Archive for February, 2012

@maurilio:

6

Excellence vs Perfectionism and the Cost of the Impossible

No one will argue that we must strive for excellence. After all who wouldn’t want a life, a business, a team, a ministry built on the best we can do and become. It’s the ultimate calling of a believer: to give our best to God no matter the task at hand. But those of us who are perfectionists, even the reluctant ones (and I will include myself in this group) will hide our true agenda of the pursuit of the never-attainable perfection behind the noble pursuit of excellence. This is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Find a reason that no one can argue with…excellence…and hide underneath it a more nefarious motivation…the pursuit of the impossible. But in my struggle with the perfect, I have learned that ultimately, perfectionism costs me not only a lot personally, but it can wreak havoc in the organizations I lead. After all… It is…

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17

The Trap of the Critic

It’s easy for me to be a critic.  I grew up in a family that prided itself in finding what’s wrong with the world and each other. It was sort of a sport around the dinner table to see who would outwit the rest and deliver the best put down. We all laughed, but someone always got hurt. Now I’m a professional critic whose livelihood is partially funded by my ability to discern what’s wrong or what’s not working and help organizations move to the next level. This is a dangerous profession, and I’m very aware of the insidious negativity that can creep in and suck the life out of every experience. I have to work hard on being positive because cynicism and negativity are the first ones at the gate. When the critic in me starts to take over my heart, I go back to the words of Henri…

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5

Smart Casual or Business Casual? What’s the Difference?

As if there were not enough ambiguity in trying to define “business casual” in the workplace, we now have “smart casual” showing up in magazines, invitations, and office policies. Wikipedia’s vague and convoluted description of “smart casual” is evidence of there being no real standard for the term: It has been suggested that smart casual for men consists of dress trousers—this includes chinos[2]—a long-sleeve dress shirt[3] (tie optional), leather loafers or dressy slip-ons, dress socks, a belt, and, if appropriate, a sport coat or blazer. Some interpretations allow for sweaters and knit pullovers paired with button-down shirts; especially v-neck sweaters. Although jeans are usually not an option, the Burnt Hills smart casual allows for crisp blue jeans to be worn (no holes or places where you stepped on the heel too much). A tie is usually introduced to the ensemble, and the wearing of a jacket is stressed.   Here’s my…

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7

Selling and The Art of Persuasion

Often the difference between success or failure in a meeting lies on how to read or work the room. The best presentation tools cannot overcome the dynamics that often come to play underneath the surface. While there’s an art element to persuasion, there are also some skills that can be learned. Next time you are selling an idea, a project, or just yourself, consider the following: Find a personal connection. We do business with people we like. We hope they can deliver the goods. Don’t underestimate the power of a personal connection in a professional setting, especially if you’re selling…even just an idea. I have created strong bonds with perfect strangers after a few seconds of discovering that we both like to run, or that we have teenage children the same age, or that we both love the carrot cake at J. Alexander’s. I believe that people innately want to…

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7

Managing Expectations: The Importance of the Weakest Link

Managing expectations is critical in every organization. But it is especially important in the service-oriented businesses where one’s last experience can ruin years of a strong reputation. I was just reminded of how important that is during dinner out last night. Sometimes it is not the big things that can ruin an experience, but a careless decision that puts your entire team at a loss. I met with some co-workers and a client at one of Nashville’s most celebrated restaurants. My out-of-town guest is a foodie. He has eaten his way through Europe as well as some of the best restaurants in the US. I was hoping to make a good impression of Nashville and what we had to offer. He and I were immediately drawn to one of the chef’s signature dishes: the miso crusted sea bass. We were promptly told that even though the menu said sea bass,…

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8

Successful Businesses Don’t Really Exist

“Great companies don’t really exist. What we have are great people whom collectively create successful businesses and organizations.” That was the heart of my presentation this week to our entire staff. As I tried to distill Jim Collins’ Good to Great into an hour lecture the bottom line because clear to me. According to Collins, breakthrough organizations not only have the right people on the “bus” but also have them in the right seats. According to him, that’s one of the most important dynamics, if not the most important, in creating truly successful  businesses. While it’s easy to talk about “the organization,” I think we easily forget that like a family, a church, a community or any social entity, a business is comprised of first and foremost of people. The more competent and dynamic the team is the more successful the organization becomes. It’s not a complicated concept. But let’s…

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5

The Tyranny of the Urgent

“I’m already overwhelmed in my job. I have no time left to write a blog post, create a conversation on Twitter, or engage in a Facebook discussion.” I hear it quite often these days.  I understand people’s frustrations. We all seem to be tapped out. My answer is simple: you must let go of the urgent and not important and focus on the important but not urgent. Easier said than done. The urgent always demand our attention, whether or not it warrants it. It’s the “needs immediate attention” email you get in the middle of the day, or a “crisis” a client is having you must attend to. Much like disgruntled church members, the “urgent but not important” tasks fill our days and rob us from doing what we should be doing but, unlike its obnoxious counterpart, the “important but not urgent” will not grab us by the neck and…

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30

How to Create a Winning Logo

A logo is a visual representation of an entity, may it be a business, a church, an organization or an individual (remember when Prince dropped his name and wanted to be know by his logo?). My company, The A Group, has created hundreds of logos over the past several years. The process has been as simple or as complicated as each client, but at the end all good logos ultimately share the same DNA. 1. It can be reproduced in one solid color. If your logo needs two or four colors to look good or it needs that nifty 3D effect to look ok, it’s not a successful logo. If it works in solid black then it will work in any color or rendering. 2. It’s simple. I cannot tell you how many times I have run into logos that tried to “tell a story.” Like verbosity, these overly symbolic…

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12

How to Hire Well: The Owner Principle

I have always been an owner even when I worked for someone else. Recently I have thought about my employment history as well as those who have been my colleges and employees over the years and have come to the conclusion people fall in two main categories: owners and workers. Before you dismiss the post, let me explain. This is not a legal distinction, but a psychological one. Interestingly, some business owners behave like managers or workers doing what’s required of them and completely disconnecting from their jobs once the clock hits 5 p.m. Some hirelings whose heart and passion for their performance cause them operate more like owners. The more owners you have in your organization, the more successful you’ll be, I’m convinced. Here’s a list of owner characteristics: Owners care about the entire team and not just themselves. They know that no one is successful alone. Owners understand…

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