The Power of The Word Because

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The word because is a powerful word. We do things “because” they provide a benefit or value. We choose to live in the neighborhood we do because of its proximity to schools for example, or we drive the car we do because of the fuel economy, reliability or horsepower. We are also in relationships or do business with companies because of an experience we have with them. In all of our decisions is a because.

Since because is a powerful word transformational leaders want to know the answer to the question of employees…why do you work here, because once they know the employees because answer to the question, they can capitalize on that and create more of the same.

You also want to know why your customer’s choose to do business with you. What’s their because? The moment you identify a compelling because from a customer you can exploit it and more purposefully cascade your response to their answer throughout your organization. How do you find out what your customers because is? You ask them one simple question: what is the most enjoyable, valuable or rewarding part of doing business with us?

Talk to as many customers as you can and learn first hand your customers because. Review your list of answers and identify which you can do in highly differentiated ways.

Do the same with employees. Knowing why your employees work at your organization allows you to learn what’s most important and enjoyable about working with you, and once identified, you can use it to transform your business to higher levels of performance.

A Leaders Most Powerful Words All Begin with The Letter “I”

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When you were in grade school, did you ever hear “hey four eyes!?” It was an exclamation yelled by an insensitive or cruel kid to another kid wearing glasses. It was supposed to be funny, but ended up being hurtful to a kid who was insecure and uncomfortable wearing glasses.

But there are four eyes that can be really helpful to us in the world of work where we oftentimes feel overworked, overburdened, and overwhelmed. The four ’eyes’ are four of the letter ‘I’ which stands for information, insight, impact and
Implement. Here’s what I mean.

Information: Each day you will see or learn something by gathering new information. It is easy now with 24/7 news cycles, social media platforms and emails that total 300 per day. For example, you may have new information that reports new employees coming from a referral from a current employees has dropped by over 50% in the last six months. You may also have data that points to trend pointing even lower. Depending on the frequency of reporting it is easy for many leaders to experience information overload. When they do the remaining three steps will be neglected or given little effort.

Insight: What helps with reducing information overload is to stop for fifteen minutes at the end of the day and review your new information and ask what the two or three most important insights are from the information. This might be a tactical issue or it might be a cultural issue. For example, employees are less interested in the new compensation plan that was rolled out six months ago and are no longer referring friends and family to the company.

Impact: Once you’ve seen your one or two insights, you ask what’s the impact of each one of these insights? Does one insight carry a greater impact than another? Will one insight carry a greater impact with the customer than another?
Is one insight going to impact employees more? The impact of a new compensation plan that results in fewer new employees coming from referrals impacts the bottom line by increasing recruiting costs from headhunters and or agencies as well as creates a dynamic where employees are less likely to create the customer experienced desired.

Implement: Once you’ve identified the impact from each of your insights you choose one strategy for implementing this week. You identify the one most important next steps to address the information and insights you’ve gleaned.

Hugh’s Key Insight:
Successful leaders recognize it is easier to use the 4-I’s for a technical or transactional aspect of their work; a broken process or a product that’s shipped poorly. Where it’s more nuanced and transformational is with the mindset, relational, cultural and interpersonal aspects of the work. What can the 4-I’s tell you when you have employees that lack confidence in their leader? What are the 4-I’s when you are Volkswagen or Wells Fargo leaders and you are before congress addressing the deception your company has perpetrated?

The 4-I’s are not hurtful as the four eyes comment was in grade school. Instead they are actually very helpful for leaders and teams to stop and work through important issues. When you take even short periods of time to evaluate the information you have now that you didn’t have before, what the insights are from the information, what the impact is or can be and what’s the one thing you will implement moving forward, you’ll be more decisive, more discerning and more successful.

Mastering Your Mindset Intensive Registration

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Just a quick reminder that the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive registration closes today at midnight PST. The current pricing of the Intensive increases by $200.00 on Tuesday morning.

You can register using this link.

I have been asked for a tool to measure mindset. If you’ve asked yourself about your mindset and whether a Mindset Intensive is right for you, the assessment below will measure your level of engagement, positivity and effectiveness. If you’re not content with your answers, the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive will help you make a dramatic and positive impact on your answers.

