I admit to being an NFL geek. I watched the NFL Draft on Saturday as the Seahawks had about a gazillion picks to make. It was worth it when I heard former NFL head coach and ESPN Monday Night Football announcer, Jon Gruden tell a rookie quarterback…
“If the dog hadn’t stopped to take a crap, he would have caught the rabbit.”
Now, THAT is wisdom!
Here’s why. The dog takes off on a mission to catch the rabbit. The rabbit himself is fast and tough to catch to begin with. The dog stops to do his duty and the rabbit speeds on. The dog misses out on the rabbit and the rewards of catching the rabbit.
You start off on a new mission/objective/goal/initiative/dream (you pick one). The objective is going to be tough to attain to begin with. You are going fast and then something distracts or stops you. Seems like it’s important at the time. By the time you get going back again, you’ve lost momentum; lost passion; lost direction; and ultimately lost your rabbit and reward.
You, in your professional and personal life, are constantly setting goals and objectives. Too bad you’re allowing things to distract you and keep you from reaching them. More often than not, these distractions are of your own doing. It doesn’t have to be that way. You have control, you just need to be resilient, focused, and passionate. There’s always time to ‘um…”take a crap” later!
First we had the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon and subsequent events that killed 4 people, injured hundreds, and altered thousands of lives. A few days later, the explosion at a fertilizer plant killed 12 people (most of them first responders) and again injuring and affecting hundreds. Throw in a couple of earthquakes outside the United States and it was a crisis filled and emotional week.
One thing is absolutely certain, however, and it was proven again this week. We are a resilient people. We care, we sacrifice, we take care of each other. Hundreds of marathon runners kept running past the finish line to donate blood; bystanders put themselves in harm’s way to aid injured people; and as Boston showed, a city completely shut down in an effort to protect its people and seek justice. Regardless of who we are, where we come from, our political point of view, or our age, we are resilient and know what to do in the face of crisis. We band together for the greater good, lick our wounds, care for those who have lost, and keep moving forward.
One final thought. My great-grandfather was a police officer in Seattle in the early 1900’s. He was killed on the Seattle streets in the line of duty (and eventually had a street named after him). We saw in Boston and in Waco that law enforcement, fire fighters, medical staff, and other professionals who are first responders put their lives on the line every day for our protection and safety. Thanks to all of you who bravely put your life on the line for us…
I will be speaking tomorrow at the Lake Washington chapter of Biz Enrich in Mercer Island. The topic is how to create a value-based consulting proposal. It will be a highly interactive session tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends from Biz Enrich again.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for my high school alma mater. Earlier this month, a lady who graduated 10 years before me (and whom I did not know), died tragically near Seattle when someone going over 100 MPH the wrong way hit her head on. The son of my 6th grade teacher and first basketball coach was killed in Alaska. Then in back to back days last week, we lost classmates who I went to school with going all the way back to grade school. Then on Friday, this state lost two coaching legends (Marv Harshman and Frosty Westering) on the same day hours apart.
This memo isn’t about regrets or tears. It’s about understanding that we don’t have limitless days in front of us. None of us knows when those days will end, but we do know they don’t last forever.
I think there is nothing more sobering than wasted opportunity. In many cases, we know it right at the moment it happens. With life, we don’t. It’s easy to get thinking that tomorrow will always come and “someday” will always come. For my classmates, “someday” is over.
You and I are here today. This may be something you’ve heard before, but if you’re like me, it’s easy to overlook. Don’t waste days. Don’t waste opportunities. Don’t stay mad. Don’t be negative.
Instead, spend time with your family and friends; create new memories; attack every day like it’s a new adventure; and keep a smile on your face. If you’re reading this, you are as fortunate as I am because we have been blessed. Take advantage of each day and run the race with great passion and enthusiasm.
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.
Here are some of our “pitch count” consequences – lost time, lost future business, missed opportunities, severed or diminished relationships, and increased stress and anxiety. Obviously, we never try to make errors. Neither to big league ball players. The real goal is to be aware of the consequences and work to improve your own decision making process and score more runs and hits, than errors!
I was in New Jersey this past week for a couple of speaking events when the Rutgers University Men’s Basketball debacle hit the national headlines. For those of you who
missed it, Head Coach Mike Rice was shown in videos of practice verbally and physically abusing players. He was throwing basketballs at them; punching and shoving them; using gay slurs; and literally acting like a maniac. The video was made available to Athletic Director Tim Pernetti back in November, 2012. At that time, rather than fire Rice, he tried to rehabilitate him through a $50,000 fine, suspension for 3 games, and mandatory anger management treatment. Next thing you know, ESPN’s Outside the Lines program is showing the world the actions of a coach gone mad. The reaction from the sports world was harsh to say the least, and also drew the ire of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Rutgers is New Jersey’s most prominent state school, and this was a crisis that was spreading like a wildfire.
In the following days, Rice was fired; his assistant coach resigned; AD Pernetti resigned; and the President is under fire. As I write this, I am listening to the press conference by the president. According to Pernetti in his letter of resignation, they followed advice from the University’s Human Resources Department, Legal team, and outside counsel. He regrets now the decision of rehabilitation over dismissal. He wishes he had it to do over again because he would change his decision. Hindsight tells us that he should have known these tapes would be leaked. In today’s world, things like this never stay silent. But, that’s hindsight. Let’s use a little foresight for you.
Crisis doesn’t have to come in the form of a windstorm, fire, or data breach. Your reputation as a business or organization is priceless, and may be more impactful to
your bottom line than those other examples. For Rutgers University and its President, board, and leadership, this is a train wreck. Now, all eyes are on them on how they diffuse and react to the situation. It gives us a chance to learn from them.
Here are a few tips and suggestions on lessons learned…
Understand plainly that electronic and written communications and information rarely will stay private. What is written in emails even securely (see David Petraeus) can and will come to light, and is usually damning to you and your organization.
Poor behavior of employees and leadership will be held to account by your clients, prospects, investors, key stakeholders, community, and the media. You need to be prepared to respond to it publicly.
You should have behavior clauses in your employment agreements regarding poor behavior, including what might be done or written on social media.
Silence after a crisis like this is bad. You need to be proactive early. In the Twitter and Facebook world we live in, public opinion can be swayed and determined very quickly.
Practice for events like this. Role play mock interviews and press conferences and hope you never have to perform them live. At least with practice, you can work on your game.
Respect and have empathy for those who have been injured in the debacle – whether physically or mentally. The wost thing you can show is arrogance or indifference. Contrary to what you might have heard, apologies are not only acceptable, but necessary if they are warranted.
Do the right thing. Legal and HR have value, but if the right thing to do is fire someone because their actions were intolerable, then you fire them.
You better be good at public speaking. When issues related to bad behavior in your business pop up, you can bet you will have to address them to the media. You’d better have some skill in this area. If you don’t feel like you’ve “got game” in that area, now is a good time to change that…or delegate it!
I’m not hear to throw Rutgers under the bus. The leadership has acted pretty swiftly for an organization like this. The post event decisions seem to be good. This
article is more about what you can learn as a business owner, executive, or organizational leader. Now, some of you might be thinking, “This stuff doesn’t happen to me. I’m just a small business owner.” That’s where you may be tragically wrong. You may not end up on ESPN or CNN, but a bad report in your local paper or television station can be just as devastating. Don’t think it happens? Spend some time reading your paper.
Bottom line – Bad behavior happens all the time in many organizations. You need to be prepared as the leader to prevent it through education and consequences; mitigate damage if it does happen; and bring your team together to move forward after it’s calmed down.
I just got done speaking to a tremendous group of women business owners and executives in New Jersey. They just went through a devastating storm last October that was unprecedented in its impact to communications, transportation, and power loss. We spoke about that storm, as well as other crises that can impact their businesses like – loss of power, data breach, and employee issues.
Here is what I heard loud and clear from them…
They want to improve their ability to communicate to employees and customers in a crisis. That means setting up layers of redundancy in case of loss of power, email, cell phones, or whatever other methods are being used.
They want a plan that is in place to deal with any crisis that comes around the bend. It must be something that is repeatable, intentional, and practiced.
Speaking of practice, most business owners and executives rarely set out practice plans (i.e. fire drills or corporate war game scenarios). How do you know it works if you never practice?
My recommendation is to set up a 3-step process for disaster planning…
Step 1 – Set a budget to include insurance premiums, outside consulting help, technology, and internal controls. This will be different for everyone due to insurance premiums, number of employees, and perils.
Step 2 – Go through disaster and crisis prevention response and planning. Allocate at least 8 hours out of an entire year to do this and re-commit annually.
Step 3 – Buy the insurance, monitor your plan, then relax and do what you do best in your business.
You can drive yourself crazy and easily drift into analysis paralysis if you allow yourself to. Make the process simple and move forward. The problem for most businesses is that they never spend the fraction of the time they need to prepare. Doing this little process by itself may save you tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.
One of my favorite days, especially because it’s my wife’s birthday. I’ve always teased her because she is an April Fools baby and I was a New Years Eve baby, which means everyone parties on my birthday, and plays practical jokes on hers. Fortunately, she sees the humor in it and can laugh along with me. Believe me, I give her plenty of ammunition to poke fun at me!
I remember years ago (back in the mid-1980s), Sports Illustrated ran a featured story on a pitcher by the name of Sidd Finch. The Curious Case of Sidd Finch was written by prize-winning journalist, George Plimpton and chronicled the unbelievable story of this guy who had a 168 mph fastball and was trying to make the New York Mets staff. It was a 14-page article that caught like wildfire (in the non-Internet dark days). Of course, it was a hoax, but as is the case with much jocularity when the propaganda is so outlandish, many people fell for it only to be told, “April Fools Day!” One of my favorite stories almost 30 years later.
The ability to laugh at one’s self is priceless. It’s actually not fool’s gold, but the real McCoy. In good times and challenging times, laughter and humor can save us from despair, depression, and disgust. Being able to laugh at yourself instead of someone else is a true test of your ability to have humor. I hope this April Fools Day, you will take some time out of the day to have a hearty laugh and a full sense of humor.