Archives for May 2015

Mastering Your Leadership Message

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about mastering your leadership message.

I’m going to do a shout out at the very beginning of this Monday Morning Minute to my friend and colleague Brian Walter. Brian shared with me his five aspects of leadership messaging ten, twenty or thirty years ago and they are well worth knowing about if you want to have a message that is compelling and that garners commitment.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re all communicating a message, but you are doing so accidentally and not purposefully. Transformational leaders don’t do that. They are ON message and they STAY ON message.

So, how do you stay on message? There are five things that you want to think through, and have answers to before you start communicating. You’ll want to know this:

What is it I want people to think, feel, know, believe and do with my communication? When you answer these questions clearly it allows you to purposefully decide how you will communicate with the people that matter most to you. Specifically, you’ll know how you will stay on message and how you will behave in order to be congruent with your answers.

Ladies and gentlemen, what is it that you want people to think, feel, know, believe and do? These are absolutely essential questions for you to answer in order to have a truly transformative week.

Answer those questions and you’re going to have a fabulous week.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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If you want to flourish personally or professionally there are three aspects of doing so that need to be understood and taken responsibility for. They are your experiences, your mindset and your behavior.

Experiences: The experiences you have can be positive or negative. They can be out of your control or in your control, and they can leave you with positive or negative memories. A trip to Spain can can be filled with positive memories that were both planned as well as serendipitous.

Mindset: What happens in between your ears is an important aspect of flourishing. Your mindset is comprised of your dominant thoughts, beliefs and perceptions. Your mindset also filters the way you see the world and the people around you. It too can be positive or negative, but is always in your control. Some people have a scarcity mindset and others an abundance mindset. Either mindset will be influenced by past experiences.

Behavior: Behavior is what gets the majority of your attention. The behavior of the driver in front of you who cuts you off, the behavior of your spouse or partner who praises you for a job well done, and the behavior of a customer who has had a negative experience with one of your employees.

Far too often what happens is that your experiences determine your mindset unconsciously. Your experiences, good or bad, influence your mindset which in turn drives your behavior. And when you repeat certain behaviors repeatedly they become ingrained in your thinking as normal and acceptable…that leads to more experiences similar to your current ones.

The shift that is required in order to flourish in any area of your life is to have your mindset drive your experiences and not the reverse. When you do this you take control of your thinking; the thinking that leads to the flourishing experiences you want.

Are you flourishing? If you are the good news it’s rooted in your mindset. If you’re not, the good news is that it’s rooted in your mindset. The hardest part about flourishing is taking ownership for your experiences, your reactions to them and crafting a mindset that allows you to flourish.

Do you have a flourishing mindset?

5 Reasons Why Taking Shortcuts Shortchanges You

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You are all very busy. You go from one meeting to another and you have senior leaders breathing down you necks saying, “do more, do it better, do it faster, do it cheaper”. Amidst the busyness of your everyday work life the appeal of taking a shortcut can be alluring. But, I want to share with you the five reasons why taking shortcuts may be appealing but taking them shortchanges you. Here are the five reasons.

#1. The important relationships in your life perish with the use of shortcuts. You can’t use a shortcut to raise your children nor can you use shortcuts to have a meaningful, high quality relationship with a significant other or a spouse. You simply cannot do it. Quality relationships time, focus and your presence.

#2. We miss out on wonderful experiences when we run from point A to point B. If we don’t take the long route, what we miss seeing is the topography, the landscape, how other cultures behave differently nor are we seeing in the world of work how our customers experience things. When we’re rushing from point A to point B and taking a shortcut we’re shortchanging ourselves as to other people’s perspectives and how they do things.

#3. You’ll never reach your full potential if you’re looking for shortcuts. Itzhak Perlman, the virtuoso violinist, never took a shortcut in becoming a virtuoso violinist. Whenever you see someone perform and comment “they are masterful,” I will promise you this, they did not take a shortcut.

#4. We become human doings as opposed to human beings. When we are on the hamster wheel going from one task to another task to another task, our tasks blind us to other more important aspects of our personal and professional lives. Going mindlessly or frantically from one activity to another has us becoming human doings as opposed to human beings.

#5. We are not very interesting when we simply read the Cliff Notes on life. It is true that you can read the Cliff Notes on Alexander Dumas’s, The Count of Monte Cristo, but I believe you will miss out on a wonderful narrative by an masterful storyteller. When you immerse yourself in a story, you become interested and engaged in the story and you want to share it with other people. When you do, others find your engagement and you interesting because of your interest in the story. When you only read the Cliff Notes you’re unable to experience the full breadth of a particular story.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the five reasons why taking shortcuts will shortchange you. There are times you will want or need to take a shortcut, but these five reasons are worth your consideration because far too often the shortcuts you’ve taken have left you shortchanged…and that’s something you’ll want to avoid doing again this week.

This week, identify one shortcut you’ve been taking that is no longer serving you well, and make a commitment to change it. If you don’t you’re going to miss out and be shortchanged. I don’t believe that’s what you want, so this week identify one shortcut and make a commitment to eliminate it.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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I spent this morning with Frank Neumayer. Frank is a champion Trap and Skeet instructor and is the man I sought out when I wanted to learn how to shoot. For those of you who don’t know, trap and skeet are clay discs 4.3 inches in diameter launched at speeds of up to 45 mph that you shoot with a shotgun.

Successfully shooting trap and skeet has three key success factors. These three success factors are not only important in shooting clay targets, but they are also important in our professional and personal lives. Here’s Frank’s top three recommendations.

1. Let your equipment do the heavy lifting. Frank explained that the shotgun and shells used were specifically designed for this type of shooting. He detailed for me the size of the shot inside each shell, the velocity of the shot versus a rifle, the pattern of impact twenty to forty yards away and a few other details that I wasn’t quite able to grasp. What I did hear loud and clear is that the equipment was perfectly matched for the targets and that I needed to trust the equipment and relax. I didn’t master this today.

2. Keep a soft focus. Focusing on a target moving away from you at 45 mph can be done in a relaxed or stressful way. When our vision is strained, we tense up and lose the ability to track the target effectively. Frank shared with me several tricks to focus beyond the target and wait for the target to appear into my field of vision before pulling the trigger. When I used a soft focus I was more successful. This too I didn’t master today.

3. Don’t overthink things. If you are successful with numbers one and two you don’t need to focus on number three. But, after my initial success of hitting the first target I took at aim at, the following five targets escaped unscathed. I admitted to Frank I had tendencies toward overthinking. He looked at me as if I had said I had two ears, two eyes and one mouth. His expression said, “yes, that’s plain to see.” I didn’t master this key success factor today either.

As leaders, surrounding ourselves with the right equipment is essential. The right equipment is comprised of the right people, the right processes, the right products and services geared toward our target customers. We also need to hold our vision for the future in a relaxed manner and not become stressed and or strained. We also must avoid overthinking things. With the right equipment, the right vision and the ability to be in the moment and not create stress for ourselves as well as for others we can hit any target.

I’ll be back with Frank on Sunday the 31st to practice these three key success factors…and, of course break more fast moving clay.

Hugh’s Mindset Reality Check

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Video Notes

This week I want to do a reality check with you.

Here’s what I know. 80% of the effectiveness of your workouts is mental. 80% of how you look in your clothes is mental.

Really? Ladies and gentlemen, I see people go into the gym all the time and they’re there on automatic pilot. They are going through the motions, but lacking a focus or urgency. When I go to the gym, I have a mantra that permeates my workout. I am there to get stronger, more powerful and faster. I also want to feel vibrant physically which means I bring the attitude of strong, powerful and fast to every workout so that I can get the most from it. The same holds true for the world of work. If we want to maximize our effectiveness we must be very purposeful.

Yes, 80% of how we look in our jeans is based on what goes in the hole in the front of our face. For example, there are some things that I like and I want more of, but I know they’re not good for me. Bread is one of them. Ahhh, bread…I love it! Butter, cheese, wine. But bread is not good for me. It triggers my sweet tooth and I in turn eat more sweets. For me to not overeat sweets I have to avoid bread because it doesn’t work work my body. And like you, I know that managing this situation is 80% my mindset.

