What’s Right and What’s Wrong With Our Role Models Today?

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From Larry Winget:larry-winget-headshot

Role models are nothing more than a reflection of what we value. When we value honesty, integrity, doing the right thing, morals, good parenting, leadership and hard work, we will have role models who exemplify those values. Since we instead value fame, celebrity, being pretty and living an ostentatious life style those are the role models we find ourselves with. When we elevate our values we will elevate our role models.

It’s fine to admire what a person accomplishes in business, sports or the financial world, but it’s stupid to turn them into a role model unless they are the kind of person you want your child to grow up to be. For instance: Steve Jobs quotes are posted on social media every day as if he a guru of business, yet he screwed over his partners. Some great football players beat their girlfriends. Tiger is the greatest golfer who ever lived but he is not a good guy. Before we hold any person up as a role model, we need to look at more than what they do, what they have and how they look. We must look at who they are and how they live.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Scott McKain:scott-mckain-headshot

In 1993, Charles Barkley said something – via a Nike commercial he personally wrote – that was quite astounding.

“I am not a role model. A million guys who can dunk a basketball are in jail. Should they be role models?”

Athletes as role models were formerly appropriate because the press only reported their redeeming qualities. We never heard of Mickey Mantle’s problems with alcohol, Babe Ruth’s womanizing, or Ty Cobb’s racism. Now, we all know of steroid abuse, domestic violence, and drug addiction in sports — as well as entertainment, politics, and about every other walk of life.

Here’s the challenge – separating the message from the messenger.

Jimmy Swaggart failing in his personal life doesn’t mean the Bible was wrong. Michael Jordan may not be a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from his dedication to excellence.

It’s our personal responsibility to determine what we desire to accomplish – then, find a role model who has succeeded in that area, using their standard of performance to motivate us in a specific aspect.

Just as we all have fallen short in our personal endeavors, we have to realize that our role models don’t need to be all-encompassing examples of inspiration.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:randy-pennington-headshot

I had heroes growing up just like every little kid. Along the way, I learned that many of them had feet of clay. That is no different today.

I also had role models. They taught me important life lessons about being productive, responsible, and honorable. If you are lucky, your heroes can also be your role models.

It is difficult for heroes and role models today. Immediate information exposes real life to the world much quicker. It isn’t that the heroes and role models of our youth were so much better than the ones today. It is that the illusion of their goodness is more easily stripped away.

The real problem isn’t a lack of role models. It is us.

We have confused being good at something or famous with being a role model. And, we have decided to celebrate, aspire to, or explain away the character flaws and failures of those we seek to emulate.

My father came to a stop sign on an empty country road. He stopped completely and looked both ways. My mother, telling me this story many years later, asked him why he stopped when no one was around or watching. My father nodded to my brother and I in the back seat and said, “There are four eyes watching my every move.”

That’s a role model and one of my true heroes. Anyone who thinks that is strange, hokey, or old-fashioned is what’s wrong with our role models today.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Joe Calloway:joe-calloway-headshot

America’s number one role model is fame.

Sadly, in our society what seems to be admired, prized, and revered more than anything is quite simply fame. If you’re famous, then you’re admired. You can be famous for good, for bad, or just for being famous (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian). If you’re famous, people will flock to be near you, to have their picture made with you, and many of them will want to be just like you.

How many people choose a teacher or a master carpenter or a single mom working two jobs to provide for her kids as a role model? Not many. More often we admire singers, dancers, movie stars, and anyone who gets on TV. Personally, I don’t get it. What makes someone worthy of adoration or admiration simply because they do their job in front of lots of people?

By the way, you can be a great role model and be famous, but you shouldn’t be a role model because you’re famous.

My role models tend to be great dads. I doubt you’ve ever heard of any of them.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Mark Sanborn:mark-headshot

Role models greatly impact learning and development. There’s no debate about that.

Positive role models provide us both example and inspiration. We can see the reality of a life well lived rather than just learn about the abstract concept. In addition to living role models, history also offers a buffet of role models to chose from. (One advantage in choosing role models from history is that you know how their lives ended up.)

The danger is picking the wrong role model. We often confuse greatness with fame. Greatness is about what you give. Fame is about what you get. Contribution is the hallmark of greatness, not attention.

Be careful in selecting your role models, and take just as much responsibility in being the kind of person others would benefit from choosing as a role model for themselves. It might just make you a better person.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

Customer Driven Growth

Connecting Customer Experience To Business Growth

coupleMake no mistake, this is the most powerful idea in today’s marketplace…

Customer recommendations are the number one driver of purchase decisions.- Forbes Magazine

Today, everyone “gets it” that the reality of the internet has made word of mouth – customer recommendations – more powerful than ever before as a driver of business growth.

