Teams and Choices… Part 2

by Steve Buelow

Strong Team

As you know, I love sports analogies.

Especially at the Olympic and professional levels where the physical attributes of the athletes are often remarkably close, the slight edge often goes to the those who are better prepared mentally or emotionally.

Those are the qualities that are reinforced and instilled by exceptional coaching – the inner qualities that make the individual and the team strong.

And quite simply, more often than not, strong teams beat weak teams. This is true on the field, in the gym, at the office, or corporate boardroom.

The greatest players typically can’t turn around a team with inept or marginal coaches. The most competent employees won’t likely save a company with ineffectual, disconnected, or unethical leadership.

Weak teams in any industry make even the greatest players look pretty average, and bad companies ruin the reputations of those who represent them.

When choosing your teams, it is best to choose wisely.

 

Photo Credit:

Team Traveller

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Teams and Choices… Part 1

by Steve Buelow

Leadership

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to witness countless new salespeople as they launch into what is, for all practical purposes, the highest paying potential career that they will ever consider during their lifetime.

Unfortunately, most don’t make it, and it is often easy to see the myriad reasons why (though I must say, the following hang-ups don’t tend to stick around long with the people I coach, but alas— I digress).

For some, it’s the conversation that goes on between their own ears. Others spend their time on seriously unproductive activities or seem to be extremely undisciplined in their work habits.  Many work for sub-par companies with average products, and still others are overcome by fear, procrastination, or issues of rejection or self-worth.

But there is another group, and often this includes many who have amazing potential, who struggle with issues of integrity— but not in the way you might think. No, these are people who have high integrity, but who view their profession as one that doesn’t.

In some cases they had little-to-no training, and have relied on their own experiences with salespeople (some of whom may have been less than honest) for their role models. Of course, this is unnecessary and unfortunate because there are just so many great resources available.

Others were mentored, but by individuals of questionable knowledge, abilities, and ethics, and this ultimately created a disconnect (usually subconscious or unconscious) between their values and what they perceived to be the required path to success.

It shouldn’t be.

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I said earlier, a career in sales likely holds the greatest potential to accumulate wealth that most people will ever experience. But you must be good. You must stand strong. And you must stand tall.

In the past two weeks, I’ve spoken with several people who fall into this last group. Both have high integrity. Each is struggling— no doubt frustrated. And both asked to buy me lunch or dinner to talk about their respective opportunities.

Now I must say that in each case, I believe there is potential for the right person to do well. However, if either of these individuals is to succeed and maintain their personal values, the current culture of the organization is going to require them to step away from their leader’s example and create their own culture within the culture.

This is possible — I’ve done it — but it can be absolutely exhausting and life-consuming in the process. Often, it just makes sense to look elsewhere.

A further thought on teams and choices next time.

 

Photo Credit:

NASA Goddard

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Leadership

Okay, so return with me now, to those thrilling days of… well, return with me to the last post anyway!

I was having a discussion with a friend who had decided to begin writing and publishing online.

He had already purchased a domain and downloaded the files from wordpress.org… but two issues were really holding him up.

The first— that of who would read his articles— was pretty simple to get past. With just a few questions and a little encouragement on my part, it literally took him about 90 seconds to see that he would be way better off by putting his thoughts to paper (or the keyboard!)… even if no one else ever read them!

And of course… that would never happen anyway, because I WOULD BE READING THEM!! “Further,” I told him, “if you’re really nice… I bet that one day, we could even interest your wife and kids!”

He agreed. So what about issue number two?

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Well as it turned out, the answer to the second question— that of WHAT the content might look like— turned out to be as easy as the first!

“After all,” I explained, “you’re not writing for the New York Times. THANK GOD, YOU’RE NOT WRITING FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES!! On the contrary, you are going to write something that people are actually interested in reading!!!”

Need proof… find something in America that is falling farther and faster than newspaper circulation and subscription rates!!

But alas, I digress.

