Posts Tagged ‘Communication’


For the first time, EVER, two of my mentors, John C. Maxwell and Les Brown, appear together in a FREE 3-part video series “Behind the Stage … The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.”

These two have over 40 years of professional speaking experience and they are ready to share it all with you…what it’s really like to be a professional speaker.

Consider it EDUTAINMENT in its highest form! You’ll learn about the speaking business, as well as laugh with them at some of the experiences they have had and share in this video series…If you’ve ever heard Les Brown laugh, you know this is going to be fun; and if you haven’t, you are in for a treat!

Did I mention the 3 videos are not only FUNNY but are FREE?

This launched yesterday, Wednesday, October 23rd.

Here’s the link…After you’ve watched it, tell me what you think!


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Let’s look externally today…Who do you know, in your business or industry, who consistently takes initiative and moves things forward?

Who is it?

What do they do?

What results are they getting?

What can you learn from observing them?

Make a point of letting them know you admire their performance in this area and ask them if you can learn from them. Ask why they do what they do, how they keep themselves moving forward, and how they view initiative.

Then, spend some time reflecting on what you learn and how you can implement something new that will allow you to improve in this area.

Let me know what you discover!

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What is Initiative?

The power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do.

It is the drive to make things happen, and it is yet another crucial ingredient in the recipe for creating a strong leader. When leaders have initiative, they make things happen, they create momentum, and they propel their teams/organizations forward, even in the face of resistance and obstacles. Without initiative, one would achieve nothing. Yes, it’s important to have dreams, vision, strategies, action plans…yet, without taking the initiative, nothing would happen.

I find this to be a fairly common stumbling block with some of my coaching and mentoring clients. They know they are stuck. They recognize the need for change. Sometimes, they even know what they need to change…but often feel helpless or unmotivated to take action. The key is to have clarity around the “why” so you then can find your “way” and take intentional action.

Consider the story of Margo, a director in a high-tech company who was feeling somewhat discontent in her work and aware that it would be time for her to make some kind of move to a different position soon, as that was the culture within her company. We worked together for several months and over the course of that time, Margo chose to focus on several areas: improving communication with her team, improving communication with her manager, and understanding what next step she needed to take — within or outside the company — that would allow her to function in her strength zones, continue to grow as a leader, and express herself creatively.

Throughout the course of our engagement, I functioned sometimes as a coach, sometimes as a mentor, and sometimes simply as a sounding board. Margo defined the areas of focus, identified the challenges and obstacles, discovered her own answers, and took action to make the changes she needed to make to move herself and her team forward. She took the initiative and she was consistent in implementing the new practices that would allow her to move forward.

Today, she has a new sense of purpose, greater clarity around her role and future plans with her company, and has discovered a creative outlet that allows her to continue on her path of self-discovery and personal expression.

It’s a process; getting to that point took a few months. Growing into her potential will be a life-long journey, but the point here is that she recognized some needs and took the initiative to learn, think, grow, and move herself — and as a result, her team and organization — forward on a new path.

This month we will focus on initiative and how it plays out in our lives as leaders. It’s one thing to have an idea, it’s an entirely different thing to make it a reality. Without initiative, nothing would happen.

So, before we get started on this month’s study and exercises, I encourage you to spend some time pondering these questions:

Do I proactively take the initiative to get things started, or do I wait until circumstances force me to do something?

If I wait for external forces to move me forward, what is the basis of my hesitation: Fear, lack of knowledge, laziness…?

How have I overcome fear, lack of knowledge, laziness, etc…in the past to enable myself to move forward?

How have I gained momentum by harnessing the power of taking initiative?

Who do I know who frequently, proactively takes initiative to get things moving and what can I learn from them?

I look forward to exploring this month’s topic with you, and hope you will share your thoughts, insights, and feedback as we continue on our Intentional Leadership journey.

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Now that you have identified the others you will need to involve to move forward with your strategy, and have some time scheduled to meet with them to get started, take some time to consider these questions:

What strengths does each person bring to the table?

Why are they important?

What can you do to encourage and support them in functioning at high levels as you move toward this opportunity?

After you’ve given this some thought, make a point of spending a few minutes with each of these people today and let them know how much you appreciate their strengths and talents, and how valuable they are to the organization and the success of this upcoming effort. Let them know you are looking forward to working with them and that you will do everything in your power to help them — and the overall effort — be a success.

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Good morning and Happy Friday! It’s going to be another beautiful Fall day here in West Virginia, and I will get to enjoy the colors of the changing leaves as I drive to Huntington to help some people work through a communication conflict. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with these folks a few weeks ago, on a “fact finding” missing of sorts, and I’m confident we will work through the issues and develop some new guidelines for working together moving forward.

It’s really been a great week, filled with opportunities to share the gifts I’ve been given and add value to others in many ways. I spent a few hours with a small group of emerging leaders in the banking industry on Wednesday, teaching a couple of Laws of Growth (awareness and intentionality — my favorites, and truly the foundation for success in my humble opinion!) and a couple of Laws of Leadership (influence and connection). I learned vicariously from a couple of my coaching clients this week, as they discovered some personal truths. I watched John Maxwell’s book launch web cast. And I will soon be teaching Leadership Fundamentals to a couple of new supervisors.  I love what I do…

As I look ahead to the weekend, I have some bookkeeping to catch up on, some writing to do, and yoga, yoga, yoga! I will help my mother-in-law prepare to move into her new home. And I have a great new book to read, John C. Maxwell’s latest — Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn — about learning through adverse times.

What are you up to this weekend?

What do you need to do to take care of yourself?

What attention do the others in your life need from you?

What exciting things do you have coming up next week or in the coming weeks that you need to spend some time preparing for?

How will you feel when you get to and through some significant upcoming event, knowing you thoughtfully and intentionally prepared for it?

Looking forward to “seeing” you Monday.

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How often have you heard someone say, “People are your most valuable asset.” I’ve heard it spoken countless times in interviews…and frankly, I’ve said it myself countless times. There’s a subtle difference here, though, and I’m certain you are already aware of it. Often, the people who say this are not sincere…they may want to believe it and may want to behave as if it were true, some even truly believe they treat their people as such, but it simply isn’t the case.

I truly do believe it. Technology can be bought and sold; the same can be said of machinery and equipment. The key difference maker in any business is the people. They build, run, and maintain all the “stuff” and have a choice, daily, to show up with 100% effort or not. They can choose to nurture your business or sabotage it. They can choose to take good care of your equipment, damage it deliberately, or allow it to fall into disrepair. They are the face of your company in your community, with your customers, vendors, and other partners.

All others things being equal, they can be your secret weapon! All that is required is treating them well…offering trust and behaving in a trustworthy manner; treating them with respect and behaving in a respectable manner; getting to know who they are and treating them as individuals with lives outside your business; and showing them genuine appreciation for what they have to offer and what they do for your business. This is as true for your vendors, customers, and other partners as it is for your employees.

If you haven’t given this much thought lately, I encourage you to spend some time with this today; get out your journal and answer these questions:

How would your partners, vendors, customers, and employees say you are showing you appreciate them?

How would they say you are at building trust with them?

What words can you use — backed up by consistent behaviors — that will help you demonstrate your appreciation, trust, and value for each of these groups of people who have the power to make or break you and your business?

What steps can you take today, and in the coming weeks, to ensure you are on track here and to make adjustments if needed?

What’s holding you back? Now that you are focused on this, and have some clarity around it, get started!

Taking excellent care of the people connected with your business is one of the best business strategies you can have!

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Another week gone by…the air is crisp in the mornings, soft in the evenings, and the leaves are turning amazingly beautiful colors. I love this time of year! I hope wherever you are on this Friday morning, you are surrounded by beauty as well.

It’s been a full week for me, with several coaching and mentoring sessions, working on developing some meeting/workshop agendas and materials, and planning for some lessons I will teach next week around self-awareness, intentionality, influence, connection, communication, personal styles, conflict resolution, and relationship building.

I will spend time over the weekend continuing to prepare for those upcoming lessons/workshops, as well as having fun with my family attending a local annual festival. In addition, I need to read John Maxwell’s newest book: Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. John will officially launch this new book next Thursday, October 10, via two live webcasts (one at 4 PM EDT and one at 9 PM EDT), accompanied by special guests, Dave Ramsey and Nick Vujicic. You are welcome to attend; you don’t want to miss it! Here’s the link (webcast.johnmaxwell.com).

I will be following up on the webcast by offering a Mastermind Group (facilitated in-depth study) on the book, so if you’re interested in joining us, connect with me via comment, email, phone, or Facebook.

Further, my weekend will include some time and focus invested in the three areas of discipline I’ve committed to work on through the Maxwell Plan for Growth: exercise – yoga at least three times per week; writing – a minimum of 15 minutes a day, in addition to this blog; and getting more intentional about budgeting.

What are you doing with your weekend?

Whom do you need to connect with, nurture, spend time with?

What do you need to do to nurture yourself?

What can you do to prepare yourself for a great start to next week?

What can you do to set yourself up for success in the coming weeks and months?

Enjoy your weekend; I hope however you choose to spend it, you’re intentional about it.

“See” you Monday!

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Good morning and Happy Friday! It’s been a great week for me; I’ve been productive and focused and moving forward. This progress didn’t simply happen, and it certainly wasn’t immediate. It’s taken a lot of work over many days, weeks, months, and I am building momentum. It feels great! So nice to be centered in my purpose, operating in my passion zone, and focused on what matters most.

So, as I prepare for my weekend, I know exactly what I need to focus on: First, family time. I think we need a field trip to the farmer’s market or the WV Zoo (yes, I was surprised to discover this, but apparently there is a zoo in WV). Second, preparation for a couple of workshops I have booked  mid-October — one focused on communication fundamentals and one on Laws of Growth and Laws of Leadership. Third, catch up on bookkeeping. Fourth, some reading, writing, and studying. Oh, and yoga!

Next week, I will spend time planning for an upcoming team building and communication workshop, hold several coaching appointments, and prepare for a new Mastermind Group on John Maxwell’s newest book (to be launched October 10th with a live webcast — more on this in a separate post) Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.

You know what’s coming next, right?

What’s your plan for the weekend?

Whom do you need to spend time with?

What do you need to do for yourself?

Do you need to focus on work, learning, projects, or rest?

What do you need to do to prepare yourself for success on Monday, in the coming weeks, and even months?

How much better do you feel when you are intentional about how you spend your weekend time and how you prepare for the coming days and weeks?

I would love to hear if you are following this practice and what affects it’s having on your life.

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Today, examine the core strategies your organization or team  is following. Are they easily explained and when written, do they fit on one page? If not, it’s time for some review and simplification. Challenge your team to do the same — simplify the core strategies each member of your team will follow in their specific roles that will allow them to support the organizational strategies — and fit them on one page.

Again, if they are too complicated and difficult to explain, understand, or follow, no one will use them.

Then, bring your team together and evaluate each person’s revised strategy. This exercise will allow you to determine whether individual members really understand the overall organizational strategies, and if they are on track to support the bigger picture goals.

This is a great opportunity to address any adjustments that need to be made and to refine individual and team-level strategies to ensure your team is on track to meet organizational goals.

Take some time, right now, to get started.

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You’ve gotta have a plan!

I’ve worked for 20+ years as a professional communicator. In 2005, I took a job as the Communications Manager at Tree Top, Inc. As I started my third week, I was invited to attend a meeting of an internal team that had been tasked with reviewing all of the company’s assets and determining if any should be sold or closed, or reinvested in.  As it turned out, business conditions at the time indicated that one of our more distant plants should be closed.

From a purely business perspective — focused on logistics, dollars, and cents — it made sense to close this particular plant. It was located in northeastern Oregon, several hours from our headquarters location in central Washington, which was also where the bulk of our raw product, apples, pears, and cherries, were grown. At the time, if you remember, gas prices increased dramatically and all forecasting indicated that the cost of fuel would not be dropping, again, any time soon. So, the apples, pears, and cherries would be harvested in central Washington, shipped to Milton-Freewater, Oregon (MFO), several hours away, to be processed, then shipped back to central Washington for packaging and distribution. Couple this with the fact that other existing plants, in central Washington, had enough excess capacity to take on the processing handled by MFO. Again, from a business perspective, considering the time in transit and cost of moving it back and forth, it didn’t make sense to keep that plant.

From a people perspective, it was a difficult decision. The people managing and operating the MFO plant were top notch; they consistently did a high-quality job. In addition, this plant was one of the larger employers in this remote area, so there would be a significant impact on the local economy.

My task, develop a strategic communication plan to announce the closure decision to all affected audiences: Employees, community leaders, local grower-owners, and the media. Our goal was to multi-faceted: We needed to retain those key employees to ensure the plant continued to operate at high levels through the closure; we needed to assure the community we would do everything in our power to sell the facility to a person or organization that would operate it in some fashion — retaining some jobs and an economic base in the community; we needed to assure the local grower-owners that our field reps would continue to serve them well and they still had a home for their culls (essentially, fruit that wasn’t “beautiful” enough to be sold fresh); and we needed to address the media’s concerns that the decision might have been made hastily or because of performance issues at the plant.

I crafted a plan that addressed all of those issues and concerns. We prepared all the internal key players to ensure they were well informed and could communicate the rationale behind the decision and the long-term impact on the company had the decision not been made. We were proactive in informing everyone, and we did this in waves to ensure plant employees learned of the plan first, then the rest of the company’s employees (at several other plants in central Washington), then we went out separately to address community leaders, grower-owners, and the media. Within a few hours, we had met in person with all the key stakeholders, and we did it nearly nine months before the closure would actually take place.

While it wasn’t the announcement anyone wanted to hear, once the rationale was explained they all understood. We retained the key employees we needed to ensure the plant operated at high levels through the closure. We relocated some of the equipment and all of the processing. We sold the remaining equipment. We sold the building to a company that began operations within a couple of months of our closure. All in all, the whole process went smoothly.

The whole concept-to-execution steps of this communication plan took place over about six weeks, so I had been in my job approximately eight weeks at the time we carried it out. My boss came to me to apologize that my first assignment was a plant closure. I appreciated his concern, but actually grateful for the opportunity. It gave me a chance to, very quickly, demonstrate my value to the organization.

I don’t tell you this story to blow my own horn and give you the impression I am a “super hero” communicator. I share it with you to demonstrate the value of a well-considered strategy. We had a task at hand to carry out, coupled with clear objectives, and defined resources in place with which to work. As a strategic communicator, it was the kind of situation I thrive in.

I can easily contrast this experience to communication positions I’ve held with other organizations. I have been directed to put together communication messages, using specific vehicles, as a reaction to a change in certain metrics tracked by the company. When I asked about the objective we were attempting to achieve through the directed action, and how the tactic fit in with any strategy, I was told to “just do it.” In fact, one leader I worked for has said I was too strategic and needed to simply focus on the tactics and get things done.

I could do this, I suppose; technically, I am capable of it. It simply doesn’t make sense to me, though. I prefer to understand the key objectives and develop a strategy to address them…I’m not one to just take action for the sake of saying I took action; I want it to make sense and drive the organization closer to a stated objective, but that’s just me!

So, what are the core strategies of your organization or team?

Are they clearly defined?

Do you have simple ways of measuring your progress towards the objectives?

How closely are you following the strategies?

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