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
Runs, Hits, and Errors
I’m writing this Extra Points on Saturday morning, while watching Felix Hernandez pitch for the Mariners against the Chicago White Sox. 3B Kyle Seager booted a routine ground ball for an error with 2 outs. While it didn’t end up costing the Mariners a run in that inning, it did have hidden consequences.
Mariners broadcaster Mike Blowers recalled a conversation with former Mariners skipper, Lou Piniella. Piniella said that errors have a consequence, even if a run never scores because it adds to the pitch count for the pitcher. Especially early in a season, pitchers are on a strict pitch count as to not overwork their arms and cause injury. In all the years of watching baseball, I’d never considered this.
The same is ultimately true in your business or career. Your own “errors” end up having consequences that are not readily apparent. Often, our mistakes aren’t realized immediately until those consequences catch up to us. Even if we do know we “booted a grounder,” if we can recover quickly we feel we got out of our jam.
This week’s quote -
- Tom Landry, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys
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
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
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
From my November Kitsap Business Journal column…
Fear not. This is not a political op-ed you are about to read. You’ve probably had enough of that by now!
As this column hits your mailbox, we are within days of finishing the 2012 election that started three years ago. If you’re like me you’ve cast your ballot and can’t wait for the political pugilism to end. However, there are still lessons to be learned from it, and we would be negligent if we didn’t take a little time to explore them.
First, let’s define what these “lessons” are, and what they are not. This has nothing to do with how either presidential candidate might or might not make a good leader. I fear we as a country are now better at attracting candidates (from both parties) with skills to campaign, rather than skills in governing or leading. You as a business leader need to be able to do both. That is, send a message, build a brand, create evangelists, and be a leader. Your “electorate” votes with their feet and their money, making it crucial to you to be good at both. The lessons in this column are not about political parties or platforms. Rather, they are about being a great business leader.
Lesson #1 – The eyes have it
During the presidential debates, much of the punditocracy gave passing or failing grades to candidates based on what they saw, not necessarily what they heard. In the first debate, President Obama was roundly criticized for looking flat, uninspired, and tired. Video of him when he wasn’t speaking caught him looking disinterested. Even his most ardent followers acknowledged this.
As a leader, you need to understand that all eyes are on you constantly. This may mean everything from walking down the office hallway, sitting in a prospect’s waiting area, or listening to someone else speaking at a company meeting. People will watch for your reactions, your body language, and your table manners during lunch. What are you telling them?
You need to pretend there is a camera on you. As a leader, you will be viewed as a role model. You will be judged on whether you can earn the right to be a trusted advisor. Body language accounts for 55 percent of communication. Don’t get caught with spinach in your teeth!
Lesson #2 – Sound bytes
Boy, did we get a few sound bytes this election season! Remember these — “47 percent,” “You didn’t build it,” and “Binders of women?” While many of the sound bytes end up being used against them, presidential candidates understand that we as an audience are more apt to remember small, bite-size portions of powerful messages.
As a leader, you need to speak in sound bytes. That means being proficient in language. Improve your vocabulary, learn to speak pithily, and say things that are powerful and will linger. If you ramble and speak disjointedly, then your message is likely to get lost. Be brief, be exact, be powerful, and then shut up.
Lesson #3 – Don’t rip your competition
It never ceased to amaze me that when given the opportunity to talk about themselves and what value they bring, both candidates eschewed the opportunity and instead went about telling us what was wrong with their opponent. The campaign trail, the debates, and especially the commercials focused on the negatives of the other guy, and only countered that they would be just the opposite.
Don’t get caught in this trap. You all have competition. You need to focus your language and actions on how you improve the condition of your clients, not what the other guy or gal can’t do well. I spent many years in the insurance industry and know that the practice exists. It may not be as egregious as a national political campaign, but it is there. My guess is that this subtle competitive “spirit” exists in all industries. In the end, you are there to bring value to your client. The focus should be on that and not your “opponent.”
Lesson #4 – Keep telling your story
The presidential candidates are experienced and skilled in getting their story out to the country. They work for consistency, repetition, and gravity. If they find something, they will seize on it and never let it go (see Big Bird). They understand the simple business rule that a prospect needs to hear or see you countless times before they begin to trust and buy.
You have a story to tell. It might be the mission and values of your company to your employees. It might be the enormous value that you provide your clients to improve their business and lives. Whatever it is, you need to be consistent in that message and walk the talk. You need to repeat it early and often so it will sink in. People have shorter memories than ever before due to our technology-driven world. Don’t ever stop delivering your story.
