2, 4, 6, 8; Time To Recalibrate!

leadership planThe other day I received an e-mail notification that my domain name for this blog is up for renewal. This triggered me to go back and review my blog postings and perform a quick personal inventory. While I was reading over each of my previous posts, it reminded me why I began blogging and what my short and long-term goals were. Being completely honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and what the future had in store. Here is a short list of phases and their descriptions I encountered along the way:

  1. Establish the basics and define the overall navigation around WordPress and find ways to define core values, identity, and overall content.
  2. Create an identity for the blogosphere to answer the following question: “Who is Geoff Snyder?“
  3. Learn about theme layouts, plugins, basic SEO, linking, and VERY basic HTML and PHP coding.
  4. Understand proper social media etiquette and sincere engagement, while also learning how to automate.
  5. Discover the importance of RSS feeds and their subscribers.

Staying true to the core values and beliefs while collaborating with other like-minded individuals.
Research, read, discuss, read some more, collaborate, and most importantly…stay proactive!
Now that I think I have the swing of things and have been lurking around the blogosphere, I’ve decided to add some personality…make this something personal, find ways to materialize what I’ve gathered into something meaningful, opposed to writing robotic “content friendly” posts simply to appease the search engines’ crawlers.

With that said, I must express my deep, sincere gratitude for the wonderful people I’ve encountered along the way. The level of friendly engagement has made me realize the power of blogging, the world of social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc…), and how social networking has the ability to bring together so many people that we never knew existed. The level of synergy that is available to us is extremely powerful. With the tools of a laptop, an internet connection, the motivation to seek like-minded people, as well as the passion to help others achieve their goals, I am convinced that there is absolutely nothing that cannot be achieved.

Now, I know that the last sentence of the previous paragraph may have some overtones of the cliche our parents told us for all those years: “You can do anything that you put your mind to.” Well, it’s true and the efforts and their results far outweigh the consequences of living in fear or sustaining a lack of confidence. I know, I’ve been there a few times throughout my short life and I am so thankful for those who’ve been there to help pick me back up and support me during those dark times.

I’m going to go ahead and wrap this post up with a couple words: Dream Big.

Call me “Juno” if you will, call me a post-modernist, or call me some new age yuppie type…but we’re in the 21st century and the rules have changed. Globally, as Robert Dickie recently tweeted: “We did not just go through a “recession” we went through a “reset.” This is important to understand. Many of the rules have changed.” It’s time to throw away the status-quo and begin leading from within. It will allow for a reflection so bright that it will glow amongst all of those close to you and those you’re about to meet along the way.

I’d like to thank Tom Schulte for the inspiration of the title and thought of this blog post. Thank you, Tom.

Learning From Your Customers

customer service custserv“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

The genius of Bill Gates lies not so much in his ability to create new technology–after all, he bought, not invented the programming language of BASIC, which begat DOS, which begat Windows. Rather, his genius is his sales and marketing skills. By closing the deal and getting his newborn operating system inside an IBM computer in 1980, he beat out the competing operating systems that were vying for the same honor, and he positioned Microsoft to become the software technology leader of the world.

Bill Gates has also been concerned about listening to the customer and learning about the customer’s needs. When something doesn’t work for the customer, Microsoft marshals the brainpower of thousands of programmers to fix it. (Granted, they don’t always get it right the first time, but they keep trying until they do and send out millions of patches in the meantime.)

Picking the brains of your unhappy customers–hopefully, not angry–customers can be the most potent tool you have for improving your own products and sales. Knowing how to gather that information, how to manage it, and how to use it is your mission. If you’re not learning from your customers now, start tomorrow. Their input is invaluable.

How do you exercise being proactive with your customers to better your skill-set?

Bringing Excellence To Maturity

excellence and maturity Many of us have bought into the fantasy of becoming an overnight success. We want it all to happen now.

Bringing Excellence to MaturitySometimes, your head is bursting with ideas, yet your career track isn’t keeping pace with your perception of your talents. You may be past the initial entry-level point, yet you still have a supervisor or a manager above you whose job you covet because you know you could do it better.

Take a moment to see your position from your manager’s view and look closely at its importance.

Slow down. Give yourself time to learn everything you can in this period. Realize this is a golden opportunity to make money and learn your trade. For hundreds of years, apprenticeships have been a time-honored tradition. Indeed, Publilius Syrus, an Assyrian slave in Italy in the first century BC, served an apprenticeship of sorts with a master who educated him and became his mentor. Publilius’s wit and talent were so remarkable that his master freed him. He became a writer of maxims like the one here.

Maybe you feel like a slave yourself on some days, groaning, “This career track is taking too long!” But when you start thinking like that, change your focus. Look at the larger picture and realize where you are now and what it’s going to take to get where you want to me. You’re not likely to become president of the company overnight.

“It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity.” – Publilius Syrus

If you want to be the best at your job, you need to mature in it. Excellence only comes with time.

This is a great time to write down some objectives. Both individually and team-oriented. How is what you are doing today, helping you help others you work closely with on a daily basis?

Search Others For Their Virtues, Thyself For Thy Vices

ben franklin keyAs a manager, it’s easy to pigeonhole your employees. You’ve seen them all in action–the leaders, the workers, the slackers, the confused, the wannabes, and the nobodies. People will eventually play into stereotypes that you’ve created. Constantly reminding people of their bad habits and crowing about how you might as well do it yourself isn’t very effective either.

“Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.” – Benjamin Franklin

One of the main reasons people change jobs hasn’t changed since the time of old Benjamin Franklin. People often leave good employment opportunities simply because they don’t like their immediate supervisor. Since turnover is costly and unproductive, rethinking your expectations as well as how you interact with your employees might benefit everybody.

Take a moment and step outside of your spotlight. How does your team see you and how does it help your organization?

Start by considering each of your employees as a unique person with the potential to become great at his or her job. If you let them know that you are expecting greatness, it might actually happen. Another way in getting the most out of your team is to assure them that you are on their side. If you empathize with your team, you’ll develop a relationship of trust and understanding with them. When weakness rears its ugly head, your team will seek your counsel and try to work with you in order to get better, because they are seeking your approval. Who knows? They just might do it!

How are you currently building trust within your organization?

What Bad Habits?

bad habitsHow often have you heard someone criticize another when you know that they have the same bad habits themselves? As a team leader, it’s best to foster an atmosphere that isn’t judgmental. I think it was John C. Maxwell that summed it up when he said: “Most people’s natural inclination is to judge themselves according to their best qualities while they measure others by their worst.”

For example, just because someone is late all the time doesn’t mean you have to talk about it endlessly when he or she isn’t around, or even when that person is around. If a team member gets into a habit of being late for meetings, business outings, and/or conferences…after the second or third time you should address it directly with that person. The team shouldn’t waste time and build negative energy by complaining about it before the person gets there, or even later in a smaller group. Make it clear to the person when he or she finally arrives that they’re late and that being late is unacceptable. The offender should be put on notice that if the poor behavior continues there will be consequences for being late.

Don’t let meetings devolve into a place where people sit around and talk about others viciously. Unfortunately, it’s a part of human nature to try and pump oneself up by bringing someone else down. But this personality trait isn’t attractive at home or at the office. It’s your job as a team leader to squash this behavior before it grows out of control.

What kind of things do you do, to help tame the “bad habit beasts?”

Stacking The Team

stacking the team All of us can look back and think of times when we appreciated the one person on the team who just got the job done. When the company car broke down, he was the one who took control. When the projected numbers weren’t making sense, the go-to guy picked up the phone and got the clarification from the finance department.

Find these people and stack your team with them. Then when you ask them to go the extra mile, you won’t have to worry about the task getting complete. Better yet, you won’t have to do it yourself because you’ll know it will be taken care of.

When you are fortunate enough to have the get-it-done people on your team, let them do what they do best. Don’t request that they work on a report about a certain thing is used, and then right before they finish, tell them what the found. People with a track record of making things happen despise doing double work. They want to find out the answers for themselves.

Let these team players act as role models for other people who insist on jumping through hoops before they take on a task. Sooner or later, they will eventually learn: it’s best just to dive right in!

The Entrepreneurial Rift

entrepreneurial riftEntrepreneurs throughout the world are looking for the missing link in an industry, a rift so to speak, as marketing guru Seth Godin describes it, an opening waiting to be filled. Successful new businesses often fill a need that no one else knew even existed.

Many times new rifts open as industries progress. Take the television, for example. The Digital Age forced analog televisions owners to purchase a converter in order to tune in to the digital television world. Hands-free headset manufacturers made a fortune once lawmakers made it illegal to drive and talk on their cell phones at the same time.

Where do you think the next rift will be? Seth Godin has come to the conclusion that “Most people who build important businesses build them on a rift, usually one that they find by accident, and usually only once.” Today’s marketers are looking for the rifts where businesses can address the aging baby boomer.

Seth Godin has filled a rift, partly as the author of several bestselling marketing books. He has fully embraced the computer age, writing a popular marketing blog and founding a “recommendation” website. Although someone else will come along and replace Godin’s ideas as fast as you can hit Ctrl/Alt/Delete, his early entry into the Web community brought marketing into a contemporary world.

Seth Godin became remarkable by taking a clear look at the age of technology and assessing exactly what was going on. Then he was able to make sweeping statements about how businesses had to think about this new world, not only to succeed but to stand out. Godin was a small business owner who has churned out books that have made him a big success. Try adding these concepts into your entrepreneurial mix:

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit– Godin promotes the theory that there is a dip in the road that is either the entrance to superstardom or the signal you are hitting a dead end.

Small Is the New Big– Godin discusses the backlash against bigness after several pivotal events, including the Enron debacle. He talks about how “small” can move faster than “big” and how that can mean the difference between success or not.

All Marketers Are Liars– Godin gives countless examples of marketing people “stretching the truth.” But he makes one thing clear: “Your story won’t spread (which is the whole principle of marketing) if the facts don’t back it up.”

Survival Is Not Enough– Successful entrepreneurs embrace change… and change is only happening faster with the Information Age.

I’m really interested in your feedback and comments. If you have anything you’d like to add or express, please comment below.

John Robert Wooden — October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010

coach john woodenJohn Wooden was the greatest college basketball coach in history. The record winning streak of the UCLA Bruins of 88 games, including 10 NCAA titles, gave John, the “Wizard of Westwood” plenty of statistical and practical evidence that the players who start the game are not a big factor in who’s going to win. What counts is staying in the game, playing at full capacity, and doing your best.

Do what you do best and stay persistent!

And so it translates into the game of business. Let’s say you don’t launch a new product or discover a new sales technique before the competition—it doesn’t mean you’re going to lose. Don’t let somebody else’s innovation inhibit you! Remember that your ability has gotten you where you are today. Concentrate on what you do, and don’t slow down because you didn’t get to market first.

Knowing when other’s can help pave the way, take note of their mistakes and learn from them.

Take advantage of being second. Capitalize on the lessons learned from your competition and use the valuable knowledge to make your product or service better. Heck, think about Apple’s success. They didn’t even the MP3 player; they simply created one that a community fell in love with. Focus on continuing to deliver excellence, and you will not only gain from the experience, but it’s entirely possible you’ll win the market.

Intellectual Capital

intellectual capital Warren Bennis, the founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, believes that organizations don’t realize that they possess a vast source of untapped knowledge, what he refers to as “intellectual capital”. If even a fraction of the organization’s employees contributed their knowledge to creating solutions and/or growth potential, an organization’s overall results would skyrocket! Unfortunately, with the current overwhelming lack of employee engagement, studies are showing that employees are frequently griping that nobody listens to them.

To increase growth and employee engagement, take a hard, long look at the way managers are handling employee input. With today’s world being technology driven, “knowledge workers” need to be retained and challenged. When you continuously marginalize creative thinking within an organization, morale suffers greatly. Even the most highly motivated employees will eventually stop sharing their ideas. This then leads to a turnover and a host of other avoidable problems.

A good leader should acknowledge the contributions of the team on a routine basis, because as Warren Bennis said, “Leadership is the key to realizing the full potential of intellectual capital.” Get creative with recognition and it won’t be long before you will be swimming in intellectual capital.

How do you add value to your organization?

Nobody’s Perfect

nobody perfectNobody is perfect. Every person whether they are a manager or leader puts a foot in his mouth once in a while. When it happens more than once, a least once in the memory of the team, respect is quickly lost, and the leader begins paving his own road to ruin.

I’ve found this to be able to happen quickly when a manager gets to comfortable. maybe you want to talk about a movie you just saw or regale a colleague with a funny vacation story–everyday conversation shows your human side. That’s all well and good until you slip into discussing a risky topic like the attractiveness of a particular celebrity or his/her shenanigans at the city’s latest hot spot. Now the conversation includes potentially offensive material, the kind sure to be repeated by those listening or others within earshot. Soon you develop a reputation you don’t want.

Don’t use tact solely when you deal with people directly affiliated with your business. Show discretion during all professional conversations. Give the choice to berate an employee for a big mistake or build him back up now that the mistake is old news, you may well feel it’s within his job description to punish as a means toward correction. By taking frustrations out on team members you will undoubtedly reduce or eliminate any confidence that you’ve already worked hard at establishing.