So, do you know what this means for this week at work? It means you have to manage your mindset in order to be effective and successful. Is your head in the game? For example, do you have a scarcity mindset or do you have an abundance mindset? Are you playing not to lose or are you playing to win?

Ladies and gentlemen, 80% of the effectiveness of your week resides in between your ears. Make sure your mindset is right and you’ll have a fabulous, fabulous week.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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What a leader says and how they say it are essential to effective executive communication. For example, yesterday I was part of a 150 person business leader luncheon where Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, spoke about the state of the economy, government oversight, and the international issues facing the banking / financial services industry. While a lot of what Jamie said was predictable and nuanced from a corporate CEO with two trillion dollars in assets, the two pieces of his talk that grabbed my attention had very little to do with banking.

Jamie Dimon is first and foremost a charismatic and enthusiastic leader. The stories he tells are compelling and rooted in the real world trenches of banking in the 21st century. And yet, the first piece came in Jamie’s opening remarks. He started with a quote from the founder of his company, J.P. Morgan, who said, our company is all about “doing first class business in a first class way.” Is that pithy? Yes. Is it influencing Jamie’s leadership today? Yes, I believe so.

The quote was designed to convey to the audience what Chase stands for and it was successful in doing so. The quote also left me thinking about how incredibly hard it must be to stay true to an organization’s founding belief about what their business holds to be sacred. As a consultant and coach to executives about their leadership messaging, I was keenly interested in how Jamie used the quote, but was more tuned in to how it landed on the audience. Why? Because quotes can be compelling when used in the right way. The right way is when the quote has a bridge connecting the inspirational admonition with the real world everyday challenges faced by the leader and their audience.

When I hear a leader use a quote I want to also hear how the leader uses the quote in their own life. Yesterday, I wanted Jamie to discuss how he balanced doing first class business in first class ways while simultaneously navigating the highly politicized fallout from the 2008 recession. Specifically, I wanted to hear him tell a story about how he as a leader lives out the founders proclamation. Without the “and for example, here’s how I do this” I’m unsure whether the rest of the organization embraces the notion of first class business being done in first class ways.

The second interesting comment was about the five reasons why doing business in America trumps doing business in any other part of the world. Jamie sited five key reasons. They are:

1. The United States has by far the best economy. Regardless of our ups and downs, the US economy is the premier economy globally.

2. The best business environment. American businesses remain innovative and highly adaptable even in the face of the headwinds of global competition and government regulation.

3. The best universities. 40% of all students enrolled in institutions of higher learning in the US are international students. People from all over the world come here for an exemplary education.

4. The best rule of law. Are there examples of where the US judicial system is flawed and broken? Absolutely. But ask Amanda Knox if she would prefer her trial be held in the US or in Italy.

5. The best work ethic. American workers have a “can do” and “we’ll get it done attitude.”

These five reasons are compelling, and yes, there are always exceptions to every rule. But Jamie’s top five reasons resonated with me and this audience. From an executive messaging perspective it worked well and left people optimistic about the possibilities ahead for American business.

The two key messages you want on your radar screen for this week are:

1. Get crystal clear about what you do, why it’s valuable to your customers, employees, stakeholders, and how you will live this out in real and compelling ways. Without clarity you will feel as though you’re driving in fog.

2. What are the five most important attributes, characteristics or contributors to you, your team and your organization doing the exemplary work necessary to my first question?

Being clear about your answers to these two questions will provide you with the confidence and enthusiasm to do truly exemplary work.

Are Your Employees Having Fun At Work

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Video Notes:

I have a really simple question: are your employees having fun at work?

You’ve heard it before, but you will never have happy customers if you have unhappy employees.

Are you as a leader having fun at work? When you wake up, do you have an enthusiasm and passion that leaves you saying, “I’m really excited about going to work today?” Does work hold for you a longing to learn something new, meeting new people and having new experiences?” Having fun is contagious. It cascades down from the leader and permeates their orgranization.

Are you having fun? If you’re not having fun, what do you need to do to have fun? Now, that may be that you need to change jobs, that may mean you need to change roles, it may mean that the only thing you need to change is the way that you look at your work and what you are creating for your customers. It may simply be a mindset shift.

Ladies and gentlemen, when you start having fun at work, your performance will go up, the level of engagement will go up, and the level of customer satisfaction will go up.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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We all run into times when we don’t do our best work. It will happen to the best of us, but what differentiates extraordinary performers from under-performers is how we respond to not performing at our best. Here are the six best strategies for recovering from a lackluster performance.

1. Take a deep breath. Most people when they experience a negative situation breath in a shallow and highly irregular manner, and in extreme situations hold their breath. Inhaling for seven seconds, holding it for three seconds and exhaling for seven seconds is deep breathing. A breath like this is a mind altering experience that helps you to become more centered, attentive to your circumstances and allows you to go to strategy number two.

2. Focus on your personal purpose. A personal purpose is the “what” and “why” behind what you do for work. For example, my corporate purpose is “to convert human potential into accelerated performance”. Whenever I run into a period where I need reorienting I always start by focusing on my purpose.

3. Take baby steps. Your purpose is the big picture of the life you want to live. After reorienting yourself to what is truly important to you, your best next step is to take a baby step closer to your purpose. Doing so focuses you on progressing forward and not on seeking the perfection you believe you should have achieved. Perfection all too often becomes a form of procrastination after times of setback.

4. Eliminate distractions. Eliminating any unnecessary distractions; distractions from email, cellphone, to-do list reminders or notifications from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or your dog that wants to go for a walk is essential. Why? First, being distracted may have caused you to underperform in the first place, and secondly, learning from the past and growing into a more desirable future cannot be done if you are continually being distracted.

5. Master your mindset. You cannot have two dominant thoughts at the same time, so what you pay attention to during times of a setback is crucial to master. For example, is your self-talk rooted in recrimination, failing and being stupid for having not performed at your peak? Or, is it about learning, personal and professional growth and getting better every week? The latter accelerates your growth and performance while the former diminishes it.

6. Review your performance with a coach or mentor. Everyone needs an objective perspective as to how we’ve performed from someone we trust and respect. Being able to debrief with someone who has “been there and done that” provides tremendous value, insights and immediate options for what to implement next.

These six strategies will help you accelerate your growth and learning after a less than ideal performance. Which one can you benefit from the most?

If you’d like to discuss how I can be your coach or mentor drop me an email at hugh@clarisconsulting.net or call me at 206.829.9413.

Mental Sunscreen

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk about mental sunscreen.

I’ve had several Basil cell carcinomas removed from my face and neck and I don’t want to repeat this process. To ensure I don’t have additional surgeries I wear sunscreen. I don’t know the SPF of my sunscreen because I wear what I’m told to wear by my dermatologically aware and highly prudent and loving wife. It’s probably SPF five thousand.

At our new house we have twenty-four feet of glass across the back of the house. Because of the duration and strengths of the sun we had electronic solar shades installed. They are very nice. We press one button and they float down the back of our house to protect our furniture and floors from sun damage as well as protect us from getting baked by the sun. I know some of you don’t think it’s possible to be baked by the sun in Seattle, but it is, albeit if only for six months out of the year.

Ladies and gentlemen we need a mindset sunscreen, we need a mental sunscreen from some people. Why? There are people who are mental cancer carriers. They point out every tiny aspect of what we’re doing that is wrong and they tell us a multitude of reasons why our thinking is not correct and why what we think is impossible.

You need to lather yourself up with sunscreen and possibly close the sunshades on these people. You need to do what my mentor, Alan Weiss, says which is to close the watertight doors with them behind you and never let them near you. I know that sounds crass, but if you want to create something that is exemplary or extraordinary you must insulate and protect yourself from people who drag you down.

What can you do this week to insulate yourself from these types of people? Find one thing to insulate and protect yourself and you’ll have an appreciably better week this week than you did last week.