Key Point: A colleague and friend has built one of the leading wealth management companies in North America. It took 10 years to build a sustainable, profitable, leading company. Along the way he led with tenacity, vision and purpose. This involved adjusting the business model, changing processes and occasionally people. Now the company is creating incredible value for team members, clients and investors. When asked what the formula was for getting to this point, he described it as 10-4-1.
Ten years (10) ago the fundamental purpose, vision and differentiating value offering for the company was outlined. This stands out like an oak tree planted to give strength and definition to a stunning garden. That sapling needed 10 years to mature, but has always been the anchor; the core from which all else was planted. Four (4) years ago a mastery sales development program was implemented. It combines neuroscience, video feedback technology and breakthrough coaching; resulting in faster and better results for both clients and financial advisors. One (1) year ago, other more tactical and immediate result impactors were implemented. This 10-4-1 framework has provided another way of looking at continuous strategic improvement and planning for this company. But could this framework mean something similar to you and me?
- What did we plant for ourselves 10 years ago? You and I are planting things today that will likely take ten years to mature. Hopefully we are growing what we want, where we want it, and it will mature in fruitful ways. The most obvious “tree” we’re planting is defining our purpose, character, core skill and competence. What will we be (more) masterful at 10 years from now? What great “oak tree” are we growing? How will our character be more fully developed? This is a self-awareness journey.
- What did we plant for ourselves 4 years ago? What can we sow today that will likely take about 4 years to root? How will be better for it?
- What is on our tactical day to day, or 1 year list? The time between seed and flower is faster and gives us these short bursts forward.
At the risk of overdoing the metaphor, we can be much like that beautiful, ever growing, sustainably wonderful garden; an ever-blooming mixture of annuals, perennials, trees, and more. All planted at various times, with unique contribution to a purpose, vision and the master plan. All great gardens were once empty plots of dirt but with vision and essentially a continuous 10-4-1 type of framework, they can flourish. Perhaps your framework is 11-5-1? It is the thought and action put into multiple tracks of self-growth and maturity that builds our whole rich selves.
10-4-1 in The Triangle,
Key Point: We all need a “big head file.” Some of us may think we don’t, but in the deepest of our personal wells, I believe we need to have one sitting in a proverbial bucket; resting at the bottom. When needed, we can pull that bucket up and quench a thirst for some necessary replenishment. What is a “big head file?’ A colleague told me about a file she keeps as a reminder of the value she has brought to people. In it are kudos, observations, thanks, etc. she has received from teammates, friends, and other connections over the years. And she tells me that every once in a while, when she needs it most, it comes out for a read. When she soaks in the file for a while, it is declared “Big Head Day”… She allows a moment of time to bask in the joy of the positive feedback she has received from others. It is there for nourishment; like a delicious four shot espresso. In a small but important way this “file” defines our contributions, because at the end of our journey, I believe it is all about the value and love we have given others.
The other week, I received maybe the best material for my “big head file” ever. In my book, The Character Triangle, the first chapter reflects on my experience as a teacher and the gift those kids gave me. Here are a couple of lines from one of those emails I received from a student I taught at St. Nicholas:
“Hi Mr. Rubis,
I was one of those students in the gym at St. Nick’s and was crying when you left. I remember that day so well. You made such an impact on my life and the lives of so many of us. You really cared about us and I knew that you touched me to do something great. I became a teacher because of you and the impact that you could have on young lives and the need to make every child feel special. I thank you for that gift! Good luck with your book and the goodness that you are still spreading.
In the same book, I talk about my experience with the Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club. The same week I received a note on LinkedIn from a colleague. It included the following and much more.
“I’ve never encountered an executive so secure in his own skin… That mentored… Drew the best out of all of us…”
Now think about how glorious it is to receive notes like these. But this blog is really NOT about me (although I’m proud of these notes). It’s about you.
- Do everything you can to sincerely, and specifically add to people’s “big head files.” Tell them how much you care for them. Thank them for what they have given you. Be generous, but only if you really mean it. Build as many “big head files” for others as you can. You have to care. It takes work. But think about the joy you bring. It costs nothing!
- Do not wait for it or expect it. But the more you give to others, the more likely, in the best and most delicious way, it will come back ten fold or more. The note from the person at St. Nicks talks about things that happened more than 40 years ago! The message from the colleague at the Kings was referring to our time together almost 15 years ago. You never know when your “big head file” gets a wonderful hit.
- Try and build the biggest and most nutritious “big head file”… Not just for the replenishment received, but also because in the end, the most important possession you will have is likely to be your “file.” (And your loved ones who will read it to you and get replenished as well).
A “Big Head File” in The Triangle,
Key Point: Whether you’re a hockey fan or not, all of us can learn from the Detroit Red Wings. They have developed a franchise where they are always in the top tier of the win/loss column and are a constant prospect to win the Stanley Cup (the holy grail of hockey and arguably one of the most difficult trophies to win in sports). This year, when they were expected to be average at best, they are challenging to win it all again. The Wings do not spend the most money, and because of their success, they do not get the most talented draft choices (the best young talent goes to the lowest ranked teams). They are not like the New York Yankees, spending huge amounts of money on free agents. So eventually you would think the Wings would hit a wall of failure before they might recycle back to the top. But they keep winning? Why?
A. The top leadership really cares. The franchise ownership treats team members as family and demands excellence in every position: From players and equipment managers to the ticket office. They think of their employees as people who complete a system of excellence, not sparkly chattel for just drawing fans or an entertainment commodity to be discarded indiscriminately.
B. They patiently develop their talent: The farm team gets the best coaches and mentoring is a key part of the process, beginning with the NHL veterans and extending to the front office (which is stocked with former players such as Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer and Kris Draper). They pass on their experience to the kids in Grand Rapids (their AHL farm team).
C. They develop a unique and clearly defined structure: The Wings teach players how to contribute in THEIR system. Great leaders develop exceptional individual competency but expect that skill to be applied in a prescribed way of doing it…The Red Wings way. It takes years to learn how to seamlessly act in all situations. Everyone knows their individual job AND role in the organization. To the naïve observer, hockey looks chaotic and totally dynamic, but a great team has key principles and plays that require real time player decisions to put the team and winning first.
D. They demand Respect, Accountability and Abundance. The older players know that the younger guys will take their jobs. But they teach and mentor them to do so. They know they will always be part of The Red Wing alumni, and are treated fairly. You actually help people take over. You respect the mission and team first. You hold yourself accountable to play your unique role and participate in the spoils of winning accordingly.
- Are you developing personally AND within a system? If not, learn ways you can be better individually and as a contributor to the system. Do you even know what the winning system is in your organization?
- Who is mentoring you? What are they preparing you for? If you do not have coaches AND teammates who are committed to developing YOU, you’re missing out. Determine what you might do to find a coaching environment.
- Highly demanding systems, where excellence is expected, require patience and real learning to advance. Look to participate in that environment and you will likely have a sustainable winning organization to ride.
A Red Wing in The Triangle,
P.S. I trust this blog will not jinx Detroit’s series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Key Point: When you interact with people, are you a GIVER, MATCHER or TAKER? Adam Grant’s work in his book Give and Take validates and provides powerful insights underlying the Character Triangles’ principle of being ABUNDANT, with decades of research to back up his views. Grant points out that people differ dramatically in their preferences for reciprocity; the desired mix between giving and receiving. He describes three types of tendencies on the reciprocity continuum:
A. Takers: They have a distinctive signature. They like to get more than they give and usually try and put the reciprocity in their own favor.
B. Givers: According to Grant, they’re rare in the work place. They strive to be generous with their time, energy, skills, connections, and give value to others who can benefit without expecting anything else in return.
C. Matchers: They work to preserve an equal balance of giving and receiving. Matchers govern relationships based on the equality of favors exchanged. They tend to keep score.
Grant’s research notes that we often use all of these styles but we tend to lean towards one more than others. And guess what? Research shows that Givers are at BOTH the top and bottom of traditional success metrics. Some natural self-sacrificing Givers learn to be more effective than others. They rise to the very top of the success ladder (by the broadest of definitions). Unfortunately natural givers, who do not know how to protect themselves, can be taken advantage of and end up on the bottom of the same success ladder.
- Instead of working to get successful AND THEN giving yourself to others, how about giving yourself as THE route to achieving success.
- Read Grant’s “Give and Take” to get the necessary insights of self-awareness to help most effectively apply your propensity to GIVE. (You can be a sincere Giver without being a doormat). Or learn more about the consequences if you tend to be a Taker or Matcher.
- As you approach relationships at work (and in your personal life) consciously look at the empty chair you are getting ready to occupy. Decide who is going to be sitting there. Is it you, the Giver? Or do you choose the Matcher or Taker route? I hope the Giver is there most of the time.
Successful Givers in the Triangle,
P.S. I receive no financial benefit from the sales of “Give and Take” . I just think it is excellent work.