Beware of Your Ego

  Ego makes a leader un-teachable and unapproachable – two leadership killers. Keeping your ego in check means making it about we not me. It means giving credit and taking responsibility.       If I were to ask what caused the financial crisis in 2008, what would you say? (Hint: e answer has nothing to do with money). A common belief is that it was incompetence that caused the fall, a lack of knowledge or skill needed to get the job done.   But if we believe it was incompetence that caused the financial collapse, then we are saying that everyone on Wall Street was an idiot, which may sound funny, but it’s not true. e people working on Wall Street and those who contributed the most to the financial crisis were some of the most competent people out there. What caused the financial crisis wasn’t incompetence but rather
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It Adds Up

  On the slopes of Long’s Peak in Colorado lay the ruins of a gigantic tree. Naturalists tell us that it stood for some 400 years. It was a seedling when Columbus landed at San Salvador, and half grown when the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth. During the course of its long life, it was struck by lightning 14 times and the innumerable avalanches and storms of four centuries thundered past it. It survived them all. In the end, however, an army of beetles attacked the tree and leveled it to the ground. The insects ate their way throughout the bark and gradually destroyed the inner strength of the tree by their tiny, but incessant attacks. A forest giant which age had not withered, nor lightning blasted, nor storms subdued, fell at last before beetles so small that a man could crush them between his forefinger and his thumb.   Just
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Can You Be Genuinely Happy For Others?

Last week I overheard my son and his friend talking about something that happened in their class where everyone got a bag with a prize inside. They were talking about how one child got a better prize than everyone else. All the other children were saying “That’s not fair,” and “He doesn’t deserve that.” All were upset about why this one boy got something better than they did. After hearing my son and his friend hash this out for I while, I took the opportunity to talk to them about how important it is in your life to be able to celebrate others and not have to be upset or try and tear other people down because they did something or were able to succeed in some way you weren’t. I think that is one of the biggest problems that we struggle with in life is the ability to be
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What Makes A Leader Great?

Three years ago I was in South Dakota speaking for the managers of Riddle’s Jewelry and I had them break into groups to answer the question: What is the #1 quality or characteristic of a great leader? Each team was supposed to share just one word. One characteristic. We heard answers such as: example, communicator, genuine, passionate, & listener. Then one team combined trust & respect to form the word – Truspect. I teased the team for cheating and making up words and it became an ongoing joke throughout my speech. A few weeks ago I went back to South Dakota to be with the managers of Riddles Jewelry and they all made buttons with the word Truspect. It was funny & very clever. They are a great group. But I want to ask you – what makes a leader great? What is your #1 quality or characteristic of a
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Six Ways To Make People Like You

  When it comes to books about networking, building relationships and working with people, the undisputed classic is “How To Win Friends and Influence People.” Dale Carnegie wrote the book in 1936 and it has been read by millions of people since. One of the great realizations in the book is that although some people are more extroverted or affable, working with people is a learned skill that anyone can master. In the second section of the book, Carnegie offers what he calls “Six Ways To Make People Like You.” These are simple suggestions that can make a huge difference in the way you work with people.   #1 – Be Genuinely Interested In Other People. Studies show that the most frequently said word is “I.” People love to talk about themselves, their lives, their hobbies, their families, their passions, etc. When you interact with people, ask questions and allow
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Communication Is a Balancing Act

Ivanhoe is a novel set in twelfth century England written by Sir Walter Scott in 1820. Characters include King Richard, Robin Hood and Friar Tuck. It highlights the conflict between the Saxons and the Normans as well as the Christians and the Jews in that time period. Ivanhoe is a Saxon knight returning from the crusades. He wins the championship of a jousting tournament sponsored by Prince John but is injured badly. The beautiful daughter of Isaac the Jew named Rebecca nurses him to health.   Rebecca is wooed by many knights templar but refuses them all. She is arrested by the Templers for witchcraft and is sentenced to be burned by fire. As she defends herself, she is described as resolute but not defiant. I love that line: resolute but not defiant. I think communication is a balance, and just like Rebecca, we must find that balance. It’s being confident
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12-7-4

Stitched onto the Iona basketball jerseys are the numbers 12-7-4. It is a mantra for the team created by coach Tim Cluess. It stands for: 12 months a year, 7 days a week, 4 hours a day. That’s the minimum you need to put in if you want to want to be the best. To be the best takes hard work, there’s no way around it. You can have all the natural talent in the world, but to be the best, you have to put in the time. Legendary basketball player Kevin Durant once said “Hard work beats talent when talents fails to work hard.” Hard work will out perform talent in the long run. Whether it’s being the best basketball player, the best student, the best leader, teacher, storyteller, parent, it all takes hard work. But the good news is you can achieve the level you want to by
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Leaders Learn Your Language

Last week I was on a call with an executive preparing for a speech I will be giving his company next month. As is custom, I asked him if there was any terminology or vernacular that I should be aware of that was specific to his company or industry. He was blown away! He was shocked and surprised that I would take the time to learn his language. You see, each industry has it’s own set of vernacular. In direct sales it’s knowing if they call their people distributors or associates. In credit unions, it’s knowing they call their people members, not customers. With different organizations they use different terms like managers, team members, supervisors, etc. Every company has their own language. For me, speaking to people from the stage, using their language makes what I’m saying more relatable and more easily understood. As a leader, learning to speak the
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Develop Outward Thinking

The most effective formula for exerting real, positive and lasting influence on others is to consistently think of others first. Gordon B. Hinckley, a personal hero of mine, once said, “The best antidote for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is to help someone even more tired.” He recalled a time early in his life when he was far from home on an assignment, feeling forlorn, abandoned and discouraged, and he received a simple piece of unexpected advice that transformed his life: “I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money. My father was a wise and inspired man. He wrote a very short letter to me, which said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.” Placing
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Go Deeper, Get Personal

A while back I went to a networking event for lunch. There were about eighty people there and we were assigned to tables with eight at each table. Throughout lunch, the conversation was good, but it was somewhat awkward and very superficial. Everyone wore a nametag with their name and the name of their company, so the typical question was directed at the name of the company on the nametag. “Tell me about XYZ company?” or “What do you do at XYZ?” Then the event director introduced an activity. We went around the table and each of us had two minutes to answer a personal question and then two minutes to talk about what we do professionally. The personal question was either “What is a mistake you have made in the past?” or “What has been a memorable sporting event for you?” I don’t think it mattered what the personal
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