Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category



Managing Expectations: The Difference Between Success or Failure

I love to say “YES.” It’s more than just the salesman in me who wants to promise the moon in order to get the deal. I thrive on the challenge to help someone accomplish a goal or seize an opportunity. I specially love tell “yes” to my clients on projects that I know will make a difference in people’s lives. But behind every “yes” there are moving parts, deadlines, budgets and deliverables that most often are beyond my control. I’ve struggled over the years to balance my can-d0 attitude with the realities of resources and realistic time lines. But over the years in business I have come to believe while my clients appreciate my willingness to understand and even share in their sense of urgency, they appreciate even more my honesty on what can realistic be done.  Managing expectations has been the most difficult lesson for me to learn, but…

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Vision, Tenacity and Your Success

I was recently reminded that great organizations, missions and even products were ideas in the mind of a visionary who more often than not, did not have the proverbial two dimes to rub together when they saw the opportunity and set out to seize it.  Such dynamic has always fascinated me. For me the question has always been, “Did it succeed because it was a good idea or because the sheer tenacity of its visionary leader?” After going back and forth on the answer, I have come to believe that the answer is both –a good idea in the hands of a passionate and committed visionary.  I have seen great ideas, quantified by research, die because it lacked a champion that drove through the obstacles and refused to let roadblocks stop it from coming to fruition. I have also seen strong, hard-driving leaders hold on to a bad idea and…

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Before You Send That Nasty Email Response, Read This

It was a great, nasty, email. I had written everything I wanted to say to the recipient and then some, just in case he didn’t get the point the first 12 times I made it. I finally had enough of being polite and trying to be the “bigger man”, so the gloves were coming off. It was the kind of email I always wanted to send to some board member when I was in the ministry, but due to my pastoral position, I could never do it. So there it was, the perfect retaliation email: a masterpiece of both logic, passion and a big opened can of whoop, well, you know. But I never sent it. In retrospect, I’m glad that email didn’t go out. It would have been disastrous. I have a few rules about emotionally charged emails. 1.  Write the email while you’re in the “moment.” Writing has…

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How to Deal With The Unhappy Vocal Minority

The vocal minority is the bane of every dynamic leader’s existence. While 98 percent of your organization might be content, it’s usually the discontent 2 percent who make a lot of noise. You cannot lead any type of business, church, or group without having push-back from a few people, sometimes even a single unhappy person. While every case is different, I have learned a few lessons with dealing with the unhappy vocal minority. Don’t underestimate the power of emotions. Anger, frustrations, outrage, and shame are powerful motivators. People who are emotionally charged lose perspective. What was once an annoyance suddenly becomes a cause worthy of their personal crusade. I have seen otherwise reasonable people hurl vicious personal attacks, most of them untrue, when they become emotionally charged by an issue. Don’t overestimate your ability to appease them. Conciliatory leaders tend to want to spend time with their detractors and reason…

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Trust and Competence: Leaders Must Have Both to Succeed

Some people you trust with your life. Some people you know will get the job done. These are two essential qualities that every leader looks for in building their organization. But unless you find both trust and competence in those whom you lead, you don’t have a dynamic team who can grow your business, church, or not-for-profit. As a matter of fact, without trust and competence, the only thing you have is a mess in your hands. The trustworthy and yet incompetent is often the first to be hired and the last to be let go. After all, who does not love someone you can trust, someone you know will have your back and whom you do not have to worry about what they are “up to?” However, his inability to perform and deliver will catch up with him and the entire team. Sure, he’s a likeable person, but in…

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Encouragement: Why I Need More Than a Paycheck

I need encouragement. For someone who sees the glass half full and opportunity during the tough times, I am not a natural encourager. That’s not an excuse, however. If I need encouragement, why shouldn’t those around me need it as well? They do. We all do. Here’s what I know encouragement does for me: It motivates me. A simple “well done,” a pat on the back, or a nod of the head gives me enough motivation to want to do it again, and better. How many times you and I have done a menial task because we wanted to please someone that matters to us? We do it all the time. Those of us with children do it every day. It abates my insecurities. I remember feeling defeated in a job that was not going well. “I don’t have what it takes to get this done,” I had reasoned. I…

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4 Gauges Every Entrepreneur Should Monitor

As a business owner, I’m never “off.” The mind of an entrepreneur is always working on opportunities, challenges and next steps. Of all the many thoughts that go through my mind on any given time, there are 4 areas of business that I’m constantly monitoring because I have learned that if they begin to deteriorate, so does my business. The Brand. That’s the promise every company makes to those it serves. Whether you sell widgets, services or an experience, your brand promise needs to be monitored. The A Group is a high-end marketing, technology and branding firm. Everything we do is based on strategy and best practices. I’m always monitoring the output of both products as well as services. Are we delivering on our promises? The Model. Is the current business structure a sustainable one? You’d be surprised by the number of busy businesses that end up failing. I remember…

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Is Your Greatest Idea Still on a Napkin?

“The greatest ideas are still left on napkins,” said a friend over lunch. These words stuck with me like some ugly unwelcome platitude. The more I tried to ignore them, the more they nagged at me. My ultimate fear is to go to my grave with my greatest idea still left on a napkin. What holds us back from pursuing our dreams? Here’s where I have landed on pursuing new business or ministry ideas. I don’t like risk, but I’m willing to take calculated ones. For someone who has started several business over the years,  (about 5 to date), I still struggle with the idea of something not working out. The fear of failure is real when you put a lot on the line for your dream.  But I also know that in order for an idea to flourish and become a reality, I have to step out of my…

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Getting Your Vision Funded

There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t meet with someone who’s trying to secure funding for a project, business, ministry or church. I love meeting with visionaries who can see an opportunity to make a big impact whether it be in the business sector or in the not-for-profit world. But there are more ideas floating out there than money to fund them. Here’s a few lessons I’ve learned about why some people get their dreams funded, while others don’t. The idea has to be viable. I know this sounds so basic, but I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve heard of crazy and just plan bad ideas. Interestingly, I have seen people dip in their retirement accounts, take a second mortgage to propel what it was obviously, to me anyway, a flawed proposition. You can throw good money at a bad idea. It  will just take…

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The Question that Can Take You to the Next Level

Recently I’ve spent time with two great communicators: one has sold over 37 million books and the other is a leader of one of the nation’s largest churches and an amazing teacher. For all practical purposes these men are “on top of their game,” after all they have achieved the kind of professional success most people only dream of achieving. Interestingly, each of them independently of one another asked me the same question: How can I get better at what I do?      I’m sure the very reason for their success is, what I call, “the life-long learner syndrome.” I was first introduced to it but an 83 year-old camp cook in South America when I was only 15. She called me in the kitchen and ask me to show her how to make Brazilian Stroganoff. She had been cooking five times longer than I had been alive, and…

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