What have my kids have taught me about leadership?
Fatherhood has transformed my leadership style. Parenting and leadership are not synonyms but they are intimately related. At the core, I believe parenting is about developing leaders. Isn’t the core of business to develop great leaders?
- Dance: If you dance well then they will begin to mimic your every move. As a parent this is a scary thought. Often in business we don’t think those we lead will dance like us but they do.
- Sleep: My wife deserves high praise for her parenting skills. At the top is her dedicated commitment to the sleep patterns of our kids. I personally learned about the value of great/long sleep by watching the behavioral difference between kids with good sleep and kids without. It’s amazing. Leaders don’t talk enough to their employees about sleep, but we should. There can be a case made that an employee with great sleep habits is a happy, thoughtful and energetic employee – this becomes contagious employee.
- Emotions: Have you hugged those you lead lately? (VIDEO) watch this 90 second video to answer this question.
- Clear Direction: If I surprise my kids and say, “It’s bed time right now” I’ll get push back. I almost never get push back when I say, “10 more minutes till bed time.” In 10 minutes they are ready for bed. Employees just need clarity of direction without surprises.
- Decisions = Core Values: Major decisions are rooted in a core value. Do you know the core values of your kids? Last week one of my kids seemed to be making an odd choice and I could not understand the decision. Then I asked, would you make the same choice if one of your friends wasn’t part of the trip. “Absolutely not, I would make a different decision.” One of his core values is “quality time with friends.” Most major decisions are made from core values. Do you know what the core values of those individuals you lead?
I think we can all sometimes be reminded of how important it is as leaders to find ways to “hug” those we lead. So as we move into the following weeks, how can you be nurturing those around you, those who support you, and those who depend on you?
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“The game of chess originated in present-day India during the sixth century CE, the time of the Gupta Empire. It was invented by a very clever man who traveled to Pataliputra the capital city, and presented his brainchild to the emperor. The ruler was so impressed by the difficult, beautiful game that he invited the inventor to name his reward. The inventor said, sure – give me a grain of rice and double it for every square on the chess board. The emperor quickly responded, sure I can do this.” Question, what happens next?
- The inventor lost his head
- The emperor lost his country
In the Second Machine Age, the author uses this illustration to remind us all how fast data is currently doubling and how we are currently entering into the 2nd half of the chess board and how the numbers become indescribable. Even if you disagree with the transformative power of Moore’s Law it’s a mental game changer.
Books have the ability to let us see the world differently. It’s my belief blogs are 15 second advertisements and videos will give us another 60-90 seconds which are tremendous connections at the surface. Books, on the other hand, have the opportunity to take you into the depth of thinking which will change your life forever. Ask someone what is the best book they have read recently and it will be interesting what their answer is…and it will tell you a lot about them.
Here are a few books I have read recently which I highly recommend:
- The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
“In the next twenty-four months, the planet will add more computer power than it did in all previous history. Over the next twenty-four years, the increase will likely be over a thousand-fold.”
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
If Big Data is your bacon then this book allows you to eat a little slower.
- Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
If you have aging parents, this is a must read.
- A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger
What happens if you you sleep with a question?
Here are a few worldview game changer books:
- The Evolving Self by Robert Kegan
- The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe
Maybe history is not linear but cyclical/seasonal?
- Lexus and Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman
- The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
You can rarely ever predict a black swan – you make money on their coattails. *If you want to see what happens when you can predict a Black Swan read The Big Short.
Enrich someone’s life by sharing your best worldview game changer book and your recent best read book!
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I picked up the phone and my wife’s quivering voice on the other end said, “Jeff, the results of Grace’s test came back and the doctor just called and said I need to quickly take Grace to Children’s Hospital and pack a bag – they are waiting for us.” If you have ever had one of those calls then gratitude is not the first topic which comes to mind. Gratefully, cancer was not the final diagnosis but rather a nasty infection with a tedious operation and a 2 week recovery Grace returned home in full health. Living in the unknown for 2 weeks changed me forever. I became acutely aware of my gratitude for amazing doctors, friends and family. The further we move away from life changing events the more difficult it becomes not to be desensitized to our deeper gratitude’s of life.
Here are 5 significant perspectives on the acute awareness of gratitude:
- HOPE KILLS:Too much focus on a potential future event can blindly disconnect you to those around us. Living in the future creates hope but often we lose the appreciation for the people and circumstances in the daily journey.
