Are You Building Something Worth Building?

Categories Inspiration, Leadership & Management, Your CareerPosted on

Several years ago, someone asked me the question, “I see you working hard and growing your business, but are you building something worth building?”

In all honesty, my initial reaction was defensive in nature. My mind quickly conjured up – Of course, I am! However, before the words came out of my mouth, I considered the source of the question. He wasn’t being judgmental about the life I was creating for myself. In fact, he didn’t even want an answer. He merely wanted me to pause and reflect.

I invite you to watch this quick two-minute video about building careers, companies, etc. Ask yourself a few key questions about why you are building what you are building.

6 Money Questions Wise People Can Answer

Categories Inspiration, Your CareerPosted on

Imagine the life you want to live.

Consider your goals and your aspirations.

Think about what you love to do.

Reflect on what truly matters to you.

When you think about these things, what comes to mind?

  • Do you want to retire early and travel the world?
  • Are you interested in opening your own business?
  • Would you like to take some time off from work to pursue an interest or spend time with your family?
  • Do you have a wonderful novel in you, but no time to write it?

Whatever you desire, your ability to pursue your interests is fueled or hindered by your financial situation.

I’m not saying money is everything. It isn’t. However, it sure comes in handy.

Take a few minutes to answer 6 money questions. Use your answer to put yourself into a position to live the life you want to live:

1. What is your number?

In his book, The NumberLee Eisenberg asks readers to think about the lives they want to live and the amount of money needed to sustain themselves. If you decide to go without a pay check, either in retirement or somewhere else in your life, you need to know how much money you need to sustain yourself. One way to think about it is that if you need $40,000 (USD) per year, then you need to have $1 million working for you, assuming it is generating a 4% return.

2. What should you be saving?

If you answered the first question saying you need $1 million at age 62, that means you should be saving some serious money. At 30, you need to put away $14,000 per year, assuming a 5% annual return, to hit the million by 62. If you are 40, double that amount – put away $28,000 per year. Of course, you may find yourself with the ability to put away less money early on in your career and more as your career progresses. The key takeaway is to start putting money away as soon as possible, and make saving a habit.

Keep in mind that inflation is going to play a significant role in the future value of your savings. $1 million may sound like a lot of money to you, but inflation will prove otherwise. If you are 30 years old today, you might be surprised how far $1 million won’t take you when you are 62.

3. What’s your relationship with money?

Are you the type of person who has the first dollar you ever made or does money fly out of your bank account the moment it arrives? Some of us learned our spending habits during our upbringing, others seem to be pre-wired to save or spend. Whatever your relationship with money, you need to consider if the current relationship will serve you well in the short- and long-run. If not, consider revisiting it.

4. What are you spending your money on?

Take a look at how you spend your money. Do you have an emergency fund? Are you paying down debt and saving for retirement? Your answer to question #3 (above) will suggest how you see your relationship with money; but, your answers to these spending questions will allow you to see the ramifications of that relationship.

5. What is your budget?

There are a number of ways to determine your budget, but they all come down to putting numbers on paper. Take a look at your last couple of months of spending. What was your income? What did you spend and where did it go? Did you cover just the basics or did you eat out, buy new toys, etc.? Was there anything left over at the end of the month? If you don’t have a budget, start small – build a budget for yourself for the next month, try to live within that budget, assess how it went and adjust going forward. Make it both realistic and challenging.

6. What should you prepare for that you can’t control?

Lots of things can happen that can knock you off of your plan. You can become ill, end up in a car accident, lose a job, etc. Be proactive and plan accordingly. Get a will, buy some life insurance (ideally term), and have a plan in the event of medical costs. Make sure you have the right amount of car and home owner’s insurance. Don’t spend and save wisely for years only to have a significant event knock you off of your feet.

Admittedly, I’m not a financial planner. I simply pose these questions to get you thinking.

I encourage you to own your finances and live the life you want to live!

Best- Patrick

6 Ways to Be Invaluable @ Work

Categories Your CareerPosted on

Over the past twenty years, I have been surrounded by many top performers:

  • Courageous fellow paratroopers in the U.S. Army
  • Amazing colleagues at both a global consulting firm and my own professional services agency
  • Outstanding leaders throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia
  • Brilliant students at one of the nation’s top universities

As I consider what makes many of them outstanding, I have come to the realization that they exhibit six behaviors that make them invaluable at work.

I invite you to take a minute to review each behavior and consider the questions I offer.

1. Deliver Results; Don’t Just Pleasantly Accomplish Activities

Top performers may be funny, personable, kind, considerate, or a variety of other wonderful attributes. However, above all, they deliver results.

I’m not saying that the above mentioned attributes aren’t helpful. They are. They make working with someone much more enjoyable. But, when times are tough and expectations are high, leaders don’t need a friend, they need a top performer who delivers the goods.

Consider yourself…

  • Is your reputation one as a person who delivers results?
  • Do you confuse activities with results?
  • When was the last time that you and your team failed to deliver as expected? What did you team learn from the situation?

2. Solve Problems; Don’t Just Point Them Out

Top performers aren’t afraid to jump in with both feet to help fix a problem. They don’t merely stand on the sidelines or complain about the complexities of work.

They don’t seek glory or work to fix blame; they seek to solve problems and put steps in place to avoid future pitfalls. They are proactive problem solvers.

Consider yourself…

  • What problems exist within your team or organization that are going unaddressed? (Odds are you aren’t the only one who sees them.)
  • What might you do today to begin to proactively addressing problems in your midst?

3. Learn New Stuff; Don’t Just Be Comfortable

Top performers actively develop new skills. They put themselves into new situations, wade into uncharted waters, and willingly place themselves in uncomfortable positions.

Why would they do this?

Well, they recognize that investing time in learning new things makes them more valuable to the organization, more helpful to their teammates, and more marketable in future situations.

Consider yourself…

  • Would people consider you and your team members active learners?
  • What book are you currently reading? What skills are you honing?
  • When was the last time you taught a customer or employee something new?

4. Experience the Customer’s World; Don’t Just Observe It

Top performers understand and practice the concept of being in their customer’s world. They care about the customer winning as much as the customer cares. They demonstrate an unmatched level of customer understanding that eludes their peers and competitors.

Consider yourself…

  • Who are the most important customers that you and your team serve?
  • What matters most to them?
  • What can you and your team do today to better help your customers win?

5. Provide Value That Is Not Easily Replaced; Don’t Just Do the Job

Top performers are not irreplaceable, but they are not easily replaced. You can’t simply hire another person with the same skills, experience, and education as a top performer, get him up-to-speed on his role, and not feel the loss.

Why?

Because a top performer makes a distinctive contribution. They add value over and above their job description.

Consider yourself…

  • How easy would it be to replace you and your team?
  • What can your team do to be more valuable to your customers? What can you do?

6. Think Abundantly, Don’t Fall Into the Scarcity Trap

Much of your work will likely involve participating as a member of a team. If you want to contribute your best effort, help your team members win, and avoid isolating yourself from your colleagues, work on your mindset and your behaviors will follow. Recognize that the pie can be big enough for all to win AND your winning doesn’t require someone else on your team to lose.

Consider yourself…

  • Do you operate from a win-win mindset, where both you and your colleagues can win?
  • When you are listening to a colleague, do you listen with the intent to understand or to simply find a space in the conversation to interject your ‘wisdom’?

Final thought…

Am I suggesting that these are the only behaviors necessary?

No.

I am simply suggesting that they are key.

I wish you all the best as you work to become a top performer in your chosen endeavors!

How Leaders Can Remove The Blindfold & Avoid 4 Blind Spots

Categories Leadership & ManagementPosted on

We all have blind spots. These are things that others know about you, but about which you are completely clueless. They can be small things…

  • A stain on your shirt that everyone sees – except you.
  • A conversation that you arrive late to and say something out of place. Everyone knows the arc of the discussion – except you.
  • A mispronounced word when speaking a foreign language. Everyone knows how to correctly say it – except you.

If you survived your teenage years, you’ve no doubt had at least one of these experiences. You might be embarrassed when the blind spot is revealed; however, the damage is typically not too significant – at least in the long-run.

On the other hand, if you are in a leadership role, some of these blind spots can be particularly costly. They can impact your professional reputation, performance, and organizational results.

In 1955, American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham created the Johari window to help us better understand how we interact with others. They taught us four areas: open, hidden, unknown, and blind spots.

Open: Known to you and others (e.g., a certain skill, work experience, etc.)

Hidden: Known to you, but unknown to others (e.g., an insecurity, unrevealed feeling, etc.)

Unknown: Neither known to you or others (e.g., a bias that you have yet to discover, a fear that you haven’t uncovered, a capability that you never had reason to know you possessed)

Blind: Known to others, but not known to you. These are blind spots.

There are many potential blind spots, but I find these four are particularly pervasive and costly. Each is based on a specific assumption. Are you falling prey to any of these?

1. Assuming People Know the Goals

Research suggests that only 15% of people can actually name their leaders’ most important goals. But, many leaders assume everyone knows what’s most important.

I once worked with a client who swore all of his employees knew the top goal and challenged me to prove him wrong. The next day I presented a list of 23 different goals that his employees said were most important. All 23 stemmed from the leader. Although the leader saw himself as the goal-oriented, visionary-type, they felt he hadn’t met an idea that he didn’t like. Consider these questions:

  • What are the 1-3 most important goals for your team or organization?
  • Do your people know the goals?
  • How do you know they know them?

2. Assuming People Know What They Should Do

Clarifying and communicating a goal is critical, but insufficient. Employees also need to understand how their work connects to the stated goals. Assuming people understand the connection, or that a connection exists at all, is another leadership blind spot.

When you assume people know what to do, you may walk out of your meetings asking each other questions like, “That sounds like a great idea, but what can we do to impact that goal?” In these instances, people don’t feel empowered; they feel abandoned. Consider these questions:

  • Do your people know what they can do to accomplish the goals?
  • Do they understand how their daily work drives goal accomplishment?

3. Assuming You Know How to Best Do Your Employees’ Jobs:

Sometimes a leader assumes that he or she knows best how to accomplish the goal. The leader both tells the people the goal and how to do it. Unlike the abandonment issue above, these leaders are micromanaging. The leader assumes he is being helpful, but the people simply believe that they are trusted. Of course, this is a bad situation, but it’s even worse if the leader doesn’t really know how best to do the task.

  • Do you ask your people how they might choose to go about accomplishing the goals?
  • Are you too directive?
  • Could you be violating the concept that involvement breeds commitment.

4. Assuming You Know What Your People Find Motivating

Different things motivate people. What one might consider a reward, another thinks is far from positive recognition. Some leaders assume that if they personally find something motivating that their people will feel the same.

Be mindful that a financial reward isn’t too motivating if the employees simply want a few extra hours of free time. Most of your folks already have enough t-shirts and coffee mugs. Moreover, a pat on the back or a hand written note is sometimes reward enough. If you really want to know what motivates your people, don’t assume, ask.

  • How effective have your last reward/incentive programs been?
  • Do you know what truly motivates your people?
  • When was the last time you asked them?

Appreciating the moment

Categories Inspiration, Your CareerPosted on

Sometimes when things are going well, we find ourselves not appreciating the moment, but yearning for more. Or, we are anxious about what is around the next corner.

Experience has taught us that, for the most part, we are either moving forward or sliding backward. A business is either evolving or unraveling. A plant grows and dies, but doesn’t remain static. Occasionally we must hit pause and appreciate wherever we are on the journey and thank those who choose to travel with us.

Occasionally we must hit pause and appreciate wherever we are on the journey and thank those who choose to travel with us.