June 30, 2011
An excerpt from the forward of the Barry J. Moltz Edition of Feed Your Mind Good Stuff
Many of us think a lot about the food we put in our bodies. We realize that if our bodies does not have good fuel, it can’t perform well.
Tim Sanders, in his new book, Today We Are Rich asks if we similarly think about the information that we put in our mind. This is critical because we are what we think about. How can we have the resiliency to ride the daily business roller coaster up and down if we feed our minds junk? This includes the hor- rors of the nightly newscasts, sitcoms and reality TV shows. What shape is our mind in after answering a barrage of emails or aimlessly surfing the web? What about the negative people, gossip and nasty attitudes that we are exposed to every day?
Tim believes that we need to go on a “mind diet” in order to radically change our attitude and therefore our level of confi- dence. He says that “When good stuff goes into your mind, good thoughts emerge. People who maintain purposeful mind diets of positive stimuli think healthy thoughts”...
Click here to read Barry J. Moltz's entire forward from Today We Are Rich - Principle 1 - Feed Your Mind Good Stuff.
Because the seven principles of confident living are principles that some of the most successful people you know live by, I wanted to provide a forum for these same people to tell you why they love this book. Each custom edition features a special forward written by our participants. Find out more about the Today We Are Rich Custom Editions here.
June 28, 2011
If only we could find a few more working hours in the week. If only we could become more efficient with our precious time, squeezing in our work between meetings and phone calls. Countless books have been written about it, and likely you've read a few - or even taken time management courses.
I bet you've never heard about how Stanley Marcus Jr. managed his. Back in 1999, he shared his Secret over a mentoring lunch with me in Dallas. He was blowing a few hours, mentoring me about customer relationship management and retail store marketing. I needed the advice, as I was at broadcast.com, developing interactive events for companies like Neiman Marcus.
"When I need to take time back, I give it away to help young people like you," he said between bites. The point of his message was lost on me. "When you invest time in teaching and sharing, in many cases you'll see profound results quickly. That'll motivate you to find more time to invest."
In my case, a few lunches had exponentially improved my ability to apply internet broadcast technology to retail, leading to innovations and a growing book of business for me. Mr. Marcus observed that, took pride in what he accomplished, and as a result - became jealous of his time, so he could do it again for others.
He continued: "When I give someone an hour or two, and I see the difference that it makes in their lives, I go back to the office and clear my calendar of the fluff. Ill advised meetings, trips, conference calls or busy-work projects of no value." In other words, mentoring gave him motivation to find time to mentor more.
"Too many people rely on time management tips and techniques to get it right," he concluded. "What they really need is a fundamental respect of their time. Giving it away can achieve that."
It's true. We know what we shouldn't be doing, but we still succumb to the silly meeting request or the non-productive day trip. We don't respect ourself or our time enough to say no.
If you are guilty of time wasting, always wishing you had a little bit more each day - take on a mentee and give away two hours a week. Have an agenda, be profusely generous in showing her the ropes, and observe the difference your investment is making. Then fill yourself with the desire to do more of it, and apply that to your calendar. You'll find HOURS to be taken back, now that you are jealous of your time.
June 23, 2011
Truth is, I do get nervous, but not about the speaking part. I am nervous that the crowd won't show up, the talk won't connect with the group's emotional needs and some part of the logistics may go haywire. I'm very confident in my speaking skills, but must face the fact that things can still go wrong.
I'm sure you have this feeling too, regardless of your profession. You sweat before big meetings, presentations, performances or group projects. You may even feel bad, like being a little nervous means you lack confidence.
It's actually important that you have a case of butterfly's before big moments, it means you recognize that the stakes are high and in reality, nothing is a lock. This helps you balance your confidence, so don't fight it -- overcome it so you can be in flow when the time comes. Here's the best way to beat the nerves:
1 - Prepare, prepare, prepare. The #1 way to immunize yourself against nervousness is to prepare fully. In Today We Are Rich, I prescribe that you acquire some specialized knowledge to use during your performance. Do some sleuthing online or via your network, and find out some surprising and interesting facts or news. Watch video or read experts to enhance your skill set for the task.
2 - Rehearse "as if". One day prior to any big moment, fully rehearse what you'll do (not in your head!). If you can, create a similar environment (same room, mock crowd, distractions, etc.). Rehearse jumping over these hurdles. If you are doing ANY customized performance, you need to try it out on an audience, or at the very least, in front of the mirror. When it's go-time, you'll know internally that you are ready for anything.
3 - Recollect a previous success experience. What do you fill your mind with right before your big moments? Scenarios of failure, worry, fear, self-doubt? I suggest that right before you 'deliver' you close your eyes and recollect a time in your career when you faced a similar challenge and rocked it. Recollect your preparation, the nerves you felt right before you performed, the turning point where you saw victory at hand - and some visual trophy from the experience. It could be a logo from letterhead, a check, a complimentary email, etc. Remind yourself you are just as ready and just as good as that person was.
Like all elements of confidence, you can't just fake-it-till-you-make it when it comes to pre-performance nerves. You have to DO specific things to either prevent it, or power through it. You can't just hope that nerves will vanish when you get your legs underneath you - if they see you sweat, you'll quickly lose authority. Besides, it's no fun to be skeered when it's a big opportunity.
This comes from Today We Are Rich, principle 5: Prepare Your Self
June 20, 2011
That's a guiding rule for all entrepreneurs and innovators. It's easy to brain storm an idea, then vet it orally to our coworkers, partners and customers. But when it's still at the 'theoretical' level, it's hard to gather any kind of useful feedback - or momentum.
If you have an idea, quickly create a prototype for it, even a rough one that barely resembles your finished product or process. Tim Koogle, former CEO at Yahoo!, always counseled me to avoid being an "ING" (always thinking about or talking about doing things) and instead be an "ED" (achieved failure, launched an alpha, raised the capital).
This is true for all ideas, even new ways of doing things at work. By creating a visual statement of the idea, you can uncover the problems inside it that need to be addressed. Pixar's Ed Catmull once told me that "every great movie contains thousands of solutions to get from script to screen effectively." You'll also gain a sense of accomplishment as you move from talk to action, setting yourself in DO motion. Here's a few rules for Fast Prototyping:
1 - Convert your ideas into discussable objects. Sketch or use Power Point to illustrate the new process, the service design or the product. If it's a physical product, create a crude one, using simple ingredients (like cardboard, styrofoam, etc.). In the brilliant new book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries, author Peter Sims talks about how designer Frank Geary came up with building prototypes this way. He'd cobble together a small scale tape and paper building and tell his team, "let's look at it for a while, and be irritated by it."
2 - Don't focus on perfection. It's OK for your prototype to look rough, even if you are showing it to customers. They'll be more likely to give you constructive criticism, unlike the nearly-finished product prototypes that scream, "we are heavily invested in doing it this way." The point of prototyping is to identify what you need to change, not sell. Ed Catmull put it best, "We are looking to fix problems, not prevent errors."
3 - Show the prototype around to people you trust. Sure, you need to protect your ideas, but don't let this mindset keep you from getting good advise. If someone gives you great feedback, and is aligned with your concept, make sure she gets to see 2.0, 3.0 and the Alpha version of the product.
4 - Don't get discouraged because it's not right. Separate the innovation's concept (Premise, Fundamental Solution Technology) from the prototypes. In many cases, you won't even be close on the first try. I believe this is why most people either don't prototype or share them around prior to getting all the $ required for a blow-out execution. You are afraid of failure.
The greatest failure of all is to go to market with an idea that's not ready or right. At that point, you've sunk money into production, marketing, distribution and operations. It's hard to change the tires on the bus when it's going 55 or faster - and when you have to do-it-or-die, you'll wish you'd prototyped the daylights out of it long ago.
June 17, 2011
These days, I spend my time promoting positive thinking.
But, there's an important distinction between my work and the modern psycho-babble movement that tells people "Just Think Positive", "Fake It Till You Make It" or "Snap Out Of It!". In each case, when we give this prescription, we ask for the impossible.
It's like telling someone who's fighting obesity to "just think thin". They would tell you that it's not that easy. Same goes with people and their thinking patterns. Positive thinking (confidence, optimism or the absence of negative thought) are all OUTCOMES of lifestyle design or circumstance.
Circumstance is when good things happen to you, and your thoughts get sunny. Those come and go, and this explains why some people are up and down, depending on the direction of their times. In my work, I offer lifestyle design tips that will produce positive thinking, confidence and happiness - independent of external circumstances. They are outlined in full in Today We Are Rich: Harnessing The Power Of Total Confidence and the first four include:
1 - Feed Your Mind Good Stuff (free 34 page mini ebook)
2- Move The Conversation Forward (talk like you want to think)
3 - Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle
4 - Give To Be Rich
In each case, you need to invest time and energy and in some cases, change your life patterns. I won't kid you, it's hard work to think positive, even when circumstances are not favorable. But it's essential if you want to be consistently happy, helpful or effective. I invest about as much time on positive thinking daily as most people do in physical fitness or beauty. And it's worth it!
June 13, 2011
I should know, I've worked for him and then followed him since the start. His energy and enthusiasm attracts others into the world and propels the energy ball forward: broadcast.com, HDnet, Dallas Mavericks, etc.
But, in the case of his NBA franchise, he realized that there's only so much his enthusiasm can add to the mix. Rewind to 2006, when Cuban famously appeared on a late night talk show to guarantee the Mavs first championship. Then, when the series unraveled and the Heat came from behind to win, all eyes were on Cuban. The players and fans, no doubt, wished he hadn't have "jinxed" them and/or motivated the Heat with his appearance.
So, this year, when the Mavs started their playoff run, Cuban stopped talking to the everyone about the team and its prospects. He let Dirk and gang do the talking with the basketball. He stopped blogging at Blog Maverick in mid-April. His Tweets and Facebook posts slowed down to a crawl, only addressing HDnet issues and such (a few Go Mavs, but that's it).
He was noticeably absent from the usual media storm around the Western Finals as well as the NBA Finals. Only in game six, when victory was at hand, did cameras and commentators focus on him. It's as if he hired a reverse PR agent to prevent coverage of his personality during the playoffs. I wouldn't put it past him, he's that wicked smart.
Even in accepting the trophy, Cuban was a class act of an owner. He insisted that Don Carter, the founder of the Mavericks, touch the trophy first. When asked on the podium why he stayed so quiet during the playoffs, he deflected the question, telling Coach Carlisle to "get his butt over here" to talk to the mic. Today, he's back on form, talking to the world about his championship experience and feelings.
Did his absence move the needle? Who will ever know, as it's an intangible that's hard to measure or even proxy. IMHO, his actions could only have helped. The media attention was on Dirk, the team-you-love-to-hate and ... the game of basketball! All the media distractions during the finals focused on LeBron-isms, not Cuban. The heat was on the Heat.
This is a lesson for all company founders and/or owners. Stay out of the picture so your team (that you built) can finish the game. Don't jinx them during the sprint with media blitzes, glitzy appearances at client meetings or events or social media musings about your impending win (John Mackey of Whole Foods can attest to this RE Wild Oats). Just let the team play or as one VP at Oracle liked to say, "ignore me as required to get things done."
For some founder/owners, you should take a permanent vacation from being the focal point of your 'franchise.' Check yourself RIGHT NOW if you are playing Steve Jobs on every new product, program, event or customer meeting. If you are just air, then breeze in during victory laps. Focus your energy on Talent, Product Quality and Vision. Work in the background, like an operating system.
Follow Mark's lead and be behind-the-scene support, unless you are truly convinced that your ubiquity adds value either financially or psychologically. I've worked at a few companies where the founder or owner's presence diverts the perceived authority inappropriately - turning a non day to day player in the quarterback of sorts.
PS - For the star players of the bizworld, let the NBA finals teach you another lesson: Don't Whine Like Queen Lebron. He really sunk to a new low today, when he informed his detractors that they would still wake up tomorrow with a lesser life than he, which makes him Marie Antionette like (let them eat cake) than Michael Jordan ish. MJ would have just admitted he didn't do his job, and ask for the detractors to reconsider him based on his court performance.
Picture source Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press via Desert News - read the article: Mark Cuban's lips unzipped, he remained somewhat humble
June 10, 2011
It was Skillsoft's Perspectives 2011 event for their customers in Orlando. My talk was on Leadership, Confidence and Moving Forward, and directed to the HR community via a webcast. As we prepared for the event, one of the producers asked me if I wanted to "skype in" a guest expert.
"Like Oprah?" I asked. "Sure, it's easy to do. The trick is getting the expert, not the technology," he replied. Aha! So, I thought about various experts/authors that I knew, who might be able to add value to one of my points.
My first thought was a friend, Jeremie Kubicek, author of the newly published book, Leadership Is Dead. He shares my 'abundance mentality' point of view and I knew it would be a win/win/win scenario. Unlike the old days, when you had to use satellite, Skype is easy and free to bring on stage. You need a dedicated laptop running Skype that outputs (video + audio) to a input selection mixer, and make sure both internet connections are robust. A quick Skype-check happened day of the event, and then, during my talk, Jeremie was on Skype, listening to my talk via the laptop's mic and a monitor closeby.
As I introduced him and told the crowd about him, the producer flips the switch from the power point to him, and just like that, I've Skyped in another speaker! He made some good points and the crowd loved the bonus expert.
Try this for your next event, and leverage your network to spice up your next talk. At almost all levels, it's doable, and you know people out there that would love the exposure or be willing to help.
June 09, 2011
I gave over twenty talks in May to support the release of the book - thanks to everyone that stepped up with promotional opportunities. In the above pic (credit: Kenny Kim), I'm presenting from the DJ booth at the Chicago Social Media Club monthly meeting at Frontier.
As a result of our hard work, Today We Are Rich was the #2 best selling book on the Inc. Magazine/800ceoread business best seller list for May! Check out bulk order packages.
There are a few tour stops to go this month, and all of them are open to the public:
1 - Weds 6/15 - Phoenix "Valley of the Sun HR" luncheon. Registration and Information Page
2 - Thurs 6/16 - Dallas "Social Media Club" evening reception. Registration and Information Page
3 - Tues 6/21 - NYC "Leader Connections Executive Forum." PM Registration and Information Page
4 - Weds 6/22 - Bronx NY "Burroughs Business Breakfast" Registration and Information Page
Recent media coverage for Today We Are Rich:
2 - Careersparx "Harness Confidence In Your Job Search"
3 - Investors Business Daily "Train The Working Mind"
June 07, 2011
I say, 'came down,' because it's like a flu for your spirit. It hits you, you feel it, your energy flows to it and life isn't fun. I woke up tired, violated a TWAR rule (don't go online first thing in the morning) and through a link, read something that set me off. I worked, holed up in my hotel room, until lunch, then groused around until my 'gig' that afternoon. Took a deep breath, thinking I could shake it all off and rock-the-mic, and took the stage.
On a scale of one to ten, at best, I gave a 7 that day. And that's NOT acceptable. Sure, it was a promo gig for TWAR (one of three dozen), but still, I should strive for a 9 every single time! The reality is, when your mood state is sour or low, you physically cannot deliver your best. You have voices in your head, limiting your concentration. Your appearance and tone betray your mood, taking away your ability to resonate.
Sure it happens to all of us, and often, we just write off the experience as "woke up on the wrong side of the bed." But since then, I've figured out my funk-busting strategy for next time. Here are the key pieces of advice:
1 - Feed Your Mind A Good Breakfast (every single time!) - Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Because it establishes your metabolism and gives you fuel. This is true for your mind/emotions too. Be very purposeful that you'll be grateful, read good stuff for confidence and talk to someone that's equally positive. Then, face your day with an ounce of prevention from funk.
2 - Love Your Coming Day - Think about what's on your calendar for the day and be grateful for the opportunities it brings you. Too often, we think 'I have to go do this-or-that' and the mindset is all wrong. Later, if you blow it, you'll realize it was an opportunity all along. Also, love the people you will spend time with or serve in the coming day. Re-connect with your purpose (which should be service related) and let that fire you up.
3 - Be Playful With Others - If you suspect that you aren't in the best of moods, fake-it-till-you-make it works. Be a little irreverent, playful and joke around. Horseplay is contagious, and so long as you don't let your mood convert playful into hurtful humor, you'll be OK. I've done this before, and it bleeds into your performance, causing you to smile and be more gracious in the moment.
4 - Use A Mood Crutch - For some, it might be a playlist of makes-you-happy music. Listen to four of five tunes on your iPod before daily performances/tasks for a boost. For others, reach out to your laugh line. Someone who is always positive for you. Confess you fear you are in a bad mood and ask him/her to tell you something funny or exciting. Pick up a Good Book that inspires you and invest ten minutes reading from it. Those authors are there for you. Don't go down alone!
5 - Think About Something You Are Looking Forward To - Visualize your coming vacation, party or concert you are attending. Imagine all the sights, sounds and experiences you'll have. Connect the coming day's work with these opportunities in your life, because you can't be hateful when you are grateful.
If you have another funk buster or good mood guarantee, contribute it in the comments.
June 02, 2011
I'm often hired to speak to companies about improving their people skills.
By this, I mean they want to practice what they are preaching: At Our Company, Our People Come First. This is a very popular CEO-mantra, because it's good business, and leaders are realizing it. When your company priorities people at the design level (not just announcements), recruiting gets easier, turnover drops off, service gets better and great ideas come to work (instead of competing startups). When people's mood is better, they are more productive and innovative (Mood State Matters). It's goodness, all ways around, but very hard to do.
Putting people first at a company, what I call being People-Centric, cuts against the grain of the short term profit, investor/owner mentality. They argue for balance, using the stakeholder argument: Customers, Owners, People all come first. Problem is, that customers/owners both have vested interests, which means companies often over serve them at the expense of its own people.
But if you make People First a design issue, you can program your culture to make it work. The key is to always measure your People Skills by understanding the employee experience. What emotional and financial benefits are you offering? What emotional or financial pain points are you creating or allowing? If you do this (like you should be doing for Customers), you'll see an immediate lift in people's attitude about the company. Here are five design hacks for a People-Centric company:
1 - Don't Hire High Jerks! As simple as this sounds, it's not lived up to when the Jerk has a stellar resume and exudes technical prowess. We hire him, think we can tame him, and be seduced by his performance. We'll praise him, forgive his lack of people-skills, and it will demoralize everyone he works with. They leave, the jerk stays, and before you know it your business implodes from poor customer experience. Read Bob Sutton's The No Asshole Rule for more on this. PS - Never promote a mean or overly-introverted person to manage other humans. They'll beat them up, passively injure or ignore them to death. Read Multipliers by Liz Wakeman for more.
2 - Reward People-Centric Managers. Why is annual bonus completely tied to financial performance? At some companies I consult to, a piece of the bonus is tied to "The Employee Experience" as measured by various Cultural Health surveys. At one company, a sophisticated process measures employee levels of happiness, holding managers accountable for lifting it. As an engineering based startup organization, leaders realize that the job is 75% of the employee's life, so if she's unhappy - it's on the manager! I know that's extreme, but you'll create the behavior you reward so take this into account.
3 - Program Work Life Balance. If your employees are thumb warriors, carrying their smart phones to bed, out on weekends or during vacations - you are out-of-balance. SAS Institute has a culture where it's inappropriate to interrupt employees off time with email (READ: Regarding Your People). Most companies have no policy for this, and due to overly long (useless) meetings, evenings and weekends are the only time they can reply to emails. BAD DESIGN. Reduce meetings to 45 minutes, prohibit off-time communications. NOTE: You are now being family or partner centric as a company. Remember, they have a huge influence on your ability to retain your top performers when competition comes hunting.)
4 - Install Empathy Triggers. I love the network reality show Undercover Boss. It demonstrates how leaders can be transformed by working in the field and getting to know employees at the human level. The exercise converts 'direct reports' into 'people' via the experience. At Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, employees are flown the Central America to work with the farmers that grow their beans (they call this Trip To Source). At Pizza Hut, former CEO Mike Rawlins had a practice of calling 3 customers a month to understand their life story. At Barton Protective Services, CEOs and Divisional leads spend Friday afternoon "Catching People Doing Something Right," then spreading the word. This is empathy by "walking around."
5 - Craft A People-Centric Mission. This is the big one, for the CEOs and founders of the world. Whatever the company's mission is better have to do with people. If it's about products, places or faceless groups (investors, partners) - you are serving spreadsheets not human experiences. Get this wrong and you've blown it at the meta-design level. PS - It's OK to tear up your crappy-comportment driven mission statement and start fresh. Your constituency is fine with this type of change, especially if it shows a new perspective on your part that's focused on PEOPLE.