Hugh’s Mastering The Leadership Mindset Assessment

The following ten questions represent the ten leadership mindset dimensions. Answering these questions can help you gauge your ability to lead with clarity, confidence and commitment. On a 1 through 10 scale, (one is low and ten is high), please rate yourself on the following.

  1. I have a clearly defined and communicated leadership purpose
  2. I am currently and actively engaged in growing my leadership mindset AND skill-set
  3. I devote a minimum of 10% of my workweek to thinking holistically and strategically
  4. I set, pursue and accomplish my priorities with fun and enthusiasm
  5. I track leadership results and share them with a trusted partner weekly
  6. The people I interact with most say I infuse hope, confidence and optimism into the workplace
  7. I read broadly and welcome opposing viewpoints and perspectives
  8. I’m committed to having a positive impact on one persons life, both personally and professionally, daily
  9. I am comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity
  10. I am having fun, love life and savor my personal and professional life

Your score out of a possible 100

What are the implications for this score?

What question received the highest and lowest score? What are the implications for these questions being rated high and low?

Have a fabulous and prosperous week!


Taking Out The Trash

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Every Tuesday at eight o’clock in the morning, Waste Management comes and removes our trash. When I saw the trash being removed today I thought that there is not a chance I would leave the trash inside our house because it would be unsanitary, it would stink up the rest of the house and it would be unhealthy.

Then I thought if we remove the unhealthy, unsanitary and stinking trash, why do we keep the unsanitary, unhealthy and stinking trash that sits between our ears? The part of us that has been called our stinking thinking.

Stinking thinking is a particular way of thinking that no longer serves you well. For example, I used to have a belief that when it came to accomplishing work or tasks it was an “all or nothing” proposition. It was black or white as to whether I accomplished my work. Yes, I wanted to be effective and accomplish my work, but it became unhealthy when I thought accomplishing every single aspect of what I thought was possible was the goal. If I didn’t, I was a failure.

I know this sounds crazy, but in the early part of my thirties I thought this type thinking would lead me to being more successful. It was stinking thinking. With help I learned how to remove it.

You may ask, wait a minute, how do I jettison all of my stinking thinking? That’s a great question.

Last week I announced the final seats for my Mastering Your Mindset Intensive starting on October 13th. I am very excited about this program as the response has been beyond enthusiastic and there are only a few seats left.

The Intensive is in essence a community of people who will convert negative / stinking thinking into positive / performance enhancing thinking. This is NOT a walk over hot coals and shout platitudes type of process. It is a pragmatic leadership, performance and profit improvement process.

One client learned how to implement their new product strategy in half the normal amount of time based on the techniques in the intensive, and in turn increased their profitability and customer satisfaction in this area by 25%. The CFO said this was a $500,000 impact over 18 months.

The Intensive will show you how to do the same. And if you want to learn how to dramatically increase your leadership and your effectiveness and your impact, the Intensive will do that too. You will learn how to jettison ‘stinking thinking’ and you will choose from 27 strategies to master your mindset in transformational and positive ways.

Click this link to learn more and register.


The Power of Community

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On an early morning flight from Los Angeles to Augusta, Georgia I met Bert Sackman. Bert is an eighty-three year old retired mathematician and cultural anthropologist. He introduced himself by remarking that the shirt I was wearing reminded him of the musical Oklahoma. This is not the best way to engage me after getting up at 4:00am for a cross-country flight.

Moving beyond the Oklahoma musical comment Bert asked me what I did for a living. My curt answer didn’t dissuade Bert from further conversation. No, after learning more about my work he shared with me his research into drug and alcohol abuse and the power of community and it’s influence on the choices we make. My conversation with Bert had just become interesting.

Bert has done extensive research into the power of community and how communities influence the choices people make regarding the use of heroin. Specifically, his research and work for the National Institute for Health found that 95 – 97% of people who use heroin use heroin in functional ways. Functional means that they continue to work and maintain personal and professional relationships. 3 – 5% of people who use heroin end up abusing heroin primarily for medical reasons. They have in the common vernacular an addiction and cannot choose not to use heroin.

What was really interesting was his research with functioning heroin users who worked for the federal government. This group of people with high security clearances had “heroin parties” where the purpose was to help one another use heroin in “safe” and “functional” ways. If anyone started to exhibit abusive behavior the community rallied around the person and asked the person to change their behavior or leave the group. The peer pressure and fear of being kicked out of the group increased the likelihood of people choosing more “functional” choices.

My conversation with Bert reminded me that fostering positive choices can be enhanced with and through the power of community. By that I mean that the benefits of creating communities of like minded co-collaborators; people who inspire and help one another to make choices aligned with a higher hope, dream or aspiration. Communities can and do influence the choices members of the community make in powerful ways. The people you and your employees choose to spend time with influence your behavior and act as bumpers as to what you do regardless of whether you define it as positive or negative.

Bert reminded me that creating communities is a powerful tool for enabling positive choices. He also crystallized my thinking regarding the structure of my Mastering Your Mindset Intensive. I’ve integrated the power of community into the program in such a way as to help you make dramatically more positive and powerful choices by creating a community of like minded co-collaborators who are accountable and committed to making positive choices in their leadership, their results and their personal well-being.

The good news for you is that you will not have to wear a shirt that reminds people of the musical Oklahoma to experience the power of community. You simply have to make the choice to show up and surround yourself with 40 other people who plan on mastering their mindset in positive and transformational ways. Over the next four weeks you’ll receive instructions as to how you can access a very limited offer to join a Mastering Your Mindset Intensive cohort.

Three Dimensions of a Leaders Purpose

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Whenever I recommend having a leadership purpose to leaders the question will always come around to how will the leader know their purpose is a good one. My quick answer is that it will be three dimensional. The three dimensions of a compelling purpose are:

  1. It determines a leaders behavior. You’ll know you have a compelling leadership purpose when you have a big idea, a dream, hope or aspiration that is so important and compelling to you that it determines what you do and how you do it.

One of my clients recently clarified for his entire company that in order to live out his purpose fully he wanted to do something daily to make a positive difference in a customers and employees life. He wasn’t simply thinking of making a difference; he was converting the abstract intellectual construct of making a difference into something that would determine his behavior.

  1. It drafts employee engagement. Quite simply, disengaged, unhappy or unfulfilled employees will never provide any real or lasting value to a customer. Their disengagement, unhappiness or lack of fulfillment will remain a major barrier to a flourishing business until the leader creates an ideal future that is so compelling that employees get caught up in the same idea future.

What my clients know is that financial rewards are not a compelling purpose. For employees to agree to and engage with a leaders purpose it must engage the hearts and minds of the employee and speak to something bigger and more compelling that money. It must aspire to improving the quality of life for a specific customer. When a noble and compelling purpose is articulated employee engagement goes up by two fold and financial performance goes up by 350%. That’s the power of purpose.

  1. It drives customer delight. I recently took my wife and in-laws to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, the 909 in Burien, Wa. We asked Chase, our waitor of choice for four filet mignons. He informed us they didn’t have any, but that the owners brother, who runs a restaurant five blocks away might have some. He called and asked if they had four and three minutes later came back and told me they would drive over and pick them up. He then asked, “how would you like them cooked?”

This act took between five to ten minutes and delighted all of us. This type of service is what makes us raving fans of the 909 and has us telling everyone we know about the amazing service and food at the 909.

 Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

  1. Are your employees setting out to delight your customers?
  2. Which dimension of your purpose is working well for you?
  3. Which dimension of your purpose is not working?
  4. What area needs addressing in order for you to reach your strategic objectives?

Why You Need A Coach

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When I was twenty-five years of age I was hired for a big new job and I thought I was the big guy on campus. I went out and purchased new clothes, found a new apartment and even purchased a new car. I really thought I had made it.

Within ninety days of being on the job the CEO called me into his office and said, “Hugh, you may be smart and talented, but you’ve ticked off every single person in the corporate office. I cannot have someone like you working here, but I will give you ninety days to correct this. If you do you can have a long and prosperous career here. If you don’t correct the relationship with all of the individuals in the corporate office you’ll be toast. You’ll be gone. Am I clear?” I walked into the CEOs office thinking I was a hero and walked out a zero.

But, I was really fortunate because I had a family friend who was a healthcare consultant. I explained the situation to him and he said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Hugh, what got you into this situation is your thinking and what’s going to get you out of this situation is your thinking.” I asked “what do you mean?” He said, “you seem to think that leadership is all about you and that you’re the big guy on campus (which I did) and you seem to think that everyone should be working to make your life easier as opposed to you making their lives easier. You don’t really have a servant/leadership mindset. You’re going to be the problem as opposed to the problem solver.”

That hit home. I asked what I should do. His advice was for me to go and apologize to everyone and you ask them for their help. I did exactly that. I said to every person, “it’s been brought to my attention that I’ve really ticked a lot of people off, and I’ve come across as arrogant and opinionated and that it’s my way or the highway. I want to apologize, and if you’ll accept my apology, I also want to ask for your help in correcting this situation. What can I do to repair the relationships and make it better?” I did that with every single person in the corporate office.

Now lets fast forward nine months. I made the changes necessary and remained employed. Yes, I made it beyond the make it or break it ninety day period. I repaired the relationships AND was promoted to regional manager where I was now over four businesses, not one.

That’s how dramatic an improvement a coach or a mentor can have. I was inches away from being fired, but a coach/mentor came alongside me and helped me see things from a different perspective. They gave me a strategy that if I implemented it would improve the quality of my relationships immensely. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot solve our problems by ourselves. Leadership is never a solo activity. We need an outsiders perspective.

Here’s my bold claim: you should have a coach or a mentor because you will make more progress faster and it will be sustainable.

Where do you need a coach or a mentor? Where do you need someone to come alongside of you to have a candid conversation about what’s working and what’s not working? I have benefited immensely from having a coach or a mentor, and I have been fortunate to be asked to be a coach and mentor to others. This week figure out where you need a coach or mentor and look for a resource you can trust to help you get where you want to go faster and with great zest. If you do, you will experience unprecedented growth.

Your Ideal Day Is Waiting For You

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Each week the Monday Morning Mindset strives to help you create the mindset that is instrumental in creating your ideal week. Today, I want to talk to you about creating your ideal week.

I had two conversations within the last two weeks with engineer friends who work for a very large airplane company here in Seattle…they will go nameless. One of the things they’ve both said is that the company purports to put “people first.” But what’s become evident over the last five years it’s really more about “profit first” and people are secondary. Work has become a four-letter word for them and work is a slog to get through to the end of the week.

That is unfortunate, because I think there is an ideal day and an ideal week that is waiting for all of us. What needs to be present for you to have an ideal day? I believe there are three aspects of an ideal week you can benefit from. I also want to help you map out your ideal day. Here’s what I know.

#1. Love comes first. I know that for an ideal day to be present we have to love what we do. If I needed a surgeon, I want a surgeon who loves surgery. I don’ t want someone who simply likes surgery. Yes, you can be a good surgeon if you like your job, but you can be a REALLY good surgeon if you LOVE your work. For me, my ideal day starts with doing something I love doing.

#2. Talent comes second. My ideal day allows me to use my talents and skills every day. That doesn’t mean my days are a cakewalk. It means my day can be challenging, but because I’m learning new talents and new skills I overcome my challenges and can be successful.

#3.Value is essential.  My ideal day always involves doing something that is of value to someone in such a way that they appreciate. I strive to hear “it was really helpful for you to be involved in this project and I’m grateful for your insights.”

When you think about it, these three aspects of an ideal day, even though expressed differently for each of us, make for an ideal day. What would you add to this list? By making your own “ideal day” list and crafting what your ideal work looks like, the likelihood of your achieving it goes up appreciably.

Now, the two individuals I mentioned who are exasperated with management that has profit first, it may not be possible or it may be harder there, but they can articulate in context of the environment they work what they love doing, how they will use their talents and abilities to the best of their ability, and how they will provide value to others. When you and I do this I believe you’ll achieve your ideal week.

The Transformational Gift

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This week I want to talk to you about the transformational gift.

Sometimes when we give gifts, we think that we should go out and buy a nice bottle of wine, some flowers or chocolates, maybe even a new watch. We try and think of the person we’re giving the gift to and what they’d like, but the transformational gift is not a thing.

