The Beauty of Our Humanity – Ten Things I Know to Be True #11

When I came to New York city, and saw the iconic skyline, I made the off-handed remark that it didn’t seem to me to be any bigger than my hometown downtown of Calgary.
Since then I’ve learned how wrong I was.We’ve spend five days exploring Manhattan Island, and we haven’t made it past Midtown yet. New York isn’t a city, it’s a collection of cities, all jammed up against each other. And then last night we popped out for the subway down the street from *the* most famous jazz club in the world, the Blue Note. And I had the privilege of watching three musicians who made me literally cry for joy.
Tonight I learned that we human beings connect with more than words or noise. I watch three people connect on  a level so deep and profounditseemedtometo be a religious experience. They used music but also sight, being seen, body language, and facial expressions. They used trust, experience, and focus to create something transcendent. They expressed joy, friendship, and love with every movement, glance, and smile.

I understood why “evolution” seems such a weak word. A coughing, sickly word without energy or mass, without the emotional weight needed to inspire. That such a deep connection, unity, intimacy,  “couldn’t” (but did) happen by natural selection. That we have no sense of the deep time, age, scope, and scale of the universe, nor do we realize the rarity and beauty of our place in it.

This misunderstanding is our arrogance on display. The expression of connection and intimacy I witnessed last night, that is our beauty.

(Re)Starting Your Company #1 – Teach

Alexander the Great with his teacher Aristotle

Alexander the Great with his teacher Aristotle

Finding the right people to help you run your company is hard. Especially here in Calgary. Finding qualified and competent workers at all levels has been a challenge for years, with no end in sight, because of the boom economy.

Getting the right people is a strategic differentiator for your company. So instead of competing with everybody else, you might want to try something different.

Recruit your students. Don’t have any? Go out and teach or volunteer in your professional community. This is an extension of a previous suggestion for restarting your career – get out there and volunteer in the community.

One of my clients is a sales manager for a home-builder. In order to develop herself professionally, she volunteered to teach the local entry-level realtor’s certification. If you know anything about the Calgary real estate market, you’ll know that it was barely affected by the crash. Vacancy rates have been at less than 1% for a couple of years now. Lots of new agents are entering this hot market hoping to make their fortunes in sales.

But there are many other opportunities in this city. Even though the hiring pool is wide, sometimes it’s not  very deep. And no matter what the size of the candidate pool, we always wanting to be skimming off the top – to get the best available candidates for the money we’re paying.

Besides being a great way to stretch herself, authentically give back to the community, and enhance her personal and company’s reputation, she realized that she had a month-long opportunity to “interview” candidates for hours at a time in the evenings and weekends. The best ones – self-motivated, self-disciplined, smart, hard-working – are the ones she invited for a coffee chat.

By not making the excuse of too busy (she is a shareholder in the company and the mother of a young child), by developing herself and giving back to the industry, not only did she burnish her own and the company’s reputation, she also found a pipeline of likely candidates in a very tight market.

Want to restart the hiring pipeline for your company? Get yourself and your leaders out there.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

Presented without comment

Questions to ask your interviewer

How to Get Locked Out of the Abundance Economy

Power has always been about relationships, trust, influence, and control. Until now. Control is gone. Information, data, and learning is fluid, instantly accessible, and high quality to anybody who has an internet connection and half a brain. If you try to put yourself in a position of control, people will just work around you.

Getting locked out of the abundance economy

I was at a community motorcycle show ‘n’ shine last weekend. I approached a local, respected builder to see if he was interesting in being in an upcoming “hand built” show. Our Motorcycle company is sponsoring one this fall. He’s the kind of guy that gets invited to Sturgis. He sells his parts internationally. He’s good at what he does. But his response made me think he is an self-important ass.

He wasn’t interested, he said, in competing “against crap assembled out of catalog parts. I hand forge parts. I’d fabricate my own bearings if I could. Any custom shop that doesn’t own a lathe shouldn’t call themselves custom.” He pooh-pooh’d the local motorcycle building community.  He wasn’t interested in sharing what he does, his passion for his craft, or what “hand-built” means to him. Apparently he’s better than that, and the rest of us aren’t worth his time. Presumably because we don’t work to his standard.

He was more interested in sitting on his sofa and holding court. Literally, he had a purple velvet sofa under his booth’s awning.

This is the problem with making your craft (business, cause) your religion. Of having only “one true way”. People that want to learn, to build their skills, to give and create, be included – they get turned off. The tribe loses when these eager novices wander away after being scolded. These novices (who may very well have their own experience, perspective, and unique skills) go apply those talents elsewhere.

We all lose, and we’re all diminished by association. We lose the opportunity to make a lasting contribution beyond our own existence by being true leaders. By influencing and teaching others. By sharing our vision, and seeing others’.

The solution? Easy. And this is why I love my sweetie and partner: we’ll just bring in somebody bigger from out of town. There’s always somebody better somewhere else. And in today’s connected world they’re easy to find. She’d already been talking to a guy on the coast who teaches others how to weld their own frames. He’s more than happy to come out and share. And that was just the first guy we’ve reached out to.

So if you’re feeling like you’ve got things locked up, if you feel as if nobody can take your market away from you because it’s yours, that you’re entitled to something, then I’d like to back your competitors. Especially the young, upcoming ones that are creative, original, and inclusive.

You are never entitled to your market or your reputation. You have to earn it every day. Get off your velvet throne.

Bernie works with small, medium (and sometimes) large companies, start-ups, and volunteer organizations to help them set a vision that is executable, to be effective, and to surround themselves with people who will help them succeed. I believe the workplace is a place to thrive, not just survive. Call me if you want help transforming your business. 

The Power of Challenging Assumptions

There is a creativity, originality, and joy in challenging assumptions.

The power of challenging assumptions

 

Fixing Bad Bosses

Sorry for the title. You can’t actually fix bad bosses. It’s hard enough to fix oneself. It an order of magnitude harder to change the behaviour of others. But trying to fix a person in a position of authority who doesn’t want to improve? Fuggetaboutit.

Fixing Bad Bosses

Good news from Dan McCarthy however: we can still learn from those horrible bosses and get better ourselves.

From Inspiration to Action

This article, Turning Inspiration Into Action, summarizes really well the steps needed to change our our own behaviour. It also works really well when trying to drive change team in a team, department, division, etc.

Commit publicly, book the time and use it, ask people to hold you accountable, break big tasks into small ones, design regular reminders, examine why you avoid it when it happens.

I’d only add one more thing: celebrate successes along the way.

From inspiration to action

There, now go change the world.

How You Know When You Need to Change Your Business Model

This article, “How to Cope When You’re in a Dying Industry“, made me laugh out loud.  I love how she was trying to help her mugger figure out how to make money when it turns out she wasn’t carrying any cash. Some people just don’t want to be helped.

When to Change Your Business Model

Hope, or doing more of the same faster and harder with no change in the result, is not a strategy. When you’re not making money anymore, and people are trying to help, maybe it’s time to listen.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Many successful people fear being discovered as an imposter. So when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re in good company!

body languageOne bit of self-help that really helps is the idea of “embodied cognition”, or how our posture and body affect our emotions as well as the reverse. Think of putting your hands on your hips, or flying like a superhero or the winner’s pose on a podium, literally, before a high-stakes social evaluation like a job interview, presentation, or speech.

body language

It makes you feel more confident, therefore you project confidence, and people will find you more credible, likeable, etc. Sound weird? Try it out after watching the TED talk on how body language shapes who you are, or read the Harvard study.

And remember, you’re good. Otherwise you wouldn’t be there.

 

*Thanks to Jack Malcolm at Practical Eloquence for reminding me of this phenom.

Bernie works with small, medium (and sometimes) large companies, start-ups, and volunteer organizations to help them set a vision that is executable, to be effective, and to surround themselves with people who will help them succeed. I believe the workplace is a place to thrive, not just survive. Call me if you want help transforming your business. 

Never Push a Loyal Person

Never PushNever push a loyal person to the point where they no longer care.