Monday, November 13, 2017

Made For Amazing - An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation by Mark Nation





One of my favorite things to ask people is how they landed in the spot that they are in today. Career-wise, most people aren’t in the vocation that they prepared for years ago. In life, people have moved to places and done things that they never thought that they would. Everyone has a story, and we can learn so much from the journey of others. I’m particularly fascinated to glean some insight and advice from others so that I can learn from their experiences.

Made For Amazing – An Instrumental Journal of Authentic Leadership Transformation by Mark Nation teaches us valuable leadership lessons as we follow the story of Joshua Lynk who is conflicted from his childhood experiences and the absence of a father. Josh has some incredible musical talent. However, he feels disconnected and unsure of himself and those feelings impact his ability to see and share his real gifts. Josh has a strong connection with his grandfather who knows Joshua better than he knows himself. His grandfather entices him to look deep inside himself for happiness and his purpose yet, Josh ignores him and instead goes on a long journey to follow fame and fortune instead.

Joshua’s journey is one of continuous self-doubt and pity for himself. He ends up losing his family and himself along the way. In the end, Josh leaps back to his childhood home where he and his grandpa shared music, stories, and dreams. It is there that Josh discovers himself and his purpose.

The story of Joshua will resonate with us all. Aren’t we all a bit lost and pretend that we are confident and know our purpose? Most of us need a journey where we search our souls for what gives us meaning, what we need to feel fulfilled, and have a sense of self-worth. Mark’s book and the intimate story of Josh will push you to embark on your personal journey to find your purpose and ultimately live from your own heart. Mark encourages us to overcome any mental struggles that we have and invites us in “finding your song at work and in life.”

Every one of us has unique gifts, yet we fear uncovering them. To use your talent, you need to find it and then believe in it. When you find your gifts you can then impact others and use your leadership to transform those that you are around. Made For Amazing is not just a story. It is an “action guide” to spur us on to start our journey. We are offered some useful thought-provoking questions to ask ourselves as well as discussion points at the end of the book. These tools will help you painlessly find your purpose and your real authentic self. We were all made to be amazing, and it’s up to us to bring that out and create our true music.














Sunday, October 22, 2017


Years ago I was in a job where I dragged myself to work every day. I lacked challenge, and I was bored. I was not growing and felt like I had no control over my life. What did I do? You guessed it – I stayed where I was. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what next steps I could take. It took a buyout of my company to wake me up and get me to move out. My situation would have been a lot different if I had had the book Find the Fire by Scott Mautz at my fingertips. Scott’s new book is the tool that most of us need by our side to get up motivated about our jobs and finding our lost mojo.

All of us at one time or another have lost the spark that gets us up and going to work every day. Remember when you first started your job? You were inspired, motivated, and excited to get out there and make a difference. You had new ideas and planned to have an impact. Then, something happened. Perhaps you feel like that now as you drive to work. What happened to the excitement? Passion? Confident attitude? Scott challenges us to ask “How did I lose my inspiration in the first place.” Better yet, he has some answers, strategies, and ideas to get us back on track to the days when our careers and lives were stimulating, challenging, and we had that fire underneath us.

Before discovering how to reignite your life you need to understand what doused your fire in the first place. You need to address what brings you down and win back to control. Find The Fire introduces us to nine factors, called anti-muses that steal our motivation and spark every single day. Here they are:


  1. Fear: We need to learn how to overcome our fear of change, failure, and criticism
  2. Settling and boredom: Learn how to find an open mindset, set new experiences, start learning and growing again, and make your opportunities
  3. Inundation: We are busy and inundated by too much every day from all angles. We need to control how things are coming at us and push progress forward. Start learning again, procrastinating, and find how to ask for help
  4. Loss of control: When we have control we have inspiration. Scott show us how to take back our sense of power and how to emit it
  5. Dwindling self-belief: When we are inspired we produce more, have self-esteem and are optimistic. You can increase your confidence and learn how to persevere
  6. Disconnectedness: Feeling connected is what being human all is about. Learn how to reconnect with your peers, your career, and your boss to make change
  7. Dearth of Creating: Inspiration requires creativity. If you lack creativity, then you can’t produce at your best or share it with the world. Learn how to find and unleash your creativity
  8. Insignificance: Feeling insignificant is our most deep-seated human fear. This anti-muse tries to convince us that we can’t make a difference and that what we do is meaningless. Learn how to have an impact
  9. Lack of Evocation: We need to search for an external stimulus to dial up our inspiration. Sometimes we find our best inspiration from “external sources.” Have a draining boss or coworkers? Scott shows us how to change the dynamics to bring back our fire.


Find The Fire is truly a book that we all need to keep at our side. Better yet, if you know someone who is struggling and their fire has become mere coals, light them up with this book. Once you recognize that the nine muses are not your friends and you see how they detract from your life Scott puts your life back on track. This book has humor, stories, shares the journey of others and will build you up with tools and strategies. You can find your magic again and become the excited and inspired newbie that you once were when starting a new career or stage in your life. This book speaks to both your professional and personal life. Your power will restore, and you will gain better control of you.

Find The Fire offers actionable tools to use at every stage of your ignition. The last chapter spells out how to fight the nine anti-muses in detail. Concepts like “Give, Resist, Exude,” the “Arc of Perseverance,” and self-empowerment tactics may become your best friends. You CAN get your spark back. However, you need to be willing to work at it because the nine muses are lurking around us all every day trying to pacify and control us. Take back your power, build confidence, and light that fire underneath you for lifelong change.





Sunday, October 15, 2017

It All Matters - 125 Strategies To Achieve Maximum Confidence, Clarity, Certainty And Creativity by Paul Cummings



If you are an avid reader or interested in personal growth, you are well aware of the saturated market of books in this area. I always have a tough time recommending the “best” book for someone to read if asked. I’m drawn to books that encourage self-reflection, positive thinking, and goal setting. The problem is that most books only offer a peppering of each in these areas, not actionable steps to stay on the path of personal development. The new book release It All Matters – 125 strategies to achieve maximum confidence, clarity, certainty, and creativity by Paul Cummings is a game changer.

It All Matters has something to offer everyone. It’s a comprehensive guide to developing and using personal affirmations. It encourages increased self-confidence and self-awareness. Clarity will become your friend and guide. Goal setting will become an everyday habit, and you will see success. You will undercover your strengths, and your passion will shine like a beacon.

Paul is a masterful storyteller and draws us in with his life experiences. The book follows his journey as a young man selling books for Southwestern Advantage in the 1970s. His mission was the catalyst for the self-development techniques and strategies that he shares with us. He took leaps into areas of life that most of us never would. His mistakes are our blessing because we can grow without encountering the obstacles that he did.

