The Ultimate Goal: Thriving Through Life

AlansBirthday

Retirement is an ancient and irrelevant artifact. To deliberately stop contributing, creating, and providing value to others is unthinkable (and a slippery slope to irrelevancy and decline).

In the grand scheme of things, life is blazingly short. We condemn suicide, yet we seem to think nothing about throwing life away in part and piecemeal, a little at a time, through inaction and self-doubt. Liberate yourself each morning, like my dogs, charge into the yard and find out what’s new and potentially rewarding for you!

~ Alan Weiss

Last Saturday, I had the tremendous honor of sharing in the birthday celebration for my business mentor, Alan Weiss.I love his recent quote on “retirement” and want to share with you. I tell people all the time that I have no plans to retire. Did George Burns or Bob Hope ever “retire” and stop working?

Find your passion, do what you love, and then have great patience and perspective. The bad things that happen are rarely calamitous. They are most often just minor speed bumps. Speed on.

[ Accelerate your speed to building your business and unleashing your potential ]

Final thought. I work with clients all the time that have built (or are building) a business to then fund their “retirement.” I absolutely endorse that and am helping them accomplish it. The difference is, once they’ve funded the rest of their lives, there is no reason to “retire;” just to discover that next adventure to contribute, create and provide value.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Gator in the Grass

This video was sent to me by my colleague and friend Noah Fleming. Noah was vacationing on beautiful Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina a few weeks ago. He knows I’m an avid golfer and sent me this video via text. Take a look, it’s only one minute long…

I viewed it for the first time on my mobile phone. What do you think my focus was on? You would be correct if you said the tee shot. I was looking at the lush green fairway, the clear blue sky, and the danger on either side of the fairway. As a golfer that hits the ball right to left, I was wondering, “How the heck would I play this hole?”

My myopic view completely missed the alligator strolling right in front of me. It wasn’t until later that I watched it on a larger screen that my focus changed to the reason Noah sent it me to begin with.

Do you have a myopic view of your business, your company, and your career? Are you not seeing the gator in the grass?

In my consulting practice, I hear constantly from people that are so focused on increasing sales that they miss the peril that might actually put them out of business that is right smack dab in front of them. An example is the cyber liability peril that goes along with their mounting technology exposure.

In my coaching and mentoring practice, I talk to consultants and other professionals about increasing their peripheral vision. Many become so laser focused on their methodology and what they do, rather than how they are actually improving the condition of their client. The peril in this is that you miss the mark on engaging new prospects so they never engage with you!

Here’s the deal…

It’s easy for all of us to miss the gator in the grass. It’s human nature to become so overly focused on what we like to do and what we are good at doing, that we forget the perils lurking waiting for the unsuspecting. You have exposures to all sorts of crises just becasue you are in business – economic, physical, and reputation – and that’s part of the risk and reward of your craft. However, you can avoid a lot of gators if you slow down enough to identify your perils, assess how you can best prevent and mitigate them, and then go out and do what you do best.

For me, if I could only hit a nice easy fade like Jack Nicklaus…

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

Being Bilingual is your Key to Becoming Influential

Dan WeedinFrom my December column for the Kitsap Business Journal…

Hola. Me llamo Dan Weedin. Como esta usted?

Okay, that’s NOT the bilingual I meant, but I wanted to take this brief opportunity to show off and grab your attention.

Being bilingual is critical to your success as an executive, business leader, entrepreneur, and sales professional. Unfortunately, most of you only speak one “language,” and in so doing leave others confused and money on the table. Allow me to explain…

Coming out of the insurance and risk mitigation world, we have our own special jargon. We like to talk about exposures, hazards, perils, exclusions, redundancy, and coinsurance. We reference ITV, ACV, BI, RC, BOR, and DIC. It’s clear to us, but gibberish to normal people. Unfortunately, I’ve watched professionals in my industry use terms and acronyms like this when speaking with current and prospective clients. To say this is painful for their listeners is an understatement. What’s worse is that important information is being misinterpreted and rejected because the message is flawed. They are speaking the wrong language.

I am on the school board in my community. In the beginning, I was inundated with academic-speak. I thought that insurance jargon was confusing. Hang around a school district for a while and you’ll feel like you’re in a different country! The perceived lack of “transparency” and communication to the public is really a misnomer. They are speaking the wrong language.

This affliction is rampant in all industries, yet gets pervasive when the content gets more complex. CFOs, financial executives, financial planners, insurance agents, and attorneys may lead the pack. In an effort to be influential, they lead with methodology instead of results; and speak in their language rather than the intended audience’s. The results are misunderstandings, frustration, extra work, lost time, lost opportunity, and stress. If you want to be influential, you need to become bilingual. You must speak in a manner that is easy to comprehend and clearly states your call to action.

So let’s get started on getting you a quick and simple Business Language 101 lesson! Here are my seven techniques to becoming bilingual and influential:

Translate your language into their language. Stop using jargon that only you know. Find other words to be descriptive. If you must use industry jargon, take the time to explain it. Drop all acronyms, even if you think they know it. If it’s highly technical, make it simple. You already have credibility; your goal is now results.

Strategic or tactical? If you’re speaking to the CEO or business owner, you need to be strategic. Strategic is the WHY. This means big picture; visionary; results; and ramifications. If you’re speaking to vendors, direct reports, or employees, you need to be tactical. This is the HOW. This means techniques, specificity, and instructional. Know your audience and what motivates them to act.

Be results-oriented. Too many of my colleagues get caught up in their methodology. Most people don’t care about the intricacies of how the car starts. They only care about the results of the car starting. Change your language to results — increased sales; reduced risk; improved morale; decreased drama; enhanced product. If you stay focused on results over methodology, people will be more engaged.

Become a storyteller. Since we were children, we humans have always cherished being told a story. This is even truer in a business environment. Become adept at taking personal stories and using them as a metaphor for a business outcome. I promise that people will remember your message more clearly if you have a witty story attached to it. The best speakers in the world always use stories. You should, too.

Add humor. No cheesy jokes; I’m talking about light and appropriate humor to add sizzle to your steak. Stories are the best way to uncover your humor. People learn when they laugh. That’s why advertisers use it. Have some fun and practice this. You will become an object of interest if you do, and that is part of being influential.

Limit technology. Only use a slide presentation if it adds value to your presentation through images. Images. Don’t fill space with bullet points and text. Don’t read to people. I guarantee they already know how! The focus should be on your words, not words on a screen. Simple graphs, charts and images can enhance your message. Use technology for good, not evil.

Call to action. Always leave with a call to action. Even in a one-on-one conversation, you need to be direct and specific about what you want to happen next. Never assume that your verbiage implied next steps. Be clear, concise and direct.

My professional mentor Alan Weiss espouses that language controls conversations; conversations control relationships; and relationships control business. If you’re going to maximize your influence in business, you must maximize your relationships. The best way to do that is to be influential. You can’t be influential if you’re not understood. Become bilingual by turning the complex into simple, and your results will be increased influence, enhanced credibility, and improved outcomes.

Hasta la vista, baby!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Follow on Twitter – @danweedin

Crisis Prevention, Planning, and Response

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.

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Just in Time Learning

With the advancement of technology at an astounding rate, the opportunity to increase your value to others has never been better. Here is an example…

I use Constant Contact for my newsletters. I was finishing one and wanted to preview it. An error notice I had never seen popped up. I copied the text and went to their instant chat for customer support. Within one minute, I was instant messaging a support person with my question. Within 3 minutes it was resolved. Now that’s what I call “Just in Time” service.

The value was that I got the information when I needed it, how I needed it, and just in time for me. I am setting up new ways to make “Just in Time” learning, consulting, or access to me a reality in my business. What about you? Where are ares that you can provide instant support that will differentiate you from your competition?

I encourage you to take some time and be creative. Determine ways that you can implement “Just in Time” service to your clients and prospects. Take advantage of the technology at your disposal and become a leader in your industry.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Weeding One Inch at a Time

Can you imagine a guy with the last name Weedin hating weeding?

Well, I do. I am not a gardener and never intend on being one. Working around the yard holds no enjoyment for us. That’s why our yard has recently become simply a disaster. To get it back to normal either meant hiring someone or doing it ourselves. We decided it was our mess, so we undertook it this weekend. The weather was just right – sunny skies yet cool. We spent two days digging, pulling, tossing, cleaning, and getting stuck by thorns. I even found a gently used Callaway golf ball in the weeds! I honestly don’t remember hitting that shot, but I try to get those wayward ones out of my mind quickly.

We didn’t finish, but are at least 25% of the way into the project. We will continue to chip away at it daily to get to a point where we can actually enjoy our yard. It’s not perfect, but it looks a heck of a lot better.

A couple of lessons come to the forefront. I thought of them as I was swearing at the blackberry bushes…

1. Small chunks will eventually devour the elephant. What may look to you like a monumental and overwhelming task need not be. You don’t have to do it all at once. Take small, manageable bites daily and keep working on it. Eventually, the bites become more palatable and you will start seeing improvement. Before you know it, the unmanageable task is done.

Are you sitting on something that seems overwhelming, so you put it off until you can complete the whole thing? Where has that gotten you? Probably about as far as my yard was!

2. Success, not perfection. Many people are perfection-oriented in their yards. That’s fine if it’s what you like to do and not an obsession. For most of us, just getting to a point where you can enjoy a yard is deemed success. Don’t let the goal of perfection stand in the way of being successful.

Do you do that in your career? Is your quest to be the “perfect” speaker, writer, consultant, entrepreneur, or manager block your successes? What about trying to be the “perfect” father, mother, son, daughter, or friend? This was one of the greatest pieces of advice my mentor Alan Weiss ever gave me, so I will continually share it with you. Go for success, not perfection.

If you do both of these, you may end up finding a golf ball in the weeds!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved