Archives for June 2008

How to get better results – encourage them!

“People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be – not what you nag them to be.”

– S.N. Parker

Do you manage people who are unmotivated?

When I ask this question during a training session, most managers raise their hands to signal “Yes.”

Unfortunately, there is no such person. Every person is motivated – by something. The problem (as most managers see it) is that other people may not be motivated by the same thing that motivates you.

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” – Stephen R. Covey

We only have the power to motivate one person – ourselves.

But we can can create a motivating environment – that is, we can build a nice big fire on a cold night – that encourages people to want to produce better result. Or to move closer to the fire so that they can stay warm!

“We must motivate ourselves to do our very best, and by our example lead others to do their best as well.” – Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A

We can encourage other to produce better results by:

  • Modeling the behavior that we want to see – setting an example for our staff to see.
  • Encouraging the behavior that we want to see more of – recognizing and appreciating our staff when we observe them performing their job the way that we expect them to.

It’s that simple. It works. Try it and see for yourself.

But remember – it starts with you. Motivate yourself to do your very best. Don’t be surprised when people wnat to be around you – and to join you by doing the very best that they can.


Words of recognition pay big dividends

“Good words are worth much, and cost little.” – George Herbert

Recognize the behavior that you want to see more of – and you will get it! Behavior reinforced is behavior repeated!

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? It also seems like it should be easy to implement.

It is.

But most of us don’t do it – enough.

Why not? 

Words come easy. Effective use of our words requires thought and effort. And… a plan.

Words of recognition, appreciation and encouragement pay big dividends. People want to do their best work. However, many managers don’t help their team members to do the best that they are capable of delivering.

It is easy to criticize. It takes time, effort and a plan to offer effective, constructive feedback. Here are the three key elements of that plan:

  1. To be effective, recognition must be timely. Offer your words of encouragement and appreciation as soon as your witness the action  or become aware of it.
  2. To be effective, praise must be specific. Saying, “Good job, Joe!” is not enough. Those are empty words. What job did Joe do? What, specifically, made it a good job? What specific level of “good” did Joe deliver? Try this: “Joe, thank you for delivering your monthly report ahead of schedule. I appreciate the effort that you put into clarifying your department’s action plan for the month.” It took more thought to say it this way. It required you to put more effort into it. But… I guarantee you that “Joe” will put even more effort into his work. He will appreciate your effort to recognize his efforts!
  3. It must be tied into your organization’s overal goals and objectives. Tell “Joe” why his good work matters. Connect the dots for “Joe” and the rest of your team.

Remember these words:

“Everyone wants to be appreciated.So if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.” – Mary Kay Ash

I, too, like to receive feedback on the articles that I post. Please take a few minutes to give me feedback. Tell me what you like – and why. What you don’t like – and why not? And help me to produce more of what you want to read about.

Follow the simple plan that I outlined here. It works! I guarantee it.


What lessons have I learned?

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK, If you’re not failing you are not growing.”

– H. Stanley Judd

Yesterday, I was writing notes to and following up with the contacts I made at the Summer NAMM Show in Nashville, TN. I also conducted a “post mortem” meeting – a lessons learned meeting – on the past week.

This is a very valuable meeting to hold at the conclusion of any project – and attending a convention is a project. Ask yourself – and the other people involved in the project:

  • What worked well? And why did it work so well?
  • What did not work out so well? And why didn’t it work out?
  • What can we learn from this?
  • How can we improve our performance the next time – knowing what we now know?

We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our success.

“Failure is success if you learn from it.” – Malcom S. Forbes

In the course of reviewing my performance at the convention, I was able to identify several areas for improvement. I tried my best to be candid in assessing each interaction that I had. There were many positives but I also identified several areas for improvement.

The one area that I had identified after an earlier convention, I am already working towards improving. I am diligently writing notes to follow-up on each conversation that I had at the convention.

So, please excuse me for now. I must complete this task. I am taking advantage of this opportunity to improve my performance.

Do you conduct “post mortem” meetings at the conclusion of your projects? If you do, please take this opportunity to share your thoughts on the process with our readers.

Thank you!



A day to follow-up after a convention

Good Morning!

I am investing time today to complete all of my follow-up messages. Last week I was at the Summer NAMM Show in Nashville, TN. A major trade show. I returned with a envelope filled with business cards and scraps of paper with scribbled notes.

Today, I am committed to entering each new contact into my database. I will also write notes to follow up on each conversation or lead. Finally, I will review all of my notes and handouts and properly file them for future reference or action.

I have “marked myself out” of the office for today. It is really a good idea – extend your convention by one extra day. Devote that time to decompress and to debrief what just took place.

When you consider all of the time, money and resources that you put into planning for and attending a major business event, this make a lot of sense.

What good is the convention unless you actually follow up on the opportunities that you created during the show?

What are your thoughts on this topic? Please take a few minutes to share your comments below.

I’ll post some further thoughts on this tomorrow morning.

Tim Russert – A passion for life!

“Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise.”

– Harvey Mackay

Tim Russert did all of that and more – a lot more… He delivered much more than he promised.

The diagnosis that the cause of his death was from an enlarged heart is certainly appropriate.

Mr. Russert’s passing has hit me hard. I am a “political junkie” and it will be difficult to get through the presidential election campaign without his guidance and insight. Above all, we will miss his never-ending (it seemed) enthusiasm for the political process.

The New York Times’ obituaryfor Mr. Russert includes this vignette:

“Mr. Hunt, of Bloomberg News, said that in one of the last of their nearly weekly conversations, early this month, he and Mr. Russert relished the opportunity to cover this year’s presidential campaign. As his old friend recalled through tears Friday, Mr. Russert marveled, ‘Can you believe we get paid for this year?'”

“Do what you love; love what you do and deliver more than you promise.” – Harvey Mackay

What a great outlook on life and work and family.

There have been so many wonderful tributes to Mr. Russert. He influenced so many people. He was always “there” for them at important points in their lives – and our lives. He was a guiding force. He was always “present” … and now he is gone.

It is rare indeed to witness someone who truly loves every minute of life. Mr. Russert did. He always lit up a room or a television studio. He elevated the conversation. He raised all of us up – to a higher standard. He was truly a “force of nature.”

I will miss him. I will miss his passion, his energy, his professionalism. I will remember the words of encouragement that he offered his colleagues, “Go get’em pal!”


A few words of wisdom

Recently, I have been giving a lot of thought to two quotations:

“To acquire knowledge one must study; but to acquire wisdom one must observe.”

– Marilyn vos Savant


“The reward for always listening when you’d rather be talking is wisdom.”

– Anonymous

In my experience, the wisest men and women that I have know always spent more time listening and observing. When they did speak… it was usually to ask a question … and they always listened to the response – completely.

They listened – not just to the words. They listened for one reason – to understand. And when they did not quite understand – they asked another question. And repeated this process until they did understand – completely.

When they asked me those questions – one after the other – I finally reached a level of understanding. I learned a lot more –  about myself. A lot more than I ever learned from a book or a class.

The greatest lesson I ever learned was to learn how to listen. I admit that I have yet to master this lesson. It requires time and dedication to do so. It requires discipline. It requires self-confidence.

Learning to listen requires me to ask questions about myself and my beliefs. And.. it requires me to listen to my responses. It requires me to observe my actions.

It pays off!

 It’s a wise course to pursue.


Greetings from Mexico

Greetings from beautiful Mexico!

I am down here training a client for a few days. Right now, I am enjoying a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean from my hotel room. I’ll be back posting tomorrow.

Hasta la Vista!

Don't tell me what you can't do

“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do!”

– John Wooden

“No!” “We can’t do that.” “Our policy says…” “You must…” “You will have to…” “Sorry…”

You just told me what you can not do. What you will not do. What you don’t feel like doing.

You also told me what I must do. What I will have to do.

No I don’t!

I resent it when someone tells me that I must do something. I suspect that you feel the same way.

“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do!” – John Wooden

Rather than saying, “We can’t do that,” try saying, “Let’s see what we can do to make this happen.”

Don’t tell your customers, “You will have to fill out this form.” Tell them, “Let’s get started! I’ll need to gather some information first, so tell me…”

Never. I repeat, Never, hide behind your company policy. The customer doesn’t care about your policy!

And … unfortunately, the people who write company policy frequently do not care about the customer.

“Customer service people give excuses about why they didn’t and why they can’t (stuff about them) instead of what will be done about it, and how to solve the problem (stuff about the customer).

When serving, the secret is “think other guy” first.” –  Jeffrey Gitomer (Customer Satisfaction is Worthless. Customer Loyalty is Priceless)

Think about this for a minute. No, actually think about your customer for a minute.

Think about what you can do for your customer. Remember why you are in business…

Because your customer has a problem. And you provide a product or service that solves that problem. You are in business because your customer wants something. And your product or service satisfies their wants and needs.

If customers didn’t have problems there would be no need for your product or service. You are in business because customers have problems. Invite them to share their problems with you. That is your business – you solve your customer’s problems. And they will pay you to do so!

Think about what you can do. Emphasize what you will do. Don’t hide behind the “doo-doo” that is your company policy.

Here is a link to a related article on customer service: “Empathy – Serve it to your customers”

Do you have a favorite customer service story? Please share it with our readers.



Is it Live Music? Or is it Digitally Enhanced?

“Is it live? Or is it Memorex?”

Do you remember those “iconic” commercials from the early 70’s with Ella Fitzgerald? We would witness Ella’s “live” performance being recorded on to a Memorex cassette. When she hit a high note her voice actually shattered a Champagne flute. And then we would hear the playback from the cassette tape and – “miracle of miracles” – another glass would shatter!

With Memorex tapes there would be no loss in audio quality. Transfer your music from one physical medium – the vinyl LP record – to another physical medium – the Memorex audio tape. You would minimize audio degradation – the more you played your LP record the greater the loss in fidelity. And … you would minimize the “generational loss” from transferring the sound source from one medium to another.

Not to mention portability and accessibility – you could now listen to your Memorex cassettes in your car or in a portable audio player. And… the sound quality would be so good. “Is it Live? Or is it Memorex?”

I was reminded of these commercials when I read Pogue’s Posts: “Are Digital Orchestras a Sign of the Times?”in the NY Times. David Pogue is a terrific writer and this is a thoughtful article. This particular posting has received over 75 comments from readers so far. Click here to read the full article and comments from readers.

Are live musicians actually playing tonight? Or am I listening to a digital recording of a live musician? Often, it is nearly impossible to tell. Can you?

Let the debate rage on. And… at least on the NY Times website it is quite lively in response to David Pogue’s article.

Did audio cassettes cause the demise of the vinyl LP record? No. Did it help to change our listening habit? Definitely!

We can argue in a similar vein about how the Compact Disc changed both the music industry and our listening habits. Then on to how digital downloading music (both legally and illegally) have altered the sound-scape in our lives.

Do you prefer to listen to music at home or to attend a live performance? If you are like me, I enjoy both – each for different reasons.

Do you prefer having a DJ program the music at your event or do you engage a live band? That is your choice. There are pros and cons to accompany each decision. Take your pick.

As technology evolves so do we. Albeit, some more relutantly than others. Technology does not replace human effort. Technology enables humans to have more options. Technology allows us to develop that wich makes us human – the ability to make choices. Both rational and emotional. The choice is yours.

What are your thoughts on this topic. I invite you to take a few minutes to share your opinion in the space below.

How to supercharge your career in 17 minutes

“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.”

– Eric Hoffer

Tom Peters has an interesting post on his blog -“Get To (Serious!!) Work … On Your Presentation Skills!”

He points out how one Seventeen Minute speech in 2004 catapulted Sen. Barack Obama’s career. Sen.. Obama delivered the Keynote Speech at the 2004 Democratic National attention and he “caught fire.”  He went from a virtually unknown young politician to becoming the presumptive Presidential nominee of his party in less than 4 years!

Fueled by his 17 minute speech!

In 1988 another relatively unknown politician first caught our eye when he delivered a (very long) nominating speech for Gov. Michael Dukakis. That was our first national notice of (then) Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas.

Yes, it is time to “Get Serious – really serious – about working on your presentation skills.” To quote from the Tom Peters article:

“Fact, in “our” more modest worlds: Poor or average or even “okay” presentation skills trip up or hold back an incredible number of very talented people at all levels, including the highest in big orgs—and yet it is rare to see someone launch a martial-arts-training-like, no-bull, I’m-gonna-master-this-or-die-trying offensive on presentation skill improvement.

Why not?”

Indeed! Why not? Why don’t you put more effort into improving your presentation skills? What is holding you back? Do you realize how much your “so-so” presentation skills are holding you back – from advancing in your career? Holding you back from getting what you really want in your life?

It’s not enough to say, “they are a naturally gifted speaker and I just am not.” That is just BS!

Talent, alone, does not guarantee success. It is the intense desire to work on fully developing our talents that determines our long-term success.

Will Sen. Obama’s desire to become President of the USA drive him to improve his natural speaking talents? He will need to improve his debating skills and to work on his responses to questions if he is to succeed.

I’ll be blogging about the presentation skills (or lack of skills) of our Presidential candidates up until the November election.  I will be interested to see which candidate shows the most desire to succeed.

Which candidate will really commit to fully developing his communications skills? Which candidate is is most interested in supercharging his career?