This book is like having a personal coach by your side every day. Paul shares his unique process U.B.U.: understand who you are, be true to yourself, and always stay unique. Paul explains how to choose our outcomes, master our mindset and goals, and live up to our life purpose and intent. His stories and experiences show how to put ideas on paper into action. It All Matters can be used every day as a journal to take on your development journey. Here are some of the tools that Paul offers:


  • Stories of failure and success that help us learn and grow. Life lessons that make a difference
  • Toolkit with ideas, strategies, actionable plans to use daily
  • MAP: My Action Plan after each chapter journaling your next move and setting following steps
  • Comprehensive goal-setting program and ideas for avoiding obstacles
  • Questions that force you to think, prioritize, strategize, and get to know yourself
  • Methods to learn and expand on your strengths
  • The power of daily affirmations, how to develop your own unique set and how to put them into motion
  • You will determine who you are, what drives you, and where you should go to achieve your goals
  • Jump onboard with a progressive mindset so that you can master the key to riches and success


It All Matters is far from just another personal development book. It’s a daily journal for becoming a better you and finding your way in the world to have an impact. The book offers everyday clarity to setting and achieving your goals. It lifts you when you feel like you are clouded with doubt. Paul encourages us to be creative and unique while making a difference in both our own lives and to those that we have contact with. If there is just one book that you need for personal development and success, this is it!



Monday, October 9, 2017

Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler, and Laurence Hawkins



I have always been a fan of the One Minute Manager books. I enjoy the art of storytelling and visualizing as I hear a story. Susan Fowler and Laurence Hawkin’s new partnership on the book Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager does not disappoint. Sure some leaders are born however, most of us acquire leadership skills through experience and mentoring. Have you ever started a new venture feeling like a superstar only to find that maybe you aren’t such a phenomenal leader? This book is for you.

I’ve never given too much thought to self-leadership but this book quickly jumpstarted my mind. We all need self-leadership in order to succeed and make a change. Our lives are ever changing and at one point we may need little more direction or support yet, we may find ourselves not pushing enough to ask for more support and assistance from someone else as circumstances change.

The book teaches us valuable lessons in business in a parable featuring Steve, a young advertising executive who feels that he is about to lose his job. He bumps into a friendly magician in a coffee shop who helps Steve realize how he needs to take the power of responsibility for his own situation and stop blaming others. The magician, Cayla, empowers others by coaching from what she has learned from the One Minute Manager. She shares 3 valuable self-leadership lessons that allow Steve to turn his situation around and lessons that we can all use in our own lives.

  1. Assumed constraints are a negative and are a belief that will limit your experience and hold you back.
  2. Activate your points of power: They include position, knowledge, task, personal, and relationship power.
  3. Self-leadership means being proactive to get what you need to succeed: The two most powerful words to get what you need are “I need”.

Stories are all about sharing and teaching. Self-Leadership and the One Minute Manager does not disappoint. The book shares valuable lessons but also provides a Development Continuum Model that illustrates the four stages people experience when they are learning to master something, like a new job or life change. The model captures what people experience and helps them to realize their competence and commitment to change as we learn something new or pursue a goal.

The book offers visual models of the four stages along with a complete list of competencies and commitments to help in understanding how to integrate the model into our lives. The book is a quick read yet offers so much information in an entertaining and empowering way. Steve was empowered by the gifts that Cayla shared with him and not only does he keep his job, but he becomes a One Minute Manager to those around him.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How You Learn Is How You Live - Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform Your Life by Kay Peterson and David A. Kolb


I am a lifelong learning geek. I enjoy learning new information and absorb it with a thirst for reading, taking online MOOCS, and watching videos. I've always known that I am a visual learner and have tried to gear my learning to my style. The new book How You Learn Is How You Live – Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform your Life by Kay Peterson, and David A. Kolb was an eye-opening read for me.

Most of what we learn and retain is from experience and hands-on learning. We all embrace a defined method of learning, and for some of us, it's tough to change how we learn. We are introduced to the learning way which is an "awakening life force that's in all of us. We grow and develop by learning". Few of us even realize that there is a process for learning. To be effective learners, we need to view learning as a continuous ongoing process whereby we not only learn new skills but learn to apply existing skills to new situations.

The authors stress how critical it is to discover our personal learning style so that we better understand ourselves and how we best respond. Moreover, they encourage us to learn all of the learning styles because we need to remain flexible in our learning and adapt a style based on a particular situation or those around us. There are nine learning styles based on the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (KLSI 4.0).  Here are the nine learning styles:

  1. Experiencing
  2. Imagining
  3. Reflecting
  4. Analyzing
  5. Thinking
  6. Deciding
  7. Acting
  8. Initiating
  9. Balancing


Peterson and Kolb offer a quick assessment to determine your style along with detailed data on each as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each style. By learning more about all nine styles, you are better equipped to work with others in the style that is comfortable for them. You will have a greater understanding of how to communicate more efficiently with others as well. Caring about the styles of others makes for stronger teams and relationships. Moreover, there are detailed stories and insights about the various methods including how folks have learned about their style the hard way or how they had to adapt their style to a situation or career.

Learning about your style will strengthen your awareness, aid in matching your style preferences to the demands around you, and perhaps give you clues as to why your career performance isn’t where you desire it to be, or explain why some tasks just aren’t interesting to you.

Once you have a better understanding of the nine learning styles, you are ready to embark on learning how to be flexible with the nine styles. Most of us try to stay in our comfort zone when we learn or interact. That doesn't always work. You need to strive to develop strengths in the other learning styles. Effective leaders need to be able to respond differently in situations, and that means changing your style effortlessly.  Matching your learning approach by jumping into another style will enable you to influence others and keep you on the path to lifelong learning.
Integrating learning into your life is a commitment that never ends. We should all be deliberate in our practice and follow three key strategies to be effective. They include deep experiencing (mindfulness, intentional attention, and focus), deliberate learning, and start small with just one big thing. Intertwining your key learning style in with these strategies will set you up for success,

How You Learn is How you Live is a must read if you are a driven learner, desire to understand and influence others or want to become more flexible in your learning or unique situations. I enjoyed learning more about the nine styles and how I need to adjust my style to that of others or in different circumstances.

Each chapter includes a learning cycle checklist for action and practice exercise to put the information that we learn to use and to cement the new ideas introduced. I learned best through storytelling and immersed myself in the various stories and situations presented by Kay and David. The various scenarios enabled me to understand the importance of remaining flexible in using different learning styles as well as the need to learn how others learn in situations so that I can adapt to lead or have an impact.

How You Learn is How You Live is a must read for anyone interested in becoming a more active learner, leader, and communicator.  This nugget of knowledge will guide the reader along the path of learning with critical information, insightful stories, and self-exploration.




Monday, May 1, 2017

Culture Works How to Create Happiness in the Workplace by Kris Boesch



"When people feel good about coming to work it ripples into the community, into the homes and the coffee shops and the parks and ball fields. When people are happy at work, they are better parents, spouses, volunteers and citizens. When we make the workplace better, we make the world better" - Kris Boesch

Let's face it. Either you work in an organization with a healthy and vigorous culture, or you drag yourself into work every day knowing the drudgery and negativity that waits let alone collaborating with people you don't trust. For most people, pay is not the prime reason that they work. In fact, it is way down the list. So why do most of us continue to go to work day after day entering the realm of negativity and disenchantment? As leaders, we have a responsibility to create a culture where there is a strong vibe the minute our people walk in the door. We should offer a healthy and collaborative workplace. Our enemies are boredom, distrust, politics, lack of collaboration, burnout, and lackluster performance.

Kris Boesch’s new book Culture Works How to Create Happiness in the Workplace is an engaging book that guides leaders to create a unique and extraordinary work culture. Kris’s book will keep your eyes glued to each page as you experience some new innovative concepts, engaging stories, tools, and ideas “Action Jackson” activities to embark on with your teams.

Culture is the "superglue" that binds people together and ultimately urges our people to form healthy relationships, collaborate, create synergy among groups, strengthens emotional energy in the air, and breed happiness. Culture is an intangible asset that ultimately makes or breaks the profitability of a company. It drives everything from the mission and vision to healthy meetings, performance appraisals, and compensation. Knowing this, many companies still neglect to invest in the tools and activities needed to grow a culture that has an impact.

Kris introduces us to the eight Critical Happiness Factors every healthy organization needs for a firm culture to thrive. Each factor below is represented in one of the book’s chapters most impacted by the content shared by an icon specific to each factor. It’s not surprising that compensation, benefits, and perks did not win a place on this list.

1.       Supervisor
2.       Co-workers
3.       Meaning/Job Fit
4.       Autonomy
5.       Impact
6.       Organizational Support
7.       Organizational Fit
8.       Work-Family Climate

Culture Works offers some tools and assessments to test your organization’s culture and strategy alignment. The Culture Assessment will open your eyes and prompt you to think deeper about culture. Examining the ROI of happy employees using the factors above will undoubtedly convince you to jump on the bandwagon to make a difference in the culture quest. Kris offers online resources and tests along with intriguing questions to ask of your people. I read Culture Works effortlessly on a rainy Saturday afternoon because it flowed with ease. The variety of content and ideas intrigued me.

Here are some more key ideas that you can use to enhance the culture within your teams or organization tomorrow.

·         There are a variety of learning resources for every learning style. Culture Works notes a variety of articles, books, research materials, and videos for personal learning and to share with your teams that Kris terms as “Favorite Resources."
·         We are given numerous examples and stats about culture, engagement, conflict, and a variety of other workplace factors.  Kris presents the data in a leisurely and entertaining fashion so that the reader understands concepts without the eyes glazing over.
·         Culture Works contains at least one "Action Jackson" idea that is fun or inspirational activity you can use with your team that is relevant to the chapter content. These are by far my favorites in the book.
·         There is delightful humor dispersed throughout the book along with playful ideas and games to try with your people. How about a "Choose your tattoo," "Speed dating," or "Rose, Bud, Thorn" exercise?
·         I loved the variety of ideas offered on how to recognize and reward people. My favorite part of being a manager is unexpectantly thanking people in a way that makes them comfortable.
·         Kris introduces numerous acronyms to trigger our memories with some of the tools she suggests. Ideal for my mind!
·         No stranger to change, I particularly enjoyed the insight regarding change while learning more about eight key change styles and steps.

Culture has always been my priority when looking for a new employer partner. Once you have worked where you feel valued, engage in open collaboration and recognition, people enjoy working and achieving with one another, and would almost work at a place for free because of the strong culture you will never settle for less. As a leader, you have an opportunity to enhance the culture of any organization that you come into contact with even for a short time. Why not jump into creating happiness by impacting culture? Pick up Culture Works today!









Monday, April 17, 2017

Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time 3rd Edition By Brian Tracy





I have been on a personal crusade to be more efficient and beat the monster called procrastination. It’s so easy to put projects off when I feel that I have time but just don’t feel like working on them. I’ve been trying mini habits to build up my commitments and bullet journaling to get myself primed for action. I am an advocate that there is no sure way for planning success and that everyone needs to find what works best.

Years ago, I read Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog! I used several of his suggestions to avoid procrastination and to motivate myself back on track. The problem is that I fell off and needed a refresher. Brian just released the 3rd edition of Eat That Frog! With enhanced chapters highlighting the good and ugly of technology. I enjoyed the book, even more, this time because I had tried more motivational tricks and tips over the years and no one gives sound advice better than Brian Tracy. Eat That Frog! Gobbles up any other resource on procrastination or goal setting in the market.  I encourage you to return to the 21 time tried suggestions for becoming a better you to meet surpass goals and scare the procrastination monster away.

I admire Brian’s analogy of the frog on the outset of his book. He likens your “frog” to your biggest and most critical task that you need to accomplish. It’s also the goal that you are most likely to procrastinate about and put on the back burner.  Brian eloquently says that "It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long”. Very powerful isn’t it? We all have a weight off of our shoulders when we can throw off the one thing that prevents us from enjoying life and bringing key results.

We need to commit to ranking our core objectives and tackling them first. Don't complete the smaller tasks on your daily list just to have a feel good moment. You will only set yourself up for additional stress when your biggest task monster stares down at you. Always have clarity about what you want and make lists of categorized goals so that you can rank them and eat the biggest frogs first thing every morning.

Setting and achieving goals is a process and won't happen overnight. You need to build new routines and habits to maintain structure and guide you. Brian shows us the 3 "D's" of new habits to jumpstart our journey. They include the decision, discipline, and determination.  Once these behaviors are ingrained, we can start to visualize where we want to be and stop procrastinating on what is hindering our success.

Successful people know that they can’t focus on everything at once. Goals need to be ranked, and some may never even be touched. They are often "filler" goals that can be delegated or deleted off the list. We should focus on the goals that will give us the biggest bang for our buck and will have a meaningful impact on our lives. This process makes us more productive and leaves us more time for the precious areas of our lives. Too often people think that getting things done equals productivity and instead they are just busy bees flitting around accomplishing little. We need to zero in on what is critical and push for productivity with intent.

Brian offers 21 intriguing ideas in separate chapters to improve your productivity and kick procrastination aside. Each idea is recapped so that you can immediately implement it. We all have unique methods of organizing and approaching goals, so I love the many options that Brian introduces us to. You may want to pick one tactic a week to focus on until it's a habit or be more flexible in how you choose. Time management is your personal system and having flexibility is the key to success.

Last, Brian shares the good and ugly of technology. Being wired in all day real time is a blessing because we can feasibly do our job from anywhere and we have so many tools to choose. Conversely, technology can control us and drive procrastination or encourage poor habits. Use technology wisely and to your advantage. Don't allow it to consume you.


Eat That Frog! Is one book that I have marked up and highlighted to aid me in fighting procrastination and to use my time more wisely. In the past, I have listed my goals but conveniently started with the tadpoles first because they are easy.   I convinced myself that I'm hacking away at the list and being productive. Now, I'm eating frogs every morning and enjoying it!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Stop Guessing The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers by Nat Greene




Over the years I have worked in numerous companies in the turbulent financial services industry. There were always special projects and consultants in and out the door trying to solve problems or force solutions. Inevitably, the result was reworking teams or systems and even layoffs. After several months the same problems would crop up, and another roller coaster ride began.

Not everyone has the skills to be a problem solver and look at an issue objectively to find root causes. Companies spend too much money and resources chasing down problems and often end up sticking in short term solutions or even worse, they guess what is causing problems or go with the traditional groupthink of the moment rather than going through a process. It becomes a headache for everyone.

Nat Greene’s new book Stop Guessing The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers is a read for anyone that faces problems at work or in their personal lives. We all need to change the way that we think of and approach problems. Nat has worked with companies for years to solve problems and change mindsets. He is frustrated that the biggest problem with problem-solving is problem-solving. Problem-solving for most has become just good old guessing. When the first guess fails, we move onto the next theory or as some like to call it, hypothesis. This can turn into an exhausting game of guessing which costs time, resources, money, and burns everyone out. Many problems consist of too many facets to even begin guessing at a problem, and nothing is solved.

Nat Greene shows us how we should approach problems differently. He offers numerous engaging real-life stories to illustrate how we can change our problem-solving mindset and provides tools that can be used by anyone for any problem. Stop Guessing is an easy read that seamlessly flows from chapter to chapter and Nat builds on the principles that he shares. His passion is assisting people to make more efficient decisions using behaviors that are immediately implemented.

The core of Stop Guessing is the 9 behaviors that Nat introduces us to so that we can jump on the path to become better problem solvers. It doesn’t matter if the production equipment is broke or your oven stopped working. The approach that he shares is the same and will save time, money, and hours of frustration. Ready to start solving real problems?

The 9 behaviors of great problem solvers

1.       Stop guessing. Most of us default to guessing or brainstorming for solutions. We are pressured to make quick fixes and solve issues yesterday. Understanding why a problem exists and investigating it is the place to start. Nate suggests that when a problem crops up, have everyone write down their guesses as to what the problem and solution are and put it in a drawer. Look at it after the problem is solved. The remaining behaviors below should assist in measuring the problem, not guess.
2.       Smell the problem. You need to get out of your office and roam around into the field to find the pulse of the problem to use your senses. Attempt to find some patterns that emerge by being out and about. Ask relevant questions and involve people, study details, sift out what is happening – no guessing.
3.       Embrace your ignorance. What you don't know is what can solve a problem. Put aside any previous knowledge or assumptions. Start with the basics and work up from there. Proudly accept what you don’t know and don’t hide it. Ask dumb questions and don’t worry about how you look. Ditch the ego.
4.       Know what problem you are solving. Sounds crazy but often people jump to conclusions and work on the wrong problem. Define what the problem is and keep those assumptions out of the picture along with staying within the scope you initially defined. Use time and resources up front to properly measure and explain an issue.
5.       Dig into the fundamentals. Learn how a process functions by understanding the process and any data or science around it. Dig only into what is relevant, not everything. Be mindful of which variables you examine and have control over.
6.       Don’t rely on experts. This is my favorite. What is the first thing that we do if we can't solve an issue? Bring in the outsiders and walk away. They can be helpful for understanding a system or its functions, but we shouldn't just turn everything over to them. We should still own the process. They aren't wizards but our collaborators. The problem solving is on us.
7.       Believe in a simple solution. Have the tenacity to continue working on the problem until it is solved. Don't always assume a solution is expensive or complicated. Find the cause and perhaps 1-2 variable that are off and your problem may be solved.
8.       Make fact-based decisions. Try to avoid relying on opinions, guesses, team votes or ranking systems. They won’t bring you any closer to solving problems. Always challenge your facts and measure without any biases.
9.       Stay on Target. It’s easy to get lost in data and causes when you have a problem if you embrace too much you will be testing and forever wasting resources. Try to “measure drivers” that control a problem and don’t allow the issue to become cluttered. Stay on course and do not permit yourself to become distracted.

Nat concludes our problem-solving journey by assisting us in choosing our personal method for solving problems. We are all unique in how we approach problems using the strengths and tools at our disposal. An efficient problem solver needs some structure to stay focused and individual behaviors of the 9 Nat introduced us to will play to our strengths. No matter what methods that you employ you should not use guessing as a tool. Once you read Stop Guessing, you may never guess or make assumptions again! Nat's goal is for us to use structure, find patterns of failure, stay on track, and understand how a process works so that you can use data and measurable information to have a solution.

I highly recommend reading Stop Guessing and using some of the 9 behaviors that Nat shares. The behaviors are people and human capital focused and are the key to bringing actionable solutions to problems of all sizes. The ideas that Nat shares will save time resources, money, and egos. Teams will feel empowered to solve problems without all the “stuff” getting in the way.

You can pick up a copy of Nat’s book on Amazon.com.




Friday, March 31, 2017

Morning Makeover: How to Boost Your Productivity, Explode Your Energy, and Create An Extraordinary Life - One Morning at a Time! By Damon Zahariades



I've been on a productivity kick, and it's not going very well. I'm an avid reader, and I'm forever reading about the best productivity tricks, how to be organized and why waking up early is the key to success. I set my two alarms and still hit snooze. The result? I feel guilty the entire day and feel rushed to complete everything that I need to.

I’m a huge fan of Damon Zahariades and have read his books Fast Focus and To-Do List Formula. Also, I love reading his blog every chance that I get. What I enjoy about Damon's writing is his conversational style. His books are engaging, and it's like sitting down with a close friend to hear his advice. Real friends give it to us straight and know where we might get hung up in life. Damon not only educates us in an amusing and engaging manner, but jumps in to catch us when we fall to get us on track with ingenious tips and advice.