We live in a world of information and ideas, where technology has brought us all just a little closer together, able to reach out to help and impact and influence people and situations that were impossibly remote just a few short years ago.

“There’s just one little thing missing,” I told my friend, “and that’s your perspective. We need your ideas— and then we’ll be complete!”

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Okay… okay… I know. That wasn’t really true. Getting David’s ideas won’t make us complete. No in fact, that won’t happen until… we get YOUR IDEAS!!

Darn… I digressed again.

But relevant content really isn’t that difficult. In fact, discovering what to write is as simple as discovering a little bit of yourself.

Try this for starters.

Take any issue that matters to you, and honestly communicate your thoughts on how to improve it. That’s it— fix something— and then tell the rest of us how you did it.

Or how about this? Share a story… provide expertise… increase the knowledge base… or promote your causes.

Leave a legacy… add value.

Tell us your hopes, your dreams, your fears and your failures. Use your words to inspire our youth, encourage our weak, honor our warriors, and respect our elderly. Lift up the broken, teach the willing, and reinforce core values.

Yes, please tell us what brings laughter to your soul— or tears to your eyes? What is important to you— and why?

For WHOM do you live— and for WHAT would you die?

 

Thank you in advance. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

(ARTICLE PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED, REPOSTED AT THE REQUEST OF A FRIEND)

 

Photo Credit:

bingbing

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Leadership

“I LOVE reading your blog,” a friend told me earlier. “I keep thinking that I need to start one also. In fact, I think about it all the time!”

“I agree completely,” I said, “but we both know that thinking about it isn’t how it gets done. What’s holding you back, and would you like some help?”

He then related his two biggest concerns… which just happen to be most people’s concerns when thinking about writing and publishing.

1) Will anyone read it, and
2) What should it be about?

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Now, it may not surprise you that I think everyone ought to be writing— whether they have an audience to read it or not. Writing crystallizes our thinking… hones our arguments… and solidifies our points of view.

Writing expands our world— encompassing our beliefs and our hopes and our dreams. It allows us to work out our challenges— and to share our victories and our losses… our pleasures and our pain.

It connects us with others who have the same joys, feelings, priorities, and fears. And it allows us to work out practically, what we’ve only previously thought about emotionally.

If no one ever picks up your manuscript or manifesto, or clicks on your content, you are still better off for writing- period.

But then again, that’s really not how it works. You may start alone- but you won’t be alone- for long.

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As unique as we are, our thoughts and experiences are shared by many others… in fact, probably millions.

And as you write— as you speak from the heart— you will attract others to you who feel and think the exact same way. And no pressure— no need for pretense— for by now you know that the days of trying to be all things to all people are gone… hopefully forever.

Life and love and business and impact are about relationships with people. And great relationships are built on strong foundations of common values and experience.

So we write… and we connect… and we give. Then we give some more. And as our seeds are planted, we know that one day the benefits that others enjoyed through our work and our writing will return to us as well.

Eventually, on this earth… planting time leads to harvest time.

Every time.

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Okay, so what about question number two? What should my friend write about? Yes, what should YOU write about?

We’ll take that up in Part II. In the meantime, please know that I’d love to read your blog!

 

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

 

(ARTICLE PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED, REPOSTED AT THE REQUEST OF A FRIEND)

 

Photo Credit:

Amir K.

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Too Big To Fail…

by Steve Buelow

Leadership

Over the past year or so, there’s been much talk (and an overwhelming amount of economic pain) brought to bear by a philosophy known simply enough as, “Too Big To Fail.”

As this operating principle goes, there are some companies that are just too big… too integral… too important for us to live without.

Regardless of cost.
Regardless of incompetence.
Regardless of corruption.

Hmm.

Recently, I have had a mounting number of experiences that make me think the story will ultimately read differently.

Rather than being too big to fail, how about:

Too Big To Succeed
Too Big To Care, or
Too Big To Even Notice.

Yes, I believe that may be the problem. So large… so driven… so focused…

Head down… one hundred miles an hour…

Totally unaware.

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And then I met Mary.

My call to her this morning came right on the heels of an absolutely ridiculous experience that I had just had at another Fortune 100 company that is clearly too big to notice.

But this was different… Mary was different… and I suspect that her company isn’t needing a bailout.

Hers was a smile that could be seen over the telephone, and her desire to provide exceptional service was evident from the moment she picked up my line. Mary was good. She was trained… she was helpful… she respected my time and she ended our call with a sincere request that I, “go out now and have a blessed day.”

And you know… I did.

I really did :)

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Questions:

 

When was the last time you were completely overwhelmed either positively or negatively by the service you received?

What specifically can you do today that will make a positive difference in the experience your customers have with you?

How could you positively influence and affect others in your personal life through your attitude today?

Will you do it?

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Photo Credit:

JeffIsAGeek

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Leadership

I recently received an e-mail from a friend of mine and it seems as though his church has been struggling for some time with issues of leadership…

Not with the ministry team, mind you, but with several powerful “lay leaders”.

As he described them, these are a handful of very influential members that have agreed to serve in one or more various unpaid capacities.

To be sure, such “lay leaders” are found in every organization… and they are often critically important to the group’s attitude and the overall performance of the team.

In a small business, these may be respected, non-management-level employees to whom the others look for approval, advice, or recognition.

On a sports team, they are the individuals who can make it okay (or NOT okay) for the rest of the players to accept a new coach, game plan, or strategy.

In the local youth orchestra, they might be a set of plugged-in parents (often the highest donors) who insist on events going their way.

And in a family, it’s the go-to member whose “blessing” is required before the rest can buy into a new idea.

Yes, they’re everywhere. And they can be very helpful… or very hurtful… to the overall mission of the group.

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The challenge, of course, with these informal leaders is that very often… they ARE NOT leaders.

No slam on them… they’re just not there.

Yes, they may be perfectly willing… and they may be quite available… but that does not mean that they possess the ability to lead when circumstances get difficult.

And therein lies the problem.

As you have likely experienced, at various points in life or business, things can get really, really difficult. And that is when the ability to lead is most needed… and when the lack of that ability is most evident and destructive.

In every area of our lives… in our homes, churches, and businesses… a lack of leadership hurts others.

And the bigger the stakes… the more important it is to know who is in that role.

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Twenty years ago a mentor of mine told me, “Steve, the size of a leader can best be measured… by the size of the things that make them mad. Small things… bother small people.”

I’ve never forgotten that.

Small people make lousy leaders. They tend to have poor self-images and to get offended and hurt easily and quickly. And this becomes a problem that is magnified because people who are hurting… often reach out and hurt others.

Not a winning combination for any organization… great or small.

 

Questions:

Think about an instance when your leadership was seriously tested recently.

How did you handle it this time?
How would you have dealt with it in the past?
How will you handle it next time?

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Photo Credit:

Gaetan Lee

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Eat Your Veggies…

by Steve Buelow

Broccoli

I think that one of the greatest benefits of having a camera that also doubles as a mobile phone is that, on a regular basis, I experience things that no one would ever believe if I didn’t have pictures to back them up :)

Some of these events are just that… events.

And others, well… they’re just subtle twists on ordinary daily life that happen to get my attention.

Like this one…

I grew up hearing that I should eat my vegetables, because:

A) They would make me strong (they did),
B) They would make me tall (they didn’t), and
C) If I refused to eat them, I’d still be sitting there at 8:30pm staring at a plate full of cold, bland, dried-up spinach or broccoli while my friends were out playing baseball!

So I learned to eat what was in front of me and, with the exception of liver and onions, I mostly liked it.

Actually, it wasn’t the onions so much as it was the liver, and I might as well tell you now that in over twenty-three years of being a parent and the main cook in my house, I have NOT ONCE EVER given my family that menu option or ultimatum :)

But, alas, I digress…

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Back to the wonders of my Android and its awesome picture-taking ability.

I was just walking through a grocery store with a friend and we were discussing what I believe to be the almost-criminal state of the food supply in America today… I could write a book.

In fact, I am writing a book… but there I go digressing again!

I had just seen an advertisement claiming that “Frozen is as Nutritious as Fresh”, so I grabbed this package of frozen broccoli and had a Come-to-Jesus moment.

“Check this out…,” I said to my friend. “You know how good for you broccoli is, right… I mean, loaded with nutrition, especially Calcium… everyone knows that, right?”

“Well, yeah,” he says, “that’s why no kid in their right mind would want to eat it!”

Hmmm…

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Now you see, I never did have that problem… I ALWAYS wanted great nutrition.

Even as a child, I wanted to be REALLY healthy… I wanted to be attractive and I wanted to live forever!

And every Saturday morning I saw this guy named Popeye who, although he wasn’t handsome and I suspect he drank and smoked too much, he still had forearms as big as your thighs and he had power over the bad-guys and magnetism with the women in his life and it all came down to eating the greens!

I got that.

I mean, he was a little strange, but… he could rip open a tin can of spinach with his bare hands, he had the respect of the Producers and Cartoonists on his TV Network, he could physically eliminate anyone who was stressing out his girlfriend and overall, life was pretty good!

But today, things are different, and kids are probably justified in not wanting to eat their store-bought and industrial-farm-raised veggies, ’cause as this pic above shows… there’s not a darn thing in them!

Oh, okay… there’s a whopping 30mg of Vitamin C, which by-the-way, just so happens to be DESTROYED by either boiling or microwaving.

That said, guess what advice is given on the Cooking Instructions?

Unreal.

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So the questions I have for you are:

 
How did we allow our most important resources to become so nutritionally bankrupt?

Why is over-weightness and obesity so prevalent in America today?

Who do you know that is concerned about their health and nutrition?

How would releasing excess body-fat and weight help or harm the average American?

On a scale of 1 to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000… how important is this to you?

 
I look forward to hearing from you.

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Marketing

One of the great things about New Media is that anyone, anywhere, can suddenly go into business and brand themselves however they want.

Of course, one of the watch-outs with New Media is that anyone, anywhere, can suddenly go into business and brand themselves however they want!

Now, you already know that I’m all for people working for themselves… I’ve been beating that drum for a very long time. And you also know that when it comes to New Media, I’m certainly all for the price!

To be sure, with a cost-basis fast approaching zero, New Media should be high on everyone’s list.

And without doubt, new technology always spawns new opportunity.

For example, if you spend much time at all with Social Networks, and assuming you have a few thousand friends or followers between them… you already know that this technology has given rise to an entirely new entrepreneurial class.

I am speaking, of course… of the Guru.

A month or so ago, a businesswoman who lives between Puerto Rico and Miami sent me a message on Twitter, commenting on all the self-proclaimed “Gurus” on the Web.

How do you know who to believe?

Indeed.

I told her that it may be just me, but I don’t trust anyone who has the word “Guru” printed anywhere on their business card… or tattooed anywhere on their body! Though in retrospect, some of the new ink does look pretty cool… but alas, I digress!

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In any event, I just swung through my Facebook Group requests and Twitter DM’s and am happy to report that there are scores of these Gurus ready to drop everything to help me get it all together.

With just a few clicks, I could take advantage of offers to help me create income streams of hundreds of dollars in just minutes, thousands of dollars per day… even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the next month!

All from Wealth Gurus who are ready to help me unlock ancient secrets.

I also have Health Gurus who will teach me the path to live darn-near forever, Love Gurus who will teach me how to… well, let’s just leave that alone for the moment, and Workout Gurus who are ready to unveil the six-pack abs that have been hidden away for years, and are now just ready to burst forth!

Yeah… I suppose we can always get better abs :) I gotta go!

 

PS: Caveat Emptor

 

Photo Credit:

Vintage Collective

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Marketing

Ahh… Marketing Claims.

I was driving up from Chicago the other day and, as I often do, spent a few minutes in between phone calls scanning the AM Talk Radio Stations listening for anything political.

Suddenly, this catches my attention… as does anything to do with New Media…

“Coming up next on ‘Expert In The House’ we have Robert W. Glockenspiel of Good Stuff Marketing to talk with us about the importance of New Media and Social Networking.”

Now, of course… I must make the following disclaimer.

“The story you are about to hear is true… the names, including that of Robert and his company, have been changed to protect them from embarrassment.”

Now, this was one of those commercials that is really nothing more than a paid advertisement, but it is set up to try and fool everyone into thinking it’s an actual interview on a business radio program.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think they’re fooling very many… but alas, I digress.

So the radio announcer, playing the part of Mr. Interviewer says something along the lines of, “So Robert… this Facebook and Twitter stuff is really important to a business nowadays, eh…?” (A little Wisconsin lingo for you there).

To which Robert responds, “Oh, you better believe it is… Facebook and Twitter are HUGE parts of our business! In fact, I can safely say that we were really the first agency in the state to recognize their role in Marketing… and we’ve been preaching that message now since the late 90’s!”

Really.

Now… just in case you’re wondering, that would truly be the definition of an “early adopter”, given that Facebook was not available to the general public until September of 2006, and Twitter… while having spun off from it’s sister odeo.com in 2006… didn’t make a splash with the public until it dominated the SXSW Festival in March of 2007.

Anyway… I am always looking to learn, so I recorded Robert’s info on my mp3 and checked his accounts when I got home.

His company Facebook page had 4 Fans; his Twitter account 17 Followers… 3 of whom were bikini clad women offering content that was, well… Not Safe For Work.

C’est la vie…

 

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

 

Photo Credit:

SkeezyWizBang

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Position Of Leadership…?

by Steve Buelow

Leadership

Nowhere is the concept of “Leadership” more often misunderstood than it is in Corporate America.

On the other hand, nowhere is its presence (or lack thereof) more evident than in our nation’s charities and non-profits.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about politics… and then all bets are off!

Ahh… but I digress.

I recently ran into the parents of an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. I asked where Joel was living, what he was doing… and how things were going.

Funny the priorities that people have.

Other than losing his home, his marriage, and family… they said he was actually doing quite well.

In fact, according his dad, he had just been promoted to a “position of leadership” within his company, though his mom added softly… “I think all the extra hours and the extensive travel really contributed to the divorce.”

That’s nice.

By the way, the title that he bought and paid for with his wife and three children is “Operation’s Manager.”

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It would be easier to count the stars in the Green Bay sky tonight, than it would be to calculate the number of businesses that confuse the meaning of the words management and leadership.

Using them interchangeably, they run ads seeking “qualified managerial candidates” for “leadership positions.”

The two have little to do with one another. Here’s what they’re missing.

Leadership cannot be granted by means of a title… it must be earned. Yes, in an employment situation, subordinates can be forced to comply with rules, regulations, and orders… in other words, they can be managed.

But their desire to follow… and to be led… is based upon a relationship of trust and loyalty that can never be mandated by a position. Sustainable leadership is possible because the followers believe it is in the best interest of themselves and their organization… to follow.

This belief is the foundation upon which leadership is built. Neither you nor I will long follow someone in whom we do not believe.

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This distinction is even more pronounced in organizations that are based substantially upon the work of volunteers. Those who are donating their time don’t HAVE to follow. They cannot be forced or cajoled or compelled to follow.

And without belief… without trust and loyalty… they won’t.

Especially in the case of charitable or non-profit organizations, the leadership team must possess the values, traits, and experience that will inspire and increase confidence, faith, and belief in the organization’s mission and purpose… and in the individuals who are charged with leading the way.

 

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

 

Questions:

Have you ever been in an organization that had a Manager in a role that required a Leader?

How did it affect the rest of the team, and the goals of the organization?

How was it eventually resolved, and what was learned?

 

Photo Credit:

foundphotoslj

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