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22Dec 2014

“Questions are the creative acts of intelligence.”  Frank Kindgonquestion mark

Are you a leader on autopilot? You’re aware of what you do each day, but you’re not sure why you do it. You wonder if you’ll have the energy to face the next big leadership challenge, or you feel like you haven’t grown much in the past several years. Maybe you lack role models or mentors to help you in your journey.

Does that describe you?

Much of leadership is done at the tactical level. The focus is on the “what:” what to do, what problems to solve and what opportunities to pursue.

Why?  How? Who? These are the harder questions leader ask. And the hardest of those questions are the ones that go deepest, that get to the heart and soul of leadership. They are both philosophical and strategic, and provide more important insight.

Leadership, like life, can be spent skimming along the surface. It can be difficult if not painful to dig deeper into the motivations and philosophies that make leadership meaningful. But that is the work that is required for the rich rather than the cheap experience.

If you want to go deeper and further in your leadership experience, here are four questions you need to answer:

Why do I want to lead?

Aspiring leaders–students and ambitious employees–call me regularly to ask me for advice on how to lead. Before I answer, I ask them: why do you want to lead?

The “why?” should always precede the “what?” and “how to.”

If you don’t have a compelling reason to lead, others probably won’t have a compelling reason to follow.

There are many reasons to pursue leadership. Unfortunately, wanting to be a leader isn’t enough. Leading–doing the work of leadership–is much harder than having the title of “leader.” You can be elected the president of a club but if it rarely meets and you invest little effort, you aren’t really leading.  True leadership isn’t about status, but results; it isn’t what you’re called, but what you do.

A clear leadership purpose creates three payoffs:

1. It motivates. A higher purpose is the fuel for your leadership efforts. Goals alone don’t motivate you; purpose propels.

2. It focuses. You have a sense of priorities, avoid distractions and don’t waste time on those things that don’t serve that greater purpose.

3. It provides resilience. Purpose creates staying power when you meet resistance. Lacking a compelling purpose, many fold when they encounter difficulties and setbacks. Purpose creates leaders that last.

What kind of leader do I want to be?

I believe the principals of good leadership never change, but they can and are applied uniquely by different leaders. Substance is a given for effective leadership but style is a personal choice. Have you given any thought to the kind of leader you want to be?

Authenticity is about being who you appear to be. It is congruency between public presentation and perception and personal beliefs and behaviors.

Steve Jobs was famous for his intense focus on product. When you think of Mother Theresa, you think of her love for people. The founders of Hewlett Packard created an amazing process and it became known as the HP Way. And when it comes to profit, there are many contemporary leaders to choose from. It wasn’t that any of these examples focused exclusively on these areas (with the arguable exception of Jobs), but that while all were leaders of great substance, their style and legacy were a result of the kind of leader they chose to be.

What unites all these different types of leaders? Their ability to create results. Style never replaces substance, but it has the power to leverage or diminish it.

Choose carefully what kind of leader you desire to be and craft it carefully.

Who will I follow?

Leader are rarely developed in isolation. We all emulate to learn. If we emulate effective leaders, we become effective leaders. Emulate the wrong kind of leaders, and we imprint negative behaviors.

You can learn from a bad leader (what not to do), but emulation is about acting like or performing as the leader you follow.

Choosing who you follow determines both how effectively you use your time and talent to contribute and the lessons that you learn. (And it is very difficult to learn the real lessons of leadership outside of a living example.)

An expert in spotting counterfeit money was once asked by a journalist how difficult it was to study all the different types of counterfeit currency in the world. He responded, “I don’t study the counterfeit. I study the authentic and that makes any counterfeits easy to spot.” While there are some lessons to be learned from bad leadership, we have more to gain by studying the authentic.

How will I continue to improve?

Sad is the day when any of us think we are as good as we will ever be. Ultimately no one can force you to keep improving, but it is one of the great opportunities and challenges of life and leadership.

The better you become, the harder it is to get better. Improvements in your thinking and skills going from being big jumps in your early years to tiny increments the longer you lead.

Before identifying how you’ll get better, it is important to deal with your motivations. The intrinsic reasons include a commitment to being the best you can be, the excitement of new challenges and a desire to make a bigger positive impact.

Extrinsic motivations include things like competition within your organization for advancement and competition from other firms who desire your customers and marketshare.

I could build a very solid case for the importance of your ongoing improvement, but it is more effective to let you build your own. You will improve in proportion to your reasons and motivations. If you don’t truly desire to improve, you won’t. Important growth doesn’t happen by accident.

Growth in your leadership abilities requires at least three things: 1. study, 2. example and/or mentors and 3. experience. You can’t think your way to leadership skills without leading something any more than you can think your way to riding a bike without ever getting on the bike.

The best leaders continue to get better.

You’ll never be the best you’ll ever be. You can only be the best you are right now.

Award winning Matthew McConaughey offered a unique perspective at the 2014 Oscars. Here’s what he said in his acceptance speech for best actor:

Here is an excerpt from Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech for best:

“… when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say “who’s your hero?” And I said, “I don’t know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.” I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says “who’s your hero?” I said, “I thought about it. You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.” So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “not even close. No, no, no.” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because my hero’s me at 35.” So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”

Leadership impact, effectiveness and success are a moving target that only committed and thoughtful leaders can consistently hit. Investing the effort to truthfully answer the four questions above will give you the information and inspiration you need to be counted among the best and continue to get better.

16Dec 2014

Everyone makes a difference.neutrality is a myth

Not everyone realizes that. Most people grew up being told they could make a difference, not that they do make a difference. As a result, some people believe they can choose to be neutral, making neither a positive nor a negative difference.

In practice, that just isn’t so.

Have you recently encountered a person who didn’t seem engaged? Perhaps he or she seemed wrapped up in his own private world, and you were left with the impression that you weren’t important enough to gain admittance. Don’t you hate to be ignored that way?

If you were to press that person, he might tell you he was simply being “neutral.” He might not have been helpful or interested in you, but he wasn’t doing you any harm.

But to you, this person’s behavior came across as indifference, and that is the number one killer of business loyalty and damaging to all relationships.

In practical terms, neutrality is a myth.

You can’t engage the world in a meaningful way by being “neutral.” The perception on the part of others will be that they don’t matter enough for you to engage with.

I’ll state my point again for emphasis: everyone makes a difference. The choice we all have is whether we want to make a positive difference or a negative one. The important question isn’t, “Did you make a difference today?” The important question is, “What kind of difference did you make?”

For instance, have you made a positive or a negative difference to:

—Your client or customer, who was in a pinch and needed immediate attention?

—Your son or daughter, who wanted you to read to him or her when you were busy preparing for the next business day?

—The stranger on the way to work who said good morning to you without getting a response?

The positive or negative impact you have on each person above vary only in magnitude. The principle is the same. When you choose not to make a positive difference, you almost always make a negative one.

Our actions and behaviors matter more than we realize. What we choose to do can improve, even if only in some small way, the quality of another person’s day or life.

You decide what kind of difference maker you’ll be. Choose to make a bigger, bolder and better difference today in your personal and professional life.

(To find out more about The Fred Factor and how a postal carrier chose to be a powerful difference maker, go here.)

 

10Dec 2014

The “thought leader” epidemic has been interesting. From self-proclaimed thought leaders to exploding brainthose writing articles and books on how to be one (yes, I once wrote such an article), everyone it seems is or aspires to be a “thought leader.” I’ve never read anyone’s bio that claims they are a thought follower.

Maybe it is time to stop being a thought leader and just be a good thinker. There seems to be far less good thinking going on than there is thought leadership. Repackaging and regurgitating everybody else’s thinking does not a true thought leader make.

Think about the last time you read something truly insightful or different. I score most of what I read these days as interesting, but not particularly insightful (I do think Peter Theil’s new book, Zero to One, is quite insightful even if you don’t agree with his conclusions).

Rodin’s sculpture, The Thinker (originally named The Poet) is a great illustration. Most people never give the sculpture a second thought. They assume Rodin was recreating someone in the process of thinking. At a superficial level, that is true. But take another look. The Thinker’s right elbow is on his left knee. Try that position right now. It is awkward. It is difficult. It isn’t comfortable.

And that is the point. Thinking is all those things. Being a thought leader (as it is commonly practiced today) is more about hyperbole, PR, massive distribution and clever marketing. Einstein, and you can’t quarrel with his brilliance, is reputed to have said, “Thinking is hard work. That’s why so few do it.”

Thinking well is much more important than being a thought leader.

If you do think well, and have insights and ideas worth sharing, then share them. But don’t prequalify them by slapping the thought leader label on those ideas or yourself. If your ideas are that good, others will say, “Wow, that is good thinking!” And after all, true thought leadership is bestowed, not claimed.

Am I a thought leader? I can’t claim it, but I can claim to be dedicated to clear, critical thinking. I can invest the time, effort and discipline to do that. That, unlike labels applied by others, is within my control.

With the increasing complexity of the world accompanied by a great deal of foolishness, thinking seems harder and more important than ever. But my goal isn’t to be a “thought leader,” at least as commonly referenced. I aspire to be a good, if not great, thinker.

What about you?

09Dec 2014

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For 25 years, The Five Friends have spent the bulk of their lives in hotels, airports and restaurants.  While they have much in common both personally and professionally, one of the things they love most is great food and a great dining experience.  If you travel and find yourself stuck in a city without a clue of where to get a great meal, perhaps this list of restaurants will inspire you.  And if you have a favorite The Five Friends should know about, then let us know what it is so we can enjoy it too.

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotFavorite restaurant in the city you live: As we split our time between Vegas and Indianapolis – and “best Vegas restaurant” is already one category – I’ll go with Sullivan’s in Indy.  Sure, it’s easy to recommend St. Elmo’s as THE place to go in Indianapolis (and we love it there). Sullivan’s is a chain…however, the quality of the service is extraordinary and the food is terrific.

Favorite Las Vegas restaurant: Picasso. The ultimate dining experience – both from a culinary and experience standpoint. You may need a second mortgage for the trip, but if any restaurant is worth it, it’s this one.

Favorite hotel restaurant: Proof on Main at 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville. The Five Friends have dined here together. Maybe it was the company I was keeping – however, this American Southern restaurant 30 miles from my hometown also made the list of the 101 Best Hotel Restaurants in the World (at #17).

Favorite restaurant anyplace: Marque, Sydney. Hands down, the best dining experience I’ve ever had. You receive the menu after the meal – because you’re having whatever the chef is preparing. It’s eclectic – and amazing

Favorite new restaurant of 2014: Giada. OK, perhaps it is the crush I have on the beautiful and charming namesake chef, but her new place on the Vegas Strip is extraordinary.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotFavorite restaurant in the city you live: Cowboy Ciao. This is the place my wife and I call our “best place to impress an out-of-towner” and it’s our go-to place in Scottsdale. Do not miss The Stetson Chopped Salad.

Favorite Las Vegas restaurant: B&B Ristorante in Las Vegas. The only place I’ve ever walked out of, got 100 feet away, turned around, gone back and said, “Let’s do it all again.” It was that good. Don’t miss the beef cheek/duck liver ravioli or the grilled octopus.

Favorite hotel restaurant: Most of my favorite hotel restaurants are in Vegas since I travel there the most. So it’s Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace. The steak and pork chops are always great but I never miss the blue corn pancake with BBQ duck as an appetizer. And they usually have Pappy Van Winkle.

Favorite restaurant anyplace: Da Silvano, New York City. A great little Italian “joint” where the food is amazing and you will probably see celebrities as well. If you are there during the right season, don’t miss the pumpkin soup.

Favorite new restaurant of 2014: It’s not a new restaurant, but I just discovered it this year: Mustards Grill, Napa, CA. The pasta will bring tears to your eyes.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development®, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotFavorite restaurant in the city you live: City House, Nashville. An Italian/Southern restaurant but not what you’d think. For example, I love the NC catfish with cornmeal crust, cauliflower, tomato, anchovy, garlic, and chilies.  For Winget I recommend the belly pizza. You’d love it, Larry.

Favorite Las Vegas restaurant: Craftsteak at the MGM. Vegas is restaurant heaven and there are ten I could name as my favorite, but this one stands out for me. Bring a lot of money. A lot.

Favorite hotel restaurant: I’m going to cheat a little and say room service at the Hassler Hotel in Rome Italy.  Dinner with Annette in our room – the most memorable, fun, incredible meal ever.  I don’t even remember what we had, but it’s my favorite hotel in the world and the food is amazing.  At the top of the Spanish Steps.

Favorite restaurant anyplace: This is a favorite of mine “everyplace” – Fleming’s. Nothing over-the-top, it’s just a steakhouse chain, but I really appreciate the consistently good food and service.

Favorite new restaurant of 2014:  404 Kitchen in Nashville. Peach and pork ragout and Anson Mills skillet cornbread.  Shut….up.

For those who don’t know, Nashville is the new restaurant-center-of-the-universe. (just ask the New York Times)

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

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Favorite restaurant in the city you live: Linger. Formerly O’Linger’s mortuary (really), with a great vibe (including a amazing rooftop bar) and some of the tastiest food ever. The flavors are a mash up of many cultures and always delicious. Smaller portions make it great for variety and sharing. Plus it won’t break the bank.

Favorite Las Vegas restaurant: Public House. Yes, it is a chain but if you’re a beer lover who wants knowledgeable staff, an interesting selection and good food, this is a reprieve from the typical high-end eateries. (Mesa Grille is just another of many that I could easily put on my LV list.)

Favorite hotel restaurant: River Bar at The Cloisters. Don’t think bar food; think gourmet food in an elegant bar setting where the whole family is comfortable. The scallops are amazing, the Smoked Sazerac is one of my favorite drinks of all time.

Favorite restaurant anyplace: The White Chocolate Grill (although so far only in Denver, Phoenix and Chicago.) I love this place: exceptional service, elegant bar, best bourbon list and great menu (the Tomato Gin soup change your life).

Favorite new restaurant of 2014:  Colt + Gray in Denver. Great charcuterie selections, a sophisticated beverage list, innovative western cuisine and friendly service. Took my pal Larry there last time he was in Denver and he’ll vouch for this one, too.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotFavorite restaurant in the city you live: This is a tough choice. Lucia in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas is a small chef-owned Italian restaurant. You have to make reservations a month in advance so getting in takes planning. Stephen Pyles Restaurant is always a treat. Big, bold flavors. Bring some bucks. It is worth it.

Favorite Las Vegas restaurant: Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace. I’m a sucker for amazing Southwestern food, and no one does it better than Bobby Flay’s team. Try the Blue Corn lobster tacos and the New Mexican spiced-rubbed pork tenderloin.

Favorite hotel restaurant:  La Playa Carmel, Carmel by the Sea. My wife and I stayed at this 75-room historic hotel years ago, and I’ll never forget it. It is mostly lighter fare including lots of seafood. The crab cakes were stunning.

Favorite restaurant anyplace: Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale. Everything Larry said about this place is absolutely true. My wife and I go there every time we are in Phoenix. I’ve never had anything less than an amazing meal there

Favorite new restaurant of 2014:  Medina Oven & Bar, Victory Park in Dallas. The owner brings his home land of Morocco alive with authentic spices and herbs mixed with savory cuisine and a casual environment. Great patio when the weather is nice.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

30Nov 2014

Leaders frequently hear Proverbs 29:18  quoted: “without a vision the people perish.”leadership vision

Less often considered: without people, the vision perishes.

Any vision is accomplished through the efforts of those you lead. That means the vision needs to be understood, not at an abstract level, but at a practical level your team can understand, support and act upon.

How do you know if your vision is effective?  Ask your team members these four questions:

Question #1:  “Do you know what our vision is?” Ask everyone of them that question and find out if they’re all answering the same way.  If they hold the same vision for the future.

Question #2:  “Were you involved in creating  the  vision?”  In other words, did they get input into crafting the vision? Involvement increases commitment.

Question 3:  “Is our vision of the future a place that you want to be?”   Many visions fail because they don’t represent the best interest of all stakeholders. If team members are going to help achieve the vision, they will be highly motivated to do so if the vision is appealing to them, not just management and shareholders.

Question 4:  “Does our vision help you in day-to-day decision making?” This question tests for practicality. If the vision doesn’t offer clear guidance for information decisions and behavior, it isn’t practical.

If your team can answer affirmatively to these four questions, you’ll know that you have a vision that’s more than rhetoric and that gives people practical guidance and direction. Your vision passes the test when it empowers others to live and fulfill it.

