Archive for June, 2009

A Strategy-in-a-Day keeps the doctors away..

What do you do when you get an e-mail from a prospective client who’s come down with the flu, just after coming down with Shingels , which came after a double chest infections? Her family doctor doctor told her these were all stress related and that she either needed to quit her business, or fix her company.

What did she do next? She rang me! I had to laugh at the thought of doctors passing out prescriptions to over stressed entrepreneurs & corporate executives, sending them my way. I guess I can replace that old school fable with “a strategy in a day keeps the doctor away”, and we’ll just leave the apples for the teachers 😉

Some times, especially after a successful facilitation, workshop or update call with a client,  I have to pinch myself just to make sure I’m awake! I’m passionate about what I do, I have the priviledge to live out my purpose of empowering every relationship I touch, and most of all, I get to make a living at empowering other peoples lives! As my wife would say.. WOOOOOHOOOOOO!

Customer Service Innovation made simple!

This morning my e-mail in-box brought me a pleasant surprise! On the heals of my cathedrals post yesterday, this video from Simple Minds really grounded me as to how simple it is to turn a routine task into an experience that will impact everyone you can touch!

Customer Service, Brand Loyalty & Innovation can really be just one simple action away!

On this beautiful Saturday morning in Barcelona, I’ve been touched by Johnny!

Question is, how will you be a Johnny today?

Who’s building your cathedral?

June 26, 2009 1 comment

A good mate of mine Conor Neill recently shared a story with me about a recent & privileged visit to the Sagrada Familia. Conor was invited to take a special tour in the company of several architects. The lead architect was his mate, & so he was astonished to discover so many hidden secrets of this magnificent monument of passion.

Anyone who knows Conor knows how curious he can be, so when he spotted three workman, all on their hands & knees laying brick, he walked over to initiate the following discussion:

– Conor to the first workman; excuse me sire, what are you doing?

– 1st workman, on his hands & knees, slabbing down some cement and placing yet another brick, looked at him very puzzled, with a grumpy look on his face as though he shouldn’t have been bothered, and finally grumbled, “I’m laying brick!”

– Conor thanked him and proceeded to walk over to the next workman and asked the same question; excuse me sire, what are you doing?

– 2nd workman, on his hands & knees, slabbing down some cement and placing yet another brick, looked up at him with a quirky grin to reply “I’m building a wall!!”

– You know what comes next? Obviously Conor walked over to the 3rd workman and asked; excuse me sire, what are you doing?

– 3rd workman, on his hands & knees, slabbing down some cement and placing yet another brick, looked at Conor with a warm and inviting smile, with great passion in his voice spouted “I’m building a cathedral!!!”

3 workman, doing the same task & getting paid the same salary. So what’s the message here? It’s not what you do for a living that determines your success, it how you go about making your living, every single brick at a time!

How about you? How about your staff, or your team? How are they talking to your customers today? Which workman are they? Can you afford anything less that cathedrals?

My advice is to get them all aligned and passionate about what you’re building, about your dream, and create an ecosystem where they can grow, both personally & professionally through the actions required to build your dream. Help them understand how their dream is important to you, and give them the tools necessary to succeed!

It’s really not all that hard! And when you step back to admire the view, guess what you will have built? A masterpiece you can all be proud of and celebrate!

A wise old owl

I’m borrowing a saying a friends father shared with him when he was young;

A wise old owl sat in an oak
The more he saw, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why cant we all be like that bird?

Good question! I often find that I’m most effective when I’m doing the least amount of talking! And when I do decide to speak, I make a conscious choice to only speak from experience. Only in this manner can I take full responsibility for the actions anyone might take based on having shared a challenge with me. I avoid the would haves, should haves and any other expression which might sound like I’m embarking on a recommendation or suggestion. I simply state the relevance of similar situations I have encountered, and what actions resulted in what consequences. That’s called Gestalt Protocol.

If you’re looking for a tip, or find this difficult to follow, check out The Lost Art of Listening.

Why have ideal clients?

I end each week reflecting on how could I have delivered even more value to the clients I worked with during the previous days. During my reflections I often realize that success is a two way street! At the end of the day, if you don’t head your doctor’s advice, do you really think you’re going to stay, or get perfectly fit & healthy?

That’s when I remembered one of my pre-requisites for success, make sure you’re working with clients that make you look good! For example, my Ideal Clients (already are, or are on a serious journey to become) are:

  • Passionate (you can feel the energy when they walk in the room)
  • Resilient (“won’t stay on the canvas”.. boxing term)
  • Courageous (face their fears and act)
  • Big Dreamers (willing to challenge their “doubters”, including themselves)
  • Core Ideology focused (have core values & purpose, or are on their journey to identifying them)
  • Come from “givington” (give for the sake of giving)
  • Quick (talk today = done tomorrow)
  • Positive (the glass is always half full)

The benefit of working with these clients are many and meaningful, such as:

  • I’ll always have loads of energy & thus do my best work..
  • They will reap the benefits!
  • I’ll feel invigorated & inspired..
  • They will inspire in return!
  • I’ll connect with them on a deeper level..
  • They’ll reciprocate & take their business to a whole new level of success!
  • I’ll increase the probability of working with like-minded clients..
  • They’ll become more demanding!!
  • I’ll feel successful and confident as we’ll make “magical” progress
  • Together we will change lives!!
  • I’ll learn and grow, personally & professionally..
  • They’ll reap the benefits, as well as grow, personally & professionally as well!

These are the filters that I have chosen to use when I’m in search of new clients, or am approached to take on a new project. What happens when someone is not ready to “go on a journey”? My own passion kicks in and I take them for the ride of their lives! And that’s why I love what I do, and I’m passionate about it!

Peixoto the fisherman

June 12, 2009 1 comment

A mate of mine on LinkedIn shared this story and I thought I’d pass it along.

Setting: A boat docked in Ferragudo, a tiny fishing village in the Algarve region in the South of Portugal.

– An American tourist approached Peixoto and complimented the Portuguese fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.
– “Not very long,” answered Peixoto.

– “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

– Peixoto explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

– The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

– “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs… I have a full life.”

– The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

– And after that?” asked Peixoto.

– With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to a great City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

– “How long would that take?” asked Peixoto.

– “Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

– “And after that?”

– “Afterwards? Well my Friend, That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

– “Millions? Really? And after that?” said Peixoto.

– “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

– Moral of the Story…

– Know where you’re going in life…you may already be there.

How focused are you in regards to where you’re headed? Who’s plan are you following? Who’s life are you living?

Hope that tale gave you some insight as to what’s possibly NOT working for you lately. Or then again, maybe you were as smart as Peixoto to begin with.


Inspiration for your journey

A resource came across my screen this morning in the form of a Simple Truths video clip entitled The Power of Teamwork in inspired by the Blue Angels.

As I reflected on the many companies, large or small, not to mention organizations of thought leaders and social influencers, I thought of the core principles my clients hold dear after our Strategic Alignment & Planning sessions.

Does your team work? Do they work as a team? As a team, have they become stronger than the some of themselves as individuals? After aligning a team around a center point of commonly shared core values, I find that they’re more ready to commit to success and the pursuit of exceeding expectations. Once they’ve aligned around a strong mission, or purpose, they more readily adapt a “can do” attitude and strive for perfection. I liken it to Les Brown’s quote of “shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars”. Attitude is indeed Altitude and with a strong purpose your team is guaranteed to fly higher!

Does your team visualize their accomplishments? How strong is your company’s or organization’s vision? Make your vision clear enough for your team to clearly visualize on the foggiest of days and you’ll watch them set a new standard of excellence on a more regular basis. What level is your team playing at? Are they bringing their A game? Are they willing to raise the bar every opportunity they get? If they are striving for a common goal, and they have a clear vision of the actions required to reach their objectives, then you’ll find them looking to make the impossible possible. Getting them all on the same page is therefore the key!

How do you get such clarity of focus? How do you get such clarity of vision? It’s rather easy when you focus on preparation! Preparation is king and all of the detail is indeed in the preparation. When you can’t afford hours & hours of practice, then process becomes your lifeline. Procedures and a detailed script for accomplishing your goals & objectives must be SMART. that’s what will separate the winners form the losers. How do you achieve this? Personally I’ve always counted on the One-Page Strategic Plan.

As a leader, are you walking the talk? Are you setting an example for excellence? Are you providing feedback through structured periodic performance reviews, quick Daily Huddles & pulse checks? Effective & quick Weekly Strategic Meetings and Reality Checks? Are you making the necessary adjustments to prevent a rapid lose of cabin pressure and altitude that will send your teams i search of the oxygen masks? And in the event of a disaster, or severe economic downturn, are you teams and your organization agile enough to respond with determination and conviction?

I have two examples of clients that in the first 6 months of this year, whilst having opposite fortunes due to the economical impact of their separate industries, share the same common result. One is 30% up on his business in general from last year, and in a key focus area, blew out his 30% increase KPI to 150% just in the first quarter. His industry sector is flat by the way. Another client has been less fortunate. His industry has been hard hit and on average his competitors are reporting a +50% downturn on last years performance, yet his own results are only 25% off the mark! What do these two organizations have in common? Focus! Where did they get that focus? Clear communication and alignment on what needs to be done, by whom, by when and bounded by their Core Ideology (Core Values, Mission & Vision)!

Having read through this article, do you see your team flying at the same altitudes? Is your team taking off or is to grounded? It does take work, I wont kid you, but believe me when I say it takes allot less work to correct your flight plan when built on a solid navigation plan, through a multitude of reality checks and minor adjustments, then the energy required to pull your organization out of a nose dive, especially if you’re already out of parachutes.

Thank you for your attention and I wish you a safe & powerful journey! And please remember, for the sake of your own safety and welfare, fasten your seat belts and make sure you’re following your own plan, otherwise you’ll find yourself on someone else’s flight path.