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Archive for September, 2016

Seems familiar…

I wanted to publish this before the final outcome; seems like I’ve been in the situation before (see http://thequoteguys.com/2014/02/youre-fired/ ).

Back then, my company was acquired.  New leadership did what new leadership often does; fired a lot of employees.   It wasn’t a surprise; I was told by a Vice President and friend of mine that the company was “in play” before I even took the job. It was a risk I accepted.

Under a “silver lining”, that event benefited me greatly; it resulted in me finding my current role which has been among the best jobs I have had in my entire, 40 year career.  Now in October, my current company will be acquired.

DEJA MOO:

The feeling you’ve heard this bull before. 

Unknown Sage

I believe I’m the obvious choice to continue in my current role.  But – who knows what the new leadership will value?  It’s OK though; this time is quite different from the last time and that’s what I wanted to share before the final outcome is revealed.

You see, the last time I went through this my Manager(s) disappeared.  As soon as the announcement was made it very quickly became “every man for himself”.  I did not have one single business interaction with my Manager at that time once the announcement occurred.  Not a phone call; not an email; nothing.

His replacement, who was hired by the new company’s leadership offered the business courtesy of a phone meeting or two.  But when we gathered in Omaha for what turned out to be the “final audition” for a remaining few spots, my new manager was nowhere to be seen.  It was pretty obvious that I was not going to “make the cut” – and as I wrote about – I didn’t.

This go ‘round has been an entirely different and an impressively professional experience.  The Vice President I report to has maintained open and frequent dialog with his direct reports.  Often with these almost daily phone conversations he can’t offer me much in the way of substantive information – we’re still in a “quiet period”.  It’s all happening relatively quickly, but even so I and my fellow colleagues have been in limbo for what will turn out to be 3 months.

In spite of the obvious reasons for trepidation, here’s my boss – fearless in his willingness to maintain open and frequent dialog.

It’s one of the most challenging leadership skills of all – maintaining open communication with your reports when the over-arching theme could be bad news.  He has been unbelievably even-handed and totally appropriate with his updates.  He doesn’t speculate; he doesn’t preach hope; he simply sticks to the facts as he knows them – and we all take it one day at a time.  Regardless of the final outcome, his leadership strength is admirable; one we can all learn from.

For obvious reasons, we are all hopeful.  As I stated earlier, this time I believe I am the obvious choice.  But soon enough we will all find out if the news is good or bad. It will be interesting to see how things will be communicated:

The phrase, “I have good news and I have bad news”, is really just bad news. 

We all know this because we learn of good news this way; “You’re not going to freaking believe this, but…” 

Thanks boss for maintaining your dignity – and respecting ours – in the face of adversity.  This may seem familiar but I’m very confident things will turn out for the best, regardless.

GAP

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Passionate People…

I read an interesting article recently, Critical Things Passionate People Do Differently .  I’ve been receiving articles like this from TalentSmart regularly (check ‘em out http://www.talentsmart.com/ ).  To me, they are portraying an effective way of leveraging social media marketing by providing me consistent, useful thought leadership.

I think that anyone who quotes Galileo offers a different and interesting perspective:

Passion is the genesis of genius. 

Galileo

And as I read the article, I found myself doing a self-assessment.  Want to try it?  Here is the Author’s list:

  1. Passionate people are obsessed (In a good way LoL!)
  2. They don’t waste their time
  3. They’re optimistic
  4. They’re early risers
  5. They’re willing to take big risks
  6. They have one speed – full tilt
  7. They talk about their passions all the time
  8. They’re highly excitable
  9. They’re all about their work

On the 1st point, when it comes to my work and sports, I am definitely obsessed (hopefully, in a good way).  On the work side if you have been reading me for a while, then you know I am fascinated by the business of business and passionate about the profession of sales.

On the sports front, I am definitely passionate about football.  In fact, this time of year I love to bring out one of my favorite video clips that brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.  To me, it represents the amazing things ordinary people can (and do) accomplish when they simply, but passionately “give their best”.  See what you think.

Here’s the 6-minute movie clip about high school kids, an underdog football team, and their coach’s passion about “giving your best”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUKoKQlEC4

Probably not a management technique that transfers into today’s, modern business world – but his message and his passion does, true?  Although the sporting world is different than the business world, there remain many cross-over principles that apply.  Passionate owners, executives, coaches, consultants, managers and mentors can help us instill the drive and make the extra effort towards reaching our goals, yes?

One with passion is better than forty who are merely interested. 

Tom Connellan

Moving on to point #2 time wasting, the Author obviously has under estimated one’s passion behind the popularity of football as a pastime, agreed?  Point #3 – optimistic – for me, absolutely every day and twice on Sundays!  As my slogan states:

When life gets tough, you can get a helmet… or arm yourself with the peace & power of a positive perspective. 

Point #4 – early risers – for me, again absolutely!  This point brings to mind a famous football player’s quote I enjoy quoting:

Be happy today and every day because you’re dead a long time. 

Johnny Unitas

Point #5 – taking risks – maybe others think of me this way, but I don’t.  I suspect my optimism overshadows any perception of risk.  Point #6 – full tilt – yes, I guess.  When it’s one speed we don’t think of it as “speed” at all, do we?  Point #7 – yep, as my readers (and my wife) can attest.  Point #8 – again, “guilty as charged”.  Thank God I have a patient Manager who tolerates my occasional out bursts of excitement because he knows how much I care about “doing my best”.

And finally, Point #9 – regarding this point, I hope it doesn’t apply.  On a daily basis, I actually try to balance my work passions; seek new interests; have some fun in my life; and try not to drive my wife and family too crazy.

GAP

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Football and life…

Football season is here – hooray!  Did you watch the opening games?  How ‘bout my Broncos!  Were they good?  Lucky?  Did Carolina blow it?  All of the above!

I love football (much to my wife’s chagrin).  Which is interesting because the sport of football remains branded in my mind and in my life as the one time I literally gave up and quit.  Yes quit. And worse, I let my Mom down.

Oh, I’ve failed in sports; failed in many things over the years.  That doesn’t make me unique; we all fail from time to time:

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor. 

Truman Capote

But quitting?  That’s another matter altogether.  It was my junior year in high school.  I originally had planned not to go out for the varsity team.  Coach Fischer had been my coach freshman year; he had just been promoted to varsity head coach.  He had brought my sophomore coach, Coach Trolliet up to the varsity as an assistant.

I was a starter freshman and sophomore years; played offense, defense and special teams; was a co-captain.  I suppose Coach Fischer simply expected me to continue playing junior year.  Problem was, I had a bad experience my sophomore year.

I wanted to play well, but I required more coaching than Coach Trolliet was willing to offer.  I think he expected me to be a stellar player based on my raw, athletic talent alone.  But that was the problem – “raw”.  I never learned techniques; didn’t really understand my positions; was mostly guessing.  And when I “guessed” wrong – well, there came the boom!  I was even benched once because my confusion was viewed as a lack of effort.

Public ridicule, in front of my teammates; in the classroom; or any other setting, was never motivational for me.  Had the opposite effect – it shook my confidence.  And in football (and in all of life’s pursuits) confidence is a critical element to success:

Confidence is an important element in business; it may on occasion make the difference between one man’s success and another’s failure. 

Alfred P. Sloan Jr.

So I simply planned to be a fan my junior year.  Coach Fischer got wind of it and called me at my home; asked me to reconsider; wanted me to play.  I agreed (but I probably wasn’t committed).

The first few practices went well.  I was motivated not to let Coach Fischer down.  Though still raw, I had enough athleticism to run fast; hit hard; catch; kick; stand out. Trouble was Coach Trolliet had different plans.  He thought assigning me to the 3rd string would be motivational.   It wasn’t; I quit.

I didn’t tell anyone ahead of time; kept it to myself.  After practice, I went in to Coach Fischer’s office and said I didn’t want to play anymore. Football wasn’t fun.  I turned in my equipment; left in shame.

The worst was to come – when I arrived home my Mom was surprised to see me; said she expected me to be at football practice.  And then she found out that her son had quit.  Of all the people I have known in my life, my Mom was the one person furthest distanced from “quitting”.

But I learned from that high school experience.  Turns out Coach Fischer and Coach Trolliet were “educators” after all.  And today I can enjoy being a football fan because football taught me the lifelong lesson that no matter how bad circumstances get – quitting is never, ever, ever an option.

GAP

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Resistance…

I find the dichotomy intellectually interesting.  Sales professionals by and large make our living selling the next new thing to our customers and expecting our customers to embrace the change that comes along with replacing their old, tried and true things with our new-new things.  Yet, we sales professionals are among the most change-resistant folk on the planet.

A few months ago I was assigned the task of building a new course in my company’s sales training curricula.  When I reviewed the draft of the content I was to use, I whined.  Actually, I whined, stomped, argued, pushed back, pleaded, plotted and cajoled in every possible way I knew to try and avoid the assignment.  My boss was patient, pleasant, and steadfast.  He reminded me of my responsibilities; reminded me that the President of our company stated this course would be rolled out by September 1st.  My boss asked me if I could get it done by the deadline (but he really wasn’t “asking”):

At first speechless, Acheson had said he was not qualified to meet the demands of the office.  “This”, responded Truman, “was undoubtedly so, the question was whether he would do the job anyway.”    

Harry S. Truman

It is more accurate to say I didn’t have to develop the training from scratch.  I was expected to “tweak” the training that had been developed for another part of our company so it would better align with our resellers.  Since then, there have been frequent meetings with my cross-functional team trying to decipher just how to “tweak” the class and deliver the assigned content…

In all my years in business, I have found that people in meetings tend to agree on decisions that as individuals, they know are dumb. 

John M. Capozzi

Of course, all along the way I looked for opportunities to insert my personal, professional preference – which was to do nothing.  I didn’t like the new content; I preferred staying status quo.  “No change” was my mantra.  I was reacting just like many others when faced with making a change – hide!  But, as we all know progress is based on progression:

The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished. 

Benjamin Franklin

So I toiled on to complete my assignment to the best of my ability.

I mean, just because this new content was not something I dreamed up doesn’t make it bad.  It’s just new; different; requires me to make a change.  Who knows?  It might turn out that I actually like the new-new way.

I’m not sure what the root cause of my resistance has been.  Maybe I thought I would fail with this assignment; let my boss down; disappoint my clients….

It seems to me that the largest impediment to a healthy attitude toward failure is our inability to distinguish between just plain being stupid and failing on the way to great success. 

Unknown Sage

Yes, change comes with challenge.  As it turned out, I was able to create the new content.  And to help with my deployment plans, I delivered a “dry run” for my internal colleagues.  I “crashed and burned”.

It was back to the drawing board to make the necessary improvements.  Then, last week I delivered my 2nd go ‘round – this time to live clients.  The outcome?  Well, no one quit; no one got hurt; so I’m calling it a success!

They’re still a little reluctant to the change their ways and adopt the new training, but that’s OK.  I can relate.

GAP

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