Good news: You’re probably not a loser
Most people aren’t losers. Losers cause problems, have frequent breakdowns, lash out and are easy to write off. Losers behave in ways that are unacceptable. You can’t keep your job if you’re a loser because showing up late every day is unacceptable behavior. So most of us do what is acceptable, or to put it another way, ‘what is permissible’. Permissible is fine because it’s better than unacceptable, but the problem with permissible is that it’s usually not beneficial.
Permissible vs. Beneficial
It’s easy to settle for permissible because that’s what most people do. Permissible is normal; it’s also the lowest common denominator of acceptable behavior. Leaders are never concerned with what is merely permissible. Leaders ask, “What is most beneficial?”
It’s permissible to show up at work right on time; it’s beneficial to be early (and sometimes stay late). It’s permissible to watch TV; it’s beneficial to read a book. You won’t go to jail for using a credit card, but there are many more benefits to paying cash. While it’s certainly permissible to complain when you have a legitimate excuse, has anyone ever thanked you for doing it? Probably not. This is why we always see an inverse correlation between leaders and complainers.
Why do we settle for permissible?
We settle because we fear awkward. It’s awkward when your friends come over and ask “Hey, how come you don’t have a TV?”. It’s awkward when you tell your coworkers you’re not going out because you have to get up early and go to the gym. We settle for permissible to avoid awkward situations. Most people would prefer to be the social chameleon. Blending in is comfortable. The fear of awkward keeps us from embracing the most beneficial behavior.
The leaders I know and respect are obsessed with growing the gap between what is permissible and what is beneficial. Leaders push past the fear of awkward to accomplish the very best. Anyone who leads the room in sales will tell you that it’s awkward to be rejected dozens of times each day, but that it’s the only way to close a deal. On every team you will see an enormous gap between the behaviors of the second string and those of the starting line up (even though everyone is wearing the same jersey). The biggest difference between the guys on the field and the ones on the bench is their familiarity with awkward experiences like pain, sacrifice, failure and rejection. This is what makes them leaders.
What area of life do you find it challenging to grow the gap between permissible and beneficial behavior?
I’m training for a 1/2 Ironman…
I logged 7 miles before the treadmill timed out. I suppose there’s legislation that requires fitness equipment to limit the amount of time one spends becoming fit. This particular treadmill had a governor set to shut the machine down after 60 minutes. I still had 4 miles to cover so I reset the machine, changed my iPod playlist over to ‘Songs for Suffering’, and drudged on.
The air was warm; I was drenched in sweat from head to toe. The lactic acid built up in my legs from a long week of training was arguing with my will to finish strong, and the determined fire that burned in my eyes when I started was quickly fading into a desperate grimace.
After a quarter mile into the new segment of my run, I was joined by a fellow weekend warrior who took his place on the treadmill next to mine. We made eye contact, he nodded, then glanced down at what appeared to be a measly ‘total distance’ reading on my monitor and flippantly commented:
“Wow. Didn’t take you much to work up a sweat, did it?”
After internalizing a few comments I wanted to make in return, I acted like my iPod was turned up too loud to hear him and just kept running. “If he only knew…”, I thought.
As I settled in to finish my run I began to wonder, “How many times have I done the same thing to other people?” Not in the gym, but in life. I tend to criticize others without knowing everything they’ve been through. Too often I focus on what has yet to be achieved instead of applauding people for the valiant efforts they’ve already made. It’s tempting to hold people accountable to standards that are only achievable within the limited context of what we see.
I’m learning there is always more to the story.
The power of the guy with the headset
There are few things more affirming to me than the voice on the other end of the Starbucks drive-through speaker system. When I place my order for a tall black eye, and the voice in the speaker repeats my order back to me, “that’s a tall black eye, coffee with 2 shots, right?”, all of the sudden I feel a sense of peace come over me. I breathe a little easier knowing that they heard what I wanted, and that they’re in control. I think this happens because our minds have been trained by poor drive-through service experiences to approach that speaker with a sense of trepidation.
I used to think I was the only one who dealt with this, but I’ve started to realize that almost everyone suffers from DTSAS (drive-through speaker abuse syndrome). You can observe the symptoms of this condition by simply rolling down your window, and listening to the person in the car ahead of you placing their order. You’ll notice someone suffering from this condition usually yells at the speaker the entire time they’re ordering. They also talk slowly and over annunciate, often interjecting ‘did you get that!?’ every few seconds.