Most companies “hope” that their customers are recommending them. That’s their strategy. They hope.

graphMarket leading companies don’t hope. They make it happen. They are intentional, strategic, and tactical about creating the positive customer word of mouth that drives new business to them.

There is one way to do it. One. Customer experience.

Whether you are B2B, retail, professional services, or non-profit…..a practice of 1 or a team of 1,000….. the most powerful growth strategy is a focus on experiences that create extremely satisfied customers – evangelists – who enthusiastically recommend you to others.      

Joe Calloway just rocked the room with his
powerful insights on
Customer Driven Growth.’” 
- Lauren Midgley – Dallas, TX

In today’s internet dominated marketplace, word of mouth means that satisfied, enthusiastic customers don’t tell 4 or 5 people, they tell dozens, or hundreds, or thousands through online comments, ratings and reviews (and so do unhappy customers).

Customer Driven Growth is about getting clarity on exactly what you want your customers saying about you, then getting focused on the strategies that, when executed with consistency, will drive growth through customer experience.

The key is to do what very few businesses do – to be intentional, strategic, and tactically focused on knowing exactly what to do to create the customer experiences that drive the growth you want.

Joe Calloways Customer Driven Growth provided simple and practical
tools that I will use to re-evaluate my business as I finalize my strategies for next year.
The content was immediately relevant to my business.

- Victoria Cabot
Business Insights Series

This is not a “lecture” with mind-numbing powerpoint.

This is a dynamic interactive keynote or workshop – a motivating, thought-provoking exchange of ideas that will give you clear direction on exactly where to put your attention and energy in your business.

Customer Driven Growth gives entrepreneurs, business owners, team leaders, franchisees, and solo practitioners clarity, focus, and direction on how to accelerate growth.

joe-calloway-smiling“Joe, your Customer Driven Growthpresentation in San Diego was first class. I had several guests attending ranging from business owners to CPA’s to business consultants…and everyone in attendance was educated, entertained, and inspired. Thanks!!
- Jeremy Wilson

VP – Chase Bank – San Diego

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How To Work With A Jerk

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotOK – here’s my answer. It’s the answer for me and not necessarily for you.  The answer is that you don’t work with a jerk.  My vendors and colleagues aren’t jerks.  My customers aren’t jerks because we have a finely tuned “jerk filter” on the front end to weed them out.  I’ve worked too hard and life is too short to put up with jerks so I won’t.  If you don’t have that luxury or option, my friends here will probably have good advice.  There are also lots of books you can read about how to work with difficult people.  But my advice is to move on.  Either have the jerk removed or remove yourself.  Don’t work with a jerk.

I know. I know. Some will say, “But it’s not that easy.” or “I can’t remove them or me.” Fine.

Then listen to my four friends here.  Three of them are almost certainly more patient with difficult people than I am.  Winget’s not.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotI am surrounded by more jerks than most folks so I have learned to work with them more than most would ever have to.  Why is that the case?  Because I am more opinionated than most folks – at least I am more vocal with my opinions than most people. When you are an opinionated person who rarely hesitates to voice your opinion, people will react to you in jerky ways.  Which means they aren’t necessarily jerks, but are only reacting to you in jerky ways.

Of course, being an opinionated person also makes you a jerk in the eyes of many people.  So begin with asking yourself the question, “Am I the jerk?”  About half the time, when I ask myself this question, the answer is either a resounding “probably” or a very definite “yes.”  Knowing that will help you deal with most jerks.  Jerks are usually defined as someone you strongly disagree with or who strongly disagree with you. After all, how can anyone who agrees with you be a jerk?  The solution? Confront, engage or ignore.  Those are your choices. I almost always choose to confront while most choose to ignore and gripe.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-headshotAssuming (as Larry points out) that you’re not the one being the jerk, try this:

Start by making sure you’re dealing with bona fide jerk behavior. Be honest about your own interpretation. I’ve heard employees say their boss was a jerk because he or she required them to be on time or live up to other performance standards. Requiring compliance to a job description doesn’t make your boss a jerk unless he or she does so in a petty or demeaning way.

Next, “feed the trolls” as the internet saying goes. Your response to a jerk can be fuel for his or her fire. While it is natural to respond negatively it doesn’t help your cause. Be assertive to protect yourself, but don’t resort to bad behavior.

Finally, have a tough conversation. Call the jerk on her or his behavior. Define the jerk’s behavior, how it makes you feel and—importantly—how it impacts your work. Get the problem out in the open and ask that it be addressed.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotI agree with virtually all of my colleagues’ comments. My only minor disagreement is with Larry’s assertion that people who agree with us are seldom jerks.

Larry, Joe, Mark, and Scott are four of my best friends in the entire world. We agree 98 percent of the time, and … you see where this is headed. I’m sure they would say the same thing about me.

Even your best friends will occasionally be jerks. If they are, call them on it. And if they won’t do the same to you, they aren’t your friend.

If you decide to talk to someone about their jerkiness:

  • Focus on the behavior. Don’t assume their motivation. It takes a strong relationship to actually call someone a jerk and not have them react negatively.
  • Own your feelings and emotion. You can’t control others’ actions and behavior. You can control your reaction.
  • Know the difference between a jerk and a bully. We all deal with jerks. None of us should tolerate a bully. Report it or remove yourself. Just don’t accept it.
  • If you supervise the work of others, being or allowing others to be a jerk will be detrimental to your and their success.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotThe fundamental problem with jerks is often that THEY don’t realize they are one.

They believe that they’re “driven,” or “results-oriented,” or “a decisive leader,” instead of understanding themselves to be the total ass that we perceive they are.

I suppose that down deep we would all like to be a bit of a jerk. We’d enjoy saying what we really think without repercussions – however, as you and I know, the real world doesn’t work that way.

And, perhaps the truth may be a bit deeper than you first recognize.

When Van Halen demanded in their contract there could be no brown M&Ms in the dishes of the candy required backstage, it wasn’t the band being a bunch of jerks…or rock star excess…that was behind it. Van Halen knew that if a promoter skipped that detail, there would probably be other, more important ones that they would miss, too – meaning fans might not get the show the band wanted to deliver.

In other words, what was perceived as “jerkiness” was instead a commitment to excellent performance.

Before you deal with the jerk using the great insight from my friends – first, make certain the problem isn’t the jerk, but instead…your perception.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

How Important is Teamwork to Business Success?

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotIt depends on your definition of “teamwork.” It is absolutely critical if you define teamwork as everyone having a shared vision; clear roles and responsibilities; delivering their best to help the entire unit succeed; and keeping personal differences from derailing the group’s performance and results.

The problem is that many leaders and organizations believe “teamwork” also includes liking each other; hanging out after work; going along to get along; or sharing personal stories after a long-day of team-building games. If that’s your definition, teamwork is not as important as you think.

Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd created some of their best work when they weren’t getting along. William Frawley and Vivian Vance created the iconic characters of Fred and Ethel Mertz on the “I Love Lucy” series. Yet Frawley refused to speak to Vance on the set for the show’s entire run as you were watching their performance. That happens when you have superior talent who understand expectations and are committed to success.

A team that performs AND gets along is the best of all worlds. But if I have to choose, I’ll take talented professionals with a shared vision, clear roles, and a commitment to mutual success.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotWhile I accept that teamwork is essential to business achievement, I do not believe that having functioning teams ensures your success.

A few years ago, I did a fascinating project for a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It seemed that in their hiring of new colleagues and their selection of members for various teams, they had achieved their goals in terms of gender and ethnic diversity – something we should obviously applaud and support. However, where they had fallen short is in regards to diversity of personality and strengths. Managers surrounded themselves with people who reflected their own ideas and bias.

Teams were filled with ethnically diverse people of all races, who all happened to think exactly alike – that’s why their managers had assembled them!

Today’s headlines display a powerful example: do you believe there was diversity of thought, personality, and strengths at the NFL when their team was making decisions regarding the issues that have dominated the recent news? I don’t.

Teams are most productive when they stimulate innovative thought and propose original approaches to achieving the goals my friends have written about here.

If the team members all think alike – every person in the group is unnecessary, except one.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-headshotI’ve never worked with a business or organization that didn’t aspire to teamwork, which suggests that it is very important.

The rub is not as many businesses achieve it as aspire to it.

Creating a team is much more than renaming the “accounting department” the “accounting team.” The substance of teamwork is about people working together to achieve more than they could have working individually and independently.

But like anything important, it requires an attentive leader who can focus team members on collaborating and reward them for both individual and team contribution. It is often easier to work independently and unconcerned with the impact your effort has on those around you.

If you believe in teamwork, start by knocking down the barriers that keep people from working together. How do you find out what those barriers are? Just ask your employees, what keeps you from working as a team. They’ll tell you.

And since teamwork really is important, get busy removing those barriers.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotHere’s what I think is the easy answer and to me the screamingly obvious answer: it’s incredibly important. If the customer service department promises what fulfillment can’t or won’t deliver, you go out of business. Ditto if manufacturing isn’t working as a team with sales. If you can’t work effectively with everyone else to deliver to our customers, then you can’t work here. The sports metaphors are endless: If the offensive line goes one way and the running back goes the other – out of business. If the guard passes to the forward and the forward isn’t in synch – out of business. Hopefully one or more of my four friends here will have a good, juicy contrarian answers to this about independent thinking or something. My answer is dull and obvious: if you don’t have great teamwork you will get whipped in business by the company that does.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotTeamwork is a word like passion: sounds good but means nothing – a buzzword and not much more. Now, I know some of you team players are spewing coffee out of your nose at that because you love your team. But, let me bring a dose of reality: Teamwork doesn’t work. And that is because someone on the team won’t work. Which means the team didn’t do a damn thing.

The truth is a handful of superstar employees got the work done while the slackers were taking up space hiding from the work or covering their butts by looking really busy when they weren’t actually doing anything to get the job done. Businesses need a group of superstar employees who share a common goal and have mutual respect for each other’s abilities. Ask any superstar to name the slackers on their team. They can. A superstar always knows. Slackers love everybody. Leadership must step up their game and cut the dead weight lose. It’s not easy, but it can be done if a company is really dedicated to excellence and to their superstars. And they should be since those are the people doing the work!

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

What is the biggest enemy of Business Success?

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-headshotThe worst enemy of business? Indifference.

Indifference is a lack of concern, interest or sympathy and it hurts business in two areas: people and process.

A lack of concern for your employees/colleagues and your customers/clients is the quickest way to destroy commitment and loyalty. Even when you disagree with someone, it shows you are interested enough to engage them. Indifference is a dead end street. It is hard to care about others who don’t seem to care about anything or anyone (except themselves). So why would we care about their business success?

Indifference to process is what happens when you aren’t interested in the details of your business. You can’t be bothered to “look at the numbers” or “deal with the problems,” as if there was something better you should be doing with you time.

We care about what and who is important to us, and if you aren’t concerned about the people and processes of your business, you probably don’t care about profits either.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotLack of focus is the biggest enemy of success.  It’s an old analogy; however, it makes the point:  Sunshine alone won’t set a piece of paper on fire, but if you take a magnifying glass and focus the rays, it can cause the paper to erupt in flames.  The sunshine is the same – it’s the focus that creates the reaction.

Perhaps, in today’s age of intense media, the Internet, and unlimited entertainment options, it’s easier to be distracted than ever before.  However, those who desire to be successful can’t use that as an excuse.

What are the keys to focus? Here are three:

  1. Be specific.
  2. Plan.
  3. Write it down.

How do you focus without a target? You can’t – in other words, you need a precise object in order to concentrate.  After you’ve developed a specific target, next — begin to plan on the steps required to achieve your desire.  Finally, write it down – for some reason, putting pen to the page creates a contract with yourself for achievement.

With a specific target, a developed plan, and a written commitment, you will have established the focus required to overcome the biggest enemy of success.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotThe biggest enemy of business success is success. Yep, you read it right. Nothing will kill success any quicker than being really successful. I have seen it many times with many people and many businesses. You experience a level of success and then you focus so much on achieving even more success, that you lose sight of what made you successful. While it is important to be forward thinking in order to build and expand on your hard-earned achievements, I believe it is even more important not to become forgetful. And success makes you forgetful.

Success makes you lazy and lulls you into a sleepy, safe place of complacency where you forget some or all of the things that made you successful in the first place: great customer service, value, hard work, paying attention to the little things, showing up early, making the calls, working closely with your suppliers, exceeding expectations, paying close attention to your money, staying on top of personnel issues, focus, prioritizing, celebrating every victory, learning from your mistakes and appreciating all of the people who helped you become successful. Remember: Look up so you can keep building but never forget to attend to the foundation.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotBusinesses don’t succeed for all sorts of reasons: a bad product; lousy financial controls; ignoring customer needs; poor sales and marketing; no planning. The list could go on.

But, there is one overriding cause at the heart of all of those reasons – inattention.

It is almost impossible for a single leader to pay attention to everything as the business grows. You have to leverage the energy, talent, and commitment of others. And that means that leaders must give their greatest attention to building a culture that never succumbs to inattention.

I agree with Larry that success can make you complacent if you let it. But, inattention can also stem from lack of knowledge or inadequate resources.

The businesses that consistently succeed pay almost fanatical attention to building and sustaining a culture where every person at every level is 100 percent committed, equipped, and accountable for doing ALL the things that deliver consistent results.

I look at it this way: Running a business is a lot like having a successful relationship. No one starts with failure as the goal. And, both fail when you stop giving attention to the crucial aspects that make them successful … starting with the right culture.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotThe biggest enemy of business success is passion.

Now, everyone get up off the floor because most of you just fainted from shock. Isn’t passion the very thing that makes a business succeed? Actually it’s energy coupled with, as McKain points out, focus, that drives success. As an article in the Wall Street Journal recently stated, “if there’s anything that can sink a new business, it’s passion. It blinds entrepreneurs, leading them to get overconfident and make bad choices at the worst times.” Click Here to read the WSJ article.

The killer: you think that because you love your product/service, everyone else will, too.

Research from Keith Hmieleski and Robert Baron calls this “the tendency to expect positive outcomes even when such expectations are not rationally justified.” The passion to “follow your dreams” and not dispassionately understand the realities of the marketplace is a lethal business killer.

Winget and I have always said that being whipped up in a fit of passion over your business clouds judgment and reason and leads to bad decisions which leads to failure.

Passionate? Fine. But you’d better bring some dispassionate judgment along, too.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

Why Is Customer Service So Bad At Most Places?

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotCustomer service is bad at most places, because evidently that is what CEO’s and managers want.  What other reason could there be for them to accept such miserable performance?

Most care more about selling than serving.  We know that when sales decline, companies will buy ads, offer new customers better deals than existing ones, deliver training, hold major events, and take any number of extraordinary measures to pump up revenue. They are passionate and precise about customer acquisition — but reserved and reticent about customer retention.

Here’s evidence:  most companies have annual sales rallies – how many have one every year for customer service?

Educated and cared-for employees should be prepared to deliver “Ultimate Customer Experiences ®” to everyone spending money with you.  In turn, these customers replicate their purchases, and refer you to their friends and colleagues.  Your business grows.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

If everybody – from front line employees, to entrepreneurs, to major corporate executives – would create experiences so compelling to customers that their loyalty becomes assured, organizations would experience enhanced levels of both acquisition and retention.

Yet, if it’s not the priority of the leadership or owners – why should the folks on the front line get excited about it?

To find out more about Scott McKain, go to: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotCustomer service is bad because we allow it to be bad. What do you do when you get bad service? Tell the truth. Most do nothing. Most people simply don’t have the cojones to speak up when they get bad service. They don’t tell the person delivering it. They don’t ask for a manager. They don’t leave an online review. At most, they might – maybe – possibly (though probably not) stop shopping with that business.

If you aren’t willing to speak up, then you are an accessory to the crime. You have allowed a crime to happen and stayed silent about it. Shame on you. You owe it to yourself, the next shopper and to the company to speak up in an effort to make things better in the future. You can’t ignore bad service and expect it to get better. Behavior that is ignored will be repeated. It’s a law. Write it down.

Next time you get bad service, speak up. Remember: it’s your money you are defending – money you worked hard for. Tell the company and others. Use the internet and social media. That’s how customer service will improve for all of us.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-headshotLarry makes a great point about the customer’s culpability in enabling bad customer service. Here is the employer’s role:

1. Customer service isn’t taught. No matter how motivated an employee is, they can’t perform a job without the right skills. (And don’t confuse “smile and grin” training with true customer service training. There is more to great service than simply “being nice.”)

2. It isn’t rewarded. Most organizations pay no more attention to those who provide great service than those who don’t. As the old adage goes, what gets rewarded gets done. The corollary is what doesn’t get rewarded usually stops being done.

3. It isn’t required. If delivering extraordinary service isn’t part of the job description, don’t be surprised when you don’t get it and get push back when you “request” it. Great service shouldn’t be an option.

Require your team to provide great service. Just make sure you teach them how and reward them appropriately when they do.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotAt 90+% of the places I do business, customer service runs from good to absolutely great.  I travel a lot, and renting a car used to be torture.  Now I hit about 4 clicks on the rental website, get to the airport, walk into the lot and pick any car I want (I tend to rent from National), and drive away.  I recently returned some hiking boots I’d worn for a while to REI (I wasn’t happy with the fit.)  They smiled, got a salesperson to help me with another pair, and I was on my way.  The kids working at Chik-fil-A are friendly, efficient, and the chicken is good.  Amazon Prime is one button to buy and ships in two days.  Zappos service is legend. My car dealer loans me a new car to use when I get mine serviced.

“But wait!  You aren’t going to the places with bad service!”

Exactly.  Read  Larry Winget’s post on this.  If I get bad service, I fire them.  I don’t go back and I tell them why and they don’t get my money any more.  Lousy service happens when customers let them get away with it.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotMy friends are correct – service is bad because leaders want and/or allow it.

From my experience, this leadership failure is rooted in one critical idea: Companies with bad service view it as a cost to be managed rather than an investment that creates a competitive advantage.

This view will never be acknowledged. In fact, most companies say that they strive for service excellence. Words are not action, however. Focus on these three areas if you want to make service your competitive advantage:

1. People: Who do you hire? How are they trained, compensated, and rewarded? Do your front-line leaders develop them and provide a great environment in which to work? Who is promoted, and who is fired?

2. Process: Is every process clearly defined, documented, and communicated? Are your processes designed to deliver the best possible result for the customer or the least expensive result for the company? Do you continually evaluate and update processes to stay current and relevant?

3. Tools: Do your people have the resources and information they need to succeed? Are they empowered to actually use the tools at their disposal?

Stop managing service as a cost. Start leading it as an investment.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

A Waste of a Perfectly Good Meeting

meetingPeople say we have too many meetings.

As someone who has participated in thousands of corporate meetings over the past 30+ years, I have a slightly different view.  I believe we don’t have nearly enough good meetings…productive meetings.  We need more of those.

What we have is too many ineffective, worthless, what-the-hell-was-the-point-of-that meetings.

This can help you avoid wasting a perfectly good meeting:

1) Do we have absolute clarity about where we want this organization to go?  If not, you’d better have some meetings to get that clarity, or ALL of your meetings will be a waste of time

2) Do we have equally absolute clarity on how this meeting will help us get there?  If not, don’t have the meeting until you do have that clarity.

3) Does every element of the meeting contribute to the accomplishment of our stated goal for the meeting?  If not, eliminate the parts that don’t contribute.

4) Are we lapsing into just filling time slots with speakers or sessions because we decided in advance that the meeting would go from 8:00AM to 4:00PM?

5) Are we arbitrarily giving every speaker one hour?  Why?  Would some speakers be more effective with 20 minutes and others with 120 minutes

6) Are we asking attendees to sit like stumps and be bombarded by speeches and lectures all day

7) Are we creating actual thought, engagement, discussion, and participation

8) Are our speakers reading Powerpoint presentations to the attendees?  If so, why have the meeting?  Just email everyone the Powerpoint presentations.

Have more great meetings. Stop having wasted time meetings.

“Joe, you crystallize and clarify insightfully.” - The Rite Group – August 2014

“It was exactly what we were hoping for. We appreciate you and the impact that you have had on making our company better.” - Western Water Works Supply Company – January 2014

“You did a great job – your content is wonderful – know that your message resonates and sticks with people long after the event is over.” - Stan Ray – CAO – Farm Credit Bank of Texas

What is a Leader’s Most Important Job?

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotA leaders most important job: To lead. Duh.

How do you lead? Not from behind, that’s for sure. Leaders have to get out in front with their ideas, vision, energy and presence.

As I watch movies and TV shows about the battles of old, I always see the leader, even when the leader was the King himself, sitting atop his horse and charging into battle out in front of his troops. What an inspiration that must have been to see their leader’s commitment to his beliefs, his words and to his troops by being willing to risk it all by riding ahead of them into battle. Of course, that also meant that he usually got killed first. There are consequences for being the leader. The risk is the reason they make the big bucks and why we record their names in the history books.

Few leaders today risk much. They rarely get out in front for fear of the consequences. They want the glory when it goes well but mostly they don’t want the blame when it doesn’t go well. They don’t want the responsibility for the mess because they might lose their job, or not get re-elected.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-headshotA leader’s most important job is focusing the time and expertise of her team on doing the most important work of the organization.

All results and revenue are driven by how people spend their time (effort) and expertise (knowledge and skills). Profit, innovation, efficiency, effectiveness—everything is the byproduct of time and expertise. Invested wisely, the organization achieves great success. Lacking focus, mediocrity becomes the norm.

A leader isn’t just a person who is focused, but one who creates shared focus. There is a great deal of wasted time and expertise in companies where employees are doing low-priority work, or work that shouldn’t be done at all. But lacking an effective leader, it is difficult for them to know what they should be doing instead.

Just as a conductor makes sure members of an orchestra are all playing the right music to the best of their ability, so does an effective leader do his job. That is the most important job of the leader.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

joe-calloway-headshotWhat is a leader’s most important job? Clarity.

First and foremost, clarity about culture. Everyone must be crystal clear about who we are, what we value, and how we treat people. Clarity about culture means that those who violate the culture must leave. (Your culture, by the way, may very well invite new ideas, criticism, and disagreements.)

Then, clarity about what is most important. Here I agree with Mark Sanborn wholeheartedly. An effective leader makes clear exactly where we are going and what we have to do to get there. Everyone knows what the priorities are and is focused on the execution of those priorities.

We’ve all had the experience of working for a leader who was unclear about expectations, direction, or values. It’s the worst. A leader with no clear direction can destroy an organization.

To achieve clarity, a leader must have the ability to make the complicated simple. Steve Jobs was a master of this. He once said “if you can make things simple, you can move mountains.”

Amen. Give us leaders who can enable us to move mountains. Give us clarity.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotThe leader’s most important job: make great decisions for the long-term benefit of the group.

It’s important to recognize that the leader has to view both the group that he or she has been designated to lead, and the challenges and opportunities in front of them, from a strategic, “30,000 feet” level.

This means sometimes building consensus before the decision is made is the right choice – other situations call for developing support for a judgment the leader has already determined.

Note, as well, I suggest it’s for the LONG TERM benefit of the group – which is precisely why so many executives aren’t true leaders. They’re managing for this quarter’s numbers, not leading their companies to create distinction.

When the leader views the future from that “30,000 feet” level, it’s like looking out the window of an airplane – you can see much farther down the road with that perspective than someone driving to the same destination. It’s commonly referred to as the leader having “vision.”

Until women and men in positions of authority are willing to have a visionary perspective, and start making more great decisions with the long-term benefit of their group or followers in mind, we won’t see an expansion of great leadership.

To find out more about Scott McKain, go to: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotLeadership is influence and the scorecard is results.

The leader’s most important – you could say only – job is to influence others to deliver positive results. Results rule! Everything else is a discussion of the best ways to do so.

Ross Perot distinguished the difference between managing and leading very clearly: “You manage data and things. You lead people.”

And when it comes to leading people, there is nothing more important than creating a culture that consistently delivers positive results for the customer and the company.

Your culture is defined by your habits. My work with leaders and organizations has taught me that the best opportunities for consistent results occur when the culture reinforces these six choices at every level every day:

  1. Value candor and honesty
  2. Pursue the best over the easiest
  3. Focus the energy to make the main thing the main thing
  4. Leverage the power of partnerships with customers and staff
  5. Continually learn, grow, and adapt
  6. Show the courage of accountability

Your organization is perfectly designed to deliver the results you are delivering today. It is your job to build and sustain a culture that can deliver results tomorrow and beyond.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

Wow, What a Stupid Salad!

Many companies get so distracted by their search for the “wow factor” that they take their eye off the ball.  The ball, of course, being the foundational elements of your business – those basic customer expectations.  It’s easy to find yourself in search of what amounts to a “wow factor” gimmick instead of doing your job exceptionally well, every time, with every customer.  You end up on a wild goose chase and your customer ends up taking her business elsewhere because you forgot to tend to the basics.

My wife had lunch the other day with a friend at a casual dining restaurant.  She ordered a salad as her entrée.  When the waiter brought her salad, she literally said, “Wow.”  The salad was the most impossibly vertically ambitious structure she had ever seen.  This was basically a lettuce based salad that went straight up.  It was a tower.  She had never seen a salad like it.  She said to the waiter, “That’s the tallest salad I’ve ever seen.”  The waiter replied, “That’s our wow factor.”

As the waiter left the table my wife thought, “No.  That’s your ‘wow, what a completely stupid way to serve a salad’ factor.”  She told me later that the salad was practically impossible to eat.  You just couldn’t get to it without making a mess.  But somebody, somewhere in that restaurant company had decided that just being different would be a competitive differentiator.  Sometimes being different is just goofy.  First, make a good salad that people can actually eat.  Forget the gimmicks and concentrate on good food.

What is the ONE thing you would do to fix the economy?

perspective-image-calloway

From Joe Calloway:
joe-calloway-headshot

Fix the economy by electing grown-ups.

I don’t quite know what to write about this, because with the attitudes of most people being firmly locked in an intransient “we’re right and they’re wrong” position, the idea that we might elect grown-ups may be a pipe dream.

