3 Things I learned last week…1/19-24/2016

When given the opportunity most will choose the easy way: My mentor told me years ago this little gem.  That is: “What is Easy to do, is also Easy not to do”.  Being in leadership I have watched people on my teams do some interesting things just to avoid “doing”, what it is that needs to be done.  Does it take time to do it?  Absolutely it does.  Does it require effort?  Yes.  Does it require your focus? Yes.  Now what is interesting, is that almost anything that is worthwhile to pursue will require, time, effort, and focus.  So why wouldn’t you do it?  A different context for you.  It is easy to ignore your child’s bad behavior one time.  Or it is easy to not say something about your employee showing up late one time.  However, what happens when you choose not to address the issue at hand and the bad behavior becomes a habit overtime, and eventually your child becomes a juvenile delinquent that can’t be controlled. Or your employee becomes very unproductive and requires your company to miss a deadline on a major project and you lose that customer which represents 20% of your company’s revenue. Everything has consequences.  My advice is this: When you are thinking about doing it or not doing it?  If you have to think about it, it is probably best that you do it.

Tangents will kill your productivity: A tangent is described as a total different line of thought.  I was recently in a meeting where this team of managers were in the meeting to discuss one thing.  A very small issue that needed to be addressed now.  What happened in the meeting was that in the matter of an hour the group got off on no less than ten tangents.  Ten different topics other than the one that they needed to discuss.  Now let me be clear.  I am as guilty of this as the next person at times.  That is why I am writing this blog.  It holds me accountable to the words I write.  And by writing (typing) them I become more accountable to them. Tangents are killing your business. You must stop them now.  My goal is to become a tangent killer, and not a tangent creator.

Transparency is good, but TMI (Too much information) is just that:  We live in a world nowadays where being genuine is more appreciated than ever before.  I am sure being genuine has always been a quality people in general has wanted from others, but maybe it is just said more or we have more exposure to it because of social media and all the ways we receive information and communication. So where is the line between transparency (genuine, honest, real) and too much information (TMI).  Last week, I witnessed in person with a group of people, where someone revealed just a little too much information about themselves.  It wasn’t bad information and it was harmful.  However, it was a little too much for that setting at that time. How often have you seen someone do that?  My advice is to always go conservative in these cases.  You can always share more, but you can never share less. I have been guilty of this myself at times as well. However, there are consequences to sharing too much, too early.  Be cautious and be aware.  That is what is best.

To your success and your future.

Faith and Facts…

A 23-year-old captain of the special teams on his football team at the University of Maryland got tired of having to change out his sweat soaked t-shirts several times during games and during practices.  He weighed his shirts before practice and after practice and found that the shirts weighed significantly more once they were wet than they did when they were dry.  Being a linebacker and a special teams captain, having that increased weight made him slower in his mind, and it probably did.  His shorts, which were made of a compression material always stayed dry.  So he decided to take that material and make a shirt from it. After several versions of the shirt with different materials, he finally decided on a moisture wicking material that worked for his shirt design.

In 1996 the individual started working on this problem, and in 1999 once the design and the materials were finalized, Under Armour became a National brand that is now recognized around the world.

Kevin Plank is the founder and CEO of Under Armour.  You can read the story of Under Armour here .  It is a great story of an individual who saw things as they were (facts) and at the time envisioned what it could be (faith).

This is what makes humans different from any other species on earth, including robots and computers. We have the ability to see the facts (the situation as it is) while at the same time, envisioning what it could be (faith).

Kevin not only saw that there must be a better alternative to his cotton shirts, but once he figured that out.  He had the faith in himself and his company to say “We can compete with Nike, Reebok, and Adidas, as a worldwide brand.”

Now Under Armour is a household name.

So what are the facts in your life?  Your present circumstances?  Don’t fool yourself.  You have to look at the facts and see reality as it is.  This is the first step towards living the life you want to live, having the career you want to have, and raising the children you want to raise.  After you establish the facts go ahead and have faith in what it could be.  Do you want to be a CEO of a company?  Maybe it is a publicly traded company or your own.  How much money do you want in your bank account?  Do you want your children to be productive  adults. All of these things are in your control if you don’t have them now.  Have the faith in yourself to get them.  Then determine what it will take (action) to do so.

In November of 2014, I established a big goal that I didn’t really know the path that I would have to take to accomplish it.  Sure I had been planning for that goal for several years.  However, when I had the faith to write the goal down, with a deadline to accomplish it in 2015, I really didn’t know how I would do it.  The facts were, I had done several things up to that point that allowed me to write the goal down.  The facts were, that the path to accomplishing the goal was unclear, but I had a lot of stuff swirling around that I just had to pursue.  So I did.  The faith was, that I knew enough to make the declaration, which gave me the faith to pursue it.

Just like Kevin, he had the faith that he could create a great product.  He had the faith that he could compete in the highly competitive sports apparel market.  And guess what? He did.  The chances are, if you are reading this, you probably own some Under Armour clothing, or you know someone who does.  Have faith my friends, and be sure you know where you are, so you can get where you want to go.

To your success and your future.



3 Things I learned last week…1/11-17/16

Welcome to 2016 Brian:  Ok! I am sad to admit it.  I am a slow adopter to technology sometimes.  Sometimes I want the best immediately and sometimes I don’t really care.  Well, my girlfriend Jenn Logsdon introduced me to something that I have never paid any attention to… automatic bill pay.  If you are reading this, you are probably laughing at me right now.  Why I wasn’t utilizing this little feature before, I don’t know.  I have done the auto drafts and some of the other automated processes out there before.  However, for some reason I have never used the automatic bill pay feature through my bank.  I have learned that my life has become much simpler because of automatic bill pay.  I am a little old school.  There is something about writing out a check that makes me more accountable to my money.  Well, not anymore.  I am going with convenience now. Automatic bill pay is awesome. I am so glad I finally caught up to life. Thank you Jenn.

Sometimes you just have to endure some pain: In October of 2015 I started having some pain in my lower back and my hip.  This pain has lingered through today. I have taken some days off from running and tried to not put any pressure on that leg at times.  Instead of running, which is what I prefer to do, I use the elliptical.  When I do the elliptical I don’t have any pain. When I first started having the pain, I saw my doctor.  He said just stay off of it for a while and see what happens.  Well, I obviously can’t do that. Instead I went to a Chiropractor.  No luck with that.  Pain was and is still there.  I went to a Physical Therapist.  Yes, I still have the pain.  And now lastly, some 12 weeks later I have finally went and seen an Orthopedic Doctor.  He did some X-Rays and looked me over and said that there wasn’t anything wrong with my hip, and my pain was coming from my sciatica nerve.  He gave me some pills and sent me on my way. Long story short.  I have been running some since that meeting with the doctor.  I have some level of pain.  But I think it will get better.  It is not getting worse.  And that is what I have learned.  I am wired for making progress and accomplishments.  I have always been moving forward and doing something, especially when it comes to fitness.  I will just have to endure the pain for a while.  Life is like that as well.  When you want something bad enough you have to endure a little pain.

Always have a deadline: I am not sure I have written about this before.  However, it is something I know, and I must continue to hold myself  and others that I lead to as well.  Setting deadlines is critical. You just can’t allow things to be up in the air.  I know at times this annoys people.   Most people prefer things to be up in the air.  Then they can’t be accountable if it doesn’t get done. If you and I can get in a habit of setting deadlines for everything more success is sure to come my way and yours.  Last week, I assigned some tasks for myself and others on my team.  Some of them were accomplished and some were not.  This week my focus will be to attach a deadline to everything.  You should as well. 

To your success and your future.

Do you even know why you are here?

A young woman who was 24 years of age and was a superb dancer in her small town recently tried to take her own life in Biloxi, Mississippi.  She attempted to take her life by jumping from a wharf.  As she later put it, she was “tired of living.” 

A young man saw her jump from the wharf and splash into the water. Forgetting that he himself didn’t know how to swim, he stripped off his coat and leaped in the wharf after her in a blind attempt to save a fellow human being.  He began to splash around and was gasping for air and was in serious danger of drowning in an attempt to save the girl.  The girl momentarily forgot about her own despair and began to paddle her way towards him.  As he was gulping water and gasping for breath, she grabbed a hold of him and pulled him safely ashore. Instead of ending her own life she had saved the life of another. 

So what happened?  In that moment of despair when she felt like she had no reason to live and jumped off the wharf.  She found her purpose to live by saving the young mans life instead. So on that day what actually drowned in the water, was the young girls despair and not her spirit.  She learned the lesson of not having something to live for and having a reason, a purpose, for living.  (Excerpt from: Og Mandino’s University of Success; August 1982)

Now my hope is that you and me don’t have to find our purpose for living in such a dramatic way as the young girl did.  But the story illustrates the point.

Purpose trumps everything.  We all have a purpose for being here.  Sometimes we don’t know what it is until it is too late. Sometimes we may never know.  Someone once said that there are two great days in our lives, the day we were born and the day we figured out why.

T.D. Jake’s says this: “If you cant figure out your purpose figure out your passion. Your passion will lead you towards your purpose.”

So as you start 2016 have you found your purpose?  Do you know why you are here?  If not.  What are you passionate about?

I recently followed my passions.  My heart told me a few years ago where my passion was.  But it wasn’t the right time for me to do it.  Things take time.  However, I kept pursuing my passions in my spare time.  My mentor told me years ago: “Do what you have to do as quickly as possible so you can do what you want to do.” After several years of doing what I had to do, I am now going to do what I want to do.

If you are at a point in your life where you are not passionate about the things around you.  Work, school, friends, etc. make a decision to change it.  You can.  Find your passion and you will find your purpose.

To your success and your future.

3 Things I learned last week…1/4-10/2016

To be unclear is to be unkind:  I must give proper credit to one of my mentors Dave Ramsey.  I heard this statement/quote from him.  I have since adopted it.

In each of the last five years I have had a theme or even a word or two that would describe my focus for that year.  Last year it was net-worth.  Two years ago it was intentionality.  This year I have a few words and phrases that I am centering my goals and objectives around.  One such theme is this: To be unclear is to be unkind.  Why you ask did I chose this statement/quote?  A couple of reasons.  First: Our society is obsessed with being politically correct.  Whatever that means.  People just don’t call a spade a spade. I have been guilty of this as well.  Secondly, I have watched organizations rot from the inside out because the people within that organization were not clear and speak with candor.  Years ago, Jack Welch, who over the years I have written about quite a bit, said the same thing as Dave said.  Jack said it this way in his “six rules for success”.  “Be Candid”.  Jack lived his life this way.  If we aren’t clear with people they can’t get better. If we aren’t clear about the state of affairs, we aren’t facing reality as it is, which in turn means we can’t fix it.  Whether you are a leader, a sales person, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a colleague, it is your responsibility to always be clear and candid with others.  You are serving them better with this approach.

I failed last week:  One of my goals in 2016 is to spend 15-30 minutes a day thinking.  Yep, thinking.  Not doing anything else.  I mean totally focused on getting away and not having any distractions that can prevent me from thinking.  I have only accomplished this goal a few times since 1/1 and it is now 1/11.  When I have the ability to do this, I always walk away from the session with a lot of benefits.  I have worked through major problems.  I have come up with better language on an issue I have to address. I have had an original thought that led to something bigger.  There is just so much value in this.  So I included this in my list this week, because it is now in front of mind again and will be a focus of mine this week.

Move faster:  Although you or I could make an argument for this on some occasions, I had to put it on the list anyway.  Through out my life I can’t think of very many times where I said I wish I would have “moved slower” on that decision.  I wish I would have thought it through more. I wish I would have investigated it more.  Nope, in many cases, it is usually the opposite.  I have gotten to the other side of decision or finally made a decision and said, “Why didn’t I do this sooner”.  I am taking this approach to 2016 and you should as well.  Lets move with purpose and conviction.  Our guts are usually right.  When your gut tells you something, make a move.  The chances are you will regret not doing something more than you will taking action and doing something.  Matter of fact there have been many times I hit publish on this blog and when I went back through it I said I wish I would have said this different or written that different.  But you know what? I will the next time.

To your success and your future.

3 Things I learned last week…12/28/15-1/3/16

What a week last week and it has carried over in to this week.  Hence, why I am just getting my weekly learned list out.

Dumping is not leading: I will be writing a lot more about some of the recent changes in my career soon, so stay tuned.  Here is what I have already learned.  I know this and most likely you know this as well.  Maybe you are even a victim of it or maybe, (I hope not) you are someone who does it.  Some leaders think that leadership is hiring someone and then getting out of their way and letting them take on all of the issues that come with the territory of the job.  They assume that the person knows what is to be expected and expects it to be done.  They do a weekly, or maybe even not that frequently touch base meeting to see how things are going.  But meanwhile the things are not getting done.  It could be that the new person isn’t capable or other reasons.  Regardless of the situation if you are a leader don’t dump on people and expect the job to be done.  Because if it doesn’t get done, it is your fault.

Adapt or die: I know it seems harsh, but it is a reality.  Things change, people change, leadership changes, balance sheets change, areas of focus change, processes change.  I could go on and on and you could to about all of the changes we have to face.  It is called life.  So when change occurs we have really two decisions to make.  We adapt with it or we don’t.  These are both logical options.  However, in most cases if you don’t have control of the change, like leadership change or processes change.  You have no choice, but to adapt.  Years ago, I can remember when I faced that crossroad for the very first time in my career.  A new manager comes in with a different focus and objective.  Keep in mind, they were brought in for a reason (they usually are) because our department was not very successful.  The new focus, the new leadership style, and the new requirements were part of it.  I could push back or I could adapt.  I chose the latter and if I didn’t I doubt you would be reading this blog.  So my point is, it changed my career and my life. And all I had to do was adapt.  I have never died before, and one day I will, so adapting just seems a whole lot easier right now.

Process trumps experience.   There may be a theme here today.  lol.  Alan Mulally brought Ford back from the brink of bankruptcy.  Alan worked for Boeing for 37 years before he was hired to be the CEO for the FORD motor company in 2006.  At the time Alan was hired to be the CEO over the Ford Motor Company everyone thought Ford was crazy to hire an airplane engineer at Boeing for 37 years to a car manufacturing company.  Airplanes and Cars/Trucks are different animals.  This would never work is what everyone said.  Well, it worked because Alan for 37 years perfected a process.  When it comes to leadership and most things, when you have a strong process you can accomplish anything in any field.  Allan didn’t need to know how cars worked.  He knew how to get the people who had that information to work better and smarter.  Another example:  Jim Harbaugh took over the San Franciso 49ers in 2011.  The previous season the 49ers finished the year with a 5 win and 10 loss record.  Harbaugh took the team to a 13-3 record in his first season and when he finally left in 2014, he had a .690 winning percentage during his tenure.  So how did a team in 2010 go from a losing team to a winning team the following year?  With the same players?  It was Harbaugh.  He has a process and his process has worked over and over during his head coaching career. He always win.  Mulally didn’t have to have the experience with cars and trucks, Harbaugh didn’t have to have a head coaching job in the NFL prior to him taking the head coaching job.  But both were successful because they had a process. Remember this, a strong and developed process that has worked before, most likely will work again.  Create yourself a process and refine it, tweak it, and then apply it.  This is what leads to success.

To your success and your future.



3 lessons from a random meeting with a 3rd shift stock-guy

In my teens I worked for Winn Dixie.  It was the grocery store that was closest to my house.  I started out as a cart/bagger boy and I also stocked shelves when I wasn’t busy doing those things.  At the time it was a job.  A great job too.  It allowed me to buy my first car and enjoy my youth even more, because it provided me money.  I can remember doing this job with excellence and doing it well, but I did it because I wanted what it provided me.  Not because I really cared about the purpose of the job and how it served the company and people.

Fast forward to today. Some 20 years later.  I run into Robert at the coffee shop. If I am being honest.  Robert kind of interrupted my morning.  Well, not kind of.  He totally hijacked it.  And guess what? I let him.

Robert works at the local Kroger store in my neighborhood.  Robert was having his coffee this morning. He had just wrapped up his shift at the local Kroger in my neighborhood.  Until this morning I had seen Robert in the coffee shop and after talking this morning, I can now remember seeing him in Kroger as well.    He works third shift at Kroger and he has worked there for twenty years.  I am not sure if he has stocked shelves the entire twenty years he has been there, but stocking the shelves is truly his passion.

Robert came up to me this morning with his Kroger shirt and khakis on and just started talking to me about the coffee shop.  This led into him telling me a story about his shift that he had just worked.  This story then led him to tell me countless stories about his job.

So what did I learn from Robert:

Pride:  Robert apparently kind of owns the aisle in Kroger that has the coffee in it.  I told him that I am familiar that aisle because I buy a lot of tea.  He didn’t have much to say about tea, he had a lot to say about coffee though.  As I look back on my stocking days I can’t remember ever feeling the kind of ownership over an aisle that Robert did.  But it is something we can all learn from him.  You must take pride in your work and own it.

Attention to detail: Robert asked me this question:  Now as a former stock boy myself, I am proud to say I had a close guess.  Robert said how many facings (for those not familiar with stocking shelves. A facing is how many items can a store shelf hold that a customer can see facing them) do you think the coffee aisle has?  My guess was 1000.  He gave me credit and said your are close.  It is 438.  As you might guess facings are very very important in the grocery business.  He went on to tell me that unfortunately the coffee area where all of the single cup (I am guessing Keurig type coffee) can only hold six items at a time.  And apparently these items move very quickly.  It is his job and his counterparts job on the other shifts to ensure that those stay full all day long, because as Robert said.  People want their coffee and people want their flavor and it is his job to make sure they get it.

He then asked mow how many different Fancy Feast cat foods do I think there are.  I said I don’t have a clue.  Answer: 37.  We both agreed that neither one of us understood why there were that many.  Roberts attention to detail, as illustrated above is something I think we can all learn something from.  The details matter. When we pay attention to the details we can ensure our jobs get done with excellence and effectiveness. I am sure Kroger sells more because of Roberts attention to detail.  I am sure the customers are happier.  It is a win-win.

Serving people: As I stated before. When I was stocking shelves, it was really about me and making money to support my life.  Roberts approach is different.  I heard it the whole time I was talking with him.  He said “people want their coffee”, “people want the flavor that they like”, “People have cats that like certain flavors”, “when I stack these items this way, they won’t run out by the time I come back in and restock”.  He never once said anything about himself or the company.  It was all about people and Cats.  I learned a lesson from Robert and it is a lesson we all have to remember. When we serve people first, everything else will work out.

Thank you Robert for your time and your story this morning.

To your success and your future.