5 Reasons Why Business is Always Personal

business is personal For years I believed “business” and “personal” were always separate. It wasn’t until realized that how I was handling my relationships with clients was the exact opposite. More often than not, I found myself wholeheartedly focused and concerned about my customer’s and client’s objectives as my own. Here are 5 reasons why business is always personal.

  1. We are human beings. We are both driven by emotion and logic. Passion, once found and combined with our purpose, becomes the driving force for why we wake up in the morning. Along the way we will connect logical points with our decisions, thus giving us the foundation we require to build relationships.
  2. Engagement is connection. When we engage with each other, we establish a connection. Actively listening to our clients will gain far more distance than any pitch you can come up with. Ever. I’m not sure if it was Zig Ziglar or John Maxwell that said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Regardless, we need to genuinely let it be known that we care. We can dazzle our clients with endless amounts of facts, lingo, fancy words, marketing sparkle, or whatever — but it’s not until they feel/know we actually care about their business objectives as they are our own, that they trust us.
  3. Our work is where we gain our identity. Most of us establish our identities by the work we do. Everything we do carries over into who we are as people. The time. The commitment. The passion. The quality. Everything. We spend most of our time working (hopefully enjoying our work along the way). The second most thing we do is sleep. Well, those of us that are human and not constantly hooked up to a coffee drip.
  4. Relationships are long term. Business to Business (B2B) relationships is simply to branded entities exchanging products and/or services for money. But when it’s all said and done, business is conducted between people, with people, for people. Successful companies focus on establishing rapport with their customers/clients for the long haul. This is usually (or at least should be) done by focusing on customer service.
  5. The bottom line is not the goal. Although during any transaction, there is a goal and an end result. And although at the end of the day (and fiscal period) the bottom line does represent the overall progress and health of an organization, it does define the baseline of success. If your customer’s best interest is not aligned with your own, you’ve either lost perspective or… simply lost. Period. Take a moment to step back and evaluate where you are with each client’s objectives. In the end, it’s about their bottom line… not yours.

How are you currently handling your relationships with your customers and what are you doing to establish long term rapport to help them meet their goals?

5 Tips for Enhancing Team Morale in the Workplace

team morale workplaceIf you are responsible for managing a group of employees, then you should understand how important the concept of teamwork is in the workplace. Not only will it make your job easier, but it will also improve your productivity, your effectiveness as a manager, and your reputation amongst those above you. There are some very simple things you can do to promote positive, cooperative contributions from your employees. Follow these five tips for encouraging team spirit in the workplace:

Establish clearly-defined goals, guidelines, and tasks. If you want your employees to take responsibility for their roles on the team, then you need to make sure they know exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing. Make it a point to clearly describe every aspect of the project at hand, as well as what you expect from each of the team members.

Delegate, rather than micromanage. Part of having team spirit is acting autonomously toward the team’s goal. When you micromanage, you undermine a person’s ability to be autonomous. It is not only dehumanizing, but also a surefire way to suck the enthusiasm right out of the workplace. Delegate responsibilities to your employees, making sure to be very clear about what you need each one to accomplish, and to what standards, and then allow them to find their personal methods for working most constructively. Whenever employees know they are responsible for the outcome of their work, they are less likely to pass the responsibility or the blame on to a coworker and more likely to find ways to work together and support each other.

Provide employees with the tools they need to be successful. Prepare employees for a job well done by providing the education, mentoring, resources, tools and support they need. This makes them feel valuable and boosts morale, which promotes teamwork.

Communicate with the team on a regular basis. Have team meetings as needed so that employees can express to you any questions, concerns, or suggestions they might have, and so that you can provide them with useful feedback and encouragement.

Offer team incentives. Once you establish the guidelines for a new project, offer the team a reward for timely, quality completion. The reward could be a paid lunch out, a company party, or a paycheck bonus. Give employees a few options and let them decide together, as a team, which incentive they prefer.

