I will never forget last year’s May Day protests. My wife Barb and I were in New York City and sat in Bryant Park watching protesters peacefully march with signs around the Big Apple. The New York City Police were out in force, looked serious about their jobs, and everyone stayed cool, calm, and collected. We never felt like we were in danger, nor felt fearful. Imagine our surprise when we returned to our hotel and saw our very own Seattle on the news. May Day riots were out of control in the downtown area with protesters smashing windows and setting cars on fires. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Here I was safe and sound in one of the biggest cities in the world, and my relatively small hometown was being ravaged.
This year, things are different. The police have already started preparations and are sure not to be caught flat-footed again. In addition, businesses are being much smarter. I just saw a push notification on my phone indicating that US Bank in downtown Seattle was closing up shop at 3 pm due to the expected protests. They made a decision in the best interest of their customers and employees. While they might not be able to prevent damage to their building, they do have control over the people they serve and employ. While it might be a slight disruption for customers, my guess is that it pales in comparison to anyone being injured.
The lesson for you as a business owner is this…
You need to learn from history. I can’t tell you how many times in my years as an insurance agent and consultant, where I have seen business owners ignore history and trends to their detriment. For example, if you have a fleet of cars that continually racks up rear-end accidents, and you take no preventative action to educate and/or discipline your drivers, you will fall victim to larger self insurance costs, higher premiums, and loss of production and revenue. In this case today, US bank knows it’s located right in the heart of the rally. They know that banks are a target. They saw what happened last year. They made a decision to avoid calamity in the places they can control. Kudos to them.
You need to be skilled at spotting trends. If you have a strong, professional relationship with your insurance agent, they should help you. This is an area that consultants are invaluable. The net result of learning from history is that you don’t repeat the bad stuff; only the good stuff! At least one business in downtown Seattle has figured it out. Have you in your business?
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Leading in Crisis.
I am currently the president of the school board in my community. We find ourselves in the unenviable position of closing an elementary school. As with most “business” decisions, the reasons surround lack of funding, declining enrollment, and buildings not operating at capacity. In a normal business situation, the answer is easier to make and implement. When you’re dealing with such an emotional issue as one’s school, it turns into an excruciatingly emotional and arduous decision.
As you might imagine, there is a diversity of opinion and emotions run deep. The concern for divisiveness and bitterness are very real and likely. As a board, we receive emails, phone calls, letters to the editors, anonymously posted blog comments, and public hearings. There is an equal number on every side of the issue. Not everyone is or will be happy. And so goes leadership in a crisis situation.
If you’re in a leadership position, whether with your own company, non-profit group, or civic organization, you will face crisis. You will be judged, praised, mocked, misunderstood, and misquoted. How do you deal with it?
Ultimately, you must make the best decisions you can with the information you know; be empathetic to those who are adversely affected; keep a professional demeanor; seek opportunities, and communicate clearly. But the most important thing you can do in any crisis situation is to keep perspective and stay calm. You’re the leader, and although not everyone will agree with you and your decisions, you still must guide the ship through the storm. In the end, how you take care of your people is your role. How well you do it will determine your success.
(Note – this is in tribute to the 43 men who have served as President of the United States on this President’s Day)
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This week’s quote -
“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.”
~President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Webinar: Create Your Own Crisis Prevention Plan for Business – February 22 Register
Register today for Alan Weiss Almost Free Event in Seattle on May 2nd. It may be his final visit to the Pacific Northwest. You won’t want to miss it! Register
The first step in any desperate situation the temptation is to act immediately. It’s understandable, but unwise. No matter how bad things are the first step is always the same. Assess the threat and figure out how bad things really are…
I was watching the USA Network television series, Burn Notice last night on Netflix. The episode always starts out with the protagonist giving what amounts to consulting advice on being a spy. In this case, it applies to you and your business.
Copyright 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
There is an outstanding event coming up in October for all women CEOs and executives in the Puget Sound area. Click here to learn about the event.
If you know of someone who should be attending or be invited, please contact Michele Bosworth at firstname.lastname@example.org. This might be women in your own company, community, or clients. I know the guest presenter, Lauren Owen, and she will put on a dynamic presentation.
Do you remember choosing up teams to play baseball insert your sport) as a kid? Two captains would be “appointed” or “anointed” depending on the social structure of the playground. They were normally the two best players and their leadership role had nothing to do with their ability to lead the team or even pick good players (this is true in many of our adult playgrounds called “the office”). The remaining athletes would be lined up opposite the captains, staring intently at them trying to be the next person selected. The ultimate humiliation was being in the final two, knowing only one would be the infamous last pick. Sounds a little like American Idol, huh?
I’ve been watching AMC’s hit television show, Mad Men on Netflix. I just finished Year 3 (two years old so consider this your spoiler alert) where Don Draper leads a group of people from the firm, including two partners, to form their own agency. They take drastic and covert action when they find out that their old agency was being sold and they didn’t want to play along. At the end of the episode (and season), you see Draper standing in the hotel room being used as the new office. He is gazing at the 7-8 people he hand picked to “play ball” with the new agency. These were the ones he wanted to move forward with. He had a choice to pick the best of a larger field and he chose them.
Four years ago, as I was preparing to take the presidency of my 130-member Rotary Club, one of the guest speakers in my workshop asked a compelling question — “If your club had to whittle itself down to only 25 members, would you be one of them?’ Thought-provoking.
If you had to choose 5 people to move forward with a new organization, whom would you choose? Why? Would you even be one of them?
Not everyone in your organization work and perform at the same level of excellence. Are you spending too much time trying to “fix” them at the expense of enhancing your best performers? Unfortunately, many executives and business owners spend too much time with the squeaky wheel. The same thing happens in our schools and non-profit organizations. In the end, it only hurts them. The best path is to work on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
If you are the “captain” of your business, your non-profit organization, your school district, or your association, you have been given the opportunity to choose your team. Here are five characteristics to cogitate on…
- Does this person have the skill set for the task or job at hand, or are they merely being promoted due to longevity?
- Does this person care about the organization’s well-being or is it solely “what’s in it for me?”
- Does this person have a high ceiling to success or do they have a giant bump on their head from smacking their ceiling?
- How well do they play with others?
- Are they “coachable?” In other words, are they willing to constantly improve their skills, or do they think they have mastered it all?
Too many executives and business owners waste time and money on trying to fix the unfixable. You’re better served enhancing your strengths by empowering your strongest performers. Less labor intensity and more return on investment. Find ways to build on your strengths, rather than fix your weaknesses. It’s about success, not perfection.
Final thought — Look at yourself in the mirror. Should you be on the team? Are you providing leadership with passion, skill, and inspiration? Would your employees or your “team” trade you at the trading deadline? Are you enhancing or detracting your organization’s performance? Honest evaluation needs to be done on the entire team, including you.
Bottom line — Who would you go to war with if you only had four other people to choose? What characteristics make them your choice? What role do you play in best igniting their talent?
Take those answers and instill those values in your strongest performers and watch your organization prosper.
(Editor’s note: Dan Weedin is a Poulsbo-based management consultant, speaker, and mentor. He leads an executive peer-to-peer group in Kitsap County where he helps executives improve personally, professionally, and organizationally by enhancing leadership skills. He is one of only 32 consultants in the world to be accredited as an Alan Weiss Master Mentor. Reach Weedin at (360) 697-1058; email@example.com or on the web site www.DanWeedin.com.)
I never met Don Meyer.
But as a high school basketball coach, I certainly knew who he was. Coach Meyer from Northern State University in South Dakota, was a legend among coaches. He ran impressive camps and clinics for kids and coaches during the summer. During over 40 winters, he eventually amassed more victories than even Bob Knight. He was well respected, admired, and loved by college basketball luminaries like Knight, Pat Summitt, Tom Izzo, and John Wooden.
In 2008, Coach Meyer was involved in a horrific car accident. During surgery to save his life, the surgeon discovered he had inoperable cancer. He eventually lost his leg below the knee. And, he was coaching at Northern State a few short months later. Coach Meyer’s story is told brilliantly by ESPN baseball journalist, Buster Olney. Olney covered Meyer when he was coaching at Lipscomb in Nashville where Olney was a young beat writer.
The name of the book is “How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of Coach Don Meyer.” You don’t have to be a basketball fan like me to appreciate the depth of faith, family, and friends that Coach Meyer reflects. It’s well worth the read.
