Be of good cheer!

So how are you rating on the “cheer” meter right now? Are you feeling like a holiday cheermeister yet? (I love that part in the Grinch movie!)

The holidays are a great source of joy and cheer for many, but for others they are very stressful and can bring on anxiety related to shopping, cooking, gifting and visiting. For some people, this can be a very lonely time of year, especially for those who have experienced a significant loss. So how can you be of good cheer?  Actually, watching or reading “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!” offers a good reminder to change our attitude.

I love this part from the story:

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

In a culture that drives you to do more, I challenge you to do more meaningful things this year. Spending quality time with loved ones is far more valuable than gifts. A kind word and sincere company is an immeasurable blessing to the lonely. Determine to be of good cheer and spread cheer, even with just your smile. Seek a simpler approach to the season and see what a difference it can make.  So consider the real meaning of the season and Be of Good Cheer!  Merry Christmas, everyone!

We should honor the Savior’s declaration to “Be of Good Cheer.” Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than any other. – Jeffrey R. Holland

Beyond Appreciation – Acknowledging Gratitude!

I’ve always said Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Why? It’s one of the few holidays not based on giving or receiving anything, but based on being grateful for what you already gratefulhave. An attitude of gratitude is extremely powerful, in our personal lives as well as our business lives. Gratitude goes beyond just appreciating something to acknowledging the many things around you that are worthy of your recognition.

The power of acknowledging what we are thankful for is incredible and helps reduce stress, enables us to face challenges better, and improves our relationships with others. If you pay attention, there are numerous opportunities to acknowledge your gratitude every day. All over Facebook, many people are making a specific comment of thankfulness each day throughout November. This is an important activity, not only for their own well being, but for those around them. But the acknowledgement doesn’t have to be public. Some people keep a gratitude journal, or routinely write notes of appreciation. A quick and easy way to acknowledge gratitude is to speak it sincerely, to those who should be hearing it, or even to yourself!

Though not everyone will admit to wanting recognition, most people truly like it. Employee satisfaction surveys indicate that American workers crave recognition in the workplace. A sense of being appreciated helps employees be more productive, improves performance, and even encourages better service to customers. Organizations with effective reward and recognition programs report increased retention, job satisfaction, and overall performance. It’s important to encourage a culture of recognition that is not only manager to employee, but peer to peer, employee to customer, and customer to employee. It doesn’t matter what direction the gratitude is coming from, the important thing is that it’s flowing!

So express your gratitude today! Ponder it, speak it, write it, or display it…the important thing is that you acknowledge it.  Happy Thanksgiving!

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” — William Arthur Ward

Do you know someone who acts like a horse’s…

…leader? If so, then you know an excellent communicator with true leadership qualities!

LeadershipCommunicationStraightfromtheHorsesMouth-3D (2)What can you learn about leadership and communication from a horse? More than you think! We know that communication is far more than talking and listening, words and gestures. Genuine communication requires a sincere understanding of another person’s (or being’s) perspective… “communication language” if you will.

What if I told you that the horse’s unique communication language could give you amazing insight into communicating more effectively with humans? Learn how horses perceive leadership and apply the “lessons from the horse” to your own leadership communication style and find out how to really gain the respect of the herd!

My new e-book, “Leadership Communication: Straight from the Horse’s Mouth” is available now at a special introductory price on  Click here to order now at this special price!

How Your Business Can Be “Knowledge Rich” in Lean Times

Think of someone you know who is an expert is his/her field or profession!

Has that person ever tried to convey information to you?  How did that work out? Can the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in your organization effectively transfer their knowledge?

Valuable expertise can forever walk out the door at any moment, so we need to constantly harvest our organization’s knowledge base and spread it around. 

Here are the qualities to look for in SMEs who will be able to build the knowledge base in your organization.

Desire to share knowledge:  WANTING to help others and share knowledge is THE single most important quality.  Ask the SME how important training is to the organization.  Ultimately, a good SME is passionate about both his/her subject AND overall organization performance.  Passionate people have stories to tell, examples to share, and a desire to do so.

Competence:   The SME should be someone who has demonstrated competence and is respected by others as a SME (not just a self- proclaimed SME).  The right person has credibility with peers and the reputation as the “go to” person … the person who knows the process, the history behind the process, and how to troubleshoot the process.

Communication skills: Desire to share and competence in the subject matter are of little value if that knowledge can’t be effectively shared.  Ask the SME to explain something to you.  Evaluate how he/she explains it, and note if you are asked questions to see if you understand.  Evaluate how the person makes you feel.  Patronized?   Ignorant? …or Valued, nurtured, and helped?  Essentially, be the first student and evaluate teaching potential!

There’s no doubt that a SME can be a great training resource; and with proper preparation, management and transition, an internal subject matter expert can become a subject matter educator!


Perfect or Done?

There are two kinds of people….those who get things perfect, and those who get things done.  Are you a Perfectionist or a “Get ‘R Done” person?

Perfection is difficult to achieve and often isn’t 100% necessary. 

For example:  Two students have been assigned a project to produce a solar system replica along with a report on the subject.  The due date is tomorrow. 

The Perfectionist student may get caught up in ensuring that the replica is of the finest materials, accurate colors, most realistic surface, exactly to scale, etc.  This can often happen to the detriment of the report, and the due date!

The “Get ‘R Done” student will analyze the grading rubric and determine the replica is only worth 5 points and the must-have elements of the report will carry the most weight.  This student will focus on ensuring the report meets the specified criteria and then produce a replica not nearly as perfect, but satisfactory.

The lesson here is that we face these decisions every day in our tasks.  Sometimes a task must be perfect, for example brain surgery!  However, most of our tasks have the latitude described above.

 It’s important to evaluate a task and determine the appropriate amount of effort, double-checking, etc. needed to accomplish the task to the highest quality necessary, within the allotted time frame.  Note:  “highest quality necessary“, not “highest quality possible”.

Sometimes perfection is more critical than timeliness, and it’s important to know when this condition exists.  More often, however, getting the job done is more critical than having it reach an unnecessary level of perfection.

Prioritization and effective time management are dependent upon making these decisions well. Ultimately, weigh the use of your time and energy carefully, and allocate them with proper focus.  You’ll accomplish more, and what you accomplish will be done more consistently

Quote:  Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

–Lin Yutang,
Chinese writer, translator, linguist and inventor


Where is your weak link?

3 steps to weeding them out!

Every business has one (or more).  Sometimes it’s a process, sometimes a product, but more often than not, it’s a PERSON

How should you address weak links?  These three steps are necessary, if you’re interested in strengthening your business.

Identify:  First, you must clearly identify the weak links.  You can do this by asking for, and paying attention to, customer feedback.  Ask about processes, products and people.  Do not be offended by what you hear.  Customers will tell you their perceptions and, you can either choose to believe them and build your business or ignore them and watch it fail.  Inform your employees that you are asking for specific feedback.  Meanwhile, look around, watch people work, and examine data regarding output/efficiency.  Look in the places your customers might not see.

Intervene: A weak link left unchecked will eventually break your business.  Share the results of your “Identification” step.  Again, this is no time for people to get offended.  This is business.  If a person is one of your problems, it’s time to make it public.  The rest of your employees know who the weak link is and will appreciate the fact that you’re finally addressing the situation.  Determine what it will take to strengthen the weak link.  The answer may be awareness, training, process changes, or reorganization.  Be strong enough to take the actions needed, or your employees will lose faith in your leadership.

Institute:  Institute a measurement process for important business metrics so that weak links are identified quickly and you can determine whether or not interventions are effective.  Share metrics with employees so that the quality and efficiency of your business is known and improvements can be celebrated.  You may also want to institute a reward and recognition program so that continuous improvement is encouraged and reinforced.

Weeding out weak links not only strengthens your business but also improves employee morale.  Here’s your reality check for the day:  Don’t wait for weak links to fix themselves … that just never happens.

That’s a “good answer”!

Do you remember watching the game show “Family Feud”?  Whenever a family member gave an answer, no matter how ridiculous, the rest of the family would clap and cheer: “Good answer! Good answer!”

Did you know there’s actually a recipe for a “good answer”?  Just remember “ABC”!  I teach this “ABC” technique to speakers and presenters, but it can be used by most of us every day!  Do this when asked a question:

AAnswer the question!  That sounds simple, but it means give the direct answer without hedging, sidestepping or adding any preliminary background first.  The questioner is listening for the answer, not for background information, so give the answer first.

BBackground can be provided to support the answer.  This may be in the form of reasons, examples, and explanations, if necessary.

CConnect to a key idea you want to get across.  A talented speaker can find ways to relate the answer back to one or more key concepts of the presentation.

Here’s an example:

Question:  “Should a speaker close every professional presentation with Q&A?”

nswer:  “
No, he or she should not.” 

Background:  “Q&A can be difficult to manage and might actually end your presentation on a flat note, especially if the questions being asked aren’t of interest to the entire group.  It’s actually better to weave question and answer opportunities into the presentation, ending with an offer to entertain additional questions after dismissal by standing near the front of the room for those with “bonus questions”.  If it is important to open the floor for questions, do so BEFORE your closing remarks!”

Connect:  “A speaker’s opening and closing are two of the most important moments in the presentation.  Ensure that your presentation ends strongly by holding Q&A before you deliver your closing remarks.” 

You may not always hear cheers and clapping following your answers, but you can control the mood and pace of Q&A successfully by employing the ABCs of question answering.






Sink or Swim! ….the worst way to train employees

“Well that’s how I was trained, and I turned out fine!”  This is a destructive and short sighted attitude for employers to take when it comes to employee training. 

It costs a lot of money to recruit, interview and hire an employee.  The time between an employee’s first day on the job and actual productive work output is directly related to the quality of training provided.  Just because the “learn by immersion” theory worked in some cases doesn’t mean it’s the best use of resources.  It will generally end up costing the business more in the form of mistakes and reduced efficiency.

Developing a good employee on-boarding program that gives new employees a solid understanding of the goals and vision of your business, and then giving them concrete expectations and procedures for doing their job, not only benefits the new employee but the business and its customers as well!

Don’t expect your new employees to “sink or swim”.  Ensure that they get their feet wet the right way and reap the benefits of a strong employee training program! 


If you are called upon to give the “present” of a presentation…

You’ve been there.  Prisoner to a painfully poor presenter who drones on and on without any apparent consideration for you…the “captive” audience.  Public speaking certainly isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but if you are called upon to speak, there are some simple things you can do to make your presentation more meaningful, memorable and motivating!

Breathe deeply before speaking as this will help calm your nerves and steady your voice.

  • Outline your key points on a note card, but don’t read from a script. Be conversational and natural in your delivery.
  • Never begin with an apology or a downer statement such as, “I’m not really good at this, and I hope you don’t fall asleep … just bear with me.”  -Be confident and just get started … with a good opening!
  • Prepare a strong opening such as a story, an analogy, an intriguing question, or a meaningful statistic.  Give the audience a reason to engage and keep listening.  This is called the “opening hook”.
  • Answer the listener’s unspoken question, “Why do I care about this?” before he or she even thinks it!  That’s called giving them the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me
  • Stick to the main points and don’t try to cover too much information.  Make your presentation as short as possible, and leave some “change in your pocket”.  That means having a little extra information to add if people seem to want more. 
  • Close with power!  Refer back to your opening, share a concluding story to summarize or deliver a poignant quote.  Don’t end with the cliche’, “Are there any questions?” That just leaves your close hanging.   Deliver your power close, say thank you, take the applause and then say, “I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have at this time.”

The great John Wayne summarized it best when he said, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much.”

Presenting doesn’t have to be painful…for the presenter or the audience!  Next time you’re called upon to present, give your audience the gift of a great presentation!


Desperately seeking simplicity

How much is on your “to do” list right now? Do you need more hours in the day? When it comes to your time, have you ever considered your return on investment?

Every day you are investing your time in something. By nature, we complicate things, take on too many tasks and do a lot of things the hard way. The result is stressed out, burned out people, frantically functioning through life, without really living it. Henry Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplify, simplify.” If you really desire more time for what’s important, it’s up to you to simplify. Here are some suggestions:

Start by identifying what is most important to you. Boil it down to two or three main things you do with your time that you feel will have the most lasting impact. Put those at the top of your list … and keep them there. Then list all of the other ways your time is spent and scrutinize everything you do today.

Eliminate or delegate things of lesser importance. Scan the list for things you don’t really have to do, but you do anyway. Determine if it’s time to eliminate some of these things, or if someone else could do them just as well. Consider email lists to which you can unsubscribe to eliminate clutter, magazine subscriptions you can cancel because you never read them, and chores you can assign to others in your household – especially if they’re just as “qualified” as you are to do them!

Automate as much as possible. Consider using direct deposit to save a trip to the bank, automatic bill pay to avoid missing critical due dates, creating grocery lists and appointments in your phone so they’re always handy, and letting calls go to voicemail if you know you don’t have time to talk to the caller.

Don’t overcomplicate tasks by requiring perfection. There are cases where perfection is the only option, but for the majority of things, good enough is good enough. The house will eventually get dusty again, but your children won’t grow smaller. Determine what can function just as well with good enough right now and save perfection for the things that really matter.

Consider your time a precious commodity. Invest it wisely.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci