Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Synergize-Get More Done With Less Effort, The Value of a Good Partner

Do you ever feel like unless you get it done it is not going to happen. I lived a good part of my life under the moniker- “If it is going to be, it is up to me.” There is a lot of truth in that statement, particularly if you are talking about taking responsibility for yourself. But sometimes the best intentioned ways of thinking, over time, become what holds us back from future growth. In his book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey talks about three levels of existence, dependence, independence, and interdependence. When you are moving from dependence to independence doing it by yourself is what is important. Once you reach independence the next step of growth, interdependence, can look a lot like dependence to the outside observer but it is a completely different world.

Even if you are a great individual performer, you can do more by creating interdependent partnerships. I have such a partnership with Don Harkey from Galt Consulting. (check out his latest thoughts at http://www.galtconsulting.com/blog.html ) Even when I am not working things are getting done. And when we do work on a project together the end result is consistently better than if either one of us did it alone.

A good relationship is not two people who desperately need each other. It is instead, two whole, healthy people who are secure enough in themselves that they don’t “need” anything from the other. They check their ego at the door and freely bring their gifts and talents to the table for a common cause. Sometimes we use Don’s idea and sometimes we use mine, but in either case the additional input the other brings almost always creates something bigger and better. Covey calls this Synergy.

Great partnerships are characterized by high levels of trust. Instead of looking out for self interest they are constantly looking out for each other’s best interest. When Don wins, I win and vise-a-versa. When someone has your back you can give your full attention to the issues at hand rather than pouring lots of time and energy into protecting your own turf. Think about all the time, energy, and resources that are wasted in win/loose relationships like politics.

Do you want to get more with less effort? Then it may be time to move from the rugged individualism of independence to the win/win partnerships of interdependence.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Profiles in Passion: Making your passion a reality

It takes a four-part process to make major changes in one’s professional life:  having a passion, creating a vision, developing goals and taking deliberate action steps towards those objectives. For one local business owner, following that process launched him into an entirely unfamiliar industry. 

Randy Austin, owner of the Dancing Mule Coffee Company, had an auto body repair shop since before graduating college in 1989. After 22 years in the industry, he was frustrated and needed to make a change. “I was searching for something I was passionate about, a business I could open, create,” recalls Randy. “I’d developed a passion for coffee and coffee preparation over the years, so I started playing with coffee, going to trade shows and learning more about the business.”

Thus, his vision was born: to create an inviting coffee shop where the coffee is good, the people are friendly and where he could make a difference in the community. “Lots of people underestimate the need for a passion for the product itself. If your goal is to make money and not to be passionate about the product you’re providing, I don’t think you’ll be very successful.”

Passion and vision alone cannot make a business, though. One of Randy’s first goals was to develop a deep understanding of the product. “There’s a lot more that goes into a coffee business than what meets the eye,” he explained. “Lots of people take too lightly the need for product knowledge.”

But before he could start a new business, Randy had to first sell his auto repair shop. “The whole process [of selling a business] is intriguing: putting it up for sale, marketing to potential clients…The earlier you start with the end in mind, the better.” He officially sold the auto repair shop and opened the Dancing Mule in 2009.

He said that there were some things he hadn’t even considered about the business before working with his consultants. Considerations span from creating an atmosphere that fosters a community and social interaction to purchasing the right equipment, down to the smallest mixing utensil. Another great consideration was the name. The title “Dancing Mule” comes from a legend of the origin of coffee with an Ozarkian spin (read the entire story here) 

So, Randy made the change from auto repair business owner to passionate coffee connoisseur. “We think coffee shops should be fun, not have an arrogance, indifference or stuffiness,” explained Randy. “It’s great to be focused on product quality, but we encourage interaction with customers.” Randy’s philosophy still stands true as he works to grow his business each and every day . His passion, vision, goals and actions have changed his life.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do you remember Smitty’s Supermarkets? The story lives on.

Why not work at something you love? 

I just finished reading a book about Smitty’s Supermarkets founder Clyde “Smitty” Smith.  What jumped out at me most was Clyde’s passion for the grocery business.  Even as a teenager Smitty was fascinated by merchandise and cash trading hands on the sales floor.  He talked his way into his first grocery job in a small town in Iowa by offering the proprietor, Keith Rushing, into a trial period so that he could prove his worth.  He went on to more than prove his worth.  Rushing took Smith under his wing and became a life-long friend and mentor eventually helping Smith find and start his own store. 

Smith got that first job in 1936. He tried several other career options only to return to the grocery business in 1946 when he opened his own store.  From that one small store he slowly but surely built an empire of market leading stores in Iowa, Arizona, and Missouri eventually opening the country’s first combined grocery and retail space Superstore in 1962.  At the height of their existence Smitty’s was the largest private employer in the state of Arizona.

Over time we get good at what we do or practice repeatedly.  If you are working in your area of passion vocationally and you leverage your strength, you will invariably do amazing things.  These kind of people not only tend to be happier themselves, they tend to make major contributions that positively impact others as well.  I was a benefactor of Smitty’s passion for the grocery business.  

Before I was a coach, I owned a janitorial supply distribution company.  Smitty’s set very high standards for cleanliness and sanitation making then an ideal client for us.  Over the years the Missouri stores became one of our best clients.  Partially because of the help I got along the way from Smitty, I was eventually able to sell Springfield Janitor Supply and now am able to live out my passion vocationally every day in my coaching practice. 

So here is the bottom line.  Why not work at something you love?  You will be happier. You will not want for motivation, and you will end up having a bigger impact on the world around you.  Sounds like a win-win scenario to me. 

For more info on the Smitty’s story read the article in the March 28th, 2011 edition of the Springfield Business Journal reviewing the book Pioneering the Superstore a Retail Revolution-The Story of Clyde”Smitty” Smith.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February Profiles in Passion: A Natural Fit

Her life purpose is to inspire others to reach towards their purpose in life. As someone who initially chose a career that didn’t mesh with her life desires and goals, Kim Hartmayer can relate to the frustrations of people living their life without fulfillment. Her enthusiasm and unique perception are what drove her to living her passion, but unfortunately at the time of her first career choice, there wasn’t a job description for what she had to offer.

“I knew I would be a speaker and an agent of change for others from the time I was a small child. I’d always seen myself that way,” Kim recalls. “I was miserable in my sales job; I knew there was something more for me.” Raised in a family who encouraged personal empowerment, Kim was told from the beginning to do what you want to do and how you want to do it. “There was no enabling in my growing up.”

When Kim started her career as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry, her family and friends told her that she had a natural charisma about her that made her perfect for sales. “It takes just one person seeing you as exceptional to push you on the road towards the perfect career,” she explained. Unfortunately, the appeal her friends and family saw in her was not for the sales force, but for something more on a personal level.

Kim was first introduced to the world of professional coaching when her husband was assigned an executive coach. “He would come home with enlightened perspectives, things I’d been telling him for years,” remembers Kim. “When he started to see me in the same light, I knew it was time to move forward and pursue my calling. I took off after that.”

The trick for an ultimate life change for Kim was to have a plan and chart a course to stay clear about her goals when life got in the way. “When the kids got sick (and) flights were canceled, it was my course, methodical and organized, with all kinds of ups and downs along the way that makes this such a wild and wonderful ride.” Kim hired her own personal coach and reached out to everyone in her network for connections in the coaching industry then Kim took a leap of faith.

“I knew my first step was education and certification,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that when you’re dealing with people’s lives, you need to be adequately trained.” After completing a year of training and certification, Kim went on her way to Spain to launch a 10 month leadership training program where she is to be the only U.S. coaching representative.

Though training is an important part of her journey, without her support team, Kim would be unable to follow through. “My mother is my biggest fan, and I have a supportive husband; having a good network around me is important,” says Kim. “What I’ve learned, though, is that when the chips are down, I’m still the one driving the boat.”

Kim explains that even with her hugely supportive team, she needs the help of a coach because “sometimes [coaches] are the only people who get it.  It’s nothing about the support team. They have their own stuff to deal with,” she explained. “They don’t have the time or energy to be totally devoted to me like my coach.”

“With coaching, sometimes the only person that ever sees a client is their coach,” she clarified. Everyone needs at least one person to see them for how magnificent they truly are. If someone sees you based on what you love, are inspired by, and what your dreams are and he or she holds onto that for you, it is a powerful thing.”

Coaching is not just touching the individual. It is changing the world. “As people globally begin living a passion driven life, I see a greater peace and harmony around the world and in our lives. A passion-driven life is a peaceful life. It’s the antidote to some of the struggles we’re seeing. I’ve seen radical transformation in people due to coaching.”

Kim practices coactive coaching where she helps her clients clarify their biggest dream, passion and heartfelt existence. She then grasps that concept and holds on to it, holding them accountable. “It’s just a dream if we don’t take action,” said Kim. “The fear of failing always gets in the way, but the cold hard truth is that no one is paying that close attention as you think they are. If you fall, fail, embarrass yourself, it’s not that big of a deal.” She tells her clients that they have a true chance to be happy by following their heart’s desire. She then holds them accountable for answering the challenges along the way.

Kim explains that coaching is an individual and personal connection. If you’re seeking a coach, she encourages setting up sample sessions first, visiting with a few coaches and waiting to commit to one coach until you’ve found the right one. A great coach will help you reach your passion. “A real sign of living your passion is that there’s a natural fit without struggle. It’s not that you won’t have to work for what you want, but rather tap your internal capabilities.”

For more information about Kim and her services, visit http://kimhartmayer.com/

Conflict and Communication Rarely Coexist

One of my favorite sayings is that conflict and communication rarely coexist. Humans generally want the same thing. Conflict arises between people because one person believes that what they want, and another person wants, is somehow mutually exclusive. If you get more pie, I get less. But what if you could both make the pie bigger? Then you could both have more. If you have an on-going relationship with someone, what you want and they want is probably, instead, mutually inclusive.

In my own practice, I find that most organizations' #1 problem is communication. People don’t disagree with each other. They simply fail to talk through issues and eventually start to emotionally withdraw. Left unaddressed, people retreat to their own silo’s and it becomes us against them. Now the tragedy of this whole deal is that they really wanted the same thing all along, they just failed to practice healthy communication.

Think about what a difference it would make in your relationships if you started from the premise that you and the other person really did want the best for each other. Thinking that way would encourage you to indeed create a shared pool of meaning. You could then work together to create a better future together or go your own way. Either way you both win.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Be Reasonable: 3 tips to Ensure You are Being Reasonable

Are people generally fair and reasonable?  

If you go with your gut on this one, you will more than likely say yes. I would whole heartily agree with you. People naturally have a sense of fairness. If we agree on this point then why do so many of us respond to our employees as though they will not be reasonable?  I want to acknowledge right up front that there are indeed exceptions to this rule, but if one out of ten people are not reasonable why do we treat all ten as though they were not? It kind of sounds like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  In my experience one of the surest ways to get in a fight is to start throwing punches. Think about it a minute. If you approach people in a way that says I don't trust you, that you don’t think they will be fair and reasonable with you, they naturally respond in like kind-they won't trust you either. And who could blame them. You started it! Now on the other hand, if your starting position was that they were bright, intelligent, fair, and reasonable people, how do you think most of them would respond?  Absolutely, in like kind.  And maybe even the unreasonable people would respond favorably. Again in my experience, most people who are difficult to get along with are that way because they are hurting inside themselves. If anything's going to reach them, it will probably be a little unmerited respect. To reframe this another way, people who don't respect themselves have real difficulty respecting others. At the end of the day isn't that what most of us really want is to be respected by both ourselves and others.

Okay back to reasonableness.  At this point you would like to totally buy-in to the discussion about reasonableness but you're still not sure you can trust people at that level. Let me give you some practical tips on how to make the reasonable nature of people work for you instead of against you.

Tip #1. Ask the person you're dealing with what they think would be reasonable?  
Many of the business owners and leaders I work with think this is a high risk question. It's not. People consistently ask more of themselves and are willing to do more than you would ever dare to ask of them yourself if they are the one’s doing the asking.  It's back to that self-respect thing. If it is a controversial pushing and shoving match, each party is going to try to take all they can get.  In that approach you both end up with a whole lot less than you could have had if you openly worked together.

Tip #2. Bring others into the conversation. 
Something as simple as let's get Bob's, or the rest of the team’s, opinion usually ups the ante on your willingness to be flexible and helps minimize personal factors that may play into the conversation.  It's one thing if a single individual in your organization feels like you're not being reasonable, it's a much bigger deal if everyone feels like you're being unreasonable. This is one of those things that is much better out in the open that it is hidden in the back room. As a leader you need to know if your people think you are fair and reasonable. You might be asking yourself can I really trust the crowd about what is fair and reasonable. We do it every day in our legal system. Twelve people literally decide issues of life and death in the form of a jury.  In my experience, if your people, by and large, think you are unreasonable and you probably are.

Tip #3. Don’t be quick to act.  
Quality relationships take time and effort. If someone feels like you're genuinely being unreasonable with them or vise-a-versa, I would encourage you to give the situation some time and space. It's easy to make a rash decision in the heat of the moment. When it comes to relationships things are rarely ever black and white. Take the pressure off all the parties and sleep on it for a night or two. I can't tell you how many times that space and room has allowed me and others to work things out for each other's benefit.  And don’t be surprised if you are implementing these tips and you are truly being reasonable, your employee or subordinate returns to you and says that they do indeed think you are being fair and reasonable. 

I have to wonder if the most important issue around reasonableness for an organizational leader is whether or not we are willing to be reasonable with our people.  The world we see is simply a reflection or mirror of the world that exists inside of us. What does it say about us if we don't think our employees are reasonable?  At the end of the day, the only leader who needs to be afraid of shared reasonableness is the leader who is not themselves willing to be reasonable.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Other Speaking & Training Options

Right on Target—Making Your Dreams a Reality
How effective goal setting can get you where you want to go!
In this session you will learn:

  • Why it is important to set goals
  • The 2 reason people don't set goals
  • Why it is important to keep first things first
  • To understand why hard work alone is not the answer
  • How meaningful goals naturally motivate us
  • That the mind automatically searches for answers when a question is asked
  • Why it is important to track our progress
  • About the Dynamic Productivity Model
  • How to set SMART goals
  • Live a balanced life
Networking—Your Connection to Success 
In this session you will learn:

  • Why working together produces better results with less effort
  • The four keys to being referable
  • How to provide real value
  • To establish and build trust with clients
  • The importance of a relational support system
  • What customers really want and will pay you well to provide
  • How to build high trust relationships
  • About the Relational Progression Model
  • How to make more money with less effort
  • Why traditional cold calling does not work
Perpetual Motivation
How To Be Successful Without Ever Having To Work Another Day In Your Life!
In this session you will learn how to:
  • Create an empowering work environment
  • Break out of old, limiting ways of thinking
  • How to truly be successful
  • Release the untapped potential in yourself and others
  • Use your own natural talents, abilities, and interests to differentiate your self from your competitors
  • Become more confident
  • Delegate more effectively
  • Understand how to set more effective goals
  • Block out distractions
  • Live the life of your dreams
The Art of Customer Service
Giving People What They Really Want
In this session you will learn how to:
·         Turn your customers into your biggest fans
·         Effectively handle customer complaints
·         Support your staff
·         Create memorable customer experiences
·         Build life time customers
·         Give the customer more than their monies worth
·         Create a place where people want to work
·         Quickly defuse emotionally charged situations
·         Create customer loyalty

Conversations That Make a Difference
Creating a better life through better communication
In this session you will learn how to:
·         Stop avoiding difficult conversations
·         Learn how to build better relationships through effective communication
·         Create a better world for yourself and others
·         Break out of old, limiting ways of thinking
·         Establish and build trust
·         Hear and be heard
·         Build and maintain safety for yourself and others
·         Value others and respect yourself
·         Unleash the creative power of language

The Coaching Paradigm—Coaching Basics
Learn how to dramatically improve human performance and maximize results through effective coaching principles and techniques.

Learning Objectives:
·         Understand the fundamentals of coaching.
·         Learn how to ask powerful questions.
·         Create effective accountability.
·         Unleash and empower people in your organization.