Thinking Outside the Box

March 31st, 2014

I hope every­thing in your life and busi­ness is per­fect. You don’t have a care in the world, right?


This could be the way it is (or how you think it is), but in my busi­ness expe­ri­ence things are typ­i­cally not this way. Busi­ness could always be bet­ter. Even when things appear to be work­ing, we should be explor­ing if there are new and bet­ter ways to do it.

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Digging Out of the Hole

February 27th, 2014

It has been awhile since I wrote a blog post. Maybe I was tired after years of writ­ing them, or (more likely) I lost moti­va­tion once my mort­gage bank­ing friends started doing extremely well. Their busi­nesses were flour­ish­ing, many had all the vol­ume they could han­dle, and of course, many were greatly improv­ing their finan­cial position.


But, now it is a dif­fer­ent story!

Vol­ume has slowed dra­mat­i­cally. In some mar­kets, there’s not enough hous­ing inven­tory so indi­vid­ual profit mar­gins have thinned. Turn-times should be great because there are more than enough peo­ple, and the reg­u­la­tors and ware­house lenders are look­ing closely at ser­vic­ing sales (if you have any) and prof­itabil­ity, or the lack of it. Sound famil­iar to the sit­u­a­tion your com­pany is facing?

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Leaders Communicate in Good Times and Bad

October 22nd, 2013

Man­ag­ing and lead­ing are sim­i­lar, but don’t be con­fused – they’re dif­fer­ent. It’s help­ful to look at the def­i­n­i­tions for each, and the syn­onyms offer more insight. A man­ager admin­is­trates, con­trols and super­vises while a leader pro­vides guid­ance, direc­tion and lead. Still a lit­tle murky?

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The Best is Yet to Come…Really!

March 4th, 2013

Maybe you see the world as I do. No mat­ter what suc­cess we have achieved in life so far, I believe the best is yet to come. For cer­tain, good things do hap­pen to us as a result of hard work, a dose of opti­mism, hope and a pos­i­tive atti­tude. But the big­ger view is that there is much more we can accom­plish, no mat­ter our age or circumstances.

I was reminded of this recently when think­ing about an amaz­ing lady – Josette Sul­li­van – and her jour­ney with can­cer. About two years ago she was diag­nosed with advanced pan­cre­atic can­cer, and the mes­sage from her doc­tor was to pre­pare for the inevitable. In essence her time was very short. When she told her boss about the doc­tor visit, he encour­aged her to fight it. And fight she did!

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What’s Love Got to Do with It?

February 21st, 2013

Maybe you remem­ber Tina Turner. She made the song “What’s Love Got to Do With It” famous, but I was really reminded of the line dur­ing the recent Super Bowl. The Ravens, led by their coach John Har­baugh and team leader Ray Lewis, all empha­sized how much they cared for each other both as a team and as teammates.

The Ravens entered the NFL play­offs with only an out­side chance to advance, but advance they did. The power of believ­ing in your team and a strong com­mit­ment to excel car­ried them to what was an improb­a­ble (or at least unex­pected) Super Bowl win.

Every busi­ness needs solid, expe­ri­enced and com­mit­ted play­ers to suc­ceed, the best, if pos­si­ble, in all posi­tions. But whether or not they really reach their full poten­tial depends on how well they work together.

With very few excep­tions, busi­ness is a team sport. The more col­leagues care for each other and are com­mit­ted to help­ing each other indi­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively excel makes a huge dif­fer­ence. So in a way, love has got a lot to do with it.

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Painting Within the Lines is Not Required

January 31st, 2013

You may have seen one of the pop­u­lar “we’ve got tal­ent” shows. Often they are com­prised of seem­ingly unlikely par­tic­i­pants, at least by appear­ances, until they per­form. Then we can be awed at what tal­ent they have. Their per­for­mances bring tears to their audi­ences and judges — and us as well.

Recently I was at a huge “top per­former” sales rally, and one of the guest speak­ers was artist/communicator Erik Wahl. I was in awe of his tal­ent. He is a gifted, incred­i­bly artic­u­late artist who paints quickly and rather uncon­ven­tion­ally. He tells a story as he paints. As he nears the end you finally real­ize what he has cre­ated in just minutes.

I men­tion him because he revealed to his audi­ence that he hadn’t really painted until he was 30 years old. When he was six years old, a teacher told him he didn’t have the tal­ent. He appar­ently couldn’t paint within the lines, so he gave up.

How many of us have lis­tened to the voices of doubt and don’t believe we’ve got tal­ent? How many of us fail to tap into all of our capa­bil­i­ties and poten­tial because we were led to believe we couldn’t? Or maybe we were sim­ply never encour­aged to do more.

My mes­sage is this: don’t worry about paint­ing within the lines or try­ing a dif­fer­ent path because your ideas or approach are dif­fer­ent. We need to unleash our tal­ent or gifts no mat­ter what oth­ers may think. We need to give it a shot. We have incred­i­ble poten­tial within us that oth­ers may have yet to appre­ci­ate or understand.

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Hey, It’s a New Year!

January 1st, 2013

I don’t know about you but I can’t believe that it’s 2013 already. It seemed like the sum­mer was not that long ago, and now we are start­ing another new year. The good news is – and it is good news – we get another chance to make great stuff happen.

I have always believed the best is still ahead of us, regard­less of our age or the suc­cess we have enjoyed to date — but we do need to have a plan and the right atti­tude. Good things won’t come our way unless we are recep­tive to them and will­ing to step out of old habits and the rit­ual of always doing the same old thing.

In every aspect of our lives, there are things that have worked really well and hope­fully fewer things that could have gone bet­ter. We may have cir­cum­stances we wished we didn’t have to deal with. With all these pos­si­bil­i­ties, now is the time to take stock of where we are and what we need to do to pos­i­tively move forward.

One sim­ple approach advo­cated by the Build­ing Champion’s coaches is to assess the activ­i­ties and behav­iors we want to keep doing, start doing and stop doing. If we are hon­est with our­selves, the Keep-Start-Stop process can be a pow­er­ful tool. We can also include in the review those we work with and our fam­ily and friends. Lit­tle things (we usu­ally see the big ones) can often get in the way of the good things and real­iz­ing our full potential.

The notion of not being able to reach a goal we don’t have is rather obvi­ous. But even when we have goals, do we have a clear enough vision and plan for get­ting there? Often our think­ing is too gen­eral. We really need to get very spe­cific and detailed if we want to achieve our goals, espe­cially the ones that are a stretch for us. What spe­cific actions need to take place, and when, and do they lead pro­gres­sively to attain­ing our goals and aspi­ra­tions? Start off the new year with a solid list of actions. By doing this, when March arrives we may be a lot far­ther than we expected!

The biggest imme­di­ate chal­lenges we can face are some­times those issues in our life – busi­ness or per­sonal — that are unre­solved. They can sap our energy, our focus and our abil­ity to be all we want to be.

These are often the hard­est chal­lenges, those things we don’t really want to address. We need to address them now! Spend the time to fig­ure out how to over­come or resolve them. We usu­ally know what they are but have avoided them. As we start 2013, tackle them and get them resolved. They might be neg­a­tive and hard, but once they are behind us we can take bet­ter advan­tage of our oppor­tu­ni­ties and all the good things before us.

Yes it is a new year, and let’s make it the best one yet!

Don’t Stop with Comp

December 6th, 2012

Over the years in many lead­er­ship roles, I have believed that pos­i­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion, recog­ni­tion and being made to feel part of the team were impor­tant moti­va­tors. At the same time, I also believed that com­pet­i­tive com­pen­sa­tion was critical.

While I still believe that’s right for comp, I’m increas­ingly con­vinced that the so-called “softer stuff” may even be more impor­tant than I thought. Let me explain.

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5 Mandates for Every Leader

November 7th, 2012

Recently I spoke with a group of CEOs about trends in their indus­try and also had the oppor­tu­nity to offer impor­tant ways to enhance their lead­er­ship skills. These proven “man­dates” apply to any­one in a lead­er­ship role that wants to improve their per­for­mance and over­all career success.

  1. Aim Higher
    We all have a ten­dency to aim too low when set­ting goals or per­for­mance expec­ta­tions. No mat­ter how good things may have been, our mind­set should be that the best is still ahead. We need to real­ize that our oppor­tu­ni­ties far out­dis­tance our abil­ity to see or grasp them. That is why we can aim much higher in set­ting goals than we believe we can attain. We need to make sure those stretch goals really are a stretch.

    And it may not be pos­si­ble to attain per­fec­tion in every­thing we do, but we can strive for it every time. Don’t accept less than being a “per­fect 10” in every area that dri­ves per­for­mance and results. When we aim higher and exe­cute to the high­est level pos­si­ble, we will sur­pass the major­ity of the com­pe­ti­tion and pre­pare the team for even greater results.

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Do You Ever Have Too Much to Do?

September 19th, 2012

Some­times we can feel over­whelmed with work pil­ing up and no light at the end of the tun­nel. How can we accom­plish every­thing we are respon­si­ble for? All of us can feel this sense of over­whelm­ing pres­sure and prob­a­bly a tinge of panic.

One solu­tion is to be very clear about our pri­or­i­ties and work only on the most impor­tant and time sen­si­tive items first. Set­ting pri­or­i­ties may not be easy, but it’s an impor­tant first step. When the work­load piles up we can’t waste time on the least impor­tant items.

A clear plan of attack out­lin­ing spe­cific action steps is another impor­tant step. Then work the plan one step at a time to get it all done.

It can be that sim­ple, but from time to time every­thing on our plate may have to get done. There may be no other option. It’s worth not­ing that there can be a dif­fer­ence between our per­cep­tion of when we think some­thing needs com­pleted and when it must really get done. We need to be cer­tain we know the real timetable for every project along with the risks if we can’t make it hap­pen on time. Things are not always clear so we must make sure every­one is on the same page.

But, let’s assume every­thing needs to get done now (or at least real soon).

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