Posted in Business, Creativity, Relationships

Omaha – Franklin Covey ~ Review of Leadership and Management Sessions

COPA Airlines fleet parked at Tocumen Internat...
COPA Airlines fleet parked at Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Date:  14 December 2012


Morning:  Management “Essentials”

Afternoon:  Leadership “Contract and Essentials”

Hosts:  Randy Nelson, introduced by Elizabeth Burton

Location:  Omaha Marriott ~ Regency Court

Thesis:  Workshops geared to managers who are seeking to effect change in their organizations; developing new mindsets and thinking differently.

Overall Assessment:  Both of the sessions offered were “teasers” for what would normally be a full two or three day event hosted on site for any corporation purchasing a Franklin Covey workshop.  These were highly informative sessions that provided a high-level overview of techniques, habits and tools used to improve an organizations communication, workplace culture, and employee wellness.  The overview was punctuated by book recommendations, thought leaders, and numerous short videos to support session content.

The introduction video for the Management session emphasized that one of the biggest mistakes made in organizations is “trying to manage others before managing yourself.” People will manage themselves…most put enough pressure to perform on themselves, supervisors piling on doesn’t usually help the situation.  The seven habits embody the maturity continuum:

1)      Be Proactive ~ “Use your R&I”  (Resourcefulness and Initiative)  There is always a way.  You just have to be persistent, creative and believe that failure is not an option.

2)      Begin with the end in mind ~ When an initiator or team member, make your contribution—don’t hold back.

3)      Put first things first ~ Learn to focus and distinguish the important and urgent from the unimportant and not urgent.  Come up with three Wildly Important Goals (WIGS)

4)      Think Win Win! ~ Find ways to ensure that all stakeholders come out as winners!  Use performance agreements to obtain employee commitment and engagement. Never give feedback if you can’t work it so that both sides achieve a win/win!

5)      Seek 1st to understand, then to be understood ~ Be sure you’re practicing the art of “active listening” rather than just hearing when employees are speaking to you.

6)      Synergize ~ Combining talent, skills, resources and energy across your organizations, teams and individuals can provide amazing results otherwise singly not achievable. Use prototypes and countertypes to find the best fitting solutions.

7)      Sharpen the saw ~ Seeking continuous improvement to perfect a work/life balance is key.  Each one of us has four parts that mustn’t be neglected:  Body, heart, mind & spirit.

In addition to the Covey family, the following thought leaders, authors and companies were mentioned:

  • UCLA Coach John Wooden (Author of “Manage Yourself First”)
  • Commander Abrashoff:  USS Benfold ~ Author of “Get Your Ship Together
  • Benjamin Franklin (fascinating founder, entrepreneur, self-made millionaire)
  • Nathan Myhrvold (Former CTO of Microsoft, Co-founder of Intellectual Ventures)
  • Dave Kelly (Founder IDEO – Palo Alto, CA. – Imagine & Create 90 new products quarterly)
  • Peter Drucker (Author, Thought Leader)
  • Copa Airlines ~ (Panama City, Panama) 90% “On Time” Rate
  • Warren Buffett ~ Acquired $23B McLane Company (subsidiary of Walmart) with no extensive paperwork drill (completed transaction in less than a month)
  • Muhammad Yunus ~ 2006 Nobel Prize Winner, Micro Credit Entrepreneur and founder of “Village Bank” in Bangladesh – Author of “Economics of Poverty”
  • Pierre Midyar ~ New York Hot Dog Vendor who doubled his business volume/profits by allowing customers to “make their own change!”
  • Steven M.R. Covey ~ Author of Speed of Trust

Some interesting quotes from materials/videos across the morning and afternoon session:

“Unstoppable teams are unified by singular purpose of vision and commitment”

“Keeping people requires trust and engagement of employees”

“’Rebels/Quitters’ aren’t hired that way”

“EVERYONE on a team has the power to help the team win or lose”

“See alternatives, not roadblocks”

“Obsessing about things which you have no control over begins to affect the things which you do have control over.”

“Ability will get you to the top, character will keep you there!”

“Adversity reveals a person’s true character.”

“The devil is in the details, success is in the systems”

13 Behaviors that instill trust:

Talk Straight                                        Practice Accountability
Demonstrate Respect                      Listen First
Create Transparency                       Confront Reality
Right Wrongs                                      Clarify Expectations
Show Loyalty                                      Keep Commitments
Deliver Results                                   Extend Trust
Get Better

I really enjoyed the both sessions and would attend others if they were available.  Both of the sessions had great discussion prompts, guides, templates and tools in the small books provided.  The videos were excellent and supported the material exceptionally well.  Each of the books has a “Top 25” book list for managers/leaders.

I was especially inspired by the video of the IDEO team using their teams and methodologies for improving upon the shopping cart.  The team consisted of a diverse group of professionals from a variety of academic backgrounds.  They used basic principles of trust and acceptance—no bad ideas—no criticisms.  They all practiced the art of visualizing success in open “free thinking” forums.

The inspiring message from the Copa Airlines video was that they developed a company mantra, “On Time!”   This message permeated through all levels/layers of the company—cascading goals and objectives of the company to all workers.  Here’s a quote from one of the workers who took tickets from passengers before boarding:  “We used to just do our jobs…now we all do whatever it takes to get the job done.”  Their entire company celebrates when they meet their goals—truly a team/family culture.

There is quite a collection of tools like the “Five Minute Meeting Planner” in each of the books they provided.

Posted in Business, Creativity, Relationships

Career Success ~ The Cream Always Rises

Manet, Edouard - La Serveuse de Bocks (The Wai...
Image via Wikipedia

This post is for all the people who work in the services and sales industry!  You may work for a horrible boss, a poorly managed company, in a town/city/state that you’d rather say good riddance to.   How you respond to pressure and stress, dissatisfaction and disappointment will make all the difference in your ability to change your circumstances.  If you do not find a way to manage your perceptions and responses, you may sabotage your chances at upward and outward mobility.  Your attitude will show no matter how hard you try to control the outward facing appearance and behaviors.

Below are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Any position where cash tips are involved! (Waitresses, Waiters, Bell Hops, Cab Drivers, Baristas)

Performing services for customers is often a thankless job.  There are many who will see and treat you as a second class citizen, if they “see” you at all!  Take heart.  When I choose to spend money at an eating establishment with full service, I just want to have prompt attentive service.  If I don’t have to ask for refills, food and drinks are served piping hot, and the interaction with my wait staff is fun and not “work” for me, I’ll tip generously.   Treat each customer as though they are the person you will read about in the morning’s newspaper as the person who left a hundred dollar tip.

Mechanics, Technicians and Repairmen

If you’re a mechanic, don’t just fix the problem.  Go the extra mile and provide free advice about anticipated maintenance needs (tires, belts, filters, etc.)  By caring for the vehicle as though you were going to allow your pregnant daughter to drive it, you’ll show the customer you care more about the person than you do the car (money.)  Take the time to listen to your customers.  You’d be surprised at the loyalty you’ll instill in your customers by remembering small details about your customers and their property.

Healthcare Professionals (Doctors, Psychologists, Nurses)

If you’re an obstetrician…be sure to make more eye contact with that expectant mother than you do at the patient’s chart.  Remember that in spite of your 15 minute scheduled allotment, metal instruments feel cold, words conveying delicate news can sometimes be more painful than needles, and that uterus IS attached to a human being.  Whether this patient is having their first or their fifth child, they deserve your respect and expertise in as personal and professional manner as possible.

Sales and Marketing Professionals

If you’re in sales, remember the dance of respect.  Those people patronize your establishment for a variety of reasons.  Location proximity, habit, convenience, possibly the people.  As soon as a customer begins to feel like a victim, prey, a prospect, a lead, or a candidate, you have removed the “person” (human aspect) from the customer.  This shift in perspective is just enough motivation for people to override their reasons for patronage and find a new establishment.

Some days are much harder than others.  Reflecting on and accepting the reality of those busy, difficult and sometimes unbearable moments before your day begins can help you mentally prepare yourself.  If you can, try seeing yourself as an actor or actress in a movie in your day.  This coping technique is one you can use to do your best in spite of how you feel.  Remember to be the success you dream!

Break a leg!

Posted in Education

Between Desired and Retired

an animated clock
Image via Wikipedia

How to manage the productive years.  No matter where you’ve started from, there’s a way to achieve satisfaction!

It starts out when we’re young impressionable teenagers.  You know the story.  Suzie is determined to graduate at the top of her class so she does the extra credit, Joe joins the debate team, and Pat is elected to be school paper editor.  Then on the flip side, there’s the group that just wants to “make it through” to graduation day and be done with school.

While some have their eye on a ball (even if they’re not sure what game they are playing), others are going through the motions because that’s what they believe they’re supposed to do.  Either way, my point  is that your present and your future is a choice!  Your choice.

So you just walked across the stage dressed in cap and gown.  The late nights cramming your brain full of mind-numbing details, reciting, preparing, eating junk food and drinking lots of coffee to prove that you can produce a cogent theory for your professors and in front of your peers is over!  Right?  Wrong…you just got out of training camp!  The real work begins now.  With at least four years of practice under your belt you should be a pro at selling your ideas…now you just have to sell yourself.

Don’t treat the interview process like a newby trying out for a school musical–butterflies in the stomach, dry mouth, fear of losing your thoughts.  Remember, you’ve crafted yourself into a talented and capable contributor to a field or specialty of some sort.  Before you go in for an interview, remember what made you desire that particular specialty.  What was it that kept your interest or drove you to keep trying to better understand during your academic career?  Is there some aspect that you feel you are especially good at, that peers and professors alike commented on about your thinking, work, ethic, persistence?  These are points you want to make apparent during the question/answer session of your interview.

If you already have had several jobs, what is it about the combination of experience that makes you an especially good candidate for employment?  Is it people, is it processes?  Maybe you’ve developed a knack for articulation or presentation?  Think about all of these things days before your interview so you can piece together the story that  makes you a must hire.  Sell a story that show’s you are relevant, valuable and a perfect fit for the organization you desire to be employed by.  Do your homework and figure out what you think their organization’s greatest assets are, and what their least valuable aspects may be.  (The latter must be tactfully/tastefully backed up with facts and articulated in such a way that the interviewers are left with no choice but to agree–most importantly, how adding you to their team will improve their weaknesses, create efficiencies and enhance their assets.)

Once you become part of a team that best fits with your principles and ideals–a job that you enjoy waking up every day and going to, make sure that you remind yourself of why you asked for and accepted the position.  Ask yourself, have I delivered on my sales pitch?  If not, have you taken all the necessary steps to achieve your objectives?  Perhaps you need to be a little higher on the ladder to make the changes it would take to make your company more competitive–to possess a larger market share.

Perhaps becoming your own boss is a more attractive option to you.  Another article I’ll be writing soon is related to the number of women I see starting new businesses.  Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding  endeavor if you have done your homework and have a plan for a healthy work-life balance.

If you find yourself at the end of a career, is there a way you can use your talents and experiences to strengthen the younger generation?  Social and Community Service organizations, Chamber of Commerce, Libraries, Schools and Universities are great places to share your insights.  Meetups are great places to find others with similar interests.

Our society has some changes to evolve through before we get comfortable with the fact that people are simply living longer.  The legal retirement age in the United States is 67 years of age if you were born in 1960 or later, (read here for more details about retirement) 65 if you were born in 1937 or earlier.  If you’re like me…I don’t think I ever want to “retire.”  Retirement to me is living life only for myself because I can no longer use my strength, energy, and imagination to be a contributing member of society.  There will be periods of time where I take a sabbatical from the daily grind of a 9 to 5, but generally speaking, I must put my capabilities to good use.

You do not have to be stuck in a “go nowhere” job.  If you come from an environment that was not encouraging of obtaining higher education, its never too late to go back to school.  Don’t believe me?  Just read about Kansas’ own  Nola Ochs who graduated college at age 95.  If you graduated college in a particular field but can’t find a job…MOVE!  I am a firm believer in the fact that all roads lead to another, and, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Do not give up!  Best of luck to all who are searching for jobs.

Posted in SocialMedia, Writing

Words Words Words…Making Sense of it All!

Image via Wikipedia

This note serves two purposes:  One of thankfulness for a break in routine; and a real treat on a snowy day — a writing class!

The instructor, Paula Peters, is a working mother, successful entrepreneur, author, and very patient with her students.  Her firm, Peters Writing Services, has been in business since 1999 and is staffed with people who are skilled at taking the impossible and turning it into professional copy that’s easy to understand, and targeted to the audience.  Their efforts at proposal writing, marketing, training development, and procedural manuals have saved the bacon of more than one mom and pop shop.  After failed bids for lucrative government contracts, corporate executives enlist her services and quickly turn no frills proposals into stand-out winning bids!

The writing course was well crafted.  The tools were a workbook, slides, the all important candy (you’ve got to have some incentive to come out of your shell right?), as well as individual and group writing exercises.  Her coursework helps students understand how to analyze the writing task and consider strategies to accomplish before putting fingers to keyboard.  Another interesting tool of value was the notes template she designed to help with information extraction.  The image of gold-panning in Alaska flashes in my head as an analogy to describe this tool~ to collect the flashy nuggets appear on the top after shaking/analyzing!  The notes template helps guide your writing activity; gleaning important facts to answer the five W’s (who, what, why, when, and where.)  You can make your own templates that meet your particular task genre.  Once you’ve gathered the nuggets or “chunks” as she refers to them, you prioritize them, string them together and tada…you have a succinct paragraph.

I guarantee if you invite her to teach a course at your workplace, there’s more than a handful of skills you’ll take away to help elevate the professional writing skills of your employees!  Here is a link to Paula Peter’s blog.  Check out the books she’s written.  Her latest published offering is the Working Mom’s Survival Guide.

At this point I’ve already violated several of her rules/guidelines but sometimes it does take more than 350 words to get your point across.  Thanks for reading and Thank You Paula for the great educational opportunity!

Posted in Uncategorized

Are YOU the Office Automation? (MS Outlook Calendar Drama!)

A Polycom Soundstation. Users can use it to bo...
Image via Wikipedia

(This post is to help frustrated users figure out a way to know what conference rooms best support their conferencing requirements!)

Don’t you just hate it when you want to reserve a conference room in your building, or within your organization across campus but you’re not sure about the details of the room?  Earlier this week, I simply wanted to know the number to the Polycom phone sitting on the conference table.  One of my attendees was going to have to call in and I wanted to put the phone number in the invitation.  I called the staff member’s telephone number who literally sits 12 feet away from the conference room.  The usual person was not answering the phones during this time and didn’t know the number, know where to find the number, and of course–the room was occupied so there was no way to get the number.  With a flash of insight I figured….I can find out that information for myself!

I’ll just right-click on the calendar in Outlook and view the properties….Right? Somebody should have populated that information when the conference room calendar account was created.  Wrong!  The only data in the comments field on the properties tab was a person’s name and phone number.  SSssssiiiigghhhhhhh!!!!

Whoever you are, wherever you work, make the equipment/software automate your work for you, instead of you working FOR the automation.  Part of Conference Room account creation in MS Outlook should include a standard checklist for the requester to fill out before the account can be created.

The following is a list of recommended data points to include in your Conference Room Exchange Account creation checklist to make sure the information is available to you and other customers:

  • Total occupancy of the conference room (seating at the table, seating around the room)
  • What type of visual display is installed (Projector & Drop Down Screen or Plasma/LCD Screens)
  • Laser Pointer
  • Podium or Technographer’s (place for admin person to push slides or type notes) Table
  • Computing Capability (Laptop, PC, Tablet ~ thin/thick client )
  • How many networks are available in the room
  • Smartboard
  • Whiteboards
  • Printer (black & white or color)
  • Fax Machine (include fax number)
  • Polycom Telephone for Conference Calls (include phone number)
    Number of power outlets available around the room
  • Is the room equipped with Conferencing Equipment (VTC, PC-based VTC, Microphones, Speakers)

By populating the comments field with recommended data points like those listed above, it really puts the “auto” magic back into automation and saves you time!  Just don’t forget to update the information to let information consumers know if there are additions/deletions/maintenance or repairs being made on the equipment or the room.

If you find this information useful, or if your company already uses this process to advertise what resources are available, please share!  Efficiency saves us all time and money.  Your lessons learned might help others be better prepared.

If you find this or my other posts valuable, you can subscribe to my blog and follow me on Twitter @justasked