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Seeing The Future (for what it is)

(Disclaimer: This is not “The Truth”. This is a possible view, and it is my view. Though what is presented in my blogs bears true in my experience and is corroborated by modern science, I am presenting it simply as a possible view that may provide you some value in fulfilling on what you’re committed to in your business and life. Take it or leave it.)

 

“The future is bleak.”

“The future is bright.”

 

Which one of these statements best fits your thoughts about your future?

 

Here’s the rub: either way, you’re wrong. There is no future.

 

Well, there’s no future as in a real future. “The future” is but a concept. Or, said another way, the future only exists in our language—our speaking, and our thoughts and mental images. There is no real, fixed future out there waiting for you to enter it; there’s only a predicted future that you’ve created (or that your brain has created), a projection based purely out of your past. Actually even the past that your future is based on is a construct—an assembled pattern of selected and inaccurate memories of distorted and incomplete perceptions, arranged and experienced in a way that the brain thinks best to ensure your continued survival.

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Letting Go of “The Wrong People”

When engaging with a new or prospective client, one of the first things I ask for is a verbal assessment of what’s stopping his/her business from performing at the level to which he/she is committed. What’s in the way? Or to phrase it in its most casual and common form, “What’s the problem?” At some point in the conversation that follows, we come across some longstanding, persistent complaints.

When that person is in a leadership or management position, it is extremely common for one of the complaints to be about the lack of performance of those that they manage or lead (the same tendency shows up with the front-liners, but in reverse: they complain about lack of effective management or leadership). What frequently follows is how they know that what there is to do is to find the “right people”, and once that finally happens, their business will work as it’s supposed to.

In fact, I’ve recently been working with an upper-level manager of a medium-sized contracting services company who had just this issue. As it turns out however, getting the “right people” wasn’t the issue at all.

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Networking 101 Lesson 1

(This article is the first in a series of posts, co-written by Douglas Hoffman and long time ALS Client and friend, Lyle Katz. Lyle is a very successful mortgage banker and an expert in the fine art of generating opportunity. Lyle’s experience forms the basis of this series. At the end of each article, there will be an assignment for the next four weeks.)

Let’s start at the beginning with a definition for networking. This is not the usual definition, nor is it “correct” or “definitive.” It is simply the one that we will use for this conversation:

Networking is the deliberate building of a community for sharing information and services among business people. Ultimately, networking is about helping others.

In our experience, many people miss the opportunity allowed by professional and social gatherings.

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Building an Organization That Works, Part 2

This is the 2nd part of an ongoing series–if you haven’t, we recommend you read the first part to set the context and get full value for yourself.

We begin where we left off:

Please consider for yourself what works and doesn’t work in your organization. How is your organization structured to support effectiveness? Innovation? Identification of potential obstacles or issues? Do members of your organization experience themselves as being responsible for the results of the organization as a whole?

It is valuable to consider by what format or structure an organization can most effectively and reliably facilitate access to the collective knowledge of the members of the organization. We assert that one key element of a successful organization is a systematic approach to communication. Every one who must be included in a given conversation is included, and, in a way, that minimizes inefficiencies while maximizing collaboration.

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Building an Organization That Works, Part 1

A historical model of organizational structure that has its roots in monarchies and the military is a simple hierarchy. In this system, all authority rests with the “boss” or leader of the organization. Authority to hire, fire, direct, create, and manage may be delegated to various extents and still, it is fully held at the top of the organizational structure. This has historically worked fairly well in environments where the way to accomplish what there is to accomplish is already known and clearly visible. It can allow for effective management of what the boss and/or bosses know how to do. There are indeed places where this may be the most effective structure for an organization. It is however taken for granted in many organizations that this is the correct way to do things, which in some environments and situations may leave a great deal to be desired.

There are numerous challenges to this hierarchical structure:

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The Natural Brand

I’d like to talk about Branding. Not to discuss how to get your brand known, create brand recognition, nor how branding is supported through marketing or advertising. This instead, is the description of the “Natural Brand”.

Business success – lasting, enjoyable, and profitable success – comes from a business or organization knowing who it is, what it is committed to, and what it does best. Business leaders could be tremendously well served by examining this, both personally and organizationally. Ask: What are you passionate about, and what are you great at?

“Branding” has value. But lasting value comes from identifying one’s own “natural brand”. Identify the things you are most passionate about and greatest at, and keep your focus on doing those things. Know yourself and “to thine own self be true.” Let the brand come forth from who you are, and you will likely live up to the expectations you create. Natural Brand is an expression of values. Real Values.

Many companies have a great “Statement of Values”. For example, Enron had the following engraved in stone in their main lobby: “Integrity • Communication • Respect • Excellence.”

But, I am not referring to value statements; I am referring to real values. If you want to see the values of a business, look at their practices, e.g. how they approach their clients, their challenges, their decision making processes, etc. Real values are always realized; in existence, in the present tense.

I highly recommend that people who are interested in long term success read the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins. In it, the discussion of knowing who you are and what you are committed to is discussed with examples of some very successful organizations, world leaders in their time. And if any of you ever want to speak about how to apply these principals to make your business more successful, I would be happy to discuss it with you.

It is my belief that people who love what they do, and do it well, can be well compensated for their work. Further, I suggest that being well compensated for doing what one loves to do and does well is simple to create.

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Top 3 Ways to Kill a Relationship

“Existential analysis has the character of doing violence, whether to the claims of the everyday interpretation, or to its complacency and its tranquilized obviousness.” -Martin Heidegger

February is upon us, which means for most of us that we have been immersed in and surrounded by Valentine’s Day and all its trappings. This has been a time for many to buy cards, flowers, candy, dinner, and so on, while others resist and condemn various qualities of the holiday and even the holiday itself.

Either way, I’m guessing that no matter which group you’re in, your attitude and actions around Valentine’s Day are the same as they were last year. I bet that you could explain the background and reasons for your position, maybe even relate a compelling story of heartbreak and disappointment, or of true love and serendipity.

I dare you to risk everything, and file all of that under “everyday interpretation” and “tranquilized obviousness.”

Today, let’s do some Heideggerian violence to what seems so obvious. Rather than explore an abstraction, stand or ideal, let’s reveal what’s probably already happening now. In all our “complacency” we are probably, right now, killing off our relationships, and therefore our possibilities, opportunities and fulfillment.

How do we do such things? Well, I can tell you how I do it, and how thousands of people I’ve had the opportunity to coach, support and intimately interact with do it. If you have a willingness to be authentic, and a sense of humor, I think you’ll see yourself here as well. If not, you may want pass this by for now…

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