First Fridays – focus on NE Indiana Regional Partnership

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On Friday, November 3, John Sampson (CEO of the NE Indiana Regional Partnership) will be the inaugural speaker at First Fridays hosted by Indiana Wesleyan University. In case you are not familiar with the Partnership, read the following excerpt and visit them at http://neindiana.com.

About the NE Indiana Regional Partnership

Increasing business investment. That’s what we’re all about. We’re here to support your business, build our community, and market our region to the world. How do we do all of that? Together. Collaboration is Northeast Indiana’s secret sauce and the key to building a globally competitive economy in our 11-county region.

Our mission is to build, market, and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment.

Our region is made up of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley counties.

Click on the link below to RSVP (required for attendance – seating is limited). Plan to be there.

First Fridays November 3

Thanking a Mentor

This week, a significant leader/mentor in my life will turn 80 years old.  At the recent Global Leadership Summit, we were challenged by Bill Hybels to reach out to those who helped mold our leadership skills and tell them “thank you”.  This morning, I wrote a letter to this leader.  Here is an excerpt from that letter:

leadership legacy

I just wanted to say “thank you” once again for all that you’ve done for me in my life.  I am often asked who was a major influencer.  Your name tops the list (after my parents).  Here’s why:

  • You taught me that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
  • You taught me to be flexible. “There is always a way.”  I believed you, acted on it, and found your words to be true.
  • You taught me to think on my feet.
  • You taught me to be direct.
  • You taught me how to sell.
  • You taught me how to work a crowd.
  • You taught me how to produce.
  • You taught me how to get along with others who are vastly different than I am.
  • You allowed me to be me.
  • You pushed me to be excellent and then to become better.
  • You taught me how to speak in front of 10 and 10,000.
  • You allowed me to be creative and gave me room to do it.
  • You showed me that leaders can open up to confidants.
  • You taught me to set high standards and not to lower them.
  • You gave me the opportunity to be exposed to cultures all over the world.
  • You showed me how to celebrate the “wins” of your team. You always were delighted to hear our stories from the road.
  • You taught me that consistent discipline works.
  • You showed me that the leader’s dream can be infectious.
  • You taught me that I am capable of far more than I thought I was.
  • You introduced me to the world, and now I have friends all over the planet.
  • You believed in me. I can’t thank you enough for that.

So, who in your life could you “thank” for helping you? It really takes moments to craft a letter.  But you will encourage a mentor in ways you cannot imagine.

They invested in you.  Invest in them today.  Thank a Mentor.

Are You Holding the String?

I shared some of these thoughts with someone just a moment again via email.  I thought I would share this with you.

Are you the CEO, VP, Director, Manager, etc. on your team?  If so, your team needs something from you.  If you are in a team meeting, departmental meeting or all-company affair, don’t discount your impact in those moments.

plumb bob

I’m sure you know this is a plumb bob.  It is used to insure accuracy in construction.  A carpenter’s eye can deceive him.  But a plumb bob cannot be “off”.  The weight and gravity work in accordance with laws of physics.  The plumb bob always shows what is in line/accurate.

Your team does not intend to ever “get off” the line (expectations) in their daily work.  But it happens.  Life events push in on them.  Relationships in the office can become strained.  We all can have bad days.  Sometimes, a customer can be a jerk.

Our teams get off-kilter.

When you have your time in front of your team, it is a perfect time to help them re-calibrate.  To hear and see the vision again.  This is their plumb bob.  And you get to hold the string.

You believe in your company’s vision/mission.  Like it or not, your team looks to you at these key events to hold the string, remind them of their “calling”, spray a little Windex on the vision, and point all of your team’s ships in the same direction.

Be great at this.

That’s what your team needs from you.  To be your best self.  Your team all loves that, wants that, and needs that.

How to Get out of a Funk

Last week, I had a doctor’s appointment.  I was not happy with my check-up.  Over a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.  I began to make life changes.  I lost over 30 pounds.  I changed the way I ate (yes, I cheated from time to time).  I made other changes as well.

From a recent wellness exam we do at work, I saw that my blood sugar numbers actually went back up a bit.  Also, I’m in the middle of some heart tests now.  And I’m back on medication.

This put me in a funk. I was doing things that were supposed to help, but I’ve gone backwards.  I know genetics are at work, but this “set back” has not been good.

So, how do I get out of this funk?  I know the eating regimen I’ve been on is good for me.  I just need to ramp it up.  I need to change my exercise to something more rigorous.  I need to follow my doctor’s orders.

I found the following this morning.  It’s good advice.  I need to follow it.  If you’re in a funk or have been in one, perhaps this may help you or someone you know.  Share this!

  1. Connect with people. As I wrote in a previous post, How To Pull Good Things Out Of Others, who we are and how we experience ourselves often has more to do with who surrounds us than anything else. When feeling low, one of the fastest ways to pick yourself up is to connect with specific people you know bring energy out of you.
  2. Commit to a new goal. Sometimes my listlessness is purposelessness in disguise. Human beings are not only intrinsically driven by a sense of purpose but also seem to require a sense of purpose to lead a satisfying life. It needn’t be a grand purpose, but it must be a purpose that feels important to you.
  3. Read an engrossing book or see an emotionally powerful movie. Both have the power to transport us, to provide a perspective far removed from our own, and in doing so, unlock emotions we want to feel: joy, hope, warmth—even sadness. When in a funk, what we feel doesn’t seem to be as important as finding a way to feel something.
  4. Travel. Though travel has never been one of my favorite things to do, it does accomplish something important when I’m in a funk: it takes away familiar environmental cues and replaces them with unfamiliar ones. And as most of our behavior and emotions are cued by our environment (from turning off lights when we leave a room to the sinking feeling we may get as we approach our place of work), if we want to act and feel differently, changing our environmental cues is a good place start. Not that you can escape yourself by relocating geographically. But you can be helped to access different parts of yourself.  Jim’s note:  traveling doesn’t have to take you far.  It can be traveling to a state/national park and hike.  Just get out of your surroundings for a bit. 
  5. Wait patiently. No mood lasts forever. And life won’t leave you alone but will eventually present you with new challenges that activate you. And even if such challenges are difficult, they will often bring out your best self.

Resource for these steps:  How to Get Out of a Funk

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Brainstorming & a Shock Test

In a little over an hour, my leadership team and I will gather in a room to start a brainstorming session.  We’re going to talk about how we can become better/do better.  But instead of talking about ethereal topics, we’re going to put a timeline on our path to improvement.  We’re going to get specific on how we plan to improve.  We’re going to own our journey and our results.

MS Leadership TeamLast week, we all attended the Global Leadership Summit (#gls17, #fwgls) here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We were exposed to a lot of great content.  It’s time to put that content to work for us.  Today’s brainstorming session will kick-off this process.

Shock Test?  Yes.  We’re going to discuss what we would do/be differently when a deadline is applied to something we are expected to provide every day.  More on this later…

Today is about being intentional, creative, and influential.

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It’s about leadership.

Global Leadership Summit – Day 2 Highlights

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Here are some of my notes from Day 2 of the Global Leadership Summit (#gls17) from this past Friday.  I attended the remote site in Fort Wayne, Indiana (the largest remote site in the world).

lazloLazlo Bock (former VP of People Operations at Google)

“Often there is a gap between the values leaders talk about and the values they live.”

“Find the best people, grow them fast, and retain them.”

“The experience of our work should have purpose. Give work meaning.  Have a mission that matters.”  Lazlo cited a survey that found:

  • 30% of employees feel their work has meaning
  • 30% of employees need to work solely for the paycheck they get
  • 30% of employees feel work is kind of fun
  • 10%  (he didn’t mention them – they’re probably outside on a break….)

“We must remind our teams of our mission all the time.  It’s not a one-and-done thing.”  How?  Lazlo said that the best way to get our mission into our team members’ heads and hearts is through story-telling.  But not just any stories – LIFE-CHANGING stories.  These kinds of stories make a personal connection with our mission (I bet this work with our customers, too).

The Meaning of our Mission Matters.  Here’s a way to uncover how we are connecting our mission to the people who carry it out as well as to our customers:

  • Ask:  “Why do I do what I do?”…everyday.
  • Ask others why they do what they do.
  • Have customers share their stories.  Make it easy for them to do this.
  • Repeat this process often

“Instead of giving quick answers to a team member’s inquiry on your opinion on an issues, ask them first: “What do you think?”

“Hire people better than I am.”

julie funt

Julie Funt – CEO, WhiteSpace at Work

“When talented people are too overloaded/busy, work suffers. We tolerate overload.”

White Space – that strategic pause taken between activities to reflect and think.  Great leaders use white space.  It can take the form of a personal retreat to an hour break to minutes.”

What White Space is not:

  • meditation
  • mind-wandering
  • mindfulness

“White Space is the permission to think the unthought thought.”

“We must ‘de-crap-i-fy our workflows.”

“Lollipop of Mediocrity – lick it once, and you’ll suck forever.”  Brian Wilson

Mental Filters to help simplify our lives using White Space:

  • Is there anything I can let go of?
  • When is good enough good enough?
  • What do I truly need to know about this?

Use this codes in dealing with emails (a major factor to overload):

  • NYR – Need Your Response
  • NYRT – Need Your Response Today
  • NYRQ – Need Your Response Quickly
  • NYR-NBD – Need Your Response Next Business Day

marcus buckinghamMarcus Buckingham – Author and Founding of the Marcus Buckingham Company

“You learn nothing about success by studying your failures.”

“At work, we need more BEST teams.”

When it comes to performance reviews, one size does not fit all.  One size fits one.  This is how we need to view performance reviews.”

In writing a performance review, these are key goals:

  • Give your team member a chance to use their strengths.  Encourage this!
  • Help them clearly understand what is expected of them.  They want to know this!

As leaders/managers of people, practice frequently (weekly) “Strength-Based Check-Ins” about “near-term” future work.  This is done in a brief 1-on-1.  Ask:

  • What are your priorities this week?
  • How can I help?

Do not give feedback in these brief 1-on-1 meetings.  People want “coaching attention”.

Asking great questions will help them get better!”