to diminished rates of return. Let go of perfect when better is good enough.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Read To Succeed

In a world where many people only read one or two odd fiction books per year it is not difficult beat the average. If you spend thirty minutes to an hour daily you can read one book a week, turning into fifty book per year. If you decide to read fifty books per year in your chosen field you can become an expert, one of the best educated, in a year and even a world expert in ten. Knowledge is superseded by new information at such a fast rate, continuous learning is key to maintaining that competitive edge.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How To Come Home On Time

First pick a time when you want to go home for the day. Then build your schedule from there. Deduct one and a half hour for lunch and breaks. Add another hour for e-mail and communication. Estimate the time it will take to complete your major tasks. If there is a risk that you will be interrupted you have to double the time it takes. This means you have approximately three hours effective working time available during a normal office day. If you attempt to do more than that chances are your departure will be delayed.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Put On A Happy Face

In business and in interpersonal relationships the ability to quickly create rapport with people is key. You do that by presenting a happy face and through the use of open body language among other things. The Danish born comedian and pianist Victor Borge said: "A smile is the shortest distance between two people." Be aware that most people merely respond to what you present them with, so keep smiling!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Organize Around Important Themes

Organize your day around important topics and bunch similar activities together and make use of the learning curve, the fact that you will get faster as you do similar things the second and third time around. Prioritize them based on the highest value tasks and the now-or-never urgent, i.e. things that have to get done immediately. Pick a task and concentrate wholeheartedly on it. Concentration is your ability to stay with a task until it is completely done.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It Is Not What You Know

Most challenges in life are not intellectually difficult to understand. We know what we should do most of the time. It is not what you know, it is what you know and do that make you successful. It is good to be a continuous learner but even better to be a continuous doer. It is the continued application of good habits (doing the right things) that render great results over time. It is not what you know but what you do!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Schedule Your Time For Results

When we grow up and go to school we get used to working after a schedule. If you are ever unsure about what you are supposed to do at any given moment, just check the schedule. This is a good habit to develop and keep even as we graduate from school. For example, if you are in sales, your key activity is to contact customers, so schedule your day around the times when you best can reach your customers and discipline yourself to stick to the schedule.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Learn To Speak Well

People will judge on your ability to speak well. There are two major aspects upon which they judge; what you say, the content of your communication, the clarity of thought and your ability to convey them and how you say it, the way you get your message across. Speaking well includes good articulation, speaking clearly without mumbling and loud enough to get heard, avoiding jargon, abbreviations or group identifiers. Secondly language and grammar comprehension, with use of sufficient vocabulary, yet keeping it as simple as possible.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You Will Need Your Wit

Wit is a form of intellectual humor. A person who is a wit is someone skilled in making witty remarks. It can be an observation or saying that is short and to the point or the wit of the quick answer and capping comment: the snappy comeback and neat retort. Many years ago now while working late, preparing a very important presentation, my project manager brought up a great point; energy and wit are more important than perfection. He said; "You will need your wit tomorrow, let's go home and get some sleep." He was right. You do well to guard that wit of yours!

Friday, August 22, 2008

What The Other Person Hear

When we are talking about relationships in general and our professional leadership role in particular it is not primarily a question of us; what we do. It is a question of what the other person feel about what we do. It is not what you say but what the other person hear that is important. Learn to take the perspective of the recipient and your communication skills will automatically increase significantly.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time To Rest

At times the most important thing you can do is to rest. When you have been going for ten days straight without a pause, for example. Take a rest and just watch TV or smell the roses for a couple of hours. I kind of like the Indian expression; "I am waiting for my soul to catch up with my body." There is a wisdom about the balance of life in that statement. Take a deep breath, stop and take in life for a moment instead of just continuously chasing after it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It Is Your Yardstick

People judge us pretty much on the basis of our actions. Act like a winner and people will treat you like a winner. If you act like a loser, people will treat you as one. If you act confidently, people will see you as a confident individual. In effect, you set your own yardstick. How do you measure up? What does it say on your yardstick? What would you like it to say? Start acting that way and you will see changes in how others treat you in return.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Creative Use Of Procrastination

There are a lot of smaller, inconsequential tasks that need not get done at all. If you leave them undone they usually go away. I did an experiment once and decided not to read e-mails where I was just carbon copied to. I put the mail in a separate folder and did not look at it until a few weeks later. I found out that of many hundred e-mails there were only two minor issues I did not yet know about. All other important information I had received through other means. I saved at least four hours of reading time in the experiment alone.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Make Firm But Flexible Plans

Always have goals for your life and subsequent plans in place. That is sound advice! However I like to add a word of caution here; never be so rigid that when a great opportunity comes along you; 1) don't recognize it and 2) don't act upon it. Keep your eyes and ears open. Plan for the unknown. You don't know what you don't know and yet it might be the greatest opportunity for you, so let your plans be firm but flexible.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Principle Of Forced Efficiency

When you schedule your appointments and activities tighter together you automatically tend to get better organized and more efficient. Then you structure your meetings and tasks in order to get through them in time for the next. This is the principle of forced efficiency. Hence the saying: If you want something done, ask a busy person. You can pick up the pace and let the law of forced efficiency work for you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Conserve Your Energy

Be careful how you expend your energy. Conserve it and protect your energy for the times you need it most. I tend to think about this more when I go through longer stretches of periods of hard work. Relax while in transit if you travel, take the train instead of the car and you will arrive relaxed and invigorated with more energy left for your appointments. There are moments you are dependent on your ability to release this energy of yours, during a presentation, like in a customer meeting. Conserve your energy for when you need it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pareto Principle Everything

The 80/20-Rule or the Pareto Principle is one of the most fundamental laws of life. Is says that 80% of a result comes from 20% of the activity involved. It is a great time management technique to always think 80/20 and focus single mindedly on the 20% that yield the greatest return on a daily basis. There is a book out now discussing the concept of a four hour work week taking this principle to its extreme. You don't need to go that far but remember to Pareto Principle everything you do!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Internal Prime Time

Everyone has an internal, biological body clock, a timer that sets levels of awake and awareness among other things. You can use this to your advantage. Schedule your more complicated tasks during your internal prime time when your energy level is at its highest. For most people this is in the morning but there are those who work better in the afternoon or in the evening. Heed to your internal rhythm. The body clock will also give you signals when it is time to go to bed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It Is Not What Others Do

It is not what others do that ultimately decides what happen to you. It is what you do in reaction to what others do that determines the outcome of a situation. If you can stay calm and focused on your responses much is won. Self control is a key virtue here. The word responsibility means your ability to respond.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Invest Back Into Yourself

Invest at least 3% of your earnings back into yourself, your growth and your continuous learning. View this as your personal R&D budget and use it for books, training classes and subscriptions. If you develop the habit to read for thirty minutes to an hour every day you can become an expert in your chosen field within a few years. Buy stock in you and invest a portion of your earnings back into yourself.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cultivate A Hobby

It is vital you develop interests outside your area of work. There are multiple reasons for this; hobbies expand your horizons and keep you well rounded, help you to grow a healthy personality and not becoming seriously one sided. As a recovery mechanism a hobby aids in alleviating stress. It gives you more than one leg to stand on and helps you to balance your identity. This is particularly important the day you retire or happen to loose your job. Make sure to cultivate a hobby.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Constructive Criticism

In a general atmosphere where learning is the name we give our mistakes it is easier to take criticism without being defensive about it. Always criticize in private and never in front of others, criticize the action not the person, be specific and avoid sweeping generalizations. Provide suggestions on how they can improve and invite the other person to join you in thinking of ways to do it. Be assertive in your criticism in an honest straightforward way, be personal about it and don't bring in other people's opinions into the discussion.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Single Handling

The concept of single handling originates from the time management technique advocated in the eighties; only touch a paper once. It usually takes longer to register, archive and retrieve it again than just dealing with it straight away. Single handling means to pick the most important task at hand and stick with it until it is done. Single handling can significantly improve your productivity if you have not used it before.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pick Your Battles With Care

Not everything that you have a problem with, in business or office life, is worth fighting for. If you argue about everything at every occasion people will start to see you as a troublemaker. Don't let that happen. Pick your battles carefully and focus on the important issues of consequence. When you do, formulate the problem, explain your underlying logic and always propose one or two possible solutions. You don't want to be part of the problem. You want to be part of the solution.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Decent Or World Class?

You are no doubt equipped with many talents and could be useful in multiple different capacities. You could do a decent job most places, couldn't you? There is nothing wrong in doing decent work for decent people, but one performance enhancing career question to ask yourself is: "Where can I perform to distinction?" Among all the things you could be doing, where are you at your best? In what area could you develop to become truly world class?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Never Mind The Small Stuff

There is always the temptation to take care of the small stuff first. "I'll fix this and then I will carry on with my major tasks." The problem with that thinking is that small stuff seem to multiply and can keep you busy all day long. You may never get around to what you are supposed to do. The solution is to identify and prioritize your three most important activities for the day or week. Start with the most important and stay with it until finished, then carry on to the next. The worst use of your time is to do well what need not be done at all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Corporate Triage

Triage was a concept invented by the French during the first world war. It deals with prioritization of the wounded where there is limited supply of medical treatment. It turns out it is best to give treatment to those who would only survive with medical attention first, then move to the group with minor wounds and leave the wounded that would die regardless, in the care of others. It is the same logic in business; there are winners, survivors and losers. Deal with the absolute essential first, then move on to the important, but leave the non-productive efforts to others. Use your limited resources where they count the most.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Power Of Praise

When you learn to give praise, at work or at home, you reinforce behaviors and make them much more likely to be repeated in the future. Results that are recognized get repeated. Always give specific praise and avoid generalizations. Tell why you liked what they did. Praise better than expected results, when a target was exceeded or where an extra effort was made etc. Give praise 'stand alone' and don't dilute it with criticism. Here parents often make mistakes and lose much of its impact. Proper praise is a powerful motivator!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Let Others Be Right

Be generous in your conversation with other people and let them be right. Even when you know they've mixed up the facts you don't need to correct them all the time. A good way to handle such a situation is to bite your tongue and allow them to be "right" and not loose face. If there is a great rule to follow it is this: Never correct someone else in front of others. You can win the argument but lose the person. It may feel good for your ego but the other party may resent you for years for making them look stupid. It is simply not worth it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Passion Provides Power

When you are doing what you love to do you always find the energy you need to carry the task to completion. With passion you get the power to pursue, power to press on and power to persist. Typically you are good at the things you like to do. The key here is to identify the things you are good at and do more of them, do less of the things you are average at and stop doing what you are bad at. When you play it to your strengths passion will provide you with the power to succeed.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Here On Out

Your ultimate destiny is not decided by your past. It is decided by your future. Adopt a "here on out" mentality. Learn from past experiences to inform your future efforts but don't look back and don't dwell on the past. Focus your energy on your most important goals. It is what you do during the coming days that will determine your legacy. Your destiny is not final yet. It will be determined by your priorities and actions "here on out".

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Do It Like The Duck

If you want to be successful it is going to take a lot of hard work and long hours. Keep a relaxed demeanor and a happy smile. Work hard but don't let it show. Keep it your own little secret. Never complain about your workload. In office environments it is popular to moan and complain about how difficult things are. Don't be part of that crowd. Instead say something like "All I have is time and money." Do it like the duck floating along peacefully on the surface, but paddling like crazy underneath if needed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seize The Day

Time is a perishable, scarce and non renewable resource. Time cannot be stored and saved for later use. When it is gone it is gone forever and will never come back. Be disciplined about the use of your time. Don't let it slip around your fingers. Slot your bigger tasks for times during the day when you have high levels of energy and then fill up with smaller tasks around them. Decide on your priorities and go for the first next action. Seize the day! Carpe Diem.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Time To Get Organized

It is said that one minute of planning can save you five minutes in execution. And there are very few activities that yield a 500% return on investment, wouldn't you agree? Planning is one of the absolute best uses of your time. You can never allow yourself to be in such a hurry that that you don't plan your day. It doesn't take long either, only a few minutes at most. So think ahead and get organized starting today.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Business = Satisfying Customers

Your value to the market place is determined by how well you satisfy your customers. It really doesn't matter if you are employed or not, you are in the customer satisfaction business. If you are an employee your boss is your customer, if you are self employed your clients are your customers. You must know where you stand with them. It is not a question of your opinion here but theirs. Always figure out ways to improve your customers satisfaction with your business.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just Say Thank You

When someone gives you advice and say something you already know, don't say; "I knew that already", just say "Thank you!" Emotional intelligence and social skills are not about showing off your knowledge but to show off your gratitude, how much you appreciate the other person and your mutual relationship. Be thankful for their good intention to teach you something useful and valuable. Bite your tongue and just say thank you.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dare To Be Unavailable

Dare to be unavailable at times. Set your own boundaries for how accessible you are going to be. Teach your team to back up for you and for each other. You don't need to respond instantly to e-mails, phone calls or text messages if you set expectations up appropriately. You can describe how you deal with incoming e-mail traffic in your auto response message. On your voice mail you can similarly explain how you respond to phone calls and so on. Most calls are not urgent, and if they are, you tend to know about them already.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Communicate With Stories

Have you found that it is more fun to listen to someone who exemplifies the points they are trying to make? You can use this technique yourself and tell more stories and give examples of what you are talking about. Use examples from your own experience whenever you can. Storytelling and personal examples are great because stories easily slide beneath people's bullshit-indicator. People will listen and more readily believe you when you verify your claims with examples and a good story.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Perception Of Authority

I used to travel in former Eastern Europe and remember how well they responded to authority in places like Romania and Russia. I came to the conclusion that you have authority to the degree by which you act with authority. I recently read about a man who lost a promotion to a less qualified candidate with the argument "You don't walk like a manager". Authority partly comes from position power but largely from perception power. Act the part and fake it till you make it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Marketing Is Lead Generation

Oftentimes the purpose of marketing is neglected or overlooked. Regardless of what you sell (and you are always selling something) the goal of your marketing effort should be lead generation. Are you calling on customers, advertising or using direct or online marketing? Give some thought to your own prospecting and marketing efforts. It is wasted if it is not properly measured and followed up. How could you improve the quality and quantity of your lead generation?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who Is In Control?

Psychologists talk about a concept called locus of control. It can either be internal, meaning you believe that you control yourself and your life, or external, where you believe that your environment or other people control your decisions and your life. People could be divided into those who attribute outcomes to ability (internal locus of control) versus those who attribute outcomes to chance or luck (external). In what group would you belong?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chunking Tasks And Time

Successful people tend to break their time and their tasks into smaller entities than the average person. A worker may break the day down to before and after lunch, a professional into one hour slots and an executive might break their day into five or ten minute periods. Similarly, the more skilled break their tasks down into smaller segments that they can manage quickly without interruption. How can you use the concept of chunking tasks and time to be even more successful?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Develop A Strong Result Orientation

Have you ever felt proud of yourself, after a long day, pushing paper in the office all day, saying to yourself; "Today I got a lot of things done"!? Did you really? If you want to be a great leader you have to be extremely result oriented. Don't confuse activity with results! First establish the objectives. You can't hit a target you can not see. Once you have defined the goal there are always a few key actions to get done in order to reach the goal. With a strong result orientation you will focus on those key actions.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Completely Clear Delegation

When you delegate a task be clear about all the details. When you delegate, you delegate the complete task of what, when, why and how. Describe the job at hand, what it is you want accomplished and provide a deadline for when you want it done by. Instill confidence by telling why you have selected the individual for this particular task. Explain how you define the successful outcome. State what successful completion looks like.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Delicate Water Balance

I once met a former football trainer from the Italian league who told me about the importance of maintaining the water balance in the body and its impact on performance. He said that only a three percent water deficit results in a twenty percent loss in performance. That alone is a good reason for you and I to drink a liter of water extra every day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Work On Your Future Every Day

Every day is an opportunity to work on your future and take steps toward your definition of long term success. Do something every day to get you closer to your future. Keep a long time perspective and focus on next actions to get you there. It is so easy to procrastinate. One definition of procrastination is giving up what you want most for what you want now. Every time you procrastinate you are delaying your future.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Develop Your Alternatives

Think about the different options you have for reaching your desired outcomes. Develop contingency plans. Build flexibility into the implementation of your initiatives. In a negotiation situation the party with the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) usually wins. Without good alternatives you tend to get desperate. You maintain your flexibility by not completely depleting your resources of time, money, ideas and key relationships. Always be developing your alternatives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let Go Of Good

Oftentimes what are holding us back are not disastrous problems but rather our second best alternative. It is the temptation of complacency to settle for less than our potential. You have to let go of what is good in order to get to what is best. You have to stretch yourself outside you comfort zone in order to continue to grow.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Everyone Knows Everything

In this era espionage has taken on a whole new meaning. Governments have taken on themselves to spy on their citizens. They can listen to your phone calls, read all your mails and so on. No more privacy, no more personal integrity. Everything you do on phone or on-line can be traced also by competitors, future employers, bankers, ex-lovers and whomever. Be careful and remember that everyone knows everything, really!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Look At The Bright Side

There is an old Chinese tale about a rich man's son who through a series of unpredicted misfortunes become enormously successful. The moral of the story is that you don't always know what is best for you. What seems like a misfortune can be the best and what seems like a great opportunity can be a big disaster in disguise. So don't judge too soon and try to always look at the bright side of life.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Do You Have An Updated Curriculum Vitae?

Always have an current Curriculum Vitae available. Make sure it is pristine and crisp condition amended with newly acquired capabilities and your latest assignments and achievements. When looking for a new job, the job of a CV is to get you to the interview. The CV can also be useful as a promotional tool and serve as a means of introduction for you. Why don't you spend a little time freshening up your CV and have it ready, just in case?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sharpen Your Axe

Always be working on yourself as an improvement project. Never stop learning. Invest the time and keep upgrading your skills. There is this old story about the Scandinavian lumber jacks cutting down trees in the North American forest. The moral of the story is that the guy that took time from a busy schedule to sharpen his axe managed to cut down more trees in less time than the others toiling all day with dull axes. Make sure to sharpen yours.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You Are A Diplomat

Always be a diplomat for the company you work for. You are a representative for the company to the outside world. Realize there are pros and cons with every organization but make sure you can stand behind your company's core values. Always defend and stand up for them. Diplomacy is said to be the art of getting people to do it your way. Go the extra mile for your company just like you do for your customers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Closed Loop Communication

Make it a habit to close the loop in any communication you are involved in. Always acknowledge you received, understood, read or acted upon what was said. This is particularly important when you are dealing with asynchronous communication such as e-mail or voice tagging on the mobile phone. In the military they understood the value of closed loop communication; "over and out".

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Managing Expectations

One of the keys to success is managing other people's expectations. Make sure you are only communicating expectations you are certain you can meet. Let everyone know what you will achieve and then deliver. It is almost always better to lower expectations upfront and then surpass those expectations later on. This is what a good sales person is doing all the time. It is better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Money Time Trade

When you are young and starting out in your career you trade your time for money. Usually you have plenty of time and no money. As you advance throughout your professional life, typically learning in your twenties, contributing in your thirties and leading in your forties, you tend to end up with more money but less time on your hand. Gradually switch to trading your money back for time when your time becomes much more valuable than the cost of labor to help you out.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What You Can Measure You Can Achieve

Always convert your goals into something tangible you can measure. Hard facts are easy to convert to money, time, distance or weight to mention some of the most common. On the softer issues, like becoming a better listener or "a better person", figure out a good proxy for the skill you are trying to improve. For example; if we would be talking about your capability to listen without arguing back, how would you measure your progress? What you decide to measure you can decide to achieve!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Stack The Odds In Your Favor

I once heard the remark that Tom Hanks is so successful because he only does blockbuster movies. Jokes aside, it is true successful people have the habit of stacking the cards in their favor. They select the best people on their team and decline work from difficult clients where they can't succeed. In general they avoid high risk, low reward situations and do everything they can to stack the odds in their favor. And it is not bad advice for you to play it safe either.
About the Author

Urban Gavelin a native Swede with more than twenty five years of business experience. He has held positions as director of sales- marketing- and business development on Nordic, European and World Wide levels. Urban has lived and worked in Stockholm, London and New York, now works primarily with leadership development and sales training and is a credentialed coach. He has studied Executive Management at Lausanne Business School and Stockholm School of Economics.

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Bottleneck Blog by Urban Gavelin © 2007-2011