Monthly Archives: August 2007

Multiple Lessons

I have been struggling with what to write regarding a meeting I had yesterday because there are so many possible topics that could come from this one meeting. I have finally resolved this by deciding to write about all of them.

About two weeks ago I had a meeting with Colin Eicher. Colin is a friend and business associate. I call him a business associate because we met through the Edmonton Executives Association (EEA). We have both been members of EEA for years and it is by far the best business group I have ever been involved in. Colin has recently turned the reins of his company over to very capable management and has stepped back into a kind of semi-retirement mode. We were just getting together to discuss what was going on in each of our lives and what was keeping each of us busy.

Colin has a beautiful office in downtown Edmonton and he shares office space with Dr. Larry Ohlhauser. During our conversation Colin kept saying that I had to get together with Larry. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Ohlhauser speak when he was a guest speaker at EEA a couple months ago. He has a fantastic message and is a tremendous speaker. I thought at the time that this would be a really interesting man to get know and I hoped to someday get that opportunity. The reason Colin wanted us to meet is my interest in writing a book. Dr. Ohlhauser has recently written The Healthy CEO and travels the world as a professional speaker so we should have something in common. The book will definitely be added to my recommended reading list. It can be purchased directly on line through the link above.

Dr. Ohlhauser (Larry) and I met for lunch yesterday. What an amazing man. We shared stories for over an hour and he gave me some very helpful tips. I’m sure we will interact often and look forward to getting to know him better.

So what are the lessons to be passed on from this experience?
• The value of networking.
• Always being open to suggestions from others.
• When you want something the universe will find a way to get it to you.
• When you help people you will always get back more than you give and you never know where it will come from.

Some Recommended Reading

I have been asked to talk about some of my favorite business books, the ones I recommend reading. I will be adding a recommended reading section to my web site but for now I will touch on some of my favorites. Today’s discussion won’t cover the entire list, just some of the compulsory readings.

The first business book I ever read was Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”. Think and Grow Rich was published in 1937 and is a relevant today as when it was written. This book is one of only two that I consider required reading for everybody. It is still carried in all major book stores, is priced under $10.00 and can easily be read in a day.

While I’m focused on what some might call old school I have to mention Tom Peters. Tom is one of the best business minds I have ever encountered. The book through which Tom achieved international recognition was “In Search of Excellence”. This was followed by “A Passion for Excellence”. There has been some controversy regarding the case studies in these two books but they are great reading. I learned a lot from both books and have applied that knowledge many times over the years.

A more current author I really enjoy is Jack Welsh. I have given away many copies of “Jack: Straight From The Gut”. It’s a simple read and conveys some great lessons on the realities of business. I also really liked “Winning” by Jack and Suzy Welch.

I will cover many more books in my recommended reading section but these are a good start and if you read these few they will help develop a style of thinking about business that is a great foundation for life in general and business in particular.

I mentioned that I have given away many books. This is a habit I adopted a long time ago. When I read something I really like and think it would be beneficial for someone else I buy one and give it to them. I have purchased each of the books covered in today’s discussion in bulk and kept them around just so I would have them whenever I come across someone I want to give them to. I think giving away a book you have read and found personally helpful is one of the greatest gifts possible.

Pursue Your Passion

Yesterday, Christi, one of my daughters, asked me to write a blog about pursuing your passions. She said I should tell people to find out what they are passionate about and just go for it. You see that is the message my kids have had all their lives.

There isn’t much more to say about this really. I just whole heartedly believe that happiness comes from doing what you truly love to do. You aren’t limited to just one passion. I don’t know if there is a limit to how many things a person can be passionate about. In my experience the number has never been an issue because I have never met anyone with more passions than they had energy, or will, or desire to pursue them.

Take what ever time it takes. Don’t be in a hurry but always be aware that it is a search. One of our true purposes in life is to discover those things that fire a passion within us. Some people tell me they don’t know what they are passionate about. This simply means they haven’t found it yet. You will know when you do. But when that happens, when you discover something that just lights you up, don’t compromise. Go get it. Live whatever life that is.

So Christi, this one is for you. I have shared with everyone the secret you wanted them to know.

What Or Why Not

As business leaders we get paid to make decisions. Usually these decisions are a matter of what we should do. Or on a broader scale, what the company should be doing.

I often see people suffering from “paralysis of analysis”. This occurs when you know what should be done but for some reason are reluctant to make the decision. This reluctance is usually the result of fear. Fear of making a mistake or in simpler terms; fear of failure. This situation is especially common in younger or inexperienced managers. What these people are failing to recognize is that they are being paid to make decisions so the only chance of failure is failing to act. In most cases I find people almost instinctively know when they have found the right answer to any question. So when you know what should be done; do it!

A situation that may be even more common than not making a decision when you know what should be done is when managers get caught up in looking at all the reasons why they shouldn’t take the particular action rather than why they should. People focus on “why not” to take action rather than what action to take. This again is just a symptom of fear and usually found in inexperienced managers.

Once a decision is made and action is taken the worst case scenario is that you made a mistake and that requires yet another positive decision. There is no sin in making a mistake. The more decisions you are required to make the more mistakes you will make. Just learn from the situation and move on.

So, if you find yourself contemplating “why not” rather than “what” or if you know what must be done but are still having trouble doing it. As Nike says “just do it”. Make the decision and move on. After all isn’t making decisions why you are there.

Networking Is A Two Way Street

As I mentioned last week I have been traveling. During my travels I have been extremely busy networking. I have been helped by so many people in so many ways it is unbelievable.

The past few days have been an absolute whirlwind. Gerri and I have driven over 2500 kilometers; I have had seven meetings and attended a business open house. I have been bombarded with networking opportunities. It has been reinforced many times that one of the things I do best is networking; meeting people and putting people together. Never has this been more obvious than the past five days.

It has become glaringly apparent to me that networking really is a two way street. You can benefit from it greatly but only if you are prepared to give as much as you get. I guess this is true of all aspects of life but in networking it is critical. It’s amazing how well it works. There seems to be a universal balance. The more you contribute to the success of others, the more others contribute to you. The amazing thing is that the two groups aren’t even necessarily connected. The people who help you may not even be aware of the help you are giving to others. But yet, somehow, there is a direct relationship; give and you will receive.

So if you could use help in your business or any other aspect of your life, (and who couldn’t?) then go out and find someone to help. You will be amazed at how quickly and how well this works. Oh and keep giving because when you stop the benefits stop too.

Are You Part Of The Problem Or Part Of The Solution

Any time you face a challenge it is important to remember that at all times you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. There is no middle ground here. It is one or the other.

One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein who said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. This means that if you were involved in creating the current situation, you can’t be part of the solution without changing your thoughts. You have to be prepared to consider new ideas.

This also means that problems can not be solved by people who are not prepared to consider that they may have been wrong.

So, when ever you find yourself struggling with a particularly difficult challenge, stop and consider whether you are actually part of the new solution you are seeking or the problem you created. You can’t be both. If you find yourself on the problem side of the ledger it’s time to get help from someone who wasn’t involved in creating the original challenge.

This is also a necessary evaluation for you to use with your entire team. At any given time anyone can have unconsciously become “part of the problem”. The sooner this is acknowledged the sooner you will find a solution.

Three Steps To Happy Team Members

I have often said that managing people and raising a family require the same skills. Team members and children require the same three key components to be happy and successful.

They need to know what is expected of them
They need to know what the consequences are of over delivering or under delivering to those expectations.
They need consistent delivery of those consequences.

These three components appear simple; however delivering them on a consistent basis requires planning and discipline.

There are of course many other subtle factors that contribute to a healthy culture in the work place but these three form the necessary foundation for building solid relationship with all your team members. You will also find it much easier to raise children with these three practices in place.

Two Apologies

I know I have a number of regular readers who are now on this site daily looking for my blog and that is a responsibility I take very seriously. Today we have been doing some development work on my web site and that is the reason the regular post didn’t appear earlier in the day.

I have also realized that last Friday I said I would outline my three criteria for happy team members this week and I haven’t done so yet. That will be my topic for tomorrow’s discussion and it will be posted early in the day.

What Are You Measuring Yourself Against

When preparing a business plan or an annual sales plan I always consider what is possible before determining the numbers. This method is called activity based planning. The conventional method of looking at the previous year and applying a percentage increase just doesn’t make sense to me. Preparing a plan based on last year’s results is basing your future on the past. It’s like driving a car while constantly looking in the rear view mirror.

I like to get the entire organization involved in building the plan. First I ask people to consider what is possible. What new customer’s do they want to capture and what new markets do they want to develop? Specifically how do they plan to accomplish these goals? What business volumes do they expect to result from these activities? How do they plan to develop existing customers and what volumes will these activities produce?

There are many other factors that must be considered do complete a plan however I’m sure you are getting the idea. Getting everyone involved in the planning process helps them accept responsibility for the deliverables. It becomes their plan!

Wouldn’t you really prefer to compare yourself to what’s possible rather than just what was?