Friday, June 26, 2015

I Met the Future...and it Means Business

I recently had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with a young man who will be graduating form college next Spring. He decided to spend this summer learning as much as he could about the world of work. He wants to be as prepared as possible when his undergraduate days end.

Let me tell you something...if the next generation is as focused, driven, polished and thinks about work the way he does, we are in very good hands.

Oh, and there will also be a whole bunch of leaders who suddenly find themselves reporting to him, because he's all ready demonstrated the leadership traits we all spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to "develop" in our people. (Please...why don't we just hire leaders instead of trying to turn non-leaders into something they're not?)

Learning As A Competitive Advantage 
One of the first things that impressed me was his desire to learn. He didn't present himself as a fact, his humility was only overshadowed by his energy to make a difference.

I kept thinking to myself, 'he sure doesn't fit into the Gen Y stereotype all of the "experts" have been telling me about.'

Which, by the way, again reinforced my absolute disdain for the term "expert." It's usually a self-appointed I right? Don't believe me? Go read your own twitter or LinkedIn bio.

So there I sat...sharing my experiences, advocating that the "rules" that have been established in the world of work need to be ignored, and that he shouldn't be afraid to forge his own path.

It was awesome.

Thinking Big All Ready
As he shared his ideas to make an impact on the projects he's involved with this summer I kept thinking the same thought..."how quickly can I hire this guy into my company before someone else gets him?"

I'm not kidding.

After two hours I also realized he'll probably be running his own company by the time he's twenty-five or so, which means my window of opportunity to recruit him is almost closed.

How About You
When was the last time you spent time connecting with one of tomorrow's leaders to share your experiences? I hope that he was able to take a couple of things away from our time together. He'll never fully appreciate how much he gave me without even knowing it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

What's Important Now

I have a long list of priorities in my life right now. You probably do too. When I think about the expectations of me to a lot.

Whether that means coming through consistently for my company and our making sure I am "there" for everyone in my personal finding time to do something for myself (ha!) has become a long list.

So which of these things is most important now?

So before I get too deep into this topic I need to clarify an important point: I love the rush of a hectic lifestyle. I get fired up when there's pressure. I like being the one who has to make something happen when everything looks bleak. 

No, I don't have a hero complex. But candidly, I've seen enough leaders over the years who either analyze every situation so thoroughly that they make decisions once it is absolutely safe (and far too late to be effective); or other leaders who talk a good game but don't do anything...ever.

I'm not that guy. I'm the one who's willing to jump in and push a little too hard...before everything is just right...because forward momentum to me is far more important than perfection.

When was the last time you experienced perfection? I thought so....I never have either.

The impact of loving a hectic lifestyle however, is that the pressure can sometimes be too much. Always being "on" and delivering for everyone all the time (except yourself) can occasionally knock us off our game.

I hate when that happens to me. And yes, it feels like a curse sometimes.

How About You
What approach do you take to identify what is most important in your world? For as much as I work hard to keep it all moving forward...the reality is I'm human too. (Don't tell anyone...I don't want to ruin my reputation.)

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Abeyance (Will Kill Your Career)

Work can feel like a mad scramble sometimes. The priority list...the projects...the endless stream of 'important' email...lots of meetings...

...and don't let me forget the tremendous weight of the pressure from our personal lives that can push us to the brink...

Hmm. One could easily get caught up in their own drama and fall hopelessly behind on every front. Don't tell anyone, but that happens to me once in a while.

As it turns out, feeling sorry for yourself helps you complete exactly zero items  on your Wunderlist. Although I am a big fan of allowing stress and pressure to wash over you, through you...and then out of you, I'll admit that it's no fun when it's happening.

Once you've completed  your self-inflicted pity festival (they're usually much bigger than a pity 'party' in my world) it's go time. Time to bring things back into focus. 

Time to get a game plan based on tackling one issue at a time. Trying to catch up everything at once is not only foolish, it won't work, so don't waste your time.

Get back to work...get your life organized...take one positive step forward.

There is another important piece to the "get your ass back in gear" mentality. That is, you actually have to do something. First steps, baby steps, or one-step-at-a-time approaches are terrific to get you started. But they are a long way from executing effectively on the totality of your responsibilities.

When you start to feel good about yourself as you get things back on track, remember to use that positive energy and take a deep dive into a major priority. You'll feel'll get your work done...and you will be back on top of your game.

How About You
It's not easy to go from feeling like a zero to a feeling like a hero. Wallowing in self-pity may be a convenient excuse, but it sure as heck doesn't get your work done. Now is the time to get yourself together.

Focus. Execute. Win.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hello, I Love You

This post is taken from a completely fictitious interview I conducted with no one...or...everyone...who has ever been your company.


Jay - Congratulations on your new job. You must be very excited?

Your New Employee - Yes, it's going to be great.

Jay - I'd love to hear about your experience joining your new company. Tell me about the process.

Your New Employee - Well, it's actually been more complicated than I expected. I saw the position posted online, and tried to apply, but their website was pretty old school, so I had to spend a lot of time just trying to get my application in.

Jay - That's too bad...but you know how applicant tracking systems can be...that's just how it goes.

Your New Employee - Um, I guess so.

Jay - Great! How about your interviews, I bet they were inspiring?

Your New Employee - Well, actually my screening interview was okay, but it was a real hassle getting to the next step to meet with the manager.

Jay - Oh yes, you know how meetings just clog up every one's calendars. That's the modern world of know what I mean, right?

Your New Employee - I waited a couple of weeks to get my interview scheduled. Doesn't that seem a bit long to you? Particularly if the job was so important and needed to be filled right away? At least that's what the recruiter told me.

Jay - Yes! Those jobs are so important! This is great! Tell me about your first day, and the orientation you received. I bet it was awesome, right?

Your New Employee - Not exactly. I sat through a long day of lectures on benefits and policy reviews which probably could have been done ahead of time electronically.

Jay - Excellent! It sounds like they have a great program to get new employees up to speed. I love this! Keep going!

Your New Employee - What? I mean...okay. Once I found my way to my department the next day they didn't quite know what to do with me, so I sat around reading some more policies, and figuring out where to go for lunch.

Jay - Awesome! Lots of flexibility and no pressure as you got started. You must have felt so supported!

Your New Employee - To be honest with you, I didn't feel supported until a coworker reached out and helped me meet some people and show me the ropes. Then I started to feel like a part of the team.

Jay - Well, this has just been terrific. Congratulations again, it sounds like you have made a great career move. You clearly have joined a world class organization!


How About You 
No, this wasn't real...or was it? What would your new team members say in an interview?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Stronger Than Hate

I've been thinking about the tremendous amount of sadness in the news lately from around the world. There are big things like war, famine, and blatant violations of human rights happening all the time.

Isn't that last comment enough to make you sick? These issues are so common we're not even phased when we hear about them.

Hate and indifference fuel these disastrous situations.

It's Personal
I've discovered over the years that I have a tremendous amount of influence in my life when it comes to hate. 

Sometimes the hate is subtle in the workplace...a quiet joke about someone who might be gay, or a crass comment about a female leader who is driving change. And the room is filled with a mix of nervous laughter and heads facing toward the floor.

Why is it that difference becomes a threat? 

Why is it that so many "professionals" don't realize that they are showing their true feelings when these not-so-subtle comments are made publicly? Seriously, when I hear these things I now react to them...and simultaneously lose all respect for the person saying it. 

I may have to work with you, but I will never cut you any slack again. Ever.

It's Serious
What strikes me as the ultimate in ironies is that the leaders that make crude comments about race, gender and sexuality also expect to be treated with the utmost respect. Ha! Good luck with that one.

"The same people often use religion as their cannon fodder for hate. I'm not a biblical scholar, but I don't recall Jesus saying 'let the white christian straight children come to me.' He actually invited all children to join him."

It's a shame so many leaders today fail to appreciate that message.

How About You
The world is changing...albeit slowly. No longer will the generation that is going to dominate the world of work accept these bigoted and outdated behaviors. Not to mention the legal infrastructure that is finally catching up to a civilized view of the world that treats all people with respect.

It's time for each of us to evaluate the words we use, and the challenges we make to these tired and embarrassing comments in the workplace. Stand up and let your voice be heard.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

To Reign Again

There is something special about being on top of your game. The world of work is so complicated these days that this feeling is more elusive than ever before. But when you know things are working...when the team is jelling...and your colleagues are actually behaving like, well, is good.

Get It Back
Consider where you are today relative to being on top. Are you making bold decisions and being supported as you take yourself, your team, and your organization to a new level? Maybe you find yourself having to justify every move you make because the old-school leaders in your company are literally too old (in their thinking) to understand that we live in a spread out, digital world?

Regardless of the reason, if you don't have that special feeling about your work then it's time to do something about it. 

Reign of Fire
Let's focus on three key areas that will move you from frazzled to fantastic as you develop your leadership presence and impact in your organization.

1. Know Your Stuff
This may sound obvious but sadly it is not. The world has changed so dramatically that it is imperative that you are current both in your discipline and industry.

2. Educate Your Colleagues
Do not expect your team, or the other executives in your organization to be as current as you. Modern leaders are few and far between. Most are afraid to move out of their comfort zones and simply rely on the company's brand to "take care of things like it always has." Yes, leaders actually still say these things.

3. Execute Confidently
There is nothing more powerful than a leader that knows what they are talking about, and isn't afraid to make decisions to keep things moving forward. Most leaders today are simply trying to protect their own backside, and are unwilling to actually make bold decisions.

How About You
It's time for you to reign again! You deserve to have that special feeling when you are at the top of your game. Don't hold back simply because the other leaders are afraid to lead. Their weakness is not your responsibility. Keep pushing and believe you can make a difference.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.