Welcome to the "Thoughtful Kick-Start." If you subscribe, you’ll get something useful every Monday – savvy, upbeat insights - that will lead to exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

The Pros and Cons of Commitment

There is a lot of power in commitment, in the willingness to do whatever it takes to reach a goal and fulfill your purpose and values.

Some feel that commitment involves a sacrificing of freedom, and it does require some surrender of the “I can do whatever I wanna” form of freedom.

But securing a sustainable life that you love and can count on is a greater freedom afforded to you by discipline, structure and commitment.

An executive coaching client of mine recently discussed making that trade-off – trading in the fear and pain of sacrifice for the joy and security of commitment.  All of our most exciting goals are made possible and sustainable by virtue of commitment.  For more motivational words on the subject, click below to listen or follow the link to download the short audio recording.

Making Big Decisions

Anytime you are feeling a sense of “stuckness,” it might be that you’re in a state of indecision.   Indecision is draining, while being in a “decision making process” is empowering.

There are three steps to a decision making process that you can use when making any big decision.   Then you can always consider yourself “decisive!”

  1. Set the timeline.
  2. Organize all the information you can gather,
    • Pros and Cons
    • SWOT analysis
    • “Fork In The Road” cost
    • Feelings
    • Advice and feedback
  3. Go to your “confident thinking” place to make the decision one day before the “deadline,” and if you don’t throw up or break out in hives, be courageous and go with your decision.  

Most of the time, making the “right” decision isn’t what leads to success – it’s making decisions and honoring your commitments to have them work out successfully.

Listen here for more, including an example of a major decision that followed this process.

Creating Loyalty

Here’s an important yet often overlooked topic as we consider how to increase our income and have less stress and more fun doing it: creating loyal people.
Successful businesses pay a lot of attention to customer service and human resources. But creating people that are loyal to us, as employees and clients, should be in our individual repertoires as well. That’s because, whether it’s on a big-business or personal level, the fact remains the same that it is much easier to retain than create new connections. And once our “peeps” are established, it’s those people who will continue to use our products or services, work hard on our behalf, or connect us to others who will become repeat customers or long-term employees.

To retain these connections and keep them in good shape for the long term, creating loyalty is key. Let’s look at creating loyal employees first:  

A survey by Monster.Com examined the top reasons people stayed at a company. Surprise—money doesn’t show up in the top five! Here’s what people said made them keep on keepin’ on:

  1. Being part of a family
  2. Feeling valuable as a worker
  3. Being treated as an individual
  4. Making an impact
  5. Having opportunities to learn and grow, in a variety of roles

It seems that the emotional connection between the employee and employer, in which the employee has a sense of their purpose, value and contribution, is essential in creating loyalty.

What about the people who help you in your workplace, as employees or colleagues? Do you have a sense that they are there for you, not just for the money or business connections you may offer, but because working for/with you is satisfying and empowering?

As for creating loyal customers, an article in Business Psychology by James Larsen, Ph.D., Customer Psychology Findings, described a dual approach where businesses need to use both “value-recovery” and “value-added” strategies when customer dissatisfaction occurs. Jargon-free, this means that when s*** happens (and it always does) customers must not only get their money or investment or product back—“value recovery”—but they must also feel as though the problem causing the malfunction of the product or service has been at least addressed, if not totally rectified, by the company. This second step obviously “adds value” when criticism leads to improvement of a product or service, but even a sincere apology can often boost a customer’s estimation of the company’ honesty and integrity. Together, these strategies can turn “disaster into opportunity” by creating a customer who is even more loyal than before.

Again, being treated respectfully, as a human being, and as an individual whose feelings and thoughts are important, emerges as the common denominator in creating loyalty.
It’s pretty easy to get locked in a “me-first” mindset as we strive for greater wealth and achievement in our lives. But when you start to think about all the people that surround each of us, upon whose employee/customer satisfaction we depend for success, a whole new way of doing business becomes clear. It looks like “you first” could be a win-win approach all around, when it creates loyalty that keeps people coming back for more.

To listen to this week's Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meeting, click play or download mp3.

The Power of Exploring – Thoughtful Leadership - Part 2

According to Inc. Magazine, the second thing that thoughtful leaders do when providing transformational leadership is; explore.

Whether you are dealing with small business development, team development, executive leadership or just exploring leadership styles, begin to consider what great leaders do that makes a difference.

Thoughtful leaders…

- Are driven to open closed doors, to ask and to listen – to go beyond.
- Ask- “ who, what, where, when, how and “who else can help” questions -  to search for truth.
- Are open to all possibilities because all possibilities are worthy of consideration.
- Are naturally curious and open to deeply listening, leave a person feeling they are "gotten", heard, and appreciated.
- Connect on a deep level through exploration with a sense of non-judgmental curiosity.

What about you?  How will you explore a new frontier this week?   Take a quick listen here for some ideas to help you explore for yourself.

The Power of Observation - Thoughtful Leadership - Part 1

This weekend my “Thoughtful Kick-Starts” partner, Kat McKee, found us an excellent article at Inc online called, “6 Things Really Thoughtful Leaders Do.”   The first one points to the power of observation, which is clearly paramount in executive leadership, especially transformational leadership, as well as in business development and all interpersonal communication.

In the article, author Kevin Daum observes, “Thoughtful leaders … are masters of watching and listening to everything happening.  They… notice behavior, culture and patterns with great interest…They have heightened awareness of tone, mood and feelings. You can see they are actively engaged.”

Click the play button below to listen to our brief conversation on the subject for more insights on how this element can enhance your interpersonal relationships and expand your own capacity for observation and thoughtful insights.   To your success!

A Clear Purpose

“A clear purpose will unite you as you move forward…and goals will focus your energy.”
-Author and management expert Kenneth H. Blanchard, Collaboration Begins With You: Be a Silo Buster

It was over 10 years ago at an International Coach Federation conference when I heard Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, say these unforgettable words:
“If you aim for the target and you miss by a little, you’ll end up nowhere. Aim for the bull’s eye! You might hit it. And if you miss by a little at least you’ll hit your target.”

Whether you are in a role of leadership, or getting clients in a business development position, or looking for that next new amazing job, your ideal goal is the bull’s eye. That’s what I want you to be aiming for.

Now, think for a moment about the goal you are pursuing….
Is it a watered down version of what you really want? Has it even become a complete detour from commitments that would enliven and fulfill you? Are you working energetically and passionately towards that dream? Or did you, like a lot of other people, get into the habit of aiming low for a target that you think is more sensible?

Take on this exercise and really take the time to write down your answers:
1.If all of the obstacles in your way were to magically dissolve, what goal would you pursue?
2. If you decided to pursue that goal, what barriers or hurdles would now be worthwhile to overcome?
3. Who are the top three people with whom you can brainstorm to overcome these obstacles?

Maybe just having a support team of positive thinking people is all you need to bolster your confidence and keep you focused on that dream.

I’d be happy to do a sample coaching session with you at no charge to talk about what your fabulous new future would look like when you hit the bull’s eye, and how to go about it.

So how about you, when will you take a shot at hitting the bull’s eye in your career?

Empowered Interviewing - Part 3: After the Interview - Now What?

Click PLAY above to listen along while you read.

You’ve had your interview. Now what? What happens between completing an interview and wondering whether or not you are the candidate who got the job?

Usually people will wait, and then wait some more hoping for the best. They email to prod the process along by asking, “What’s happening?” Then they get no response and end up frustrated. How many times have you heard that story or have been in that situation?

In the follow-up process of securing your ideal job, you might want to think of yourself as a salesperson looking to secure a client. A proven technique in sales and marketing is the direct response campaign. A sales and marketing campaign might have as few as three steps and as many as 28 follow-up touch points. For example, a marketer starts with a postcard or flyer, followed by a relevant report, and then sends a special discount offer.

So let’s create a campaign for you to follow after any interview to position you as that outstanding candidate:

1. Hand written note
People have gotten lazy in the cyber world in which we live. The thank you card has been replaced by the email. Sending that handwritten thank you note will have you stand out. Make it more personal with imagery or graphics related to the interests of the people who interviewed you. Let me give you an example. I had a client who sent a thank you card with a picture of a horse knowing that the hiring party was a horse lover. Guess what? He got the job.

2. Be relevant and thoughtful
One of the most efficient ways to demonstrate this is to send an article related to the interest of the target person or company. Perhaps it is a report about leadership, inter-office dynamics or how to motivate employees. Instead of just sending the article, summarize it in a sentence or two. This shows three things:
o It conveys how you are thoughtful
o It gives people a taste of how you think
o Your summarizing shows them that you respect their time

3. Say that you want the job
This piece of advice may be the most over-used in career coaching but it remains one of the most important. People make decisions driven by emotion. When they know that you really want that job, they get the feeling that you will be committed, will stay on the job longer and will therefore provide more value.

4. Here’s a bonus tip
Act as if you are already a part of the team. Invite other executives or employees to have coffee or lunch and brainstorm on a current challenge with them. Ask if you can visit them in the office or at the company’s cafeteria to get a sense of their culture. How about volunteering to work for free or as a consultant for a limited time - like two weeks or a month. That will let them know that you are committed. The limit in scope will prevent you from sounding desperate.

So what about you? What company are you committed to working for and how will you use these follow up techniques to secure your ideal job?

Empowered Interviewing – Part 2: The Big Picture

Advanced Insights for Powerful Interviewing

You’ve probably heard or read all the usual tips and techniques out there - be on time, dress for success, have your resume prepared and know your dates. All that advice is useful and important but not different. And that’s what you want to be at the interview – different. You must stand out.

The first way to make a difference is by not looking at the interview as the be-all and end-all event that will land you the job. Think of the interview as the building block in a long-term relationship you are starting with the company. One interview could lead to three interviews with the one company and then a fruitful future.

You will be meeting an array of people. Begin to look at them as people who are going to be your co-workers. Sure, there will be trick questions asked. But start listening for what they want. What are some of the biggest things they are struggling with?

Think about things in the larger context. Start being that co-worker. What will the company need to see you do, at the interview and between interviews, to seal the deal for you? For example, I had a client who was recently hired for his dream job. Before his final offer came, his conversations during the interviews led him to look into the company’s needs. He sent them some useful research and connections. He was behaving like he already worked for them.

This person was explicit that he wanted the job. That brings us to one last tip - ask for the job. Tell your interviewers that you would love to work there. This will be your dream job if that is true for you. Then you are likely to create it as such.

So what about you? Which company will you connect with today to create the future of your dreams?

Empowered Interviewing – Part 1: Preparing Powerfully for Interviews

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“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”
Dr. Amy Cuddy - Social psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School

How you perform in a job interview is important, and we will focus on that next week. So today we focus something equally as important - preparing for the interview.

So much of a decision about you is made in the first ten seconds of the meeting. Here are some ways that you can walk into an interview calm, confident and totally set up for success:

1. Do your homework
Get to know something about the company or the person you are about to meet. You don’t have to do comprehensive research to know everything about a company before you walk into a meeting. But if you know something about the person’s experience, point of view or the company’s vision, it shows that you are interested, have put in some effort and therefore are willing to work hard to be a useful to the company.

2. Know your own details
Too many people skip this important step and seem surprisingly shaken when asked questions about themselves. You must know your resume cold – your experience, work history, dates. Be prepared to answer questions that provide a lens to your behavior and values. For example, what will you do in a situation where you find that a colleague may be cheating, breaking the rules or stealing? They are testing your character. The way to
prepare for this is to think about and get clear about your values.

3. Prepare your mind and your body
Make sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before an interview so you arrive well-rested and energized. Drink plenty of water. Dr. Amy Cuddy has done a lot of work on how body language produces hormones. Pumping your arms above your head in a victorious I-am-a-winner gesture, as if you just won a race, actually reduces the stress hormone and gives you the feeling of a winner. You will start off with confidence when you walk in the door for your interview.

4. Think success
Imagine yourself nailing the interview. Imagine yourself in the job and enjoying it. This visualization will do its own magic to enhance your performance.

Preparation is a key ingredient for building confidence for each of your interviews and will make a big difference overall in your success.

So what about you? Which aspect of preparation will you take on more rigorously than you have before?

Authentic Social Media

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“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

--Tom Peters – American writer on business management practices in Fast Company.

Today I invite you to take a new view on using social media in your business development, networking or job search. Whatever you are up to, social media can help build you a strong authentic reputation.

There are lots of sources for tips and techniques on how to use social media, like searching LinkedIn to find other people through your existing connections. That’s not what we are going to talk about today.

We are looking at social media from a standpoint of your personal branding, so more and more people know who you are and what you stand for. You are broadcasting to a large audience of hundreds. We couldn’t do anything like this from our homes just as recently as 10 years ago.

You are interacting one-on-one with individuals around the world and within your region with the same ease of interface. How are you going to make that relationship tool worth your time and energy?

I have in previous blogs talked about clarifying your strengths and passion. What if several or all of your social media posts are driven by your passions, your talents and particularly where these two overlap? For example, you might be interested in the creative use of color in advertising, or are fascinated by sound in film, or the analytical use of derivatives investing. That’s the professional side. I encourage you to balance your social media posts to blend your professional side with your personal side.

Sure it’s fun to publish photos of meals you cooked, the family get-togethers and perhaps some of your wilder adventures. That being said, do be careful what aspects of your personal life you share, and the impression you leave forever on Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. Will you show up as a mature, confident and professional person who also knows how to live a great life? How might you focus on personal activities that express your values? For example, I love slowly and carefully exploring the critters under the water when I am scuba diving. It relates to my interest in behavior. I love exploring what makes human beings and sea creatures do what they do.

The balance you strike will more likely produce the positive impact you want if you are conscious, consistent and intentional in your posting habits.

So what about you? What are some themes you want to explore or express more often on social media to improve how you get known for who you really are and what you stand for?

Welcome! The purpose of this blog-cast is to provide thoughtful perspectives on leadership, team dynamics and peak performance for leaders and top producers. You'll start every week with savvy, upbeat and focused insights every Monday (read and/or listen) to produce exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

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