Decision Modes

decision makingJames Archer of Forty Agency released an excellent example of what takes place during a decision making process. He breaks it down into four different categories. They are:


Fast and Emotional decision making often referred to as Choleric. Spontaneous decision makers like it when they see themselves. When they see something as “quick and easy”, they encourage themselves to act upon and move forward.


Fast and Logical decision making often referred to as Melancholic. Competitive decision makers like to be given credentials and proof. Explaining the uniqueness of the product or service (much like Al Ries and Jack Trout refer to in their book “Positioning”) and showing “The Best” and/or “The Only”, is what attracts this group of decision makers.


Slow and Emotional decision making often referred to as Sanguine. Humanistic decision makers like it when a sensory experience is created for them. They seek a story told based on emotion.


Slow and Logical decision making often referred to as Phlegmatic. The methodical decision makes like the process explained to them, so providing them with details and examples allows them to dig in and decide accordingly.

I’d like to thank James Archer of The Forty Agency for doing the research and providing the content used in this post. If you’d like to read up and learn more about the four personality types listed in this post, I recommend reading “Positive Personality Profiles” by my dear friend Robert A. Rohm Ph.D..

Brain Trust

brain trustWhat is Brain Trust? When do we recognize an empathic trigger for decision making? Is there a thought process that takes place to make this happen? Or do we go with our gut feeling?

To neurophilosophy pioneer, Patricia Churchland, Brain Trust argues that:

“Morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the “neurobiological platform of bonding” that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior.”

I’m going to touch on a couple of areas that I feel to be key points in which allow us to make decisions. All three comparisons are very similar but each unique to their own.

Intuition vs. Intellect

Intuition is defined as the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. This is a feeling in which we will posses for a very short period of time. A period of time that will either make or break the outcome based on our action(s). Most people I’ve discussed this with tend to refer to their “gut feeling” when we discuss this. A feeling. A heartfelt feeling that comes from the inside. Something personal and real. Most who are aligned with this often refer to a divinely guided source; faith based and often a very spiritual “pointer” or “marker” allowing them to come to a conclusion.

Intellect is often defined as the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will: the capacity for knowledge. Now, I can’t say that I completely agree with this, as I’ve always been under the impression that it’s a matter of one’s capacity of knowledge (facts) but not necessarily anything to do with actual wisdom or what’s more commonly referred to as “common sense”. This kind of compares to what I recently posted about my “IF, THEN, and GOTO” philosophy. The use of intellect when making decision

Emotion vs Logic

I think most of us know the bodily feelings we get when emotion kicks in and I’m convinced that it’s the primary force in which guides us. And if not, it needs to be. More often than not, I see people over-think and over-analyze a situation (God know’s I’ve done this… a lot!) and create a very complex (and often busy, inaccurate) decision based on knowledge and noise they’ve gathered over the years. This is often self-sabotaging and damaging to others involved. We’re creatures of the heart and possess a certain amount of morality. I believe this to be something very personal and very natural for all of us and think we need to embrace it more than any other attribute assigned to us.

As far as logic is concerned, I believe this to have one place and one place only: To make a decision based on black and white. If there is something proven in an area that is not influenced by human opinion and has a solid basis, something proven in the area of science, then by all means… use it. Working extensively with technical professionals, and very recently being involved in an intimate relationship with a scientist, I’ve noticed one thing in common. Whether we want to admit or not, we all think we have a profound answer to all situations. Whether it’s something we’ve stored in our own little God-given storage banks or a reference we have access to. We believe we have all the answers and overlook one small detail: Emotion; one thing that has no predictability.

Do you think decision making is a methodological or humanistic approach?

How Is Trust Built?

how trust is built“Trust is a peculiar resource; it is built rather than depleted by use.” ~ Unknown

To build trust, we must use our self-awareness and self-management skills which we’ve acquired over time. Determining the level of trust we need to cultivate depends on the connection which we identify with others. For example, the barista who makes my coffee drink gets a different level of commitment to trust with me that the woman I share my life with. The project manager or resource coordinator of a business account gets a different level of commitment than a field engineer does. Now, none of these holds more or less value, simply some don’t require as much attention as others. It really comes down to focus and priority.

By using social awareness skills, we need to ask others what needs to happen to increase the current level of trust. Being sure to actually listen to the answer. This helps build trust, and overall deepens the relationship.

Here are few key points I’ve found that aid in building trust:

1. Open Communication – The willingness to share ourselves and what is important to us with others often helps establish a common understanding. If done honestly and wholeheartedly, the driving force of positive actions will allow for a foundation to be created, one in which can be used for continued growth.

2. Consistency in Words, Actions, and Behavior – Following through with what we say we are going to do is a huge part of building trust. When we commit to something, regardless of size, it’s still a commitment and must be followed through in order for it to have any value. Whether it be following through with a return phone call, arriving on time for dinner plans, meeting a school/work related deadline, or planning long term family goals. Any of these can “make or break” a friendship/relationship. No matter what size the commitment, no matter what level of importance, what we say to others as to what we’re going to do, it’s up to us to follow through. Otherwise, we can’t be taken seriously. We eventually establish a characteristic with others that we are “true to our word(s)” and display respect and integrity, or allow for ourselves to be seen as one who cannot be trusted, and often at times considered a liar. This is a very difficult place to be in and most often requires a deep look in the mirror. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to repair what we’ve damaged.

3. Avoid Giving Mixed Signals – How we communicate, whether it be via the written word, spoken word– consisting of the tone of voice, and/or body language – determine the level of accuracy which others will perceive us. The signals we send to the people in our relationships are made through proactive conversation and feedback. When we express feelings, we express the truth. More often than not, these expressions are raised to a heightened level through our reactions and body language, regardless of the words we choose. In a world that is saturated by text messaging, which is usually limited to 140 characters or less, our “on the fly” lifestyles that we’ve adapted in the fast paced and fairly disconnected society, it seems that we rarely establish an accurate means of dialogue. I’ve seen some of the world’s best authors and speakers completely misconceived due to a single letter typo, improper punctuation, or quick witted answer.

Something to consider: People will always trust what they see over what they hear. Actions speak louder than words… so focus on following through with everything you commit to. Otherwise, why bother?

Emerging Approaches To Leadership

emerging leadershipAfter beginning a two year research to propose some leadership theories which focus on a particular characteristic of a leader, leaving out the followers and situations from the equation, I’ve been able to break down leadership into the following four categories: Charismatic Leadership, Attribution Leadership, Transactional Leadership, and Transformational Leadership.

Charismatic Leadership

The theory behind Charismatic Leadership emphasizes the ability of a leader to communicate new visions of an organization to its followers and to raise follower awareness of the importance and core value of goals, often getting people to exceed their own interests.

Charismatic Leaders are dominant, able to express their vision, are exceptionally self-confident, have a high need for power, and have a strong conviction in the moral “righteousness” of their beliefs. They strive to project a magnetic personality which emanates success and competence, and they convey high expectation for and confidence in followers. Leader who possess and exhibit these characteristics inspire trust, confidence, affection, admiration, emotional involvement, obedience, and high performance in their followers. The Charismatic Leader often appears under conditions of uncertainty or in times of crisis which are stressful and make more cognitively and emotionally receptive to the ideas and actions of someone perceived as a so-called savior.

Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory deals with trying to make sense out of Cause and Effect Relationships. When an event takes place, people want to attribute it with a specific cause. This theory states that leadership is simply an attribution that people make about other individuals. The fundamental flaw is a bias in the perception process because people tend to attribute the behavior of other people to their own motivation and ability rather that the situation. Research has found that people tend to characterize leaders as having traits such as personality, understanding, intelligence, strong verbal skills, aggressiveness, and often at time display industriousness.

At the organizational level, attribution theory explains why people are prone to attribute either the extremely negative or the extremely positive performance of an organization to its leadership. This theory fails to take in consideration influences or forces from the external environment. Therefore, people have a “built-in” tendency to give too much credit to other people or to place too much blame on them.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional Leadership takes place when leaders and their followers are in some type of exchange relationship which satisfies needs for one or both parties. The exchange can be economic, psychological, or political in nature; and examples might include exchanging money for work, loyalty for consideration, and political favors. Transactional Leaders help organizations reach their current goals and objectives more efficiently by connecting job performance to valued rewards or by ensuring that employees have the needed resources to get the job done. Transactional Leadership is very common but tends to be transitory, in that there may be no lasting purpose to hold parties together once a transaction takes place.

James MacGregor Burns noted that while this type of leadership could be quite effective, it did not result in organizational or even societal change and, instead tended to perpetuate and legitimize the status quo. In conclusion, Transactional Leaders view management as a series of transactions in which they use their legitimate, reward, and coercive powers to give commands and exchange rewards for services rendered.

Transformational Leadership

The Transformational Leadership process is currently the most popular leadership perspective, and it moves way beyond the more “traditional” transactional approach to leadership. Transformational Leadership is related to charisma in that these leaders motivate people to exceed their personal interests for the sake of the larger community. It also produces levels of dependent efforts and performance that go beyond what would occur with a Transactional Leadership approach alone. In addition, Transformational Leadership is much more than just charisma. While the purely charismatic leader may want followers to adopt his or her “world view” and go no further, the Transactional Leader will attempt to instill in followers the ability to question not only the established views but eventually those established by the leader.

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus have defined four skills of leadership, which are required for the Transformational Leader to be successful: First, is a strategic vision or goal that evokes people’s attention. Second, is the ability to successfully communicate that vision through words, manners, or symbolism. The third skill set is to have the capacity to build trust by being consistent, dependable, and persistent. And lastly, the fourth skill required for a Transformational Leader to be successful is the capability of positive self-regard–by striving for success. The use of these four skills builds follower commitment and pumps them up to adopt the leader’s vision as their own. They also perform their jobs better, engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors, and make better or more creative decisions.

To close, Transformational Leadership is closer to the prototype of leadership that people have in mind when the describe their ideal leader and is more likely to provide a role model in which dependents want to identify.

This wraps up an 24 month long journey down the leadership road. One in which I’m very grateful to have traveled and will continue to do so. Thank you to everybody who supported me along the way. If you have any insight or wish to share your experiences – please consider leaving a comment to my closing questions.

Of the four categories of leadership I described above, which one do you feel fits best into your daily life? Is there anything that you disagree with? If so, what is it and why?

Communication Is Key

communication is keySomething I’ve echoed for years is “Problems stem from the lack of or poor communication.”

Sometimes overwhelming emotions or uncertainties can throw us off track when searching for solutions, either large or small. Regardless, they need to be attended to and handled with thorough thought and mature reasoning.

How do you find a medium that works for you; between verbal and non-verbal communication?

A recent speech given by Michael Hyatt at the Liberty University touched on some great elements on how we can communicate more effectively; by dealing with offenses. I think we often forget that offenses are a choice we make and until we understand that, we will continue to inhibit our ability to communicate effectively. And by allowing ourselves to accept the inevitable, we grow as people, for our families, for our friends, and for our communities.

Spoken Words: Know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.

God has given us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. By listening to others, we open ourselves to have a better understand them. Being able to set aside our own need to be heard, and listening to others, allows us to help increase the likelihood to better understand them. Who they are, what their interests are, what the dreams and goals are, and most important–what they have in common with us.

We express ourselves verbally to receive feedback, to be understood and heard. Even those who don’t understand exactly what they are saying often learn to separate the emotion from intellect, thus allowing for effective communication. When it comes to non-verbal communication, adapting or “blending” our body language opens up a whole new level of effectiveness. This supports most communication studies that state body language being the dominating factor in human interaction. Putting our tone of voice in second place and the actual words we say in third. Again, this supports my delay of incorporating written word into my personal life.

Can Storytellers Be Part Of A Domino Project?

domino project azWhen there are people who share a common goal, things happen. Progress happens. Leadership happens. Results happen. Awesome happens.

Each one of us has something different to offer the world. We have the ability to connect with people that share a common goal or dream. When we embrace what is important to us, ideas are shared and stories begin to surface.

The other night, I attended a collaboration event of local writers to the Phoenix area. Inspired by The Domino Project, both Tyler Hurst and Jeff Moriarty organized its focus on writers and storytellers who are looking to do more with their current projects.

There were about 15 of us, each with something to share and discuss with others what we think we need to do, to better ourselves. Most of us seem to be at a stop with our current (projects) because (1) we either feel that our content is lacking or (2) we don’t know how to get to the next step.

After Tyler and Jeff spent a few minutes going over what brought us all together and we answered some questions. We then proceeded to go around, one by one, and describe what each of us could teach others about storytelling, as well as, the things we would you like to learn from it. There was a great mix — from technical writers to creative writers, from screenplay and sketch work writers to humorists and bloggers.

I’ve never considered myself a writer, I probably never will. I’m not sure why but I can say that while growing up and going to school, my least favorite classes and activities were any of those that had a lot of writing. I’m not 100% sure how or why, but I think some of it stems from early communication courses. Both verbal and non-verbal communications are of the essence when it comes to interacting with others. And considering that 15-20% of what we say (in words… by themselves) are effective. While the remaining 80-85% pertains to the tone of voice and body language, I guess I never saw the point in writing.

When it came time to share with others what we were doing and why we were there, I broke my introduction into two parts. The first part was a brief history of how and why I communicate with others while emphasizing on the emotional intelligence and the use of relevant and effective analogies. The second part was a description of my current book series project and the reasoning behind it, which you can find here.

This is how the first part of my introduction was summarized:

Analogies – are seedlings to stories. During some time working in the IT industry, we found that most clients needed to have a good understanding as to what was going on with their network infrastructure, most being medical, legal, or finance professionals – their focus was their industry. Learning about what they did and understanding their lingo, per se, allowed us to use various analogies, which gave us the opportunity to communicate with them effectively and efficiently.

Engagement – connecting with who you communicate. While we experience life as it comes, we learn that through storytelling, we create a connection with our audience. Listeners and readers, leaders and followers, and, speakers and writers; each and not limited to their own way in relating to others. Focusing in on how we connect with others allows for us engage and continues the way we relate.

With the use of analogies, storytellers are able to engage with their audiences. While we are still able to individually recognize and respond to those we are speaking with, we also create something; a bond, a common and distinct connection. Sometimes the fragments of our past, help align us to project our futures. So, by using analogies for the sake of engaging with our audience(s) — keep in mind who you are speaking to and what common objectives are sought.

How do you effectively communicate with others outside your industry?

7 Abilities Of The Indispensable Leader

indispensable leaderAs some of you know, I’ve been reading a lot more than usual. I believe this to be a transformational period for me, one that I’m embracing more and more each and every day. For the past six months or so, I find myself reading 5 or 6 books at a time while listening to one audiobook each week while walking/running to and from the gym. After a long break, I’ve come to appreciate the views of many great authors. Some in which a lot of us have heard of and deserve all the credit they receive… if not more. And then there are the authors that many never hear about for one reason or another.

This takes me to the old saying that “You become the person you will be in five years from the books you read and the people you surround yourself with.” I find it more and more amazing each day how we can grow as servant leaders by seeing the world through other’s eyes. When a worldview is presented in front of us by somebody else, I often feel like it’s a paradigm shift. Of course, reputation and creditability have a huge impact on this, but what if they didn’t? What if we take what we’ve learned up to today and use our own judgment and choose to move forward by what we read and create something remarkable?

Ironically, I’ve recently finished reading Seth Godin’s latest, Linchpin along with re-reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind… back to back.

This has been very good for me, as for I’ve needed to step further into my creative (or lack thereof) side of life and out of my over-analytical logic based left brain. In addition to rewriting my first book and finishing up the outline for my second book, I’ve been racking my brain (or brains so-to-speak) to create something meaningful, something that will help others based on what I’ve learned and allow for it to be absolutely remarkable…even if it’s small.

Seth Godin has expressed 7 attributes which he feels are what indispensable leaders need to possess. I have taken some notes and highlighted them here:

1. The ability to provide a unique interface between the members of the organization.

Your organization is a network. What holds it together and why? Making sure that everybody is there for the right reasons. A mission…the tribe knows where they are going and racking up accomplishments along the way. An indispensable leader help lead while he or she connects with the organization. The organization also needs to include the customers and prospects…providing the bridge from the outside world to the company.

2. Being able to deliver unique creativity.

Creativity is personal, original, unexpected, and useful. It requires domain knowledge and trust. Being able to deliver unique creativity is the most challenging part…not only to help the organization grow as a team but to also allow for us to continue being indispensable.

3. The courage to manage a situation or organization of great complexity.

When situations get complex, there is no manual, or some say “no map.” Indispensable leaders make their own maps and find the way as they continue to focus on the tribes objective(s).

4. Demonstrating the ability to lead customers.

We are living in times where markets are shifting and audiences are spreading out. Consumers are seeking engagement. They are looking for people to follow. The traditional (or 20th century if you will) model of commerce defined a brand and a team of people goes sell it to those who are willing to buy. It’s a very static approach and definitely a one-way transaction. “Here is the latest widget… take it or leave it” and at the end of the day, it’s still a widget. The 21st-century model is very fluid, interactive and decentralized. Meaning, organizations need more than what they’ve been used to. It means that every person that interacts with a consumer, or a business, or even other team members who work from within needs to be focused on marketing as leadership. There is no script, no manual, no map… just the ability to lead.

5. Inspiring staff

A friend and I were having a conversation the other day and some of Newton’s Laws came up. This got me to somehow relate the laws to teams and their efforts. A team at rest tends to stay at rest and forward motion is not the default state of any group of people, especially large groups of people. When there are many levels of management, politics and such all become a factor and then before you know it…everything seems to slow down due to excessive process. If the work environment is that of an industrial platform, a factory or manufacturing facility, then this isn’t much of a problem, as for the owner or foreman controls the department heads, and the department heads oversee his or her shift leaders and so on.

6. Providing domain knowledge.

Combining knowledge with smart decisions and generous contributions can change the way things are done. Strategy and motivation, combined with emotion and confidence allow for the map makers of our society be able to contribute to our organizations in ways that allow for everyone to understand the meaning, the common goal so deeply.

7. Possessing a unique talent.

Leaders need to be able to see things that the follower doesn’t already. Possessing a unique talent/skill allows for a team to collaborate creatively and effectively. When seeds are planted, beautiful things begin to grow. It is up to us to decide how we are going to nurture and manicure it.

I am very interested in your to share your voice on this matter. How do you see these abilities playing a role in your life?

Three Items About Social Technologies

charlene li wbf2010Co-founder of Altimeter Group, Charlene Li, spoke on the first day at the World Business Forum. She passionately expressed the value of social technologies.

“Social technologies are all about the relationships you can form.”

Here are a few items of interest and advice from Charlene Li:

1. What social technologies does better than anything else is create, foster, and build relationships. They enable authentic and transparent relationships.

2. You can’t control personal relationships, so don’t think you can control business relationships. In fact, you have to give up control in the social space, but you have to still be in command. To do this you have to inspire and lead your customers.

3. You simply cannot put a Return On Investment on a tweet. Make sure you’re asking the right questions when thinking about what to measure regarding the value of social technologies.

The one thing that stood out about Charlene was the connection she made with the audience. Her sincerity and passion poured out effortlessly. She focused on the importance of emotional intelligence within communities, both personally and professionally.

How do you use social technologies to enhance your relationships?