successful managers

Don’t let your attitude keep you from getting the job or promotion 3

“People don’t get what they want, they get what they are”

Dan Cruoglio

Attitude is the key to getting the most out of each day. And having the right attitude is critical in landing a job or a promotion. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that you will not get the right job until you get the right attitude. As my friend Dan said “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”.

What I think he means is your inner beliefs, your core values, your ideas about yourself will eventually surface. If you are telling yourself you want to make $100,000 a year and have the corner office, but deep down (when no one is looking) you only see yourself in a cubicle, living paycheck to paycheck, guess where you end up. As Dan says “When you squeeze a lemon, you don’t expect to have orange juice come out”.

Figuring out what you are willing to give to get what you want is the key to getting what you want.  If you truly want the corner office, you will “pay the cost to get it”. Everything has a cost and you must be willing to give what it takes to get there. To get the corner office the cost may be arriving an hour  before everyone else every morning, volunteering for the tough jobs, the jobs others shy away from because they are hard. It may mean long weekends reviewing notes, re-writing proposals, learning the things you need to sit in the comer office. It may mean extensive travel, time away from family and leisure activities. Knowing the costs and then making the commitment to paying those costs is the only way to get to that corner office.

So if you can figure out who you are, not just on the outside, you will be light years ahead of most candidates for a job or a promotion. Then you must make the commitment to do what it takes to achieve what you want. Once you do that, you will be one step closer to the right job or to picking out the desk for your new corner office.

Seven ways to take charge of your To Do List 9

So you want to be more organized and have a list of things to accomplish. Now what?

  1. Create your list at the end of your workday, before leaving the office (give yourself permission to plan your next day, you’ll sleep better and will arrive at work feeling organized)
  2. Budget 10 – 15 minutes for planning and solitude (make this a daily priority on your list; Without a plan, you are just busy, not effective)
  3. Rank your list (deadlines for projects, client calls to return, you know what’s most important)
  4. Do the task you ranked #1 first (this is soooo… hard when there is e-mail to look at, YouTube video to share The Tickle Me Plant and co-workers to talk with)
  5. Check your tasks off as you complete them (there is a certain satisfaction in completing a task and the act of checking it off causes the body to release positive endorphins. Occasionally, I will write something I did on the list, just so I can cross it off)
  6. As new items come up during the day, add them to the bottom of the list. You will rank them at the end of the day (KEEP ONE LIST. If I write a note on a little slip of paper, I carry it in my hand until I can write it on my list. When I put a note in my pocket, the odds of it ending up on my to-do list decrease exponentially)
  7. “Do first things first and second things not at all” – Peter Drucker (The point of a list is to focus your attention on the most important aspects of your job. When you cross off your number 1 item, number 2 becomes your new number one.)

Apply these seven techniques and you will find you have taken charge of your To Do List.

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?

Four lessons any manager can learn from the Masters Golf Tournament – Part 4 0

Charl Schwartzel of South Africa helps Bubba Watson put on the ceremonial Green Jacket during Sunday's fourth round at the 2012 Masters Tournament

At Augusta, it is often said that the tournament is not won on Thursday (the first day), but that’s when it can be lost. Bubba Watson was on the hunt all four days and made  a solid showing on Thursday. He put himself in contention to win.

As a manager, your success is often directly related to the amount of planning you do. You can lose the sale, profit or even a  promotion by not being fully prepared. And like the Masters, you can’t win on the opening day. You must play through the different parts of the project, adjust as needed and stay focused on managing the pieces according to your plan.

On day two, Bubba was the leader.  On day three, he was not. But he was still able to win. He had left himself a chance.  By the end of regulation play on Sunday, Bubba was tied with Oosthuizen and a Sudden Death Playoff began. On the second sudden death  hole, Bubba hit his drive left in to the gallery. He hit an amazing second shot onto the green and two putted. Oosthuizen made a 5 and the tournament had a new champion.

Right up until the last stroke of the last hole, Bubba had to remain vigilant. To be a successful  manager, you must do the same. Regardless of the project, it’s all about the planning and then the execution.

Charles Degaulle  said “Victory often goes to the army that makes the fewest mistakes, not the most brilliant plans”. I think Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters Champion, would agree.

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.

Is Your Organization Doomed To Fail? 0

“If the rate of change externally is greater than the rate of change internally, then your organization is doomed to fail.” Dan Cathy, President and COO Chick-Fil-A

I discovered Chick-Fil-A when I was a salesman for a small audio electronics chain, Harvey’s Warehouse. The year was 1977 and the store was located in the Coliseum Mall, Hampton Virginia. My store was just a few shops down from their location.  That Chick-Fil-A was always busy and not just at lunch or dinner. I can’t remember ever walking by and not seeing lines. Even back then they had figured out a niche and were exploiting it. 30 some years later, Chick-Fil-A is still packing in their “raving fans” and continuing to grow. (Learn more by reading Manage Better Now’s complete coverage of Dan Cathy’s speech given at the University of Tampa)

In the 1980′s I was a store manager for the catalog merchandiser Best Product’s Company, Inc. I had managed seven stores in seven years and had moved around the state of Virginia, finally returning to my wife’s home town of Hampton, VA. Life seemed great, the company had just hit a billion in  sales and my future with them seemed ripe with opportunity. And then we acquired Modern Merchandising. The next twelve months proved fatal for our company.

We began assimilating all of the buying offices throughout the country and consolidating our distribution centers. We changed the names on the buildings to our Best Products logo. We even had T-shirts made. It was only twelve months, but the attention this required took our focus off of driving sales and staying in front of the next trend. When we  lifted our heads up and began to focus once again on what our customers wanted, we looked around and said “hey, where’d  everybody go?”

Best Products  was the next new thing when we opened. Having a Best Product’s card was a status symbol in many circles. Yet, as I see it now with the benefit of hind-sight, when we acquired Modern Merchandising, we momentarily lost our focus on what our customers wanted just as they were demanding something different. Our customer’s “rate of change externally” was far greater than our “rate of change internally”. The closing of the company was several years later, but the handwriting was on the wall.

So how’s your business? Are you focusing on what’s now or what’s next? If you need some inspiration, maybe you should go have a chicken sandwich.

Three reasons Warren Buffet was wrong about Management 2

“Lacking standards, managements are tempted to shoot the arrow of performance, and then paint the bull’s eye around wherever it lands,” said the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffet, CEO and the largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway.

We have all been guilty at times of taking whatever limited success we have achieved and finding a way to put a positive spin on it. “Mission Accomplished” on the deck of an aircraft carrier springs to mind. Yet the very idea that we must always know what we are measuring before we measure it seems awkward as well.

Here are three reasons to “paint the bull’s eye last:

  1. You only see the problem - Knowing what the problem is gets the project started. After writing my book, I was working to understand my Brand, my strengths, what I could offer. The search led me to recognize that I had interviewed thousands of people and had read over 5,000 resumes and applications. This realization led to a my Jobs board and moved the target
  2. Getting feedback as the project evolves helps you see where to place the target – As I received more and more questions about interviewing and hiring skills, I began to write tips, articles and this led to presenting a staff training program titled “You’re Hired” for the NJ Dept of Labor in Toms River. When I first shot the arrow, I wasn’t aware of the local agency
  3. It’s hard to hit a moving target – To survive and remain successful means growth and movement. Wednesday I shot the cover picture for my next book, Write this down, you will need it later. The book is targeted at students. Many times at graduation, students have many transferable skills, but little real world work experience. My latest project is filled with information on how students can package their accomplishments into a personal brand that is recognizable during the interview process.  I will be taking this message on the road, working with students to give them the tools they need to land jobs.  When I sat down to write the first words of my first book, my focus was much narrower.

I admit I would not have made much progress without targets.  In fact, I have hundreds of targets, each with its own date and time attached to it.  Being competitive requires a target to measure against.  All of us put up mini-targets all day long; to get to work by 8AM, to get the kids to band practice, to pick up our dry cleaning before the shop closes.

Yet, for the big picture, with all due respect to the “Oracle of Omaha”, I would recommend not being so quick to paint the bull’s eye. You may be surprised how much bigger your target becomes.

“Spring Ahead” – Three lessons managers can learn from daylight savings time 5

Did you "Spring Ahead"?

As managers, we can learn three valuable lessons from “Spring Ahead”. Let’s look at Sally and Sam and see what they did in order to make it to church on time this morning.

  1. Preparation – Sally  cut out the reminder notice from her local newspaper about setting the clocks forward and posted it on the refrigerator. Sam had heard someone mention it in the hallway at work and assumed he would remember
  2. Planning – Sally and family knew they wanted to arrive at church on time and planned ahead by taking care of their clocks the night before. Sam assumed he would get to it , but did not before going to bed.
  3. Prioritizing – Sam started watching a late movie on TV and found it more important  than taking the time to set his clock ahead. Sally and family made setting the clocks ahead a priority, each taking a room and moving the time forward before retiring . One of the kids actually went out and changed the clock in the family car.

Sally and family accomplished their goal and the next day  made it to church on time. Sam woke up this morning, had forgotten all about daylights savings time and got to church just as the service ended.

Even something as routine as changing the clocks has valuable lessons for successful managers. Sally acted like a good manager would, and took steps to meet her objectives. Sam did not and the result was he missed church. On a personal level, all that was lost by Sam was a little self-esteem and pride as he explained to his pastor why he missed church.

But what if Sam and Sally were competing in business? What if they  both had a new product launch scheduled to rollout?  Who do you think applied the lessons from “Spring Ahead”? Who do you think would be the successful manager?

Four reasons your plan is too complicated 2

Do we have anything, like, resembling a plan, or anything?

I was on the treadmill at the gym this afternoon and on one of the TV’s they were running Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard. I had seen the movie before and was concentrating more on getting to 1.5 miles in less than 20 minutes when this scene caught my attention:

Matt Farrell: Do we have anything, like, resembling a plan, or anything?
John McClane: Find Lucy, kill everybody else.
Matt Farrell: I mean, more like a plan, like, a way to do that.

Right after this John McClane (Bruce Willis) picks up a pipe wrench and takes out bad guys with his bare hands. The Geek, Matt Farrell, who is interested in John’s daughter,  is armed with a laptop and quite a bit of theory.

The whole scene  reminded me how sometimes managers can over complicate things. In fact, here are four reasons why your plan is too complicated:

  1. It’s over thought – it’s very detailed and complex. It smacks of “justifying your position” instead of a realistic plan
  2. It’s not taking into account the resources at hand. It might be a great plan if you had 20 super-star employees, but your budget is forcing you to do it with ten and you can’t choose which employees you get. So now the plan is not realistic.
  3. It’s not addressing the real issue. (This could be a plug for my book!) Your plan isn’t going to address the real issue and later you are going to need to go back and fix it.
  4. It’s not timely - it’s a 5 year plan for a two-week deadline

You might get lucky in the end, I mean Matt Farrell did get the girl. But did you see what he had to go through? Now if he had a less complicated plan…