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.

The Three Laws of Motivation (Law #3)

Scenario #1: The new owner of the business walks into your office and says, “Based on my review of your performance we’re going to increase your annual salary by $25,000.”

Scenario #2: The new owner walks into your office and says, “Based on my review of your performance we’re going to decrease your annual salary by $25,000.”

Which scenario causes a deeper emotional reaction?

Exactly. As applied psychological research has shown, the pain of a negative is more intense than the pleasure of an equivalent positive. Not only is it more intense, one negative experience can override multiple positive experiences. Making a disrespectful comment, for example, can outweigh all the positive recognition you’ve given to an employee.

Law #3: First, eliminate the negatives

If you want to create an environment that helps your people perform at their best, focus on eliminating the negatives before you introduce the positives. Otherwise those positives may have little effect.

Your thoughts?


The Three Laws of Motivation (Law #2)

Last week I wrote that you as a leader don’t cause motivation. You hire people who are motivated, then you create the right environment to help channel and unleash that motivation.

So what’s the right environment? You’re not going to like the answer.

Law #2: Motivation is not one-size-fits-all

It depends. Sure, there are some universals: people want to feel respected, they thrive when they have a sense of purpose, and they feel good when they accomplish things. Beyond that almost anything goes. Some want you to point them in the right direction and then get out of the way. Some need your approval after taking each step. Some like to try different approaches, some like to conform. Some like to interact with others, some want to be left alone. Some want to lead, some want to be led. Some want to be recognized on the big stage, some want to be recognized in private.

The bottom line: know your people. Different people respond to different environments for different reasons. That’s human nature and that’s OK.

Your thoughts?


The Three Laws of Motivation (Law #1)

You’re excited about the opportunities on the horizon. Time to focus and mobilize your people, then let them loose!

So best not to screw things up. Which is why for the rest of the month I’ll cover the three laws of motivation.

Law #1: You don’t cause motivation

Your people aren’t machines who wait passively for someone to push the right buttons and – voilà! – now they’re motivated. They have their own motives, their own wants and needs. Motivation isn’t something done to employees. It’s something you help unleash and channel.

Motivation is what results when you have the right people in the right environment. If you don’t have the right people you can be the best manager in the world and they won’t be motivated. And if you don’t create the right environment then even the best people will feel frustrated.

Don’t focus on motivating people. Focus on creating the right environment so the right people will be motivated. Convey a sense of purpose that is meaningful to them. Make sure they’re equipped to succeed. Provide coaching and support. Ensure they feel valued.

Poor managers are quick to attribute failure to having the wrong people. Strong managers take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask, “What can I do to create a better environment?”

Your thoughts?


Google "Experimentation"

Is your organization continuously improving? Are you evolving your products and services? At a pace to not only keep you in the game but help you win the game?

Google makes around 100 upgrades to its search engine each quarter. At any given time they’re running between 50 and 200 experiments to test potential improvements. How do you measure up?

Think of your organization as a science lab. You encourage your people to think and to generate hypotheses about how to do things better, how to make things better. They test the most promising hypotheses, many of them, but one at a time so as to control for the effect of other variables. They draw conclusions and implement the most promising ideas. Maybe they develop broader theories which lead to the testing of new hypotheses.

Hypotheses, testing, control, conclusions, theories … this is the language of innovative organizations as well as science.

Your white lab coat awaits, professor.

Your thoughts?


One Thing

The New Year. For many people it’s a time for reflecting, setting goals and making plans.

Most of them will fail. So if you commit to anything at all this year, commit to this one thing:

One thing.

That’s it. Start one thing. Stop doing one thing. Make one significant change. Select one thing that you want to do, can do and, regardless of what obstacles or challenges arise, will do.

Feel good, feel successful when you do that one thing. Then, and only then, consider one more thing.

What am I going to do? I’m going to change which websites I look at each day. To take in different perspectives and stretch my thinking.

Do it. One thing.

Your thoughts?


Ruthless Consistency and Intentional Flexibility

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know my core philosophy regarding organizational performance, execution and change: ruthless consistency. Organizations that develop the right focus, get the right people and create the right environment are organizations that win.

Now some might think that ruthless consistency means doing the same things the same way all of the time, taking a mindlessly repetitive approach to whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Let me be clear: what ruthless consistency means is that your intentions and actions, however varied they may be, always are consistent with winning.

Different situations call for different approaches. Organizations should be flexible. They need to experiment and innovate. And they should cultivate freethinking. If a reasonable expectation is that a different approach will produce better results, that’s ruthless consistency.

Both ruthless consistency and intentional flexibility are desirable. And consistent.

Your thoughts?


What I Learned from Mr. Olympia

Frank watched closely as I did a set of bench press. I thought my lifting was clean and technically correct. But when I finished he just shook his head in disapproval. When Frank Zane, a three-time Mr. Olympia, shows his disapproval, best to take it seriously.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, puzzled with his reaction.

“You’re quitting when you’re half done. You’re letting the weight down too quickly, there’s no tension as you’re lowering it.” Then the clincher, “If you want to see dramatic results, you have to finish the job and do complete reps.”

Quitting when half done? I thought bench press was all about how much you could lift, not how much you could lower! But Frank was right. If strength gains and muscle development were the goal, then I was throwing away half my workout.

Which got me thinking about how organizations operate. How often do we quit when we’re half done? When we’ve created the plan but haven’t executed it? When we’ve wowed them at the trade show but haven’t followed up? When we’ve made a key decision but haven’t taken action? Does any of this sound familiar?

Don’t quit when you’re half done. Like Mr. Olympia said, if you want to see dramatic results, you have to finish the job.

Your thoughts?


Rational Resistance to Change

Why are people resistant to change? Short answer: because it makes sense.

Change means uncertainty. Will I like it? Will I not like it? Will I be good at it? Will I not be good at it? Will I be more secure? Will I be less secure? Will I have more status? Will I have less status? People want to know how the change will affect them. Uncertainty means there is a range of outcomes, some positive and some negative. They are understandably apprehensive, even fearful, about the negative outcomes.

So what can you as a leader do to soften the reaction to change? Communicate. A lot. Explain the what, why and how of change. Paint a picture of what similar change has meant for other organizations and individuals.

Reducing uncertainty reduces fear. You won’t eliminate it. But you can mitigate its effects.

Your thoughts?


Leadership Effectiveness: A Quick Test

Effective Leadership. Without it, an organization simply can’t achieve and sustain success. With it, anything is possible. So what is the essence of effective leadership? Is there a simple answer?

Jack Welch – some guy who used to run GE – says there is. Effective leadership was a cornerstone of Welch’s management philosophy and under his watch leadership development became a key to GE’s success. What leadership qualities did Welch look for? Four “E’s”. Do you have energy? Do you energize others? Do you have the edge to make tough decisions? Can you execute? That’s it.  Four “E’s”. 

See if it works for you. Rate each member of your leadership team as a leader. Then rate them on the four “E’s.” Now have each of them rate themselves as a leader and on each “E”.

Do the ratings of the four “E’s” correlate with perceived leadership effectiveness? Do your ratings largely align with their self-ratings? If so, the four “E’s” may be a useful tool to assess leadership, spotlight developmental opportunities, and identify outright limitations.

If simple works, then keep it simple. Do you have the energy and edge to energize and execute?

Your thoughts?


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Want your people to feel better about themselves and their work? Then take them through some gratitude exercises.

I see you cringing. Now before you become cynical – no, your workplace will not devolve into a cult of incessant hugging and crying – consider this: recent research in the field of positive psychology shows that when people express gratitude they feel happierinteract more positively and stay healthier than those who don’t.

So suspend your preconceptions, summon up your courage, and try at least one of the following:

1)    Start your next meeting by having each person write a list of all the things about work for which they are grateful.

2)    At the end of a meeting, take 10 minutes to have people ‚Äúmingle and move on‚Äù, expressing one thing they appreciate about each person they connect with.

3)    Ask each of your people to meet with / write to another employee for no other reason than to express thanks for something they hadn‚Äôt been thanked for.

4)    Invite a supplier into your office. Have each employee who interacts with that supplier (or their products) express a specific gratitude.

5)    Invite a customer into your office. Have each employee who interacts with that customer express a specific gratitude.

There, doesn’t seem so bad after all, does it?

You’re welcome.

Your thoughts?


The Question

At the front end of any major implementation – new CRM system, lean initiative, an acquisition – ask your people one key question: Why will this fail?

They know your organization’s history; they know your culture. Make it permissible for them to tell you why they think the implementation will fail. If you don’t ask, they will nod their heads up-and-down during your kickoff announcement then go back to the break-room and grumble, “That’ll never work.” Isn’t it better to know they feel that way before you start? And why?

Planning for success is not the same as planning to avoid failure. You have to play both offense and defense. Training people on the new CRM system is playing offense. Not punishing them when they make mistakes is playing defense. Communicating the reasons for a new CRM system is playing offense. Communicating to overcome insecurity and uncertainty about the new system is playing defense.

Plan to succeed and plan not to fail.

Your thoughts?


Are You Empowering or Abandoning?

“I don’t like to micromanage,” says the executive. “I like to give my people the freedom they need to be successful.”

We all know that to get the most from our people we need to empower them. Right?

Some employees are discovering there’s a dark side to so-called empowerment. It’s when their managers fail to provide sufficient direction. When they don’t identify boundaries. When they don’t supply the needed tools. And when they come down hard for results that were never defined to begin with.

These employees don’t feel empowered. They feel abandoned. Set up to fail by managers who lack focus and discipline. Managers who have fooled themselves into thinking that management no longer involves managing.

How can you ensure that you’re empowering and not abandoning? First, make certain your people clearly understand the goals, what’s expected of them and why. Next, ask yourself if they have the knowledge and skills to be successful. Then determine if they have sufficient resources

Empowering your people when any of these elements is missing could be disastrous. The right results happen when you create an environment in which everything aligns with winning.

Yes, empowerment can be effective. But it’s not enough.

Your thoughts?