When I say elect grown-ups I mean elect men and women who can articulate solutions, not just spew partisan, whip-the-party-faithful-into-a-frenzy crap (I chose that word carefully) that appeals to the lowest common denominator of people who are incapable of critical thinking.

There are grown-ups in Congress on both sides who can point across the aisle and say “we can work with her or him.”  They know who the other grown-ups are.

In Tennessee, where I live, there is one Democratic Congressman (Cooper) and one Republican Senator (Corker) who are grown-ups.  They know how to get to solutions.  They’re smart.  They listen.  They think. They are pragmatists who are interested in moving forward.

I only wish that they had more grown-ups to work with.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Mark Sanborn:

mark-sanborn-headshotIf you want to fix the economy, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch: if someone eats for free, somebody else has to pay for it. The belief that entitlements are “free” is not only erroneous but dangerous.

Resources spent on entitlements come from the productive sector, usually in the form of taxes. Individuals and companies who produce are taxed on their productive efforts. The money spent on entitlements may be humanitarian but it can’t be used to start or grow companies or invested productively. Entitlements generally may help people, but they don’t help grow an economy.

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t help those that need it; the problem is the increasing number of individual and programs that expect assistance and in recent years there have been more and more of them. Society should help those that cannot help themselves, but not those who will not help themselves.

The economy and all who contribute will improve when we improve when we offer to those who really need help, and not those who simply want it.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Larry Winget:

larry-winget-headshotTeach people to be more responsible and smarter with their money, get government to run like a business, create more jobs and get more people working, fewer entitlements and no more bailouts.  All good ideas.  But all take too long to have an impact. So, here you go:  A 15% across the board cut on all government spending.  No more “let’s cut this and let’s cut that.”  When you pick and choose, it becomes partisan and political and nothing gets done.  So, cut everything by 15%.  Defense, education, wages, utilities, people, roads, even paper and staples . . . all of it.  Not one exception.  No department is spared.  And don’t say, “Larry!!!  Not education.  Not welfare.  Not feeding children!!”  That’s the problem, we want to play favorites and every one says, “Cut spending, but not MY spending.”  Bottom line: Government is too big and there is way more than 15% waste in every area. So mandate a 15% cut to every budget with the condition that services and service levels are not affected. Force efficiency since they can’t do it on their own.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Scott McKain:

scott-mckain-headshotFocus on improving the relationship between government and small business.

For all the tax and infrastructure benefits offered to gain 1000 jobs, my wager is that 200 small businesses each hiring five new people has greater impact on the local community – yet, those entrepreneurs receive none of the incentives a big corporation mandates.

What if there were no corporate taxes for businesses that gross under $2 million? How many new employees could those entrepreneurs now hire? The owner will be paying more in taxes, as it’s reasonable to assume that her personal income would rise. More people would be employed, moving them from unemployment benefits and food stamps into taxpayers. It is a true “win-win.”

What if we placed a higher premium on creating companies rather than moving money? We need to stimulate more Steve Jobs and Bill Gates…and fewer Bernie Madoffs. When there’s more money in manipulation of currency, stock, and markets than there is in building businesses and creating jobs…something is out of alignment.

When a big company offers to create 500 jobs, governmental leaders fawn over them. Let 50 small businesses create 10 jobs each, and our government says, “So what?”

Until that’s corrected…the economy won’t be.

To find out more about Scott McKain, go to: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:

randy-pennington-headshotThe easy answer is, “Do what we’ve done in Texas.”  The leaders here make it easy for business to do business.

Here are the results:  unemployment lower than the national average; 40% of all the jobs created between 2009 and 2011; large companies relocating here.

The employment statistics don’t mention the high percentage of minimum wage jobs, however.

Adding jobs is not fixing the economy. For that, we must completely overhaul our education system to grow the skills and work ethic needed to compete in the 21st century.

Here is the truth: Many of the jobs lost in the Great Recession are never coming back. They can be automated or performed in less expensive places. And, we have a skills shortage for the jobs that will grow our economy.

We spend more per student than any other country in the world, and we do not rank in the top 20 on math, science, and reading scores.  Our commitment to re-skilling adults is marginal at best – from both the unemployed and the government.

So yes, let’s elect grownups who will lead. But let’s not confuse putting people to work in low-paying jobs with fixing the economy. That requires a commitment to education and entrepreneurial thinking that enables jobs that add value. It is equal parts responsible leadership and individual responsibility.

That’s not easy. It is hard.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.