The Secrets Behind The Madness

Coach from NK Herald Feb 2006My April column for the Kitsap Sun / Kitsap Business Journal…

I love March Madness. I think it’s the best three weeks in sports, period. Nowhere else can so many upsets, drama, and amazing personal stories converge on such a grandiose stage.

As I write this column, the Sweet Sixteen has yet to occur, so I have no idea who wins. Suffice it to say, my bracket was officially “busted” when University of Maryland-Baltimore County upset the overall No. 1 seed — and my chosen champion — University of Virginia. It was the first time in history a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed. However, other huge upsets to big-name programs came at the hands of the likes of the University of Buffalo, Loyola-Chicago and the University of Nevada. Madness.

As a former high school basketball coach, I always seek to understand the “why.” Why do mid-major teams from smaller conferences and with lesser pure talent upset the higher seeds on a regular basis? Here’s what I’ve decided:

1. The big schools have been besieged with what’s referred to as “one and done” players. The one-year minimum college rule before entering the NBA means the best young players rarely stick around for their sophomore years, opting to go make money. The consequences? There is less consistency and maturity for those big schools as compared to mid-majors that keep players for all four years. You often have 22-year-olds playing against 19-year-olds — plus the more mature teams have played together and create a stronger synergy and teamwork.

2. The pressure gets to younger players with bigger expectations. I’m certain the more talented Virginia team started feeling the pressure midway through the second half when faced with being the first top seed to fall in the first round. You could simply see the change in their body language; they were taught theory and opponents were playing fast and loose.

3. Leadership is everything. I’m not suggesting that the big school coaches are not good leaders, they are. However, I’ve observed that they are more like psychologists dealing with bigger egos. The mid-major coaches resemble more high school coaches because they have the full attention of the players. Their focus can be on strategy and pulling the right strings with strong influencing skills.

Let’s discuss how this correlates to your business and why you can compete with your larger, more highly resourced competitors:

Team: You have the opportunity to build a strong, diverse, and consistent employee base. Small businesses are responsible for the most growth in the North American economy. Large corporations simply exchange the same employees; you grow them.

Once you have good employees on your team, it’s your responsibility to cultivate and develop them. That means having a formal development program where employees at all stages can be mentored, coached, and learn their craft. With the growth of digital technology, there have never been as many resources to utilize.

The problem I see is that small business owners don’t make this a priority. While many say this is what they want to do, their actions and financial investment say otherwise. In order to build a company full of star players, each one has to have an opportunity to grow, develop, and rise in the organization. If they don’t, they won’t stay.

Pressure: We all are familiar with what it means to “choke” in sports. In our business, “choking” means succumbing to the pressure. It means allowing fear and anxiety to win over our talent. As a business owner, you can help allay this issue by becoming a master influencer.

Notice I didn’t use the term “motivator.” Motivation is hardly ever the problem with good employees; it’s fear of failure or rejection. Instead of motivating, your job as a leader is to “influence.” In other words, become that person that can transfer your knowledge, skills, and positive mindset to those that just need the encouragement and — this is the important part — assurance that it’s okay to fail.

Influencing skills are the most crucial part of being a strong boss or manager. Without it, you’re the equivalent of that coach yelling from the bench to try harder. You want to be the coach that shows them how to be better and more confident.

Leadership: Employees don’t leave jobs, they leave people. Business owners and managers hold the future of the business in their hands, and it’s a huge responsibility. Retaining and growing talent is crucial in any industry. That’s why the person in a leadership position must be able to skillfully pull the right strings by understanding what motivates employees under their guidance and how to optimize their skills for the betterment of the company.

When the focus leaves the individual and falls on the team (e.g. the company), then everyone is working towards the same goals. The problem in so many small businesses — especially family businesses — is that agendas and favoritism become part of the culture. The consequence is a crisis worse than any fire or cyber attack to the health and profitability of that business.

The solution is to train and guide those in leadership positions. Leadership is not inherent in people. Just because they have impressive sales skills doesn’t mean they will make a strong sales manager. Don’t make the mistake of choosing leaders and letting them go without development. The investment you make in your “coaches” (including yourself!) might just be the best money you ever spend.

You want to consistently win big in your “bracket.” The follow these three steps:

Step 1: Create a culture of teamwork, consistency, and personal development.

Step 2: Don’t add pressure, but rather find a way to help your employees to work relaxed and unburdened. You will get better results.

Step 3: Grow your coaches. Invest in yourself and your leadership team to become more skilled in developing and influencing your employees.

Do these three things and you’ll find yourself consistently cutting down the nets and increasing your business growth and profitability.

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-271-1592; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his web site at http://www.DanWeedin.com.

Extra Points: When Silence Isn’t Golden

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Pope Francis’s homily on Palm Sunday included an exhortation to the youth of the world to “keep shouting.” Without referencing any particular event, but rather proclaiming a global message, Pope Francis exclaimed, “The temptation to silence youth has always existed…Dear young people, you have it in you to shout; It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?” It seems the pontiff is saying that silence isn’t always golden.

The message isn’t just for youth, but for us adults as well. We cannot keep silent when we see injustice in the workplace, whether it be discrimination, inequity in pay, or harassment. We can’t keep silent when we see someone struggling at work and we can help; when we see see opportunities to improve the condition of others and have it within our own voice or actions to accept that opportunity. How often are adults turning a blind eye to those in the workplace – both employees and co-workers – because it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable?

Over this past weekend, a client of mine didn’t remain silent. He witnessed a car in the road on fire and the driver too much in shock to leave. He pulled over, left his wife and young daughters in the car, and rushed to help. Between him and two other men, they became the first responders until the professionals arrived, and likely saved a life. Amazingly, there were other cars that didn’t stop to even offer any assistance; rather many to stop and take photos with their mobile phones of the scene probably to post on social media. How many of us walk by and don’t stop to help another human, but rather remain silent and keep walking because it’s too much trouble?

One last thought. This past week, a friend of mine named Charlie passed away. I’ve known Charlie for a long time and over the years, he’s emailed me personally in response to this very newsletter; always with a kind word, encouragement, and a bit of humor that was indicative of his joyful personality. I will miss Charlie a lot. Charlie never remained silent when it came to cultivating and deepening relationships with both family and friends. How many of us find ourselves “silently” too busy to send a brief note or make a call to people we really care about, hoping that sharing on social media is good enough? One thing I take away from my friendship with Charlie is that relationships are the responsibility of each of us and silence isn’t golden, but a steward of complacency.

Silence has it’s place. However in our lives – both personal and professional – we have a unique connection with our fellow humans. That connection allows for us to make our voice heard to improve the lives and conditions of others. Don’t allow fear or apathy silence your voice. Be ready to “shout” for a cause, a movement, or another human being. That’s part of the secret sauce in living an unleashed life.

Quote of the Week:

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

~ Dylan Thomas

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Professional development opportunity. Join my Unleashed® Writing video webinar to improve your creativity and influence with the written word. Learn how you can double your value for only $1. CLICK HERE to learn more!

Do you need help unleashing your potential? My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Olympic Lessons for Business & Life

20 Under 40 20_3My March 2018 column for the Kitsap Sun…

“Little minds are tamed by and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” ~ Washington Irving (American writer)

There are many reasons why I was never more than an average athlete in my high school athletic career. After nearly 35 years, I think I’ve uncovered the most likely and topical for a business perspective.

While attending Oak Harbor High School, I played both basketball and golf. My best sport was golf and I lettered my junior and senior years on a very good and deep team of athletes. I was part of the five-man team that finished 9th in state my junior year. I continued to hone my skills over the summer by playing as much golf as possible. My senior year was personally better, although we fell just short of another trip to the state tournament. All that is to say that I had developed enough skills, experience, and knowledge of how to continue to improve performance, that I’m confident I could have played beyond high school. The biggest obstacle to continuing my path wasn’t on the golf course, however. The biggest hazard I had was the five inches between my ears!

In competition, I found it hard to be satisfied with anything other than my best. If you’ve ever played a sport, you know that playing your best every time is impossible, even for the greatest athletes in the world. I never found a way to consistently bounce back mentally or emotionally from poor (or even mediocre) competitive performances and live to fight another day. I never gave myself permission to simply honor the struggle and be happy with the joy of being part of the game.

As I watched the Olympics over the past two weeks, I observed that these world-class athletes from across the planet obviously differ from me in that mental discipline when it comes to athletics. I marveled as athletes who are used to winning (that’s how they ended up at the Games) would still be smiling after a mistake; would still wave to the crowd; and would genuinely be happy for someone that just knocked them off the medal stand.

I was most moved by a tweet from American skier Mikaela Shiffrin. After winning gold in one race, she didn’t perform her best in the next event that she was heavily favored in. The result was that she didn’t medal. In today’s virtual news world, the op-eds came pouring in from journalists and social media warriors alike. While there was some outpouring of support, there was also the usual negativity that has unfortunately become a standard that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Ms. Shiffrin – who turns all of 23 years old this month – responded publicly with a series of tweets regarding her self-assessment of the race. She concluded, “That (performance) is real. That is life. It’s amazing and terrifying and wonderful and brutal and exciting and nerve racking and beautiful. And honestly, I’m just so grateful to be a part of that.”

Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?

It also sounds a lot like living the dream of entrepreneurship and owning a business. To quote her, entrepreneurship is “amazing, terrifying, wonderful, brutal, exciting, nerve racking, and beautiful.” Are you grateful to be a part of it?

Her summation more than implies that gratitude and the acceptance of all of that comes with being a part of our “game” is the crucial last piece of the puzzle! Being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart or those unwilling to get knocked down frequently. As the noted 19th century American writer Washington Irving opined, misfortune (crisis, adversity, rejection) happens to us all, and the great minds find a way to rise above and be resilient. That takes me back to the five-inch golf course in my head.

We all deal with crisis and adversity in every aspect of our business life, sometimes daily. And let’s be clear, every business owner and entrepreneur mixes business and pleasure. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate; they simply go together! In fact, the attempt to separate the two is not only fruitless, but also harmful. The reason is because we don’t have a personal life and a professional life; we have a life! By not allowing yourself to give all of yourself to both concurrently, one will suffer.

So how do we improve and build our mental toughness? We can start by taking a lesson from an Olympic champion and practicing the discipline of being grateful to just be a part of it.

I propose three simple steps that will help your life:

  1. Honor the Struggle. This isn’t supposed to be easy. In fact, if it were, you’d likely not have fun. Part of the fun in doing anything is the struggle, so don’t fight against it, honor it. You honor the struggle by accepting the effort and resilience needed to keep charging.
  2. Next Play. I learned a great lesson from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. He wrote that there is always a “next play” after the failed one. If you don’t move on to focus on that next play, the bad one will only continue to be made worse. When this happens, it’s easy to fall into a malaise that’s terrible to climb out of.
  3. Create Your Own Team. Lone wolves in business and life suffer without a pack. We can’t be successful by ourselves. We all need family, friends, colleagues, partners, coaches and accountability partners to support, guide, cajole, and celebrate with us.

The Finish Line: By committing to these three steps, you’ll reach the medal stand in your business. But be warned, they aren’t easy. They are part of the struggle and there are multiple finish lines in our life, with always another race to run right around the corner. Now go for the gold!

 

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Perfectly Imperfect

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Last week, I visited a sports card shop to have them look at my baseball cards. My card collection is mostly baseball, football, and basketball cards from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, with the vast majority in baseball. Because I was curious to see if the collection had any real value for insurance purposes, I was hoping an expert would shed some light on if it was worth getting a complete appraisal.

What I learned was that while my collection fell into the right time period (sports cards became over supplied in the mid 1980s to the point of saturation and devaluation), they were in far less than “mint condition.” As I explained to the expert (who was probably in his late 20s), when I was collecting cards, you’d buy your packs of cards, open them up without care for how they were handled, and then regularly trade among friends as if you were the General Manager of a Major League team. Some of my fondest memories involved bringing my stack of cards to my friend’s house (or vice versa) and then wheeling and dealing to get the best deal.

One of my cherished deals was trading for a 1970 Willie Stargell card. It’s a prize possession and the inspiration of why I chose the name “Pops” as a grandfather, as that was his famed nickname. The expert advised me that collectors drive the value, and unless baseball cards – even those more than 40 years old – needed to be in mint condition to have any monetary value. He gave me the example of a Thurman Munson 1971 rookie card, which I own. In mint condition – which is literally without any blemish – the card is valued at $300. My card, which I will call delightfully imperfect, was valued somewhere closer to $4.99. Ironically he explained, he loves the vintage look. We agreed that the imperfections actually added great value nostalgically if not monetarily.

As business people and as human beings, we often strive for perfection. I often talk to people who consider it a badge of honor to be a perfectionist. I respectfully disagree. I think it’s an obstacle to success. Just like my baseball cards are perfect to me in their imperfection, we also achieve much more when we don’t allow the quest for perfection to get in the way of success.

Wanting to perform at the highest level and giving your best is laudable. Getting thrown off track because of less than perfect results will slow one’s progress, stunt their growth, and lead to disappointment and regret.

To all you self-proclaimed perfectionists reading this missive, I recommend you worry less about attaining “mint condition” and more about being like my Stargell and Munson baseball cards; and that’s achieving perfect imperfection.

Quote of the Week:

“To me, baseball has always been a reflection of life. Like life, it adjusts. It survives everything.”

~ Willie “Pops” Stargell, Baseball Hall of Famer

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Professional development opportunity. Join my Unleashed® Writing video webinar to improve your creativity and influence with the written word. Learn how you can double your value for only $1. CLICK HERE to learn more!

