Monday, August 8, 2011

Got Goals?

I'm updating my goals list.

So far I have: update my resume, set a regular blogging schedule, establish myself as a subject matter expert in my career field of event production, lose 10 more pounds, start taking jiu jitsu lessons, and be able to hit someone in the head w/ a Muay Thai kick by December 31st.

Also: spend more time with my wife, pay off my credit cards, improve my social media marketing efforts, and start a separate savings account for family trips and vacations.

I've got short term action steps for the longer term goals in place. They say writing down goals is the best first step towards achieving them, otherwise it's just a daydream! Set long term goals, short-term goals, and daily goals. I have career/business goals, financial goals, health goals, relationship goals... this isn't just about your life at work. You can't hit a target if you can't see it, so write them down! I put mine on Post-It notes on my mirror, so I see them every day. Talk about motivation!

Napoleon Hill talks about the power of writing down goals in his amazing book "Think And Grow Rich". If you haven't read that yet I strongly suggest you stop what you're doing this very minute and go read it. NOW! I see it the principles from that book working in the lives of successful people from all walks of life- from Gene Simmons to Zig Ziglar! Two of my heroes, by the way!

Please comment or share this blog post. And get in touch if you're a fellow blogger, I'd love to check out your stuff!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

What if things DO get better?

My favorite NHL hockey coach, Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres, had a great quote he would say to reporters after games all the time. When asked about a big victory, or a big loss, Lindy would always say, "When things are good, we don't get too high. When things are bad, we don't get too low". I've tried to use that philosophy in my personal and business life. In this world things change frequently, and you can be riding high one moment and down in the dumps the next. Riding an emotional roller coaster like that can be exhausting!

Many businesses have suffered greatly over the past few years. Unemployment is high and the business world is changing rapidly - generally not for the better. However, there are encouraging signs lately, that seem to signal that things may be turning around. A client of mine was telling me about his company the other day. They took a 10% pay cut a few years back in an effort to control costs and avoid layoffs. They also froze any pay raises, reduced benefits, and went through a familiar litany of money saving changes. Lots of companies have made efforts like this. But do these efforts have any positive effect?

Well, at my client's company, they seem to have. They recently got their 10% back, and performance reviews (and the accompanying raises) are returning as well. So does this mean things are "back to normal"?

I don't think so. Like my favorite hockey coach would say, "When things are good, don't get too high. When things are bad, don't get too low". Sure, it looks like things are getting better, and that's a good thing. Heck, a 10% increase in salary for ME would be a GREAT thing! But things change quickly and you never know what's around the corner. Don't get too high. Bump up your 401K contributions if you're comfortable with that, or just sock away that extra $$$ for a few months. Look for opportunities to increase your value now that there may be some newly available capital to invest in new projects. Be vigilant for new ways to take these positive changes and move ahead.

Things may be getting better. That's great! But don't get too high. Keep working!

Please comment or share this blog post. And get in touch if you're a fellow blogger, I'd love to check out your stuff!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Things First.

First things first. My Dad used to say that to me all the time, usually when I was in the act of doing something silly like painting a model kit before assembling it, or wiping my butt before I actually sat down on the john. It’s natural, wanting to get to the “good part”, or what we think is “the important part” as soon as humanly possible. Just ask my wife.

BUT, and this is a big but, what we think is the “good part” or the “important part” isn’t always accurate. In fact, sometimes the steps leading up to it are really the most important. And in many cases, we can’t even DO the “good part” until we’ve done the other stuff first. Like crawling before you can walk, and walking before running. Or learning algebra before calculus. You need to build up the support structure before you can add on the details, or else the whole thing is going to fall apart.

Failing to do so is like getting in the car, starting it up, getting onto the highway, and then starting to think about where it is you actually need to get to.
Determine what the goal is first, figure out what the desired end state looks like, THEN start sorting out the best way to achieve it. Don’t get led off the path by the fun parts- or the parts that someone else tells you are most important. In business people often get bullied into focusing on the wrong parts of a project and end up setting the whole thing back because they’re expending all their energy to accommodate one person, and not staying on target.

Richard Machowicz, in his excellent book “Unleash The Warrior Within”, outlines what he calls the “ACTE” method of taking action on any project. It fits nicely with the whole “first things first” theme, and I love Mack, so I’ll share it with you.

A: Assess the situation. This is where you look at the desired end state or goal. What’s happening, what needs to happen? What do I really want/need to do here?
C: Create a simple Plan.
T: Take action.
E: Evaluate the results.

Repeat as necessary. Easy peasy, livin’ greasy.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

E-mail filters are your friend

I have a friend. He is a nice man. He likes to send a daily inspirational e-mail to his entire mailing list. It's usually a quote from Ghandi or Zig Ziglar or Vince Lombardi about believing in yourself. Sort of the text version of that "Hang In There" poster with the kitten dangling from a tree branch. I think it's great that he's taking the time out of his day to research and send this stuff, and I know his intent is honorable. The thing is, in my line of work I get a LOT of e-mails. And at some point, I said to myself, "If I have to see another e-mail about how a smile can launch a thousand ships, I'm going to jab a pencil through my eye socket". But what to do? I could tactfully ask him to take me off his list. But that would make me look like a grinch who doesn't believe in the power of positive thinking. And this guy is higher up in the company than me. So now what?

Meet your new best buddy, Mr. E-mail filter.

Check your email and see if it has e-mail filtering capabilities. Outlook has it, Gmail has it, most email services have some way of setting up filters to automatically direct incoming e-mails where you want them to go. For instance, maybe you want all your e-mails from a specific vendor to go into a special folder where you keep all similar messages. Just set up a filter to send all messages from his e-mail address to that file and bingo- now you can quickly and easily find all related messages.

Or, you could send e-mails from a particular sender to your "deleted" folder. Just sayin'.

Our Security staff has a check in process for all external vendors where they send an e-mail to the employee the vendor is there to work for when they arrive at the property. This great if you've hired some guys to put up drywall and need to know when they get there so you can go meet them, and show them where the drywall goes. It's not so good if you're booking a salsa band to play at the lounge at midnight and you don't want to get 12 e-mails from Security telling you each band member has arrived at the club. "Hector Lopez has arrived." "Jesus Delgado has arrived." "Tommy Tucker has arrived." And so on... E-mail filter to the rescue.

Or updates from the cafeteria letting you know that today's special is salami sandwiches. Filter! Or company-wide e-mails from people you don't know announcing that they will be coming in 15 minutes late today. Filter that bad boy!

Explore your e-mail service's filtering capabilities. Get creative and be ruthless. You'll be glad you did. Oh, and by the way, Hang In There!

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

The new Starbucks logo

There's been a lot of buzz about the new Starbucks logo. The coffee giants dropped the name from their logo, opting instead to go with their iconic mermaid image. I love it!

Starbucks is already positioned as the biggest name in coffee. And I'm pretty sure the words "Starbucks" and "coffee" will be prominently displayed at all their retail outlets. Just not in the logo itself.

I think this move really opens the door for Starbucks to contunue moving forward as more of a "lifestyle" brand, rather than limiting themselves to being "only" a coffee company. They're already dabbling in music, and the new logo sets them up perfectly to branch out even further, while capitalizing on their huge market share and brand recognition.

I wrote this post at Discount Tire on my Droid X phone!
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Don't lie to your employees.

My dear old Dad taught me many things while I was growing up. How to tie my shoes. How to change a tire. How to throw a left hook. And, if you say you're going to do something, do it. If you make a promise, keep it.

Seems simple right? All too often in the fast paced, high pressure world of business, where the bottom line is king, these niceties can get thrown right out the window.

A client of mine was sharing something that happened to her recently. Her company instituted a new employee communication program, in which upper management held a series of one on one meetings with every employee. Well, actually it was more like 2 or 3 on one, depending on which department you were in, apparently - Director, Assistant Director and Manager meeting with one employee, in her case. The pattern starts here!

Anyway, during the meeting they discussed her attitude (which was good), her performance (ditto) and her hopes and plans moving forward in the company. They also talked about what THEY could do for her moving forward- what kind of support, assistance, etc she wanted to recieve -from the company in general and her supervisors in particular. At the end they all signed an agreement that essentially restated what they had discussed; that she would continue to work hard & show good morale and attitude, and that they would provide the specific support she had requested (I'm not going to go into too much detail here as I don't want to get her in trouble).

As I'm sure you can guess from the title of this blog post, things didn't work out exactly as planned. She held up her end of the bargain, which, to be honest, was pretty easy. She's a good worker and a great person, so working hard and having a great attitude just comes naturally for her! The problem came when the company was called upon to come through on their promises.

They didn't come through on a single one. They actually made some of their failures to comply with the agreement seem like her fault- she was even reprimanded for not reminding them to provide her with the weekly updates she had asked them to give on a looming company-wide restructuring. An "update" is something you provide on your own. Otherwise, you're just "answering a question"! She knew they weren't taking the whole thing seriously when she never got a copy of the signed agreement after the initial meeting. When she asked for one it took management over a week to track down the document and forward her a scan. The bottom line : employment is a relationship, and integrity is vital to any relationship. Do what you say you're going to do, when you say you'll do it, the way you said you'd do it. Easy enough.
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