Extra Points: Baby Steps

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Babies are a lot like dogs. Wait for it…

They are able to teach us a lot about our business and life and don’t even know they are doing it! I get the opportunity and joy of spending a lot of time with my 7-month old granddaughter. One of the interesting things about her age is that she’s just discovering that she can actually discover! In other words, reaching, scooting, and crawling are now part of her daily adventures.

I noticed this past week that she has moments of displeasure when she can’t meet her objective. These include things that I’ve kept her from doing: e.g. sticking a pillow’s tag in her mouth; chewing on my finger with her two new (and sharp) teeth; or pulling my hair. In her world, these unmet objectives might seem momentous to her at the time, however she has the uncanny knack (just like Captain Jack does) to recover quickly and not allow them to become ongoing angst.

Her Recovery Time Objective is very fast…

Recovery Time Objective is something every business should identify as a goal to bounce back to full strength. Obstacles to goals are daily occurrences. Some are small, yet others can be significant and cause a lot of distress to a company. Research indicates that unplanned downtime that stalls operations for a company will cost between $926 and $17,244 for every minute that their operations are stalled. Those costs include lost revenue, lost productivity, recovery expenses, equipment replacement and more. By creating an objective metric to shoot for, an organization can save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to it’s profitability.

Don’t own a company? Well, yes you do. You own your own professional career. How often do we as individuals get sidetracked, distracted, or completely thrown off course by a calamity? How much does this distraction cause us to lose valuable time and energy through worry, anxiety, and lost productivity?

Recovery Time Objectives are small for babies and dogs because they have better things to do than to fret. As businesses and adults, we must plan on recovering quickly and set measurements around it to know if we are successful. That way, we can go from crawling to running in no time at all.

What’s your RTO?

Quote of the Week:

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

~ Aristotle

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The key to personal and professional improvement is accountability. My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Extra Points: Going for the Green

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40I’m writing this missive while watching one of my all-time favorite sporting events, The Masters. I’m always impressed with all these professional golfers on how they stay resilient and positive in the face of adversity on the biggest stage of their “industry.”

I’m writing this minutes after being inspired by one of the best golfers in the world, Rory McIlroy. Playing the vaunted Par 5 13th hole, he hit a terrible second shot that found it’s way into a huge clump of azaleas. After a brief effort was made to find the ball in the plants (fortunately at professional tournaments there are many eyeballs working on it), he had to make a decision on trying to play what appeared an unplayable shot, or go back and re-play with a penalty shot.

The danger of playing the ball is staying stuck in the azaleas and compounding the mistake. Unflinchingly, he played a marvelous shot out and went on the save his par. While it looks effortless on television, I know that it’s not. You don’t practice those shots so it comes down to two things: skill and confidence. Confidence is probably 80% of it.

Business is hard. Entrepreneurship is hard. Life is hard. There are many times we will all find ourselves metaphorically tromping through the azaleas looking for our ball and wondering what to do next. Many times, fear and anxiety will lead to a lack of confidence and cause us to make bad decisions and mistakes.

Self-confidence is the most powerful attribute any of us can have in both business and life. It’s the consistent and unflappable belief that you are great at what you do; that you have tremendous value to offer as a person; and that you are willing to bet on yourself even when others aren’t. Confidence is the 80% in the difference between success and mediocrity in both business and life.

Just like Rory McIlroy is supremely confident in his game and skill level, you have permission to be equally confident in yours. That permission simply needs to be accepted is by you.

Quote of the Week:

“Either I will find a way, or I will make one.”

~ Philip Sidney, 16th century English soldier

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The key to personal and professional improvement is accountability. My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Extra Points: Going to Confession

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40On Good Friday, Barb and I attended church and then dashed into the quickly forming line to go to confession. For you that don’t know, confession during Lent is required before Easter of all practicing Catholics, and we take it down to the very last chance by going on Good Friday! I think it’s because I have less chance to mess up over just one day!

While in line, I use my handy Confession app on my mobile device to go through what’s called an “Examination of Conscience.” This private and candid deep dive into your conscience is an important exercise as part of the process to giving a thorough and good confession to the priest. I remember being a kid and thinking that I could “get away” with confessing the less egregious sins and let the others slip through the cracks of absolution unnoticed. It’s the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand, rather than face up to your biggest spiritual challenges. Now I make sure nothing gets missed!

The business translation of this process is important for any business professional – CEO, entrepreneur, or business professional. How often are you examining your business conscience? On other words, are you honestly reviewing your actions and activities related to what will make you more successful and improve the condition of others?

For example, your exam might include questions like: Are you consistently asking for referrals to accelerate your acquisition of new business? Are you taking all steps to assure the safety and security of your employees while they are at work? Are you investing time and resources into advancing your professional development in order to grow your business or career? Are you investing time in yourself to exercise and eat well in order to assure you’re operating at a peak level?

Your business examination of conscience should include the same candor that I described in my personal one preparing for confession. I’m sure there are some business leaders that would do what I did as a kid; let the most egregious “sins” slide and hope they vanish into thin air. Doing this has consequences that may be fatal to your business or your career.

The goal of confession is to unburden yourself and then go forth and try to be better. The same objective is in place for your business and career. Acknowledge the areas that need improvement in your business life, be honest with yourself, commit to improvement, and then go do your best. Then regularly do a “check-in” with a new examination to make sure you’re staying on track. By making this a habit, your business and your career will do nothing but get better and more rewarding.

Quote of the Week:

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The key to personal and professional improvement is accountability. My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

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.