Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Great start to the week! (EnterLeadership Atlantis)

Posted in EntreLeadership by elephanthunters on April 25, 2010

Wow, what a day!

All of our guests have arrived safe and sound.  There’s tons of energy in this place, and everyone I’ve talked to is amped up and ready for the week! I enjoyed finally getting to meet everyone that I’ve been working with over the phone/email for several months.  Here’s a quick interview at the registration desk with Lee and Traci Goudy from Indiana:

Jumping in:

We kicked the event off with a reception where they were serving lots of fancy foods that I can’t pronounce the names of.  This was a fun time of networking, making introductions and learning each others stories.  Then we ate! (We’ll do that a lot this week).  Tonight’s fillet minion was quite possibly the best i’ve ever had…not what you expect from a pre-plated dinner.  These Bahamians do it right!

After dinner, Dave taught the first EntreLeadership lesson for the week, ‘EntreLeadership Defined’.  Here’s a few quotes from tonight’s session:

If business was easy, there would be no profit involved!

Organizations are never limited by their team, they’re limited by their leader.

The problem with my business is ME!  The good news is I’m also the solution.

If you help enough people you don’t have to worry about money.

Those who never make mistakes, work 4 those of us who have. – Henry Ford

Big Idea:

After each lesson Dave makes everyone take two full minutes to write down their big idea from that lesson.  I’m going to be catching people between lessons, and asking them what their big ideas are.  This first one is from Dr. Greg Weigler:

Even more fun:

Get in on the action from Atlantis:

If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check out the Cover It Live blog that Chris Mefford is running this week on http://www.daveramsey.com in the business section.

This is a fun way to see pictures, videos, audio streams from the event, share comments etc.

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We’re under way with EntreLeadership, Bahamas!

Posted in Uncategorized by elephanthunters on April 25, 2010

This is the day we’ve all been waiting for!

Grabbing some lunch with Mefford

Grabbing some lunch with Mefford

EntreLeadership Master Series starts @ 5:00 pm with a reception for our attendees, dinner, and then an opening lesson from Dave Ramsey.

The day has been busy with getting our welcome table set up, finalizing flight manifest details for our arriving attendees, setting up rooms, checking lists twice 5 times, welcoming our attendees, shooting ‘b roll’, and I’ll spare you all the other minutia..

The most critical variable has been accomplished: Dave and Sharon Ramsey have arrived safely with plenty of time to spare.  We’re ready to rock!

Here’s a video from earlier this morning with the Director of Marketing for our Live Events Department, Chris Mefford:

(go easy on him, he’s Canadian)

EntreLeadership Atlantis: Quick interview with Debbie LoCurto

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 25, 2010

Dynamic Interaction

One of the best things about our EntreLeadership Master Series event is the dynamic interaction.  We keep this event limited in attendance so the environment is set up for plenty of dialogue beyond the class room time. Several members of Dave Ramsey’s Leadership Council join us for the week, just to be available for 1-on-1 coaching.

Our leaders are the embodiment of the EntreLeadership content

Dave Ramsey never wanted employees.  In his mind, “Employees were just people who came in late, left early, and stole from you while they’re at work”.  Instead, Dave set up the organization to bring on team members, other entreprenuers who could come in and run profit centers as their own micro business within the company.  Today we have 14 different P & L leaders, and over 300 team members who are passionate about our mission, and to this day, we still don’t have a single ’employee’.

I’m pumped that Debbie LoCurto’s here this week!

Debbie LoCurto runs one of the largest P & L departments in our company, Financial Peace University Church.  I caught her in the lobby last night on the way to dinner…she had about 7 seconds warning that I was doing this:

During this event, our attendees get access to some of the sharpest business minds I’ve ever known.  Everyone’s business is different, so we do our best to spend time with them throughout the week to help tailor fit the content to tier particular business model.  It’s not uncommon for someone to tell us they received as much value from interacting with our team as they did from the general session time.

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Welcome to EMS: Atlantis!

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 25, 2010

This week we’re going to do things a little bit different…

I’m going to give you a backstage pass into my world during one of the greatest weeks of my entire year.  Each day I’m going to be blogging on site from the Atlantis Resort, where we’re hosting our EntreLeadership Master Series event.  Dave Ramsey personally teaches this event twice each year to small business owners and leaders who join us from all across the country.

I have an incredible job!

  • I get to work with one of the greatest leaders and speakers on the planet: Dave Ramsey
  • I work along side a gifted team of event coordinators and marketing minds, many of whom I am hoping to introduce you to this week
  • My product, EntreLeadership, is hands down the greatest practical leadership event taught by an actual small business leader.   (Sorry for the commercial, but frankly I wouldn’t be promoting this event if this part wasn’t true).
  • My clients are some of the brightest, most creative entrepreneurs our country has to offer.  Their stories are amazing.
  • I get to travel to some sick destinations for our events, and bring my wife, Emily, along for the ride.