- PAST KILLER: I’m a big believer of knowing your own story, however, our inability as Elsa in Frozen reminds us to, “Let it go.” Yes, I have two amazing daughters and I’m teaching them daily to “let it go”…ok maybe they are teaching me. As Grace told me with her notorious eye-rolls. “Dad, we know, we know, the Steelers stole a Super Bowl, enjoy the one you have.” – Go Hawks!
- EXPECTATION KILLER:Probably the greatest killer of gratitude is high expectations. When people with high expectations achieve their goals, the goal was expected, therefore never fully appreciated.
- PRIDE KILLER:Humility breeds gratitude, embrace it. Pride and gratitude rarely co-exist.
- UN-GRATITUDE KILLER: SEE video for a clear definition. When we come to realize all of our un-gratitude it becomes an untapped endless emotional resource.
In the first company I started my self-inflected high hopes, high expectations and pride all combined to become a silent 800 pound emotional gorilla which quickly killed my passion, vision and soon after played a major role in killing the company. Identification of these 5 silent killers of gratitude is the first step in embracing gratitude as a way of life.
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In 2006 Boeing executive Alan Mulally stepped into the boardroom as CEO of Ford Motor Company, staring into the oncoming headlights of a 17 billion dollar loss of revenue. When asked what the turnaround moment was, Alan quickly responded with this story. “I implemented a simple “Red, Yellow, Green” score card system for mangers across the company, to find our areas of concern. On the first week with my company leaking red oil I was fascinated to find all score cards came up 100% green. No red! I looked across the table at my team and said, ‘with a $17 billion loss don’t you think we can find some red issues? Then I went directly out to the frontlines and found a few RED issues. The following week while I was in front my executive team there was 1 Red line on all of the score cards. I looked across the table at my executive team and I slowly started to clap…..!” In the following weeks RED’s started showing up everywhere and the 17 billion loss turned quickly into profit once again for Ford Motor Company.
Here are 5 Significant Perspectives when “Trust Syncs with Data.”
#5 Data speaks like a King: Are you listening to your Data – because it will speak to you. If your systems have no way of speaking back to you, how do you know if it’s working? It takes discipline to seek out the voices of data but it allows you to hear both the lows and highs simultaneously telling what direction to go.
#4 Data De-Personalizes Mistakes: When your Data speaks to you, it de-personalizes the mistakes. Everyone can see where the mistakes are happening from a higher perspective, allowing the team to focus upon individuals. Data allows everyone to see high above, down under and around corners. #Churchill #seefarbackseefarforward
#3 Data creates Trust: When the team knows a leader is not focused upon individual mistakes but the system as a whole everyone at the table can start to clap. Data can lead to safe environments.
#2 Data Celebrates: Most of the time the RED’s will be much lower than Green and when everyone can see you are doing well, celebrating the GREEN creates team chemistry to focus the fight on the RED’s.
#1 Data synced with Trust = Innovation: Innovation happens at the highest point where Data and Trust intersect. Communication is safe and clear allowing the mind to relax, at which point the flow of small details appear from the oncoming lights and your team turns innovatively RED hot.
In the video I explain how GoNetYourself teams experienced firsthand this type of Data-Trust sync. Data + Trust allows your teams to focus more on tweaking the system rather than each other. Data is a powerful tool for both innovation and communication.
Russell Wilson often says, “Separation is in the preparation”. My question is does this slogan apply to everyone no matter what your age? I cannot foresee every curveball life will throw my way but I’m still learning to prepare for them. If we prepare in 5 foundational areas of life then we’ll be prepared for the moments of great separation.
Here are the 5 Key areas of my preparation:
- Prepare your Character: I once had an innocent conversation with an All-American player from Penn State about his legendary coach Joe Paterno and if Joe would catch Bobbie Bowden’s all time win record. Our conversation can be summed up with his one comment, “Jeff, you don’t know Joe… it’s all about the win, it’s always all about the wins.” Hindsight now reveals Joe’s character flaw of pride allowed him to overlook one of college football’s greatest tragedies. Joe now has “no recorded wins.”
- Prepare your Knowledge: A lifetime of learning has always been a part of my DNA. It’s allowed for me to transition relatively smoothly between careers. I read a lot but there’s definitely still a passion for reading and going deeper. *Life is found in the footnotes! – Book of the Month: Antifragile by Nassim Taleb
- Prepare your Relationships: Let me ask you, have you heard a painful truth about yourself in the past 90 days? If no, then it might be an indication your relationships are not being prepared well. Allow people close to you!
- Prepare your Self: Know yourself. It’s crazy to think I’m pushing 50 but I have not stopped learning about myself. Brutally honest self-evaluation drives meaning in my life, more importantly it infects those around me. *The Evolving Self by Robert Kegan
- Prepare by Giving: Gratitude + Giving are the steroids of life. Gratitude is the blood flow and giving is the heartbeat of all great preparation. Seeing the world from the perspective “it’s not about you” is the center piece of all preparation. When we live with gratitude and “give well” all other 4 disciplines, yes I said disciplines, can function with greater meaning.
I have always said my purpose in life is to, “walk deep, love well, and prepare like hell”. The “separation is in the preparation” isn’t a motto but a way of life. As I told my son Cyrus (see video), “You will have many times to either prepare or not care; most people choose to not care enough to prepare. Make sure you care enough.”
*A great professor once taught me if you want to understand history, read deeply into just one great individual story and the history of the world will open up in front of you. He said, “Remember Jeff, to make sure you read the footnotes – this is where you find gold.”
As I strolled around the streets of Disneyland last month, I wondered what Disneyland had to teach me. As you can imagine I was brailing the culture and attempting to connect with my kids and my own inner child. Here are a few thoughts I had about life, leadership and connecting deeper while waiting in a few non fast-pass lines:
- Connection: The brilliance of Walt Disney was his ability to enter into the mind of a child and connect. Leadership at its most basic level is to wholeheartedly walk down the street of Disneyland while enjoying the smells, the feeling, the creativity, and slowly wandering alongside the mind of those you need to lead. Connection is not only seeing with their eyes but feeling their experience.
- Music Matters: I entered Disneyland at 7:30 a.m. to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story and departed to Mary Poppins, “A Spoon Full of Sugar.” As you move through the park it is sheer genius how Disney assimilates your emotions depending upon the moment. It’s easy for me when leading to forget some of the most basic emotional connection points.
- Disneyland vs California Adventure: We asked our kids after going to each theme park which they preferred. We quickly realized our 6-9 year olds enjoyed California Adventure more than Disneyland. Why? Because they connected with Buzz Light Year, Cars and all of the animations over the past 10 years. If we desire to connect we must connect not only at their level but within their culture.
- Book to Read: Clued In by Lewis Carbone states at the core that every family (I added team we manage) is built upon “an experience” that will be remembered. How will yours be remembered?
- Details Matter: Did you know Disney keeps their ice cream at a certain temperature just to ensure that kids and parents will not have bad memories of melting ice cream? I often forget to apply the principle “minor details matter” to my leadership.
The video above is how I applied what I’m constantly re-learning.
Alright, I confess, I have seen the movie Frozen…twice. I have two girls.
There’s a simple, yet powerful message to be had here: Connection.
“Continuous Visual Content” is all about attempting to connect. What Anna was really asking her sister was “Do you want to connect with me?” It’s an invitation, in a way…to do business with you. You can’t do this when the person you’re trying to reach is hiding behind the door. Anna had to ask Elsa 1,000 times, in different ways. She had to pursue her to the ends of the earth. Now that’s passion. Persistence. It takes multiple tries, and you gotta love what you’re all about. If you don’t, people will never respond.
Continuous Visual Content allows you to pursue anybody, wherever they are; show them our authentic message. But just like Elsa, they need to be reminded and shown and different ways, which is why continuous is so important.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned about visual content:
- K.I.S.S. – As my son says, “Keep It Super Simple.” We don’t say stupid in our house. In video less is more and attempting to do too much will get you shut down quickly.
- Have fun. People don’t want to be a part of something that seems impersonal.
- Be authentic. Stories are powerful. Give your audience something to relate to, cheer for let them see hear your real side.
- Know yourself and what you’re doing. Let them know who you are, your passions, your beliefs…
- Do it well. Home videos are great for YouTube, but you gotta be willing to show people you’re serious. Good videos, clear message, real people.
So, I’m going to ask you one more time: Do you want to build a snowman?
|Give a Video. Get a Video. Free.
Introducing the GoNetYourself Referral Program
Go to gonetyourself.com/refer for details.
Can you imagine being on one of the Seahawk parade buses riding through the streets of Seattle with your entire family? Right before the Seahawks toured the streets of Seattle, my friend Freddy sent a quick text asking for 2 tickets into the Seahawks party at Century Link. Freddy’s friend said, “Sure, but you need to pick up the tickets at the Hawks practice facility”. So Freddy quickly turned his car around drove to Renton and through crazy circumstances his entire family ended up on the Seahawks parade bus traveling through the streets of Seattle to a million cheering fans. It was a crazy story and exciting adventure for his family. All of this was started by one simple “ask.”
It got me to wondering how much of life’s adventure do we miss out on because we are too fearful to ask?
The power of “the ask” has never been my weakness so here are a few significant things I’ve learned.
- Asking needs to be seen as “an invitation” to something greater not as something to be taken or sold.
- When inviting your kids, spouse or team members to connect deeper remember rarely will it happen on the first invitation.
- Asking is rooted in giving. Seek first to give. The art of being a pure giver is giving without manipulation or getting something in return. People will know the difference over time.
- Most people who don’t like to ask, are often worried about feeling or being seen as needy. I have learned “asking” is the pivotal point of connection which may lead to unseen adventures.
- …with asking comes rejection – now get over it!
When we ask we may we may take everyone around us on a ride they will never forget.
What is it? It’s the lack of Authenticity.
Last week I had an opportunity to sit and listen to 125 college student leaders from across our state. What I heard was powerful. Here is what I continue to re-learn from our current “Feed Gen,” to Woodstock-Boomers, and all the way back to David in the Psalms: authenticity has an irresistible gravitational pull. Authenticity is difficult to define; it’s a little like pornography, “you know it when you see it.”
It got me thinking, what are the clues to real authenticity?
- Authenticity is rooted in time. I’m not sure I can be authentic when I’m in a rush. Deeper questions, longer eye contact and real empathy can only be created with quality time.
- Authenticity is passionate about the truth embraced and accepted within myself. Have you ever met a person who is simply “ok” with themselves?
- Authenticity gives the “all in” permission to a few close relationships. When “all in” permission is practiced with a “few,” authenticity is contagious in a crowd. See video above as example.
- Authenticity is similar to humility; once we think we are humble, we are not.
- Authenticity is more about the awareness of others and less about the awareness of myself – although it’s a balance.
I’m still convinced the greatest indicator of our authenticity is our ability to give those close to us permission to speak truth into our lives or brands. Let me ask, “When was the last time a team member/teenager/customer asked you a question that rocked your world?” Authenticity is created when you give people permission to speak into your life.
Big ponds or small ponds?
Every parent or leader should read chapter 3 of Malcolm Gladwell’s, David and Goliath when he argues, “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a little fish in a big pond. Most often highly intelligent students enter the big ponds of Ivy League schools, only to be washed away in a sea of big pond frustration.” Gladwell argues that our chances of success are exponentially higher in small ponds.
I started to wonder how to create small ponds of success across all areas of life. In the video my son Cyrus was struggling one night with math until I created a smaller pond.
A small pond might be as simple as creating an achievable goal.
Ponds are a metaphor for measureable and achievable areas in your life. What if we created smaller ponds for ourselves and not try to compete against everyone?
Here are 5 Perspectives creating depth to your ponds:
- Compete only against yourself. If I’m always competing against others I can never win, there is always someone smarter, wiser, richer and more selfless than me.
- I’ve never been a big goal setter, but now I’m starting to compete against myself and in the process creating a game out of it. The internal success is interesting to watch…no goals needed.
- One way I have started to do this was tracking my time daily; “my time” is now a pond.
- In the video my son was trapped because leading up to completing the timed math test he felt like a failure, the pond was too overwhelming, only until he succeeded did he feel successful. The power of success is interesting to watch in a kid, which works in adults as well.
- Ponds are everywhere once you start thinking this way. Once you have defined the measurable – let the games begin, against yourself.
There will always be Olympic-type outliers who succeed in big ponds but they are exceptions and are most often only the exception in one specific area of their lives. Continuously expanding the depths of my ponds and challenging the width of those around me will create the opportunity to become the outlier when opportunities are presented.
Let the games begin.