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Category Archives: Leadership

Could Your Brand Inspire A Gold Rush?

by Bryan Heathman

Have you ever experienced the frenzy of a gold rush? I have, so let me tell you a story of what it is like to experience the exhilaration of a gold rush!

My experience was not a gold rush in the traditional sense. You see, a traditional gold rush looks like this… I live in Seattle which has roots in the gold rush era, where 100,000 prospectors from Seattle and San Francisco raced to Alaska during the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush. In this gold rush, a select few of the prospectors got rich. Interestingly, it was the merchants in Seattle and San Francisco who got rich selling supplies to miners on their way to Alaska, who were required by the Canadian Government to stock-up on items such as packs, non-perishable food, denim jeans, picks and shovels.

My gold rush experience was far different, but was equally as competitive as the Alaskan gold rush. In the late 1990’s, there was a phenomenon knows as the “Dot.com boom”. I was one of the figurative miners, known as a Dot.com’er, working to figure-out ways to commercialize this new thing called the Internet or the Information Superhighway. I was fortunate to have worked for Microsoft during this period and learned the ropes from a big technology company. So I ventured-off, climbing up the equivalent of Chilkoot Pass (pictured above), and helped pioneer a company in the online advertising industry.

Gold RushBut did you know that there is gold just about everywhere you look, even today? What if you could create a gold rush for your products or services without competing in the fast moving business of technology?

The magic is right in front of you – in your brand. You’ll find customers just about everywhere. But until your brand addresses the needs of a SPECIFIC audience, you could easily wind up prospecting in the wrong place. All your effort will be wasted, and you could end up tired, cold and broke just like the thousands of men trudging through the Alaskan wilderness.

The reason behind a successful brand is simple. If you don’t know your customer demographics, you may try to make your brand appeal to everyone. An axiom which I teach in branding is that when you try to appeal to everyone, you wind up appealing to no one at all. When your logo, slogan, sales videos, website and marketing materials are geared toward the wrong demographic, you wind up turning off potential buyers.

In order for your business to hit paydirt, focus your company’s brand so that it appeals to the needs and desires of a select few versus the teeming masses. These select few will thank you for it with their wallets. Let me share 3 simple tricks on figuring-out what your audience looks like.

Know Thy Field

Before you brand your company, you need to know who your customers are – their demographics. Knowing your ideal customer’s profile is essential to your company, your branding and ultimately your sales conversions.

Knowing this information will let you focus on targeting the right audience and on their specific desires, setting yourself up for success. With a little research and planning, you will have the keys to branding success.

You can use this information to craft all of your promotions and messaging. When you know what your customer looks like, then you have found your golden customer-base.

Suppose your best customers are female, college educated, married, suburban, with an average age of 35. This population has a specific set of likes, dislikes, pleasures and pains. They tend to have a common perspective, even their own lingo.

Knowing this empowers you to speak to them in their language and address their desires. These people will want different things, even look at the world differently than blue collar men over 55, or urban college kids just starting out in life.

You need to know everything you can about your audience – their gender, age, amount of education, income, profession, geographic location, hobbies – everything that influences their buying decisions.

Without this information, you can’t put a face on your audience. Sales conversion becomes a roll of the dice. With this information, you can dominate your marketplace.

The good news is that others have had this challenge before you, and I’d like to share 3 tools for getting the job done is less than an hour. There are three benchmark websites you can use to figure this out, and we’ll cover them in a moment. Learning to use them in the right sequence will provide you with a 3-step system that sets up your brand for success.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Start Mining

The way look for gold is to start looking. Take advantage of these powerful resources to get to know the sweet spot of your marketplace. Then start addressing their desires.

There is more good news…these sites are all free to use and do not require any technical know-how. All it takes to begin prospecting for your ideal customers is to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

  1. Competition: Know your target market. Head over to Google.com to research your marketplace and locate the top five competitors in your field. To start, enter the keywords that are most closely related to your field or product, then review the top search results that Google displays.

    Take a look at the websites of specific competitors, and get a feel for what they offer. How are they addressing the needs of your demographic? Your competition has invested heavily in market research, both time and money. Leverage their assets for your own advantage.

  2. Traffic: Go to Alexa.com and look up your competitors’ websites. Enter the domains (the website URLs) of your top competitors into the search box. This will show you how popular your competitors are worldwide, as well as locally. Where is their traffic coming from? How are those traffic hubs satisfying the needs of your customers? Is there a lesson you can mine here?

  3. Demographics: Go to Quantcast.com to research demographics for the sites you’ve found. What kinds of people are using these websites? How much money do they make? Are they married? Do they have kids? How long did they go to school? Where do they live?

Quantcast measures market profiles and displays the demographic information for free, which offers you a slick marketing advantage indeed. However, because the service is elective, not every website you research will be Quantified. That means the demographics you’re looking for may not be available. You might need to search for several sites before you hit paydirt and find real the real gold – market data. Keep digging. What you’re looking for is out there.

For the business executives who take the time to know their market, the job of mining for new customers comes naturally. No shovels or pick-axes are required!

Bryan BWBryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. He has worked with bestselling authors such as Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher, rainmaker and marketer. Download the Sales & Success mobile app to start your journey with free access to audios by Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar and Dr. Larry Iverson.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.

FREE audio with download,“Resolving Conflict” by professional speaker and coach Tony Alessandra. Learn invaluable tips on how to deal with conflict and create positive resolution.


icon1April 20th, 2015

The Inclusion/Exclusion Principle of Branding

When did you attend your last professional networking event? It was probably not too long ago. From holiday parties to corporate mixers, we’ve all been there. Mixing and mingling is what it’s all about, getting to know interesting looking people around us, meeting new colleagues, letting our hair down and finding glamorous new opportunities. Ah, what an exciting concept!

But once you’re there, what does your experience look like? If you’re like most people, you grab a beverage, walk through the gathering crowd and look for people you know, thinking there’s safety in numbers. You want to have a good time, sure – a little excitement is all that’s called for, playing it safe, nothing too crazy.

We can do it_bandwagon Marketing1200x1200 What you’re looking for is called Inclusion.

And then it happens: you meet someone you don’t know. After trading names, what’s the first thing they say? They ask you The Question: “What do you do?”

Ah, The Question… so much is wrapped up in that one little query. A world of meaning is woven into it, and your answer in those first 5 seconds will have more impact on your relationship with that person than anything else for the rest of your interaction.

Your answer to The Question could mean all the difference between a passing encounter at a party and a long term commitment.

The same is true of your business. How you come across – your branding – means all the difference between a passing prospect and a committed buyer who gives you years of repeat business. Your brand is the answer to The Question about your company.

The Decision

Creating a strong, memorable and compelling brand is essential for successful marketing. It only takes a bit of thought and a smattering of research, yet it may be the single most important decision you can make about your company.

You have to decide how you want to come across to your customers. Your brand is the set of expectations they maintain about your product and what they will tell their friends, neighbors and colleagues about you.

More than just a name or a logo, your brand is infused into your buyer’s total experience with your company. It’s expressed in every touch with your customer, from their first glimpse of your website, to their experience with your products or services.

If they like your brand, customers will choose you over your competitors every time, even if your product costs a little more – sometimes especially if your product costs more.

In fact, if you can offer your customers a way to fit in while qualifying for membership in a select group, you’ve found the Holy Grail.

The Bandwagon Marketing Paradox

Bandwagon marketing embraces the idea that since everyone else is doing it, it must be a good thing. If they want to fit in, they just have to buy the product. Inclusion may be had for a small investment.

Peer pressure is definitely a factor here. Consumer confidence is also fueled by hard data available online. Blogging, social media, reviews and ratings -such factors influence buying decisions mightily.

Demonstrating that your brand is widely accepted will go a long way toward qualifying your prospects, making them want to fit into the crowd who’ve already engaged with you.

Closing the sale becomes a matter of tactfully turning The Question on them, basically “Are you in, or are you out?”

The Inclusion/Exclusion Principle

Bandwagon marketing is in direct contrast to the Inclusion/Exclusion Principle. Since branding is all about creating product associations in the minds of consumers, brand exclusion seems at odds with getting people to support your company brand.

Excluding people from your brand assumes taking a posture which implies that your product or service is such high quality that only a very few can acquire it. Scarcity is the key here, and people tend to want what they can’t have. Using the Inclusion/Exclusion Principle is aspirational by definition. It’s exclusive.

Think of auto brands such as BMW, Mercedes Benz or Lexus. Are they expensive? That’s relative. Good quality? Reasonably so. Are they so exclusive they’re out of reach? Probably. A friend of mine got a great deal on a used BMW. But he learned the Inclusion/Exclusion Principle the hard way, when he discovered that he signed-up for paying $800 for a simple oil change on that used BMW.

Integrating Bandwagon marketing with the Inclusion/Exclusion Principle results in a psychology that implies both scarcity and compliance with group norms. Using the Inclusion/Exclusion Principle, owning your product allows a consumer to fit into a very select, discerning group.

In all cases, your brand needs to respond to your target market’s ongoing desires. For example if you are marketing to BMW owners, consider organizing nationwide events such as performance driving sessions at local race tracks. The one thing that’s certain not to change, is a buyer’s need to belong. When you target that need for inclusion and make your customers feel special at the same time, you’ve struck a chord. The result could be a brand relationship that lasts a lifetime!

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.

FREE audio with download,“Resolving Conflict” by professional speaker and coach Tony Alessandra. Learn invaluable tips on how to deal with conflict and create positive resolution.


icon1April 19th, 2015

Falling In Love With Your Future

Is there a secret formula for Leadership? No, it’s not really a secret.

Being an exceptional Leader requires passion, commitment and intuitive vision. In a word, it takes heart.

If you have a passion for the thrill and independence of being a Leader, plus you have the commitment to follow through on that passion, here is a breakout formula that can take you wherever you want to go. Falling in love with your future is as simple as letting your heart lead the way.


Do-things-with-passion-or-not-at-all-Wherever-you-go-go-with-all-your-heartFirst you have to know where you’re going, so research is key. Find a successful cause or company similar to the one you envision leading. Study how it started and how it grew.

Next, learn all you can about the Leader behind it. Pick apart the Leadership style, and see if you can ferret out the steps or elements involved.

Devour books and publications related to your Leadership concept. Talk to other Leaders and ask them about their best practices.


A successful Leader is a bold visionary, seeing what others cannot. You have to be willing to follow that vision despite naysayers.

Many Leaders never finished college, but that hasn’t stopped them. Some visionaries started small companies that grew into large enterprises, such as Dell Computer. Other captains of industry chose to stay small, like your favorite neighborhood bistro or that consulting firm your friend owns in Kansas City.

Regardless of the size of their teams, they’ve all relied heavily on their vision – not necessarily on an MBA program.

Leaders handle ambiguity with ease and are fearless pacesetters. They get a thrill out of leading the way into unfamiliar territory and thumb their noses at the word “failure.”

Let other people manage the details for you, but keep a tight hold on your vision. You must be the guiding force that inspires your people to follow that vision. Shoulder the responsibility for the outcome, and hold yourself personally accountable. Let your passion for your cause show you the way. Focus on the big picture and trust others to focus on the details.

Strategy & Action

When you know where you’re going, the only thing missing is the strategy for getting you there combined with the courage to act. But this is no small thing. Jumping into Leadership without a strategic plan is like jumping in the ocean without knowing how to swim. You may reap unfortunate consequences and discover it all too late.

To create the strategic plan, picture your outcome exactly as you want it to be. Then write down your goals and objectives for achieving that vision. For each goal, create a strategy and a target date for achieving it. Begin with the end in mind, and work backwards until you reach the position you’re in today.

Assess your strengths. The odds are that you already possess the knowledge, skill and experience your team will draw upon. Now list all the strengths you can apply to reaching the object of your ambition.

Then appraise your challenges. Maybe they involve market penetration, profitability, expertise, competition or location. Challenges change as your objective changes. How will your challenges impact your goals?

Be willing to act. You can get things done by delegating, outsourcing or leveraging other people’s talents. Being a Leader means tapping untold reserves of innovation and unflagging determination. It means being willing to endure long, fast-moving days if you want to reap the rewards.

Get things done through delegation, and create a framework of people who can help you achieve your vision as a Leader. Even if your plan means working solo, you can benefit from accessing all kinds of talented consultants, vendors or subcontractors. Expect your framework to change as your vision grows, but build it only as big as you need it to be.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.

FREE audio with download,“Resolving Conflict” by professional speaker and coach Tony Alessandra. Learn invaluable tips on how to deal with conflict and create positive resolution.


icon1March 16th, 2015

Laughter is Good Medicine

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ~Mark Twain

If you are in a Leadership role, giving a presentation, or talking in front of a group, then you know how hard it can be at times to get your ideas across. Winning over your audience can be tough, especially if you don’t first establish some kind of rapport. You need to get them on track with you in order for them to hear your most salient points.

LaughThe good news is that there’s one trick that will almost always help make your job a whole lot easier. Use humor! From kings to pawns, everyone loves to laugh, take time out, and find relief from our all too serious world.

See what a new study by Bell Leadership Institute says about humor:

A new study by the Bell Leadership Institute in Chapel Hill, NC, found that when employees are asked to describe the strengths and weaknesses of senior colleagues in their organizations, “sense of humor” and “work ethic” are mentioned twice as much as any other phrases. Bell Leadership surveyed approximately 2,700 employees in a variety of workplace settings over a two-year period.

“Humor is a vital tool of leadership,” says Dr. Gerald D. Bell, the founder and CEO of Bell Leadership Institute. “People are used to associating laughter with the best medicine, but they are often surprised that ‘sense of humor’ is the phrase most frequently associated with the best in leaders.” Bell Leadership’s findings show that people appreciate leaders who have fun and work hard to get the job done. “Those who can combine a strong work ethic and sense of humor may have the leading edge in their organizations,” says Dr. Bell.

Humor serves as an effective tool for putting your clients, colleagues, listeners or readers at ease. It can break the ice and set a tone that helps loosen up the atmosphere. Humor makes your job easier and much more fun to do.

What is humor?

The topic of humor is highly subjective. One must be cautious about what they say or do so as not to be offensive to others in any way. The great news is it’s not expensive or time-consuming to put a laughter in the workplace. Share a funny story with your co-workers on your break, hold a joke contest, or if you have a great idea, pass it along to your supervisor. Employees who are happy and fulfilled are also more productive and motivated.

Even though the essence of humor itself is subjective, there is one definition that transcends every comedic law. Humor is the amusing build­up and release of tension.

Whether it’s in print, in media, or in a live setting, humor requires some degree of tension in order to be effective. This is why it’s such a great ice breaker in professional settings – the tension is already built in.

It’s also why people laugh when they’re uncomfortable or nervous. It’s the reason for gallows humor, and it even explains why some wakes are so full of laughter. When it’s applied in the right way, humor can be the perfect antidote for dark times.

How Can You Be Funny When You Mean Business?

Humor’s effect will always ride the emotional tide of your audience. Stay attuned to how your audience is feeling, and always assess the atmosphere you’re in to determine whether humor is a good choice.

How well you come across may depend on whose company you are in, where you find them in their work day, and how many pressures are distracting them. Other factors include the temperature of the room you’re in, their state of alertness, and even whether they have a headache or any number of other distractions.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to your humor’s effectiveness in persuading someone. Recognize that what may be funny to one person one day will not be funny the next, even if it’s the exact same joke told in the exact same way.

Often the mood or situation itself will make it obvious whether humor is appropriate. If you’re speaking in a religious setting, a certain amount of reverence and sobriety are naturally called for. But even here, some kinds of humor can help move your audience to your point of view.

Here are a few tips for using humor effectively:

Don’t Tell Jokes: The object of your humor is to break the ice. Because humor is so subjective, your well-­meaning joke may be funny to a few people but offend others. Even worse, it may bomb. Telling one bad joke at the start means you’ll spend the rest of the time trying to recover instead of compelling your audience.

Use Stories: Different types of humor work best in different situations. Bridge the gap with a funny story or anecdote from real life. Use the story to make a point, and let it launch you into your topic.

Let Your Humor Breathe: Sometimes you may find that you’re funny even when you didn’t mean to be. Allow your audience a moment to enjoy it. When laughs come, pause and let the roar start to fade like a passing train. Then start speaking again before the quiet fully returns.

Keep It Kind: If the object of your humor is someone else, make sure your audience is laughing WITH them and not AT them. Mean spirited humor can leave a lasting scar on your reputation.

It’s Okay to Make Fun of Yourself: A touch of self­-effacing humor can win over your audience if it’s gently applied. Don’t be afraid to be the butt of good humor. A dash of vulnerability can make you seem like a more sympathetic character. Remember, a little goes a long way.

Your own brand of humor can be an original, effective way of delivering important messages to your clients and colleagues. You’ll build stronger bonds with them and stand out from the crowd.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.


Did You Say What I think You Said!?

Words Have Power red sign with a landscape background

As a leader, you’ve probably heard lots of talk about empowering others. It’s a great concept, but when you get right down to it, there’s little evidence that it’s actually happening whenever it really is happening.

Even more important, there are times when the leader’s job is to, uh… y’know – LEAD. As a leader, you’re privy to a lot of facts and insights that your team just doesn’t have. Your job is to make judgment calls, and sometimes go against the grain. Sometimes your team may not understand why you’re making the calls you do.

The bottom line is that you need each other. The team needs the leader to point the way. The leader needs the team’s unique talents so that all of the various nuances of your collective project are handled thoroughly and efficiently. In order to get the team on board with your abundant wisdom, you’ll need to know when to coax and when to shove.

For all that, you’ll need to understand how you’re coming across to them. In other words, you’ll need to be sensitive to them and their perceptions.

Understanding how your actions influence the empowerment process will allow you to decide when coaxing is sufficient and when shoving is actually required. Combining these two ticklish prospects can often yield stellar results.

How To Be Sensitive Without Getting Stepped On

Empowering your workforce is not likely to happen all on its own. Everyone involved will need to apply some real effort. The result of this effort will create an environment where people have enough freedom and responsibility to act independently whenever they have to. At the same time, it should offer some firm guidelines, leaving room for your leadership.

A team that understands the rules has a better chance of winning the game. Their ability to do this comes through understanding your team’s needs and what’s required of them.

It means becoming sensitive to how they regard you. Your attitude towards their empowerment and your sensitivity to their perceptions will guide you. You’ll know just when it’s time to coax and when to shove.

Here’s an exercise you can do with your team, either as a group or in a one-on-one setting. It will help raise potentially difficult issues in a safe environment. You’ll emerge from it with a clear picture of how to proceed, what to keep, and which aspects of your style you need to improve.

The exercise highlights the aspects of your leadership style that are likely to enhance or limit your team’s ability to act independently. How much they can do on their own will have a direct impact on the degree of their empowerment as individuals within the team framework.

Start the session with a brief explanation of empowerment tailored to the your team’s unique circumstances. Either working in small groups or as individuals, ask your people to come up with answers to each of the following four questions. As an alternative, you can ask each person or group to answer just one of the questions in detail.

Here are the questions:

  1. What do you need me to start doing as a leader?
  2. What do you need me to stop doing?
  3. What do you need me to do differently?
  4. What do you need me to do more of?

Asking for a succinct, honest appraisal will help people feel they are able to air their views without restrictions. Your team’s responses will play a key role in how you approach empowerment in the future, so let them know you’re listening.

Give them time to consider their answers, and be on hand to respond to any questions they may have about the process. Make it clear to your team that all feedback is extremely useful to you and, ultimately, to them too. Say clearly when you expect to get their answers. Make sure you follow up at the right time; be consistent.

Where Can You Apply What You’ve Learned?

Applying the lessons you’ve learned from this exercise will not only benefit your team, it will also show your degree of sensitivity as a leader. In other words, showing that you know how to coax makes you more effective when it comes time to shove. Reinforcing your sensitivity to the team’s needs and perceptions can actually build the team bond.

When you start this exercise with your group, explain that you will be writing up these suggestions and providing everyone with the results. Then deliver what you promise. Show them what the results are, and demonstrate how their feedback will be applied. Also, come up with some concrete ways that you’ll get their input in the near future.

If there are areas where your leadership needs to diverge from the group’s consensus, you can always try reverting to the ol’ tried and true: Talk. Communication is the key to understanding; and understanding is the key to gaining their support.

By opening up to your team, you stand to gain their understanding – and their sensitivity. With their trust and support, that makes you an empowered leader.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

Inspiring Leaders at your Fingertips

Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

Leadership App

This collection of life-changing audios includes masterpieces on personal improvement, inspiration, leadership and business success from famous speakers, authors, thinkers and self-made millionaires.

FREE audio with download,“Resolving Conflict” by professional speaker and coach Tony Alessandra. Learn invaluable tips on how to deal with conflict and create positive resolution.


icon1February 23rd, 2015

Effective Leadership – the 7 C’s of Getting Result

Have you ever been cornered into buying something you didn’t really want? If you’re like most people, you’ve stocked your cupboards with more than your fair share of Girl Scout Cookies and other non-essentials sold door to door by smiling, big-eyed neighbor kids. It’s almost impossible to resist.

Good LeasdershipTime and again, people in cultures around the world have exhibited certain predictable responses to everyday situations. In fact, you see it everywhere. Because of these common reactions, it’s possible to predict behavior and influence people to adopt a specific point of view.

Unfortunately our common reactions make it possible for us to be manipulated by the unscrupulous – or simply the big-eyed cookie vendor. Politicians, salespeople, network marketers, entrepreneurs, colleagues, friends and family all have a stake in getting us to agree to their requests.

However, there is much to be mined here for the sake of effectiveness on the job.

If you find yourself in a Leadership role, you can gain from the gentle art of persuasion and take a cue from these common responses. You can apply the concept to Leadership for consistent results that look good on you – and your business. With the right approach, you can turn the tables and start getting the results you want.

Navigating the 7 C’s

There are 7 essentials for effective Leadership that you can apply to your projects or your organization starting today. They all happen to start with the letter “C”. In no particular order, here they are.

Care – Influence of any kind requires rapport. This means you have to care to some degree about the people you want to influence. What do you have to offer that will benefit them? What’s their greatest pain? What are their aspirations? Remember that people are most responsive to those who are interested in them and share common values.

The famous landmark book by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People, can be summed up in two words: genuine interest. You can use your voice and body language to demonstrate your sincere enthusiasm, and make eye contact to get full engagement.

Communicate with Questions – Listen first. Communication is an interchange of information – a two-way street. Getting your message across depends on hearing and responding to the other person’s point of view. Learn from your interactions with them. Ask questions. Care about their responses, and express your expectations clearly.

Listening isn’t merely a matter of waiting for your turn to speak. Don’t wait quietly then jump in to tell your story. Make sure you ask questions and thoroughly understand their point of view. Be careful in your responses so your conversation doesn’t appear to be a verbal competition. Let it be cooperative.

Clarify – Not only do you want to get clear on your own your core values, but you also want to get clear on what people are communicating to you. A psychologist named Carl Rogers perfected a process called Reflective Listening back in the 50′s (click here for an overview on Wikipedia). When you ask clarifying questions, this will show up in your “music” – the things you say and the way you say them. When you’re clear on your own position, it’s much easier to persuade others to your point of view.

Consider – If the other person has a different perspective, find out more about why they have that point of view. The more you consider the reasons behind their thinking, the more you can understand them or perhaps help them to better understand your point of view. Weigh all sides of the question, and take the full picture into consideration.

Competence – Understand the details of the process that you and your team are pursuing. Enjoy at least a top line level of knowledge about the steps involved in completing your objective. When you do, it will be easier to understand the needs of the people you’re leading. Bringing in the project according to your objectives will be a breeze.

Consistency – Research shows that we have an in-born desire to be and to appear consistent. Once we’ve made a decision, we feel pressure to act consistently with that commitment. Once a commitment is made, we tend to table the topic and consider the matter settled.

Back in 1998, a Chicago restaurant was plagued with last minute reservation cancellations. But when they started asking customers for a commitment in the form of a question – “Will you please call if you have to change your plans?” – the no-show rate fell from 30% to 10%. To be effective as a Leader, ask your people if they will commit, and wait for their response. Require their consistency. Likewise, be consistent with your own commitments, and you’ll lead your people by example.

Completion – Personal accountability from yourself as well as your team will mean the difference between success and failure. Complete your objectives, and follow through. Don’t allow the agenda to change week by week.

Do you hold people individually responsible for meeting company objectives? When your people fail, as we all do from time to time, do you hold them responsible for sharing the benefit of their hard-won wisdom with the group? Have you created a culture that values personal accountability as a tool? Are you rewarding people for taking personal ownership for big-picture results?

To be an effective leader, it’s essential to stay in touch with the people you’re leading. It’s starts with caring about them and your mission. It takes involvement with them through the unfolding process and seeing it through to the end.

It means choosing activities and objectives that are worthwhile – appropriate for you, your values and dreams. Otherwise you might as well be selling non-essentials door-to-door. Those jobs are already filled by worthy, big-eyed 6-year-olds. You wouldn’t want to compete with the Girl Scouts, would you? No, of course not.

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icon1February 9th, 2015

Leadership and Drive: Accessing the Power of Teamwork

A mentor of mine once said there are two reasons for doing anything: the STATED reason, and the REAL reason. The REAL reason is the thing that impels us to act.

Group of Multiethnic Designers BrainstormingSo, what drives us into action?

The REAL reason is what makes a football player finish a championship game with a taped-up dislocated elbow – an injury that would send most guys to the hospital begging for morphine. It takes a strong dose of conviction to get back into the game with such a debilitating injury.

When I was 22 and living in Anchorage, I attended dog races for fun. The REAL reason is what causes an Alaskan musher to bundle up and drive a team of sled dogs 1,100 miles through the dark and wintry sub-arctic wilderness. Running the fiercely competitive race known as the Iditarod could only happen with a very good REAL reason. Yet it happens every year.

The REAL reason is what makes a soldier stay awake for three days, what makes a fireman return to a burning building, what makes a scientist review the results of an experiment just one more time.

The REAL reason is what’s known as Drive. The beauty of it is, we all have it.

Each one of us can be a champion under the right circumstances. With the right leadership, we can all tap into our own inner drive and bring home incredible results against all odds.

Capitalizing On the Inner Game

As leaders, we can tap into the drive that motivates the people we are charged with leading and reveal their finest strengths to the world – and to themselves.

The word “drive” is defined as an inner urge that stimulates activity or inhibition; a vigorous onset or onward course toward a goal or objective.

If you find yourself leading a team, there’s only one way you’re going to get to know what drives the players as individuals. First you have to get to know them as people, find out what makes them tick, touch their minds and motives.

No one was ever pushed across the finish line and called a winner. Winning comes from the inside, from the inner drive – from the real reason. Winning is evoked, coaxed like a feral cat out of the shadows. Winning is invoked, not imposed.

Driving the Team to Win

If you find yourself leading a typical pack, you’ll notice that they’re probably a pretty diverse group. They come from varied backgrounds, and they have plenty of different real reasons.

This is actually a good thing. Their diversity is your strength. It’s up to you to unite them to work as a team.

You’ll want to be cautious, though, not to completely dampen the wild individuality inside them. Instead, you can channel it to work for the benefit of your common cause. Here are questions you can ask yourself to accomplish just that.

Getting the Team Together: Do my people have a clear sense of where we’re going and why? Do they know the role they need to play? Is each player holding the right position?

Playing By the Rules: Are my decisions and actions consistent with our stated goals? Are my team members aware of those decisions? Are we all striding together? Does your team personally understand and agree with the direction?

Using the Right Equipment: Have I created a culture that values drive as a tool? Does our culture embrace the value of the individual as well as the cohesion of the team? Do they have the tools they need, not just to play the game, but to win?

In It To Win It: Am I rewarding my team for taking on the tough duties? For making critical decisions? For giving their all?

The reason for doing anything may seem obvious to us all, at least on the surface. Harnessing the REAL reason – the inner drive – and putting it to work will inevitably yield the fruits of victory.

What will spur you on to play your best game? Your victory cup is waiting!

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icon1February 2nd, 2015

Leadership and Ambition: Get Your Dream Into High Gear

What’s your greatest ambition? Do you know where the road of life is taking you? Do you know who’s taking the ride with you – those who share your ambitions?

Ambition fuels your goals, ignites the fire of life that kindles behind your eyes. It makes smoke curl from your nostrils as the restless engine of your desire is stoked when you contemplate your ultimate success. It torques your actions into high gear, and impels those around you to act with vigor on your behalf.

Chasing The Horizon

For many people, the idea of getting a great job and staying with the same company is their ambition. However, this scenario is largely becoming a thing of the past and having three or more careers in a lifetime is now the norm. This fact carries with it both an opportunity and a daunting responsibility to become clear on your own ambitions.

Don’t Arrive by Accident

It’s all too common to find that you’ve arrived on your current path through a series of coincidences, each one taking you a little farther away from the dreams you had when you first started. For most people, there is a huge gap between the results they get and the results they want.

Whether starting your own company or as an employee, more and more people are unsure of their ambitions. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s time to take time out, sit back and have a talk with yourself.

For example, some years ago I had a buddy who was confronted by just such a challenge. When we were both fresh out of college, we both went to work for Xerox selling office copiers.

Jeff and I had met years before in college, bonding over Top Raman and the love of fast cars. Jeff drove a Porsche and we took that car to every pizza joint near our campus (my college car was a classic VW Fastback, no match for the Porsche). We both shared a passion for starting our own business and becoming the next Henry Ford. Some things just don’t need to be explained.

After college, he had a successful career with Xerox followed by stints with other Fortune 500 companies like HP and Dell. He worked his way up into an executive position, in time making a pretty good salary with cushy corporate benefits. He was tied to his job with a velvet rope, plush but limiting.

Let me say here that Jeff did not aspire to be a corporate employee. For years, Jeff would talk with me about getting the nerve to “make the jump” and pursue a tech start-up.

Once you’ve been in corporate life for a while, you may feel locked into your job and your plush lifestyle, the way my friend did. Unless you get in touch with your true ambitions, your only options are to move sideways to another company or to move upward in the hierarchy of the company.

So what do you do? The answer is to finally ask yourself that most elusive question: what do you want to be doing five years from now? Ten? Twenty? What is your true ambition?

These are the questions my friend Jeff avoided asking himself for years, as the time slipped by and the rut got deeper. If your own answer isn’t “exactly what I’m doing now” then what you need is decisive action. Not tomorrow: today.

What my friend didn’t realize is that forging out a life’s ambition, or a major definite purpose, isn’t all that difficult. He was afraid of taking a momentary step back in his lifestyle for the sake of pursuing his longtime dream of starting his own company.

Eventually Jeff got his chance, seizing an opportunity to exercise his expertise in mobile technology.

Over time, he grew his idea into a steady business with the CTO’s of major cellular phone companies. He even has staff, inventory and a schedule of glamorous tradeshows he attends on an annual circuit. It’s a career he loves, but he never would have gotten there without making a change – the thing he dreaded the most.

If you can free yourself from the fear and pessimism that commonly confront change, you can free up enormous reserves of energy to fuel your dreams.

Getting Your Goals Into High Gear

In order for things to get better, things have to change. Even if your ambition lies a bit farther down the road you’re already on, progress means change. Anything else will mean stagnation.

Whatever your ambition is, the chances are that there’s an opportunity for your next step not far away from where you are right now. The key to your dreams lies somewhere in your immediate surroundings.

If your ambition really is something you’ve seriously wanted to do, then it should be as simple as getting started and getting noticed. It’s okay to start small. If your first steps don’t work out the way you’d hoped, don’t give up. Keep your ambition in sight, letting it always fuel the passion for your dreams.

Whether you succeed or fail, it’s always better to try. At least you won’t find yourself years from now asking those two most terrible words: “What if…?”

Living out your ambition is not as hard to do as you think, especially when your actions are powered by your true passions. So what are you waiting for? Drop it down a gear and hit the gas! You never know what’s waiting for you around the bend.


icon1January 19th, 2015

Leadership and Logistics: Know What to Delegate and When

Hand Strategy Get Your Ducks In A Row

The saying goes that Management is doing things right, and Leadership is doing the right things. It sounds good on the surface – leaving the details up to the Managers while the Leaders lead. Or play golf.

But how can you be an effective Leader if you’re not aware of the logistics involved in your enterprise?

At some point – either on the way up in your career, or during on-going operations – you’ll need to understand the nuts and bolts of your project.

This essential makes the atmosphere ripe for getting a little too involved with logistics, leading to that dreaded syndrome known as “meddling.”

I know it’s not a pretty thought, but if folks are whispering about you as you walk by, it may be time to reassess and loosen your grip on your team.

Just as in that epic game involving 18 holes and a rambling lawn, business works best when you’re loose. It’s important to know when to let go your white-knuckle grasp and allow others to assume some responsibility. (Ask me how I know.)

Yes, as a matter of fact, this does include maintaining a sense of humor.

Loosening up will not only free up your time, it will help build the team rapport that’s so essential to your smooth-running operations. Once you get into the flow, you’ll be able to adapt your delegation style as the situation requires.

And the more you delegate, the easier it becomes. Actually, it can be downright addicting – leaving you more time to go home when the rest of your crew does, or even (dare I say it?) work on your golf swing.

Beware of the Sand Trap

Before you get too happy with the delegation idea, there is a caveat. When you give too much responsibility too soon, your team members can lose confidence in themselves, especially if they fall short of completing the tasks they’re given.

This means delegating big jobs should be a gradual process. The amount of responsibility you allocate as a Leader should increase only as your people grow in confidence and ability.

Here are some guidelines to help you bring your delegating skills up to par:

1. Climate: Think of your attitude about delegation within your team. Where do you fit in as a Leader? Keep in mind:

  • The culture within your team
  • Your Leadership style
  • Your own competence and confidence
  • Your physical location in relation to your staff
  • Your attitude about your staff’s delegation

2. Style: Consider the details of your current method of delegation practices. Are you using the most appropriate method you have available, considering your unique circumstances? If not, think about your alternatives, including the following factors:
  • Your team’s expertise and experience: Could they do with more guidance and supervision? Or should you be giving them more freedom to use their judgment and perform as they see fit?
  • Your team’s personal development: Are you doing enough to help them perform their jobs more effectively? Could you provide them with additional training that might broaden their skills or allow them to perform more effectively?
  • Letting go: Are you delegating enough to make efficient use of your own time? Do you sometimes find yourself holding onto tasks others could do? Letting go could free you up to spend time on strategy and other tasks that you alone are qualified to do.

3. Hone Your Strategy: Take time to write down some of your thoughts. Make a note of your delegation style, then note any ideas about what a more appropriate style could be.
  • What can you do to improve your delegation style?
  • What do you need in order to change?
  • What can you do to prepare your staff for that change?

4. Inner Game: Now spend some time analyzing what you have written. Write down three key action points which you will try to carry out in practice over the course of the next few months.

When delegating tasks, try to match tasks to the skills and potential of team members. Spend a few minutes thinking about their skills and areas where they might have a desire to develop, expressed or implied. These talents can be incorporated into your final action plan.

5. Approach: Be mindful of making team members’ jobs interesting and delegating logically.

Create an action plan to cover the aspects of delegation you’ve identified. The framework will differ depending on the number of tasks there are and how they’re allocated to your team.

Both you and your team members need to come together to share expectations for the project. Ultimately, you want to run a happy shop. Comparing your expectations will show where you are in agreement and where you need to come closer together.

Keep the Long Range In View

Before acting on your plan with your team, make the effort to agree on a deadline for completion of the tasks and a date and time for a review session.

This session will give you a chance to revisit the points you agreed on and ensure that everything is on track. If you meet before the deadline, you’ll have a chance to answer any questions or address any problems that arise in the course of the project.

When you and your team do meet the deadline, make sure you take some time to celebrate… say, at the 19th hole. In fact, setting this up could be the very first task you delegate.

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icon1January 12th, 2015

Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others

I recently read an antique book on Time Management called How To Live on 24 Hours A Day. It was written by a man named Arnold Bennett at the dawn of what we now know as the Personal Development movement, way back in 1910.

Image of businesswoman looking in telescope standing atop of roc

You’d think a book written at that time would be full of outdated ideas and dull platitudes. That wasn’t the case. In fact, you’d probably find it surprisingly easy to read, relatable and uplifting. I was amazed by how little Western culture has changed in the 100+ years since Bennett penned this work.

Much of what he discusses in the book has to do with the mentally exhausted middle class, people who have time for little more than their daily commute and a 40-hour work week.

Without saying it in obvious terms, his topic is really about Self-Leadership.

Instead of giving in to the status quo, Bennett offers a more deliberate approach, one that infuses life with vitality. He takes aim at the creeping feeling that time is ebbing away, that life is slipping through your fingers day by day, and he offers a solution that’s so simple, few actually practice it. Then as now, the simplest solutions often had trouble gaining credibility.

Besides Self-Leadership, I believe these ideas can and should be applied to leading a team. Infusing life with passion, crafting a vision and keeping the vision aloft for others can mean the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary, both in business and life.

Why Leadership Requires Going On A “Time Diet”

Bennett suggests that by investing small amounts of time on a regular basis in a goal or topic that deeply fascinates you, every part of your life will change. Your senses will become heightened, and you’ll bring a new intensity to everything you do.

For my part, I agree with him, and many of my own activities reflect this habit. Besides running my own publishing company and a thriving consultancy, my work as a published author keeps me hopping from event to event. I also have plenty of outside interests and an active social life. By staying fully engaged, I feel truly alive in everything I do.

I was surprised to find that back in 1910, Bennett touched on this same point in his book. He goes on to say that each of us is given a whole new bank of time each day to use as we please. No one can steal it from us, and our “purse” of time is refilled continually.

For me, this reinforces the need to set goals and to employ some kind of structure in my schedule, what I call a time diet. Each of us has the option – in fact, the obligation – to deliberately choose how we spend our time and not waste it. This kind of focused effort speaks to the essence of Leadership.

It’s common knowledge that the wise ones shepherd their money, investing it instead of spending it, shrewdly calculating their next move, always keeping the end goal in mind.

And so it with time. The wise ones plan carefully, cultivate a vision, and work meticulously to reach the worthy goal. If you try to distract someone who is bent on an ambition, you’ll have a hard even getting their attention. Their major definite purpose obscures just about everything else.

What I love about this is the sense of freshness and renewal it brings. The start of the New Year particularly is perfect for reviewing the successes of the past year – and those unfortunate “oops” moments, the ones we so lovingly call “opportunities for improvement.” We’ve got a fresh calendar to work with, a clean slate without a blemish on it. It’s an excellent time to set goals and schedule tasks to achieve them. It’s an excellent time to corral others and recruit them to share your vision.

The Essence of Leadership

If you find yourself in a position of Leadership, you might be facing the New Year with a little extra weight on your shoulders. Not only do you have a glorious opportunity to shape the course of the coming year for yourself at home and at work, but you may have the chance to inspire others.

Many believe that leaders are born and not made. True, it’s useful to be born with certain qualities that give you a head start. However most of the traits of a good leader are learned.

In upcoming articles, we’ll be discussing the qualities of Leadership. We’ll take a look at the essence of Leadership, creating an inspiring vision, and ways you can communicate that vision to your team effectively.

Ironically, the word Leadership can be used as a Mnemonic device, touching on the elements of Leadership itself.

L – Logistics
E – Enthusiasm
A – Ambition
D – Drive
E – Effectiveness
R – Respect
S – Sensitivity
H – Humour
I – Integrity
P – Passion

In real life applications, your own approach to Leadership will need to be tailored and modified to fit your situation. Ultimately it starts with you and your determination to invest time in yourself – in those things that make you feel vitally alive.

Once you begin to fully engage, the ripple effect will touch the lives and deeds of those around you and those you are leading. You can influence them and perhaps even inspire a new generation of leaders.

Leaving a 100+ year legacy is surely a worthy goal, and in this case it was achieved by Arnold Bennett, author. Hats off to you, Mr. Bennett; your time was well spent.

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icon1January 5th, 2015