The Goal:

Since I’m kind of on the fly here, things will be a little less polished than my usual approach. Please forgive the ‘cameo style’ on everything.  My hope is that you will get to learn more about the event that our team works so hard to build, and more importantly that you’ll benifit from getting a peak behind the curtain on some of the information that is presented here this week.

So thanks for joining me for the trip!

Let me know what you’d like to see some footage of, and I’ll do my best to work it in throughout the week.

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Make time for connecting in person

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on April 23, 2010

Invitation

Yesterday Jack Groot and his wife came by the office for an impromptu visit. Jack owns JP’s Coffee & Espresso Bar in Holland, MI, and he’s a huge Dave Ramsey fan.  I visited with Jack a few months back about our EntreLeadership Master Series event, and I mentioned to him that if he’s ever in the Nashville area, I’d love to show him around the place.

Well, Jack decided to take me up on the offer.  He sent me an email yesterday morning saying he’s in town and he asked if they could swing by for a tour.

Hesitation

I’d like to say that I replied immediately saying “Sure! Stop by whenever it’s convenient for you today…I’ll make the time.”

I didn’t do this.  I waited.  I stalled, semi-unconsciously hoping that I could divert the inconvenience, and still somehow save face with Jack.

I accidentally listened to the resistance. My lizard brain (selfish & scared) told me that I was too busy:

Daniel, you don’t have time.  They’ll understand. They probably knew it was a long shot anyway being so last minute and all.  You have obligations.  This is one of the busiest weeks of your whole year right before your really big, important, complicated event.  You have plenty of legitimate excuses, so just tell them that you hope to catch them next time.

See, that’s the only thing the lizard brain offers:

  • Excuses
  • Reasons to not
  • Places to hide

I decided to punch the lizard brain in the face:

“I’m making this way to complicated”, I thought. “These guys are here all the way from Michigan!  Who am I to tell them I don’t have time for a short tour?” I adjusted my schedule, and arranged to host Jack and his wife.

I used to give tours more often, but now our company is big enough that we have official ‘tour people’ so I haven’t given one in a while.

But, at one o’clock I met Jack and his wife in the lobby, and what started out as another task on my list for the day, quickly became an energizing experience for me.  As I told the stories about everything we’re doing around here, my emotions caught up with my brain, and I felt a new sense of pride in my work.  This is my team.  These are the guys I fight with.  Here is what we do, and here is why it matters.  For a solid 45 minutes I found myself selling 2 strangers on why our company is awesome.

Connection happens in person

I sit at a desk with a keyboard and a phone most of the time.  So there’s something magical about face to face connection with your customers.  I’m really glad I decided to make time for my new friends.  Are they going to buy my product now?  I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I got to spend quality time engaging two other fabulous human beings who have their own story to tell.  I can’t put a price on the time spent with them, and I wouldn’t sell it if I could.

Can I suggest something? Give tours!

Make your people give tours.  Tell the story.  Whatever this means in your company, find out a way to show people what you’re doing.  It doesn’t’ matter if you have 2 people or 200, if you work in an office building or on a construction site, if you work in accounting or in sales:

Just tell the story, and don’t ever assume they know what you’re doing.

Doing this will keep you connected to the mission like nothing else can.

My new goal:

Give a tour at least once a month.  I’m going to make time to show people around the office whether it ties in with a deal I’m working or not.  It does something for me that is too valuable to miss out on.

How do tours work at your place?  What do they look like?  What do people tend to comment on when you give them?  I’d love to hear about it!

Kick the week off right

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 12, 2010

shoot for this:

not this:

The dreaded ‘M’ word

“Our meetings are held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings”

Ashleigh Brilliant

Sadly, this is often true.  However, I propose that meetings themselves are not the culprit as much as the  lack of  purpose, leadership and effective communication IN the meetings.

Someone does it right

Here at The Lampo Group (more popularly known as Dave Ramsey’s company), we start every week with staff meeting on Monday morning.  In many organizations, staff meetings rank in popularity somewhere between root canals and waiting in line at the DMV.

Our staff meetings are actually pretty fun as far as meetings go, not to mention extremely valuable.

Dave’s philosophy on staff meeting is all about over communication.  He’ll often remind us, ‘We do these weekly meetings so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing’.  Around here, it’s kind of like the last minute pep talk in the locker room before everyone runs out on the field.

How’s it work?

Dave typically leads the meeting, and asks each department leader to stand and update the group on  key things going on.  Team leaders will share or call on someone on their team to share:

  • Victories, wins, high points, brags on team members
  • New team member introductions
  • Prayer requests, updates on things we’ve been praying for
  • Information to be aware of that might benefit the group i.e. upcoming media appearances
  • Drawings for hockey tickets, other  fun giveaways, awards and recognitions

Where to start?

Our EntreLeadership clients will often ask me how they should start implementing a staff meeting in their business.  Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Do it Monday morning: If your set up allows for a staff meeting at the beginning of the week, this is the best time to schedule it.  It sets the tone, and gets everyone’s mind engaged right out of the gate.  Make it mandatory for everyone to come.
  2. Keep it brief: We rarely go more than an hour.  If everything has been covered after just 20 minutes, we finish up and go to work.
  3. Make it fun: This is a great time to recognize your team and their accomplishments from the week before.  Catch people doing things right, then praise them in front of the team. This is a great way to define what winning looks like without having to ‘lecture’.
  4. Be personal: As a leader, you have a tremendous opportunity to share how you’re processing things that are going on in the company.  Maybe a certain area is struggling, and you read an encouraging quote or article that helped you see it in a new light.  Share this with the team – they appreciate seeing you humanity.  Just be sure that it’s not presented in a way that’s pessimistic.
  5. When in doubt, share. Don’t assume everyone on the team observes things that seem apparent to you.  You may feel like some of the concepts you’re sharing are elementary, but your team will appreciate being included.  Teach them to think like leaders.  Help them understand how the organization works.  Over time you will notice them taking on a greater sense of ownership in their work.

What works for you?

I’d love to hear some techniques and ideas for better staff meetings.  What’s working for you?  Please leave a comment with your favorite meeting tip.

Glad to be an official resident of Frank

Posted in Uncategorized by elephanthunters on April 8, 2010

Glad to be an official resident of Franklin, TN. So long Nolensville…it’s been grand.

Fear and Transparency

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 5, 2010

Fear

I recently witnessed a leader experiencing a melt down in front of their team members.  They were emotional, irrational, and everything about their body language communicated desperation.  Clearly, they were afraid of something.  They were having a bad day.

We all have bad days, and we all need people in our lives that we can turn to for support when we’ve been kicked in the teeth.  As a leader, look outside of your team for support when you’re afraid.

Fear doesn’t lead well.

  • The team will amplify your fear
  • Fear darkens the spirit of the organization
  • Fear Paralyzes: Productive activity stops until the leader’s drama is resolved

Dave Ramsey has often told me,

It’s OK to be afraid… just don’t make decisions based on fear.

I would add:  Don’t vent your fear to the team without a solution…there’s little up side.

Transparency

Transparency has tremendous upside.  When you talk openly about issues with your team, positive or negative, they will appreciate you’re candidness:

  • Everyone wants to be treated like an adult
  • Adults understand that no one is perfect, and they respect a leader who doesn’t act like they have it all together
  • Fear doesn’t thrive when everyone understands what’s really going on

When being transparent on negative issues, you will do well to lead your team in exercises that allow them to see the issue objectively.  Don’t the hide negative realities from your team, help them process through it.  Get their feedback.

Let your team know that while you may not have all the answers yet, you are not going to be motivated by fear.

Gut Check

  • Do you have a place to unpack fearful situations outside of your subordinate team?
  • What are practical ways you express transparency without becoming demoralizing?
  • Do you have a tendency to keep people in the dark on information that might help them?

Challenge: No TV For A Month

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on April 2, 2010

What would your life look like if you gave up TV for a month?

Seth Godin recently challenged me to give up television altogether because there are so many other things better than TV.

I was already on the verge of doing this, but his post on this idea gave me the gumption to go ahead and pull the plug.  So we called the satellite company and cut it off.  All the way off…no basic cable, no major network channels.  Zero TV in the house.

And I’m still breathing

Not only has life gone on without TV, it has improved.  A lot.  I discovered that I was spending more time watching TV than I would have cared to admit.  I suppose most people talk about TV consumption the same way they talk about debt:  “I don’t have any debt…just a car loan and a few credit cards.”

Since we cut off the TV:

  • My wife and have have had more conversations
  • I have read more non-fiction literature than I ever have in my life
  • I took my daughter on an impromptu walk to the creek
  • I sat on my porch and watched the cars go by
  • I bought a high end stereo system, and gave my iTunes playlists a makeover

It’s changing me.  It’s making me better.

The Challenge

Give up TV for the month of April. After the big dance is over on Monday night just unplug the TV.  You don’t have to cancel it altogether, and if you hate it after a month, then just turn it back on…at least you’ll be able to say you tried it, and it wasn’t for you.

Why Not?

