Creating Magical Moments

Empathy Productivity Respect

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Story: I spend a lot of time talking to execs across a wide variety of industries. Frankly, most of my conversations involve well-intended ideas from leaders who genuinely care, yet are afflicted with exceptionally lousy execution regarding what really matters to employees and customers. We have become so good at wanting to do everything, that we often end up not doing much of anything that really matters. It’s kind of like “participation awards” gone wild. Still, people feel like they are working harder than ever with capacity stretched to the limit. Why are things so goofed up?

Key Point: Be aware when activity and effort become the key measures, versus meaningful results for customers and employees. This often means that “trying” and “working hard” become the default outcomes. Another signal that effort and outcome might be out of sync, is when the same customer and/or employee complaints continue year after year. Or, when there is little growth in revenue from existing customers, while there is an imbalanced effort in finding new ones. High customer and employee turnover is also a big red flag. That’s where making meaningful choices so the team/company can get big results on what I call “magical moments that really matter,” comes into this blog.

Every employee and customer (stakeholder) is on an evolving journey with an organization. Today, with the benefit of big data, we have the ability to dissect and fully understand that continuous journey right down to a customer/team member of ONE. The sustainable, highly adaptive and leading organizations will constantly focus almost all of the resources on the “magical moments that really matter.” It’s that easy and that hard.

As an example, every person has a first day/week at work. There is an opportunity to make that very moment “magical” for every new employee. Research has shown that the entry success into a company can have a huge impact on speed to positive contribution and employment longevity. How well does your organization manage that key moment?

Another example, is what happens with customer greetings (“I know you and see you”) every time they connect with the company. What powerful way does your organization impact the way customers connect EVERY time? Focus on these and other differentiating moments, and the magic does happen. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Courageously confront your daily activity. Without being defensive, examine who really cares, and what difference to end user customers or people does your work make?
  2. Do not rest on the idea that you get a lot of recognition for your effort or hard work. That actually may get you out of a job faster if you’re not making a difference to the moments that matter.
  3. Challenge yourself and the organization to prioritize the moments that magically matter, and use data rather than opinion. And not every moment is equal. Spend your time on the ones that really, really, really matter. I know you can.

Magical moments in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’d be willing to bet that most Millennials have experienced little to no Magical moments. We know not to “expect” too much, because we don’t want to be perceived as over entitled. That also means our standards are incredibly low. When your friend’s company’s “Taco Friday” sounds way too good to be true, then the magic in your place of work is Hocus Bogus.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Friggin’ Obvious in 1916

Accountability Books Productivity

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Story: Our Company Chair is a very wise and accomplished man, perhaps a bit of a curmudgeon, and full of insight based on years of doing the hard work of the hard work. One of his trigger points is complexity. If someone presenting to the board does so in a web of tangled nonsense, the potential of you-know-what hitting the fan is likely. As I come to know him more, I better appreciate his love of the obvious and simple. I also better understand that the Chair’s philosophical management bible is largely based on a book called Obvious Adams, by Robert Updegraff, which was first published in 1916! Wow, and why? (Obtain a free digital copy here). 

Key Point: If I critically examine my life’s work, the more simple and obvious the initiative, the better the outcome. The more complex my ideas or approach, the less accessible and effective. I wish I would have had a “simple and obvious” coach my entire career. What would the Obvious Adams book say to better guide you and me in becoming more obvious and simple?

“5 Tests of the Obvious:

  • The problem when solved will be simple, and when found will be obvious
  • Does it make sense to the simple direct and generally unsophisticated mind of the public? If you can’t easily explain it to your “mother,” it maybe too complex?
  • Put it down on “paper.” Can you write it down and explain it in plain english in three paragraphs or less?
  • Does it explode in people’s minds? People ideally say, “why didn’t I think of that?”  
  • Is the time right? Timing, like in most things in life, is so important.

5 Creative Approaches to the Obvious:

  • What is the simplest possible way of doing it?
  • Supposed the whole process/thing were reversed?
  • What would the public’s vote on it be?
  • What opportunity is being overlooked because no one has bothered to develop it?
  • What are the special needs of the situation?”

