Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Had A Dream Last Night

So last night I was drifting in and out of sleep and this dream kept coming back.

I was on a large boat (think cruise ship) in the ocean.  Everything was going fine...until it wasn't.  The ship was suddenly in distress and people start to freak out.  We moved people quickly to the emergency boats, but there was not enough room for everyone.

As the boat started to go down completely, ropes fell from the sky.  I had the opportunity to grab this rope that went up into the sky, but I could not see it's destination.

I looked at the life boats.  I looked at the ropes to the sky.

I am not sure what this says about me, but in my dream, I walked toward the edge of the boat instead...

And decided to swim for it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are You Really Hustling?

I have long said, "If you want something in life, you need to go get it."  In other words, I talked a lot about "hustle."  I talked a lot about it because I love the notion that I am working hard...and I hate the word "busy."  It's the most over-used word in the English language.

Then back in October I had the chance to go to the Business Gets Personal Event that included Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey and Gary Vaynerchuk.  Wow.  It was an eye opener for me!  (You can read more about the event here).  I left that event KNOWING I was leaving a lot of "hustle" on the table.  I could work harder. 

More importantly, I could focus on the real activities that are pro-active and money making (that we sometimes put off) versus the activities that make us feel busy.  I could "hustle" more. 

So I did.  And guess what?  Business has been better ever since!

Today I came across this piece of video content from Gary Vaynerchuk that REALLY hit home with me.  He talks about the Most Important Word Ever.  Guess what that word is?  Check it out here.  It's my favorite piece of content Gary has ever put out.

This reminds me of two things:

1)  When I thought I was "hustling" before, I wasn't really.  There was more I could do.
2)  I think I am "hustling" now.  Hmmm...there is likely more I can STILL do.

So the question you have to ask yourself today is, "Am I hustling?  Or am I just saying it?"  I think it's a question only you can answer.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Give Others Grace To Grow

When I was 16 years old, I was an uber-competitive tennis player.  I would play adults and do ANYTHING to win.  I think back to those days and, sometimes, wince at my behavior.  Although I am still very competitive (ask around), I like to think I have evolved since those days.

The challenge I ran into, when I moved back to my hometown, is that those adults saw me as the same person.  So when I brought up playing tennis, there was hesitation in the response.  They did not want to play with THAT guy.  But it was hard to convince them that I had changed.  I had grown up.

And it occurs to me, we don’t always allow others to grow and change.  We see the mistakes of the past as the sins of their future.  We assume they are the same. 

I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with someone from my past.  I wasn’t crazy about this person back then, so I was reticent about spending the time.  But after thinking about it I realized that maybe I wasn’t all that great back then either.  Maybe that person had evolved.  Maybe we both had. 

I was glad I did.

So give people the grace to assume they have grown.  You might be surprised…you might have grown too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Leadership Quest

I am extremely excited to welcome guest blogger Bill Petrie (from Brandivate) to my blog!  Today Bill shares his years of wisdom on Leadership and 6 traits we can all embrace to become a better leader.  Take it away Bill!

There have been countless articles about what makes a good leader and experts from Henry Ford to Richard Branson and everyone in between have weighed in on the topic. So when Kirby asked me to write on this subject, my initial thought was “what in the world could I say that hasn’t already been said?” 

To get my mind in a creative place, I surrounded myself in silence and allowed my thoughts to wander: I thought about effective historical leaders and their personality traits, reminisced about impressive bosses I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and mused about sports heroes who led their teams to victory despite overwhelming odds. While it was a great exercise, it didn’t result in any conclusion other than that there are a myriad of traits that effective leaders possess.

With that in mind, I decided to shy away from listing the attributes that that famous leaders have displayed throughout time. Instead, I thought it better list a few key qualities that I not only admire in leaders, but aspire to myself:

1.     Listen – This is a fairly obvious quality for a leader, but a difficult one to master. Too many times we appear to be listening while we are really formulating our response. Take steps to ensure you are listening with the intent to understand rather than with the intent to reply.
2.     Get Uncomfortable – Ask your associates for honest feedback – and mean it. When you put yourself in a position to be exposed, you become a real person to your subordinates. This vulnerability gives you the opportunity to connect on a human-to-human level from a position of confidence. Weak people don’t ask for or want candid feedback.
3.     Care – Take time every day to see your team members as real people. Ask sincere questions about their family, their passions, and their personal goals – and look them in the eye when they answer. Your associates have lives outside of the work they do on behalf of your passion – express a personal interest in the people they are beyond that work.
4.     Embrace the Oops – Grant your team the security to make mistakes and learn from them. By allowing your team members to make the occasional blunder and, more importantly, learn from them, you both empower and develop them.
5.     Be Slow to Solve for People – When team members invariably ask you how to handle an issue, situation, or business matter, resist the urge to tell them how you would do it. Instead, ask them how THEY would handle it. It not only provides you with some great insight to how your team members problem solve, it creates a true culture of collaboration where people feel valued.
6.     Protect the Culture – There are many job functions that can be taught: processes, procedures, systems, forms, etc. However, no matter effect the teacher, attitude cannot be learned. Show your team that you will preserve your culture by bringing in the right people, not just the right skills.

Obviously there are endless attributes exhibited by effective leaders so this list is not exactly exhaustive. The five points do, however, are great reminders as business owners and leaders continue to press their organizations forward.

One final thought – don’t confuse management with leadership. Management is focused on tasks. Leadership is focused on people. And people should always trump tasks.

Bill Petrie has been a LEADER in the promotional industry for over 15 years.   He is the CEO and Founder of Brandivate, a company designed to help YOUR company stand out in a crowded market place.  You can learn more about Brandivate here.  

You can connect with Bill via:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

If It Ain't Broke

I had a conversation with someone the other day that was complaining about her lack of sleep.  She was not as productive as she wanted to be because she just couldn’t get the proper amount of rest.  I am a big believer in the power of sleep so I tried to dig in and help.

But it didn’t seem like she wanted help.  Every suggestion I made was “wrong.”

Drink some milk before bed…nope.

Read a book…don’t like to read.

Don’t take your phone to bed…don’t be silly.

And this went on until I said, “So you don’t WANT to sleep then.”  She of course protested.  My guess is we have all had this scenario play out.  We have a friend or family member that wants to complain about a situation, but they don’t want to do anything to actually fix it.

This is victim thinking and it drives me crazy.  If you really DO have a problem you want to solve, you will need to try something new.  The old way is not working.  It’s broken.  So when you immediately eliminate every suggestion, you eliminate the desire for others to help you. 

At that point you don’t want a solution…you want to complain. I guess there is a place for that, but I am not interested.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I am a Fan of Happy

In today’s culture, I think we tend to define ourselves (too much) on groups we are for or against.  We say we are “republican or democrat.”  We are “anti-big company or pro-commerce.”  We are solidly for or against social issues.  We are black and white.

I struggle with these labels.  I struggle with them because each of us is looking at the world through our own (very unique) set of lenses.  These labels are incomplete.  They mean different things to different people.

So I have come up with my own defining standard.  I am a fan of Happy.

I want my friends, family, team and customers to be happy…whatever that looks like to them.

And that’s the caveat in this philosophy…whatever that looks like TO THEM.  I don’t get to decide for them.  They do.  You get to decide for you.

So go create the life that makes you fulfilled and happy.  I am a fan of that.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Getting Knocked Down

There are very few guarantees in life.  But one thing that is sure to happen…you will get knocked down.

The fact of the matter, if you are going to try and achieve anything in life (especially anything cool) you will have your share of obstacles.  There will be failures.  There will be people telling you that you can’t do it.  You will have moments you question the journey yourself.

But the true test of a person, a team or an organization is how they respond when the resistance shows up. 

My advice...treat the obstacles as proof that you are on the right track.  Understand that these are defining moments.  Take a breath and consider why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.

And get back up.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

When Things Are Rolling

“Sometimes you are the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.” 

Sometimes when you are on a challenging journey, you will work and toil with (what feels like) very little result.  But if you keep at it, day by day, you will find that you make progress…over time.

Then one day (if you keep at it long enough) it will bust loose!

You will see that the results start to come “easy.”  They come “all of a sudden!”  In reality they have been building over hours, and days and weeks and months of work.  And now they are all coming at once!  It is awesome!

It's time for "the harvest."  

The natural thing to do is to focus strictly on the harvest.  You become an order taker as the opportunities roll in.  This can also feel like the time to "relax."   This is when people will tell you to take a vacation or a day off.  Maybe.

But I say when you are on a roll…keep rolling!  Keep hustling.  The harder days will be back before you know it.  You will be glad you made the most of the roll downhill.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Be On Time

Everyone wants to be respected.  Your customers, employees, family and friends all want to know you respect them.  There are a million ways to show that respect.  Want the easiest way to start?  Be on time. 

Whether it is a special assignment, a meeting, a project, or a tennis date, the easiest way to show that you respect the other people in the room is to show up on time.  It’s also the easiest way to show you don’t.

Of course there will be times you are late.  No one is perfect.  But when you ARE late, apologize.  Be sincere. 

Oh and next time…be on time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thinking For Yourself

There is no shortage of quotes that I love from Mark Twain (an original thinker), but one of my favorites is:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

This goes against so much that we are brought up to believe.  We work hard all through school to fit in.  We want to be included.  We want to be invited.  We want to be liked.  It's natural, and in many cases, it's good. 

The danger, I think, is when we rely on others to help us form our opinions.  I see a problem when we like TV shows just because others do, or go shopping because others do (see Black Friday), or buy products because others do.  It’s a followers mentality…and it’s lazy.

The irony is, most people tell you to think for yourself, but they don’t mean it.  They say it because they think they are supposed too.  Folks want you to speak up, as long as they agree with what you have to say. 

But here’s the thing…as the economy and culture changes, nothing will become more valuable than those with original thought.  The scarcity of the original thought is what gives it value.  There are not enough people who are willing to think on their own.   

There are even fewer willing to act on it.

Don’t be discouraged by this.  Be encouraged. Thinking (and acting) for yourself you will make you very rare…and valuable!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Be Better Than Yesterday

I don’t know about you, but there are days that I wake up and I am not pleased with my effort from the day before.  I wake up thinking, “Wow!  You really blew that one.”  And it’s easy to get dragged down by that thinking.  It’s easy to allow it to ruin your effort (or at least color your attitude) for the rest of today.

Don’t let it.

Just be better today.  Spend your emotional and physical effort today working on making today better.  Make your effort better.  Make your intentions better.  Make yourself better.

Now do it again tomorrow.