Here’s the quintessential expression used by DTSAS sufferers: “Can you read the whole thing back to me? I just want to make sure you got it”
Why do we do this?
We just told them what we wanted, and they process orders like this hundreds of times a day, right? Why all the stress? I think it’s because we crave validation. It just takes one experience of asking headset guy to hold the pickles, and then biting into that juicy burger moments later, only to be struck with that undeniable vinegar ridden flavor to develop cynicism toward all drive-through speaker people on the planet. Spending money is emotional, no matter how little the amount. We want to feel good about our purchase; we want to be confident we’re getting what we paid for. I love it when the guy with the headset just volunteers to read my order back to me.
What’s your validation process?
If our emotions go through this cycle in the drive-through, then how much more important is it for us to affirm our customers when they give us their money for OUR product or service? I make sure each of our customers receive immediate confirmation of their purchase with a follow up email detailing the transaction, and an explanation of the next step so they can begin to shift their emotions from slightly nervous to extremely excited. This is especially important when we’re selling tickets to an event – we have their money, but they don’t receive the product for several months.
I think validation is underrated. We enjoy buying good products, but we want proof that we bought so we can start getting excited about it. If the guy at the drive-through doesn’t read my order back to me, I’m not completely sure they won’t hand me an order for the car behind me. When I ordered my iPad, I received an email update every 2 days regarding the status of my order – I loved it – and I told my friends about it every time I received an update.
If you have a product or service that ships later than the payment is processed, how do you validate your customers to keep them emotionally engaged in the transaction?
There wasn’t a seventh grader in the world who wasn’t scared of Mr. Garcia. If our memories are crystallized in direct proportion to our fear, then I must have been especially afraid the day I walked into his classroom for the first time. I remember every poster on the wall, the layout of the room, the notes on the chalk board. I can almost smell the pencil shavings that seemed helplessly out of place below the broken, wall mount pencil sharpener in the back of the room. I sat next to Rachel Wilson. She was scared too.
Mr. Garcia’s reputation preceded him. Not only was he our math teacher, but he was the Jr. High principle, and a marine to boot. I remember crying when I went home that night because Mr. Garcia told me that I would need a red pen for his class, and all I had was a red pencil. His persona just seemed to carry an intimidating amount of weight. There are many things I remember about Mr. Garcia, but one thing I will never forget is the speech he gave that first day of class to a room full of budding, naive seventh graders. He told us to listen very closely, because over the next hour he was going to give us everything we needed to know about how to succeed in the seventh grade. He went on to give a series of speeches, well, actually it was all one speech, just rehashed about 40 times. This was the message:
Students! Know where you are going. Have what you need. Be on time.
If you can do this, you’re going to be just fine.
Not just for seventh graders
Looking back now, I realize that Mr. Garcia was actually a very caring and compassionate man. I suppose it is possible for a seventh grader to over dramatize the appropriate level of fear to experience when meeting a new math teacher. Little did I know the nugget of advice Mr. Garcia gave me that day would become one of the most useful tools in my journey through life. This mantra is simple enough for a seventh grader to understand. Be in your seat when the bell rings isn’t really that complicated. However, it’s amazing how many grown ups still haven’t ingested these simple truths into their approach to life.
- Know where you’re going. You have to know where you’re going before you can get there. I’ve always set goals. I haven’t always hit them, but as long as I can remember I’ve set them in each area of my life. I’m certain that if I skipped this step, I would have very few accomplishments to show for it. If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll still end up somewhere – you just won’t be the one driving.
- Have what you need. Knowledge is everywhere for the taking. In our world today, there are no excuse for being unprepared. Telling the teacher you left your book in the locker might not have been that detrimental in the seventh grade, but you don’t get many second chances on legitimate opportunities when your 34 years old.
- Be on time. Not just on time for work each day. On time for life. Wayne Gretzky spoke of his strategy to skate to where the puck was going to be, instead of where it is. When opportunity arises, it’s too late to prepare. In other words, you better know how long the walk is to the next class down the hall before you stop to chat with your friends.
Take a look at anyone who is consistently struggling to move forward in life, and chances are they’re missing the mark on at least one of these key pillars. I’m thankful for the Mr. Garcias in my life who took the time to mentor me, and teach me life lessons before I even understood what they were. We can never fully appreciate the sacrifices people like this make, so that we can become something more than we ever would have on our own.
I once heard John Maxwell say,
We tend to over estimate the event, and under estimate the process.
Attending a business event doesn’t make you a better business leader any more than attending a wedding ceremony makes you a bride or groom. We live in an event driven culture. Many business leaders are on a continuous search for that one event that has the secret potion for their success.
Events fall short when…
Events fail when we put all of our stock in the event to do the work for us. If the event that is being marketed to you promises to fix all of your problems, omitting every element of personal responsibility, run.
Here’s my promise: If you attend EntreLeadership Master Series, Dave Ramsey will give you all of the tools to win in your business. If you choose to go home and set the tool box on the shelf, and continue driving nails into boards with your bare hands, maybe events are not for you.
I’m really curious why Lara Johnson would be here…
I need your help. Check out this video and tell me if I’m crazy for thinking that this might be Lara Johnson, Associate Producer for The Dave Ramsey show. I’m trying to get to the bottom of why she might be sneaking around the conference center here at the Atlantis Resort:Lessons from EntreLeadership:
Interview with Alex Charfen:
Alex has a real estate consulting firm in Austin, TX. (You can tell I like getting interviews from Texans…they’re flat out awesome people!) Check out what he has to say about the event so far (most importantly check out is ‘phat shoes’).
Lessons from EntreLeadership:
There are 3 basic pillars to our EntreLeadership material:
- Working With People: Dreams, Vision & Goal Setting / Time Management & Organization / Personality Styles & Mission Statements / Communication / Building Unity & Loyalty / Compensation & Incentives / Team Math: Hiring & Firing / Delegation / Recognition & Inspiration
- The Central Nervous System of Business: Financial Peace for the EntreLeader / Accounting / The Art of Outsourcing: Dealing With Vendors / Contract Negotiation
- Gettin’ The Cash In! Personal Selling / Marketing & Advertising / Social Media / & everything else involved in getting your product or service out the door and raking the moola in.
Today Dave is transitioning from the ‘team building pillar’ and diving head-long into the meat & potatoes of the administrative material. Typically, as entrepreneurs, we tend to dread all of these tedious details in our business. We don’t buy a car just because we love changing the oil, right? Same thing in business. However, if we don’t do these things well, eventually the engine blows up.
Notes on a couple of lessons from this morning:
The Art of Outsourcing – Vendors
This morning Dave has been teaching our attendees the importance of managing relationships with vendors. In this video clip, Dave explains that we should always be willing to part ways with vendors when we outgrow their ability to serve our needs. We have a tendency to feel too much loyalty to our vendors based on issues not related to the business transaction:
Here’s a few one-liners from the lesson on contracts:
- Contracts are not a guarantee of people doing what they say, what they should, or of their performance
- Contracts don’t make a person who’s a dufus become a non-dufus
- Attorneys call contracts a ‘meeting of the minds’
- If it’s not in writing it never happened
- A verbal contract is worth the paper it’s written on
- Contracts don’t make bad deals become good, or bad people become good
- Where no integrity exists, the whole process is useless
Stay tuned for more coverage from the Bahamas, and I’ll let you know if I get confirmation on THE Lara Johnson.
“Yesterday is when it clicked”.
That’s what one of our attendees told me over breakfast this morning. They went on to explain that everything they’ve been hoping to understand about team building and culture really started to sink in.
Building A Unified Culture
Dave spent most of yesterday afternoon unpacking our playbook for building unity and loyalty in the organization. Unity is our secret weapon. We outperform teams twice our size when we work with a clear vision, and every player is united on purpose and core value. One of the biggest contributing factors to building a unified team is the consistent behavior of the leader. In leadership, you’ve got to be deadly consistent in your reactions so your team will know what to expect from you in any given situation.
Check out this video to watch Dave drive this point home for our attendees:
Show Me The Money!
Compensation structure is another major pillar in the loyalty equation. No one on our team receives a salary as their only form of income. Each team member (yes, even the guys shipping boxes) has an incentive tied into the profitability of our company. The natural result that flows from setting up your compensation structure in this manner creates an entrepreneurial environment throughout the entire organization.
In this video, Greg Pare, talks about how he’s already considering new strategies for introducing a profit sharing program for his team when he returns home:
I wanted to take an opportunity to let you know that this amazing event doesn’t happen without the amazing support team working diligently behind the scenes. The diligent execution of each detail during this event truly makes the experience fabulous for our attendees.
Fishing Trip (We have to do it for the sales metaphors to work)
The day started before dawn for those of us who decided to journey out into the deep blue sea in pursuit of some big fish…or at least some big fishing stories. We have a running competition from event to event between Dave, myself and a few other guys on the team on who’s boat brings in the most fish. I didn’t win this year, but I did beat Dave for the first time (and it’s a great feeling).
The weather was perfect as we trolled out of the harbor, and the company was great. This is always a fun time to really get to know some of our attendees on a more personal level since there are just a few of us in each boat. We landed a few Mahi-Mahi and the crew was kind enough to fillet them for us on the boat so we can cook ’em up for dinner.
Dave is teaching some of our most powerful lessons this afternoon:
- Building Unity and Loyalty: Train yourself to be deadly consistent so your team knows what to expect. Never cut pay when performance is there. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’. People will allow themselves to be led by someone who treats them with dignity.
- Compensation: If the leaders are only in it for the money, compensation will have a lot of ceilings….
Well, there’s a whole lot more but I gotta run help out with a Q&A Panel…
We’ve just been put on notice that Dave Ramsey’s energy level is illegal in the Bahamas (so we have some people working with the local legislature on getting that changed).
This morning Dave is teaching:
- Dreams, Visions & Goal Setting: Without vision the people perish. Goals are vision with work clothes on. If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time (Ziglar). You need goals in every area of your life.
This is the stuff we start with because we can’t help our attendees until we find out where they are and where they want to go. Establishing goals gives us a framework to build off of. Dave is a goal freak! He requires each of us to have goals and evaluate them early and often. I love working in an organization where everyone appreciates the value of goal setting. It puts extra energy in the air.
- Time Management & Organization: Spending 15 minutes on your to do list could free up as much as 2 hours in your work day. You must learn to manage time or the lack of it will manage you. Most leaders use MBC (Management by Crisis)…don’t do this. Have a plan. Don’t have a meeting without an agenda. Use the stand up technique when the meeting’s over. Teach your team to respect your calendar.
Keeping track of your time is as important as keeping track of your money. As a business leader, your personal time is the most valuable asset to the growth of your organization. Dave is giving tons of great advice on how to get control of your calendar and increase efficiency. Two of my favorite books on this subject are Time Traps, by Todd Duncan, and Death by Meeting, by Patrick Lincioni.
- Personality Styles and Mission Statements: Understanding how to speak the unique language of your team members will allow you to motivate them in a way that works for them. Everyone is wired a little bit different and we each tend toward a certain communication style. We teach the DISC model: D = Dominant, Decisive, Doer, Driver, Bullet points and bottom line focused. I – Influencer, Outgoing, Fun, People Oriented, Playful, Party looking for a place to happen. S – Steady, Stable, Loyal, Reserved, Slow processors, Golden Retriever. C – Compliant, Detailed, Facts, Calculated, Task oriented.
We use the DISC model personality style assessment in our hiring process to make sure we’re putting people in the right position based on their natural strengths. Each of our EntreLeadership attendees take this test before they come, and they each get a unique 20-30 page report on their own personality style. In addition to covering personality style’s, Dave is giving our attendees solid information on the value of a personal mission statement, and a company mission statement that goes way beyond ‘brochure filler’ material.
- Communication: A winning culture of communication says “When in doubt, ask!” Everyone on the team turns in a weekly report. We have a mandatory staff meeting for the entire team every week. When in doubt, over communicate. The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing.
Leaders must learn to communicate effectively. Picture your team members at the bottom of the sea wearing scuba gear with an air hose leading from their gear to an air tank in the boat on top of the water. You’re in the boat. Communication is the air. Your job is to make sure the air keeps flowing…when communication flow stops, the team dies.
JUST IN FROM LAST NIGHT:
Brian Williams is our Creative Director for Dave Ramsey. He put together a stellar video that played last night between my welcome talk and Dave’s introduction. It brought tons of of energy to the room to set Dave up for a great kick off! Thanks Brian for all of your hard work on this project: