Archive for the ‘expectation’ Category

I have seen first hand the magic that come from propping up a person for job duties that are well beyond their capabilities, and they surprise themselves and succeed. I have also seen first hand the horrors that come from propping up a person for job duties that are well beyond their capabilities, and they prove everyone right and fail miserably.

There is a lot more of the latter happening in corporate America these days, which would be fortunate if it meant companies were becoming more confident in ‘fail-to-learn’ philosophies.

It happens to fall toward the unfortunate, as it really means too many companies have come up short on manpower after too many successes at cutting payroll. Still, companies are desperate to get the same level of work done despite the obvious lack of numbers to support the workload. Line managers hope for the best by giving addition duties to their workers for various reasons, and then give them hell when they can’t really handle it, even though they suspected it wasn’t going to work out from the beginning.

The real solution would be to hire back the lost employees and work at the regular levels again. That’s probably not happening any time soon. In the meantime, managers need to be extremely careful when putting the necks of the inexperienced on the line, for both of their sakes.


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This is not the first time on this blog that I have taken on the time honored tradition of the customer always being right, but I believe it is the first time I actually offered a solution that involved dealing with the customer and not just reassuring the employees who deal with them that the abuse they take is worth it.

Once again, I will admit that I am a horrible closer in sales, but once committed to a client and product, they get 100% effort, routinely overshooting their expectations. But in the cases when you are not meeting the needs of the customer to their satisfaction, despite delivering exactly what they asked for and more, I offer three solutions:

– Sell Them At A Lower Price: Times are tough right now for all of us, and your clients are no exception. They are feeling just as much pressure to cut costs or get more for the money they are spending, and they are driving you insane with worry for loss of revenue I you can’t meet their panicked demands. Now is the perfect time to take a small loss with a loyalty discount for those long time customers, especially big spending customers. A limited batch of discounted goods and services might be to ticket to keeping them at bay.

– Sell Them At A Higher Price: Custom orders, rush delivery, and last minute changes are enemies to your bottom line, especially if your customers are coming to you discounted and not premium prices. If your customers are making requests that mean increases to your normal cost of service, you are well within your right to share some of that cost increases with those customers. If your customers are just annoying, well, make sure you can both justify and prove the necessity of the cost increase

– Stop Selling To Them: If you were no longer serving the best interest of a client, you would expect them to stop using you. It is odd that the opposite is usually not an expected option. If a client becomes too much trouble or expense, and you can come to no workable discourse, you have to fire the client. You would do better using the time and energy to focus on your profitable customers or finding a new replacement customers.


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I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends who are stagehands lately, and as the summer concerts are beginning to be planed, and my mind got caught up in thinking about goals and planning.

When a band sets up a stage for a performance, they have to scout out the venue, determine their basic wants and needs for a show, figure out if the venue can actually allow them to do some cool extra things (more lights, split level stages, pyro, whatever), and then determine what the end result should be. If the band is comfortable with themselves and who they will be performing with, they know how well they move together on stage, and can easily set up a performance and tear down for a quick getaway once they know how much room you have to work with.

Take this to your work team or even personal goal planning. Think about yourself and the teams you work with, and take a closer look at the current level of talent in contrast to the limitations that have placed on you (budgets, time, authority, priority). Your limits make up the size of your venue, and whether it is the equivalent of a small club or outdoor stadium. That sets you up to gage the size of stage you can manage in the space, how much equipment and what type of equipment you can allow on stage, and the size of a crowd you have to pull into the venue to make your performance pay off. Your bosses may see a lot of potential for crowded theater shows, or they might not think your ready to come out of the garage. You’ve got to figure out what venue they’re trying to book you in before you try to negotiate a bigger room and more of the door money.

And you have to be especially honest about the level of talent you are currently working with. You can argue about the Beatles being the greatest band of all time, but they didn’t begin the British Invasion a few months after they formed. They spent years learning themselves and their audiences, and they started with humble beginning of playing in some of the smaller and more seamier dives all over Europe. They had designs on sellout arena crowds early in their career…but they to build themselves up to reaching their superstar status. And they had to build smaller steps and occupy smaller stages along the way until they could demand the biggest and the best. Don’t get fooled by your potential. Let your potential be your booking agent to bigger gigs in a timely manner.

Your first challenge is to see the venue for what it is, and plan the biggest possible stage and grandest show setup you can imagine for it. That becomes your target goal, and their is nothing wrong with taking that goal to an insane extreme. You might not sell out Madison Square Garden, but you’ll never come close if you don’t keep a few open dates in case the opportunity just happens to pop up.

Your second challenge, and what is the real hard part, is to be consistent in building the steps to that bigger stage, and not hope that talent or luck will allow you to leap from a smaller stage without the proper support. Having a team that is willing to do what it takes to sell out the Garden is great. Having a team that has the talent to pull off the show is wonderful. Having the team that has worked its way up, step by step, to grow its talent and fan base to sell out the show is what you really want. That is something special.

I’ve worked with people who have looked at the big stage and shied away from it, despite great talent, and chosen to stay in the smaller venues or even get out of the business altogether because of the time and expectations of people who perform on the grand level. More frustrating are the people I’ve worked with who you have looked at the stage we are working on and the steps we had built so far, take a chainsaw to them, set them on fire, and then drive over the whole thing with a steamroller. Then, they would stand on top on the ashes and complain that were not building an even bigger stage than the one we had previously destroyed. I have worked with far too many of the latter types of people than I care to think about, because it drains my personal energy when I have to think about the time and energy wasted in the build up. But each experience is a learning experience that you have to take something good away from.


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In what is essentially another variation of asking “What Would Jesus Do,” I have come up with a not exactly original concept called ‘The Next Effects.’

The Next Effects is a system that will help you think ahead to any action you might deem risky (good or bad risk is not important) and determine the potential consequences that may come from making that choose.

All you do is when you are faced with the choice to make an action, ask yourself:

-How will this action effect me or those around me in the next few minutes?

-How will this action effect me or those around me in the next few hours?

-How will this action effect me or those around me in the next few days?

-How will this action effect me or those around me in the next few months?

-How will this action effect me or those around me in the next few years?

For those who want to swap out the verb ‘affect’ meaning “to influence” for the noun ‘effect’ meaning “result,” feel free. I prefer effect, but spell check suggested otherwise. Not wanting to miss the point or lose the moment of creativity, I offer you the creative license to pick a favorite or ridicule me for not grasping 8th grade grammar.

For a more detailed and well thought out model of this line of thinking, pick up the new book 10-10-10 : A Life-Transforming Idea by Suzy Welch. Or, you can follow the model I just laid out for free. Its no Bubble Friday, but The Next Effects is one of my favorite current creations.

UPDATE: I’m going to count it as a fine example of great minds thinking alike, and then dare to compare my feeble brain to Michael Wade’s over at Execupundit.com, who put my rambling thesis in perfect business perspective with his post The Next 30 Minutes.


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“Second place is the first loser.” Ricky Bobby (aka Will Ferrell) from Talladega Nights

Today we’ll have a little bonus ‘Quote & Question,’ as my wandering mind came across using a foot race as another metaphor for life. You can throw plenty of old clichés and adages to it: “The race is not to the swift,” “Slow and steady wins the race,” “Life is a marathon and not a sprint”…but then that line for Talladega Nights popped into my head, and my mind was off to the races (pun intended).

One of the few things I know for sure is that in life, you are always either in the lead or playing catch up. Whether you’re in the middle of the pack or far, far out the race, if you’re not in the first place, you are not in first place.

That was exactly what I have been dealing with in all aspects of my life, as the current economic conditions here is the US has found a way to stymie just about every well laid plan I had conceived in the past few years, and is doing to same to many of my friends and associates. Not only are more people finding themselves out of first place, they are finding themselves getting lapped. It doesn’t matter how far behind you happen to be in the race, if you’re not in the lead, you only register if you’re a threat to take the lead, and you only seriously matter if you actually take the lead.

With so many people unlucky enough to have lost a job recently, the people who are lucky enough to have jobs look like winners well ahead of the pack. In reality, most are just unlucky enough to be stuck where they are because of the lack of jobs out there. They are stuck in jobs they don’t like or jobs with no forward motion for the foreseeable future because of the overall lack of jobs. People are being given new and extra duties on their jobs that are not only insisting that they come out of there comfort zones at work, but some people flat out don’t want to do. It’s becoming a workplace reality for more employees to be overloaded with additional duties that need to get done, but have completely gotten in the way of their career pursuits.

And now, everyone seems to be behind, and all fighting just to place or show, not even targeting the person who is truly in the lead.

And that guy in first place is wondering why there are no threats to his top spot, and why he’s even running so fast anymore…

In a land where everyone loves a long shot, and the leader of the pack will often embrace the role of the villain, we have seemed to have lost it. No one wants to be on top for fear of having to defend their spot, and many racers are too far behind in laps to even make the race interesting anymore. We seem to all be fighting hard for the right to claim first loser than to be the actual winner.



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While the drawbacks of getting sucked into reading seemingly random inputs from seemingly random people you follow on Twitter are pretty obvious, the possibilities for focused input, or even a true focus group, are amazing.

When I was an Acquisitions Officer in the Air Force, I worked for about 8 months on a program that processed security clearances and was given a team to work all the data on how fast the process was going, and presented daily metrics to the government agency in charge of the program. The words my boss told me when he gave me the duties, “The guy who reports the metrics can prove just about anything he wanted to,” turned out to be so truthful it was a little frightening.

The experience has made me a numbers and info junky on par with die hard rotisserie baseball geeks. And Twitter is filling that addiction to information like no other analytic tools ever has.

The magic is in its mission statement, a chance for people around the world to instantly share with others what they are doing. It also gives you the chance to look into the minds of those same millions of people, and see what they are doing, thinking, buying, or dissing.

This power is easily seen in the quick Twitter chatter scene during big television events as people who are looking to be a part of the mass experiences fire off snarky comments as an organic commentary track. This power has been most prominent in watching the ups and downs during the 2008 presidential election and the early days of the Obama Presidential Administration.

As a metrics nut, I like to lot watch the Twitter feeds during big events on TV, like new episodes of 24 and live performance shows nights on American Idol. But the real fun has come during President Obama’s television news conferences. Especially the ones that delay prime time television. Instant praise, instant hate, and instant color commentary is available to anyone willing to scroll thought a few pages of tweets.

Any marketer or sales manager can do a Twitter topic search on their company and find out exactly what is being said exactly when people are thinking about it. That was a good thing for the marketing team at Skittles that decided to make their Twitter search page the actual corporate product website, and a bad thing for Motrin after the Motrin moms took to blogosphere over a commercial that didn’t go over so well with them.

Monitoring your Twitter conversation does give you lots of insight into the thoughts of your brand or product. Just be ready to dismiss some of the more silly or snarky comments. After all, we are still talking about people using the anonymousness of the internet (even if it’s getting harder and harder to stay anonymous) to be a little to open and honest, with little regard of the consequences of the words going out to the world.


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Upromise: Take the time to plan for your child’s future.
As we get ready for the climax of the NCAA Division I College Basketball Champions, better known as the Men’s & Women’s Final Four, now is a great time to look at the two tournaments as they have progress so far and reflect on a common sports analogy, playing to win versus playing not to lose.

Playing to win means taking advantage of opportunities and taking chances that could help you increase your standing, whether you are ahead or behind. Playing not to lose means focusing on the safe distance between you and you opponent, trying to slowly widen the gap in your favor and not allow team momentum to switch.

Playing to win brings excitement and drama to a game. Playing not to lose slows down the experience for everyone.

Playing to win means leaving everything you came into the build with on the court, whether you ultimately win or lose, and know that you couldn’t have possible pushed out any more effort. Playing not to lose will leave you wondering if you couldn’t have scored more, achieved more, produced more, whether you ultimately win or lose, and leaves you with a what if feeling.

Warriors and heroes play to win, and live with the consequence. Bureaucrats and politicians play not to lose, and have to defend the consequences.

Do you live your life with a sense of adventure? Do you push yourself to your personal limits everyday to see just how far and how fast and how long you can go?

Do you live your life questioning the motives of others? Do you guard yourself and your positions and your possessions against any sort of loss?

Are you playing to win in life, or just playing not to lose?



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I was looking to challenge myself today in my writing, and found myself surprisingly fixated on wrestler Ric Flair’s Space Mountain quote for most of the morning. Not sure exactly way the aging wrestler was in my thoughts, but somehow, inspiration struck because of it.

What you have below is the wisdom gleaned from words of the Nature Boy, one of the greatest athletic and theatrical performers I have ever witnessed. Give it a quick read, and see how much knowledge you can gain for use in your business or personal life.

“This ain’t no garden party, brother. This is wrestling, where only the strongest survive.”

Make sure what you are getting to is exactly what you want to get into, because chances are, you’re going to find the path it takes to get there has plenty of surprises waiting for you just past your line of site. And by surprises, I mean obstacles to your progress and problems that will take you off course. Just know they will appear, and prepare yourself for the journey. Just make sure it is a journey worth taking.

“Girls, you can’t be the first, but you can be next.”

The world is full of pioneers. You don’t necessarily have to be one to be successful and prosperous. In fact, you will probably be doing yourself a favor by following in the footsteps of someone who took the time to blaze a trail ahead of you.

“Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it has the longest line.”

Once you’ve established yourself as the bonafide leader, everyone will want a piece of you. And you might be as great as you’ve convinced people that you are, but you are still only one person. Forget the myth of multitasking, you can only handle one request at a time, leading to a slow and plodding process of people constantly trying to work their way to get a little closer to you a little faster then you can handle. Let them wait.

“I’m a limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun. WOOOO!!”

You’ve got little choice in your life but to sell yourself, your ideas, or you actual product to the world. If you’re going to sell yourself, you might as well be bold about it as possible. As long as you’re not lying about it, sing your own praises to your hearts content.

“To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.”

This has to be Flair’s most famous quote, and my second favorite of his (edged out just slightly by the Space Mountain quote). Put plain and simply, if you want something so badly, step up and try to take it. Talk is talk, but only those brave enough to put forward the action needed to make it happen will ever make it happen.

“Whenever they feel like it, the door’s wide open.”

Oh, and by the way, once you’ve scratched and clawed your way to the top, your role changes. You are no longer striving to get there. You are there. Now is the time to start striving to stay there, with plenty of up-and-comers looking to take you out, and has-beens looking to take back the spot they used to own. They’re coming for you, like it or not. Might as well make them fight for it.

“As long as he understands this is Flair country, it is.”

As long as you’re at the top of the mountain, it’s your world. As long as someone else is at the top of the mountain, it’s their world. Pouting and complaining won’t get you anywhere. Hard work, determination, a little or a lot of time (most likely a lot) will get you somewhere. With a little luck, you’ll actually make it to the top of the mountain. But until you get there, make sure you give plenty of respect to the current king. They’ve earned it.

“My God, thank you. Thank you very much. I’m almost embarrassed by the response, but when I see this, I know that the twenty five years that I’ve spent trying to make you happy every night of your life was worth every damn minute of it.”

This comes from Ric Flair’s retirement speech to his fans, and the message here is simple. Be courteous to those who offer you support along the way of your journey in business and in life, and be sincere to everyone. Yes, EVERYONE! You can never give to many ‘Thank you’s.’


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Among many other issues the company that makes up my day job has, one very sudden but not exactly unexpected problem has arisen that sums up one of the biggest issues or broadcast industry is dealing with.

Citadel Broadcasting, ABC Radio Networks, and one of my Citadel-Little Rock Stations, KARN Newsradio, has a Paul Harvey problem.

Paul Harvey died last weekend at either 90 or 91 years old, based on whatever website you happened to get your story confirmation. Left now is a radio legacy that all of us in the business owe a great deal of gratitude for, and an immediate programming hole for millions of listeners.

But the Paul Harvey-programming hole problem is not what broadcaster will now fill his shoes. Veteran broadcasters and constant fill-ins Gil Gross and Doug Limerick will split the duty, and in an industry where movement is key for development, possibly allow just enough space to shuffle up more talent that has be waiting in the wings (a similar effect happened when David Gregory was announced as the permanent replacement for Tim Russert as host of NBC’s Meet The Press).

And the Paul Harvey-programming hole problem on the local level isn’t the loss of a familiar audio time hack, because other than the voice changes and possible title changes, you’re still going to get ‘News & Notes’ and ‘The Rest Of The Story’ at the same times on my station KARN Newsradio.

The Paul Harvey-programming hole problem that has to be dealt with is the knowledge that we may never have another personality created in Harvey’s likeness again.

Our key weapon in traditional over-the-air radio against the advancing forces of the paid satellite model or the sometimes paid-sometimes free streaming internet model or the 99-cents-a-song iTunes model was simple: you get the music/news/sports/entertainment free, and we’ll throw in great personalities, and local ones if want them. Since you could always just buy the music or buy the newspaper, the value added was received from hearing the voice of someone who is just like you: a neighbor with kids in the school system who you might have even had a class or two with in middle school. And while we have added to our arsenal of more podcasting/on-demand options in the face of an every growing time shifted world, its still a level playing field between choosing to download ‘the random nationwide syndicated guy’ and ‘your local guy and gal that wake you up every morning.’

The Paul Harvey-programming hole is special, since Paul Harvey obviously isn’t really sitting in a radio booth in your hometown, and all of his news can be accessed on the internet with little effort. But when Harvey started his shtick double my lifetime ago, you really couldn’t get all the information and stories in the way he did, and have the bonus of having it sound like your goofy brother-in-law or favorite great-uncle was telling it to you directly.

We have plenty of faux news programs now. On television, radio, and all over the internet. Some are produced as pure satire with their sole intention to mock and make fun of the actual news of the day. Some are pure comedy. Some do their best to spread news to people who wouldn’t get it otherwise. I even created one, called “8 Things To Talk About,” and tried to have an Arkansas-focused and a national-focused early morning audio new cast you could take along with you. But with a flood of options, you can only hope for a small piece of the total attention span pie.

Paul Harvey had a disproportionally enormous chunk of that pie for being a 90-year-old reader of goofy news stories trying to sell Bose Wave Radios. But you could easily take his script and style and find just about any descent broadcaster to can deliver it. They just wouldn’t be able to pull it off with the voice, the tone, the pitch, and the sometimes annoying artificial pauses and stutters like Paul Harvey did.

For me, losing radio legend Paul Harvey is personally comparable to when my younger sister died about 5 years back. Surrogate people magically appeared to fill the roles she played in my live, but none of them could fill them all perfectly, and none of them would ever BE my sister in the way she was both the most loving and painfully annoying person that she was. Paul Harvey isn’t just a familiar voice on the radio. He’s family. And sure, plenty of people with various amount of talent can replace him in many of his roles, but not the way he did it.

He was a man that kept a near obsolete programming model fresh and viable. He was inspiring to many, annoying to some, but admired by most who knew him, even if he was only known as the voice on the radio you heard that reminded you how late you were for work. He was a member of my radio family for the past 7 years and a personal friend who talked to me every day on the radio since I was 7.

The Paul Harvey-programming hole is a problem with no real solution. I’m sure Harvey himself would want us to get over it, and get ready for the next big thing.



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It’s a little bit of a gimmick when you see senior executives pulling espresso shots behind the counter at Starbucks or having Michael Dell taking customer service calls from a cubicle at the Dell help center. But it does give a boost to morale to see the upper echelon at least have some working knowledge of what it takes to slug it out in the trenches every day.

Now here’s a question to think about: do your senior leaders need to have a mastery of the jobs that those that report to them perform every day? The obvious answer to that question is no. But the snarky and the smart answers to that question is, “Isn’t that why they have you there in the first place?”

I made up a fable from bits and pieces of stories I have heard over the years about a janitor in a company with the right amount of corporate experience and knowledge that when the executive board stumbles upon his existence, they immediately plug him into their vacant CEO position, only to demote him back to janitor the next day after company wide complaints of the waste paper baskets not getting emptied as quickly as before.

The moral of the story is that sometimes it is easier to find a boss than a worker bee, and the value of either may not be properly weighed. The point of the story, and overall point of this post, is that you can’t have any logical upward movement inside of your organization if you can not fill the lower level positions and responsibilities that are left vacant.

This goes a step beyond the adage that indispensable employees are the last ones to get the promotions and growth opportunities because the company would literally fall apart if they were to leave their positions. This actually is meant to speak to stagnate growth at both end of the spectrum: cushy executives whose fear of innovation and mobility crush any hope of a natural progression and the failure to hire enough talented new prospects willing to go through the attrition process at your company.