  • The weather is getting nice
  • College basketball is over
  • Major networks are starting to air reruns
  • There’s so many great things to do with your time

If you’re in:

Leave a comment on this post.  Commit.  You’re going to be tempted to read this and think – I don’t have to comment to do this…I’ll just do it on my own.  No you won’t.  You have to tell someone.  If you don’t comment here, then at least tell someone you know that you’re doing it.  Knowing they’ll ask you about it later will keep you committed to your goal.

I’ll check in and ask you to report occasionally on how it’s going.  I already heard one great story from Chris Mefford about his kids playing together more and having meaningful conversations after he recently cut off the TV. Dino Evangelista told me his family has been TV free for a year, and it’s the best thing he’s ever done.

I want to hear about all the great stuff you’re doing instead of TV.

Invite some friends…start a movement!

Retweet this, email it, talk it up!  Let’s put together a case study of how much meaningful productivity is increased for one month when a bunch of change agents get together and take action on a simple challenge:  Pull The Plug.

Already TV Free? Leave an encouraging comment for someone who’s not sure they’re ready to take on the challenge.

Update: 4/8/10

For you golf enthusiats…I guess this is cheating a little bit.  But it’s not technically TV, and it still falls in line with being an intentional consumer.  At least you won’t be tempted to leave it on all night when it’s over.

I’m sure I just lost some points with the wives who made their husbands get on board with this.  Sorry.  At least it’s over in 3 days.

5 Tips For a Zero Based Inbox

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on March 31, 2010

My email inbox is my daily to do list

I even email myself reminders when I’m out since I have trained myself to regularly read and respond to every – single – one.  (Notice I said respond and not reply).

As I write this post there are only 2 emails in my inbox.  This is fairly normal even though my inbox sees anywhere between 50 to 150 new messages per day.  I travel quite a bit, attend meetings and make phone calls just like everyone else.

It is not easy or natural for me to keep my inbox cleaned out, but thanks to encouraging posts like this one from 43 Folders, I have become relentless in the discipline of staying on top of email correspondence.  I’ve learned that if you don’t manage your email, it will manage own you.

You have the tools – use them

Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up that help me grease the bearings on the revolving email door:

  1. Use your calendar: I specifically schedule time for email.  If a meeting request comes in for that time, I’m just simply not available.  I start each day with 30 minutes of email time where I scan my inbox and hit some quick forwards and replies.  Emails that involve projects or lengthier responses get dropped into a calendar appointment specifically scheduled for working on that task.  The last 30 minutes of every day is blocked off to clear out my inbox at all cost.  I leave the office almost every single day with zero emails lurking behind.
  2. Use your team: A lot of times I receive an email that would be better handled by other players on my team.  Rather than feeling obligated to answer someone’s question, I reply and copy 2-3 other people and simply ask, “Hey Guys, What are your thoughts on this?” or “What can we do to help with this?”.  Many times a dialogue will ensue that results in everyone else resolving the issue while I just observe the exchange.  The result will often be better than if I had tried to tackle it on my own.
  3. Use your folders: If I’m gathering data or doing research for a project, I don’t let emails related to that project just set up camp in my inbox while they’re waiting around to be executed on.  I drop them in a ‘project folder’, and I put a reminder on my calendar for a time when I need to work on that project.  This way everything is in one place when I’m ready to focus on that project.
  4. Use your backbone: When I get emails that are social in nature or involve looking at something that’s not relevant to my responsibilities to my organization, I’m not above replying with a simple “I’m sorry but I don’t have time to look at this”.  I usually don’t get a reply back to that one.
  5. Use questions: Typically people don’t email us questions because we have the answers and they don’t, but because they’re hoping that we will do the thinking for them.  If I get the sense that someone is being lazy then I like to reply with a question such as: “Do we have enough time to do this?”or,”What are you hoping to accomplish with this information?”or,”What’s our plan if we can’t get this part figured out”or,”Can we chat about this in person?”…you get the idea.  More often than not they’ll reply with a more thought out response that many times ends up resolving their original issue.  The key is getting them to engage!

You can do it

Keeping your inbox clean is difficult, but with some practice you can do it.  You might not be able to do this overnight either because it takes time to implement the right tools that are needed to stay on top of it.  You’ll find yourself adjusting and correcting your processes as you go, but stick with it.  It’s just like surfing – you have to swim your tail off to get on top of the wave but once you’re up, you can ride with just a little effort.  Getting to zero the first time is the hardest part.

Since I’ve adopted this practice I’ve noticed several benefits:

  • I don’t lose emails
  • With few exceptions, I’m able to get back to everyone within a 24 hour period
  • I don’t stress about wondering if there’s something important buried in my inbox that I’m not getting too soon enough
  • I’ve developed a reputation for being dependable in this area
  • I have a greater sense of control of my work throughout the day

What other tips do you have for managing your email flow?  I’d love to hear them!

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