attitude

Sometimes a picture says it all 1

My daughter Cynthia graduated from Drew University this past Saturday. Under the heading of the world at large, I started to write my impressions of the day.  After three days of musings, with Cynthia’s picture as inspiration, I realized that her picture captures everything I could say in a single smile.

So I share the moment with you as her proud father.

As a Manager, why you should expect the unexpected 1

I never expected a Blue Bird

I was sitting on the deck, enjoying the sun and having a little lunch. When I finished, I picked up my plate, opened the screen door and walked into the kitchen. I was thinking about getting back to my writing when, looking to my left through the kitchen window, there it was. Sitting on the fence near my bird feeder was a blue bird.

I have lived in New Jersey for over 20 years and never seen a blue bird here. In fact, the only blue bird I have ever seen was at Gettysburg, Pa while we were on a horseback tour of the battlefields.  So to have one sitting on my fence for several minutes was completely out of the blue (no pun intended). This got me thinking about the unexpected and why we should be expecting it.

I should have expected to see a bird I hadn’t seen before. Several years ago I was in the living room when I heard a loud “bang” against that same kitchen window. Running into the kitchen I saw a somewhat dazed immature Bald Eagle sitting on the fence. It turns out he was hunting for lunch at my bird feeder and had swooped down on a sparrow, over shot the feeder and slammed into my window. I’m pretty sure the eagle was just as surprised about the situation as I was.

In business, managers need to anticipate and plan. This includes expecting the unexpected. It may be a power outage that closes your business unexpectedly. It could be a typo in your email advertising link that sends your potential customers to a less-than wholesome website instead of your landing page. Sometimes it’s an employee who doesn’t check that the projector is working before your presentation.

The more we expect the unexpected and check for the unexpected, the less unexpected we will have as managers.

Can driving sales be like hunting for natural resources on asteroids? 1

Are You Mining Asteroids?

Planetary Resources Inc – this new company backed by two Google billionaires, film director James Cameron and other space exploration proponents is aiming high in the hunt for natural resources—with mining asteroids the possible target.

While the announcement may cause some people to snicker at what could be a page out of a sci-fi novel or a Hollywood movie scene, Planetary Resources is making its debut just as scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other groups are embracing the notion of mining “near-Earth asteroids” and providing blueprints for how such a feat would be accomplished.

Closer to home, sometimes you can get into a rut. If sales are good and you have no major problems, it’s easy to get into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it routine”. That’s how I felt all week. Then this morning I read that James Cameron wants to mine asteroids. OMG. All I wanted to do was increase comp sales by 5% over LY and increase net profit 2.5%.

Can you find a way to challenge yourself and your employees to think big?

So now I’m thinking  what can I do to create HUGE excitement in my business? How can I get my employees to be excited about driving sales, to be creative in their thinking, to want to “hunt for natural resources on asteroids”!

Thinking big is critical to a manager success.   Daniel H. Burnham -US architect & city planner (1846 – 1912) said “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood

What asteroid hunting plans can you create for yourself, your team and your company?

The most dangerous threat to your job search 2

What are you telling yourself?

You probably guessed it before you began reading. The most dangerous threat to your job search isn’t the competition, the out of the blue interview questions or even the lack of jobs in your field. The most dangerous threat to your job search is you. This threat shows up in many ways, but negative self-talk can keep you on the sidelines. Alleydog defines Self Talk as:

Self Talk: Self Talk refers to the ongoing internal conversation with ourselves, which influences how we feel and behave.

For example, you find yourself in a traffic jam while rushing to work one morning. You self-talk could be pessimistic and you might think, “My whole day is ruined. If I don’t get to work on time, I’ll never hear the end of it. My boss will think that I’m no good and will surely pass me up for that promotion I’ve been working all year for.” You will then start your day in a bad mood and feel demotivated thinking that there’s no point in working hard since you already ruined your chances for a promotion.

On the other hand, you could have a more positive self-talk and think, “I’ll probably be no more than ten minutes late. I guess I’ll just have to take a quick lunch instead of going out to eat. If I can turn in my report before the end of the day and make sure that it’s error-free, I might still have a chance to get that promotion.”

I know it is hard to be objective when you are focusing on yourself, but that’s when you must.  Self talk can either work in your favor  and fuel your success or it can undermine your actions and keep you from landing your dream job. As you go through the job seeking process, you almost need to think of yourself as the job coach for yourself.

If you were advising a sibling, a close friend or your own children about a job, what advice would you give them? As you think of your own situation, is the advice you are giving yourself what you would tell them? If not, then you are not thinking clearly about the job prospect or yourself.

And don’t over think. The interview today may lead to a job offer, but you must remain focused. Talking yourself out of continuing the job search because you have a possible opportunity that sounds promising sets yourself up for disappointment.

So talk to yourself about how you are talking to yourself. It may just be what you need to  change negative thought into positive energy. The end result will be that warm fuzzy feeling that comes when you are sitting in your new hire orientation!

Four lessons any manager can learn from the Masters Golf Tournament – Part 3 0

Azalea - The 13th hole at the Masters

The 13th hole at Augusta, named Azalea,  is a beautiful par 5. An accurate tee shot to the center of the fairway on this sweeping dogleg left allows a player to go for the green in two. A tributary to Rae’s Creek winds in front of the raised green, and four bunkers threaten behind. On Friday, Bubba Watson hit a perfect drive on 13, had a great iron shot into the green, but couldn’t close the deal with his putt and make eagle.

Yesterday, Phil Mickelson hit a monster tee shot on 13 into the fairway. Phil’s second shot landed almost 20 feet from the hole, some 13 feet further away than Bubba’s. Phil imagined what the putt would need to look like to go in. The ball actually had to go up hill and then make a sweeping right hand turn to get to the hole. And that’s exactly what it did! Phil was able to make 3 on this par 5 hole.

It’s no coincidence that Phil Mickelson is #2 two on the PGA Tour in strokes gained – putting. Phil is able to imagine  the path the ball needs to take and then execute the stroke needed to create that path. Oh, and did I mention that Phil is in second place at the Masters, one shot behind Peter Hanson, going into the final round today?

As managers, we need to be able to imagine the end result and then execute it. Our employees count on us to understand the issue and then imagine the correct path to achieve the desired result. Those managers who can do that end up on company leader boards in the same way Phil Mickelson is on the Augusta Leader Board. Success begets success.

One final thought, there’s a difference between a professional golfer (manager) and the rest of us. As Phil is standing over that 20 foot putt, he knows he is going to make it. He is not thinking of  all the reasons why it might not go in. He believes it will go in. To close the deal, to complete the project, to be a successful manager, you need to believe it too.

Four lessons any manager can learn from the Masters Golf Tournament – Part 1 1

2012 Masters Tournament

Some people actually yawn when the subject of golf comes up. I was a caddy at age 11 and began playing at age 12, so I am not one of those people. In high school, I was the guy out at daybreak, carrying my clubs and playing up to 54 holes before they would kick me off the Newport News Deer Run Municipal Golf Course well after dark. I have learned many lessons from golf over the years. Most involve humility.

Even if you are not a golfer,  there are four great lessons any manager can take away from a major golf tournament:

  1. Preparation-  for any major event this is the key to success
  2. “Drive for Show” – getting  recognition as an expert
  3. “Putt for Dough” – If you can’t close the deal…
  4. “Amen Corner “ – There’s always that one moment…

Today I will address Preparation. Right now there are 96 golfers competing for the coveted green jacket. Some of the contenders include household names like Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Phil Mickleson. There are a dozen ways to get an invitation, but the top four are:

  • Win a Masters
  • Win a US Open
  • Win the British Open or PGA Championship
  • Be an Amateur champion

Preparing to win the Masters means you are already a winner. It is the best of the best. As a manager, your take-away from this is simple. Success begets success.  Prove your abilities and you will be recognized. Yet some managers don’t get it.

I have seen many potentially winning managers settle for mediocrity because they weren’t going to do the job until they were paid for it. They miss the fact that managers being promoted are the ones already doing their bosses job. So when their experience met opportunity, they passed up the chance to compete at a higher level.

The lead at Augusta has changed several times since the first golfers teed off at 7:50AM this morning.  It will be late Sunday night, after the field is narrowed, that the final victor will emerge. I look forward to the competition and what I will learn from the golfers.

Join me over the next four days, even if you are not a golfer. By Sunday night, you just might be a better manager. And as always, I welcome you comments.

Job hunting is a delicate balance – Here are three ways to cope 1

Are You Stressing Over Your Job Search?

“Job hunting is a delicate balance between pride, desperation and humiliation.”        Amy Crabtree

Here are three ways to cope:

  1. Don’t stop- You may have found a lead to the best job on the planet and you’re sure after the telephone interview that next week will be it because they scheduled an interview. Now you have six days to kill until the interview, so you start thinking why should I keep looking, this job is in the bag. Instead of stopping your job search, pause for a few minutes, write down everything you remember from the phone interview, especially things that got a positive response and then keep searching. It  doesn’t matter if this job works out,  you have many more coming. Don’t stop until you are in a new hire orientation
  2. Don’t marry the company - I’ve said many times before, you can end up on an emotional roller coaster if you play the “I’ve got to have this job, it’s perfect” game. All jobs have perks, benefits and all jobs have drawbacks. Make sure you are painting a realistic picture of the company;  you may decide after the first interview that you don’t like their culture. Be open about the company and realistic about what they are offering and your stress will be less.
  3. Don’t think traditional – With all of the competition for jobs today, standing out is imperative. In the end, it’s about getting the attention of the company you want to work for. Within the corporate culture of the industry and workplace you are targeting, you need to tell your story. Share your personal brand with specific stories that give the interviewer a reason to remember you.

Amy caught the spirit of the problem. “Job hunting is a delicate balance between pride, desperation and humiliation.” Don’t be so proud that you stop searching because “they would be nut’s not to hire you”. Don’t be so desperate that you take the first thing that comes along, without making sure it is a good fit for you. And don’t worry about being embarrassed when you market yourself in a memorable way. It may end up being the talk of your first company picnic.

 

On April Fool’s Day – Are you fooling yourself about the Job Interview? 4

Is the joke on you?

When my children were teenagers, their running April Fool’s Day joke at our house was to take a rubber band and put it on the hand sprayer attachment on the kitchen sink. When my wife or I would turn on the faucet in the morning to make coffee, we would get sprayed with cold water.  Getting fooled by your children, even when you know it’s coming, is harmless fun. Fooling yourself is something different.

On April Fools’ Day, I keep thinking about why people would fool themselves about a job interview?  I’ve said before that there are five things you must do to be successful in an interview: research the company, relate specific stories about how you have; increased sales, decreased expenses and improved customer service and finally you must give yourself permission to have the job. The more I speak with people about their job interviews, the more I feel people are glossing over the permission part

On some level, they do not feel they deserve the job. As the interview progresses, their concerns about their self-worth leak out in unexpected ways and this sabotages the interview. This is bad. But the good news is your attitude can be changed once you realize where it comes from.

For me, I have always been an optimist. Very early on I bought into the glass half full; I mean it just seemed to make more sense to me than the reverse. Not that the glass half empty people weren’t right too. The fact that we could both look at the glass, see it in two different ways and both are right was exciting. The lesson for me is my view of the world and my place in it is controlled by how I chose to view it.

Recently I realized that my view  was being filtered by my accumulated life experiences;  the teachers I had in school, the lessons I learned from my parents, where I lived growing up  and even the books I read. All of this blended together to make my personal filter, my lenses through which I saw the world. Having this knowledge of how I viewed my life gave me the power to change things that weren’t working for me. Once you understand why you think the way you do about yourself, you are on your way to accepting yourself, which is very important, and then addressing anything that is holding you back.

So are you fooling yourself about the job? Do you really feel you deserve it? If so, your chances of landing it are very high. If not, then the interview will be an April fool’s joke, only you will be the one getting sprayed with cold water.

My Garbage Man said “I’ll check with my office” 0

 

“I’ll check with my office”

It wasn’t just that he said “I’ll check with my office” when I asked him about a special pick up, it was the way he said it. If my eyes had been closed I would have pictured him in a three-piece suit standing at one end of a large conference table with Board Members and Senior Executives all waiting to hear what he had to say next.

And it wasn’t forced. His comment was as natural as if he was asking you to pass the butter at the dinner table. His answer was also sincere. He really wanted to take care of my needs, as the customer, and I walked away from our interaction just knowing that he would “check with his office” and I would get the extra pick up I needed.

I once had an employee leave because he felt he was being asked to do something that was beneath him. He wasn’t able to project, even to himself, an attitude that says “I’m proud of myself and I take pride in what I do.” He got lost in what he perceived the “status of the job” to be.

Having a positive attitude about yourself works in your favor in so many ways. Here are just a few:

  • You want a promotion at work – If your attitude is that you already have the job and your actions show you are doing the job, you will be in the right place when the opening occurs
  • You are interviewing for a job – Your positive, I can solve your problem, attitude will strike a chord during the interview. Combine that with some specific examples of how you have solved problems in the past and you are on your way to hearing “when can you start”

It has been over 10 years since my garbage man told me “I’ll check with my office”. He made a huge impression that day. Think about your attitude, adjust as necessary and let me know how this works for you.

 

Ladder vs. Jungle Gym – Is there room for a leader anymore? 2

Is this replacing the corporate ladder?

Has the Internet and social media destroyed the corporate ladder? Is there even a ladder to climb now? I’m hearing the instant collaboration via the Web has created more of a jungle gym interaction. People will tell you that there is no longer a leader, that the expression “lonely at the top” is no longer relevant because there is no top.

I have been trying to wrap my arms around this for the past two weeks. Having grown up in the “leadership generation” my bias is towards having one central figure in charge. You know; George Washington… Abraham Lincoln…  leading the nation kind of stuff. I’ve been trying to picture Abe tweeting all of his generals about the status of the Confederates, then creating a strategy in the White House. I remember reading Abe famously sent a  note to one of his generals suggesting that if the general wasn’t going to use the Army, he would give it a try. I’ll bet that would have garnered more than one RT.

I would welcome your thoughts on what defines leadership these days. The issue may be larger than I think. It could be a paradigm shift between my generation and my children’s. I do know that each of my children is dedicated to and is passionate about what they do, but not in the same way I am. While this is to be expected, it creates challenges as each generation has different expectations from their work experience.

As an aside (and a future blog post) the definition of leadership and it’s expectations becomes more relevant as those hiring and doing the interviewing change places. The  Ladder generation interviewers are no longer the only ones doing the hiring. Many Jungle Gym interviewees have been hired and are now the new Interviewers . The rules about how to interview are changing with the change in leadership. If you haven’t figured this out, you’re not getting those second interviews and the “when can you start” phone calls.

Please weigh in on this topic. My readers and I look forward to hearing other’s opinions .