Destiny is not a matter of
chance; it is a matter of



You’ve come to the right place.

Here you’ll find models, methods, practices, and processes
to help you develop the right focus, create the right environment,
build the right team, and embody the right commitment.
To get the right results.

When is it time for a CEO to move on?

John Montalbano didn’t like it, but it was the right thing to do. As the CEO of RBC Global Asset Management – Canada’s largest asset-management firm – he announced that he would be stepping down.

No, it didn’t have to do with poor results – RBC Global Asset Management has consistently been rated at or near the top of its category. And it didn’t have to do with falling out of touch – Montalbano was just 50. It had to do with a belief.

“After analyzing thousands of companies as a fund manager and as an analyst, I came to a view that CEOs have a due date of eight to 10 years. After that, they either become stale or start to close doors for people around them who are ready to step forward.”

“It didn’t feel good, but it felt right. To me, that’s how leaving should feel: it can never be about you; it’s got to be about your business.”

It can never be about you; it’s got to be about your business. Knowing when to step aside is just as important as knowing when to take the reins.

What’s best for your organization?

Your thoughts?


How to Attract Great Employees

I continue to hear about companies’ struggles to find top talent. In one company, over 800 resumes yielded just 5 employees!

So how can you attract great employees? Follow these four steps:

1) Attention
You are competing for their attention. And the competition is fierce so you don’t have much time to grab it. Ask yourself, ”Does our website immediately convey that we are a great place to work?”

2) Interest
You’ve got their attention. Now, is what you have to show or say interesting enough to hold it? Don’t make it about you! Make it about them and the people like them – your current employees.

3) Desire
They’re interested, but have you converted that into desire? Do the videos, photos, and copy make clear why you are a better place to work than other companies? Compete!

4) Action
Finally, have you provided a call-to-action, a quick and simple, do-next step to translate their desire into action?

The struggle to find top talent continues. Do you have an intentional, them-centered process to make it happen?

Your thoughts?


Customer-Empowerment: The Next Level of Innovation

There’s innovation. There’s customer-driven innovation. Then there’s customer-empowered innovation.

Five years ago, outdoor clothing retailer Eddie Bauer launched the First Ascent line for serious alpine use. Yet the market space was already crowded. How to stand out?

By empowering the ultimate experts: world-class outdoor athletes and guides. Empowering those experts not just to provide product input on the front end and feedback on the back end, but empowering them with go / no-go decisions about product designs they’ve tested in the field.

That’s right, the experts get to decide, not the company. Which means their tagline, “Guide built. Guide trusted.” is not just marketing fluff. It’s real.

As Ed Viesturs, a First Ascent guide and the first American to summit all fourteen 8,000-meter mountains, has said, “The really cool part about the process is that in the end, we have the ultimate stamp of approval. If we like it, BOOM, it gets made, and if we don’t, it gets canned.”

You can’t get much more credible than that.

How would empowering your customers strengthen your products and services … and credibility?

Your thoughts?


How Important is Employee Engagement?

Just in case you’ve any doubt at all about the importance of employee engagement (or you’ve just emerged from a time capsule), let me boil it down for you.

The Gallup organization studied almost 50,000 work units with over 1.3 million employees. How did units with top-quartile engagement compare to those in the bottom-quartile?

Profitability +22%
Productivity +21%
Customer ratings +10%
Theft -28%
Absenteeism -37%
Quality defects -41%
Safety incidents -48%
Employee turnover -25% to -65%*

(* depending on whether an organization was classified as “high turnover” or “low turnover”)

The debate is over, the issue is decided, the case is closed.

Engage your people!

Communicate purpose, vision and expectations. Demonstrate respect, trust and caring. Provide coaching and support. Acknowledge, recognize and celebrate.

It’s the winning formula.

Your thoughts?


How to be Successful in 2015

Welcome to 2015. You’re committed to being successful this year. Here’s a roadmap:

One. What is one goal you must accomplish this year? Got one? Now validate it by asking yourself: Why is it compelling? What is the pain if I don’t achieve the goal? Did your goal pass the test? If so, write it down.

Reflect. Be brutally honest with yourself. Which of your traits and behaviors are inhibiting achievement of the goal? Give each a label. Write them down.

Plan. Allow yourself time to think without distraction. What actions and steps are required to achieve your goal? And what must you do to overcome the traits and behaviors that are keeping you from achieving the goal? Write down the plan in the form of time-linked actions. Calendar them.

Track & Recalibrate. Regularly schedule time to track progress against your goal. Assess your performance along with why you met or didn’t meet the commitments made. Make adjustments based on your assessment.

Celebrate. Allow yourself to feel good about legitimate progress that leads to achieving the goal. Reward yourself for making progress.

This roadmap for success isn’t complicated. But it is proven. Focus, Motivation, Organization and Discipline.

Make it a successful 2015.

Your thoughts?


How to be More Effective in 2015

Patterns. If you’re serious about becoming more effective in 2015, then become a student of patterns. The patterns of behavior you exhibit when you are more effective and less effective. When you go to sleep, when you wake up, how you start your day, how you organize your day, what you say ‘yes’ to, what you say ‘no’ to, what and when you eat and drink, how you wind down your day.

Study what successful people do. (Success magazine is one of my preferred sources.) Identify the behavioral patterns they exhibit. Identify the patterns of thinking and feeling associated with those behaviors. Adopt or modify the patterns that are most relevant to your improvement.

There are patterns of thinking, feeling and acting that are associated with success. And there are patterns associated with mediocrity and even failure. If you want to change your future, then change your patterns.

Your thoughts?


The One Thing Smart People Do When Innovating

Ray Kurzweil has been described as the “ultimate thinking machine” (Forbes).

