This morning, I started reading a new book, Soundtracks by Jon Acuff. I have been studying how the brain works and how we act/react according to how we think. This book will be providing more insights into that area.
One quote caught my eye today.
“I imagine that everyone I work with is a business partner that I’m trying to help grow. I have 350 partners.”
Every day whether in person or working remotely, we interact with coworkers. Most of the time, these interactions go smoothly. Other times…not so much.
Acuff is pointing out in his book that our brains work off of existing “recordings”, thoughts that we believe (whether they are true or not) and then we act on them. Soundtracks is about replacing old “recordings” with new ones. Doing this brings meaning back to our encounters. It inspires us to move forward looking at life with a fresh perspective.
So today, as you log on in your home office or as you enter your office building (maybe for the first time in a year!), imagine that everyone you work with is a business partner that you are trying to help grow. If you get asked the same question multiple times a day, there is an opportunity to help your business partners grow. If you get caught up in an email string that takes a harsh turn, don’t respond with another email. Pick up the phone. Send out a Skype/Zoom invite. Walk to their desk if you are both onsite. And talk. Listen. Ask questions. Find ways to help them (and you) grow.
Break out of old patterns. Change the “recordings” of old soundtracks and replace them with better ones. You can do this. You can rewire your thinking. It is possible.
Many of you read articles, blog posts, books or listen to a TED talk and you are inspired. You learn something new. You actually make changes in your professional/personal life as a result. Does it all end there…with you?
My tip for today is take this one step further. Why else would benefit from knowing or getting exposed to this information?
Another leader in your community?
Your mentor or mentee?
Of course learning and developing as a leader is critically important. Take it one more step and share what you have learned with someone else. Email them a link to that blog post. Send them a podcast link. Take a photo of a powerful paragraph and email that to them. Share what you’ve learned over coffee or lunch.
Some folks will be receptive to this. Others will not. You’ll learn who is open to this. Focus on adding value. This sharing – it is about them, not about you. You could help someone launch something incredible in their life!
If you lead a team, you are coaching (or, at least, I trust that you are). I gave a presentation a couple of years ago on why coaching is so important for our team members. I also shared the following on what happens to the COACH when he/she becomes a better:
Your reputation improves in your company.
Your influence expands on your team and in your company.
Your voice/opinion is respected on your team and with your colleagues.
Your futurewill reveal more opportunities for you.
There is no down side to working hard at becoming a better coach. Yes, your team members will become better, but YOU have benefits when you commit yourself to becoming a better coach.
Remember: “You influence from a distance. You impact up close.” Dwight Robertson
Commit to impact. You will create a better world around you.
I produced a video yesterday for our local leadership networking forum, First Fridays Fort Wayne. I wanted to share the text of what I said on video. This is all about how we can stay connected during this quarantine environment that we are all hoping ends soon.
…We’ve moved meetings and events to Zoom and Skype platforms. We’ve been entertained by the sound of barking dogs, children asking a parent for something to eat, and squealing brakes of a garbage truck in front of our house while these meetings go on. We’ve hoped and prayed our internet speed holds up. We’ve been bombarded with emails, instant messages, and more meetings.
And we do all of this in relative isolation from each other.
We are suffering from what someone in our area has called technology fatigue.
Don’t get me wrong. Technology is great! But is cannot ultimately replace the face-to-face interactions that so many of us are missing.
So how can you stay connected professionally during this quarantine?
Talk with another leader outside of your company. Pick up the phone, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc. Literally, talk with someone you were connected with prior to the quarantine. It does not have to be about work or your career. Just make a person-to-person contact. A friend called me the other day to ask some questions. It was SO GOOD to hear his voice. We need this kind of interaction. Just like the old telephone commercial says, “Reach out and touch someone.” (just don’t physically touch them…we’re not supposed to do that!) You get the jist…
LinkedIn connections. So many of you are on LinkedIn today. This is a great tool to stay connected. When you read someone’s post, comment on it. Send them a message.
Write a note and mail it. Let me say that again – write someone a note and mail it. That still works! Encourage someone. Tell them you are thinking of them. Ask them to pass this idea along and to send someone they know a similar note.
Email someone. About once a month, I send a few people an email thanking them for their contribution to our community. I thank them for how their company is positively impacting us all. It makes a difference in that person’s life. Try it.
Recommend a book to read or a podcast to listen to. Do this through your socially media channels. There are many of us out here who are looking for the next book to read or a podcast that will help us grow. You can be a resource for someone’s personal, professional growth.
Even in the midst of a quarantine, you can network. Attend a First Fridays online event. As I shared earlier, we have some great online events coming in May. Greater Fort Wayne (our local chamber of commerce) is offering a variety of sessions with flexible times/days to connect with others. Take advantage of these great opportunities. Make technology work for you to network!
Give back. We all know how devastating this quarantine has been. So many businesses are at risk of closing never to open again. I’ve driven by small businesses in town seeing their site closed with For Sale signs out front. Support local businesses in any way you can. Order carry out from local restaurants. Buy a t-shirt from them. Buy other products that they offer. Recently I order a t-shirt and hand sanitizer from Three Rivers Distillery Company here in Fort Wayne. It was a simple way to support a local company who has pivoted their business to serve the needs of our community. It was an investment of $24 from me to do this.
I hope that this quarantine comes to an end very soon. We need to get our economies going and growing again. But in the meantime, do what you can to connect with local leaders.
Let’s keep our community’s foundation strong. Encourage one another. Help one another.
These have been interesting days. A lot of us have run to frig too often, gotten reacquainted with our families, freaked out our pets for being home so much, missed talking with our neighbors, etc.
I’ve done all of that.
And I also finally finished a book project that I’ve been working on for a while. Introducing: The Path to Promotion!
I wrote this book initially for my staff who would often ask “How do I get to my next level/promotion? What do I need to do?”
In early 1998, I was was basically unemployed full-time only working a few part-time jobs here and there to make ends meet. I did land a job with my current employer. Once there. I worked the process I spell out in my book. I went from unemployed to Vice President in 5 years.
Now, I’m not giving you a magic formula. But I am giving you a tried and tested process – one that I’ve seen played out in other’s lives, too.
I would appreciate it if you would order my book. If you know someone who feels stuck in their current role or who wants to make a bigger “splash” at work, share this post with them. There is work involved. But as I say often, “it works when you work it.”
Don’t wait for someone else to make something happen for you and your career. Get on your Path to Promotion today! You can do this!
Today is Valentine’s Day. Here in the US, that means there will be lots of flowers and chocolates and cards given. Restaurants will be packed with lovers.
All this brought to mind a verse from the Bible. It is in Romans 12:10:
“Love one another in brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Now, you may not be a person a faith. That’s ok. Stay with me here.
I often tell people who ask that I like my job and love the people I work with. It’s true. I’m not perfect in this, but most days and in most moments, it’s true. It’s what drives me to serve them, to push them to be their best, to cheer them on.
But I want to focus on the second part of this verse – “Outdo one another in showing honor.”
What would happen to your company culture if the majority of the team did exactly this? I know many of us seem to be in competitions with each other within our companies. People strive to be the top dog in sales. Project leaders are looking to excel more than the last project manager.
But what if we all started striving to “outdo one another in showing honor.” How would conversations sound differently? How would meetings be run? How would conversations about someone who is not present sound (would those conversations stop?)? How would even casual interactions change for the better? How would your company’s culture change?
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you and me to work to outdo one another in showing honor. I think this could have a positive, systemic effect in your workplace. It can become a place where we honor, respect, and appreciate each other.
Much has been written about networking. There appears to be a change in how people view networking today. Let me be clear – I enjoy networking events. My brother and I started one that has grown to 3 major cities in 2 states! But it’s how we and those who participate in First Fridays Fort Wayneapproach networking that makes the difference.
To many, networking is simply about meeting as many people as you can at an event and handing out business cards as if they were candy. Keep it upbeat. Keep it on the surface. High energy. This, in and of itself, is not bad. That approach may work.
But it doesn’t work for me. I want to encourage you to try a new approach.
How to Expand Your Relationship Reach
Approach Networking Intentionally. Go to an event in order to seek out new relationships. That may result in exchanging business cards. Absolutely be upbeat. But make your goal to get to know someone better. Learn who they are, what drives them, how they impact the community, what leadership looks like to them in their current circumstance.
Follow up & Follow through. Networking events should not become a one-and-done event. When you seek to get to know someone more, the networking event is only the start. After the event, follow up with an email or a LinkedIn message. Thank the person for their time. Thank them for sharing with you – allowing you into their world. Then invite them to coffee, breakfast, or lunch. Guess what? People will talk with you when you buy them a meal! They really will!
Intentionally Prepare to Add Value. When you get together over coffee or a meal, come prepared with more questions to ask. Prior to this meeting, visit their website (personal or business). Review their LinkedIn profile and content. Your goal should be to have an engaging conversation that will lead to understanding the person better, understanding their business, and how you can help them connect with others, grow their business, and become better.
Introduce Them to Other Leaders. Learn the skill of connecting people to people. You will help your community to become better and stronger when you become a connector of people.
Continue the Connection. Share content you discover with new connections. Do this via email or on LinkedIn. Read content they’ve shared on LinkedIn and make positive comments. Share their content with other leaders who you know would find that information valuable. Drop them an encouraging email or text from time to time. Invite them to a ballgame. In other words, nurture the relationship.
The result of intentionally doing this has created so many meaningful relationships with leaders in my community. My 13 year old son constantly tells people, “my dad knows everyone.” That’s not true, but he recognizes that I have worked hard at building relationships, and we have talked about why I do this and why it is important.
I have found no down-side to developing relationships in my community. My life has been blessed by the people I’ve met:
A seasoned leader who continues to impact emerging leaders, entrepreneurs, and a mentor to men and women who are growing their businesses. He is an author and a proud dad to 2 accomplished children.
A leader who has served an Indiana Governor. She has been recognized with the highest award given to a citizen of our state. She continues to impact our community through her economic development work.
A leader who influences young people through the arts. His choir has been a World Champion in a competition in China. His vision will impact at risk young people for decades to come.
A leader who has served 2 Secretaries of Defense in Washington, D.C. He has shared what he has learned from world-class government leaders with local leaders here giving us a perspective few have had.
A leader who was an award winning news anchor shared how to communicate like a pro. Her insights from her experience inspired many leaders in our area.
A leader who recently shared his life story with me. From a high schooler who didn’t care about much to learn some hard lessons along his journey to an effective leader today who has fiercely decided he needed to self-develop for the good of his family, his company, and his community.
“So, should I go to a network event?” YES! There are so many events out there. I just want to encourage you to take a different approach to networking. Think about it…then take action.
You will not regret developing relationships. You will become better by doing this. You will help others become better. And, as a result, you will help your community become better.
(photo: my brother doing his thing. He’s a true connector!)