Extra Points – Opportunity Knocks

View from Central Park

Opportunity Knocks….

As you are receiving this week’s Extra Points and reading it, I am somewhere in New York City. My guess is Barb and I are having breakfast somewhere in Times Square. We are in The City both for business and pleasure. On Tuesday, we spend the day with my professional mentor, Alan Weiss. I am undergoing an “immersion” day with him that will likely leave my head spinning and overwhelmed with ideas and projects. That’s one of the reasons I brought Barb – to help me stand back up! I am excited because these days with Alan are always extremely valuable to my growth professionally and personally.

I am also here to have a small vacation with Barb. We were supposed to be in New York last year to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Life happened – my dad got sick and passed away; my mother moved in with us; and business and other adventures made it impossible to re-schedule. So it is. But, opportunity often does knock more than once, and when the option to meet Alan in New York “knocked,” we answered!

Two morals to this story – First, opportunity knocks more than once. In fact, opportunity knocks every day numerous times and probably wonders why nobody is home. Are you prepared to answer it? Second – Find ways to mix work and pleasure whenever you can. As Alan says, “You don’t have a personal life and a professional life. You have a life. Get on with it.” There’s no rule that says you have to split these up. Find great places and open the door to opportunity when it knocks and take advantage of your time.

Opportunity may knock often, but you can’t make up for that lost day. Make every day a great “at bat!”

This week’s quote – “The good old days weren’t always so good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”  American philosopher Billy Joel (he can also play the piano pretty well)

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Off to the Big Apple

I am heading out for New York to meet with my professional mentor, Alan Weiss. It’s my turn to jump in the “total immersion” pool. I have a ton of new “irons” percolating in the fire and I need help to get them moving in the right direction. You can’t be brilliant by yourself.

The timing is right. I’ve had a terrific first quarter, but the game is just starting for the year. Forward momentum is crucial for business. When I coached basketball, my biggest in-game concern was always momentum. I always substituted and made changes based on who had the momentum, which can change in an instant. In fact, we had specific practice drills to emphasize momentum. It was that important. It’s that important for your business, too.

What are you doing in the 2nd quarter of your game to build momentum, not just try to maintain? The end of halves are vital in basketball games, and in business games.

Alan Weiss and me

If you’re not careful and become complacent, you’re in danger of having the pendulum swing. It becomes really hard to turn it back, and requires effort, time, and often money.

I hope you will be keeping track of me as I bounce around the Big Apple. I am happy to be taking Barb for her very first trip. Pictures, posts, and surprises to follow on this blog right here! Stay tuned!

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Rock Star

This week’s focus point – Being a rock star

I always wanted to be a rock star. I think I still do.

I was reminded about this on Friday when Barb and I went to a concert by Hotel California, a tribute band to the great 70’s rock group, The Eagles. These guys were very good, a lot of fun, and had the house rocking all night. I found myself singing to every song, which apparently I’ve never forgotten. These guys (at least for this night) are rock stars.

We spend a lot of time dreaming about being rock stars, when in actuality we probably already are in what we do. If not, we should start dreaming about that!

What’s it take to be a rock star in your business? What does it actually look and feel like? How will you know?

You need to become a thought leader; top of mind in your industry; and someone who keeps the house rocking in your world. This is more than “customer service,” which may be the most over-used phrase in business. It’s about completely delighting your clients; rising above expectations; and being the first choice when they need something you do. Are you there now?

Don’t dream of being a rock star; get out on stage today and rock the house!

This week’s quote – “We do not see things as they are. we see them as we are.”  Anais Nin

With my wife at the Hotel California concert

Extra Points – Sign Your Work

Sign Your Work…

The great artists always sign their work. Throughout the ages, artists of all abilities proudly display their name to give credence and accountability for their masterpieces. It’s what they stood for and who they were.

In today’s technological age, a large number of people who comment on newspaper articles and blogs hide behind an avatar. Like the famed wizard in Oz, they are able to conceal their identity so nobody knows who they really are and thus they avoid any condemnation of their own. I see this on a regular basis as a school board director. I’ve never minded a contrarian viewpoint; I just want you to stand behind your words with your name.

In business and in life, have the courage to stand behind your work and your words. It can often be difficult and sometimes result in consequences you don’t like. But at least you can be taken seriously and respected for putting your name on the line. Have an opinion; be collegial; be compelling; and be honest. And most of all….

Sign your work.

This week’s quote – “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Top 7 Posts for 1st Quarter

New feature…

Here are the Top 7 posts for 1st Quarter of 2012 (in order)…

1. Saints to Sinners: Business Lessons from the NFL

2. Moneyball for Insurance Executives

3. The Escape and Capture of Captain Jack

4. Too Much in Your Face(book)

5. The Seinfeld Principle

6. Worry and Concern: A Blog from Alan Weiss

7. My Famous Daughter

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Customer Service

Customer service.

Customer service is a really overused term in business. Many business people cite “customer service” as a reason to do business with them. Well, everybody thinks they have excellent customer service. The reality is that customer service is all over the board. Here’s a positive example…

This past week I bought the new iPad. I walked into a packed Apple store at Bellevue Square and was immediately found by a sales associate. He took down exactly what I need and within minutes had the iPad in my hand. He ushered me over to a table where he handed me over to a guy named Kaz. Kaz literally helped me open the box, set up my iPad and sync everything from the iCloud into my new device. Within 15 minutes, I had purchased my product; had it completely set up and ready to use; and walked out feeling like I received everything I needed. Yes, that should be considered a given, but how many stories do you have of poor communicating, waiting longer than necessary, being ignored, or simple ignorance of product.

Your business, regardless of the size, offers “customer service.” What you need to understand is that customer service isn’t a concept, it’s a culture. What’s your culture on customer service and what does it actually look like to others?

This week’s quote – “People who don’t think probably don’t have brains; rather they have gray fluff that’s blown into their  heads by mistake.” Winnie the Pooh

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

What Does Tiger Woods & Top Producers Have in Common?

Hole #11 - Harbour Pointe Golf Course

Tiger Woods is arguably the most skilled golfer of all time. At the writing of this article, he won for only the second time since his infamous personal meltdown brought him back to earth. Regardless of his personal behaviors and choices, there is no doubt that for a period of a dozen years, he was not only the best golfer on the planet; he was the best at his craft in the entertainment industry (athletes, actors, singers, etc). And, Tiger Woods had a coach.

The fact is that Woods and other top line professional athletes like Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Serena Williams having coaches, goes unnoticed and with no fanfare. It’s a given. Singers have voice coaches. Actors have acting coaches. Dancers employ coaches. Coaches and mentors are considered essential to develop skills and accelerate growth and development.

Let’s take a closer look at Tiger Woods and what coaching has done to enhance and accelerate his career…

Shortly after Woods won his first Masters title by a landslide, he went about developing a new swing. He hired a new coach and set the wheels in motion to “reinvent” his swing and his game. Fans and analysts thought he was crazy? Why fix something that is so not broken? The end result is that Woods became even more dominant and more consistent. The coaching had vaulted him past being really good and into legendary status.

After Tiger’s personal life fell apart in front of the world and injuries forced him to miss needed practice time and rounds, he set out again to “reinvent” himself again. Armed with new coaching, he set the stage to work on his game. After his recent win and momentum, he may be nearing the lofty heights he had set for himself. The only way he could get there was with a coach honing his enormous skill; holding him accountable; and offering new strategy and technique for his age and physical limitations.

In business, the top executives and “rainmakers” all use coaches. Why? For the same reasons that athletes, actors, and dancers do. To challenge, motivate, cajole, and improve their craft. The irony is that the top 1% of income producers use executive coaches and mentors like Marshall Goldsmith, Patricia Fripp, and Alan Weiss; while the vast majority of professionals who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis don’t invest in themselves through coaching.

You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Athletes and other celebrity from the entertainment world have always known this. Kobe Bryant employs five new coaches every summer to help him improve his game, even after multiple world championship rings and Most Valuable Player trophies. Woods has hired new coaches to hone his game in an effort to return to the greatness he once had. Both Bryant and Woods know that no matter the length of time you have in the “game,” you are never too old or experienced to learn. In fact, it’s those that are most ready to learn new things and be “coachable” that continue to get the most out of their talent. The most effective rainmakers in the insurance industry are beating the tar out of their competition because they use coaches and mentors.

Here are 5 reasons you need to consider using a coach…

1. Skill development. In sales, your skill set needs to include powerful use of language, visioning, overcoming objections, and fighting through gatekeepers, to name a few. The solutions are not always evident and a strong coach will guide you through strategies to create and enhance these skills. Practicing conversations and interactions is a lost art among most insurance pros. In my experience, the majority just “wing it.” Coaching will speed up the success rate of these communications and deliver quicker results.

2. Feedback. When I coached high school basketball, my teams and I would watch game film. The video never lied. My feedback to them was invaluable because I would point out areas of weakness and areas of strength to work on. How do you know you did something well (or not) without an objective voice?

3. Feed Forward. Executive coaching guru Marshall Goldsmith coined a concept called “Feed Forward.” Feed forward is about creating solutions in the future and forgetting the past failures. Once we’ve acknowledged our mistakes, then coaches provide constructive “to do” strategies to hasten development. Feed forward comes from observation and compelling questioning that peels away at the onion to reveal real barriers to progress. This can only be accomplished with a trusted coach.

4. Sounding board. Sometimes you just need to let off steam. You need an ear to vent to; someone to simply listen. In most cases, bosses, sales managers, and spouses are not good options for this. A coach is a safe place to vent anger and frustration; as well as a place to celebrate successes.

5. Accountability. From den mothers to drill sergeants; teachers to athletic coaches; parents to pastors; we’ve all had someone keep us accountable. In your business life today, it’s harder than ever to find that accountability partner. A coach takes on that role and without baggage or excuses, holds you to the things you know you need to do to be successful. As with a sounding board, those other important people in your life are often ill equipped to objectively be that person; or will let you off the hook too easily.

Bottom Line

You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Everyone needs a coach. In the entertainment world, coaches are often less skilled than their mentorees; yet have a unique ability to ignite their talent and get them to perform at their maximum capability. Coaches in business elevate their mentorees to the same level of success and help them thrive personally and professionally. Not employing that kind of help is not only foolish, but also selfish. Think of all those who could be helped, yet never will.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and be coached takes immense self-confidence. The financial and time investments are usually dwarfed by the return of increased revenues, more discretionary time, and improved life balance.

Tiger Woods utilized coaches that ranged from his own father during his childhood; to his coaches at Stanford; to multiple big name golf coaches like Butch Harmon and Hank Haney. If a guy like Tiger Woods, who may be one of the greatest competitors of all time, can be coached, why wouldn’t you?

The reality is that insurance professionals, who overlook being coached because they think they can do it on their own, usually never reach the apex of their talents and thus fail to earn the income and life they could have realized. Those insurance pros that accept the challenge of being coached will reach greater heights in their career and enjoy the fruits of that success both professionally and personally.

The first tee is right this way. Are you ready to play?

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Picking Teams – April column for the Kitsap Business Journal

Picking Teams…

Don Draper on Mad Men portrayed by Jon Hamm
April 2, 2012 @ 4:18pm | Dan Weedin

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…

  1. Does this person have the skill set for the task or job at hand, or are they merely being promoted due to longevity?
  2. Does this person care about the organization’s well-being or is it solely “what’s in it for me?”
  3. Does this person have a high ceiling to success or do they have a giant bump on their head from smacking their ceiling?
  4. How well do they play with others?
  5. 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; dan@danweedin.com or on the web site www.DanWeedin.com.)

New Video

Many thanks to Matt Biondi from BiondiMedia for creating this new video on my business. Video is a great way to engage your readers of your web site, blog, or other promotional pieces. It doesn’t matter what your industry is, video can be a terrific part of creating a marketing presence and brand.

Check mine out an let me know what you think!

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Bench Strength

One of my clients recently suffered a tragedy. An employee had a heart attack and died in the office. He was in his mid-50s and this came as a shock. To add to it, the spouse also works for the company. My heart went out to them as individuals and as an organization.

As tragic as this is, it does bring to light a serious business situation. What happens when you, or an important member of your team, gets hit by the proverbial bus? Are you prepared as an organization to respond to the imminent emergency and the long-term ramifications?

We hear the word “redundancy” all the time in business, particularly for technology. We have back up systems, back up to backups, risk management plans, and other fail safes. What we often overlook is human redundancy.

Take a look at your organization and answer these questions honestly…

  • As owner or chief executive, what happens if I can’t show up for work tomorrow (unexpectedly)? Who knows what I do and who can step in?
  • What if you lose your best sales person, executive, manager, or technology guru? Who holds the extra keys; passwords; or other important business tools and strategies?
  • How do you deal with the trauma of losing a part of your family? What emotional help do you need to provide?
  • Are you prepared for emergency? Do you have first aid kits and a defibrillator?
  • Do the people next in line know that they are next in line? How good is your communication with them?
  • How good is your communication system for the entire organization? Do you leverage technology for this or still use a phone tree?
  • Have you ever practiced for a disaster like losing someone? If not, how do you know it will work?
  • Are you afraid to find out what you don’t know?

Bench strength is critical for sports teams. The ability to plug someone in when injury occurs is critical to success. Teams know this, so they plan accordingly. You should know this, too. People leave; get injured; switch positions; and maybe even win the lottery. Some also get hit by that bus. How good is your bench strength and are you prepared to survive?

How you answer that question will go a long way into helping you become a better crisis leader.

 

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved