Something You Can Do—Right Now—to Boost Your Mood (caffeine-free)

Think of how your day could go badly if someone doesn't show up.  Now, send them a note telling them why you appreciate what they do. It’s easy to take people’s contribution for granted, especially when things go to plan. “Of course they did it, they’re supposed to, after all, it’s their job.” But regardless of how much someone’s being paid or how prestigious their…

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The Secret to Conquering Fear

Fear is a performance killer. Fear tells us we’re not good enough. Even confidence is shattered by fear. Only courage can stand up to it. Courage gets us moving in spite of fear.  But fear has a secret. It needs idleness. Mountain climbers only feel fear when they stop climbing. Excitement, engagement, and flow are in the climb—in the active pursuit. Growth is in the climb.…

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Is Life-Gunk Blurring Your Judgement?

I was in a meeting a couple weeks ago with a man wearing glasses. He caught my attention because his glasses were smudged. I mean REALLY smudged. Distractingly smudged. How was he able to see anything? To be honest, I desperately wanted to ask him for his glasses so I could clean them. I imagined him lighting up when he put them back on, “Oh…

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A Team Building Lesson from Nick Fury

Creating a dream team is like working a puzzle. It’s about recognizing each person's unique contribution—their strength—and putting them in a position to use it. Nick Fury did this in The Avengers. Fury selected each member for the unique strength they brought to the team. As a result, the capability of the team far exceeded the individual capability of its members—the whole became greater than…

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3 Crucial Conditions are the Foundation of Great Teamwork

Accomplishing great things in business requires great teamwork. Steve Jobs put it this way, “Great things in business are never done by one person, but rather by a team of people.”  Achieving great teamwork depends on our ability to manage the team’s energy. For that, we need a compelling goal, a conducive environment, & effective systems. 1) A Compelling Goal A good goal is clear…

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To Set the Stage for Teamwork, Look to Sports

Setting the stage for great teamwork in the workplace is a lot like creating a new team sport, like soccer nuevo. In team sports, how the game is won is crystal clear. There’s a time limit—urgency. There’s an arena and a well-defined playing field. There are rules. There’s a way to keep score in real-time. There’s a referee and a coach. These things frame up…

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How to Avoid Getting Snared by the Busy-ness Trap

Customers need proof. Proof that we are what we say we are.  Proof that we get them.  Proof that we care.  Proof that we’re capable, reliable, and trust-worthy.  Proof that we’re in it for the long haul.  Proof that we’re right for them. The best businesses create a continuous stream of proof—they walk their talk, again and again and again and again….  How to best…

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Are You An Unintentional Diminisher?

People are born with a burning fire; a desire to explore and learn. Exploration leads to discovery. Discovery increases capabilities. Discovery is exciting. Excitement is motivating. Before we know it, we can do things we never dreamed of doing. Discovery gives us a new perspective. It increases our confidence. It makes us more willing to step up and try.  That is until someone we respect…

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These 3 Roles are Essential for Small Business Growth

Launching a small business is exhilarating… at first. But for most, the honeymoon is short-lived, replaced with long days of firefighting and diving catches. These people aspire to create a business, but what most create and take on is multiple jobs: owner, executive, marketer, sales person, operations manager, bookkeeper, and expert maker/doer. It’s no wonder so many small business owners are exhausted! To create more…

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How to Feel More ALIVE at Work

Most of us at one point or another have switched over to autopilot at work—just phoning it in. Once we're cozy within our comfort zone, we want to stay that way. If we keep doing what we've always done, we'll keep humming right along. Easy. Comfortable. Safe. Right? Not quite. It's logical, but there's a flaw. The flaw is that it perpetuates the status quo,…

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The Means to Inspire Greatness is Hiding in Plain Sight

Shared stories unite business leaders, employees, and customers. The most powerful stories convey what people care most about, draw us in, and make us care too. They can even make us feel like family. Every business has stories. Stories with the potential to improve quality, efficiency, and effectiveness—to inspire greatness. When broadly shared, these stories make customers, employees, and leaders proud. They make us part…

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How to Prevent the Business from Becoming a Shipwreck

Internal forces command our attention. External forces govern success. Internal forces are loud. External forces are silent. When external forces are ignored, we use speculation, assumption, or the highest paid opinion to make decisions. Internal forces put everyone, at every level of an organization, at risk of drowning in a sea of busy-ness. External forces that govern our effectiveness are things like: Customer preferences Competitive…

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This Simple Counter-Intuitive Investment Always Pays Off

It’s vacation season. Vacations are fantastic (and necessary) because they refresh our perspective—giving us fresh eyes.  Fresh eyes and a clear mind allow us to conjure a hi-def picture of the future we’d like to see, and to contrast it against the present—to see what’s working, and what isn’t. Fresh eyes give us the ability to see how to get where we’d like to go. …

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The Hardest Part of Hard Work Isn’t the Work

Success is associated with hard work. In the industrial era hard work meant putting in long, grueling hours and working to the point of physical exhaustion. Today, work is more complex and mentally taxing. Hard work means something different. It now includes self-awareness, mental clarity, and good judgement—thinking straight. It’s tough to get good results when we’re not thinking straight. But thinking straight is easier…

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Are You Playing Whack-a-Mole with Your Time?

A few years ago I learned that complexity gives rise to surprises (and not the good kind). These surprises push planned activities aside and force us to redo previously completed work, troubleshoot problems, or otherwise set things right (again). Surprises make us reactive. It doesn't take many to utterly derail us and transform our day (or week) into a game of whack-a-mole. Moles pop up…

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The Golden Opportunity Concealed within a Common Problem

The best businesses seem to sense what the customer needs and immediately respond with value. In fact, they deliver a continuous flow of value. They know that customer wait time dissolves the customer's trust and feeds their doubt.  Minimizing wait time delivers bottomline results, but wait time can be tough to pin down. It's sneaky. It hides in places like cars & trucks, airplanes, telephone…

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Is the Hassle Factor Limiting Your Sales?

To earn and keep a customer, whatever we offer has to be worth it to them. "It" is a manifested outcome at a reasonable cost, and cost is more than dollars and cents. It's the total time, effort, information, & money necessary to acquire their outcome. Time, effort, and information are part of their experience. They are the hassle factor part of what the customer…

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Why Less is More When It Comes to Delighting Customers

This last Sunday I found myself at a popular Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, renown for their fried chicken wings. The customer experience is… um… strict. Prospective customers must sign up on a dry erase board and wait for their name to be called. Names are hurriedly called out by a hair-trigger host. If there’s no immediate response, he moves on (erasing the “no-show.”) If…

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Why Delegation is Necessary for Growth & Gain

Clinging to the known is easy and comfortable, but it’s not satisfying. In fact it’s boring. Growth and gain come from doing the things we don’t really have to do. They come from stretching ourselves—by embracing discomfort.  But we don’t need to cannonball into new challenges, just dipping a toe in will do. As our toe gets comfortable, we need to put the rest of…

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The Real Reason Customers Come Back (Again & Again & Again)

“I like cake. It makes my body happy!” — Zach, age 6 No one wants a slice of cake. We want how the cake makes us feel as it melts into our mouth and lights up our brain.  What do people want besides a meal when they go to out to eat? Belonging? Companionship? Status? What do people really want when they go to a…

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How a Twinkie Can Help with Team Building

A team that rows (or works) as one is a symphony of motion. A harmonizing of spirits. It’s magical. And it's FAST! Assembling such a Dream Team is challenging work. The coach repeatedly assigns each rower (worker) to different positions in the boat, rooting out their strengths. Rowers are moved, swapped, and replaced until a magic combination is found. There’s an old story about a…

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These 3 Ps are Essential to Employee Engagement

Employees are a business owner’s largest expense, and a massive source of wasted time and money in most companies. The ability to attract and retain great people separates thriving businesses from struggling ones. Engaged people amplify business effectiveness, but according to research, most people are not engaged. That’s a tragedy, especially when we consider that everyone enjoys engaging work. When engaged, we’re at our best.…

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Hiring? How to Spot a Diamond in the Rough

Which would you choose to attend, a blockbuster TED Talk or a blockbuster movie? Do you read more non-fiction or fiction? How do you feel about documentaries? Do you listen to anything other than music in the car? We all seek out a mix of pleasure and purpose in our daily lives. However, the mix that’s right for each of us varies. Paul Dolan and…

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This Simple Counterintuitive Practice Leads to More Success

Do you know the names of your eight great grandparents? Do you know any of their stories? How did their decisions impact your life? We all know moments become days, then weeks, then months, then years. Short-term often becomes long-term. And sadly, someday too often becomes never.  What story are you creating with your moments? Will your actions matter 50, 10, or even 5 years…

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People Bring Their All to Work When These 3 Things are Present

I was walking the beach with a friend when we came upon a sandcastle under siege. The ocean was sending wave after wave to destroy the defenseless fortress. Each wave surging ever-closer. The sandcastle would soon be erased from the face of the Earth. Its only crime was daring to stand in defiance of the mighty ocean. Something had to be done. I immediately dropped…

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How to Transform Work into a Game People Want to Play

On the day I turned 16, I was all gussied up and the first person out the door—determined to land my dream job. I chose the place because everyone working there always looked like they were having fun. When I arrived, I sheepishly asked the girl behind the counter if they were hiring. She said, “I think so, fill this out” and slid a blank…

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This Counter-Intuitive Practice is the Key to Getting More Done

Each day brings a thousand blinking buttons screaming to be pushed. Most do nothing, but five… five will change your life. Joseph Moses Juran called this “The Law of the Vital Few.” The list of people that have used the The Law of the Vital Few to achieve extraordinary things is long. Warren Buffet owes 90% of his wealth to just ten investments. Steve Jobs…

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Sidestep Future Trouble with this Activity

Our core values are tied to our sense of identity. The more something aligns with our values, the more we’ll fight for it. Our values are behind the objectives we set and the actions we take. Shared values make up the bedrock of loyalty, for both customers and employees. We’re all hard wired to seek out other people “like us.” We all want to feel…

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This Truth Governs Our Outcomes

I’ve often read Event + Response = Outcome. To get a desired outcome we just have to respond in the right way. I don’t know about you, but frequently my response seems to happen without checking in with me first. James Clear sheds some light on why it's so hard to get in front of our responses in his book, Atomic Habits. It really comes…

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How to Wisely Choose Our Next Action in a Difficult Situation

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Victor E. Frankl When we interact with anything, it changes. It's like adding cream to coffee. The cream swirls about as it makes its way through the coffee. It takes some time to settle in. In our own…

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Use This One Question to Hire Like Warren Buffett

“We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don't have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you're going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb. I mean, you don't want a spark of energy out of them. So…

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Preserve Your Reputation with This Secret We All Know About Quality

The journey to achieving high quality starts when a person decides they are someone who does things well and in a lasting way. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best when he said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so…

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How to Keep Your Business on Track

Humans are irrational. Yes, we're capable of being rational, but for the most part we go with what “feels right.”  We love novelty, but cling to familiar. We’re hard wired to seek out newness, but fear change. We travel to new, exotic places only to spend our time in a familiar hotel (with a Starbucks in the lobby). We love the excitement of new, but…

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Do You Work with a Vampire? How to Tell and What to Do About It

“Toxic people adhere as concrete blocks to your ankles, then push you to swim in poisoned waters.” John Mark Green Do you work with someone who leaves a trail of depleted people in their wake? Do the majority of their interactions leave people feeling badly? If so, they are poisoning the work environment. Draining everyone’s time and energy, like a vampire. They are a boat…

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