I once spoke to Coach Meyer somewhere in 2004 or 2005. I was signing up to attend his coaching clinic. Unfortunately, something derailed that and I never made it later. I regret that because I would have loved to meet and know Don Meyer.
In 2009, Coach Meyer was awarded the Jimmy V award at the ESPYs. Below is the footage from that night, including his speech. I recommend highly both the book and this video. You won’t be disappointed.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Ability to Change Direction and Speed.
Do you remember when video stores became all the rage in the early 1980s? People were purchasing VCRs and the new thing to do was to browse around these goliath stores filled with videos. As a business, this was a no-brainer. A decade or so later, videos started disappearing and being replaced by DVDs. The video stores like Blockbuster were still operating and in business because of the huge demand of people to watch movies. A decade or so later, the desire to watch movies may be intensified, but video stores are extinct due to on-demand and Internet giants like Amazon and Netflix. I was reminded about this as I drove by three former mega video stores that remain vacant.
In the beginning, the video stores were locally owned by small business owners. These small business owners got gobbled up by the mega stores who found a way to offer more choice at a cheaper price. Nobody thought these guys would ever perish, but they did. The same ease and cost of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and cable have made watching what you want, when you want, as often as you want, and at virtually no cost made the old brick and mortar behemoths as viable as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Think about business in general. 20 years ago, iPhones, iPads, and Google were unthinkable. The twenty years before that, Walkmans, desktop computers, and fax machines couldn’t be fathomed. What will be the hottest careers, most valuable technology, and way of life haven’t even been thought up yet. In your business, you need to be prepared to adjust, re-tool, re-purpose, and re-invent. Or die. And, let’s be honest. Twenty years is now too long. Five years will all about “new and improved.” Frankly, if you’re not able to readjust, make adjustments, and make quick decisions yearly, you may get lapped by your competition. The morale of the story is this – be ready and plan to change; be innovative and cutting edge; and survive.
This week’s quote – “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.” Unknown – text to my by my wife last week. She sends me a new motivational quote every day. I’m lucky!
My alma mater, the University of Washington Huskies, got left out of the Big Dance. Even though they won the Pac-12 regular season title, a couple of bad end-of-the-season losses, kept them out of the March Madness NCAA tournament. They ended up being a #1 seed in the national Invitational Tournament (NIT).
These are 20 year olds. They were discouraged and upset about not being selected to the NCAA tournament after winning their conference. The NIT, though prestigious in history, was of little consolation. It would have been very easy to walk out on the court in the first game with a bad attitude and leftover baggage. That would almost certainly lead to an even more embarrassing loss and a terrible off-season.
On Tuesday, the Huskies defeated their arch nemesis Oregon to advance to the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden in New York. They won three games to earn that distinction. Now they will play on national television in the Big Apple. No matter what happens, this has been a success. They turned lemons into lemonade.
Give credit to the coaches for excellent leadership. Give credit to the players for staying tough. And give credit to the fans for sticking behind them. It was a team effort.
How often in business do we turn lemons into lemonade? In my experience, not often enough. Bad things happen every day in the business world…
- Accounts are lost
- Sales don’t get made
- People are fired
- Companies are sued
- Fires, floods, power outages, and tornado damage occur
You can come up with a bigger list. The bottom line is that bad things happen and how we respond will determine the success or failure of the company and maybe even you. Here are some ways to avoid the failure…
- Have a short memory. Dwelling on the past never helps the present or the future. Gain a “closer” mentality. When Mariano Rivera blows a save (which rarely happens), it’s forgotten by the time he hits the locker room. The next time out is about getting the save. You need to be the same way.
- Be positive. I see too many people with a “victim mentality.” It’s always someone else’s fault; it’s never going to get better; we can’t do this; the sky is falling. You know the people.If you can’t be positive about who you are, your team, and your business, it’s time to get out.
- Take action. Determine your course and take it. Be bold. Be fearless. Others follow bold, decisive leaders.
- Have fun. Some days you win and some days you lose. Have fun anyway. Life’s too short to dwell on the past failures.
Final note – my professional mentor Alan Weiss has always espoused, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” Life is full of failures; generally many more failures than successes. It’s how we respond to failure to find the next success that matters.
Go make some lemonade…
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Today’s announcement of the penalties handed down by National Football League commissioner, Roger Goodell have dramatic consequences for the New Orleans Saints football
team and coaches. For those not familiar with the situation, The Saints were accused, and found guilty of, targeting opposing players (particularly quarterbacks) to injure them and get them removed from the game. The defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, developed a system (which he used when coaching with other teams) where his players would earn up to $1,500 for hard hits and getting other players injured. Basically, “Bounty-gate” as it’s being termed, was more about bad intentions than hard hits. When it comes to players safety, the NFL has taken a hard-line and made historic decisions.
The defensive coordinator Williams, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. It’s a minimum of a year with the chance to re-apply then. He has a new team and this impacts them substantially. The head coach, Sean Payton, who knew what was going on and failed to stop it, was suspended for a year without pay. That’s a cool $8,000,000 (that’s right – six zeros) never to be regained. He can’t appeal. He is an employee of the NFL without a union. One of the other assistants, Joe Vitt, was suspended for 6 games. The club has been fine $500,000, lost draft picks, and lost its reputation. This is unprecedented in the NFL, and maybe all of sports. It is punitive and a clear message to the rest of the teams that this behavior will end.
The reasons for the draconian nature of the penalties? The Saints were warned in 2009 by the NFL to stop bounties. The Saints said okay, but they didn’t stop. Basically, when you lie to an investigative unit, that leads to issues. In addition, the NFL smelled huge lawsuits coming at them and probably felt that they needed to make a big statement in order to show that they are doing all they can to end bounties. They did.
So what does this mean to business leaders? Read on…
1. Head Coach Sean Payton is stunned (Read article by Jay Glazer on NBC Sports). He has just lost $8M he can never get back. He is out of the league for a year. No contact. No decisions on players. Nothing. He didn’t instigate this bounty system. He allowed his defensive coordinator to do it and basically gave him full control. The similarities to Joe Paterno at Penn State are compelling. Payton (basically the CEO) ceded control to a maverick subordinate and stuck his head in the sand. He allowed bad behavior to persist in his organization even after being warned. For that, he ended up getting the deepest blow. He makes way more money than Williams. His reputation was bigger. He has lost big time. Question – As a leader, do you cede control to subordinates who are highly successful and stop minding the store? Are you willing to “overlook” things because the person who is running it is very successful in other areas? Example – your top sales producer shows poor judgement frequently with clients and potentially can damage your reputation. You don’t do anything because they are your top producer. You risk your reputation and potentially increase your liability.
2. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis was also suspended for a year. This is your club’s top executive. Payton may have been the CEO, but this guy is all about your talent acquisition. Again, this is a case of not taking bold and courageous actions when you’re smart enough to know you should. It’s easy to say sitting here on the outside, but really tough sometimes when you are in the midst of the fire. Question – Do you take bold and courageous action when your gut tells you what you know is right?
3. Looking at the big picture. The NFL is all about winning today. Now, not necessarily later. Teams will fire coaches, executives, and players at a drop of a hat to win today. Heck, today Tim Tebow (last year’s golden boy and media sensation) was traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets because Denver picked up Peyton Manning. Nobody is safe. The pressure to think only in the moment and eschew long-range consequences may be very prevalent in this environment. Question – Do economic challenges and issues keep you focused only on the now, rather than strategizing and preparing for long-term sustainability?
4. Reputation Damage Control – I’ve heard very little from the Saints today. Maybe they are still trying to get up off the floor. They have damage control to do. It starts with their fans and continues on with the NFL, public perception, and the media. This may haunt them for years as they go to different cities and receive the cat calls, the heckling, the poor press, etc. How does this affect their employees and families? It will have devastating ramifications for a whole lot of people. Question – Do you consider reputation damage when thinking about crisis management? Do you ever think about crisis management?
I have to think that thee will be more penalties levied against players. Lawsuits may pop up. It’s truly a tragic situation. Bad judgement and poor behavior is not relegated to the NFL. It happens daily in business. Although they are purely for entertainment value, television shows like Mad Men and The Office, and cartoons like Dilbert often skim that surface of reality and we recognize it. That’s why we watch, read, and laugh at them. But nobody is laughing in New Orleans or in the NFL offices today. I know it’s a baseball axiom, but there is no joy in Mudville today. Make sure that you learn from others mistakes and avoid a similar fate in your business.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved