In the middle of “Religilous”

Waching Bill Maher’s Religilous. I’m about halfway through. He’s hilarious. The documentary, for me, is not about religion, but about how we construct ideas and why we construct them. Maher’s dry witt and incredulous “looks” into the camera are worth the rental price alone.

It seems the health of the planet is at stake here…the way we construct ideas and how we “hold” those ideas in light of oppossing and differeing ideas is critical.

In the middle of “Religilous”2009-02-26T15:09:45-05:00

Spending the day training

Looking forward to spending the day with 6 Battalion Chiefs and their leader. We’ll be looking at building their leadership skills and developing common mission for the year ahead.I love to speak to large groups. But, I also love to focus in on a small group of leaders and help them think strategically and create the most effective team possible. The beauty of a day like today is that you never know exactly what will come of it. Sure, there’s a loose agenda. But, that agenda will morph to meet the needs of the moment. When the serendipitous moment emerges with a team, it’s magic.


I look forward to today with great anticipation.



Spending the day training2009-02-25T13:51:10-05:00

Short clip from recent speaking engagement

Here’s a short clip from a speaking engagement last week. I had the privilege to speak to fire and emergency personnel who make up incident command teams. These teams, beyond their normal daily duties in the cities in which they live, make up incident teams that are mobilized to meet the challenges of disasters when they occur in our country.

Short clip from recent speaking engagement2009-02-23T18:38:24-05:00

Get a different view or you’ll miss out

I’m writing in a Starbucks. There’s a little boy sitting on his Mom’s lap. He is maybe two, maybe. It reminds me of my two sons at that age. Everyone who walks in sits down and smiles when they see him bounce on his Mom’s lap, dance to the music, and try his hardest to make a straw work. His facial are amazing. Everyone can see his face, but his Mom. She’s getting the back of his head-which I’m sure is also spectacular, but…

She should turn him around and see what we see.

So… occassionally you should get a different view, or you’ll miss out.

Get a different view or you’ll miss out2009-02-22T22:00:59-05:00

Sustaining change: It’s not easy, but it’s worth it

There’s an Einstein Bagel shop in my town that recently went through a managerial transition. For those of us who were regulars, we could just feel the change coming. The store was languishing a bit and change was needed. The outgoing manager was a really nice guy, but seemed burned out. The new manager has re-ignited the place.

I noticed an immediate change in the vibe of the store upon her arrival. It’s full of energy and direction. It’s obvious she understands the “way” of Einstein and is intent on developing a staff who will implement it. Her best quality is that she is consistently modeling the values through her own work ethic.

One of the hallmarks of Einstein’s is the phrase, “Hot Bagels,” which the manager or baker yell when taking the bagels out of the oven. In response, the crew is to echo “Hot Bagels” with gusto. The same is true of coffee. When it’s made fresh, the phrase is, “Hot Coffee,” and the reply with gusto (everybody now) “Hot Coffee.”

Toward the end of the outgoing manager’s tenure, the hot bagel/hot coffee mantra was um, to say the least, anemic and embarrassing. The person taking the bagels out of the oven would eek out the phrase with a lack of passion that actually drew attention to him. Then, the crew, in unison, IGNORED him. It was hard to watch.

Wow, did things change when the new manager came. I hadn’t been in the shop in a while. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. An energized crew, all responding in unison with “hot bagel” or “hot coffee.” Ah, the power of good leadership.

So…today, I went in to get a bagel. While waiting, I saw the new manager take bagels out of the oven. As she did…you know what’s coming don’t you…she enthusiastically said, “hot bagels” and NO ONE replied. She said it again. Still no answer. She said it a third time. And, presto…”hot bagels” came the reply.


Making change is nothing compared to sustaining it.

Anyone can say “hot bagels” once, twice, even for a month. But, to make the “crew banter” a norm like it is at Seattle’s fish market, now that’s leadership.

Sustaining change: It’s not easy, but it’s worth it2009-02-22T14:35:24-05:00

Grow your business…learn from musicians

At least one business model for the future has got to be the independent-and sometimes not so independent- musician.


Here’s the model:

1) Make great music

2) Create a virtual space where your music can be heard

3) Create a tribe of fans

4) Play, play, play (wherever you can–at least early on)

5) Listen to your fans

6) Rinse and repeat

Grow your business…learn from musicians2009-02-21T19:29:15-05:00

Where is your thinking and conversation taking you (don’t participate in the recession)

I’m sitting in a Starbucks this morning doing some writing. There are two people sitting next to me lamenting EVERYTHING. It started as a conversation about how bad the economy is, and it has degenerated into a “negative fest” about all things related to life.

Our thinking, and our collective conversations about the current state of things can make a big difference in how things turn out. If we think it’s terrible, it is. If we believe “we’re toast,” we are. The way I view a situation determines a large part of its outcome.

I encourage you, in the midst of the difficulty, to remain (in your thinking, speaking and acting) amazingly hopeful about the future. It’s ours to create.

Where is your thinking and conversation taking you (don’t participate in the recession)2009-02-21T16:28:51-05:00

Don’t do it! The temptation is great, but don’t participate in the recession

There was some more unfortunate financial news today. There is no doubt that times are hard. The temptation is great, and it would be easy to do, but don’t do it. Don’t participate in the recession. I’m more and more convinced that our very future depends on not participating in this recession. I’m not suggesting the recession won’t affect us. It’s affected me and I’m sure, to one degree or another, it’s affected you. However, there is a big difference between being affected by the recession and falling prey to the mindset of defeat and gloom.

Without denying the realities of the moment, we must stay on the opportunity side of this challenge. We could all tell stories about difficult times in our personal lives that lead to amazing change, transformation and opportunity. The same can be true for us as a nation and a global community. The key is our attitude and willingness to focus on vision on finding the treasure hidden in the rubble.

Life is good. Join me. Don’t participate.

Don’t do it! The temptation is great, but don’t participate in the recession2009-02-20T23:48:06-05:00

The quantum leap of customer service

I’m no quantum physicist. But, I do (I think) understand quantum leaps may be small in terms of space, but BIG in terms of effect. The same is true for customer service. I travel a lot. I interface with people delivering (often to me) customer service all day long. It is amazing to me, how small the leap is between horrible customer service and good customer service. And, how small the leap is between good and great customer service. These are quantum leaps.

Simple things like:

Engaging the customer in friendly banter

Pausing 10 seconds more, in the interaction, to make a joke or supply words of kindness

Creating value when the customer didn’t expect it




None of these are hard, unless you’re asleep at work.


The quantum leap of customer service2009-02-19T14:44:08-05:00

Focus on people (part two) Be a developer

Leaders are developers.

A few posts back, we thought about how critical it is, for leaders, to focus on people. It’s not enough to be a task master or an “ensure-r of accomplishment.” Getting things done, moving forward, is important. However, if people feel they are simply a cog in the machine, they will eventually check out–literally or emotionally. If our desire is to tap the potential of people so that their best energies come forth at work, we must change our “leader frame” to that of development.

Leaders are developers.

Simply, a leader’s role is to develop people so that their best energies are unleashed and make the biggest difference personally and organizationally.

Leaders are developers.

When a leader changes her view to “developer” it changes everything. People than are human beings with amazing potential who need to be coached, mentor-ed, challenged, celebrated and unleashed. Imagine the difference that makes in a leader’s approach.

Leaders are developers.

So…what can you do to move to a development frame as a leader?

Stay tuned…

Focus on people (part two) Be a developer2009-02-16T23:16:56-05:00