Do you need help unleashing your potential? My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Extra Points: Your Business DNA

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40My kids bought me the Ancestry.com DNA kit for my birthday a few months ago. It was a great gift, as my father was quite the genealogist and I was eager to learn more about my actual heritage.

The results finally came in a few weeks ago. I have to admit, I was a little surprised. Leading the way at 43% was the conglomeration of England/Scotland/Wales. This wasn’t totally a shock because I knew from Dad that our last name was either English or Scottish. What did surprise me was the high percentage. With my mother being Colombian, I thought that exact number would fall more into the Iberian Peninsula (including Spain). The sum of the Iberian Peninsula and Native American (includes South America where I trust it’s almost fully from) was the second largest at 26%. The results were fascinating and I spent much of the rest of the afternoon looking through all the data they included. 

We all have individual DNA that leads back generations and likely hundreds of years. That DNA forms how we look, how our bodies function, and both strengths and vulnerabilities. Your business (and your individual career) also has it’s own DNA. The problem is that often, we don’t take the time to understand what it tells us.

Your business DNA has obvious “markers;” things like your services and products; your family business lineage; and your time in a community. Some other “markers” may not be as obvious. Consider what your DNA says about how you answer (or don’t answer) incoming calls; how quickly you respond (or don’t respond) to emails; the upkeep of your website; the hospitality and comfort of your front desk staff and area; and your vibrancy in the community or communities you operate in. Your DNA will tell all those around you – both clients and potential clients – what you’re really made of.

What’s Your DNA say about you?

Quote of the Week:

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

~ Confucius

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help unleashing your potential? My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Shrimp Tank Podcast with Guest Dr. Peter Lehmann

Check out our latest podcast with our guest, Dr. Peter Lehmann. We had a fascinating conversation on membership based medicine and the financial and emotional values the model provides. I’m a member of Vintage Direct Primary Care and I can say without question, it’s been the best experience we’ve had with a clinic. To learn more, both watch this brief video and then go listen to the entire podcast.

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Act Your Age

Dad_DonWeedinMy dad once said to me in a private moment, “You know, I’m 75 years old and I feel like I’m 17 and saying, What the hell happened?” That was nearly 20 years ago and I was in my mid 30’s. Today at 53 years old, I can relate better. (P.S. Picture to your right is Dad at 17…his ideal age)

This past weekend, Barb and I attended the Ideal Life Day retreat held by my colleague and Shrimp Tank podcast co-host, Brad Berger. Brad led a session where one of the focal points was acting and feeling your ideal age throughout your life. During the exercise, we were asked to come up with the age we felt like we were at our optimum peak in mind, body, spirit, and health. I ended up being pretty to close to Dad’s memory at 19 years old. Brad then asked the participants to imagine what it would be like to act your optimum age today. In fact, Brad’s research indicates that we as humans are at our highest performance and productivity between the ages of 55 and 80. Heck, I’m just getting to my best years!

Benjamin Franklin is credited as proclaiming that “some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” We all know people like that. We might even employ, work with, or are family and friends with people like that. In order to unleash your potential, you need to live like your 19 (or whatever your optimum age is) throughout your life. Here are three suggestions on how to accomplish this along with a few disciplines to keep you on track:

Don’t listen to what the world tells you about age. Legendary film and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Top Gun) just started working on his latest film and is one of the new owners of the soon to be expansion NHL team in Seattle. He’s 74 and not thinking about “retiring.” Plan on living 20 more years than you think you will. Now what do you want to do with your life?

Protect Your Mind and Body. The fastest way to age is to stop being active and to eat unlimited carbs, sugars, and processed foods full of chemicals, then slouch in your recliner watching reality television and scouring Facebook. While pharmaceutical companies may love you, your heart, vital organs, and brains will hate you and those aching, stiff bones that we all have been told come with age, will flare up.

Act Your “Age.” One of my heroes is a lady in my Rotary Club. Ardis is 93 years old but you’d swear she 30 years younger. She has been the driving force, voice, and face for our club being able to raise over $2M to build an 8-unit building for housing for victims of domestic violence. I’ve known Ardis for 15 years and her secret sauce is that she hangs out with people half her age (or younger), she’s active, she has a purpose, and she has a passion for life. She’s lived – and is still living – an Unleashed and “ideal” life. Visit Morrow Manor website

Here’s the deal. You control your attitude, your health, and your volition. Don’t conform to the age bias. If you’re reading this, you’re either at your peak performance and productivity age or you’re not even there yet. Start visualizing what you want to do when you “grow up” by acting your age.

Quote of the Week:

“Do not go gentle into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

~ Dylan Thomas (20th century Welsh poet)

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help unleashing your potential? My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.