Extra Points: Waiting for Godot (or To Go)

For most of last week, I waited.

My mother was admitted to the hospital on Sunday night, and over the course of days went to near death; to intensive care; on the a regular hospital unit; and finally to a skilled nursing facility to rehabilitate. That one sentence doesn’t do justice to the events in between. However, the most constant activity was waiting. I won’t bore you with the multitude of things I waited for, but at the end, I spent much time waiting for the transport to arrive to take my mother to the nursing facility. As I waited there, I was reminded of two things. The first was a flashback to my Freshman Literature class where I read the Samuel Beckett classic, Waiting for Godot. Somehow, I felt connected to Vladimir and Estragon during their seemingly endless wait. I also found that Tom Petty’s 1970’s musical standard, The Waiting is the Hardest Part, got stuck in my brain.

And so goes waiting…

In business (and in life), we also seem to spend energy waiting for – good news, bad news, promotion, new sale, new job, opening, closing, moving, new equipment, payment, new baby, new pet, kid coming from college, kid leaving the house, marriage, divorce, vacation, event, success, failure. You get my point.

I’m not sure I have an answer for waiting, but consider this suggestion as you do find yourself deep into it. You can wait with only one one of three frames of mind – happy, frustrated, or bored. Two of them are bad and you don’t need me to tell you which ones. Find something to keep you amused, interested, positive, and happy. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, my iPhone allows me to play games, respond to emails, text my daughters, and even watch video. I used up a lot of power over the week! Be prepared to wait. It happens often to us. Be prepared to choose the “happy” option or the after effects of the other two become detrimental to your overall mental and physical health. Just ask Vladimir and Estragon…

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –
“There is man in his entirety, blaming his shoe when his foot is guilty.”
–  Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Webinar: Create Your Own Crisis Prevention Plan for Business – March 1st  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

Extra Points – Leadership in Crisis

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

Avoiding the Dreaded Nose in the Rear

A funny thing happened on the way to the living room.Jack and Bella

My mother occasionally uses a wheelchair to move back and forth from the bathroom to the living room, and I’m the chauffeur. As we took the straightaway down the hall, Captain Jack and Bella burst in front of the wheelchair and made a beeline to the living room, obviously in a hurry to claim their favorite spots.

Bella was in front with Jack in close pursuit. As the entry into the living room came up, Bella put on the breaks to make the corner. Jack was following too closely and couldn’t stop. BANG! Captain Jack’s nose smacked Bella right in the rear and catapulted her about half a foot and she skidded into the living room. Jack shook off his nose and as he entered the living room, Bella greeted him with an indignant WOOF and a right cross (which narrowly missed the good Captain).

Funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile. I wish I could have captured it in video, but those things rarely do. My first thought – following too closely and road rage!

Rear end accidents happen every day on our roads, and the main reason is following too closely. If you’re business includes sending people out into the roadways driving huge machines with the capability of destruction and your company name on the side, then you’d better do your due diligence on prevention…

  • Make sure you consistently train your employees on safe driving practices. Yes, they will get tired of hearing it but who cares. Keep pounding in the message and make sure they sign off that they heard it.
  • Run Motor Vehicle Reports every year on any driver – both personal and commercial. If your driver has a Commercial Drivers License, they are required to tell you if they pick up any ticket, even one when driving on personal time.
  • Set up a mentoring program for new drivers. Use veterans to ride with them, observe them, and mentor them. Offer incentives to the mentors based on results. Now everybody has skin in the game and you are the benefactor.

Bottom line – you CAN prevent auto accidents. You CAN avoid all the hidden costs that come with accidents. And, if you overlook this part, its more your fault when accidents occur.

If you take the time to committing to your drivers proactively, you will save tens of thousands of dollars because the accident just simply never occurs. You can’t measure that, but take my word for it. You’d rather not have accidents and keep the money in your pocket.

© 2013. Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved


Extra Points – Transition

Transition.  @ Fenway

As an avid football fan, it’s really a strange Sunday after the Super Bowl. Since last August, every Sunday has multiple games and I’m hooked on the Seahawks, my fantasy football teams, and just the pure love of the game. Then it’s over in early February.

Pitchers and catchers report in about a week to kick off spring training in Major League Baseball. That signals rebirth with spring, the thud of a fastball hitting the catcher’s glove, and the crack of the bat sending the ball over the fence. There is always something in sports to take the place of what just left.
The same is true in business. No matter how successful a recent initiative, personal goal, or objective was, it ends. With it should be a transition into something new. Businesses that never transition, create change, or look to new opportunities soon become irrelevant and disappear. So it has been in the newspaper industry. However, businesses that become catalysts for change, new energy, rebirth, excitement, and risk, well they become objects of interest, thought leaders, and cutting edge.

In order to be the latter, you need to take time to strategize. That means putting your fee up on your desk, hands clasped behind your head, thinking deeply about how you and your business can improve the lives and conditions of more people, and how you can reach them to let them know. Creativity is king. But it only ascends to the throne through sheer courage and action.

Batter up!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” – Alan Weiss


Crisis Case Study: The Shot in the Dark

This is in the category of the “You never know what can happen” in your business.

The local news led off with a story about an assisted living facility in a small rural area north of Seattle having a shooting on site. It seems that a facility manager got in an argument with an 86-year old resident. The elderly man went back to his room, got a gun and went and shot the manager in the stomach. It appears that the manager, who was immediately rushed to the hospital, will survive. The 86-year old is in jail. A tragic story for all involved.

This blog post has nothing to do about gun control, the response by the staff, mental health, or elderly care. It solely is a study that you can never know what unbelievable event can occur at your business. Who could imagine an 86-year old man going back to his room after an argument to get a gun and shoot his adversary? That only happens with inner city gangs, right? Wrong.

Have you trained your employees to be prepared for any event that could suspend operations, involve a 911 emergency call, or damage the company reputation? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. However, the company you keep is dangerous to your health. Not being prepared to deal with a crisis will cost your business huge revenues, loads of stress and anxiety, bad media coverage, and reduced morale. I estimate that even a minor crisis will cost the average small business $75,000 in hidden costs. That means even if you have insurance, this comes straight out of your pocket! It pays to be prepared…

I have an upcoming webinar to help small businesses anticipate, prevent, and be prepared to respond to crisis. It’s a small investment to make to arm your business with the strategy and techniques it needs to avoid a crisis and respond when one does occur. The webinar will be recorded so even if you can’t make it live, you will gain the benefit of the tools.

Click here to join us on February 22nd.

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Crisis Case Study: When The Lights Go Out in the Stadium…

NO Super Bowl

In the biggest stage of the year, one of the worst possible things that could happen did. Someone leaned up against the light switch panel and turned off the lights to the Mercedes Superdome.

This was a crisis for many different groups. With millions of people tuned in from around the world; with advertisers spending millions of dollars on commercials; and with your reputation on the line for future events; how exactly do you deal with the situation?

Here is my report card for the major players involved…

The Superdome staff (A-) – To go from lights out to lights on in less than 35 minutes is actually pretty good. To do so with the pressure of the world watching is remarkable. Certainly, a power failure was a known peril for the facility management leadership. This is an area that they are trained on and have protocol. You’d think it would be a no-brainer, right? Not so fast. People are trained at CPR yet having to respond in the heat of the moment is another matter entirely. This staff had to deal with coaches yelling at them, television crews freaking out, 80, 000 patrons, and hundreds of social media bloggers making fun of them. I wasn’t there to watch it unfold nor know all the details of communications. Bottom line is that they went from crisis to game on in the amount of time a pizza could be delivered to your house for the 2nd half. That’s a win.

CBS Sports (C+) – Lead broadcasters Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were part of the block of lights that went blooey ( a technical crisis term), so they were off the grid. Based on not hearing sideline reporter Solomon Wilcots, I’m guessing he was down, too. That left the other sideline reporter Steve Tasker with the task of pulling it together as they got the studio guys miked up and ready. Tasker was a little like the deer in the headlights at first, basically telling us things we already knew, like the lights were out. I’m guessing he hasn’t been overly prepped in being creative in the pinch, and he was adequate. The studio team was worse. They should have been better able to talk us through the delay as they are the ones being paid the big bucks. They were okay, but boring. My guess is they were busy eating some Cajun cuisine after watching Beyonce entertain at halftime That’s not good enough from them and Tasker being adequate kept them from falling to a lower grade. I have to believe that loss of power must be discussed as a crisis strategy by network big wigs. It didn’t appear that they were as well prepared as they could have been.

The Teams – Baltimore (D), San Francisco (A) – In the span of about 7 football minutes, the Ravens went from being up 28-6 to being up 28-23. It’s like when the lights flipped back on, so did the 49’ers. The Ravens ended up winning the game, but it took them a long time to find themselves again. One of the things an announcer did say was that these guys are professionals and it shouldn’t affect them. Wrong. I doubt that NFL players are prepared for this and let’s face it, most of these guys are pretty young. The momentum the Ravens did have dissipated quickly and the 49’ers players took a deep breath and charged on. Baltimore needed every bit of that lead to overcome what they lost mentally in that 34 minutes. Maybe they had ordered pizza and champagne for their celebration and forgot there was still a half of football to play!

What’s this mean for you? If you own or run a business, you need power and connectivity. And you need it almost always. If the Superdome can lose power during the Super Bowl, you can lose power at a most inopportune time, too. How is your team trained to handle it?

  • Will they rise to the occasion like the Superdome staff and get back to full operations immediately?
  • Will your partners who handle utility services and disaster recovery be able to help you where you can’t help yourself?
  • Will they be like deer in headlights or will they take charge? How do you know?
  • Will they respond like the Ravens and come out flat and bewildered or be like the 49’ers who found opportunity in the midst of chaos?

The only way to be sure is to have a plan, practice and test it, and continually monitor and strive to improve it. That’s how you build a championship team in any situation.

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Lights Out

This week’s focus point…

Lights Out.       

The Super Bowl was a thriller; Beyonce was very good; and the commercials, except for three, were dreadful. And, as is usually the case, something out of the ordinary happened in the middle of THE American event of the year…the lights suddenly went out in New Orleans.

For the vast majority of the people watching the game, it was at best something to make fun of and and worst an opportunity to order a pizza. For the teams, it was an annoyance. For the people who run the event and the stadium, it was a crisis. My youngest daughter manages events and I know the commitment and pressure to run a “perfect” event. The fact that this is the Super Bowl only heightens that pressure by about 1000%.

Based on the fact that this was an external event outside the stadium, and that halftime was now over and the game resumed, the management and staff were probably taking a deep breath after the halftime show. To all of a sudden have what possibly could be the worst peril strike, and to get the game back on in just 31 minutes is actually pretty remarkable. Imagine trying to rectify your own crisis with the entire world watching.

In your business, are you prepared to respond when your own crisis happens when you least expect it? In your personal life, you will face adversity with no warning. Are you able to make real time decisions that have big consequences?

The bottom line is that each of us react and respond to crisis differently. Readiness and preparedness always trumps laziness and apathy. I’m certain the staff at the Superdome were prepared for this and had practiced it. The results indicate it. You face will face crises in your professional and personal lives. Your results will indicate your ability to respond.

How prepared are you to turn the lights back on?

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –
“What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.”
~Andre Agassi

Your Secret Sauce to Success: Self Talk

Do you work for horrible boss?

Many in business for themselves have “bosses” that do things that would never be tolerated by anyone else…

They can be demeaning; insulting; overbearing; demand overtime without pay; not allow vacation; and most importantly ridicule with bad language that promotes poor performance, lack of creativity, and really bad morale.

Unfortunately, those “bosses” are you.

Poor self talk is endemic in small business owners and executives. It’s so easy to fall into patterns of self-flaggelation and nothing good comes from it. There are many reasons for it…

  • Poor self confidence
  • Low self-esteem (which is different)
  • Challenges in business
  • Lack of support
  • Depression
  • Outside influences

Positive self-talk is critical to your success both professionally and personally. I’m not talking about spouting affirmations mindlessly. I’m talking about an intentional paradigm shift in your brain that instills confidence, self worth, perspective, and excitement.

Here are some techniques to use when you find yourself slipping into horrible boss mode…

  • Have perspective. I doubt you’re in a foxhole where people are shooting at you. It;s doubtful you are in a life and death situation. There are few things that can’t ultimately be fixed. Relax. Get a grip. Understand most of the population on this planet would trade places with you in a heartbeat.
  • Take a deep breath. Breathing properly is fundamental to good health (and a pulse). Lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain causes bad things. Take a breath.
  • Focus on the most important thing you can do at this moment. Be positive and use your brain, not your harmful words, to solve it.
  • Remember that you are improving the lives and conditions of others. People are counting on you and need you to be at your best.
  • Take a walk. Play with your dog. Talk to your spouse or significant other or friend. Play with your kids. Heck, watch television. But for goodness sake, change the scenery.
  • Get off Facebook. There is a new sort of “disease” going around called Facebook envy. It’s where you see all your friends (and many “friends” you haven’t seen since they had braces in junior high), living great lives, going to exotic ports, with great hair, and all the glories of life. And, many are lying through their teeth. Regardless, you need to be happy with who you are and what you bring to the table. You’re better off watching a repeat of Gilligan’s Island.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously. Really.
  • Get help. If you need a therapist, fine. But in many cases, you need a coach, mentor, accountability partner, colleague, or friend. Don’t hold it all in. Find someone who will be there as a sounding board but not allow you to wallow in self pity.
  • Get a dog. (A plug from Captain Jack – read his new column below)

Bottom line, treat yourself better and start by keeping the thoughts in your head about you positive. You are your biggest asset. Treat yourself like it!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

The World According to Captain Jack – February 2013

Hello. My name is Captain Jack and I’m the terribly charming, witty, and intelligent pal of my human, Dan. I’ve been observing human behavior and have come to the

Captain Jack
Captain Jack

conclusion that you all can learn a lot from dogs. Especially me. You see, I’m a Jack Russell and we are unquestionably the smartest dogs on the planet. Welcome to my column…

Human adults are dumb. That’s right D.U.M.B. (see we dogs can spell)!

(Case in point, they only just now added the highly intelligent and totally amazing Russell terriers to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show…only about 200 years late!)

But I digress. I make this powerful statement not to denigrate all humans, just the adults. You see, I’ve found that the human child is way more talented and creative, and somehow when they grow up, they lose all the good things that made them so.

Case in Point #2 – Dan went to visit a classroom of students at Breidablik Elementary school to read them my stories. I still havent’ been “approved” to visit there yet. Sounds a lot like the Westminster Kennel Club management!

Anyway, Dan told me these kids are really talented. They were smart, curious, creative, fearless, fun loving, playful, and energetic. He said they asked lots of questions, made really sophisticated suggestions, and weren’t afraid of saying anything for fear of looking bad. They were just awesome and I plan on visiting even if I have to break in to the place myself!

So what happens to these children when they turn into adults, you ask? Well, they tell me they get wiser and more mature. I say, phooey. Adults become fearful of saying and doing things for how they might be perceived. They stop reading books for fun. They lose all the creativity they ever had. They become tentative and serious. They end up getting stuck in “ruts” and “same old, same old” rather than exploring and living life.

Here’s a tip for all you adults from us dogs and human kids…

Find a way to enjoy and be enthusiastic about every day. We dogs go into the same yard every day, yet we don’t say, “Oh, the same old yard.” We say, “YES…the YARD!” Human kids walk into their classrooms every day and say, “YES…we get to learn and have fun!” Why don’t you walk into your life every day and act like a dog or a kid? It will do you a lot of good and you can go from dumb to fun in no time flat! I’m still working on this with Dan, but he’s a slow learner…

My final comment to human kids…

Your body may grow and you are forced to grow older, but you aren’t forced to stop having fun. Always be creative; always ask questions; always be fearless and never stop reading and writing. Now, go have fun!

Just saying…

Captain Jack

© 2013 Captain Jack. All Rights Reserved