Archives for October 2013

The three strategies I learned from my Scottish parents about never giving up

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Do not give up
Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/AnsonLu

My mother and father were not quitters. They were tenacious as hell and exemplified the Winston Churchill admonition to never, never, ever, ever, ever give up. Both my mother and father instilled in me the same tenacity.

After immigrating from Scotland, my father never found his financial bearings. He worked as a used car salesman up to the very end of his life. Not because he loved working, but because he needed the money and would never consider giving up on his family responsibilities.

My mother was tenacious because it was simply part of her DNA. To say she came from humble beginnings is a massive understatement. She was tenacious in the face of our family hardships, but never gave up on trying to instill in her children the belief that remaining intellectual curios was not a privilege bestowed on us by a benevolent overlord, but it was a right that must be taken seriously.

In the face of overwhelming adversity, my mother and father taught me three things about tenacity and never giving up.

The three strategies are:

1. Be helpful to others. We have all been given tremendous talents, gifts and skills. Finding ways to use our talents and skills in ways that is beneficial to others is the first order of business.

2. Never lose your sense of humor. Even though my father struggled financially, he once reminded me that the gestation period of an African Elephant was twenty-two months. When asked how he knew that he responded, “I got one pregnant once.”

3. Just do it. Mom said ” you’ll spend just as much time thinking about whether you should do something as you will doing it. So stop over-thinking things and just do things.”

As leaders and team members I think these three strategies can guide us to have a more effective workweek.

What strategies have you learned about tenacity and never giving up?

Living Bold Lives Versus Timid Lives

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Living Bold Lives Versus Timid Lives from Hugh Blane on Vimeo.

Hello everyone, my name is Hugh Blane and this is the Monday Morning Minute and this week I want to talk to you about boldness.

The opposite of bold is timid. And here’s my bold statement for you. In my consulting and advisory work I find that the vast majority of people live timid lives as opposed to bold lives. Not lives of quiet desperation as Henry David Thoreau said, but certainly lives reflecting timidity rather than boldness.

If you want to have a much more effective workweek then you have to remember the words from Goethe that read: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in.”

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I am fifty-five years old and if I dreamed of playing in the NBA I know it is simply not going to happen. I may be able to imagine it, but my dream will not become a reality. I’m not suggesting you wear rose-colored glasses or that you click your heels together and start wishing.

I am suggesting you ask yourself this question: within the confines of your personal and professional life, are you living boldly? Or, Are you living from a heightened sense of timidity?

I will admit that I live from a sense of timidity in one area of my life. It is the area of philanthropy and of giving back. It is the one area where I want to live more boldly and in turn make a difference.

There will be more to follow about this, but I have reached out to the university where I teach and asked about a program that teaches business and entrepreneurship to homeless men and women through the Union Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army. I have approached them about bringing this program to Seattle. This is a declarative moment for me. I’m putting a stake in the ground and saying from this point forward I will live bolder in this regard.

Let me ask you, what is the one area of your life that you want to live bolder? What is the one area of your life that when you reflect on it you say this just does not work for me anymore? Ladies and gentlemen, make one decision today – just one. The one decision I suggest you make is to identify the one area of your life where you want to live bolder and choose one thing that you will do today to make that happen. If you do this, if you make the declarative decision about one area of your life and you choose to do one thing to do to make it real, you are living a more bold life.

It’s really rather simple. Make the decision to do one thing that moves you closer to a bolder life. If you do that, you will live a much more rewarding and enriching workweek AND, you’ll be bolder in the process.

So, ladies and gentlemen, boldness: it has magic power and genius in it. Embrace it!

Thank you everyone. I hope you have a fabulous week and I will see you here again next week. Take care.

Why giving your biggest problem to a 15 year old makes sense

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The video of Jack Andracka is inspiring. One on side is a really smart kid who doesn’t take no for an answer. On the other side is the established “experts” who were blind to the ingenuity, creativity and intelligence of Jack.

That was a really bad decision.

Watch this video and then answer the three questions below.

1. Who is the Jack inside your team or organization?

2. Does your culture invite, reward and foster the Jack’s of the world…at least in some small way?

3. When it comes time to solve challenging issues and problems, do you have any fifteen year olds you can rely on?

One simple way to correct your leadership vision

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One Simple Way To Correct Your Leadership Vision from Hugh Blane on Vimeo.

The nine burning questions that changed the effectiveness of four leaders in three hours

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Businessman Thinking
Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/stevanovicigor

I spent three hours last week with a group of four leaders. I asked them to list for me the most important questions they would need to have answered in order for them to become better leaders. Here are their nine questions:

1. How can I effectively deal with people who challenge my skills, credibility or experience in public?

2. How can I quickly and effectively onboard new members of my team?

3. How can I learn to slow down my speaking when talking to people who are more methodical and analytical?

4. How do I understand the learning and motivation preferences of my team?

5. How can I manage the stress associated with the onslaught of new work and responsibilities?

6. What are the best ways to leverage the talent and skills of my team?

7. What is the best way to clarify and communicate my leadership philosophy?

8. What is the best way to solidify and execute on my strategic priorities?

9. How can I quickly and effectively take the answers to these questions and execute on them?

Answering these questions was fun for me. It was fun because in real time we took real issues that were of real concern to these leaders, and I was able to provide real solutions that helped them get real results. It was truly enjoyable to see leaders rest knowing they had a plan for addressing their key issues.

You may have nine, ten or twelve questions you want to have answered. And I’d like to help you get the answers you’re looking for.

So, if you take the time and post your questions on my blog I will choose one burning question posted each week and provide a tangible and pragmatic solution. I’d love to help you be more effective.

What are your top ten questions?

Your Years of Service No Longer Matter

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Your Years of Service No Longer Matter from Hugh Blane on Vimeo.

Good morning everyone my name is Hugh Blane and this is the Monday Morning Minute and today I want to talk to about Years of Service. I’m not going to mince words. I believe that the number of years you have in service to your organization no longer matter.

I hate to say this, but the number of years of service you have with your organization and or your tenure no longer matter. What matters is the value and the benefit you provide to the people that interact with you.

People have gotten lost in the belief that tenure in itself is valuable. You could have twenty-five years of really poor performance. Or, you could have twenty-five years of consistently and appreciably increasing organizational performance. In turn, simply stating the number of years of service is simply not valuable.

Here are three client questions that will positively influence how you communicate your value and benefit to clients.

Question one: Ask your customers “how would you describe me to someone that doesn’t know me?” By asking this question they will describe you and the services you provide – and in their answers resides your brand and reputation. This is important for you to know. Your brand and reputation are essential factors as to whether you’re credible and seen as someone who is desirable to work with.

Question two: Ask your customers “what is the greatest benefit you derive from working with me or my company?” The answers to this question will prove to be the most beneficial to anyone who wants to articulate the value they provide. Pay very close attention to your client’s responses as there is a treasure trove of information here. Your clients are telling you about the “results you provide” not the “services you provide”. The difference between these two perspectives is vitally important.

Question three: “If you could wave a magic wand over me and or my organization, what would we need to do to have you declare, WOW, I love working with you guys?”

When you pull this information together you’re going to have your brand, your generated results and the insight as to what new services or products your clients want. You will also be able to craft a personal and corporate value proposition that is compelling and was developed from a customer perspective…not yours. And that will allow you to have a much more powerful week.

Thank you for watching, and I’ll look forward to seeing you again next week.