Advice to Millennials is Advice to Everybody

Good advice for millennials, good advice for everyone. It’s not good enough anymore to just be good at your job. The companies that succeed are the ones that figure out what collaboration really means.

Five Exceptionally Powerful Ways Millennials Succeed at Work


How Empathy Beats Intelligence

Don’t be a super chicken. Don’t let super chickens on to your team.

Who Are You? Brand Values as Drivers of Business Success

Patti (my partner and sweetie) and I are speaking at PARK Fashion’s Emerging Artist and Designer Forum at Olds College Calgary campus this weekend. If you’re there, come say hello!

Have you always wanted to learn about the art and fashion industry but didn’t know who to talk to? The Emerging Artist & Designer Forum is bringing together those wanting to grow in the industry, and the professionals who have made it happen.

You won’t want to miss the presentation, “Who Are You? Brand Values as Drivers of Business Success ” by Patti Derbyshire & Bernie May of Torch Motorcycles.

In less than 18 months, Torch Motorcycles built out an aggressive operation and monster brand, entering the fashion and apparel world globally. Learn how values-driven practices lead to growth and profile. Draw a tangible line between who you are as a person, the company and people you work with, and who you attract to work with you (and more importantly who you don’t!) What story do you tell, who gets excited and eager to work with you, and what makes your creativity and passion want to burst out of your chest?

Vogue Italia, Fashion Magazine, Harpers Bazaar/Beijing, Summit and front page feature in MAKE Magazine (July 2015).

Patti Derbyshire – Patti is a catalyst, community organizer, and business leader in Calgary’s creative economy. As Chair of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, and marketing professor at Mount Royal University’s Bissett School of Business, she draws upon her eclectic professional career in broadcasting, design, cultural marketing, start-up ventures, and music industry management. Patti’s first bike was provided by her older brother, who didn’t want to drive her around all the time. She didn’t mind. She always gets a big grin on her face whenever she rides.

Bernie May – Bernie has been riding for 15 years, after he figured out that promises made to your mother when you’re twelve don’t count when you’re an adult. He has been a signals officer, programmer, and project manager. He built robotic landmine detectors, frequency-hopping encrypted radios, and command and control software delivered into active war zones. Today he shows business owners how to be better leaders. He loves building things (starting with plastic models as a kid), beautiful design, good food and music, and seeing the world in ways that let him breathe fresh air.

Learn From the Best

Surrounding yourself with the best people you can find, people who will challenge you and make you better, has always been a fast way to get to where you want. It will make you happier, more productive, and more successful in the long run. Doing the same with other entrepreneurs also works.

Learn From the Best from Inc.

Why Emotionally Intelligent People Make More Money

Once again, being aware of and managing your own emotions is directly linked to your success. While I’m not sure that sharing “how your feeling” at the end of a meeting is would be very effective, trust and vulnerability are certainly behaviours that leaders can and should model for others.

Try opening your meetings with a good news story – have people share a quick bit of good news from their personal and from their professional lives. You’ll be surprised at how it shifts the rest of the subsequent conversation.

Why Emotionally Intelligent People Make More Money –  Lisa Evans

How to Spot a Great Team

Some leaders of teams that don’t regularly succeed will still insist that they have a great team because team members care about one other and no one ever leaves the team. A more accurate description of their situation would be to say that they have a mediocre team that enjoys being together and isn’t terribly bothered by failure. See, no matter how good a leadership team feels about itself, and how noble its mission might be, if the organization it leads rarely achieves its goals, then, by definition, it’s simply not a good team.

The Advantage – Patrick Lencioni

Imagine the Milestones – Setting Goals That Get Done #3

Part Three of  Series that begins with Setting Your Intent and Deciding What You’re Not Going To Do

Imagine the Milestones

People don’t just walk up to Mount Everest and start climbing. Training, equipment, skills development, supplies and logistics, where and when the base camps are must all be considered. Otherwise you’re just planning to fail.

Dead body on Mount Everest
A journey of a thousand miles may begin with one step, but make sure you end up where you want to tonight.

Imagine the steps along the way to your goal. If you can imagine not only what you’re trying to do, but how you’re doing to do it, you’ve got a better chance of getting it right.

Sometimes just getting to the next milestone, base camp, check-mark on the list, is all you’ll be able to manage. But it will give you the motivation and momentum you need to keep going.

Some of your goals might be big enough to need their own milestones. Inch pebbles if you will. There’s a great saying in project management, and it applies to many problems: use the “appropriate level of detail”.

Frequent (weekly, even daily) goals often work best. Yearly and quarterly goals are too infrequent to keep the momentum. Frequent is better than big. Frequent, consistent steps adds up to accomplishment faster than giant leaps.

Next: Sometimes You Just Have to Get Started

Decide What You’re Not Going to Do – Setting Goals that Get Done #1

If you give people too many options, they won't take any
If you give people too many options, they won’t take any

In 1995, Professor Iyengar  set up a booth of samples of jams in a grocery store. Every few hours, he switched from offering 24 different jams to a group of six jams. More people stopped at the large display, but more people bought from the small display (12 an hour versus 2 an hour.) The original study concluded that  too many choices leads to “decision paralysis“.

So What?

Having a clear outcome in mind when you’re starting a new project (business, plan, meeting, exercise program) is one of the things you can do to give it a better chance of success. Having too many “objectives” on your list is worse than having none.

Having a few clear and concrete desired outcomes, or even just one, is best. Otherwise you end up like a mosquito at a nudist colony. Too many choices and you end up buzzing around, never landing.

Keep it simple and inspiring. Getting yourself or a group of people – even dedicated, intelligent, hard-working people – is difficult. Adding unclear or many outcomes does not help. “Stretch goals” do not help, unless you / they have a history of consistently setting and executing goals successfully already. 

Or you end up the bottle neck, making all the decisions, because nobody else knows what’s going on or what you want. You need a simple, inspiring vision that people can understand and buy into, and that you can communicate often and clearly.

Set Your Intent

Big or small, defining the outcome gives you a better chance of success. It makes it easier to plan, track, and execute, and burns far less time and energy. There is not point in climbing the ladder faster than anybody else if it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

This sounds overly simplistic, but it’s amazing how often there’s a vigorous debate amongst a client’s leadership team when I ask the question “What’s the definition of success?” or “What outcome are we looking for?”

This means you will also need to

Decide What You’re Not Going To Do

You can’t do everything. You certainly can’t do everything at once. So make a decision. What are you really good at? What do you (or your company) really love doing? Where is the biggest opportunity to apply that competency? Why do you really (no, really) want this?

Knowing this will help you say no, with a clear conscious and healthy personal and professional boundaries, to the things that detract from your main focus. Do first things first, and second things second (if at all).

If you haven’t made these kinds of choices before – if you haven’t had to choose what not to do – this can be exhausting and very uncomfortable, emotionally and physically. I promise it’s worth it.

Next: Visualize the Finish Line

Should You Really Be a Leader?

No matter what kind of leader you are (collaborative, tough but fair, influential, etc.) or want to be, emotional self-awareness and self-control are the common traits. If you can’t control yourself, you sure as shooting can’t control anybody else.

7 Traits That Indicate You Might Not Be Leadership Material

Personal Commitment is Always the Only Way to Drive Change

This article, about how EBay is making recruitment, retention, and promotion of women a strategic priority, is interesting once you get past the jargon, it illustrates a couple of points well:

  • personal commitment is the best, perhaps the only way, to drive change. Which means telling a personal, credible story about your own motivation. Which means being vulnerable, and that’s scary.
  • finding, keeping, and promoting the best available talent, no matter what the source and no matter what the size of your company, is a strategic advantage that raises the game for everybody
  • being a good ally means putting somebody else’s interests above your own with no expectation of reward
  • measurement and culture (how people treat each other) trumps policy and process
  • it’s also a good example of having one priority at a time (promoting women not the first thing the CEO John Donahoe tackled)

The only thing I’d add (and maybe they’re doing it already) from my experience in mentoring is finding a way for women to mentor each other. The best way to inspire somebody is for them to imagine they can do what you did.

In this case that means women mentoring women. And besides, mentoring is a great way to develop  leadership skills, identify those that can lead (because they mentor), and fill the leadership pipeline with people that know how to develop other leaders.

Just a suggestion, John, if you’re reading this…