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What keeps you awake at night?

Are you an aspiring professional who can’t foresee a seamless transition from college graduation to the work force?  In my previous blog, I introduced Candace, a college senior and explained I would follow up with more posts showing how she used the strategic analysis process she learned from our book Think to Win (TTW) to find her dream job. In this post, I will show how she started her search.

She decided instead of wasting time staying up nights worrying about getting a great job and paying student loans; she would put her knowledge to good use and follow the suggestions in the book. She reread the first three chapters of TTW and began her research to discover exactly what the market was for a college senior seeking her first professional position and where was the best location to look.

Talking to classmates, the conversation about getting a good job right out of college frequently comes up. Everyone seems to bring up the current assumption; finding your place in the workforce is a difficult process. Candace recalled two main ideas from TTW; challenge assumptions and get the facts. This made sense to her so she used her research skills to find hard evidence about the current and future job markets.

Candace’s next step was to be realistic about the geographic range in which she should do her job search. She had often dreamed of moving to California after college but this wasn’t the best time. Candace, like most college seniors has student loans and a cross country move was not realistic. Instead, she focused her job search on the Northeast looking at the Big Apple and Boston. For now she wanted to stay home where she could still enjoy mom’s home cooking, and a free place to live as well as a chance to save money for future moves or to double down on loan payments.

Candace began to think that her job search might not be as stressful as she though. She believes that the ideas in Think To Win have helped her see what to do to succeed in finding her first professional position. She realized that by doing the research and being realistic she was ready to start her search. In the next step of her job search, Candace will need to evaluate her goals and abilities and see where they fit in the real world job market.

Do you find yourself in a similar situation as Candace?

List three things that are keeping you awake at night:

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Make a list of assumptions you have about your current/future job market:

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Now, go challenge these assumptions!

 

For more visit thinktowin.net

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GlobalEdg Leadership Diary #3 — Your Competitive Advantage — What makes you standout & win?

winningA few years ago my brother and our wives were vacationing at a resort in Florida. On our second night there, we were sitting on the balcony of our room enjoying the warm weather and the incredible view of the Ocean. Shortly we noticed a steady stream of people heading to the poolside patio … dressed in business casual attire – each wearing a nametag. They were headed to a corporate company cocktail party.   As we looked on with curiosity, we began noticing a similar pattern. As people were getting closer to the patio they seemed to behave in a similar way — hand to the head to make sure their hair was in place, as well as a quick glance down at their nametag to see if it was visible and not upside down. There were even similar facial expressions – eyes darting around and a slight smile (either excitement or nervous laughter). Even the pace of walking began to change and each seemed to pick up as they were closer to the party. While observing, my brother and I found ourselves talking about how similar we often found ourselves behaving – preparing to make the right impression. We were putting on our “game face” at such corporate events.

The game? how to stand out and win…with the people we work with/for. The cocktail party illustration can be a small example of how we try to differentiate ourselves at work. Obviously the real way to stand out is with the contributions you make to your organization.

Winning is defined in different ways by each of us; however, we only win when we are able to realize we all have unique gifts that allow us to differentiate ourselves from others in our chosen professions … we all have a unique way of delivering value — competitive advantage in one way or another. The question remains how do we know what it is. In our book Think to Win, we outline how both teams and individuals can address this. The process is simple yet compelling – a few questions can serve as criteria — Consider the following:

  • What really differentiates us?
  • Is it something no one else could say about themselves?
  • What is the source of this?
  • How do we sustain it?

Using the tools of business are important and applicable to us personally. What differentiates you? How are you leveraging it? We all have unique gifts and ultimately stand out at any cocktail party.

To gain insight on how Thinking to Win can help your business and life at http://www.thinktowin.net/.

 

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GlobalEdg Leadership Diary #2: I wish I would have “got this” earlier in my career!

Earlier in my career, I was a young sales manager for a healthcare company with a mentor who “taught” me the importance of setting the right priorities. It was about the numbers! “Your number one priority is hitting your quota – that’s how you get ahead – that’s why we hired you!” Well guess what happened, the job became about hitting the numbers. Sales meetings became about setting priorities, numbers, quotas, targets etc. We couldn’t wait to get out of those “dreadful” sales planning meetings. I look back upon those days – they seem kind of silly now. We were missing something really important. If I had only thought differently – what might have been possible?

Earlier this month, I was facilitating an executive retreat for a major healthcare company and something very important took place. Imagine a room filled with senior executives who were there to discuss and align on the 2016 priorities for the business. The conversation that followed was truly remarkable.

I started out by asking the executives (there were about 40 of them in the room) two questions:

  • The first question was how many of you come to work each day trying to lose money for the company? As you can imagine – a few chuckles were followed by no hands being raised.
  • The second question I asked was how many of you think your work makes a difference in the lives of others? All the hands went up!

A very interactive dialogue centered on what are the “priorities on behalf of.” Yes, the team needed to execute around things that were going to drive growth, productivity, and innovation; and, that did happen – but in a different and more purposeful way. The whole conversation shifted to “purpose” and stories of how patients and health care professionals benefited from the company’s products and services.   Throughout the retreat –when a priority discussion ensued –it was often followed by a quick story on how that decision would impact clients and / or patients while supporting the desired business results.

A priority conversation during a business meeting allows people to quickly align around what results the business must produce. Now that is not silly.

www.thinktowin.net

Leadership – What was I learning early in my career? Not what Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings is teaching!

netflixWhy is this memory imprinted in my brain? Although this happened to me over 25 years ago, I remember it so vividly. This article triggered it again! (Link below)

I was a newly promoted manager who had “made it” – being promoted to the home office. During the first few weeks in my new assignment, I was working late when the President of the Division walked by my office door. He stopped, looked in my office –then directly at me and said “You are a hard worker aren’t you?”  He smiled and then said, “I am impressed.”

Why was that important? Well it sent a message to a young and ambitious manager –so much so that I found myself cultivating that reputation. I wanted to be known as one of the hardest working managers in the company. I often found myself looking out the window in the early evening – seeing whose car was still parked outside. It also became a “game” to brag about how many unused vacation days I had at the end of the year. I wanted to be known as the hard working “problem solver.”

Looking back, it seems really silly now. I became burnt out at an early age. Fortunately I was able to recover through the help of good coaching, mentoring and family support.

I am sure I did solve some problems – but where did it get me, my team and ultimately the organization? We had success, but I know we missed our potential because I did not work smart.

It is not about activity it is about results. That happens when you are able to step back and give yourself time to thinking about what is most important. It is only when your shift your mind to results versus activity are you able to win. Then you become the strategic leader who Thinks to Win!

The Next generation of leaders are the ones who will get it right.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/netflix-ceo-reed-hastings-takes-163759505.html

www.thinktowin.net

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Are you stuck in your job search? Think to WIN!

Consider this,

For Candace, a promising college senior, the thought of paying off her student loans was a constant worry, keeping her awake nights wondering how to land her dream job; the job that would pay her loans and satisfy her desire to learn and advance in her field.  Candace knew it would be difficult, yet she became increasingly frustrated when her search was getting her nowhere. As many young professionals learn, being thrown into the real world can be a daunting task when you are not secure in your skills and what you can bring to a new job. A key step missing in Candace’s dream job process was how to assess her skills and find out what she needed to succeed in a world where most recent college graduates and alumni are unemployed. For Candace’s business management class she was assigned to read Think to Win but she never realized how essential it would be in helping her with her own career search. She found out what she needed was a strategic tool to help with her job search and Think to Win was that tool.

As we worked on writing Think to Win (TTW) we were gratified at myriad ways this analytical process could be used for a host of other applications. Beyond our business model, TTW offers a path to become a winner whether you are changing professions, planning to retire or setting up a nonprofit organization. Whenever important decisions need to be made you will find the TTW process a proven winner. With basic principles to guide you and your evidence based research to answer your questions, the TTW methodology directs you to the best options for your particular inquiry. Like strengthening a muscle, the more you use the process the more adapt you’ll become at using it. From there you will see what a convenient guide you have to make decisions, big and small, when you face the multiple demands of life.

I will be posting a series of blogs about Candace and how she used the TTW analytical process to find her dream job. You’ll learn how she challenged the conventional wisdom about job availability and used evidence- based data to understand the true job opportunities. She examined her goals and worked out the strategies it would take to accomplish them. From reading Candace’s story you too can begin to look at decision making in a new light. 

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Content Free Values? Not with a Winner like Shaka Smart!

Even if you are not a sports fan – here is a valuable lesson in living values. Being a big college basketball fan, myself and many other VCU alumni were deeply saddened when we lost our basketball coach. Shaka Smart, one of the most sought after coaches in the country is known for building winning programs. I mean winning in the big sense –not just in wins and losses on the basketball court. He won with his players, the university the fans and the community. He is now the head basketball coach at the University of Texas where he was hired to do just that.

While flipping through my weekly issue of Sports illustrated, I was presently surprised to find an article about him. Written by Brain Hamilton, Attack the Day: Shaka Smart instilling his style in first summer at Texas highlights Coach Smart’s leadership style. The part of the article which resonated with me most was the importance he places on values and how he expects all players to make them real. When Values are just labels – they are content free and are meaningless.

How does he do this? By having each player live them! Here is an example of how we does it with the teams value of “appreciation” wants to manifest the value of “Appreciation.” Here is an excerpt from Sports Illustrated writer Brian Hamilton’s article:

Smart is gifted with uncommon charisma and a relentlessly positive outlook, but he is just like every other coach taking on a new job. He must motivate strangers to buy what he is selling. This is Appreciation Monday, and Smart gives every player homework. Each must demonstrate nonverbal appreciation to someone that day—a hug, a smile—and report back. “It’s tough to do,” says Holland, who will fulfill his duty by hugging the strength coaches, “but he wants to hear about it.” Smart demands that his players live his core values.

Leaders who produce results are able decide what is most important and bring those concepts to life in order to achieve results. In our strategy planning retreats with senior leaders, we will we often ask people to take out a blank sheet of paper and write down their company values. It is not uncommon to see some struggle with this exercise — much less be able to provide examples of how people live them. Values expressed and lived are an important part of any organization. The set the tone for the culture – which ultimately is what Strategy rides on.

We could all learn from coach Smart – he Thinks To Win

www.thinktowin.net

The Power of the Taylor Swift Brand

apple.swiftI have enjoyed following the Apple – Taylor Swift story. Apple Music is a streaming music service, scheduled to launch this month. As a promotion for its consumers, it is offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. Sounds great – one problem it was not planning on paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. Enter Taylor Swift!
Last year, Fortune ranked Apple as the most powerful brand in the world. According to Forbes, the Apple brand is worth $124.2 billion and almost twice as much as any other brand in their annual study of the world’s most valuable brands. It has tremendous credibility and leverage and they have continuously leveraged that in the marketplace.
Well how about the Taylor Swift brand? It is also meaningful and significant! We believe Apple made the right choice on this one –what do you think?

Read the New York times article below
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/23/business/media/as-quick-as-a-taylor-swift-tweet-apple-had-to-change-its-tune.html?_r=0

Stephen Curry NBA Champion: how to challenge assumptions and think like a winner!

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NBA’s Champion Stephen Curry busted every assumption people have been making about him. He knows his strengths and further develops them into a competitive advantage. Dan Wetzel provides us with a beautiful example of how to challenge assumptions and think like a winner.

Curry worked hard to build those strengths into a collective competitive advantage. Wetzel writes — he just kept developing what he could — an even better shooting touch, more floaters, ever-refined ball-handling skills, even smarter understanding of spacing and pacing and passing. Hard work, and focusing on what is most important can do to lead your team there. He knows what is unique about him and leverages that to win! Curry proves he is a leader and leaders win!

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/stephen-curry-leads-warriors-to-nba-title-his-way-040538108.html

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I wish I had learned this sooner

I wish I had learned this sooner — 3 lessons in leadership by non-profit leaders – how they think to win!

Rolling up your sleeves and working with the executive director and a board of a non-profit provides some of the best training for leaders I know. Invest the time and see how they …

  1. Make decisions that truly balance the financial health of the organization with the organization’s mission. Think about it — without money there is no mission – yet without mission there is no money.
  2. Manage “volunteers” who can come and go much easier than employees — they are experts at building relationships and using influencing skills.
  3. Use the collective thinking and expertise of key stakeholders to identify the best strategic options. A lack of resources requires them to reach out for help. The ego is on behalf of making a difference with their organization.

FIFA in Crisis – A Lack of Leadership

Here it happens again, the power of NOT doing the right thing. It is ultimately a failure in leadership isn’t it? A lack of ethical leadership is a road that leads to disaster.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is an association governed by Swiss law founded in 1904 and based in Zurich. It has 209 member associations and its goal, enshrined in its Statutes, is the constant improvement of football (Soccer to U.S.A. Fans).

While I was an executive at Gillette, one of the values we held dearly was of ethics. It had been one of the founding principles of the organization for over 100 years.  Additional emphasis was placed on ethics with the new CEO, Jim Kilts, in 2001.  He reinforced it by how he ran the company.  It became one of our 3 core values.

INTEGRITY – Mutual respect and ethical behavior are the basis for our relationships with colleagues, customers and the community. Fair practice is the hallmark of the Company.

When Gillette merged with Procter and Gamble in 2005, it was no different. Over 30,000 Gillette associates received additional training on P&G’s business ethics as well as the purpose, principles and practices of the combined company. This was accomplished within the first 30 days of the merger.

Warren Buffet said it best, “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”  A person’s dishonesty will eventually catch up to them. It may not be today, and it may not be for many years, but you can rest assured that at some point there will always be a reckoning.

By the way, Buffett was on the board of Gillette when Jim Kilts was hired to help turn the company around.