Go Beyond the Checklist

Checklist IILet it be known that I’m a fan of checklists. There’s a certain excitement felt by checking off items as they’re completed.

Recently I met with several managers in the company regarding a specific project. Each of them, myself included, owned a portion of the project. One by one they told me they had completed their portion. Each person truly had checked off their assigned task.

However, the overall project wasn’t progressing.

Too much focus had been placed on the tasks – and not the overall goal of the project. Each step was being done but without a visual of what needed to be achieved.

Communication, coordination and a drive for project success (not just completion) were lacking.

Look at your to-do list this week – which tasks are achieving higher, overarching company goals?

I’m reviewing my checklist, updating my priorities, and emphasizing success that exceeds my individual tasks. We’ll see what improvements this makes over the next few weeks.

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Book Review: Think Big, Act Bigger

think-big-preview-02In 2015, I heard Jeffrey Hazlet speak at a breakout session during  Hubspot’s Inbound conference. He discussed the concepts from his book Think Big, Act Bigger.

Admittedly, it took me several months to purchase the book and several more to start reading it.

Mr. Hazlet is opinionated. That bold stubbornness makes the book interesting and more valuable.

My Top Takeaways:

Thinking and acting big feels risky. Not thinking and acting big far riskier.  

  • The idea of acting big, pushing boundaries and stepping out of your own comfort zones feels dangerous. As business accelerates so quickly, we need to be thinking about how to go BIG, what ELSE can we do, where can we PUSH the envelope. That gives us the best chance of success.

Always be evolving.

  • In a world where “change” is the new status quo, your ability to adapt and change may be the most important indication of your ability to succeed.

This is one of the better books I’ve read this year. And it’s not too lengthy. – so, you can read it over just a few days. The book gives great, real-world examples that make the concepts tangible.

My Recommendation:

Get it. Read it. Make your team read it. And re-read it often.

If you’ve read it share your thoughts?

What book(s) have you read this year that was valuable?

Hiring is like Selling a Home

pablo-20This month marks 10 years living in my current home. The first place we lived as a married couple, was a condo. We used a realtor to sell it. He did a great job organizing Saturday open houses so we could show the place to as many people as possible, Hours and hours were spent walking people through the rooms, and answering questions. Eventually, we sold the condo and bought a starter home.

After seven years our family outgrew the starter home and we decided to sell it in order to build a home more suitable to our family’s needs. This time my wife and I decided to sell it on our own, nothing against Realtors.

Again we decided to hold an open house. This time the announcement included as many details as possible, such as selling price, the year built, the size of the home, the size of the lot, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, paint and carpet color, brand of the appliances, schools near the home, distance from the freeway, and more. The idea being to give potential buyers tons of information about questions they’d inevitably ask.

When the day came for the open house we saw far fewer people than expected. In fact, only a handful showed up. However, two couples expressed interest in buying the home – seven days later it was sold to a young couple looking for a starter home, in a good neighborhood near certain schools, where they hoped their children would one day attend.

See it wasn’t about finding lots of people to look at the home. The goal was to find one person willing to buy and with the financial means to do so. In this case, the young couple who pulled up in the small rusted car – they were the ones (and they paid in cash – no loan needed, but that’s another story).

20161207_152446-01Hiring is no different. Hiring is about finding one person to fill a specific role. It’s not about a bringing in dozens of applicants and vetting them all out – It’s not Celebrity Apprentice. It is about finding one person willing to work for your company, in that position, for that pay – who has the current skills and future potential, and that fits into your company’s culture.

Again, the goal is to find the ONE.

Once you’ve found someone who meets your criteria – offer them the job. Don’t spend any more time. Don’t risk losing them. After all, they might end up finding another “home to buy” that’s just as appealing.

What are you reading?

20160916_150150-01Never stop learning. Advice heard over and over again. As part of my 30-Day “Do More” Challenge, I’ve placed a higher importance on developing a habit of daily learning through reading books. No, my goal of 15 minutes a day isn’t some amazing feat; It wasn’t meant to be. It was meant to get me back in the habit… every single day.

This got me thinking about business books I’ve read, and ones I want to read.

Here’s my list:

Currently reading:

Favorites from earlier in my career:

What’s next (to name a few):

If you are looking for a marketing book to get started I’d recommend The New Rules of Marketing and PR. If you want a general business book, with plenty of application for your personal life, Think Big, Act Bigger! – for sure.

 

Tell me about any books you’d recommend.

Learning from being a Dad

ID-100218845Being a Dad is the most challenging and gratifying part of my life. It’s a role that requires me to constantly be learning and improving. The lessons learned as a father directly impact many other areas of my life, including being a more effective leader.

As a Dad…

You adapt to different personalities

No two kids are alike. In fact, all four of my kids are unique in their likes, desires, motivations, stresses, hobbies, and more. To be effective I have to adapt in the way I interact, encourage and occasionally chastise. A strong correlation exists between my ability to adapt to each personality and how well we connect with each other.

You make the best with what you have

Almost all Dads deal with limited means – time, money and resources. Waiting until there is a surplus of these things simply isn’t an option. So you get creative, become innovative, develop patience and just find ways to make it work.

You invest in the people

Giving my kids attention is far more valuable to them than giving them money – although my two teenagers may argue this point. In the end it’s not the house, the car, or the yard that matter. It’s the people. When you invest in people, relationships flourish, expectations are exceeded and individuals accomplish far more than you ever expected.

You have to laugh

A sense of humor might be one of the single most important characteristics a Dad can have. If you’re not careful the seriousness, stresses and pressures of life will weigh you down. Sometimes you just have to laugh it off.

You laugh to lighten the mood.

You make others laugh to brighten their day.

Sometimes you laugh to keep from crying.

-DJ

20160609_151006-01
Here’s the my amazing family!

Top photo cred

It’s Not Business, It’s Just Personal

Ever noticed when a major business win is achieved everyone touts the people and relationships that made it happen. Contrarily, when tough decisions with damaging consequences are made these same people quickly hide behind the proverbial skirt of “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” This phrase is most often said to someone who will be personally affected by the recent decision.

ID-10034799“We’ve decided to buy from another company”

“You weren’t selected for the promotion”

“We won’t be accepting your offer”

“You’re being let go”

“We chosen another candidate for the position”

“Your request was denied”

Businesses aren’t the products or services they sell. Businesses are an intertwined web of employees, vendors and customers. It is the people that make business… well business.

Yes, hard business decisions are constantly being made. The decisions themselves are made by individuals whose personal experiences, opinions and biases go into each and every choice. People’s lives are affected by these so-called business decisions and the ripple effects are far reaching – never downplay that fact.

Celebrate the human element that comprises today’s business environment and stop saying “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” After all, it’s always personal and never just business.

 

 

Photo by Photostock

Lunch with Larry

Winning Meal18 months after starting work at Access Development (I’ve been here 10 years now) I was on a sales team that ran a month long March Madness style contest. Different categories were determined and brackets assigned with eight reps competing in various areas of sales, consulting and productivity. Our team had many talented people making the contest both fun and challenging. In the end I won the contest through hard work and honestly a lot of luck, and partially because I wanted it more. Some reps held back during the month unsure if they wanted to win the grand prize – lunch with Larry.

Who is Larry?

Larry Maxfield is the CEO and Founder of Access Development. (I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this story). In 1984 he almost headed off to study at MIT then decided to start a small company called Access Development in Salt Lake City, Utah. His vision, work and determination have built a strong company now 30 years later.

Back to the story: By nature I’m very competitive – that’s what drove me to win the contest. It wasn’t about the prize. Other reps were hesitant to win the contest because the idea of lunch with the CEO made them nervous.

When the day came for the lunch, Larry pulled up to the building in his FJ Cruiser and I jumped in the passenger seat. As we drove he said “Congratulations on winning. Remind me the details of the contest.” I explained the components and work that went into winning the month long competition. Larry unassumingly replied “Wow, you had to do all that and all you got out of it was lunch with me? That’s not a great prize” he laughed. “Plus, I’d go to lunch with you anytime if you just ask.”

We had a good meal that day while talking about family, hobbies, business and other topics. On the drive back to the office Larry told of an employee who shortly after coming to work at Access came to his office with a list of company problems. Larry said to me about that experience “Every company has lots of problems and challenges, ours is no difference. I know what the problems are. What I need are solutions. Solutions don’t come from me or upper management; solutions come from all the people in the trenches who do the hard work day after day. I welcome feedback, ideas and solutions from all the people who make this company great.”

Larry, the most powerful man in the company, demonstrated true leadership that day. He showed how real leadership and humility go hand-in-hand. He expressed sincere interest in being available to any employee anytime, whether for a casual lunch or to hear ideas on how to improve the company.

Of any contest, award or prize I’ve ever won, lunch with Larry was one of the most valuable!

Be a leader. Be humble. Be Sincere. Be you!

Photo courtesy of Ambros at FreeDigitalPhotos.net