Christine: A Courageous Life by Jim Johnson

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.”

Cleaning, Passion, Growth…Adam Ross interview by Jim Johnson

On September 11, 2013, I sat down with Adam Ross, owner of Ross Cleaning & Restoration (www.rossrestoration.com).  Our families attend the same church and our children attend the same school.  Prior to this interview, I had not known what Adam did.  On the first day of school, I noticed he was wearing a branded shirt with his company’s logo on it.  I sent him a couple of emails and we set up our lunch interview appointment.  I think you are going to find his story interesting.

HISTORY

Adam told me his father is an entrepreneur/small business owner.  Adam grew up watching his dad start and grow several businesses.  It appears it got into his blood.  Adam told me he started off attending college, but it became quickly apparent that school was not for him.

In 1999, Adam worked for Stanley Steamer.  Then the following year, while working for Carpet One, he saw ad for Steamatic in newspaper and looked into buying the Las Vegas franchise.  He decided against but then opened Steam-it in 2002 which he later sold in 2005.  Adam and his wife moved to Vegas in July ’05 but then returned in January ’06 with a baby on the way. In 2007, he opened Ross Cleaning and Restoration.

STAFF

Ross Cleaning has 2 crews right now.  I asked how he builds his business.  Angie’s List has played a big part in promoting the business, Adam explains.  “There are over 90 carpet cleaning companies in our area.  On Angie’s List, Ross Cleaning has over 70 reviews – the vast majority are very positive.  My nearest competitor has only 6 reviews.” This customer-driven website has brought in a lot of new business.

I asked Adam about his staff.  “I’ve always had good luck with staff.  I felt the need to always have a “right hand man” and I have a great one now,” Adam told me.  Adam is proud of his professional, clean-cut team.  It sets his business apart from most of the others.

BRANDING

I asked why people would choose Ross Cleaning over other companies.  What makes his company different/better?

Adam explained that they are very good at cleaning carpets and they charge fair prices. He is very proud of the fact that he and his crews build great relationships with customers – many of whom have been customers for years.  Adam intentionally seeks out business opportunities.  As a result, his company has solid business relationships with area apartment complexes and property managers.

Customer retention has been key to Adam’s success.  “The first time doing business with someone, I don’t make a lot of money.  My goal is to get hired the 2nd time by them.”  Adam relies heavily on “promoters”  who tell friends and families about the positive experience they’ve had.  “It can’t be just a one-time cleaning…ever.  With over 90 carpet cleaners in town, consumers have a lot of options.”

Adam has learned that he can’t simply rely on the basics of cleaning.  He needs to diversify.  “Everything we do compliments something else.  From carpet cleaning to air duct cleaning to mold remediation, we have to be better than others.”

One point Adam made was his skill and ability to build relationships with new and existing customers.  He can walk into a home or business and see items that reveal what is valued by this person.  Adam has learned to use his observation skills to start-up a conversation with folks that will eventually lead to a more solid, long-lasting relationship.  “We clean some million dollar homes and they leave us alone in their house to our work – they trust us.”  .

Adam hires intentionally:  his team has to also believe in the business as much as he does.  “We invest a lot in our business, education staff, and equipment.  We are professionals.  It breaks my heart when we get a review that’s not so good.  I take it personally…everytime.”

GROWTH

I asked about Adam how, when he started, he went about building his business.  In the early days, he had to go out every day to look for work. “I’d do the work for free just to get my name out. I had to keep moving.  This really helped me spread the word.  I had to practice and preach about my new business.”  In other words, Adam took action even if he didn’t feel like doing it. “I was always good with numbers – bills were coming in and I knew I had to work to pay them.”

Finally, I asked how Adam approaches growth now.  “I had to learn to start working on the business instead of in the business.  I had to hire more people to do the tasks.  I had to let go of control and focus on things I was really good at.”

As a result, Ross Cleaning & Restoration is now debt free.  But that doesn’t keep Adam from losing focus.  “Employees are like family. We know each other’s secrets.  I worry about the next week’s sales, that we hit our numbers.”

Take-a-ways for Leaders/Managers in a Traditional Work Setting:

  • Be passionate.  It’s your business.  Throw yourself into it!
  • Be wise in your hiring. Hiring the right people is critically important in building your business.  The right people will build your brand.  They will bring you success.  They are the living, breathing brand promise with every interaction with your customers.
  • Customer retention is key.  When you make a sale, look to deepen the relationship.  Get “hired” the 2nd time.  You cannot survive on “one-sies”.
  • Learn more about your business.  Keep up on new developments.  Apply what you’ve learned.
  • Build relationships, not just a portfolio.  Your customers are people with needs, dreams, and drives.  Learn what those are. Be the solution for them.
  • When in doubt, act.  If sales are slow, go out and work the streets.  Don’t let a slow down slow you down.  Just keep moving, acting, thinking, doing, creating.  If you don’t, your business will not grow.
  • Work on your business and not just in it.  Focus.  Help your team to focus.  Everyone on your team cannot all be doing the same thing at the same time.  Do what you do best.
  • Act like you own the joint.  It’s far too easy to hold a mindset of “oh, the company will take care of ____”.  When you spend money, think and act like it’s your money.  When you have to dedicate time to a project, it’s your time you are investing.  Act like an owner in all you do.

To learn more about Adam’s company, visit their website at:  http://www.rossrestoration.com/.

10 Leadership Lessons I Wish I Learned In My 20’s

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by Todd Wilms

All of us would do well with a second bite at the apple, another chance to go back and do it all over again. Our mistakes, as much as our successes, define us and can help steer us forward today. With this in mind, here are 10 lessons learned over the last 20 years of doing business that are now part of my thinking. Or put another way . . . during the interview question where they ask you “what is your management or leadership philosophy?” Well, here it is. [View the downloadable slideshow here]

1. Run With Blinders On
We spend a lot of time wondering what is happening over there in the organization. “What are they doing over there? What is that group doing? Wait, why did they get that project? ” At best this is wasted energy, and at worst a real distraction that keeps you from being fabulous you. It wasn’t until my mid 30s that someone close to me gave me this advice. Their message was surprisingly simple: run like no one else matters.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean be an isolationist and it doesn’t mean you don’t work with other people, but if you see yourself wondering what someone else is doing and it isn’t something you can directly incorporate into making you better, it is wasted energy – pure and simple. Put your blinders on and focus straight ahead – all of that other stuff wont matter.

2. It Is All Personal, Not Business
Contrary to Hollywood screenwriters and every movie Michael Douglass has ever been in, business is personal. Telling yourself anything different may be a necessary rationalization to help you sleep at night, but the sooner you admit it, the quicker you can learn to lead. Every decision you make to “buy” or “not buy” has another person on the other end of that sale that impacts them directly.

Knowing this is personal should not stop you from doing what is right for the business and the hardest decisions I have had to make have been about whether to hire or fire people. I have had the privilege of hiring someone (who had been out of work for awhile) on Christmas Eve and of making tough decisions to let folks go. The faster you can get used to personal, the quicker you can learn how to properly react to your business decisions and garner the respect of your ecosystem.

3. Think Marathon, Not Sprint
Your world will get smaller and smaller as you grow in it. You encounter the same situations and people over and over. After awhile, you wont even bother saying “deja vu” anymore. With this in mind, sometimes the best decisions are made with a long-term goal in mind, even at the cost of sacrificing short-term gains. But, thinking of this as a long-term race, instead of your short-term goal this week, will help you make smarter decisions. Great leaders are keenly aware of the long term repercussions and what tomorrow will bring as they weigh their decisions today, or put into my favorite quote “We said ‘let’s worry about it tomorrow’ yesterday.”

4. Find A Mentor
Always have someone as your coach, your confidant, and your advisor. This can be formal or informal, but you need a “go-to” person at every stage of your life. This person may change and you may add mentors over time. I have been fortunate enough to have one mentor for 16 years, plus 3 others that have been added to my stable of advisors. I know who to call and when to call them – and they always take my call. But there is always someone better at something than you are. Find them. In case you were asking, “why would they help me?” it is because they get the better end of the deal. I see that now that I am fortunate enough to be a mentor several times over.

5. There Are Incredibly Smart People Who Will Help You If You Ask
One of my mentors told me how he would reach out to people he admired and ask them a few questions – their expert advice. Always done in a respectful way and mindful of their time, he was significantly more successful than not in getting some great counsel and often a new friendship or relationship with this person. And damn if he wasn’t right – it totally works.

I have had a great interaction with a former US President, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, several noted authors, a few CEOs, and multiple significant business luminaries – all because I asked. Not everyone will respond, but that’s OK. In the future, I just wont sign my memoir for them when they ask.

6. Leadership Doesn’t Need A Title
Don’t wait for the title to lead. Leadership is about helping the business succeed and helping those around you make that happen. Leadership is also about trust and those around you knowing you have their back. Too many young employees and managers feel like “When I get that title, I can really guide this place.” You should be thinking about how you can show leadership on your first day. If you know nothing else about what is going on, start to get to know people and what they are doing or working on, their background, and what makes them tick. Your influence starts with orientation. Good leaders don’t wait for titles.

7. Learn to Eat S**t
Everybody has someone who has power over him or her – no one is immune. For you proud, independent sorts – this one will be a challenge. Get used to doing things you don’t want to, don’t like doing, or aren’t in your comfort zone. Yes, you can quit or complain or stage a sit-in or whatever. But there is another big plate of it waiting at your next job.

Oh, by the way, starting your own company and being your own boss doesn’t get you out of this – you have investors, partners, and customers who own you. So, get used to it, accept it, and grow your career so these times are fewer and farther in between. Or plan on winning the lottery and living alone on your own island, but then you are going to want satellite TV and now you are dealing with DirectTV and now you are right back to having to eat s**t – never mind.

8. Your Business Network Should Grow Inversely Proportional To Your Personal Relationships
In your 20′s, you will have access to some of the greatest people who will eventually become life long friends. You cannot predict who these folks will be – some that I was sure would be with me for life have dropped out of sight, only to be replaced by some fantastic friends who I did not see coming. You will have a bigger network of friends and personal acquaintances at this age as you aren’t saddled with bigger responsibilities of life (kids and their schedules, aging parents, etc.). Meanwhile, your business network is in its infancy.

Over time, your business network should grow, as you see your personal relationships grow smaller in numbers (fewer, but – hopefully – deeper relationship). Knowing this is coming can help you select your core friends and help you effectively grow your business network.

9. What Is More Important Is How You Handle The Big Screw-Up
Over time, you are going to make some colossal blunders. Epic screw-ups. Personally, I had a history of making all the right moves – uncannily so. Then 1-2 big missteps sent me rocketing backward. When failure eventually happens, how you handle it will define you. Do rise to the occasion and accept responsibility or do you fall in a pit, never to be heard from again? Do you blame everyone else, or do you face it head-on, smile, and say, “what’s next?” How you handle it sends a clear signal of your mettle to both friends and your business network. Leadership is as much about defeat as it is about success. (See the next lesson)

10. Get Knocked Down 6, Get Up 7
This one didn’t make sense to me earlier in life. “Of course you get up,” was what my head said an age ago. ”Why wouldn’t you?” Over time, I have seen folks make a few mistakes, but find it harder to get back up the 4th or 5th time. Remember, this is a marathon so think long term. Keep getting up and stick it out, even when you want to just lie down on the mat for the 10- count. Those that keep getting up when life knocks them down will soon find that there are great leadership opportunities for those that are weathered by experience and keep showing up.

Bonus: Wait It Out
Change is inevitable. New org structure, new boss, mergers, a constant terminal of folks coming in and out of your work life. Similar to “Run With Blinders On,” when you see some big new thing that you think is going to cause some disruption in your life, there is a tendency to want to react immediately to the situation. Don’t. Most of these are minor inconveniences – nuisances at worst. Take a breadth.

I have learned – over time and “the hard way” – that if something is standing between my goals and me, I can wait them out. They move on, flame out, and sometimes become my advocate. Usually they just implode and you are in a greater place for sticking it out. Wait them out (or see “win the lottery, move to island” strategy above).

There is an accompanying slideshow that is available for download here. Enjoy!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2013/04/08/10-leadership-lessons-i-wish-i-learned-in-my-20s/

From Mail Room to Boardroom: A Star Executive’s Strategy to Rise to the Top

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by Cheryl Conner

I had the chance to visit this week with John Bolinder, the 36-year-old CFO/Chief Strategy Officer for one of our client companies in Salt Lake City, Nelson Labs. Bolinder was recently acknowledged by Utah Business Magazine as one of the state’s top “Forty Under 40” executives.

While Nelson Labs (“Nelsons” to us) is highly successful as a provider of microbiology testing services (they get medical devices and products prepared to go to market more quickly), what struck me most in my conversation with Bolinder was the meteoric rise of his personal career. The steps he took are inspirational and could be helpful to other aspiring entrepreneurial executives as well.

His success also speaks to a principle I love: not every entrepreneur is a founder. The ability to find and hone entrepreneurial skills within an organization is a tremendous advantage that can benefit any executive or firm.

So I invited him to share his secrets with the readers of Forbes.

Like many successful senior executives, Bolinder didn’t arrive at Nelson’s with an MBA and a relevant background. He joined the company’s mailroom at age 22 and as an undergraduate student in 1999. So how did he rise from mailroom clerk to 28-year-old CFO?

Bolinder’s first contact with his company was not even in the mailroom. He applied for the position of dishwasher in the company’s lab and was rejected as wrongly qualified–because he was seeking a degree in business, the company felt he wouldn’t be a good fit in the lab. But in a fortuitous step, they held onto his resume.

“I was working for the local newspaper at the time, running a delivery truck and working in the Newspaper Agency office,” he recalls. “It may have been a cosmic sign, but the tornado of 1999 had just blown through Salt Lake City, breaking windows and causing all kinds of grief. Then I got a call from the company saying they’d kept my resume on file and they had a position for me if I’d like to give it a try. It was the mailroom position. I took it.”

Thus began Bolinder’s eight-year process of becoming an “overnight” executive success. The following chronology maps his primary steps:

1. Find solutions. Step one, from the mailroom, Bolinder soon noted the mail desk was using a manual process for shipping that was prone to errors and mix-ups. Within a few months on the job, he implemented an automated barcode and scan process that eliminated manual errors and redundant data entry problems, which helped the mailroom become more efficient. Not surprisingly, he was soon promoted to manager of the mailroom, and began applying his analytical skills to the process of writing test protocols.

2. Have a strategic vision. From the beginning, Bolinder increasingly earned the trust of Nelson’s CEO, Jeffery Nelson, by keeping his eye on the company’s strategic vision and then finding and innovating the ways processes could be standardized, simplified, or interpreted and then taking on the responsibility, with approval, of making those changes. As the CEO’s trust in him grew, Bolinder began making process changes throughout the company.

3. Never be satisfied to rest on your laurels. Next up, after spending time in the customer service department and mailroom, Bolinder realized the company needed a sales and marketing team. Up to that point, the firm had relied entirely on word-of-mouth for its marketing and sales. With the increasing support of his CEO and within a few months of implementation, he was successful in helping the company migrate from an organic and word-of mouth model to a proactive and structured selling approach under his direction. Bolinder developed substantive price models to simplify the company’s complex test models into project estimates that would be readily understandable to lab staff and clients. In the process, he had also streamlined sales by simplifying the quote and test process. The result – several years in, the 20-something executive was now responsible for the company’s lifeblood—continuing sales. To this day, as CFO and Chief Strategic Officer, he continues to oversee all of price and market strategy for the company’s services.

4. Think holistically. With the quote and testing process in hand, Bolinder recognized the company’s next great need would be for the right business intelligence to help them proactively target the right customers for future sales. He found and implemented the solution. He also developed a model for sales forecasting that continues to predict future revenue with great accuracy for the company today.

5. Numbers count. With sales and forecasting now running, Bolinder turned his attention to the company’s accounting. By now we can predict what happened next. Bolinder applied for the job of accounting manager. His request was accepted. Over the next 18 months he implemented new accounting systems and business intelligence reports that further improved the sales process and provided further visibility into the company’s product value streams. Combined with other efficiency improvements, these steps resulted in substantial increases to the company’s bottom line profit as well as its operational cash flow. It’s not always about the numbers–but the numbers do matter.

6. Continually “sharpen the saw.” During the eight-year period of Bolinder’s rise, he also completed his MBA from the University of Utah. With honors (Beta Gamma Sigma), of course.

Nelson Laboratories helps companies speed the process of getting their microbiology-based products into the market.

Now 36, Bolinder is a prominent C-level executive for a company that has doubled in size approximately twice during the past decade, with plans to maintain rapid growth. Since his appointment as CFO in 2007, the company has grown 83 percent from $27.8 million to $51 million in 2012. Bolinder also holds the distinction of successfully negotiating financing of the company’s $11.5M headquarters expansion in 2008, during one of the worst financial markets in history.
Has Bolinder’s rise been simply good luck and hard work? Not at all. As I visit with him, he shares some of the other, less obvious, aspects of his impressive growth and success.

First off, as is likely clear from the name of the company, Nelson Laboratory is a family-owned firm. The current CEO, Jeffrey Nelson, is a relatively young executive himself. He and Bolinder “grew up” in the company together. They forged a friendly rivalry, earning their MBA’s from different schools.
While many would have considered growth in a family-owned company a difficult prospect, Bolinder took a differing view, and saw only the opportunities his unique position offered.

He often employs what he describes as a “train wreck” mentality to the needs and opportunities that arise. “I’m continually asking questions,” he says. “Why? Why do we do it this way? Why does the customer want it that way?”
As Bolinder obtained the opportunity to build teams and solutions, the company rewarded him with increasing levels of trust. When needed, however, he was disruptive as well.

“When Jeff (Nelson) had recently become the president of the company, I was a sales guy looking for information about our accounts and the accounting guy couldn’t give it to me. I was so upset.”
“The accountant announced to me and to the executive team that I was spending too much money on marketing. What?? Then I dug a little deeper and came to discover all of the paper we use to distribute our test reports—the company’s products—was being attached to our marketing budget.”

“So I was informed I was out of budget only to find out this large expense was misapplied. That’s where I really dug in. The company had just posted the position for VP Finance. I pitched myself. The company said ‘no’—wanted to continue shopping for just the right CFO—but finally, Jeff realized the value in advocating for me with the executive team.”

There he was – a 28 year old effectively fulfilling the CFO role, and the youngest voice at the executive table. He immediately dispensed with the $2 million accounting system the company had been implementing over the prior two years and replaced it with a $350,000 solution from Microsoft, Great Plains. In three months, the system was converted and could produce the information he had been so ardently looking for within sales.

“I was still the accounting manager—the company didn’t give me the CFO title for a year and a half until I had earned my stripes,” he recalls. “Yes, I was young, spry, and a little opinionated at times.”

But ultimately, Bolinder received the full title and role and has never looked back. “Not a lot of companies would have given me that opportunity,” he remarks.

Bolinder’s biggest piece of advice for others is to look at every turn at the ideas that can result in a tangible and measurable outcome for their company. By thinking entrepreneurially, he has built a tremendous career at a surprisingly early age without having to create and found a new firm on his own.

“People limit themselves when they think only about the status quo. Jeff Nelson calls me the ‘architect’ – I end up building and changing systems wherever I go.”

An inspiring story. And to John Bolinder and executives like him—we salute your efforts and we applaud your continued success.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/04/04/from-mail-room-to-boardroom-a-star-executives-strategy-to-rise-to-the-top/

10 Character Traits of Elite Achievers

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by Gary Korisko. (http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/10-character-traits-of-elite-achievers/)

If you have ever worked really hard toward reaching a goal only to get average results, you know how horrible it feels. And to rub salt in the wound, there are usually a few elite achievers who seemingly work no harder than you who absolutely crush that same goal. It’s frustrating, confusing, and a blow to your ego. I get it.

And you know what? You’re right – those elite achievers probably aren’t working any harder than you. The difference is that elite achievers have figured out the right things to work hard at. Bear with me here.

It’s all too easy to get bogged down in over-planning, procrastination, and self-doubt. These things are time and energy suckers. You can literally waste days, weeks, and months on these types of unproductive behaviors – and not realize it until it’s too late.

While the average spend time and effort on unproductive tasks, elite achievers spend their time on tasks that move them toward their goals.

There’s good news, though. Elite achievers don’t have a secret weapon or some sort of productivity pill. They’ve just developed certain character traits that make it easier to crush their goals.
That means you could be just one or two small adjustments away from joining the ranks of the elite achievers.

Join The Ranks

After decades in sales management, I have observed that all elite achievers share certain character traits. Adopt these ten traits of elite achievers. Put them to work – and watch your goals become much more attainable.

1. Spend Your Time on Implementation
Busy work isn’t always effective work. Don’t confuse the two. Average people spend their time and energy coming up with, rehashing, and discussing ideas. Elite achievers are motivated to spend their time on implementation of ideas. They know that while ideas are the seeds of results, in and of themselves, they are just ideas until they’re acted upon. A brilliant idea unexecuted is worthless. Results come from action.

2. Have Several Back-Up Plans.
Waiting for the perfect plan or tool is insanity. “Perfect” never shows up. Successful people always have a back-up plan…or two…or three. The elite achievers are ready for the unexpected and can roll with the punches when the unexpected occurs.

3. Create Opportunities
As the rest of the world waits, hopes, and wishes for opportunity – elite achievers know that real opportunity is created. Elite achievers reach out to others, spread the word, and step up to the plate. They create opportunity by letting the world know who they are, what they do, and how they can help. And when they create an opportunity, they fully take advantage of it.

4. Dislike, But Tolerate Failure.
While the masses tend to sit back and stew over their plan because there is a chance they could fail and look stupid, elite achievers forge ahead. They know that while failure certainly sucks, it’s not fatal. And each time they fail, they get a little smarter. Elite achievers understand that the small risk of temporarily looking stupid is outweighed by the possibility of real, permanent success.

5. Become “Strong Like Bull”
Elite achievers are tough. We all want people to like us – but guess what? No matter what you do, no matter how wonderful you are – someone is going to dislike you. Elite achievers understand this. Recently I had someone badmouth my writing because I began a post with the word “so.” Guess how much sleep I lost over that one? (none) The elite achievers know they will occasionally fail, that people are going to dislike them sometimes, and that it will hurt a little. By constantly striving for improvement and expecting a little pain along the way, they know that it hurts much less.

6. Find Out For Yourself – Don’t Listen To The Herd
The mediocre crowd has a tendency to believe conventional assumptions about: Themselves, their industry, their product, and their potential. Elite achievers take the time to find out for themselves. They do research, they think outside the box, they consult trusted advisors. Elite achievers couldn’t care less what the nay-sayers think, because they’ve done the legwork.

7. Give Selflessly

This one may come as a surprise, but truly elite achievers are actually pretty selfless people. They leave “greedy” and “selfish” for the bottom feeders. The elite give their time and knowledge generously because it’s the right thing to do…and because it demonstrates integrity, sincerity, and credibility. Winners give.

8. Develop Ego Strength
The elite don’t second guess their decisions. When they have a good plan, they do their research so they can have full confidence in going after their goals full-tilt. They ignore the less evolved who tell them that they can’t do it. Elite achievers ignore negative people and remain confident in their plan.

9. Form A Brain Trust With Other Elite Achievers

Elite achievers know that regardless of how smart and hard-working they are, they can’t possibly catch every little detail. This is why they seek the company of other achievers. They regularly consult their brain trust, ask for their input, and take their advice. They find people whose opinions they can trust and stay in contact regularly to hash through their successes, failures, and obstacles.

10. Keep Going Until You Get There.
The average person throws in the towel when they run into obstacles – and that’s a shame. Elite achievers know that obstacles just indicate a closer proximity to success. If they fail, elite achievers just tweak their plan and go after their goal again and again until they reach it. There is only one direction: Forward.
Spend some time with this list. I’ll bet you can identify one or more areas that might be slowing you down and affecting your productivity. Begin replacing some of those bad, time-wasting habits with their more productive counterparts and start becoming an elite achiever.

Gary Korisko (@RebootAuthentic) writes about business strategy, market creation, and integrity selling on his blog Reboot Authentic. His eBook, How To Alienate All The Right People, is a real-world guide to breaking away from the herd and doing something special.

Insist on Success

As a decision maker and problem solver, be prepared to risk change. Be willing to pay the price of disturbing your own psychological comfort by choosing to change. It may become necessary to defend yourself against traditional ways of thinking and acting, and you may have to do without social approval for a time.

You may also encounter resistance, especially if you are young and new at the job. Not only do people instinctively resist change, they may actively insist that they are unable to learn a new procedure or change an old habit. When you believe in your decision, simply insist, even if you must do so repeatedly. People will be more likely to accept change when they see you embracing it with enthusiasm. When they see you not only survive, but thrive, they will be more willing to take the risks associated with a given change.

Let your team members know that change is inevitable, and your organization can either capitalize on change or be swept away by it.

from the LMI Journal, Vol. VII, Number 1, www.strategicdevelopmentalresources.com