The transformational gift is our presence.

Yes, the transformational gift we give to others is not a thing, but rather an experience we share with someone. I realized this first hand recently when my wife, Alyson, who has become enamored with stand up paddle boarding ask me to give her the gift of my presence.

Alyson has purchased two stand-up paddle boards within the last two months. One is a flat-water board and the other is a board that can be ridden in rougher waters. She came in from paddle boarding and in preparation of her fiftieth birthday said, “Do you know what the greatest gift would be for my fiftieth birthday?” I said, “No, what’s that?”

She said, “the greatest gift would be for you to be out on the water with me on a stand-up paddle board.” “Hugh, it’s gorgeous! I see fish swimming underneath my board, I see herons and eagles flying overhead in the gorgeous blue skies…and I’m getting great exercise. It’s just gorgeous! And the one thing I want more than anything is for you to be out there with me. I know you’re never going to get into stand-up paddle boarding in the same way I have, but I love it so much that I want the love of my life to experience it with me. That would be the greatest gift.”

What Alyson didn’t know at the time was that she transformed my thinking substantially about gift giving. She gave me the gift of saying, “I love you and I don’t need or want more things. What I want is to spend time with you and I want you to enjoy this with me.”

I am in turn going down to Hood River, Oregon next week for the third time in three month to buy a stand-up paddle board from Eddie at Big Winds. Eddy has helped us so much that he is now one of our new best friends and I’m sure he’ll be on our Christmas card distribution list.

I want to remind you that it takes a shift in mindset to say that the gift I’m going to give someone is to simply to be present with them, and that by doing so I’ll cultivate a memorable experience.

Sometime our presence needs to be transactional. For example, I’m in your presence because I have to communicate something to you about an expectation or a task that needs completing. Yes, that’s necessary.

But the greatest gift is when I don’t “have to” spend time and communicate with you, but rather I choose to spend time with you. Imagine hearing, “I want to spend time with you.” That is a transformational gift.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week if you want to shift someone’s mindset, either in your personal life or your professional life, spend time with them. Don’t go in with an agenda, just be fully present with them. If you do that, it will be transformational.

Why Separation Is Preferable To Unification

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This week I want to talk to you about why separation is preferable to unification. You may have noticed that separation has gotten a bad rap. There are several reasons for that. There is the bad rap that came from the separation of the races in the deep south, and there was the separation that can from Bernie Madoff engaging in separating  people from their money.
But there are really good aspects of separation. There is the separation of wheat from the chaff. By removing the husk; the inedible portion, we’re left with the corn. There’s the beneficial act of separating the impurities in our water so we can ingest healthy water.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to suggest that there are three things you need to separate yourself from this week in order to be really successful.
#1. Separate yourself from low expectations. The very first thing you want to do is separate yourself from people who have low expectations. These are people who are willing to settle and who don’t have the same aspirations as you do. They want to coast and they are content with the status quo. Ladies and gentlemen when the status quo becomes attractive or acceptable curiosity and innovation go out the window. You want to separate yourself from people like this.
#2. Separate yourself from people that believe failure is bad. Failure is not a permanent blemish on your character. Rest assured, there are people who are incredibly successful that look at failure as simply the next step in achieving something extraordinary. You want to unify yourself with people who believe failure is not bad and separate yourself from people who see failure as a terrible thing.
#3. Separate yourself from victims. Separate yourselves from people who see themselves as victims, that they believe someone is doing something to them. These are people who don’t take responsibility for their actions and that don not want to be held accountable.
Ladies and gentlemen, you do not want to be separated from the above types of people, and while many organizations admonish leaders and teams to work together, if you are trying to achieve optimum performance you have to separate yourself from these types of people. People who want to raise the bar and are striving for something extraordinary typically do not believe life is a struggle and believe they can be better next week than they were this week. This mindset attracts similar mindsets and is repelled by the opposite. Unification is not the answer in all cases; separation is a great answer to accelerating performance.
I ask you this week: where do you need to separate yourself, or where do you need to separate some of your team, so they can perform at a higher level? Answer that question and you’ll have a fabulous week.