Are You Surviving or Thriving? Both Are Your Choice

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One of the most prevalent issues executives and entrepreneurs face today is a feeling of being overwhelmed, over-scheduled and overburdened. What I see continually is that the absence of down time or white space in their calendar leaves them running from meeting to meeting and feeling pressured to make decisions quickly and oftentimes with insufficient information. The underlying belief is that they must do more, with less, do it better and still delight the customer. This leaves the majority of people feeling drained, marginalized and seeing work as a long slow slog through enemy territory on their bellies with bullets flying over their head.

There is an opportunity if this is your situation. The opportunity is that there is a replicatable process for not only making progress amidst the chaos that is your everyday work life, but for making decisions faster and more reliably regarding business success. There is a challenge also. The challenge is that the mindset most executives and entrepreneurs have restricts them from believing anything they do will positively address the situation. You can read more about this mindset in my Mastering Your Mindset Special Report.

If you want to experience greater enthusiasm for your work, to create higher levels of employee engagement, and drive increased execution on strategic initiatives, the following best practices are used by my most successful clients and will work for you also.

#1. Make a different choice

The first and most important best practice is to recognize that you have a choice as to whether you maintain your current state of affairs or do something different. You cannot control the situation presented to you each day nor can you control the exigencies of your day, but you most certainly have control over how you respond to them. You know this but need reminding that you have a choice.

Choose to break any patterns that no longer serve you well and actively choose to create your ideal day and life. You may find yourself saying the same thing that one of my recent Mastering Your Mindset Intensive graduates, Phil Hoffman, said. He said, “When Hugh asked me to define My Ideal Day, I thought “I can do that, but I doubt I can live it.” Phil was committed though and made a different choice. You can too.

#2. Start small

Getting back in shape is not done overnight. When I was twenty years old I broke my leg and for twelve weeks was on crutches with a cast up to my groin. I gained twenty pounds (I was depressed and ate more potato chips and dip than I care to admit), sat on the couch and felt sorry for myself. When the cast came off my leg muscles were atrophied and I couldn’t run from one end of our driveway to the other without getting winded. Yes, we had a long driveway.

I learned at an early age that setting small goals of running the driveway once was a great goal, and that running ten yards farther the next day was a great small success. In our busy lives the vast majority of us are impatient for faster progress, but learning to see small progress accomplished daily, works wonders.

#3. Have a success list

Success lists are game changers. When you keep a list of your successes or accomplishments daily, over time you will see your success and progress in black and white. Success lists allow you to stand back at the end of your week and see clearly where and how you’ve been successful.

Each day before you leave your office write down 3 – 5 ways you were successful and keep track for four weeks. This will be a game changer in your perspective.

#4. Focus on progress not perfection. There is only one area of my life where I have reached a state of perfection and that is being dissatisfied with my current level of perfection. I was raised in a family that “good enough” was not good enough. I could always and should always do more. That’s a rough way to live your life.

Today I work at being content with daily progress and am significantly better at doing so, but am still a work in progress in this regard. But, I’m making progress.

#5. Hire a coach

Without a doubt having a coach or mentor has made the biggest difference in my life. My coach is Alan Weiss. Alan is by far the best coach for consultants like myself and has helped me not only grow my business, but also live my personal and professional life more boldly, abundantly and more generously. Without Alan my new book would likely not be released in June. Coaches help you grow faster and more reliably than we can on our own.

My predictions:

100% of you that choose not to implement one or two or three of my best practices will remain frustrated, employee engagement will falter, performance will decrease, and you’ll never achieve your or your teams full potential.

50% of you will read this and agree with it conceptually and do nothing with it. Not because you’re lazy, dumb, or disinterested, but because you’ll likely be hit with a mission critical issue and will veer off course and forget to come back to it.

25% of you will start one of the best practices and do it for one to two weeks and then stop. You won’t see the immediate results and see the best practices as ineffective and neglect to consider your implementation.

15% of you will get results quickly and conclude after two to three weeks that your bad habits and negative thoughts have been addressed successfully. You’ll think you’ve got things conquered and over the next four to six weeks you’ll regress back to the mean of your prior behavior. Your success will be short lived.

10% of you will commit to making a choice to cultivate one or two of the best practices and make them new habits. You’ll choose differently, set a plan and work your plan, you’ll track your progress and have a coach or mentor help you grow faster and more reliably. For this cohort of people they will do great work, live an abundant life and convert work from a four-letter word into the highest expression of what work and life can be.

Which group are you in? If you want to be in the top 10% and would like my help getting there, drop me an email at hugh@clarisconsulting.net and we’ll discuss how I can help you create greater success faster more reliably and with a whole heck of a lot more fun.

Three Steps For Attracting Your Ideal Customer

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One of your key metrics as an executive or entrepreneur is how fast and profitably you’re able to grow your business. One of the easiest and least costly ways to grow your business is through referrals from existing and happy customers. Referrals are the platinum standard for business growth because they have a near zero cost of acquisition and the sales cycle is reduced significantly.

The power of a referral is as simple as a good friend telling you about their favorite new restaurant, movie, financial planner or car dealership. The likelihood that when you’re in the market for a movie, restaurant, financial planner or car dealership, their recommendation will prompt you to act on their recommendation.

How can you increase the number of referrals you receive each month to an ideal customer? There are three ways to increase the number significantly.

Raise The Bar

This is the foundation for getting referrals. If you do work that makes the life of a customer easier and better you are doing work that is referable. A dentist for example who comforts a nervous patient and makes their dental experience pain and anxiety free has raised the bar as far as what the patient thought was possible, and by doing so has opened the door to receiving referrals.

Key Question: What is the one area of your business you can or need to raise the bar, and by doing so will have an advantage over your competitors?

Elevate The Customer

This second step seems to be below some businesses. While in San Francisco recently I had two dining experiences in highly regarded restaurants. The first was in a very good restaurant with excellent food, but whose attitude from the hostess to wait staff was one of “you are lucky to be here.” The customer was in many regards an interruption and not a welcome guest.

The second restaurant was equally impressive in their food quality, but whose attitude was “we are so lucky to have you here.” They smiled, enjoyed their work and were enthused about making each guest not only feel comfortable but important and welcome. They believed that the customer truly came first and it showed.

Key Question: How are you exemplifying that the customer comes first in your business? Is this distinctive in the eyes of your customer? Would your customer agree with your assessment?

Blow Your Own Horn

The hard truth is that nine out of ten of the businesses I’ve worked with don’t ask for referrals because they’re afraid to ask. They’re afraid they will be turned down, make the customer feel uncomfortable or possibly lose the customer permanently for having asked. So they sit quietly on the sidelines hoping they will receive referrals.

When you believe that you provide exceptionally high value, your reluctance to blow your own horn goes down appreciably. In last weeks Monday Morning Mindset I outlined how you can gain a competitive advantage. Adding to that, I will say without hesitation or reservation that knowing your competitive advantage and what value you provide is the catalyst for sharing prominently what you do and how you help customers. You are not boasting or bragging, but rather helping people to become more successful.

Key Question: How confident and comfortable are you in communicating your value in clear and compelling ways? Depending on your answer, how much will your answer impact you blowing your own horn?

Regardless of your role in an organization, receiving a consistent flow of introductions and referrals to your ideal customer is essential for success and growth. Which of these three steps do you need to address this week?

Three Questions That Give You A Competitive advantage

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What Is Your Competitive Advantage?

No doubt you want a competitive advantage over your competition. A competitive advantage can come in different forms for different people. For example, if you’re a leader you’re competing for the mind-share of the individuals you lead. What will give you an advantage in influencing others behavior? If you’re selling a product or service you are competing with the budgetary requirements of the customer as well as with other vendors. What gives you an advantage?

If you want to position yourself in ways that give you an advantage over your competition I’m going to share one bold statement and three questions that will help you have a competitive advantage. Answer these three questions and you can have a competitive advantage.

Bold statement:
Your competitive advantage needs to be that you give a competitive advantage to your customer for having done business with you.

It’s really quite simple. By giving a competitive advantage to someone you will have a competitive advantage.

Three Questions:
1. What is it that you do extraordinarily well that is highly beneficial to your customer?

2. What are your customers strategic initiatives, and how are you helping them accomplish them in unparalleled ways?

3. What problem / issue are you addressing that it is a game changer for your customer?

When you answer these questions you will have a competitive advantage. But before you check this exercise off your to-do list, take one important and highly valuable next step. Confirm your answers with your customer.

If your answers to what makes you unique and distinctive are compelling for you but not for your customer you do not have a competitive advantage, but rather a performance disadvantage and all bets are off.

If you want to have a competitive advantage provide a competitive advantage to your customers. You’ll know you have done so when customers say, “we cannot imagine doing business without you.” When you hear that, you’re going to have a fabulous week filled with a competitive advantage.

The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth

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Before giving testimony in a court of law we place our hands on a Bible and declare that we promise to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. If only it were that easy in our personal and professional lives.

Telling the truth is not something we can do on our own. We need several support mechanisms in order to do so. We need:

1. A process: many college and NFL football teams have a Tell The Truth Monday. It’s a review of the previous game and a process for finding what went well and what didn’t.

In our professional lives we need a tell the truth process. Whether you do so on Monday or Friday, you need a repeatable, non negotiable process that focuses your attention on what went well and what didn’t in order to improve and prosper the following week. In essence you need a process for removing your blinders.

2. A partner: We have a high capacity for deceiving ourselves. We tell ourselves the comfortable truth as opposed to the uncomfortable truth. The comfortable truth is the truth that allows us to stay comfortable and doesn’t require change on our part. Our partner in turn must be someone we know, trust and respect and who calls us out when need be.

3. A promise: Promises are key to telling the truth. When you promise yourself and the other important relationships in your life that you promise to look at your conversations, behaviors, word choices and impact on others, and do whatever is necessary to improve, you remove any doubt from the eyes of others and build credibility and confidence.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge
Tell yourself the truth before you go any further. Which of the three support mechanisms do you need today? And if today is your tell the truth Monday, what from last week must you tell yourself the unadulterated truth about?

Are you Living A Porsche Or A Prius Life?

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I am a visual person. Once I see something I want, need or would find enjoyable I hit the gas and go get it. Some things take longer to get though and require the virtues of focus, discipline and perseverance. This picture is of one such area in my life that requires these virtues.
This is a 1/18th scale 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 4.0 and has the following specifications:

0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds
0 to 120 in less than 12 seconds
A redline-limited top speed of 193 mph

I’m not certain I want this particular car, but I am certain that an assertively tuned, high performance and stunningly beautiful mode of transportation is what I want. Regardless of whether you want to drive a high performance sports car or a Prius, the point I want to make is twofold.

1. The moment you see and claim the future you want you accelerate toward it.

2. Far too many people are content to take a leisurely drive in the country toward their ideal life. There is no guarantee you will have tomorrow, so if you want something create a plan for getting it and savoring it now.

You’ll notice the car door in my picture is open. I did that on purpose. The invitation to higher performance, greater satisfaction and a joyous and thrilling life awaits you. But the question is whether you are willing to open the door and step into that possibility.

I am. Are you?

Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously

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There is a mindset shift I see as beneficial for the majority of people. The shift is to stop taking ourselves so seriously.

There is Buddhist saying that recommends we hold in one hand the belief that we are powerful and can create many wonderful, positive and beneficial outcomes. In the other hand we are told to hold that we are meaningless and powerlessness.

I am not an eastern mystic, but I do believe there is something to be said for doing our very best each day to positively impact those around us while also cultivating levity, playfulness and fun. Not the levity, playfulness and fun of a kindergarten class at play time, but rather a levity, fun and playfulness that dispels angst and anxiety.

This is especially important in the world of work where nine times out of ten it is not life and death. Some of you reading this will say, “actually, work for me is life and death. I’m an emergency room nurse or I’m a surgeon and I am confronted daily with life and death situations.”  If that’s the case, you have an even greater need to infuse levity, fun and playfulness into your life.

We all need an ability to pull away from the harshness of the day and to watch a funny movie, to tell a joke or to have something that brings happiness, joy or wonder into our lives. Without this ability to not take ourselves so seriously work and life becomes a long slow slog on our belly through enemy territory with bullets flying overhead.

Today, what is the one thing you will do to laugh, smile and not take yourself so seriously?

The One Most Powerful Strategy For Greater Leadership Success and Satisfaction

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I want to share with you the one strategy I’ve found that will help you become more successful and more satisfied. Can you become more successful and more satisfied with just one strategy?

Yes, and here it is: name and claim your expertise. When you name what you’re really, really good at and that compels and excites you, you are going to accelerate toward it’s achievement.

Let me give you an example. I am the expert at converting human potential into accelerated results. I have no misgivings about naming and claiming this and know it isn’t hyperbole. It is also not my ego speaking. It is a recognition that my flourishing business is rooted in my client experiences and that’s what allowed me to name and claim my expert status.

If you and I were having a conversation over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, as the expert in converting human potential into accelerated results I might even say, “I can help you create more dramatic performance improvements, more rapidly and more reliably than you ever imagined possible.” I can say that with utmost confidence and sincerity.

What do you say your expertise is when having a conversation with someone? If I asked you, ‘what are you the expert in,’ how would you answer the question? Don’t hesitate. Tell me what it is that you are the expert at doing.

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you get clear about your expertise, the moment you claim it and name it, you’re going to accelerate towards it. But if you cannot or do not name and claim your expertise you will not accelerate your performance.

This week, the one important question for you to answer is: what am I the expert at doing? Whether in medicine, technology, manufacturing or consulting, what are you the expert at doing? Get clear on that this week and you’ll cut the time it takes for you to achieve success appreciably.

Yours in speed.

Hugh

An Explosive Idea To Dislodge Underperformance

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C-4 is an explosive. It is malleable and can be shaped and formed to whatever area needs to be blown up. There is an explosive idea for organizations, leaders and team members which is also called C-4 also. This C-4 stands for:  Championship Caliber Customer Choices. 
Let me pull that apart and put it into two distinct segments. Championship Caliber. The difference between a champion and an amateur is that an amateur will do something simply for the sheer enjoyment of doing it. They’re not concerned with whether there is a win in column at the end of playing. They also do things with an amateurs mindset. By that I mean the commitment is not to continual progress, but rather about enjoying the ride. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let me juxtapose that with champions.
Champions look at every single thing they do and ask, “is this going to help me or hurt me in my pursuit of being a champion?“ They look at a championship event in the future and acknowledge that if they want to be successful or to win they will need to be disciplined in their thinking, physical training and their diet and nutrition. They are not only disciplined, but bring a rigor to the journey toward their championship. Inside an organization that means that you as a leader, executive, board member or team member have to cultivate a championship mindset when it comes to your work. That’s the first two C’s of C-4.
Then we come to Customer Choices. I believe that every organization is structured around one idea which is that you have to delight your customer. You have to make their life so easy that you become indispensable. With that said, customer choices is included because there are choices you are making that are not in your customers best interest. You’re making choices to continue to do things because they’re comfortable. You may make decisions to stay in a particular market because you don’t have another market to go to or because it serves your own well being and welfare and puts the customer second.
My work to help leaders and organizations become highly successful starts with knowing your customer so deeply that you know what they love, where they spend time, what they buy, find valuable and enjoy. You know everything there is to know about your customer and everything you do is designed to make their life easier. By doing so you become indispensable to them. C-4 is a choice and one that you have the opportunity to cultivate inside your organization every day.
Monday Morning Mindset Challenge Questions:
#1. Are you as a leader doing championship caliber work? Is your mindset that of a champion? Are you striving to be a champion in one aspect of your leadership?
#2. Are you looking at all of the customer related choices you make and eliminating any aspect of your work that does not serve the customer well?
That’s Championship Caliber Customer Choices…how are you doing with C-4?

Happy New Year

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Are you looking forward to 2017? We have finished celebrating the holidays and have entered 2017. You can look at 2017 with dread or with the expectation of multiple resolutions that will allow us to have a better 2017 than 2016.

I don’t think that’s the best way to approach 2017. When we do, we are human doings going through a checklist and making sure everything is accomplished properly…as opposed to a human being, using all of our faculties to create a truly flourishing 2017.

How do you create a flourishing 2017? I have four strategies I want to suggest this week.

#1. Dream bigger. Whatever dreams you have for 2017 take a moment and think bigger them. Imagine increasing them by 25% or even 50%. What does an even bigger dream look like? Dreaming bigger is the catalyst I use for interrogating reality and getting outside of the safe, comfortable and known. When I’ve thought bigger than at first I’ll know I’ve go bigger when I muse, “how would I go about doing that!?”

#2. Choose wiser. Be ruthless in your choices. Be ruthless in who you spend time with, what books you read, what conferences you attend and what development opportunities you take advantage of. Make sure the choices you are making are aligned with your dreams also. When there is a misalignment your success will be stalled.

#3. Believe deeper. There is a belief in each one of us that says “I am capable of doing something noteworthy, important, helpful, empowering, transformational and one heck of a lot of fun.” But we have smothered that belief with self doubt, fear, trepidation and unwarranted anticipation that we may be rejected. Ladies and gentlemen, believing deeper comes from having a dream that has really grabbed hold of you, being ruthless in the choices that you make and believing you can accomplish it.

#4. Act bolder. You are not a victim. There is one thing you can do every day that when done in a repeatedly bold way will allow your dreams to come true. This one small action will allow you to make ruthless choices and for you to believe even deeper. Accelerating toward success comes down to one small action taken every day; not one huge action, but one action taken every day toward accelerated performance.

If you dream, choose, believe and act you’re going to have a fabulous 2017. My commitment to you is that I will do what I can to help you do dream, choose, believe and act powerfully and purposefully in 2017. In doing so I’ll work to help you radically reduce your time to success.

If that’s what you want, I’ll see you back here next Monday.

Happy New Year!!!

Goodbye 2016 Hello 2017

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There are two types of responses to 2016 coming to a close and 2017 starting.

The first is “Good Riddance! 2016 is over and I’m glad to be done with it.”

The second is “Bring it on! 2017 holds tremendous promise and I can’t wait to get started.”

However you view the closure of 2016 and the start of 2017 I want to share two offers with you that I believe will help you make 2017 your very best year ever. Both offers have limited places available and must be reserved by December 31, 2016.

Mastering Your Mindset Intensive
One of the most exciting new programs I offered this year was the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive. It was oversold for the first cohort, but will be offered again in Feb and March of 2017. The results participants are experiencing are:

* 100% of participants anticipated a 50% or greater increase in their performance. At week seven 80% of participants were on track to achieve their performance improvement, and by week eight 90%.

* Participants are experiencing increases in confidence, decreases in anxiety and an increased belief in their ability to do GREAT work.

Current participating organizations and any new participant for 2017 can enroll at the 2016 registration fee of $495.00 versus the 2017 fee of $695.00. This $200.00 per person savings is available through 12-31-2016.

Read more about the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive here.

Pulling Out The Stops – Executive Coaching
Stop making resolutions and start making each year a year of clarity, energy and focus. My Pulling Out the Stops coaching program will accelerate your professional growth faster, more reliably and with greater satisfaction. You’ll learn to rapidly optimize your performance and productivity with custom strategies and techniques. Experience the rapid career growth that my most successful and satisfied clients enjoy.

Finding Direction and Purpose – Transformational Coaching
A program for individuals who want to make 2017 their best year ever. Whether you want to kick start your career, find a better work / life balance or improve your personal and professional relationships, this is a 60-day program to set direction and purpose in all aspects of life. More effective than another list of to-do’s, this is the perfect gift for yourself or someone you love.

Read more about my coaching work here.

Applications – For an application and more information, contact Hugh by email @ hugh@clarisconsulting.net or call 206-829-9413.

All my best,

Hugh