Deliver on Your Word

Sounds simple, right? But what happens when you don’t deliver on your word.  Here is a real life example that happened just a few days ago.

Throughout the year, the Big 12 has been playing the following commercial during every conference game.

The commercial brags that there will be one champion.  The irony: The Big 12 had co-champions this year.  The Big 12’s decision makers couldn’t decide who was better team: Baylor or TCU.

The Big 12’s indecisiveness may have caused their conference a spot in the inaugural college football playoffs.  But instead of blaming the Committee in charge of the playoffs, let’s examine the actual statement from the Big 12.  It’s really simple, deliver on you what you say.

Reputation and Branding

It’s a term marketers and executives use all the time, “Our Brand.”  Regardless if you see branding as a strength or a bunch of malarkey, keeping your word in business is your reputation, and that is part of your brand.  When you go against your word, whether intentional or not, you tarnish your brand.  Once your reputation and brand are damaged, it takes time, energy and money to fix it.  The bad news is that those are resources you could be using to expand your business and increase revenue.  What’s even worse is that depending on how bad it is, it your reputation and brand may never be fully repaired.

Big 12 Example

Big-12-LogosThe following Monday after the Big 12 crowned their co-champions and the College Football Playoff committee named the top four, both national and local sports radio stations started attacking the Big 12.  A local sports show (note that there are no Big 12 teams located near my town of Knoxville, Tennessee) spent nearly an hour dissecting the issues with the Big 12, most notably the fact that there are only 10 teams in the Big 12, which prevents them from hosting a playoff to crown a conference champion. The sports show’s co-host then went on to state how hard it will be to get to two good college sports programs to join the Big 12 due to the fact the conference is not being represented in the inaugural college football playoffs.

Whether this is a short-term or long-term public relations issue for the Big 12, remains to be seen.  Most likely this will fade with time, but the radio host brings up a good point in that it will be hard to recruit a good team and now the Big 12 may have to lower their standards/expectations and bring on two schools that are not of the same caliber as their top performers.

Make Good on Your Word

If the Big 12 would have just picked Baylor as their Big 12 Champion, then maybe…maybe the conference would have a team in the playoffs.

Simply put, if you say you are going to do something, then do it.

But what happens if you can’t deliver on your promise?

  1.  NO overselling: Promise on what you know you can deliver.
  2. Be proactive: Don’t procrastinate; start working on delivering your promise immediately.
  3. Make no excuses: Without compromising your morals or ethics, exhaust every option you have.
  4. Communicate Up Front: If you are running behind on your promise, communicate up front to see if a delay will be a deal breaker.

This all seems like common sense, but unfortunately it happens on a regular basis.  What’s even worse, as customers we accept this type of service and keep giving businesses money for not delivering on their promise. Think about it: how many businesses promise you something and don’t deliver on that promise?  Do they try to make up for it?  If not, do you continue doing business with them?

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Fighting a Mountain

Hatfied McCoy 2014Back in June, I ran my first half marathon of the year.  The Hatfield and McCoy Half Marathon was held June 14th and runs through both West Virginia and Kentucky.  This was a great event for several reasons:

  • Family – Jennifer, Max and I got to spend time with several family members.
  • Nostalgia – I grew up in the great state of West Virginia and (for a short time) the Commonwealth of Kentucky, so it was fun to run in places I haven’t seen since I was a child.
  • Conquering a mountain…this will take more than one sentence.

Part of the half marathon runs up Blackberry Mountain (elevation shown below) making the difference between the minimum and maximum elevation 635 feet.  In other words,  this half marathon was the most difficult run I have ever tried.

Hatfield Mileage

 

Training for this event required more than just running my regular routine.

Conditioning

I had been increasing my running mileage each week, but I realized that wasn’t enough.  In addition to increasing mileage, I also increased the number of hills I would run.  Though running Cherokee Boulevard would be a fun treat, I kicked it up a notch by adding Noelton Drive and Mellen Avenue.  To mix up my weekly runs, I would run the hills in my neighborhood or go to Dowell Springs.  By running different inclines at different levels and points, it conditioned my body to withstand conquering the Mountain.

Core Training

Working on my core, specifically my lower back and hips, really helped with my running.  Having a stronger lower back and abs section allowed me to run further due to having a more solid foundation.  Building my hips enabled me to increase my speed and keep my body more balanced.

New Running Stance

In a previous post, I mention working with the team at Provision Physical Therapy.  They watched me run on a treadmill and showed me a better running form and stance.  They taught me to lean forward and to have a midfoot strike.  This helped me increase my speed, and in the long run, will help prevent certain injuries.

Visualize

Mountain vs Red ViperLeading up to the race, I decided to visualize the Mountain as an actual person/character.  Being a fan of Game of Thrones, I pictured the Mountain as…the Mountain.  As I would run, I picture myself going to battle against The Mountain.  By doing this, I made sure not have the same fate as his victims; more importantly, it allowed me to think of the race in a different, comical position.

Notice how all four of these steps align with one another perfectly. Without the first two points: Conditioning and Core Training, I would not have had the strength to have a new running stance.  Without visualizing the Mountain, I could have lost interest in conditioning every week.

Though these points are tied to running, the same school of thought can be tied to other plans and objectives in life.  Think of your business, does your strategic plan have connected steps that align with your main business objective(s)?  Do you just put something together and hope it works, or do you create a plan that is measurable?

If I would have just went out running three times a week with no plan, I probably could have finished the half marathon, but I wouldn’t have finished with these results:

Hatfield Results 2014

What kind of mountains have you conquered?  Please feel free to share your story in the comments section.

 

7 Centimeters Vs. 13.1 Miles

Measuring TapeAt the beginning of the year, I began a weight loss program that was fueled by a “biggest loser competition” and training for a half-marathon.  The good news is that I won the competition, but the bad news was that I was unable to run the half-marathon due to a nagging injury.  Though I would like to speak more on the victory, this post will focus on the latter and how one small detail can derail big plans.

The injury occurred while completing a run 10 days before the half-marathon.  After the run, my right calf was in extreme pain, to the point it was hard to put weight on it.  After checking with my doctor and two physical therapist, the answer was a little surprising: my left foot was over 7 centimeters shorter than my right foot which caused an overcompensation in the right leg when running.  While training for long distance running, the overcompensation got the best of my calf causing it to be over used and extended.  Fortunately I worked with a fantastic physical therapist (Dean Douglas and his team at Provision Therapy) and am back to my regular distance while improving my overall pace.  With this experience, I was able to take away some points that can be applied to work and life.

Details, Details, Details

devil-details-cartoonEver have a great idea and have it fall apart over one little detail?  Well, that’s what happened to my training.  I’ve also had this happen with projects at work and situations in my life.  I’m sure everyone has run into this problem at one point and has heard the old saying:

The devil is in the details.

How to resolve this?

  • Learn from your mistakes: The best advice I received early in my career was from my mentor Dick Prince.  When I made a big mistake during my first year in banking, Dick could have given me a hard time.  As a member of the Bank’s HR department, he could have easily fired me.  At the very least, he could have lectured me for hours but instead, he asked me what I had learned from the mistake.  After spending a few minutes explaining what had went wrong and how it could have been avoided, I walked away knowing the mistake wouldn’t happen again.
  • Ask for Help: Is asking for help something you struggle with?  It took me a long time to realize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact it shows you are smart enough to know your faults. When it comes to a work project, I have a detailed-oriented person I know and trust review any important work that will have a lasting impact.  I encourage them to pick apart the entire project, and am ready to handle any criticism.

 

Balancing Act

imagesBecause there is a difference in height with my legs, my body is out of balance.  It wasn’t until I started performing balance exercises that I realized how out of balance my body was.  Fortunately no one was around to video my balancing training.

Balance in life is just as important.  Not being focused on the job can lead to a termination; but being so focused on work to the point of neglecting your family can lead to divorce.  Instead of thinking about juggling, think about integration.

Juggling vs Integration

People often think of time management as juggling which often leads to conflict.  This conflict causes an internal struggle of deciding what should be more important in your life.  Instead of thinking of it as choosing one over the other in a battle of supremacy, think about how each positively balances the other.  This type of perception eliminates any negative tendencies and instead focuses on how different aspects of your life complement your total well-being.

Closing the Gap

By keeping an eye on the details and living a balanced life, you will be able to close any gaps in your life.  This will, in turn, help you conquer tough challenges and uncover new opportunities.

Hopefully you have found this post insightful and entertaining.  Again, big props to Provision Therapy.  Check them out at www.provisiontherapy.com or find them on Facebook.

What mistakes have you experienced in life that you have walked away from knowing you won’t make again?

Lead Like Charlemagne

543088_Charlemagne-Crowned-By-Pope-Leo-III-Dec-25-800Over the weekend while watching a documentary of the Dark Ages, I was reminded about Emperor Charlemagne and the lasting impression he left in Europe.  Charlemagne was the first European Emperor after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and brought unity to Europe; though it came at a high price.

But what can business leaders learn from Charlemagne?  Here are a few concepts taken from Charlemagne that can help you and your business succeed.

Religious Conversions: Company Culture

To make sure everyone was on the same page, Charlemagne would convert conquered lands to Christianity.  By “convert” he would give people a choice, follow his God or die.

Though this is an extreme example, it does stand to point that this level of unity helped keep Charlemagne’s rule intact.  Everyone held the same beliefs, publicly had the same values and followed the same rules.

It’s similar to a strong company culture.  By establishing what your company stands for by creating standards, values and believes, you give your staff a general understanding of what you expect of them…just don’t execute them if they fall short.

County Leaders: Accountability

Charlemagne divided his land into several counties and put a person in charge of each county.  He would frequently visit each county leader to see how they were ruling the land and hold them accountable.

This type of hands-on leadership allowed Charlemagne to stay connected to his people and stay ahead of any forseeable issues. Would Charlemagne’s rule have been as vast and long if he would have just stayed locked up in his castle?  Probably not.

Take a page from Charlemagne’s book and let your leaders lead.  True leaders lead those around them by giving them a level of responsibility, examines how that person handles situations, and reacts accordingly.

Education: Education

Charlemagne understood the importance of education.  When coming into power, he was one of only a very small group of leaders that actually learned how to read.  During his time, only monks and other religious leaders placed an importance of literacy; but Charlemagne understood that knowledge is power.

As a leader, it is important to understand that you must always quench your thirst for knowledge.  Reading, taking classes and having a good mentor are just a few ways to continue your educational path.  Learning shouldn’t just end with you, rather you should make sure those around you are seeking knowledge as well.

By creating an accountability system and establishing an educational foundation, you will start laying the foundation of a strong company culture.  You may not become the Emperor of Europe, but who wants that anyway?

Which historical leader do you look to for business and/or life lessons?  Is there a historical leader who’s traits you admire?  If so share your opinion in the comments section.

Where Have You Been?

Question MarksOn New Year’s Day, while attending an annual brunch hosted by my good friend Dave May, another good friend, Dave Lewis, made the comment, “Are you still blogging?  I haven’t seen any recent post.”

While explaining to Dave why I haven’t been blogging two things came to mind:

  1. Since moving to Knoxville over 5 years ago, I have came to know several people named Dave/David.
  2. Has it been that long since writing a post?

It’s true, there hasn’t been any writing lately.   There are a few new post that will go live in the days to come, but instead of just jumping back in the route like an automated program, I thought addressing the absence of writing would be a good start.  Which got me thinking: what have I been doing?

  • Keeping up with Max
  • Spending time with Jennifer
  • Running from time to time
  • Work
  • Reading
  • Light traveling
  • Watching football
  • Lots of playing Madden on the Xbox

I’m not saying life got in the way of blogging, it’s just blogging wasn’t a priority.  I had choices and blogging wasn’t one of them.  There are two activities that could have been reduced to make time for blogging, and if you don’t know which two I’m talking about, maybe you should take a look at your own activities.

For now, I’m writing again and the goal is to find enough balance so that I don’t have to write a quick post about an absence.

So for those few (very, very few) readers out there…

Im back Frank Costanza

It’s 2014 and time to start anew.  Sorry for the absence.  Hopefully I’ll be able to produce material that’s enjoyable and informative.

What have you been absent from lately?  Was it worth it or do you miss it?

Spinning Your Wheels

spin_classEver hear someone say they’re “busy.”  Whether it’s a coworker or friend, every time I hear the word busy, it usually comes out like this:

I’m so busy, I don’t have time to think.

or this:

I just don’t know what I’m going to do.  I’m just too busy.

Not to sound cynical, but if busy people would spend less time complaining and worrying about getting things done, they could actually be productive and…get things done.  Instead they have a mindset that keeps them spinning their wheels in mud.

That’s why there is a big difference between busy people and productive people.  Both types of people have the same amount of time in the day, but what’s the difference?  Here are few examples.

Busy People

Productive People

Busy People tend to complain they have no time to get things done

Productive People tend to get things done with little to no complaining

Busy People look to other people for sympathy and compassion

Productive People look to other people for help and advice

Busy People only see the negative in the projects they are working on

Productive People see the positive in the projects they are working on

Busy People never get finished

Productive People set milestones until the project is completed

When it comes down to it, there are two major factors between busy and productive people: Planning and Mindset

Planning

game-planBy nature, I’m not a details oriented person; however I don’t use that as an excuse.  In order to plan, I create a strong outline that is flexible, just in case I left a detail out of the plan.  This allows me to stay on track and if I ever drift too far away, I have can always go back to the plan.

In order to get things done efficiently, a game plan must be established.  Whatever works for you as far as planning, do it:

  • Write down a set of goals
  • Create a timeline
  • Outline a to-do list

If you’re not use to creating a plan, then the first step will be the hardest.  Just remember, the sooner you begin organizing and planning, the sooner you move away from being busy and begin the path to productivity.

Mindset

Success-MindsetBeing able to plan is a mindset.  Some people naturally fall into a planning mindset; while others find it difficult to plan.

For those who aren’t natural-born planners, setting a planning mindset can be difficult.  Here are some steps to get into the new mindset.

  1. Get past the first hurdle: After you pass the first task you planned out, review it.  What did you do right?  Where can you improve in planning? You may find that you over analyzed your plan or didn’t plan well enough.
  2. Keep planning: Remember practice makes perfect.  Each time you plan something out, the more you will improve.
  3. Don’t get discouraged: If you find yourself discouraged, think about the alternative; going back to no plan.  If you still find yourself discouraged, find someone who can help you plan.  Don’t seek sympathy, seek out support.

By retraining your brain, you will create a better environment around you and eventually the concept of planning will come second nature.

Moving from a busy believe system to a productive lifestyle isn’t easy, but it is rewarding.  It allows you to see things more clearly, which removes unnecessary stress in your life.  By removing unnecessary stress, you become a little happier in life, which makes you appreciate life a little more.

So, what steps do you take to plan out your day?  Are you a natural planner or do you have to work at it?

Accountability: Double Dose

A fellow coworker (for the sake of keeping this semi-anonymous, let’s call this person Larry) has decided to run a marathon this year.  Not just any particular marathon, he is participating in the Knoxville Manathon, which is held on April 1st.  When Larry first told me about this, I was excited for him and immediately shared this information with other coworkers bragging about his decision to commit to this great challenge.

A few days later Larry showed a level of discomfort when we started discussing his plans in front of a business associate.  When I asked why he had and issue with it, he said:

I would prefer to mention it a day or two before the race.  That way people are surprised.  Plus if I don’t run….

I stopped him mid sentence asked, “What do you mean if you don’t run?”

If this would have been anybody else, I would have cared less; but this guy was different.  For about a year now Larry has started exercising more and has even motivated me to increase my workout regimen.  Without knowing it, Larry had been inspiring me to do better and I wanted to help keep him on track.

I reminded him that when you mentally commit to something, it is vital to verbally recognize it to an audience.

  • You have openly acknowledged what you plan on doing, which lays the mental groundwork.
  • Openly expressing it creates a bond with those you share your plan with and thus establishes a level of accountability.

Now that said, here’s the problem, I was out of line.  I tried so hard to keep someone else accountable that I overstepped my boundaries.

If Larry didn’t want to share this information with fellow co-workers, that was Larry’s decision, NOT mine.  For all I know, Larry could have told his friends and family about his decision to run the Knoxville Marathon and they are keeping him motivated.  This was a bad move on my end and I am sorry for how I acted.

Now apply this level of accountability to business.  When you and your company creates a strategic plan, what happens?  Does the plan get created just to keep the Board of Directors off your back for another year, or do you share the plan with those within your organization?  If you choose the latter, then you are starting on the right path, but how are you communicating it in your organization?  Is it positive or is it negative?  Are you openly sharing information that you should be communicating or are you stealing somebody’s thunder?

Since I have given Larry such a hard time, I will share a commitment I have made this year.  In May, I will cycle from Knoxville to Chattanooga in one day.  Larry has been a strong motivator and I am sure he will continue to keep me in check and hold me accountable.

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