Hosting an Exchange Student

My family and I are honored to host a wonderful Romanian student.  She arrives tomorrow afternoon.  In fact, she is en route to the US as I write this:

north atlantic flight

We are excited to learn more about Romania as we share our lives with our new “daughter” for the next 9 months.  I know it will be a great learning experience for her as she immerses herself into life in the US.

The next 9 months will be filled with culture, language, learning, stretching, and loving.  I’ll share more about our adventure as this moves a long.  We are honored to play a part in our student’s educational journey.  She eventually will become an ENT surgeon in her country.  We pray that our time spent with her will help her realize this wonderful dream.

For more information on how you can host an exchange student, please visit PAX Academic Exchange.

pax

Book Reading Goal for 2018

I set a goal for 2018 to read at least 12 books this year.  In the spirit of accountability, here is what I’ve accomplished so far:

  1. Leverage  (January)
  2. Mindset  (3/4/18)
  3. The CEO Next Door (3/15/18)
  4. Millionaire Success Habits (3/4/18)
  5. High Performance Habits (4/3/18)
  6. The Energy Bus (4/4/18)
  7. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect (4/17/18)
  8. Strengths Finder 2.0 (May 2018)
  9. Born to Build (Clifton) (7/1/18)

read more see moreOn deck for me are the following books:

  • Third Door
  • Sharpen Your Verbal Edge
  • The Future Belongs to Those Who Dare
  • Super Connector
  • The Surprising Power of the Coil

 

What are you reading?

 

 

Effective Corporate Culture – Mastercard

Some members of my team and I had the privilege of spending the day at the MasterCard campus in St. Louis yesterday. We were there to learn other ways MasterCard could help our company grow and make it a positive impact for our card holders at our credit union.

Our rep, Matt Harris, put together a great panel of the leaders that we could interact with throughout the day. Matt also gave us a quick tour of the Mastercard facility which was beyond impressive. From the facility being a platinum LEED facility to innovation to health and wellness to just having a very impressive facility, Mastercard is seems to have it all.

But beyond the facility, it was the people that impressed me. We were taking to an ops center that monitors credit and debit transactions all over the world. It was sobering to see such great professionals watching over transactions that were happening everywhere and making sure that all of us card holders were having great experiences as we purchase gasoline, burgers, groceries, etc. no matter where we were on the globe.

The advisers, such as Jeff Nolan, that we met with in our meetings were personable, professional, and genuinely cared about our business and looked for ways to help us improve.

My hat is off to Matt Harris and the team at Mastercard. You’re not only a great host, but you are a great example of what a professional means today.

Same Ol’, Same Ol’ by Jim Johnson

same old thinking and results.JPG

You’ve heard the definition of insanity, right?  “Doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results.”  Yet (if we are honest), we all are guilty of this from time to time.

Here we are in the middle of 2018.  Are you achieving the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?  Is your team meeting and exceeding their KPI’s?  If not, perhaps it is because while your goals may have changed, your behaviors did not.

Why do we set new goals yet hold on to behaviors that we adopted years ago?  Probably because we are comfortable with what we know.  Also, many of us do not like to be pushed and a great many of us do not like change.

So if you want better results, what’s a leader to do?  Try this:

Shock test.  Sit down with your team leaders and ask them “if we had to produce drastically better results (i.e. 100% improvement) in the next 90 days:

  • How would we approach our work differently?
  • How would we feel about our work?
  • What would we hear ourselves saying to each other, our customers, ourselves?
  • How would our team’s focus need to change?

I actually ran this experiment last fall.  Some of my managers still use the lessons they learned today and are getting more done with more intentional focus.

Read.  Most of the ideas I get come from reading that I’ve done or am currently doing.  Not that a specific idea comes from an author, but reading opens my mind to new concepts – a new way of thinking.  When that happens, I’m in a mental environment where I can see new possibilities and try new things.  And by reading, I don’t just mean books.  Blogs, magazines, LinkedIn content.  Expose yourself to new ideas and you’ll find new ideas to adopt and apply to get better results.

Network.  Find local leaders (or online leaders) and connect with them.  Pick their brains on ways they are working to become better.  I know you will find great insight and inspiration from doing this.

Brainstorm.  Get your team leaders together and, as a group, brainstorm on how you can improve.  Push each other to think differently.  Years ago, I read about the marketing team that was responsible for increasing sales of Raid – the bug spray.  The team came together to figure out a way to jump start lagging sales results.

Raid

At one point, someone in the meeting asked, “what would we not do with Raid?”  The group sat silently for a bit until someone said, “We could make it smell better.”  Again, more silence.  Then they began to discuss why the insect-killing spray smelled badly.  Why couldn’t Raid smell better?  So they experimented and created a more fragrant bug spray.  And sales increased.  All because in a brainstorming session someone asked a different question.

Accountability.  Many times our teams are not meeting expectations because we have failed to hold them accountable for their performance.  Coaching sessions have lost their edge.  Metrics are not talked about.  The team begins to live to the lowest common denominator (i.e. no one should rock the boat).  Poor performance is glossed over.

It has been said that leaders should inspect what they expect.  And that should be done regularly.  It should be documented.  Wins should be celebrated.  Falling short must be addressed.  Accountability gets your team living in “real-ville” quickly and consistently.

Accountability says that competence matters.  Competence leads to confident team members.  All this leads to better customer engagement and improved results.

Same ol’ same ol’ does not work.  Be different.  Do differently.  Become better.

Connecting with Others by Jim Johnson

If you are in business, you want to better connect with your customers and/or potential customers.  When we truly connect with others, we have the door open to more opportunities, deeper relationships, and bottom-line sales.

So, how do we better connect with others?

I have developed and taught the following to my staff as well as to others in people-connecting industries (which is pretty much all of our industries).  My staff calls this the “Laffy-Taffy” approach to connection after a candy’s name.  You’ll see why:

Customer Brings

 

Our customers bring us many things.  Some are evident and we see/hear them.  Other things are “buried” and we have to explore and discover them.

How do get beneath the surface?  The next steps are critical…

 

 

Listen Ask Feel

 

 

We have to actively and intentionally Listen, Ask, and Feel.  Far too often we assume what our customers want.  We push our agenda and don’t listen well.  Our customers will share with us, but we need to truly listen to them, ask more questions, and empathize with them.  Do not skip over this step!  This is where the real connection begins!

 

 

Think Act Follow Up

Once you have spent the appropriate time in Listening, Asking, and Feeling, then (and only then) should you move to these next three steps.  Think – based upon what the customer just shared with you, think through the options.  Act – based on what you’ve just heard, take action.  Don’t push your agenda.  Act on THEIR agenda!  And always Follow-Up/Follow-Through.

 

Does this process take a long time to do?  Perhaps at the beginning, it might.  If you are not comfortable with it, it may take a bit of time.  But after practice, you will become far more confidently competent in your interactions.  Your customers will open up more.  They will share their appreciation of your efforts.  They’ll tell others about you. You’ll get results.

Make great connections with your customers.  Practice LAF TAF every chance you get.  It makes a difference!

The Process

 

Conference Presentation in Vancouver

I am on the campus of Trinity Western University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I will be speaking soon on creating an effective networking forum as a part of the 2018 NACCAP Annual Conference.

I am excited to be here representing the forum my brother and I started called First Fridays. I also am here representing my company, 3Rivers credit union, and Indiana Wesleyan University as I share how colleges and universities can create effective gateway programs to capture the attention of potential enrollees.