25Nov 2014

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From Mark Sanborn:

“You can have it all.” No, you really can’t.

Some of the unhappiest people I know are those who bought into that whopper. They lack priorities, choose uncomplimentary or conflicting values and wear themselves out pursuing every activity.

Try eating all you want and keeping your weight at a healthy level. Try traveling non-stop for business or pleasure and have meaningful relationships at home. Try working long hours seven days a week and see how much leisure you’ll enjoy.

Everything of importance has value, and value has an associated cost. Trying to “have it all” doesn’t acknowledge the reality of time constraints. It is spending the currency of your life like a drunken sailor.

The bad news is that you can’t have it all.

The good news is that when you know what’s important, you don’t want it all anyway.

Broaden your focus too much by trying to “have it all” and you’ll get only a tiny bit if anything at all.

Narrow your focus and you can go richer and deeper in those areas of your life that truly matter.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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joe-calloway-headshotFrom Joe Calloway:

The shortcut.

What bothers me is that so many people spend their money on the promise of short cuts to success.

There aren’t any short cuts.

I see “How To Make A Fortune On The Internet” programs that begin with the premise of

“First, get 100,000 followers…….THEN all you have to do is follow my easy plan to make a million dollars in a year.”

What they skip over is that to get those 100,000 followers, you have to have something to say that is so valuable, so compelling, that people feel they can’t afford to miss one word of it – ever.  That takes experience.

I do coaching with professional speakers, and the thing we always come back to is simply this: value creation.  Public Notice to my potential speaking clients: “I have NO shortcuts for you.”

As many, including my buddy Mark Sanborn, have said, it generally takes 15 years to become an “overnight success.”

You can’t become an expert in a week. Put in the time, do the work, create value.  Don’t learn the “tricks of the trade.”  Learn the trade.

The only people that get rich from short cuts….are the people selling the short cuts.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com.

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randy-pennington-headshotFrom Randy Pennington:

I grew up hearing every motivational message imagined or printed in the Reader’s Digest. I heard lots of advice that isn’t necessarily true. Consider these:

  • Laughter is the best medicine. I want great drugs when I’m in pain not a standup routine.
  • Better safe than sorry. Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” I like his idea better.
  • It’s never too late to pursue your dreams. I grew up dreaming of playing Division I college basketball and replacing Ringo as the drummer in the Beatles. I am too late for both.
  • Attitude is everything. No. Talent, knowledge, and skill count, too.
  • Great minds think alike. The older I get the more I realize that we need great minds who view the world through a different lens rather than the same one.

Here’s my takeaway: Any motivational or business guru who tells you that the secret to your success is doing exactly what they say without questioning its application to your situation should be avoided … except for the Five Friends. Our ideas are timeless pearls of wisdom.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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larry-winget-headshotFrom Larry Winget:

Passion. Passion is defined as “an uncontrollable emotion.” Do you want an uncontrollable emotion anywhere near your business? Not me.

If you need quadruple bypass surgery, do you want a passionate surgeon or one who is damn good at surgery? How about a waiter? I don’t want a passionate waiter, I want a waiter who is great at his job. I don’t need any emotion involved, especially one that is uncontrolled. I only want excellence and hard work from the people I do business with.   They don’t have to like it, love it, enjoy it or be passionate about it, just damn good at it. I know too many who are passionate: passionately incompetent.

Some will argue that passion is the fuel that lights the fire of hard work and excellence. Save it. I’ve heard it all before. I am good at what I do because I approach the fiduciary commitment that I have to my clients with integrity. I am hired to be good and I am committed to being good because they are paying me to be good. Very simple. No passion. I have passion for my family and I’m damn good at my job.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development®, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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scott-mckain-headshotFrom Scott McKain:

The most ridiculous concept ever foisted upon gullible professionals is the idiotic maxim: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

(My vote for second worst: “Getting the right people on the bus is more important than where the bus is going.” That’s moronic. The “right people” won’t get on if they don’t know where the hell the bus is headed. I digress…)

Leaders are constantly challenged to manage the immeasurable. Employee attitudes, marketplace opportunities, and customer engagement aren’t exclusively intended for an Excel spreadsheet. Leadership is art and science; insight and data. The distinctive leader is able to use head and heart to drive greater performance.

When we integrate this ridiculous “we can only manage what we can measure” approach into our culture, it means we assume the only elements that matter to the organization are aspects that lend themselves to measurement.

A restaurant, therefore, focuses upon speed of food delivery (measurable) rather than friendly service (not) – when it’s the combination of both that is essential for a superior customer experience. The same is true for your business.

Interestingly, the “management/measurement” quote is often incorrectly attributed to W. Edwards Deming – who insisted instead, “The most important things cannot be measured.”

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

17Nov 2014

When I first visited the big island of Hawaii, I was particularly impressed with the volcanic rock fields white rocks black lavathe road we traveled on cut through from the airport to Kona. Hundreds of white stones had been carefully placed along the way, in stark contrast against the black rock of the lava field. These stones spelled out the names of people, and often the date of when they had passed through: “Bob & Sally, 11/88,” “Jean, Spring Break ’91.” It reminded me of what so often happens when graduating classes assault bridges and water towers and graffiti artists practice their public art.

All of us want our lives to be significant, to believe we’ll do something, somehow, that will be remembered. Sometimes leaving a legacy can be as simple as placing stones in the lava. But for most of us, the best evidence we can leave that we passed through life is to lead when we are able, and follow when we can’t. Leadership isn’t a mysterious art practiced by only a select few. It is the daily response of each man and woman who wishes to make a positive difference in the world, and make it a little bit better place as a result of their efforts.

Marks We Leave Poem by Mark Sanborn

12Nov 2014

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You and your business are more likely to become irrelevant before you ever become obsolete. Blackberry is a great example. Its market share for smartphones was 40% in 2010. It is less than 2% today despite an 85% growth in the number of annual smartphone sales. Blackberry didn’t lose market share because it stopped working. It lost because it became irrelevant.

The battle for relevancy comes up in every conversation we have about our own careers and businesses. We are, as a group, obsessed with it. And in this blog, we share how it affects what we do and how we do it. We hope you enjoy our most personal post to date.

From Scott McKain:

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Death concerns me; irrelevance terrifies me to the core.

On my 14th birthday, I started a daily job at a small radio station. At 18, elected as president of a student organization, I took to the road full-time to travel and speak on its behalf. I’ve never left the platform since.

In other words, from the day I turned 14 — to this one — there has been an audience for what I have to say, and how I have to say it. I’ve been fortunate beyond description.

However, if I become irrelevant – taking the audience for granted — those wonderful readers and listeners would evaporate, instantly terminating the career I love so much.

That’s why relevance is critical – and scary.

I discipline myself to read constantly, watch shows and sites targeted to other demographics, see avant-garde movies, and stay active on Social Media. I listen each week to Billboard’s top songs via Spotify. I engage with what’s impacting Millennials, not just Baby Boomers.

You can’t pull the covers over your head and stay relevant by accident. You must actively participate in the current culture to ensure you’re prepared for, and perhaps able to influence, whatever comes next.

Or else…

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:

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Here is my reality.

  • New competitors arrive in my marketplace daily. According to their websites, each is the second coming of Peter Drucker.
  • My performance review is delivered every day not annually.
  • Longevity in the marketplace – like longevity with a company – used to mean more. Today, the line between value-added experience and being viewed as out of touch is excruciatingly thin.
  • My value is determined by the complexity and importance of the problems I help my clients solve.
  • My clients choose me because they believe that I provide value. That only happens if I am relevant.

You and your company are just like me. Your customers and employer are asking three questions: Why you? Why now? What makes you relevant today?

For me, staying relevant means that I must constantly:

  1. Understand my clients’ current challenges and anticipate the ones they’ll encounter tomorrow.
  2. Be a student of the world – knowing everything I can about what is happening in business, government, and the broader culture.
  3. Continuously improve my skills and execution.
  4. Take care of myself mentally, physically, and emotionally.

The privilege of doing what I do depends on remaining relevant. It is the same for you.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

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There are three great fears most leaders posses: staying relevant is at the top of the list.

It makes sense: the ability to create results is dependent on relevance to customers, employees and shareholders. You never hear about successful products or leaders that are irrelevant.

Staying relevant means not resting on past success. I consider success as an early warning indicator for failure.  As my pal Joe says, success means only that you know what worked yesterday.

The danger is that our thinking becomes frozen in time. Staying relevant requires “unfreezing” yourself. That means being immersed enough in the present to be able to understand it and speak to it.

Three suggestions:

  1. Find a millennial to reverse mentor you,
  2. Pay close attention to current culture even if you don’t agree with it.
  3. Run you ideas by your kids for feedback. They’ll help keep you relevant.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

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In the context of business, I believe the key to relevance is understanding your target market.  My work is totally irrelevant to most of the marketplace, and that’s fine with me.

I know my audience.  I work with CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs.  If my work, my “product,” isn’t relevant to them, then I’m out of business.

Like some of my friends here are saying, I also endeavor to be relevant in a cultural sense as well as in business matters.

This week in Chicago I spoke to an audience of business owners.  I opened by saying that it must be absolutely great to live in Chicago right now, especially if you are a Cubs fan.  With that new coach coming in, this will surely be the beginning of a dynasty!

Inside joke to forever frustrated Cubs fans, but the entire audience “got it” and I made a positive connection with them.  I’m not a Cubs fan – not even a baseball fan, but I read.  That bit of cultural relevance is a competitive advantage to me.

The real test, however, is that my business ideas must be relevant to their success.  That’s what I work on all day, every day.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Larry Winget:

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There are many ways to stay relevant. You can be innovative and create new products and services. Think Amazon Prime with Sunday delivery and video streaming (win) and Amazon Fire smartphone (fail). You can flail around grasping at relevance and end up looking pitiful. Think Jesse Jackson. You can become a big deal to a small market and any kind of deal to a large market (I use both of these tactics.) You can even change your look or your name. Think JCP and KFC.

But be very clear: Staying relevant is hard.  That’s because relevance is rooted in change, growth and paying attention. While all three of those things are tough, they are especially tough when you are successful.  Businesses in trouble are better at seeking relevance than those that are extremely successful. Failure makes you hungry and courageous to try things because you have nothing to lose. Success creates a blindness of the need to pay attention, change and grow simply because you’re busy being successful.  That’s why long term success is something to be admired because it requires taking care of business today while keeping an eye on what you have to do stay successful tomorrow.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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10Nov 2014

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, once said that our goal in life shouldn’t be just toRear View of Senior Couple Walking Alone on A Tropical Beach “be good,” but rather to “be good for something.”

If that “something” is limited to merely personal success, our impact on the world around us will be limited. To put it another way, don’t confuse your resume with your legacy.

The difference between your resume and your legacy is:

Resume                                                Legacy

1. What You’ve Accomplished               1. What You’ve Contributed

2. Results                                               2. Relationships                                                

3. The Money You’ve Made                    3. The Difference You’ve Made

4. The Impression You Leave                 4. The Impact You Have

5. Your Career                                         5. Your Organization, Family and  Community

6. What You Learned                               6. What You Taught

7. How You Improved                              7. How You Helped Others to Improve Others

Are you building a strong resume, or preparing to leave a lasting legacy?

The legacy you will eventually leave is determined by the legacy you are living now.

 

 

05Nov 2014

Everybody presents. Whether you are making a sales call, giving a report in a college class or speaking to prepareyour colleagues during a meeting, giving an extraordinary presentation is one of the best things you can do to increase you impact and success.

Many think great speaking is what happens in front of the audience, and while that is true, they fail to grasp the importance of preparation. A great presentation is given is front of people but it is prepared carefully and thoroughly in advance.

Here are eight preparation techniques used by professional speakers that you can use to crush it next time you deliver a presentation.

  1. Find out things about your audience that proves you worked hard to get to know them and their needs.
  2. Anticipate questions that your audience might raise and prepare the answers.
  3. Anticipate problems that might arise (in the setting, with your technology, etc.), and plan how you’ll prevent them or solve them if they occur.
  4. Understand the day-to-day concerns of audience members and speak about solutions to those concerns.
  5. Speak from what you’ve done and learned to demonstrate expertise.
  6. By your appearance and demeanor, give your performance a level of gravitas that your audience wasn’t expecting.
  7. Include the indication that you have even more useful ideas and insights you can deliver if you are given more time to present in the future.
  8. Design your presentation so that the audience know more and feel better when you finish.