Bottom line — The presidential election will end soon, but your business pursuits are ongoing. Take away some of the lessons, both good and bad, from the people vying for the highest-ranking job in the country, and apply them to your business. If you do, I am confident you will get the votes you need for success.
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 35 consultants in the world to be accredited as an Alan Weiss Master Mentor. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at email@example.com or visit his web site at www.DanWeedin.com.
This week’s focus point…
I’ve had the joy of being the stadium announcer for the local high school football team for the past 9 seasons. It’s a great view for watching young men play a game that offers many leadership opportunities.
For about the past 7 years, the team has done a pretty cool thing. After every game, win or lose, the players walk to the edge of the home stands and salute the students and parents by singing the school fight song. After wins, it’s easy. After losses, it’s hard. It’s even harder to do it with enthusiasm. The leaders of the team, normally the seniors and captains, always stand front and center leading the charge. Win or lose, the fight song is sung by players, coaches, and fans.
As a former high school coach, I can tell you it only happens if you have leaders on your team. Who are your “team” leaders? You may not have to sing a fight song, but your leaders need to sing your mission, your values, and your culture. What if you are deemed the leader? How enthusiastic are you in tough times? Are you the one showing consistency and passion? In football, business, and life, we need leaders. Go be one!
This week’s quote – “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”
~James Neil Hollingsworth
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
As a business owner or department head, you undoubtedly think you know about everything going on. And, for the most part, you probably have a pretty good handle on the important matters. But, do you know everything that you need to know? Probably not.
The best practice is to have an independent, third-party conduct an assessment to help you better understand where things stand.
- Your team members will say things to an independent third-party that they would be reluctant or hesitant to say to you.
- You’ll get confirmation on things you may suspect are issues and you’ll likely learn some new things.
Whether your business has suffered a downturn and reduced headcount or you’ve grown in recent months or years, it’s critical that you take some time to figure out where you stand.
Your team will really appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback. This is a great, first step in turbocharging your business execution as it helps identify the logical and critical next-steps. This will help you and your company thrive.
Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker and blogger who resides in Silicon Valley. He helps companies resolve business execution problems to accelerate collaboration and ignite excitement. He can be reached through his website at http://www.gardnerandassoc.com or via phone at +1 888-488-4976. Follow him on Twitter @Gardner_Dave.
September is National Prepardeness Month and to “celebrate” that, I am offering a very special teleconference on September 18th from 12:00 to 1:00 Pacific (3:00-4:00 EST). My guest
will be nationally renowned branding strategist, Dorie Clark.
We all know that being prepared for crisis is critical to surviving one. Whether it’s a natural disaster, an economic crisis, or a travesty like what happened at Penn State University, you must be ready to make tough and smart decisions.
Is part of your process on how to protect your brand and reputation?
Reputation risk may be just as damaging as the crisis that started it. Just ask BP! You must have a plan in place to communicate effectively to employees, investors, clients, prospective customers, the media, and your community. Failure to do this will lead to distrust, loss of reputation, and lost revenue. Having a plan in place, on the other hand, will set you in a postion to not only protect your good name, but take advantage of the opportunity to thrive.
In this teleconference, Dorie will share with your strategies, tactics, tips, and suggestions on how to prepare your business or organization to respond to a crisis both internally and externally. You will walk away with new ideas on how to:
- When and how to effectively work with the media
- How to inspire and lead your employees when chaos is all around you
- How to communicate with your supply chain and key stakeholders
- How to protect your brand
My guest, Dorie Clark is the President of Clark Strategic Communications in Boston. Dorie is recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, She honed her crisis communication skills as a spokesperson for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and as the press secretary for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s gubernatorial race. Today, she is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the American Management Association’s publications. She is also a columnist for Mint, India’s second-largest business newspaper. She consults on marketing and branding strategy for clients like Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation, and is the author of the forthcoming Harvard Business Review Publishing book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (2013).
Dorie has taught marketing and communications at Emerson College, Tufts University, Suffolk University, and Smith College Executive Education. She has also lectured at universities worldwide, including Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She is quoted frequently in the international media, including the New York Times, NPR, the BBC, and more. At age 18, Dorie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, and two years later received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
This weekend, Barb and I were at a picnic with friends. One of our friends, Diane, asked our opinion on which coffee flavor sounded the best – Kahlua or Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. Barb responded with, “Kahlua is my favorite!” I followed with “You can’t go wrong with chocolate raspberry truffle.” She opted for suggestion. When Barb asked why she chose mine, Diane said, “I don’t know. He seemed to make a more convincing case.”