He has a list of inventions and innovations to his credit that any hundred of us collectively would be proud to have. As the principal inventor of the first flatbed scanner, omni-font optical character recognition, print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, text-to-speech synthesizer, and music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments (to name a few), it is little surprise that Inc. magazine called him “the rightful heir to Thomas Edison.”

So how does he think? What is his process? How has he been so successful at innovation?

Involve the people who will be using a technology in the creation of the technology, not just in the testing of it. They know the nuances and they have the motivation to get it right.

It’s not just being smart. It’s not just getting input. Or feedback. Or testing. It’s involving those who will be using a technology in the creation of it. Yet how often do we try to innovate in a vacuum or, at best, with the mere input of those who will be affected?

If someone as smart as Kurzweil insists on involving users to create, why wouldn’t we?

Your thoughts?


The Key to Building Customer Loyalty

As someone who flies well over 100,000 miles per year, it was refreshing to read the comments of Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Airlines, my preferred carrier.

Air Travel is an experience. Our job is to make sure our customers have the best experience possible. Ultimately, physical assets like planes or facilities or clubs can get competed away. Loyalty, however, is much harder to compete against.

The battle is for hearts, the hearts of your customers. How they feel when they engage you. The feelings you evoke by showing you care, by going above and beyond, by improvising to find a solution. By creating an experience.

All of us are heartened when a service employee truly cares and takes pride in helping us. And we become more loyal if we consistently have that experience.

Yes, shiny new planes may impress in the short term. But for the long term, it’s the experience.

Your thoughts?


How Thinking of Failure Helps Lead to Success

Jake Burton Carpenter founded Burton snowboards in 1977. In his first year he sold 300 snowboards. Today his company has five international offices, employs almost a thousand people, and snowboarding has grown from a fringe activity to an Olympic sport.

You don’t become the industry leader and maintain that position without having great products. So what one assumption does Burton feel is safe to make about his products?

“I learned the hard way that you cannot presume anything is going to work well. You have to think through every possible failure and test the hell out of products. Our mantra is to assume the product will fail – and then make sure it doesn’t.”

Assume it will fail. Then make sure it doesn’t. Good is never good enough. Institute the ongoing drive for better.

Your thoughts?


How to Create a Positive Work Environment (part 2)

Last week I touched on how to create a positive work environment when setting goals, discussing ideas, and motivating people. This week:

Responding to Outcomes
1)     Celebrate more than you think you should. Don‚Äôt wait for the year-end holiday party to recognize people. Punctuate all their hard work and effort throughout the year with brief celebrations for legitimate progress and success.
2)     Find a positive in the negative. For every negative outcome there is something positive to take away, even it‚Äôs simply a painful lesson. Starting with the positives gives people hope.
3)     Promote learning, not judgment. Always ask two questions in the wake of a negative outcome: What have we learned? What would we do differently next time?
4)     Improvement starts in the mirror. The need to improve is non-negotiable. Start by rigorously assessing what you should do to better focus, equip and support your people to succeed in the future.
5)     Cut off a finger to save a hand. Inevitably, there will come a time when an employee is simply unable to perform at the standard required. The most positive thing you can do for your team is to take decisive action and remove that person from the work environment.

There are countless things you as a leader can do to create a positive work environment. Implementing those I’ve spotlighted over the past two weeks is a solid start.

Your thoughts?


How to Create a Positive Work Environment (part 1)

Each of us is energized in a positive work environment. So how can you as a leader create and sustain such an environment? This week and next I’ll spotlight ten ways.

Setting Goals
1)     Set challenging, achievable goals, not big, hairy, audacious goals. People are more likely to believe in them and more likely to reach them. They won‚Äôt feel set up to fail.

Discussing Ideas
2)     Ask before you judge. Don‚Äôt reflexively shoot down ideas. Ask explanatory questions starting with ‚ÄòWhy?‚Äô and ‚ÄòHow?‚Äô It shows respect, and you just might learn something.
3)     Disagree with the idea, respect the person. If you do disagree, be sure to do it as respectfully as possible. As a result you‚Äôll be less likely to create a battle of wills.
4)     Change your views enthusiastically, not begrudgingly. It sends a powerful message that it‚Äôs okay to change one‚Äôs views and that ego should not stand in the way of learning.

Motivating People
5)     Remove the de-motivators. Doing things to motivate people has little impact unless you first identify and remove the things that irritate and de-motivate them. The inconsistencies. The mixed messages.

Next week: Creating a positive environment by how you respond to outcomes.

Your thoughts?


The Financial Case for Employee Engagement

It amazes me that some managers still question the benefits of promoting employee engagement. That, “How will this improve the bottom line?” is still being asked.

So in case you’re one of the remaining few who thinks all of this engagement stuff is just a bunch of fluffy pop-psychology that distracts from the real business, consider this:

A 2013 report by Gartner, the I.T. research and advisory firm, summarized studies from Gallup, Hay Group, and Towers Watson showing that employee engagement has a quantifiable impact on business performance:

Companies with top-quartile engagement scores grew revenues at 2.5 times the rate of bottom-quartile companies

A one-year study showed high-engagement companies grew operating income by 19% and earnings per share by 28%, compared to -32% and -11% for low-engagement companies

Those with engagement scores in the top-quartile showed 12% higher customer advocacy, 18% higher productivity and 12% higher profitability

Of course you can always find counter-examples. Company A treats it’s employees well but performs poorly; Company B treats its employees poorly but performs well. There are many critical factors that drive business results. Yet the correlation between employee engagement and financial performance is (rationally) undeniable.

Can we finally move on?

Your thoughts?