Damon’s latest book Morning Makeover is one of those books that you may consume in one reading. His writing flows from chapter to chapter, and every page will speak to you and perhaps even convince you to change your morning routine even though it may be a little painful at first. One of my key motivations for getting up earlier is to exercise and meditate. I find the day gets away from me if I don’t jump on this first thing. Damon is quick to point out that "getting up early is 90% attitude and 10% showing up". You are in control, and any changes start with you.

Damon shares his personal experiences and challenges which remind us that we are human and hate change. He offers ten reasons that a morning routine impacts your life but warns us not to go nuts and make too many changes at once. A few of these include giving your day structure, having more energy, and just feeling better throughout the day. Exactly what I need.

You need a “why” to start a new routine. Damon spends valuable time explaining how intentions can be powerful because they entice you to act with purpose. Intentions push us and “exhilarate” us to take action. Moreover, it is your intentions that are a platform from which you will begin to build a new morning routine. I suggest listing 3 of your key intentions to give you some guidance on where to start and to justify to your "why."

Morning Makeover is divided into four parts, and each one builds upon the others. Damon eases us into accepting change and building ourselves up for morning success. Like a friend, he also spells out the challenges and roadblocks that we will probably face. Ready to start making your routine?

Part I is the basis for success throughout your day. Sleep. Research has been coming out daily about how critical sleep is and how our bodies and minds shut down without sound sleep. Damon shares some quick and dirty sleep information and tips to have a restful sleep. If you aren’t rested, you won’t easily pop up and your morning routine is out the window. You will be back to ground zero. Rising early will enable you to be more creative, have increased productivity, and you will be less likely to procrastinate.

Part II shares a ten step plan to create your personal morning routine. No one can do this for you, and you need some skin in the game. These actions complement your intentions; the one’s you set above, which in turn form your morning routine. Some of these include identifying your "why," determine how much time you need each morning to get ready, and choosing activities that will maximize your energy throughout the day.

Part III is where Damon motivates to keep going when we are ready to throw our hands up. Damon reminds us that there will be challenges and shares some common issues we all face when trying something new. Like a good friend, he gently reminds us that we all fall and need to start again.

Part IV is very fascinating. Damon shares the routines of ten very successful people. They aren't all that different than you or I, however; they have an intention and stay within a routine every day. We learn the habits of Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Howard Schultz, and Cheryl Bachelder to name a few. Some of the frequent early morning acts that they share include exercise, meditation or deep breathing, reading, playing with pets, journaling, and music. I bet most of these sound familiar to you. It's all a matter of what habits align with your intentions and carrying them out to fruition. 

If you feel unorganized, restless, and tend to procrastinate,  perhaps now is the time to pick up Morning Makeover and discover your intentions so that you can start a new morning routine. It will give you a daily personal purpose, and you will be amazed at how much better you feel, you will be more connected to your work throughout the day, and it may be the change that you have been searching for to become better connected to your life. This book won't disappoint.




Sunday, March 26, 2017

Farmer Able by Art Barter




Storytelling is an art and has been the engine behind knowledge being passed down for thousands of years. Stories exist to entertain, educate, impress, and engage. A gratifying story is like a great joke, but not everyone can tell a funny joke or graciously bring a story alive so that we find meaning or grasp new lessons. If you love an engaging story, then pick up a copy of Farmer Able by Art Barter.  This book will engulf you and take you on a journey to discover the heart of servant leadership show why the world is not all about you.

Farmer Able is an entertaining and humorous story that takes place on Farmer Able’s farm. It’s a fun book to real with a series of short chapters each with its lesson. Some examples include;

  • A trust breakdown causes a rust buildup; everything moves slower and costs more.
  • Caring for others: weakness or strength?
  • Sometimes a self-made man can become self-absorbed.
  • The attitude and behaviors you lead with will follow.
  • Truly caring allows you to carry 50 times your weight.


Farmer Able’s animals come alive. We hear them chattering with each other, bickering about Farmer Able, and acting snarky with the animals that they loath. The story begins with lazy pigs and Farmer Able's grumbling that the pigs are running the farm. Starting with Clarice the cow thinking "it's all about Able” the other animals pick up on this and begin to get jealous and are resentful about working hard or producing milk, eggs, or caring out their purpose. Soon we see nothing but problems.

Farmer Able is obsessed about profits and production. When he doesn't see results, he starts trying to push for results. He rations food to save money, he locks up the chickens in the dark to increase egg production, and he angers the cows and horses. No one wants to work because they don't feel valued or appreciated. Farmer Able adopts an authoritative mindset and frets about everything. His relationships suffer all over the farm. The animals don't trust him; his assistants don’t understand him, and his relationship with his family goes south. The farm is upside down.

One night, Farmer Able begins receiving insights from the oddest place, the wind. We start to see Farmer Able hear valuable whispered phrases throughout chapters that reach down and bring change up from inside. The first words are "It's not about you." Our farmer's life and actions change as he hears "believe what you believe," "Trust is a must," and "ours is yours." 

Farmer Able transforms before our eyes. He shocks the animals by showing more care by cleaning their area, giving them freedom, and interacting with them. They slowly trust him again. Able no longer frets over profits and begins to do the right thing for others. He makes wise management changes with his people and chooses a farm leader with empathy who puts others first. Most importantly, Farmer Able places his family first and heals his relationships.

Farmer Able teaches us critical lessons without us initially realizing it. I found myself on the farm engaging with the characters gripped with intent interest. As the chapters grew with new messages, I found myself rich with new ideas.

The pigs were never actually running the farm and causing chaos. Farmer Able's mindset and authoritative behaviors were the culprits. His thoughts justified his actions, and the farm suffered from every renewed push. Able's focus on production was dysfunctional and impacting progress. Sound familiar? Our farmer's mindset is like so many leaders today that runs organizations. Authoritative leaders think that pushing and demanding more brings results. Sadly, these actions have adverse effects.

By the end of the story, Farmer Able's enlightened servant leadership style is what brings change. The whispers of the wind teased him into looking deep inside him and bring internal change that changed those around him and ultimately saves the farm. Our journey ends with learning the same valuable lessons that our farmer does. Be a servant leader and put others first. Lead from the inside out for impact. Change inside of you will have a dramatic effect on those around you.

I loved Farmer Able by Art Barter, and it's one of my new favorites. This book is a key resource to use with your teams or those that welcome lessons to bring out the best in others. It’s a heartfelt story about leading with purpose while creating change with an ethical approach that engages, empowers, and ultimately serves others, not you.

Fortunately, the lessons of Farmer Able don’t stop with Art Barter’s fable. Art just released  The Servant Leadership Journal an 18 Week Journal to Transform You and Your Organization. This journal guides us on a journey to strengthen and develop our servant leadership skills. Art shares nine key behaviors that we all need in order to be effective leaders. This book is engaging and interactive through journaling every day. Art’s process will help develop new leadership behaviors and habits through 4 steps:

  1. Educate yourself about each behavior
  2. Understand where you are at with each behavior
  3. Apply what you learn and ask how you use new learning’s
  4. Reflect by writing down details or results of this leadership journey


I am just digging into Art's journal, and I feel so challenged. I look forward to new learnings and growth that I can apply to how I interact and empower others. More to come after my 18-week journey!




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations by Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton





I am fascinated by the variety of cultures in organizations, and an active culture has always been my priority in looking for a new opportunity. I've learned the hard way what doesn't work and have been blessed as well by working with professionals that support one another and form a community. I've searched for the degree of relationships, community, empowerment, leadership, innovation, resilience. The list goes on and on. Guess what quality I haven’t searched for yet? Compassion. It never occurred to me to look deep inside an organization for compassion nor have I expected it. After reading the new book Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power that Elevates People and Organizations by Monica C.  Worline and Jane E. Dutton,  I have placed compassion at the top of my list when I look for exemplary cultures within our organizations.

The authors spent decades conducting extensive field research examining compassion way before any of us were exposed to terms like servant leadership or empowerment at work. They discovered that too many people are suffering in the workplace which presents itself in a lack of humanity, less dignity, lower motivation, and the lack of results with innovation, collaboration, employee retention, morale, and client relationships. It never occurred to me that a lack of compassion where we work every day may be the missing key that organizations have been searching for to change their cultures for people and results.

Awakening Compassion at Work is the tool that change agents who desire to change people and processes within an organization need to have on hand. Towards the end of the book, the authors present detailed blueprints for bringing about compassion for individuals, groups, and even how to deal with obstacles to compassion. Each chapter also offers us a question to ponder and fundamental principles to examine or put into use. There are compelling real-life, hands-on stories of compassion in play in some organizations as well as failures. These stories aid us in understanding the theories and tools that Monica and Jane offer peppered throughout the book.

We learn what compassion is and how some organizations resist it. Awakening Compassion at Work describes what compassion can do and what it won’t fix. Compassion must permeate throughout an organization and be present at all levels. Communities of sorts are formed and become the underlying strength of a company. There are four aspects of compassion, and each depends on the others. They include noticing, interpreting, feeling, and acting. Compassion is clearly an interpersonal action, and the compassion competence of a system depends on an emergent pattern of the four factors above. Worline and Dutton also offer suggestions as to how managers can awaken greater compassion through factors such as speed, scope, the magnitude of resources, and customization of resources for compassionate competence.

Awakening Compassion at Work illustrates how organizations can design for welcoming compassion. There is an extensive list of principles for companies of all sizes or structures in chapter 7 and is one of my favorite sections because it's hands on and so practical. Ideas include creating sub-networks within an organization where people can identify, examine hiring incorporating compassion and empathy, and coaching leaders to model desired behaviors or creating "melting" routines that bring people together. Moreover, we learn what actions or behaviors "awaken" compassion competence. They are elements that impact most of us face daily, and with the right mentoring and attention they can have profound implications. They include networks, organizational culture, roles, routines, and internal stories and leader behavior.

By now you should have a grasp of how important compassion Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton feel is needed, and lacking, in organizations today. The information that I shared above is the tip of the iceberg and Awakening Compassion at Work offers an incredible trove of concrete research, information, ideas, and implementable actions companies can make to bring compassion alive. The shared stories bring ideas alive and will spark new thoughts and ideas from within leaders at any level. Compassion needs welcoming into every organization, but it needs to start with you. This book opened up my eyes to what we need to work every day along with empathy, empowerment, leadership or any other elements that you hold dear in a company culture. Bringing in compassion can completely change people and organizations which will impact our results. Are you ready?



Monday, March 13, 2017

Leaders Made Here by Mark Miller



“Let’s be clear on terms from the beginning. A leadership culture exists when leaders are routinely and systematically developed, and you have a surplus of leaders ready for the next opportunity or challenge” Mark Miller


When I was a newly minted manager, I had the same thought that so many others hold today, strong leaders just drop from the sky and hit the ground running. It didn't take long for me to learn that a leadership title means little and some of the worst leaders have titles. My exposure to different leadership styles was beneficial, and often the most effective leaders were quiet and purposeful. Leadership is a journey, and we all have the abilities within us, but most of us need guidance, development, and mentoring. 

Mark Miller’s new book Leaders Made Here is an entertaining and purpose driven book that shows us how leaders grow internally. Companies should develop leaders for future change and growth and guess what? Every company needs a surplus of highly developed leaders ready to jump into spots throughout an organization. Companies should create an active culture where leaders are developed and championed on an ongoing basis with the end goal of having a surplus of leaders. Mark leads us on a journey illustrating how to nurture leaders at all levels starting with the front lines and moving up the ranks. Moreover, Mark gives us a “game plan” for how we can grow our own leaders and the tools to employ for success.

What I enjoyed most about Leaders Made Here is how Mark shares his ideas to assist in developing others. Mark doesn’t just throw ideas, tools, and examples at us. Mark visually leads us down the leadership process by telling us a story. Who doesn't love a great story where we can join the characters in learning? 

Mark shares the story of Blake, a new CEO at a company that recently experienced some serious setbacks including a plant explosion. Blake quickly realizes that he needs guidance from outside the company to help him bring stability, change the culture, and grow leaders to fill gaps in the organization. Charles is an old colleague that Blake brings to join him on his journey to locate some best practice ideas from some key successful organizations around the world. Each company that they visit has a unique view on building leaders, offers questions for the team to ponder, and ideas to help them to form their practical plan to grow a leadership culture and cultivate future leaders.

How do you know when you have achieved a leadership culture? Simple. You have success when leaders are developed, and you have a surplus of energized and capable leaders waiting in the wings. Mark Miller reminds us that there may be some resistance to building a leadership culture from within and before we can develop we need to set excuses aside. Do these flimsy reasons sound familiar to you?

  • We don’t need a leadership culture. We are doing great
  • Leaders are born, not made
  • We are too busy to think about the future
  • Even if we wanted a leadership culture, we don’t know how to build one


Does the last point hit home to you? Leaders Made Here was written to help those of us who just don't know how to create a strong leadership culture. To learn how to build one we follow the visits of Blake's team to benchmark companies to glean ideas. Each organization they visit is unique in their industry, vary in size, and have gone about culturing leaders in a different way. At the end of each visit, Blake and Charles are asked some fundamental questions to mull over with their teams. Here is a snippet of some of the ideas from the teams that they met.

  • Mentoring matters
  • Clear goals and sound strategy
  • Give people an opportunity to lead early in their careers
  • The “leaders made here” phrase to focus on
  • Design internal benchmarks
  • Develop and use an internal scorecard
  • Leaders must walk the talk
  • Current leaders need to have buy-in or move aside
  • Develop complete unity


The partnering and enthusiasm of Blake’s team as they walk down the path of learning from others and bringing back best practices to the company is enjoyable for the reader to be a part. You will feel like you are on the team as they bounce ideas off of one another and formulate the end product of making leaders. The reader has a seat at the table in learning what Blake and Charlie’s team wrestles with and the thought processes that take place to bring them to the point where they share their vision of building leaders to the rest of the organization. It's a journey worth joining, and the process and ideas will be burned into your mind as if you were indeed there.

In the end, Blake's team is successful. Some leaders chose to stay their course and ultimately left the organization. Not everyone will win, and real leaders need to part ways when indifference impacts a group. The team lives the slogan "Leaders Made Here" and offered the organization five commitments of a leadership culture to drive success. They include;

  1. Define it
  2. Teach it
  3. Practice it
  4. Measure it
  5. Model it


If you have a hand in growing a leadership culture jumping into the journey with Blake’s team is a necessity. You will enjoy the leadership building story without even realizing how many ideas and knowledge that you are soaking up. Growing leaders is an intentional process, and every leader at any level should have a sound road map to guide them so that development bubbles both ways within a business. What will you do next to develop your leaders?


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lilac Dreams - My Journey From a Sewer Drain to the Boardroom by Bonnie C. Hathcock




“My youth and adolescent years gave me two essential values: determination and work ethic” – Bonnie C. Hathcock


As I examined my childhood past the last decade, I learned a lot about myself and those that were a part of my life. When I was in my 20's, I never thought much about how childhood shapes a person or how some people overcome their past to achieve or why so many remain stuck. The ability to examine my past has given me the tools and skills to grow as an adult and comfort in understanding how I think and react. I was delighted to read the new book Lilac Dreams – My Journey from a Sewer Drain to the Boardroom by Bonnie C. Hathcock.  Bonnie's book is a journey through her adolescence and how she was shaped to become the leader that she is today. 

Bonnie C. Hathcock has 35 years of experience in corporate America. For most of those years, she held corporate leadership positions at the top of Fortune 100 and 200 corporations. Bonnie began her career at Xerox Corporation and was often the only woman in the boardroom. Bonnie recently retired and decided to come forward to share her simple but difficult childhood to help others find joy.  

Bonnie’s book is not a complete journey from her childhood streets to corporate America sharing all of her successes and tribulations. Her story leads us from childhood through her college years and ends with some of her personal reflections. Initially, I was disappointed that her story did not continue to map her path to corporate success like other leadership journey books. Upon reflection, I understood why Bonnie chose the story that she shares and why she focused on certain timeframes. She wants the reader to understand her childhood with all of its pain, challenges, and disappointments. You see, these experiences shaped her and offered her stronger determination and most importantly, blessed her with an infallible work ethic. Life dealt her a weak deck of cards, but she was able to use her unique skills and strengths to become successful and impact others.

I was amazed at the details in Bonnie's journey at each stage of her life. Each detail that she shares including sights, smells, feelings, and sounds are a part of her and impacted her in some way. The details she introduces to us assist the reader in being a part of her vision. For instance, her neighbor Miss Nancy had a beautiful purple fragrant Lilac tree in her lush garden that provided Bonnie a sanctuary in which to dream. Her description of the tree and lush surroundings inject us right into the scene with her, and I could even smell lilac as I read. The tree becomes symbolic of the hopes and dreams that a young Bonnie shares with us. While you may think that the life events the author shares are just that, they are more. Not only did they add to her shame in growing up poor and humble, but they impacted her character and laid the foundation for her success as an adult.

Bonnie wants us all to reflect on those who have blessed us by being in our lives because they were instrumental in shaping us. Her parting advice to all of us is to face that which scares us, humbles us, or has limited our growth. She wrote Lilac Dreams to ultimately share her hope that we all find joy in our lives. To do so we may need to reflect on our past or face memories that we have locked away. At the end of sharing her childhood struggles, Bonnie offers a sound lesson from her life experiences, "The one lesson I have learned above all; Joy is within each one of us. We just have to choose it". Some may initially think that her story is just that, a story. However, Bonnie leads us down a path of discovery. It is up to us whether we choose to grow and be happy or if we are to remain stagnate and unhappy. Perhaps this book will help you remember some of your childhood Lilac Dreams?


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why Motivating People Doesn't Work and What Does by Susan Fowler


Motivation is one of the most vital and essential aspects of leadership and one of the most confused and misunderstood. The result of this confusion and misunderstanding is leaders who have become blind to what does and doesn't work - Susan Fowler


One of my joys and strengths as a manager is motivating my team. I always try to have fun and engage everyone to bring out their gifts for success. In particular, I have a knack for coming up with zany sales contests that encourage everyone to participate and achieve. Rarely has energizing everyone and being an enthusiastic coach failed me. When I saw the book Why Motivating People Doesn't work and What Does - The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging by Susan Fowler I had to read it. According to Susan, all of my contests, prizes, encouragement are key failures in motivating people. Huh? My insular management world came crashing down.

One of the key drivers that Susan introduces is that we don’t need to motivate our people. They are already motivated; we just need to discover what motivates each individual. Managers simply don’t know or don’t ask what motivates their people so there is a clear disconnect. Managers seem to think that people are motivated primarily by external factors such as money, cash prizes, trinkets, and promotions. If you can provide those things you are a great manager. It’s not that easy! Employees prefer more internal motivators that they can control such as challenging and interesting work, growth opportunities, or learning experiences. See the problem? As managers, we tend to view what we think drives our employees and sometimes employees don’t even know what drives them because no one has asked. Certainly, some employees may never be happy. Motivation is a two-way street and a skill that some people refuse to embrace learning what motivates them and how to create motivation in their lives.

Susan introduces us to several models and tools in Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work. One of the key elements is the Spectrum of Motivation model. There are 6 motivational outlooks and you will quickly notice that 3 are an optimal state, which we call health food, and 3 are a suboptimal state, called junk food. This spectrum helps us to understand people and their outlooks on factors such as well-being, productivity, long-term performance. We want to steer people towards optimal factors for continuous motivation and success.

  • Disinterested motivational outlook
  • External motivational outlook
  • Imposed motivational outlook
  • Aligned motivational outlook
  • Integrated motivational outlook
  • Inherent motivational outlook


In order to motivate people you also need to understand the 3 psychological needs for motivation that people have. They are quite simple and you probably look for them every day in your own work. They include autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Without the presence of these factors, your people will never experience optimal motivation.

Moreover, in order to protect ourselves from distractions and for sustained motivation we all need to look inward. If leaders don’t do this themselves they will have an impossible job of bringing it out in their people. Internally we all need mindfulness so that we are aware of the here and now and can react without judgment. Often we catch a glimpse of this when we meditate and then use the skill every day. Second, we need to determine and live our own values. These are the standards that differentiate people. Last, we all need to know our purpose. This is a tough one for a lot of folks. We should all discover our meaningful reason for living our lives and live by our values.

Susan takes us on the motivation journey by sharing the skills that leaders need in order to “activate” the motivation within our people to reach the optimal state of motivation. Once we’ve made progress in this area we need to master the conversations that we have with people to impact their outlook. These conversations should take place when we need to motivate poor performance but also need to take place with our high achievers or those that have questions to maintain their motivation. To do this, leaders need to be prepared, trust the processes that Susan shares, and step back to reflect.

Along with the growth in motivation, we have challenges. Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work shares 5 beliefs that really damage workplace motivation. They are those that we run into daily and we all cringe because they leave out the human element.

  •     It’s not personal, it’s business
  •     The purpose of business is to make money
  •     Leaders are in a position of power
  •     The only thing that really matters is results.
  •     If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t matter.


Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work is like a story as we move through what motivates people and how to be successful in guiding them. Susan shares numerous tools and real life stories to drive her point across and to help us grow as leaders. The last chapter in the book has some helpful frequently asked questions in case you want additional clarification. Moreover, it’s refreshing to read how other leaders have struggled or accomplished the nuances of motivation.

This book kept me glued to the pages to learn what I was doing wrong in my motivational efforts. While I thought my contests, fun antics, and focus on results was the reason for our success, it wasn’t. Without realizing it I was doing the right things because I talked with my people individually to find their strengths and play to them. I learned what motivated them and how to bring out their best. Their optimal motivation remained elevated because I played to their internal needs without even realizing it. Are you ready to face the traditional methods of motivation and turn them upside down?





Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pacing For Growth Why Intelligent Restraint Drives Long-Term Success by Alison Eyring



“Some leaders run the wrong race because they focus only on short-term performance. Some focus on quarter-by-quarter sales volume, others on year-on-year profit. What matters most is enduring growth – that is both long-term and profitable. It’s the holy grail” - Alison Eyring


One of my weaknesses is being over enthusiastic about new ideas or projects. I dive right in with endless energy only to short out and realize that I may not quite have enough stamina or resources to make it to the end. I’ve had to learn to step back, plan more thoroughly, and pace myself or those around me. It can be very frustrating. We live in a society that values quick action, fast growth, and bottom line results. There’s minimal time to catch our breath and really look from afar to see if we are taking sensible actions, advancing change slowly, and driving optimal long term results.

Alison Eyring is a distinguished long distance athlete enduring incredible triathlons all over the world that would make most of us weak just thinking about it. She is also the successful founder of Organisation Solutions where she advises global executives and companies on leadership and growth. Alison combined her experience and adventures in these two roles to bring us the book Pacing For Growth – Why Intelligent Restraint Drives Long-Term Success.

Pacing For Growth takes a unique and relevant approach as to how business should approach sustained growth. Leaders have excessive priorities to focus on to keep everyone happy. They need innovation, increased market share, higher margins, and key employees. The list goes on and on. Often, leaders try to achieve everything at the same time and the result is ultimately achieving less. There needs to be a balanced approach to growth. If you grow too fast you will burn people out, miss opportunities and lose momentum. Growing too slow will result in lost momentum, stalled technology and new product lines and the competition will reach the finish line first. So what is the answer? Intelligent Restraint.

Intelligent Restraint is a term that Alison coined through her years of consulting. It is a balanced long term method of approaching business decisions. The idea is to push teams, change, and the business as far as we can but within our capacity. Slow and steady wins the race. This may mean accelerating at one time but pulling back and slowing another. Leaders need to have the patience to build capacity for growth which translates into new capabilities from inside the organization. Growth and capacity work together but need to survive the test of time. Pacing growth enables us to build capacity for future success. Pacing For Growth is divided into 3 parts to effectively illustrate what Intelligent Restraint is and how to engage it within an organization. Part 1 outlines the principles themselves. Part 2 reviews the rules of Intelligent Restraint. Part 3 offers ideas, tools, and examples of putting this principle into action. Following is a synopsis of each part to whet your appetite or paced growth.

3 principles of Intelligent Restraint to guide leaders:

  1. Capacity determines how far and fast you can go – maximum capacity is the absolute peak performance that a system can perform at without crashing.
  2. The right capabilities increase capacity – Alison focuses on two capabilities in particular in her book,  outside-in thinking and customer-aligned innovation.
  3. The right pace wins the race – we all know what happens when we push to fast and run out of steam.

  
3 rules of Intelligent Restraint:

  1. Focus overrules vision – growth needs to be more than just a vision.
  2. Routine beats strengths – strengths can ultimately become weaknesses and routine will “conserve energy” and help create new methods of thinking.
  3. Exert, then recover – continual exertion exhausts people, systems, and cultures. It’s critical to know when to take a step back to recover in order to stay on the path to long term growth. 

These rules are critical to making key trade-offs and decisions for teams and the business as you build capacity for growth.

The final section of Pacing For Growth brings everything together for us. Alison shows us how to put Intelligent Restraint to work. First, we need to focus on scaling to grow. Leaders need to increase capacity fast enough but pace the change and growth within human and cost limits. She suggests picking one capability at a time to focus on developing faster, rather than several. Alison stresses how critical routines are in making this happen. For instance, you should create the right routines for development, find routines that really stretch people and systems, create new routines that build sound decision making capabilities, or use them to “leverage moments of truth”. To maximize development Alison shares her FAST framework that she utilizes with leaders. FAST = Focus, Act, Support, Test. In the book she leads us through the framework to catalyze growth in a responsible manner.

I am a visual person and stories always bring new information home for me. Alison devotes a chapter to sharing real experiences in the trenches from leaders. These are people who have put Intelligent Restraint to use and this really helps to bring the concept home. Moreover, it gives us food for thought about how we can use her thoughts in our own roles. Pacing For Growth also ties up all these concepts with some online resources including a Pacing For Growth checklist that is relevant, simple, and practical.

Pacing For Growth offers a sound and practiced approach to growing our organizations within capacity. Today, too few companies take a restraint growth attitude towards growing which only has negative impacts on people, systems, and processes. Corporate America needs to adapt a long term growth mentality so that they are around in the future. Alison shares stories about icons that have flourished or failed over the years, leadership tools and tips for pacing growth and capacity, and keeps us mesmerized with her own personal stories and experiences.