I was introduced to the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. I began reading it yesterday morning while waiting for some work to be done on my wife’s car in the shop. I am enjoying it and highly recommend it to you .
I sent the following in an email to my team here at work. Olson makes a great point on success, and I want to share it with you now.
Jeff Olson shares that most people in life want to experience success but only around 5% actually do something to become successful. According to Olson (and I agree with him), “success comes through simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.” That is TRUE.
Here’s an example of that. In the past 3 years, I’ve lost nearly 50 lbs. I did not wake up the other day and BAM! those 50 lbs were mysteriously gone (wouldn’t that be great!?!). No, here’s how that happened:
- I decided to fight my diabetes by changing the way I ate.
- I researched eating a LCHF (low carb/healthy fat) lifestyle.
- Every day, I concentrated on reducing my carbs. For me, I worked to keep my daily carbs to <100g
- Every day, I used My Fitness Pal app to keep track of what I ate and how many carbs I consumed at each meal.
- Every day, I stuck to my plan.
I didn’t intend to lose weight. My goal was to reduce my blood sugar numbers – I was unhealthy! But as a “side effect”, I was losing weight by focusing on reducing carbs every day.
Did you read that? “every day” My weight loss success was due to the “simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.” I lost 30 lbs in less than 120 days earlier this year. I’ve kept it off, too.
Here in your job, you can be successful. It will require daily disciplines that are easy to do. Really, they are easy. But just like trying to lose weight, disciplines are also easy not to do. The choice is yours.
So here are 10 Core Commitments for you. This is my challenge to you. Work on these commitments every day at every opportunity. There may be days when you don’t get to all 10, but if you make it a focus, I bet you’ll do more than you think.
10 Core Commitments
- Follow-up (issue resolution, member service one step beyond)
- Follow-through (keeping our promises)
- Ask for the business (connect to our experts)
- Be pleasant & professional (smile and use their name)
- Ask for referrals (members who are “fans” will promote us – ask them!)
- Communicate appropriately (in-person, on the phone, email, texts)
- Add value (be helpful)
- Use our resources (and apply what we’ve learned)
- Take action now (to delay can mean losing)
- Listen more (to get to the core of the issue)
Actively, Daily doing this will:
- Build our business
- Bring us success (and you personally!)
- Bring our members success
- Bring our co-workers success
I had the privilege to have lunch with Jamal Robinson of Desiar at the end of October. What is Desiar (pronounced “desee-aire)? Here’s what Jamal says from his website, www.desiar.com:
“a new revolution of eyewear for the fashion-forward who want to become style legends”
“progressive eyewear line for the bold, the confident, the expressive”
“Desiar is the framework for individuality”
Jamal and I met at a mentoring program hosted by IPFW (Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne) where business leaders (Jamal and I) spend time with IPFW business students to help them connect, network, and create a context for their current learning journey.
Jamal began Desiar in 2011 after early adventures into entrepreneurship. He has designed clothing for a magazine in Florida before he began to focus on eye-wear. As the idea for Desiar matured in his mind, the designs moved from “glitter” to working with mediums not normally seen in glasses – wood.
So how did Jamal create and develop Desiar? He used his resources to figure out how to start up this growing business. He worked for an import/export company here in Fort Wayne and learned valuable lessons that he has directly applied to Desiar. His work/mentoring experience here helped lay the foundation for Jamal.
I asked him how he came to find the overseas factory. “The internet.” Jamal is genuinely curious. He is not afraid to research and learn. In fact, that is a primary characteristic of this young business man. If he didn’t know something, he jumped in and found the answer. Not knowing did not create obstacles that stopped him. He pushed and climbed and questioned and researched. He found his answers, and he moved forward.
He didn’t stop there. As he developed his eye-wear line, Jamal would go to concerts and get back stage to meet the artists (if possible) to present his product and simply ask if they would wear them. He asked for the business. But he did it intentionally. He would approach the artist and say, “I design glasses. If I gave you this pair, would you wear them?” They did. His “fashion-forward” eye-wear had to be in the hands of individuals who were already setting fashion trends – people that other people would and do take notice. Smart, smart moves.
Those first glasses were made by Jamal himself. But he soon he realized that he could not keep up if he wanted to broaden the scale of his business. He knew he had to go overseas to bring scale to his production. So how did he find a production company on the other side of the world? “The internet,” Jamal answered. He did his research. He spent nights reading, talking with manufacturers, making connections.
His fashion line developed into glasses made of wood and other mediums. His business grew. But now, he is about to launch (first of November) a new line of eye-wear made solely of wood. And they are beautiful!
So did Jamal look overseas for a manufacturer to make these all-wood glasses? No. These are made down the road (from where we ate) in a small town. Who makes them? A furniture maker. Only 2%-3% of eye-wear is made in the US. And to Jamal’s knowledge, none are made in Indiana. But he just changed that.
As he met with potential investors, he explained that his glasses would be “made in Indiana.” They didn’t think that marketing line was a good idea. Who would buy glasses from Indiana? It’s a state of farms, race cars, auto manufacturing, and Amish. Wooden glasses exist in a different atmosphere, right?
Made in Indiana? Jamal is “pretty pumped by that.” He’s proud of this.
“By fate and a blessing”, he was called on by a company to help them. In doing research for them, Jamal learned about the kind of machinery that HE needed to produce his all wood glasses. Through this experience, Jamal shared his vision and his designs and this company was able to produce the necessary machinery needed to manufacture the new Desiar line. He then found a furniture company who is now producing his wooden eye-wear.
Collaborate. Partner with. Talked to. Learned from. This is Jamal’s path to success. Just 15 minutes into our interview, I heard these words over and over again. Sure, Jamal is incredibly gifted in the creative process. He has a very strong vision for his business. He is passionate about it. But he knows that HE must work with others. HE must find partners to help him fulfill his company’s vision. HE must do the hard work of research to find the answers to his questions.
Jamal explained to me how the wooden glasses are made. He knows the process. He knows how the wood has to be manipulated to form the correct bend. He knows what kind of machines are needed to do this. He is intimately aware of his products processes. He knows his business.
Jamal is currently in China to meet his overseas partners. Knowing Jamal, he will come back with more ideas, improved processes, and new connections. It’s not a sight-seeing trip. Jamal will turn it into gold.
I asked Jamal if he ever wakes up in the morning to ask himself, “how did this become my life?” He reflected on his China trip. “The world has become smaller. I find it easier to make connections.” He uses those connections to build his business.
Did Jamal begin Desiar as his sole source of income? No. He bussed tables at a restaurant. He worked a year and a half with one of his mentors who runs an import/export business. He got a “real world perspective” from this. And all from our town, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Jamal has mentors from all over. Import/Export. Online music equipment sales/service. He’s learned why they are great at what they do. He’s captured why they do what they do. His desire is to have Desiar known just at Sweetwater is known in the music business. Jamal listens, absorbs, and applies.
What keeps him up at night? Not much. He’s not worried about tomorrow. Jamal shared with me a question he asked himself – “what are you doing today that made the business better than yesterday?” It’s about positive movement forward. It’s about not settling. His agenda daily must be involved in the things that truly help his business to grow.
He sets goals with his team. But it’s not about the goals. It’s about results. What did they learn from their results? Did they miss the goal? Why? What do they need to do to hit the results the next time.
I asked Jamal if he ever struggles with self-doubt. He stated that he wouldn’t be human if he experienced “hesitation” from time to time. He listens to a lot of motivation podcasts and videos. He explained that he has learned some techniques over the years to deal with this. When a self-doubting thought comes up, he simply says, “Thank you, but I’m not on the list for you today.”
He explained it’s good to have a dream/vision. But you have to write it down. Look at it. Talk about it. Bring life to it. Always learning. Always willing to be stretched. Always being positive.
This young business man is grounded. Solid family. Solid beliefs. Confident in his abilities. Faith. A vision beyond eye-wear.
This is Jamal Robinson. This is Desiar.
Discover Desiar here: www.desiar.com
In my experience as a manager/leader of people for the past 30 years and in observing leaders I’ve led, a key behavior is too often missed. Sure, we’re all good at pointing out areas of improvement. We follow-up on the progress of a project. We question our team member on an expenditure.
But we miss something. Something that is powerful. Something that is impactful. Something that can help turn an indifferent team member into a passionate player.
Why is it we overlook this crucial part of leadership? When a team member has done something great, overcome a hurdle, landed a significant sale, helped move the company forward, or shown initiative beyond their position, we might give a nod. But so often we skirt by that and move on to “our” agenda.
The Results of Not Praising
What happens when we don’t verbally (or even in writing) praise a team member?
* We show our ignorance. That’s right. If our team member has done something significant and we don’t acknowledge it, they most likely will think “he/she has no clue what I do or how hard I work to make an impact here.” And that is true.
* We exchange price tags. What we focus on demonstrates what we value. If we continually focus on what has gone wrong (according to our perspective), we show our team members what we value. When they have really hit a significant goal or company metric and we basically ignore it, we have taken the “price tag” off that achievement and placed it on “well, we need to talk about how you…” Where does that leave the team member? Frustrated. They just accomplished something that they are required to do – and exceeded expectations. And what do we as leaders do? Place value on something else with barely a recognition of their work. Don’t ever let a team member feel “well, I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t”.
How to Praise
*Be specific. It may seem like this is out of the “Mr. Obvious” playbook, but praise them specifically for what they have done. Document this achievement and put it in their quarterly/annual reviews. I’ve never had a team member be unhappy to review once again a major accomplishment. They loved seeing it again.
* Make eye contact. Look them in the eye when you are praise them specifically. I’m bad at this. But when I do it, it positively impacts me AND the team member. It gets all of the focus on what you’re saying.
* Smile. Again, I’ve got work to do here. But if you are saying something positive, look positive.
* Remind them of their accomplishment. Weeks or months down the road, you may be in a coaching session with this team member and they are not having a good stretch. Remind them of what they can accomplish. Remind them of what they did “back then”. They can do it again. Encourage them.
I just had a coaching session with one of my leaders yesterday. I was so encouraged to hear how an online class had gone for her. She took the lead in the class and was recognized for it by her professor. I was able to put into my own words why this experience is true at her work, too. She is very passionate about her job, her team, and her impact. I was able to speak encouragement to her.
A few weeks ago, I sat in on an interview with the leader of my call center. We were meeting a young lady who was hoping to get our part-time position. She said at the beginning on the interview that she was nervous and not very experienced in interviewing.
But as my team leader worked her way through the conversation, this young lady spoke clearly, specifically, and confidently of her experiences and what she would bring to the table. At the end, I said I had something to say. I asked the young lady to look at me and I said, “you did an excellent job in this interview. You did not come across nervous. You gave specific examples of how you handled various work scenarios. You demonstrated confidence in you as a person and your abilities. You interviewed very well.”
The young lady almost cried. She then said that she so needed to hear that. She told me how much that meant to her.
Oh, yes, we hired her and she started this past Monday in training.
Don’t underestimate praise. Don’t forget it. As a leader, you probably don’t know how much your words of praise means to a team member. The benefits for them, for your team, and for your company are endless.
I may have shared this story before, but it’s worth repeating in case you didn’t read it then. This is a story of a former team member of mine, Christine Frick. The story “ends” with an update from last evening…
8/3/2014 10:23 pm. Within the past hour Christine passed away. I have just received word about this.
Most of you reading this have not met her. Most of you won’t. Christine and I had worked together at 3Rivers here in Fort Wayne. Christine was one of our great call center reps. I had been privileged to work with her for many years, and she gave me permission to share part of her story.
Christine has had her share of struggles in life. But you know what? I didn’t know about the struggles until she told me about them. You see, Christine was one of those wonderful people we get blessed to encounter who was facing really big issues but found a way to smile and bring happiness to others.
Christine had been diagnosed with cancer. She found out about it at the end of 2011. I won’t go into the details, but it was a shock to her, her family, and her friends. Her body was causing her many painful days that led into weeks and then months. After tests and surgery, she got the diagnosis. Did she crawl into a hole to cry out for a pity party? No. Not Christine.
You see, Christine was no stranger to a life that had been anything but smooth sailing. She had MS. She was born with a condition that had affected the “normal” development of her arms. There were other uphill battles she had fought in her life. But had she given up? Nope. Had she settled for less in life? No.
Christine earned a Second Degree black belt in ATA (American Taekwondo Association). Her goal was to achieve Third Degree status. I watched her work. You did not want to mess with that woman!
Christine was respected as one of our best service providers here at 3Rivers. She engaged in meaningful conversations with our members (customers) and helped them understand money matters every day. There was a smile in her voice when she was on the phone. She handled cranky people with patience and empathy. One of our Sales Managers wrote: “I also want to take this opportunity to give extra special recognition to Christine Frick!! She is a star!! Not only does she resolve all of our questions and problems immediately, but she goes a step further and educates us on how to obtain the information ourselves in the future, hence allows us to speed up the resolution processes with future member questions or concerns.”
Christine had been positive and inspiring. Even after losing her hair due to chemo, she returned to work continuing to be a model with an awesome attitude. She had her good days and her bad days. When I get caught up in feeling sorry for myself about trivial matters, I remember Christine and tell myself to toughen up. She gave me a good perspective on life.
I asked Christine to share her story. Her is what she wrote…
In Christine’s own words:
“I shared last two years ago with a few in my congregation that I did not know what my “Gift” was that the Lord had/has blessed me with. Well, you know how the saying goes – “Be careful what you pray/ask for”. I asked for my gift to be revealed to me.
Then I was blessed with a total hysterectomy in January, 2012 and was told I had stage four cancer (mind you I was blessed with MS and diagnosed in 2001). It was a friend who pointed out to me on June 19th, 2012 what my gift was (of course, I did not see what that was so I asked because I still not see what it was). She told me what an inspiration I was to her due to my handling of the news, my treatments, and my daily walk with Christ and accepting my blessing with the cancer and how it made her take a closer look at her walk with Christ and how she has renewed her faith.
I would not be able to do this walk if I did not have the support of those brothers and sisters “In Christ” that the Lord has blessed me with to lift me in prayer. I would like to thank those who I don’t even know who have prayed for me and continue to do just that very thing. This in itself is such a blessing and inspiration to me for through “Christ all Things are Possible”.
So when times seem to be too tough, keep looking to heaven and those who he has blessed us with and don’t be afraid to lean on someone. Reach out a little and before you know it, that little will turn into a lot of people.
I did not have an easy childhood and I now understand why. Everything I went through was preparing me for the different roads that I would be traveling down. I have never been one to wallow in self-pity. God has blessed me with one life on this earth, and I intend to live it to the fullest.
My phrase or motto is “I may have cancer but cancer does not have me.”
Proud dad moment here. My 8 year old son – who was incredibly shy a year ago – has grown so much in the past 12 months. Tonight he faced a pressure situation and did not fail to perform.
He plays little league baseball. It was the bottom of the 5th inning. 2 outs. Runners at 1st & 3rd. A storm was about to roll in. Winds were blowing from left field and gusting over 15 mph. My son came up to bat. The score was tied.
After a ball and then a strike, my son hit a single and the runner on 3rd scored!
He knew the game was on his shoulders. He stepped up, concentrated, and performed when it really counted.
I’m beyond proud. Not only for the win, but for how he handled himself under pressure. He learned how to perform under stress. He did the basics and followed through.