Keep Thinking Different

Keep Thinking Different

A recent addition to Netflix “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” is a new look at the fascinating life of a change agent. Inspiring stories, interviews with people that worked with him, and the negative side to being a visionary. They don’t beat around the bush, people admitted that at times he was a tyrant, but those same people also talk about how much they learned while working for Jobs.

It’s an interesting watch, I hope you do! We all need a little inspiration every now and then, this documentary reminds us that we need to keep thinking different.

Why it sucks being a coach... some days

Why It Sucks Being a Coach….. Some Days // eps 52 #inthelab

Why it sucks being a coach….. some days

At a given Volleyball tournament of 12 teams, the first three teams go home happy. One, Two or Three are a nice finish, but anything after that really sucks. So the average coach has a 25% chance of going home happy?!? That’s crazy! Now I’m obviously over exaggerating but your win loss record is only one of many things to focus on as a coach. The problem is that’s the easiest thing to single out as a parent, athlete, spectator, did you win? Why not? 

It’s not just coaching, in life we often forget what the purpose is. Is the end goal really just to win the tournament? At what cost? What are you willing to sacrifice? When will one more win be enough? In life, how much do you make? How much did you clear last year? How  Any time I hear conversations like that I feel a little worse for man kind.

The money doesn’t matter, just like the win doesn’t matter. 

Your goal is to get your team to focus not on the win but the bigger issues at stake in sport.

  1. Are you a team?
  2. Are you contributing to that team?
  3. Are you getting better every day?

These can be very hard to focus on when everyone around you wants a win.
It’s hard to focus on creating something amazing in life when everyone tells you to get a “real job”.

As long as you don’t give up you’re not a failure.

The 75% of the tournaments you leave without a medal makes the other 25% all that much sweeter. There’s a romantic side to sports that Billy Beane talked about in Moneyball and I see on coaches faces time and time again. It seems delusional how much these coaches and volunteers put in just to help the younger generation see a sport through their eyes. It’s really quite amazing to see.

Don’t give up.

I talk to amazing teachers, mentors, and coaches all the time. I feel everyone is on the brink of quitting and getting more “me” time. I crosses every volunteers mind I guarantee it. But the tittle of this post is “It Sucks Being a Coach….Sometimes” because there are these magic moments where you see kids come together, do things they never thought possible, and learn life skills in a completely different way.

This past weekend we has Nationals in Winnipeg. We didn’t do as good as I thought we should (in the tournament), but throughout the weekend I witnessed a bunch of thirteen and fourteen year olds become a team. As a team they cheered on our arch rival at Provincials, Meadow Lake in any game they watched them play in. It’s like they grew up. The crux of the boys coming together was after cheering on a girls team they all went on to the court, lined up to shake hands, and congratulated the girls team on a game well played.

I couldn’t have been more proud.

Life gets hard to teach us a lesson. As long as we don’t cave under the pressure, as long as we don’t throw in the towel, we’ll be okay. The harder the challenge the more important the lesson.

don't give up

The importance of accepting anothers point of view

The Importance of Accepting Another Person’s Point of View // eps 51 #inthelab

“I now appreciate public transit.” -Conrad Hewitt, 2016

Trying to see peoples’ points of view isn’t something that comes natural to humans. As we’ve evolved, the softer skills in life have become much more important to our survival than the hard skills (fight or flight) as of the last hundred years. In business it’s even more rare. Empathy is a word that is not often discussed in the board room. Love, Kindness, generosity, all words never uttered in the corporate world. Until now.

There are many unforeseen benefits of seeing the world through another persons eyes here are three.

  1. It’ll cause you less stress. You don’t need to constantly be “right”. It’s counterintuitive when you think about it. Usually we go into a discussion to be heard or to get our way, but if you’re smart about it you’ll go in trying to learn and adapt your point of view based on the new knowledge you discover.
    The next time someone tries to argue with you try and agree with what they’re saying and come up with a better solution all together.
    The smartest people in an argument will change their mind, one of the hardest things to do, on a topic to see the issue through a different lens. This take willpower, empathy and some mental Jujitsu but it a very powerful tool.
  2. Your clients perspective is a great reflection of your business. Your brand is what your customers say about you. Every interaction is showing others a reason to like or dislike your organizations brand. Smart organizations are asking customers what they think, how could they do better, and what they love about their service or product.
    You gain empathy when you show empathy to others, when you truly know how people feel about you.
  3. You’re not the most important person in the world. The sooner we all come to grips with this the better. It’s easy in a moment of lost baggage rage to freakout on the airport attendee, afterall, you needed your bag for tonight! Get over yourself.
    Nothing can happen to you that is so bad that you have to ruin someone else’s day over it.
    Remember, you aren’t the most important person in the world and that service worker that you’re about to reem out about an over charged phone bill could be having the worst day of their life. You never know when showing someone kindness could mean the wo rld to them.
    The next time someone thinks you’re about to get really mad at them do the opposite. You’ll see it in their eyes, that priceless look of a genuine human ‘thank you’.
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What makes company culture

What Makes Company Culture? // eps 44 #InTheLab

This week on #InTheLab I get to talk to Kirstin from Wiegers Financial & Benefits. I’ve talked about them lots over the past year. They do things differently, they aren’t afraid to zag in a market of a lot of zigging going on. They do things like “Wiegers Care For Kids” which this past year raised $225,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. They have a very dedicated staff, they seem like a high level sports team. They just click.

I asked Kirstin about culture in the video above and what it’s like working at Wiegers in beautiful Saskatoon.

It’s a “Work hard, play hard” mentality around the Wiegers office

“It’s really hard here some days”, Kirstin says, “it’s a demanding job and you work a lot some days but that’s what makes the fun days so worth it.” They’re a very busy financial and benefits firm that has been doing business in Saskatchewan for over 20 years. Started by Cliff and Deb Wiegers, they’ve built the company from the ground up. It’s truly a Saskatchewan entrepreneurial story.

Start a social committee

Scavenger hunts, dress-up days, office valentines, potlucks, and BBQs just to name a few. The Social Committee collects a fee from every employee (approximately $24 per year) and with it they plan themed days that get the team outside the office and outside their comfort zones!

Unapologetically have fun at work

I thought for sure they would have some pushback from employees who may not think a scavenger hunt is a “professional thing to do” for a business like Wiegers. But Kirstin said everyone loves to be a part of a “fun” office. It allows people to get along outside of the workplace walls, where you can really get to know someone.

we all need balance in life

We all need balance in life

If you expect unbelievable results from your employees you better be able to provide unbelievable culture. All these little “perks” add up to create a career  It’s a lot easier to try and over-deliver at work for a company that cares about you and is willing to   The heavy workloads are followed up with lots of training opportunities and of course all the different team building days they host.

 

The best employers understand what their team values

I think all organizations can learn something from Wiegers. They aren’t the “norm”, they are anything but boring, they care about company culture. If you expect people to perform at a high level day in, day out, you better be prepared to treat them at a high level.

The best employers know what their people value in life

TL:DR

For the cost of $24 per year, the staff pay into a fund that creates the coolest team building experiences possible.

***Side note about teams. I can relate. Every year a Volleyball team of mine doesn’t do so well, it 9/10 is because they didn’t get along good enough. A team that doesn’t get along off the court will never get along on the court. I discovered it the hard way. Don’t make my mistake, make sure your team gets along before playoffs start!

I'm not sure what do you think?

The Seven Most Important Words a Leader Can Say

I’m not sure, what do you think?The Virgin Way by Richard Branson

From Richard Branson’s The Virgin Way he talks about the 7 most important words for leaders to use. “I’m not sure, what do you think?” puts your staff at ease, makes everyone around you feel like you aren’t a know-it-all and willing to implement other people’s ideas.

When you ask others for their ideas you get more options to choose from. You incentivize people coming to you with innovative solutions to organizational problems. Today’s best businesses empower their people to share ideas up the chain of command. As a leader, the less ideas you come up with to implement, the more champions you’re building up around you. Also, when you adopt your staffs’ ideas, you’re creating a very important incentive for your people to want to offer their ideas (very few organizations actually care about what their frontline employees think, let alone ideas they have).

When you ask others what they think, what you’re really saying is “I actually care about you and what you think of this organization”. As funny as that sounds, unfortunately most organization leaders don’t think their people are that smart, they’ve built up a facade that business is run by executives and the people who where suits to work everyday. When it really comes down to it, the best organizations have the best people on the front lines, and no, for the most part they don’t where suits.

I think we all can learn a lot from what Mr. Branson has taught us about business. Below are a few of my favourite quotes.

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Something Ventured Documentary

“Something Ventured” the Story of Venture Capital

Ever since I was a little kid I was fascinated with Venture Capitalists. Maybe little kid is a stretch, but in University we heard about these folks who lived in the big cites in the U.S. were pitched all sorts of business ideas and they got to pick their favourites and most of those businesses made them tons of money. Money they used to fund more and more businesses and the cycle went on.

 

I may have got their success rate a little wrong but all in all VC’s were the heros of business school. They were the smartest, they lived a lavish life, and they made thousands of dollars a day, just by being, well, remarkable at business (the good ones anyway). They were entrepreneurs that had already made it, and they empowered other entrepreneurs to achieve their goals too. Venture Capitalists were one of the major funding sources behind many of our darling companies that have been created over the past 15 years. Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Youtube, Genetech, Cisco, Oracle, Electronic Arts, LinkedIn, Amazon, Paypal, Intel, etc.)

 

The Venture Capitalists they talk to in the movie include;

 

  • Arthur Rock (Early investor in Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, Apple, and Teledyne)
  • Tom Perkins (Founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, early investor in Genentech and Tandem)
  • Don Valentine (Founder of Sequoia Capital; early investor in Apple, Cisco, Oracle, Electronic Arts and LSI Logic)
  • Dick Kramlich (Founder of New Enterprise Associates, investor in PowerPoint, Juniper Networks, Macromedia and Dallas Semiconductor)
  • Reid Dennis (Founder of Institutional Venture Partners)
  • Bill Draper (Founder of Sutter Hill Ventures; Founder of Draper Richards)
  • Pitch Johnson (Co-founder of Draper and Johnson Investment; Founder of Asset Management Company)
  • Bill Bowes (Founder of US Venture Partners)
  • Bill Edwards (Founder of Bryan and Edwards)
  • Jim Gaither (One of the early developers of the venture financing structure still in use today)

 

These companies and people are behind some of the most revolutionary companies of our generation. We must learn what they did and ensure that the same progress and technological advancement occurs throughout our tenure.

 

So who’s going to be the next Arthur Rock? Who’s going to look at a business like Don Valentine in the future?

Why not you?

 

If you want to read more about the movie you can check out their website here or find the movie on Netflix.

90-percent-of-the-data-in-the-world-today-has-been-created-in-the-last-two-years

9 Lessons Learned Volunteering on Not-For-Profit Boards

1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

-IBM

On a single day on the Internet there are:

  • Over 2 million Google search queries

  • 48 hours of new YouTube videos

  • 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook

  • More than 100,000 tweets

  • $272,000 spent on e-commerce

  • Source: Webopedia

If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.

2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?

There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.

3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.

Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.

Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.

4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.

“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!

Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.

5. Face the brutal facts. 

Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.

Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.

What if we don't change at all and something magical just happens?

6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).

I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.

The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.

If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.

7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.

People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.

Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.

8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.

Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.

-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras

Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old. 

Examples:

Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball

University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride 

Regina Police Service: Public Servie First

Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching

9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.

In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.

Fun can be a competitive advantage

Fun can be a competitive advantage.

Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.

If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.

Aftermath of Sept. 11th

Could You Stand Up To An Overwhelming Majority Who Disagree With You?

Barbara Lee was a Congress Person when the September 11th attacks occurred in the United States. In the hours following the attacks the United States Congress drafted a 60 word sentence that would change the way the U.S. could use to military force from then on. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was signed by George W.Bush on September 14th, 2001, and has been the legal foundation for the war on terror for the past thirteen years.

Barbra Lee was the only Congress person to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Of the 535 people in the United Sates Congress, 534 of them voted in favour of the Authorization to Use Military Force, only one person voted against it. Immediately after she began to receive hate mail, a tons of it, and for months on end. She had the courage to standup for what she believed in. She had to vote against an overwhelming majority because she knew she had to live with the repercussions of that vote.

Fast forward thirteen years and the United States has been evacuating troops for the past several years now admitting the “war on terror” wasn’t the success they hoped it would be. Looking back Barbra seems to be the smartest person in that room at the time. She’s truly an inspiration.

What was written in a few days of fear has now come to govern years of action

Could you standup for what is right even though you know everyone around you disagrees?

I first heard this story on the podcast titled “60 words” from Radiolab is an amazing listen. They interview many of the people who were there the day the vote went through and the backlash that followed.

Buzzfeed covered this story as well in a long article titled; The Untold Story of the Most Dangerous Sentence in U.S. History. 

Here’s a video of her explaining her position. She’s very smart and courageous.

Create holy $!%& moments

Most events aren’t meant to be remembered

that’s why most events aren’t that good. How many presentations, conferences, lecture’s, speeches, keynotes, and guest talks have you been in that have completely bored you to death? It’s become an epidemic, and I hate it.

If you don’t intentionally try to create a memorable event why do you think people will remember it?

 

Start with: why will people remember this? Why will my event be different? How do we get people walking out after the event saying “holy $#!& that was amazing!!”. Maybe therein lies the secret: to create “holy $#!&” moments.

 

Most events aren’t meant to be remembered, but why not? Don’t you want your next event to go down in history as one of the best _________ of all time?

When planning you must ask how are we going to get people to remember this? If you don’t you’re almost guaranteed that people will do the opposite.

You must have a clear vision

3 Things Great Leaders Always Do

Why is it so rare that employees look up to their boss? Why is it that most senior leadership are referred as more of the senior part and not so much the latter? How come more people don’t look up to the leader of the organization? Why is it so rare to find a visionary, humble, head of an organization?

In the future we’ll look up to leaders who understand and act upon these 3 must do’s.

1. You must have a clear vision.

If your staff don’t know where you’re going it’s going to be very difficult to follow you. If your vision isn’t simple most people won’t get it. If your purpose can’t be summed up in a short phrase, you probably haven’t drilled deep enough. If everyone on the board is comfortable with the simple vision, it’s not provocative enough. If you let a committee come up your purpose it isn’t going to get far. If you think the executive suite are the only ones who can come up with your purpose, you’re wrong. Purpose should be shared just as much with the top row and the front line employees. More often than not front line employees have a better grasp on what the company “actually” does than the executive row.

Business strategy that’s written by mbas is business strategy for mbas. Real people want simplicity, they want to know you care and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

2. Actually care about people.

Don’t just say you care about people, that’s cliche and every company says they care about their people, very few actually show it.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You show people you care with your actions and how you spend your time and your money. Every company says they care about their people but how many create a bottom up feedback system? How many leaders actually have an open door policy? How many leaders would actually encourage employees to speak up when they disagree with a decision?

You show employees or members that you care when you listen to them, when you actively seek their feedback, when you truly want them to be a part of the decision making. If you truly do care about the people you work with, you’ll try to help them. When employees feel their voice will be heard and that they can make a difference, it’s like they’re working with a super power.

Anything becomes possible when the people we look up to empower us to achieve more than we are capable of.

3. Be the hardest working person in the organization.

Be the hardest working person in the organization

Leadership is service. Leaders work harder than everyone else, they rarely take credit and they put more fires out than anyone else. Leadership isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work.

Having people look up to you, rely on you, being a part of your team, is a small reward. The larger reward in this situation is watching the people under grow into a better leader, manager, and team player than you ever could be. Leadership is the humble act of always putting others first. When you find you’ve groomed a candidate that people look up to, are inspired by and that works harder than you do, you know you’ve done your job.

The goal of leadership is not to be indispensable, it’s quite the opposite. The goal of leadership is the day you don’t show up, everyone knows exactly what to do and the sustaining work to keep the organization is done.

Leadership is the highest form of service. Never forget that.

Leaders wanted.

Leaders wanted

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