Speaking Potential to the Next Leader by Jim Johnson


I’ve been fortunate, blessed to have influential people in my life who have encouraged my growth as a leader. Their influence has come in the form of mentoring and observing them living their lives. One of the things that has “stuck” with me, though, is the way they spoke potential into me.

Chuck Yoke successfully ran a large grocery change in the Spokane, Washington region. He was called home from the war to run his parents’ small grocery in Deer Park, Washington. Chuck quickly grew the business with his smarts and his keen understanding of people. He retired years ago having created a solid brand and customer experience in his stores.

I had the privelege of working for Chuck as a bookkeeper and then as an assistant manager in a new warehouse market in Spokane. One day, Chuck told me, “I’ve watched you work and learn new things. I’m convinced that there’s nothing you can’t do.” That comment has stayed with me for decades now. I remind myself of this when I’ve faced difficult situations. Someone somewhere back in time believed in me – I need to believe in me. Chuck spoke potential into me.

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with the music organization The Continentals. I went on 10 tours in all over a 10 year period. My last 5 tours, I was the music director on one of many tours that would travel throughout the world. Cam Floria founded this incredible organization that has postively impacted leaders all over the world. As a fledgling music director, Cam would tell us that out on the road we would face some tough situations. He taught us to never give in to the idea “it can’t be done.” He taught us to be flexible. He taught us to make things happen even if everyone around us wants to give up. “There is always a way,” he would tell us time and time again. Cam saw my leadership potential before I did. I haven’t given up. Cam spoke potential into me.

When I was in the 6th grade, my Sunday School teacher was Al Schrock – everybody called him Shorty (he was). Shorty got me hooked on Dr. Pepper. He was a Bible scholar. He and his wife, Lizzy, were both brought up Amish. He helped me buy my first guitar by having me mow his lawn and help him with various building projects. He taught me the lesson that I can get what I want if I’m willing to work hard for it. He encouraged me to follow my passion of music (it has taken me around the world). He taught me the value of thinking and listening and asking questions. He loved his wife and he loved others. This man with only an 8th grade education taught me more than many of my college and master’s degree professors. Shorty spoke potential into me.

So here’s the million dollar question: who are you speaking potential into right now?

  • The new manager you just promoted?
  • A teen at your church?
  • Your children?

Don’t ignore the power of your life poured into someone else.


Greasing the Skids

Have you heard the phrase “greasing the skids”?

The phrase may come from logging.  During the period of the “skid” method it was necessary for one man to follow the team to lubricate the “skid” with oil so that the logs would slide easily. –Oregonian (Portland), 3 Jan. 1890.
The “skid-greaser,”  halting at every two steps to grease the worn skid over which the logs were about to pass. –Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1893
The cream made enough butter to feed the camp and grease the skid roads, to boot. –Walter Blair, Tall Tale America, 1937

How are you at greasing the skids at work?  Our roles as manager/leader (many times) is the be the skid-greaser – insuring that things get done easier, smoothly, efficiently, etc. 

In our business, we introduced online account opening nearly 2 1/2 years ago.  Folks could now begin a brand new banking relationship with us without having to visit a branch.  That was a new way to do things!  But, once someone became a member (we’re a credit union), we would send them out a form letter, signed by our CEO, that would welcome them with all the flare and excitement of and IRS document.  [yawn!]  There had to be a better way to do this.

If a person chose to open an account online (something pretty cool to do), then we needed to welcome them in a non-traditional manner.  I started to noodle an idea of welcoming them via a video link embedded in an email.  I shared this idea with our Marketing team.  I wrote a rough draft of a script and suggested an employee who could “pull off” the acting part of this welcome video. 

Next, my eServices team began to talk about how this video could/should lead to “onboarding” new members. They began to meet with a rep from Marketing.  This collaborative group started to meet regularly to talk about how we could deepen the relationship with these newest members.  The work and results of the work have proven to be quick effective.  New members are acquiring more of our products/services and are very satisfied with us.  Note:  most of these new members have not physically spoken to us.  This has all been done in a virtual basis. 

Why share this?  I played basically no further role in this process after sharing my initial thoughts.  My team and Marketing took that first idea and, with no obstruction from me, ran with it.  I greased the skids. 

So here’s your question:  what process or initiative are you working on that you (as leader/manager) need to begin greasing the skids for? 

We can either be a log jam for our teams in their work or we can get ahead of the work and grease the skids.  This is a great opportunity to serve your team and watch them work collaboratively.  It’s ok to get out of the way, as long as you are there to help keep the process going and flowing.  Remove obstacles.  Encourage the team.  Give them resources.  And when they get great results, praise them.  Brag about them.  Show them the next opportunity. 

Just keep on greasing the skids. greasing the skids

Basketball & Business Success

Here is the link to a great interview with Lin Dunn – head coach of the Indianapolis Fever of the WNBA. This Caskey resource is well worth your time to watch and listen. This is part 1 of the interview. Follow the link below to catch the rest of the interview and other great resources that Caskey has to offer.






About Caskey

Who We Are

Over two decades ago, Bill Caskey set out to build a company which focused solely on developing B2B sales and leadership teams. From the start, his number one goal has been to educate customers worldwide.

Today, our team consists of Bill Caskey, Bryan Neale, Brooke Green and Jillian Vanarsdall. We strive not only to increase your sales and improve company leadership, but to help personal and business lives thrive.

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy here at Caskey is quite simple. If you want to change your results, whether it be in sales of leadership, you must change your thinking. Caskey seeks to ignite this change in behavior because only then do companies get results.

Our Mission

Everything we do at Caskey is about expanding thought, inspiring change and transforming lives.

What We Do

Whether you’re someone starting a business or simply looking to improve sales and leadership in your company, we’re here to help identify your company’s problem areas and find solutions. From webinars to group training, Caskey has the resources you need to become a company they’ll remember.

Our work with leaders and sales teams is a combination of:

  1. Sales Training
  2. Leadership Development
  3. Team Alignment
  4. Executive Coaching
  5. Talent Assessment

We educate our customers in many different ways:

  • One-On-One Coaching
  • Group Sales Training
  • Leadership Alignment
  • Speeches
  • 1-2 Day Events
  • Digital Broadcast (podcasts, videos, webinars)
  • Products (physical and digital)

5 Ways to Foster Great Communication with Your Team by Chris LoCurto

This is a guest post by Chris LoCurto. He is a Vice President at Dave Ramsey’s, host of the EntreLeadership Podcast, and highly sought after business and leadership speaker. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

There is no doubt about it: Great companies foster high levels of communication. When team members understand what is expected of them and what’s going on in the company, you win.

Group of Business People in a Power Meeting

Keep the communication from happening and you will find that fear soon sets in, which is quickly followed by gossip.

Why? Because when team members don’t have a clue what’s going on, they begin to panic—wondering if their jobs are in jeopardy or if the company is falling apart.

How can you keep it from happening? It’s simple … communicate!

And by communicate, I mean more than just asking how their day is going or what they did last weekend. It has to be intentional.

Here are five ways to start communicating better with your team.

  1. Key Results Areas (KRAs). It is vitally important for each team member to know what they are supposed to do each day. While job descriptions are great, we use KRAs to show specific tasks and responsibilities that are required. They define in detail what winning looks like in each position.
  2. Meetings. While meetings can sometimes have a bad rap, they are still one of the best ways to communicate with your team. You just have to make sure that you prepare for them ahead of time, set an agenda, stickto the agenda, and that the meetings are static.In other words, if you don’t have a set time every week, the crisis of the day will move it around and keep you from communicating.
  3. Storytelling – People respond well to stories. It’s just how we’re wired. You need to become a great storyteller of how your company came to be and the victories it’s had along the way. This will inspire team members and give them hope in the midst of their battles.
  4. Weekly Reports.Everyone on the team needs to be turning in a weekly report of what they have accomplished toward their KRA. This is for both the writer and the reader. It allows both to see what the team member has done to win in the position.The report also gives the team member the opportunity to add a high and a low of the week. You’ll be amazed at what they put down.

    BUT … and it’s a big but, you must respond to the report. If they have a great high, go celebrate. If there’s a bad low, go lead. If you don’t, it’s just become paperwork.

  5. Annual Checkup.I don’t believe in annual reviews. Why? Because you should be spending enough time with your team that you already know how they are doing. Therefore, an annual checkup is a great way to go over the year and discuss how well they’ve done.Rarely should this meeting include what they need to work on, unless they’re still really working on it. Reprimands should be done immediately when something is wrong. Don’t wait to discuss it in a checkup.

These are just a few things you can do to add to your current communication process. When done well, your team will feel more secure about their positions and, in turn, be considerably more productive.


From Michael Hyatt’s blog found here:  http://michaelhyatt.com/great-communication.html



I heard something once in church that really got me thinking:

 “Your direction, not your intentions, determines your destination.” 

Andy Stanley

   What does this mean?  Let me share with you some examples that I heard.

  •    Your intention may be to lose weight, but if you keep “super-sizing” fast food meals, will you get   to your goal?  No.
  • Your intention may be to grow closer to your kids, but if you work longer and longer hours or pay little attention to them while you’re home, you won’t reach your destination.

There were other examples, but I think you’ve got the point.

I began to ask myself if this principle also applies to life as a manager/leader?  I think it does.  Many team members intend to provide a superior customer experience.  They really want to go above and beyond in hitting goals.  Managers want to become better leaders and help their team develop to the next level.  There are a lot of great intentions all around us.

But how many of us fall back into our normal patterns and keep doing the same-0l’-same-ol’?

In order to get to your destination, you have to focus on your direction – the behaviors and actions that will get you there.  Good intentions (without focus) will not be good for anything.  If you are in Chicago and intend to drive to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you won’t get there if you begin driving westbound on I-80.  If you intend to be successful as a manager/leader, you won’t get there by doing things that have proven to result in little impact.

Your destination is about results.  Your company is expecting you to produce meaningful results.  Your efforts must positively impact the bottom line.  The way you develop yourself and your staff will greatly impact your results.  Results happen by doing more than just showing up.  You make it happen.

You know your areas of opportunity more than anyone.  If you desire to head in the right direction, be very honest with yourself and where you are at this very moment.  Be courageous enough to seek help from mentors.  Be resourceful enough to read books/articles that will help you develop those weak areas in your life.  Be realistic enough to know that lasting change does not happen overnight.

The right direction means that you begin taking the steps in that direction.  Make the most of those steps.

Six Enemies of Greatness (and Happiness) by Jessica Hagy


The Six Enemies of Greatness (and Happiness)
These six factors can erode the grandest of plans and the noblest of intentions. They can turn visionaries into paper-pushers and wide-eyed dreamers into shivering, weeping balls of regret. Beware!


1) Availability

We often settle for what’s available, and what’s available isn’t always great. “Because it was there,” is an okay reason to climb a mountain, but not a very good reason to take a job or a free sample at the supermarket.

And sadly, we'll never know everything.

2) Ignorance

If we don’t know how to make something great, we simply won’t. If we don’t know that greatness is possible, we won’t bother attempting it. All too often, we literally do not know any better than good enough.

3) Committees

Nothing destroys a good idea faster than a mandatory consensus. The lowest common denominator is never a high standard.

4) Comfort

Why pursue greatness when you’ve already got 324 channels and a recliner? Pass the dip and forget about your grand designs.

5) Momentum

If you’ve been doing what you’re doing for years and it’s not-so-great, you are in a rut. Many people refer to these ruts as careers.

6) Passivity

There’s a difference between being agreeable and agreeing to everything. Trust the little internal voice that tells you, “this is a bad idea.”


From:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicahagy/2012/02/28/the-six-enemies-of-greatness-and-happiness/

How To Quiet The Negative Thoughts That Are Killing Your Career by Lydia Dishman

I recently read this article via Twitter.  It’s well worth sharing…
“In 30 years of coaching hundreds of top-level executives, Shirzad Chamine has found that matter how smart or successful the individual, each battled insecurities that potentially undermine their true potential. Here are his tactics for silencing the the nagging voices in our heads that hold us back.

If you ever wondered why that nagging voice inside your head persists in plaguing you with self doubt or worse, fear that you won’t succeed no matter how hard you work, you are not alone. Far from it.

Shirzad Chamine, chairman of CTI, the largest coach training organization in the world, calls it “the universal condition” because he’s witnessed hundreds of otherwise intelligent executives fall victim to these so-called “saboteurs” over the course of his 30-year career.

“It saddens me,” Chamine tells Fast Company, that only 20 percent of teams and individuals achieve their true potential, despite team building retreats and leadership workshops. In a series of lectures at Stanford, Chamine found that over 95 percent of participants confessed that these negative thoughts were causing “significant harm” to their ability to achieve happiness and success.

On index cards, he encouraged attendees to write down (anonymously) their deepest fear. What he received were statements such as “I feel my success has been a result of luck and circumstance and one day everything may come crashing down” and “I fear dying at an early age from overwork and stress” to “what I am doing doesn’t matter to anyone” and “I fear I will die without having any impact on my world.”

Chamine pauses after reading this sobering list, then says, “Think about it. Only 4 percent said they don’t have [these thoughts]. The most dangerous is the one you don’t even know that exists.”

After years of research and work with executives at Hewlett Packard, Wells Fargo, and Visa International, among other Fortune 500 companies, Chamine concludes that it all goes back to our ancestors’ mindset. “Sooner or later you were going to be eaten by tiger. That’s good for physical survival, but evolution doesn’t care if you are happy,” he explains. What’s needed now he says, is a shift from fear-based survival mode to positive self actualization. To break the cycle, Chamine recommends tapping into your positive intelligence (PQ as opposed to IQ) to help ward off the self-doubt and get out of our own way.

In fight-or-flight mode, the brain automatically constricts peripheral vision for escape. Unfortunately, Chamine says when you are running and looking for signs of danger you have to work harder to see opportunities. The results of this positive vs. negative pull have been measured by different researchers and are outlined in his book Positive Intelligence. For example, salespeople with higher PQ scores sold 37 percent more and teams led by higher PQ leaders perform 31 percent better. Here are some pointers.

Cultivate Strength

Chamine’s regimen for strengthening the positive part of the brain is like doing simple, repetitive exercises at the gym. For instance, if you hear that voice telling you that you’re stupid or a fraud after a misstep in a meeting, take a moment to acknowledge what you hear, then reset to the empathic part of your brain by tuning in to your breathing or counting your toes. Chamine says it should only take three weeks to retrain your mind by doing positive reps every time the negative thoughts come crowding in.

Have Patience

Setbacks are inevitable, says Chamine, because in business we make mistakes all the time. “If you get mad and impatient you are activating the ‘judge,’” his term for the main saboteur doing a number on our minds. “All I want you to do is just label it and use it as a signal to do a PQ rep,” he says, to turn an agent of destruction into one of transformation. “Empathize with the fact that you are imperfect, then you are not falling into the lie that you have to beat yourself up in order to get things done.”

Focus Better

In many businesses “we mistake urgency with frenzy,” says Chamine. But in order to achieve the best results what’s needed is a calm focus. Chamine points to Star Wars character Yoda who, when getting attacked from all sides, retained total calm focus in order to vanquish the enemy. “The only way you can go into urgent action is to be totally centered. If Yoda, even for a second, gets pissed off or anxious, in that moment of hesitation they are going to get him.”

This is an especially important point for leaders, says Chamine, because if they are anxious their staff tends to mimic the mood. “Leaders are the central energy generators, literally without saying a word,” he says.

Take Smarter Risks

Organizations and leaders need to ask what the relationship is with mistakes, Chamine maintains. Acknowledging that you may reach greater success if you think out of the box also comes with the risk of making more visible mistakes. “If you are run by a saboteur you will stay in the box,” he says. On the other hand, if you work every day without fear of mistakes, especially in areas that deal with rejection like sales, the time it takes to recover and pick up the phone to try the next prospect is shorter and more productive.

Be a Thought Leader  

Chamine says cultivating this part of the brain can help anyone, not just leaders. “It’s better than active listening. It’s a new conversation,” he observes. Silencing the saboteurs not only helps us get out of our own way but also allows us to be led by self expression. “There is a joy and curiosity in succeeding while having fun and getting the life you want.”

from Fast Company:  http://www.fastcompany.com/1839905/how-to-quiet-the-negative-thoughts-that-are-killing-your-career

Personal Inspiration Every Morning

Are you stuck?  Stuck in a bad habit?  Stuck in a routine?  Not motivated?  Your inspiration is as flat as yesterday’s coffee?  Is your mind filled with the blahs?

Want a simple tool that can help focus your mind and day?  Something that is inexpensive?  Something that takes very little time to prepare?  Read on and then go to your local office supply store and buy spiral index cards.

Many us enjoy reading inspirational and motivational quotes from people we admire (or don’t even know!).  Many of us find great lines in current books we’re reading that we don’t want to forget.  Here’s a way to use those to help “program” your thoughts for your upcoming day.


Take some time and begin jotting down on your favorite quotes on individual index cards in the spiral pack.  Choose quotes that will help you begin your day with a specific focus.  Quotes that inspire you to become more effect.  Quotes that are positive and action packed.


As you read a book, you find yourself highlighting a sentence or two.  You make notes in the margin.  Later, you want to find that section, but you might have forgotten which book it’s in.  Take the time to record that sentence or passage on one of the index cards.  Or write down your note that contained an action step.


I love listening to music.  A good composer can say a lot in around 3 minutes.  Some songs still with us for life.  Write down a line or two from a song that inspires you.  Or, depending on your world perspective, you may want to write down a passage of Scripture that moves you.


We are all blessed to have individuals around us that have helped us (directly or indirectly) become better people/leaders.  Many of these people have told us things that have been life-changing.  Write some of those reflections on a card.  One thought per card.


You have passed on wisdom and insight to others.  Write those thoughts down.

Do this next:

  • If you take around 30 minutes, you can record quite a lot on the cards.  Just one saying/line/reflection/quote per card.  Mix it up.  Jot a quote on one card.  Then a song lyric on the next.  Follow it with a saying, etc.  You get the picture.
  • Keep the index card pack at a place you’ll see it every day.  I keep mine in my car.  It may be on your bathroom counter top or next to the coffee pot.  You choose.
  • Every morning before you head into your office, take time to read 3  cards in a row.  If one of the cards really “speaks” to you, read that one again – out loud.  Maybe read it a couple of times.  You don’t need to memorize it.  But you are filling your mind with something very positive that can pop up during your day to remind you to take a positive course of action, to say something uplifting to someone else, to  believe in yourself.
  • Next day, read the next 3 cards in a row and do the same thing.  Repeat.

What I have found is this:  If left to my own behavior, I can become pretty negative, worrisome, or down if I’m not careful.  This little exercise has developed into a good habit for me.  It fills my thoughts with positive things that benefit me (and those around me!).  I am reprogramming my mind.  You can, too!

If you don’t like where you are at as a manager/leader/person, change it.  This simple tool can help.  You’re not talking yourself into anything.  You are filling your thoughts with positive motivation to develop and change for the better.  It works if you work it!

If you want to know your past –

look into your present conditions.

If you want to know your future –

look into your present actions.

(Chinese proverb)