Today we have so much cool, breakthrough technology, arguably way more brain power, and certainly more knowledge than in 1916. Still, the great inventions or reimagined work are often so darn simple, and in retrospect, very obvious. Take Uber, Airbnb, and even Snapchat as current examples. Yet, in organizations I often see problems addressed with total complexity. And while I believe management concepts like Lean, Agile, etc. are helpful, they can also become counterproductive when process and taxonomy overwhelm common sense. People get so hung up on form they can forget to ask the best questions, like those published in 1916.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be confident and humble enough to fiercely challenge, based on the concepts of simple and obvious. (Does not mean simplistic).
  2. If your or my idea takes a long winded slide deck or PowerPoint to explain it, be self-critical and suspicious as to whether we have done enough work on it.
  3. Be wary of fancy language, overly technical jargon and/or so called solutions that seem to make the audience feel stupid. If you and I can’t understand it, we know what’s stupid… And it’s not us.
  4. Get a “simplicity coach.” P.S. – It might be your mother.

Simply Obvious in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I remember in journalism school we were encouraged to write as simply and briefly as possible, because studies showed that the average media consumer read at about a 6th grade level. That might be surprising to those who like to dive into academic journals. Simple, concise, and to the point is statistically what people want. A strict and great professor of mine once told me, “if an article is more than 800 words, it better f*!$ing sing.” How’s that for obvious and simple advice?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Don’t Forget About the Don’ts!

Accountability Personal leadership Productivity

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Story: I was listening to a relatively inexperienced leader explaining why he was having a hard time getting stuff done on major projects. As he outlined the obstacles, it was always somebody else’s fault. After the meeting, I respectfully took him aside and told him NOT to do that. Yes, I also positively suggested what he might say and do instead. However, I explicitly and unapologetically told him what NOT to do and explained the consequences. I believe he appreciated the specific examples and frankness of me saying flat out, “don’t do that and here’s why. And here is a way you might approach the matter to demonstrate you are personally self accountable instead of laying off blame on others.”

Key Point: I wonder if we have become so concerned about being so positive and nice that we have gone soft on the “don’ts.” Yes, I know we want to catch people doing things right instead of wrong, and all that well-intended encouragement. Yet the positive “do’s” often become clearer when accompanied by the additional insight supplied by a “don’t.” As a trivial example, “clean up and buss your dishes” might also need an explicit “don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink; rinse and put them in the dishwasher.” It’s obvious, you say? I don’t think so. For some, people cleaning up dishes and putting them in the sink, more than meets the “do.” Yet additional clarity sometimes comes with the “don’t.” “Be more specific on the ‘do’,” you say. Perhaps… Yet, the most efficient and impactful communication might come from the “don’t”. Outlining don’ts doesn’t necessarily mean one is negative, unless that is the only mantra. Lonesome “don’ts” can rapidly drain our energy.

We have 10 explicitly stated values outlined, and we call them our 10 ATBs. They are stated in positive terms like ATB No. 3, which is “Think Yes First.” To have people understand this completely, we tell stories that illustrate what behavior demonstrates this action. We also find stories that demonstrate thinking “no” first, and this better frames up the full value statement. It’s old fashioned “do’s and don’ts” that bookend a more complete understanding. When I watch great sports or music coaches, they balance both. When we engage people respectfully and they understand that our intentions are being fueled by helping them advance, they normally relish a healthy balance of “do’s” and “don’ts.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be more positive than negative. However, recognize that calling out a “don’t” is legitimate, and may be the best way to achieve a more clear understanding.
  2. If you are on the receiving end of a “don’t,” say a genuine “thank you” for the feedback and then look at it more objectively. Don’t be so thin skinned that when you hear a”don’t,” it bothers you. You don’t have to score an “A” in everything. This is easier said than done.

Accepting the value of “don’t” in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is specifically helpful for my perma-positive generation who just plain LOVES being triggered by everything, and likes to believe they can do no wrong. In reality, there are plenty of rights and wrongs, and do’s and don’ts. It’s our duty to learn these things. If we don’t recognize this, we’re simply lying to ourselves. Sometimes a little gut-check and a “don’t” is exactly what we need to improve.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Tackle the Hard ‘Nut’ First!

Accountability Personal leadership Productivity

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Key Point: The very first thing you should do each morning is tackle the most difficult issue on your agenda. If there is a” fierce conversation,” you need to have it. If you have bad news, share it. If it is something ugly that you hate to do, and/or like to procrastinate on, learn how to get it off your plate immediately.

Today, a very respected colleague of mine shared a great story with more than a hundred new hires about tackling the hardest “nut” first. After he graduated from university, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He explored apprenticing as an auto-mechanic where a wise journeyman taught him the lesson of unscrewing the most difficult “nut” first. (This was when mechanics were not computer scientists and actually fixed cars). The “nut” that was the hardest to get at, toughest to unscrew, etc. was the place to start. Why? When you got that difficult step of the job over first, the rest of the “nuts” come off easier, and the overall job is much more successful. 

In our organization, one of the biggest behavioral disappointments we have is the failure of team members to get back to customers within 24-hours. Especially when these customers have a pending deadline and/or ask for help. In most cases, the primary excuses regarding team members failing to return that call, is the fact that they “have to have a difficult conversation” to move forward. They may have to reject a loan application, call about an overdraft, confirm a bad credit score, ask for more customer information, etc. Therefore, we provide no call back at worst, or a very late one at best. Of course, our customers subsequently get very upset when we don’t meet our commitments. We fail to tackle the “hard nut” first. The same outcome occurs when leaders fail to have difficult conversations with direct reports. Avoidance leads to festering aggravation, and eventually a much bigger problem.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Learn that simple, yet hard approach of getting the toughest issue off of your lap ASAP. Don’t wait. Make it so. It will likely come back to haunt you if you don’t. This sounds easy, but most of us like to do the easy stuff first and push off the tough stuff. It’s understandable, yet problematic.

Tackling the hard “nut” first in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I think if there was one skill I wish I could improve on overnight, it would be this. It truly is one of those “simple” things that proves easier said than done. More recently than I care to admit, I now start my day by making my bed. This was something I’d typically put off till later, but it is one of those subtle tasks that lets you achieve something bright and early, and come home to something clean. Of course, making a bed isn’t a hard “nut” by any means, but it does get things cracking.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Patient Impatience Before the New Year

Abundance Productivity Purpose

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Key Point: I am going to share some thoughts that hopefully help us count our blessings while we think about the new year with a sense of focus. The paradox may be patient impatience? Please reflect on the following: (Paraphrased from Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors).

  1. “Most people live for about 30,000 days. How many have you lived so far? How many days left with the people you love most? Make each one count.
  2. In consort with the above, many of us have lifetimes ahead of us. Let’s not worry about our friends ‘beating’ us or ‘getting somewhere’ ahead. Get out into the real dirt world and start failing. Just do stuff and avoid repeating doing the same thing year after year! How are you doing with this? Go do a bunch of things and you will become a unique story.
  3. Do something everyday that fires you up. It’ll keep our soul hungry to create more and to be abundant! How hungry and abundant are you really?
  4. Everything is a process. Love the journey and the process. Look for something where you love the process, and the results will follow! What’s your journey? What are the key processes you’re engaging?
  5. Love to and be in a hurry to advance your learning, not in a hurry to get validation or a promotion. Results come from translating learning into action. How are you at this?
  6. Be present. Use technology as a tool that you and I control versus allowing the technology to control us. Do you utilize the technology around you? Or are you a slave to it? Being present is the gateway to a gratifying future.
  7. Zoom out and in. As productivity guru Gary Vaynerchuk stresses: ‘Have macro patience, and micro speed… Care about the next eight years, but really stress the next eight days. Just friggin execute.’
  8. Some say we’re the average of our five closest friends. We want to put ourselves in an environment that pulls the best out of us. Where are you and I on this? Who inspires us? Who are our loving critics? Embrace them!”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Honestly reflect on the above challenges/reflections. What might you do about just one of them? Maybe two of them?
  2. Don’t try for perfection. On the other hand, be relentless about advancing yourself. You and I are worth it!
  3. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

Patient impatience in Personal Leadership!

Lorne

One Millennial View: No one really asks Santa for homework over the holidays, but I think really reflecting on this list would be a great holiday gift for ourselves. Even if you make a slight dent on this list while traveling, it could kickstart a great game plan for 2018. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis